Finding Flerd the Giant Slayer

THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

The Giant Slayers part 1: Finding Flerd
(Campaign Notes by Thomas Kelly)
A campaign based on Living Greyhawk Geoff and Against the Giants.

“Neumann wants a rebellion,” Bryn insists. “Bad enough that I need writ from the governor what to drink a single cider. Now he says we can no more speak our own tongue?”

“Cause he knows our tongues are making sport of him behind his back,” Ansgar laughs. He quaffs his third cider and pounds the mug on the tabletop to summon the maid for more. “Another round for the heroes!” he motions to his friends.

“You can’t pay for your own cups, cuss, quit saying you’ll pay for us,” chides the gnomish bard. Squint’s fingers find the strings of his shalm. He strikes up a lively reel, but the music stops abruptly when the wooden door of the speakeasy flings open. Ansgar leaps to his feet, nearly tipping the table. Customers freeze in fear; their laughter and conversation falls silent. A man steps through the open doorway. Every patron of the establishment recognizes the stern, scowling face of Cadofyth Parn, a commanding officer of the Army of the Liberation. “Alcohol consumption without a writ! Speaking in the Flannish tongue!” he scolds the crowded room.

“Yes sir,” Ansgar concedes too readily.

The captain fixes his stern gaze upon the young ranger, “Best pour me a cider before I report the lot of you to the constables.” A devious smirk spreads across his face. The patrons cheer and clap the officer on the back. Squint resumes the reel.

Calling all Giant Slayers

Trailing behind the commander, stepping lightly through the door and into the light, comes a grinning elf. “I found this pour lost elf wandering the camp,” the cadofyth announces. “May I present Gundoriel Thingolin, back from fey Dimwood!”

Bryn leaps up and throws her arms around grey elf priest. “I thought we might never see you again,” she gushes in the elvish tongue. He shrugs sheepishly.

“We have had a few adventures without you, elf!” Ansgar says as Parn and Gundoriel join the rangers at their table.  Bryn presses her elvish friend with questions about his months in the fading feylands of Dimwood Forest, but he only shakes his head.

After the barmaid pours up ciders and collects coins, Parn admits, “Not for cider and Flan-speech did I seek you out tonight, friends, but a quick trot back into those occupied lands from which you only just returned. We have a rumor from Darlon Lea, our exiled ranger lord. He claims that Father Trantle survived the invasion and still lives, dwelling among those unfortunate slaves, our kinsmen who labor under the lash of the giants.”

“I don’t know who that is,” Ansgar shrugs, unimpressed by the name of Father Trantle.

“A hero from before your time. A giant slayer. You would have been only a lad when the giants came raiding Sterich. King Scotti of the Lion Throne sent this Father Trantle and a handful of heroes to punish the brutes. The tales say Trantle and his companions entered the steading of the hill giants and slew their chief, ascended into the mountains and scourged the frost giant jarl in his own glacial lair, and descended into the burning Hell Furnaces to smite the king of the fire giants. Now the Lady Sierra Balckblade summons those giant slayers to our side to fight for us and assist us in purging our lost lands for the Brenin. You will go back across the river, find Father Trantle, deliver to him the summons from the Lady Blackblade, and learn what’s to learn of the whereabouts of the rest of his party of giant slayers.”

“Does Lady Blackblade choose us?” Bryn asks. “Why? We are of no reputation.”

“Not her. But Darlon Lea trusts you alone. Apparently, you did him some favor.”

“That we did,” Ansgar says glumly.

“You’ll return to the Oytwood elves. Find an elfess named Mayloriel. She was once Darlon’s consort—before the giants came. She’s a ranger like him and also like yourselves. She’s since gone back to her people to defend their lands from the giants. She’s the one who told the tale to Darlon Lea, and she’s the one that can bring you to Father Flerd Trantle.”

A Night at the Windmill

“Atop Green Ridge there stands a mill where it’s safe to sleep upon the hill,” the gnomish lore singer, Squint Nonizson, points to the decrepit windmill. It’s silhouetted against the setting sun of the last day of Reaping.

“How do you know this place?” Bryn asks.

“I’ve stayed there before. Not long ago I slept on the floor. It’s a safe play to stay for a night and a day,” Squint assures them. His assurances prove vain. In the last watch of the night, a troop of orcs arrive, sniffing about the windmill that stands atop the height of Green Ridge. Ansgar wakes the party to warn them. They quickly take up weapons. He bursts out the door of the mill to strike the orcs, surprising them and scattering them with his flashing axes. Fang leaps out beside him, snarling, barking, biting, and Bryn follows. The orcs cry out in terror and flee before the rangers and the ferocious war dog. The keen eyes of Gundoriel peer through the darkness and discern a giant laboring up the slope of the ridge toward the mill. The orcs fall back and gather around their champion. Yes, under the pale light of Luna and Celene, even Ansgar and Bryn can discern the shadow of the giant lumbering up the ridge.

Fang leaps upon one of the fleeing foes and tackles him to the ground.

“Get me the rope!” Ansgar shouts. “This is the moment for what we’ve practiced.”

Bryn fetches the rope and hook.

Gundoriel invokes the blessings of Larethian and speaks a word of bane over the approaching enemies. Squint cowers inside the shelter of the windmill, speaking potent rhymes of protection according to his craft.

Arrows, feathered shafts, and also missiles magical that leap from an orc shaman’s hands strike at the heroes. A jagged blade wounds the war dog, sends Fang yelping and whimpering back from the flight.

Now the ugly knob of the giant crests the hill. Gundoriel invokes the light of Correlon Larethian to illuminate the foemen.

Ansgar sees his quarry. He swings the rope and the hook in widening arks above his head, letting out more slack with each circle, just as he and Bryn have daily practiced. As the hill giant steps forward to buffet the air and kick at his foes, Ansgar swings the rope and hooks about his legs. He gives a mighty pull. Caught by surprise, the giant stumbles and falls prone. “Oof!” the big fellow bellows.

Now Ansgar sees his enemy face down on the ground before him. He moves with lightning speed, douses the big head of the foe with a flask of lamp oil, and shouts instruction to Gundoriel, “Fire! Strike with fire!” The ranger leaps back as the giant clambers back to his feet, kicking away the rope.

Gundoriel hears the ranger’s words but comprehends them not, for he speaks not a single word of the Flan tongue nor any tongue of men. Instead of summoning a sacred flame to ignite the oil as Ansgar hoped, the grey elf priest employs other spells of smiting against the foe.

Ansgar reaches to the evening mists and summons up a cloud to hide his friends. The impenetrable fogs blind foe and friend. “Now I can’t see a thing!” Bryn complains. Her arrows find no mark, and the enemy might move completely unseen in the fog if not for the fiery light of the elf god outlining the giant and each orc.

Lest the telling grow tedious, let it be said that Ansgar does heroically while his companion in arms fights the more wisely, now fighting off orcs, now pulling back the string of her bow to pierce the giant with barbed shafts. The prayers and benedictions of the elf manifest themselves in miracles of light from his hands. Many blows and many wounds are soon exchanged. Bloodied and bruised, the giant flees with what orcs still survive. Bryn and Ansgar give chase and strike the giant down, the last of the orcs escaping into the night.

When sounds of battle fall silent at last, Squint emerges from inside the mill. He observes the corpses of the orcs and the giant. Gundoriel and Bryn bind up wounds and call upon what powers of weal they might, and so they close gashes and smooth bruised flesh. Even the war dog receives prayers for healing and the healing arts of the ranger’s hands. In short time, the first faint light of the coming day brightens the east sky.   

“How comes a giant and orcs so close to the protected lands?” Bryn says. “We should report this incursion to the border forts.”

“A scouting party, I think, snooping around,” Ansgar speculates. “I’m just excited that the rope trick worked.”

Back to the Weeping Council

I’ll not weary the reader with retelling the trail from safehouse to safehouse, from station to station, crossing the river, the old barn, the hollow tree, and coming again beneath the boughs of Oytwood Forest. Not long do travelers trespass the sacred wood before sharp-eared Taran and his keen-eyed bowmen find them again, greet them at arrow’s point, and hear the tail of this new mission from the lips of their own kinsman, Gundoriel Thingolin. The border watch agrees to grant passage to the elf-friend. Taran sends two scouts to guide the travelers through the enchanted ways back to Edhellond.

“If not quite warm, the welcome feels less frosty this time around. It helps to have you with us,” Bryn says to their elven companion, speaking in his tongue. Less stern are the gazes of the elves peering down from their lofty flets than they had been on the last visit. Some of the good folk recognize their kinsman, Gundoriel, and greet him with pious invocations and petitions for blessing from the Seldarine.

“Count yourself fortunate. Seldom has a Flanman been blessed to walk beneath these boughs or through these streets,” Gundoriel tells Bryn. 

“What’s being said between you two?” Ansgar asks.

A delegation of three officers and a courtier descends to receive the visitors and Taran’s scouts. The courtier says, “The Weeping Council welcomes thee home, Gundoriel son of Thingolin’s house, Glimmering Light of Larethian.” After some length of time, some arguments and appeals, the officers grant Bryn, Ansgar, and Squint permission to ascend the great tree of the council again. Gundoriel ascends with them and speaks on their behalf in the tongue of the elves. The thirteen members of the council hear him say all that he will say. Then replies the elder betwixt the six that sit to his left and the six that sit to his right, “Well known to us and often pondered is the tale of those giant slayers who walked beneath the earth and entered the halls of our dark cousins. Truly, Larethian shines on thee, for by chance, Mayloriel tarries here in Edhellond this night. We have summon her hence and task her to guide thee into giant lands, according to thy petition and according to that of thy companions, whom we have already named elf friends.”

Some short time later comes Mayloriel and ascends the great tree to show herself before the Weeping Council. The elfess takes a seat beneath them and learns her mission. Bryn sizes her up, So this was the consort of Darlon Lea! She’s fair-headed and keen-eyed, pretty-enough to be fetching in the eyes of men but simple and plain by measure of the standards of her own unfading folk. She wears leather armor artistically tooled with intricate patterns, woven symbols, and mystic sigils and a grey cloak hangs about her shoulders. Though she presents no weapons before the Weeping Council, she is a hunter and a warrior, clear enough. She moves with confidence and catlike grace, like one accustomed to stalking prey, like one who runs upon the bough and branch. Like a sister to Kylikili, Bryn notes with private amusement. How much alike those two, and how bitter the enmity between their folk!

Mayloriel accepts the mission with hesitation. “One boon I ask,” she boldly addresses the elders. “Send me not into danger on account of these Gyri-folk, worthy though they be, unless we garb them all in raiment of our people, woven for stealth, like unto my own: cloaks and boots for these children of men, for the noniz songmaster, and also for this Flame of Larethian, Gundoriel, that we might all of us pass among the giants and their kin, unseen and unheard. I have heard rumor from elves just arrived this day from the fallen lands of Lea that giantfolk of many kinds, gird for battle, walk the roads near Pregmere and gather as for some great moot.” This request the Weeping Council agrees to under condition that the party return what news and warning they might learn of the giant moot and also what tale they learn of Father Trantle and his band of giant slayers.

***

“This fits well. Like it was tailored for you!” Bryn says as she wraps the new cloak around Ansgar’s broad shoulders. Clever elven fingers wove the soft material with fine threads of magic, charms, and spells.

Ansgar flourishes the cloak with dramatic flair. He lifts one booted foot to the top of a fallen log to strike a pose. “The boots fit my toes better than my own!” he boasts.

“The cloak’s too big by twice my size. Am I a man before their eyes? These boots will reach up to my waist. I’ll need an hour to get them laced!” Squint complains as he considers his new cloak and boots.

“There’s a dweomer upon them, small fellow,” Mayloriel laughs. She has a kindly heart. She tossels the gnome’s curly head of brown hair. “Just try them on and they will fit you, no matter your size.”

The Fields of Pregemere

Four days by foot from Edhellond to the fields of Rhychdir Rhos, Mayloriel leads the travelers out of Oytwood. The trees thin and the heathlands descend to fertile valleys cloaked in wheat, ripe for harvest. Most of the day they thread their way through tall fields of giant corn, planted from seed brought from giant lands. It now produces crop, stock and head above the heads of the two elves, but not above tall Ansgar’s head. “This was the heartland, the breadbasket for your kinsfolk, before the giants came. Now they’ve seeded it themselves and use these fertile fields to feed their own enormous stomachs,” Mayloriel tells the travelers.

“Why don’t we burn the fields and let them starve through the winter?” Ansgar suggests.

Mayloriel shakes her head. “Hungry giants make more fearsome foemen than full-bellied gundyguts.”

The travelers come upon harvesters swinging the scythe and sickle, binding enormous sheaves. These are Gyri slaves, Geoffmen shackled in leg irons who labor under the watchful eyes of orcs. “The giants enslave not just your kinsmen, but also one another. Behold, that sorry hill giant,” Mayloriel points to a hill giant harnessed to an enormous heavy wagon. The hill giant pulls the wagon slowly along the field road while the slaves load it higher with enormous sheaves.

“I can’t believe they haven’t spotted us! It’s like we are invisible in these cloaks,” Ansgar exclaims.

“We aren’t invisible. Would that we were!” Mayloriel cautions him.

The sun sinks toward the west. The travelers ascend gentle heathland hills. Mayloriel leads them by way of old farm roads, far from the main road. The smoke of campfires rise here and there, and these they avoid. Abandoned farmsteads have become the encampments of giants. “There must be hundreds of them encamped in these hills,” Bryn observe the plumes of smoke.

“If we must pass through their camps, let us do so by stealth this same night,” Mayloriel suggests.

Cloaked in darkness, the party passes unseen, weaving their path to avoid the giant camps, creeping along in soft elven boots, wrapped in elven cloaks, slipping from shadow to dark shadow, past an encampment of verbeeg, beyond the fire pit of the hill giants, tiptoeing among snoring fomorians, under the nose of watchful ettins, past a barn filled with unhappy grumbling stone giants, just out of sight of the miserable perspiring frosts, and well outside the bright blaze of bonfires stoked by fire giants. Scattered among these are the encampments of orcs, goblins, and ogres, all of them preparing for battle.

“This is no giant moot,” Mayloriel observes. “They muster for war. I must warn the council lest they pass through our woods on their way to attack the lands of men.”

Bryn reels from the stench of urine and excrement on the outskirts of each encampment. The great stench does not completely mask the passing of the travelers. More than once a sentry sniffs at the air, Blimey, I smell man, elf, and dog with a hint of gnome! Despite the telltale scent in the air, never does a one of them see or hear the passing travelers. Only once or twice a sentry might catch sight of a flitting shadow or a stray dog trotting through the night, for Fang knows no stealth.

Among the Slaves

By the time the sun lights the morning sky, the travelers have already left the camps behind and walk among the strange terrains of Pregemere. Chalk-white formations of calcified rock rise here and there, stacking layer on layer to form ghostly columns streaked with reds and blues seeping up from the depths of Oerth. Steamy mists and acrid smelling vapors waft up from ports and bubbling geysers alongside the road. Warm pools of water display a rainbow of colors: brilliant blue, blood red, bright yellow, deep green. In one pool, and then another, the travelers catch sight of exotic fish swimming in the colored waters.

“Before the giants came, our flocks cloaked the heath from the hot springs all the way to the Lea. We brought cheese and mutton to the market. We spun wool and cloth. The fullers here at Pregmere dyed our wools with the red dye from the muds, and Pregmere Red sold for top coin in markets as far away as Greyhawk City, Nyrond, and the Great Kingdom,” Mayloriel sighs.

It’s still early morning as the travelers enter the city of Pregmere. Most of the structures along the streets have been rebuilt to accommodate giant-sized folk. Miserable hill giants stare out from narrow, barred windows of stone barracks where the fire giants keep them locked up like prisoners. Orcs and giant folk move about the streets with clusters of slaves going out to their morning chores. The travelers keep the hoods of their cloaks pulled tight over their heads. They slip along the side roads, doing their best to avoid being seen. Bryn keeps Fang close to her side lest the never-stealthy war dog attract the attention of orcs or giants.

Along the main thoroughfares, vibrant colored waters bubble and steam in the great spa pools of Pregemere’s hot springs. Coal-skinned fire giants, shocking to behold in the nude, sigh with satisfaction as they lower themselves into the nearly boiling pools. “Takes the chill off the bones,” one is heard to say in giant tongue.

“See the four orcs sitting in the shade, guarding the entrance to that long hall,” Mayloriel whispers. “That’s one of the slave barracks. You might find Father Trantle therein. If not, the slaves will know where to find him.”

“If those orcs raise an alarm, they’ll bring those bathing giants down on us!” Ansgar warns. “We can’t fight a fire giant.”

“They won’t make a peep, once I’ve put them all to sleep!” Squint boasts. He approaches the four guards with a lullaby on his lips. They all four grip weapons and rise to meet the gnome but just as quickly slump down to the ground fast asleep. The travelers step gingerly over the slumbering guards and enter a long bunkhouse. A crowd of women and children gather around. Most of the men are away in the fields. The slaves wear irons on their legs; a few have irons on their wrists. Their clothes are soiled and tattered, but they all look to be well-fed, healthy, and whole. Some of the women are pregnant, a few others hold nursing children. Several of the older citizens of Pregmere recognize the elfess, “Mayloriel! Bless my eyes by the Light! The Green Man smiles today!”

Mayloriel’s kindly face lights up as she greets old friends. The slaves hasten to set out a meal of fresh loaves of bread and sheep’s cheese before the visitors.

“How are you all so well fed, healthy, and whole when all the survivors we have seen before are broken and kept near to starving?” Bryn asks the women.

“The giants keep us fed because they need us strong to work the fields,” says one.

“Could be fattening you up for soups to feed their giant troops,” suggests the gnome with a mischievous wink.

“Flerd looks after us. If rations run short, he blesses the pot and then there’s no shortage. He cures our sick and mends up our wounds,” another slave woman explains.

“Flerd? Do you mean Father Trantle? Where is he? We’ve come to rescue him. Is he here?” Bryn asks.

“He may be here, but I don’t say he needs rescuing,” the woman replies. She sends a girl to fetch Flerd.

While the travelers wait, they inquire into affairs in Pregmere. A fire giant named Ulfrun rules the town. Ten others serve under him. They oversee the agriculture, but they are not farmers themselves. They prefer spending their time soaking in the hot spring pools and enjoying the geysers. The threshing floors and mills of Pregmere provide flour for giants throughout the occupied lands. The fire giants rely upon the human survivors for slave labor to work the fields and the mills. The hill giants they have also enslaved, and they treat those lesser cousins of theirs most brutally—worse than they treat the humans.

The slaves express great concern over the presence of Mayloriel and Gundoriel. Ulfrun has made a law against elves. Any elves found in the city are to be slain on sight. Moreover, spellcasting is not allowed. Anyone caught brandishing a weapon can be put to death. The slaves urge the travelers to leave town quickly before they are discovered.

“Why do you stay here? Why don’t you try to escape?” Bryn asks.

One wise mother answers, “A slave who attempts to escape is punished with hard labor to the death, and so too what kinfolk the escaped slave leaves behind. Besides, Flerd discourages us from attempting to escape.”

“They have a better chance of surviving here in town with me than they do trying to flee. Ulfrun’s hunters and warg riders will chase down a scent for a hundred miles,” says a lean grey-haired man who has just stepped through the door of the barracks. The man wears the same leg irons as the other slaves, but his bearing seems not like that of a slave. “I am Father Flerd Trantle, Servant of the Blinding Light and the One True Way.”

To Be Continued


Visit the Geoff page for more adventure from the Liberation of Geoff.

Artwork “The Hill Giant” by Xaphalanx.

DM Notes: In this session, I departed from the Living Greyhawk modules. This adventure takes place on the timeline between the modules GEO1-05 A Little Bit of Wood and GEO1-06 Return of the Grand Duke. It ties together some loose story threads and connects the Geoff saga with the original G-series modules Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and Hall of the Fire Giant King. Father Flerd Trantle was one of the original pre-generated tournament characters in those modules. This story also introduces Mayloriel, the elven consort of Darlon Lea. Both are important NPCs from the Living Greyhawk materials. The adventure begins to set the stage for The Battle of Bloody Ridge, an LG Interactive event from the first year of the original LG campaign.

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