Fonkin, Flerd, Faffle, Frush, Roaky, Gleep, Redmod, Beek, and Cloyer Too

THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

The Giant Slayerpart 2: Fonkin, Flerd, Faffle, Frush, Roaky, Gleep, Redmod, Beek, and Cloyer Too
(Thomas Kelly)
A campaign based on Living Greyhawk Geoff and Against the Giants.

“It’s not safe for you here,” Father Trantle cautions the visitors. “Those guards you left slumbering outside will not sleep long, and your presence here cannot be kept hidden. Come with me, and we will speak more in the privacy of my home.” He leads the travelers through the streets of Pregmere to a seemingly abandoned cottage near the edge of town.

Safely inside Flerd’s home and with the door shut and barred behind them, everyone relaxes. Almost everyone. Mayloriel keeps an eye out the cottage window. Ansgar speaks to the priest, “The Lady Sierra Blackblade sent us here to find you, Father Trantle. She says you are a famous giant slayer.”

“She wants you to return with us to Hochoch and help us fight the giants,” Bryn adds.

Father Trantle’s Resistance

Father Trantle does his best to make his guests comfortable in the one-room cottage before replying. “It’s true. I’m one of that band of heroes sent out by the king of Keoland to punish the giants. We passed through Sterich, ascended into the Jottens, and slaughtered the hill giants in their own timbered lodge. We massacred their chief, Nosnra, and all his kin around his feasting table. We soaked the floor of their banqueting hall with their blood. We found our way, past many dangers, into the frigid glacial rift of the Crystalmists where the frost giants dwell in caves of ice. We slew their jarl and looted their frozen caverns. If not for the mercy of the True Light, I would still remain there, frozen in the ice. My companions thought me dead, and they left me in the rift. Without me, they descended into the Hell Furnaces to extinguish the fires of King Snurre Ironbelly. Among all those giants we left carnage, recompensing them a hundred-fold for their trespasses into the lands of men. We thought to teach them a lesson they might never forget. Surely, our bloodlust brought disaster upon these lands. Giants are vengeful and cunning. Our strikes against their chiefs stirred the stirges’ nest. We incited this terrible reprisal. I now atone for my sins by laboring here among the slaves of Rhychdir Rhos in Pregmere.”

“Aren’t you a slave yourself?” Bryn asks.

Flerd laughs, “I come and go as I please.” With one quick agile move, he steps out of his leg irons. “These are merely for show. I stay here in Pregmere to prepare for the coming day when the bright light of Pholtus will drive the giants from these lands. When that daylight dawns, we will be ready.”

“Ready for what?” Ansgar asks.

“For heroic deeds or whatever he needs! He’s only told you half his story! Listen to my ballad of courageous glory. Let me tell you how, this hero fought the Drow!” Squint pulls out his shalm and begins to tune the strings.

Flerd shakes his head, “Not me, little bard. The tales have it wrong if they say so. While purging the halls of King Snurre, my companions discovered the white-haired elves that lurk beneath the mountains. Fonkin later returned to lead a party of elven warriors of Derelion into the depths of the earth to pursue them, and many were their adventures in those dim tunnels and caverns. He told me that they entered the underground city of the Drow. They battled both the servants of Lolth and worshippers of the old foes.” Flerd pauses long enough to spit twice on the floor, once at the mention of Lolth’s name and again at the mention of the elemental gods.

“Save the song for later, Squint,” Ansgar puts his hand over the strings of the shalm as the gnome begins to strum. “Will you return with us, Father Trantle? Will you fight for the Brenin to liberate this land?”

“I’ll not leave the people of Pregemere. They depend upon me, and many of them have become true disciples of the Burning Light,” Flerd demurs. He opens a large chest and reveals a suit of plate mail, a fine war hammer, a magical ensigilled staff, and other weapons and magical items. He laughs, “You see, I’m not a slave or a prisoner, and I do not fear the giants overmuch.”

“Is there nothing we can do to persuade you? We came all this long way just to find you,” Ansgar presses.

“Leave him here. He’s more useful to your Brenin inside the occupied lands than he will be in Hochoch,” Mayloriel points out as she admires the priest’s collection of weapons.

“What she says is true. Even now, I have information that your lords will find valuable. The giants are mustering north of town to cross the fords of the Javan and take back Hochoch. Every day, more of them arrive—giant kin of all types, and not a few orcs and goblin folk. They won’t dally much longer before setting out. They stock their wagons and gather their forces today, tomorrow, another day or so.”

Mayloriel nods, “We passed through their camps. They are preparing for war.”

“We must hurry to sound the alarmy if we want to warn the army,” Squint declares.

“That’s exactly why we need you, Father Tantle—or those like you. What of the rest of your party of giant slayers? The Lady Blackblade would have us find them all and summon them to her muster,” says Bryn.  

Frush O’Suggil

“Some scattered, some gone, some dead,” the priest closes his chest of magics and weapons and sits down on the lid. He shuts his eyes for a moment to think over the names of his old colleagues. “Our leader was a warrior, a champion of Keoland. We named him Frush O’Suggill, for he was quick to frush his foes and give them a goodly suggling. He bore a spear most wondrous. The hornwood shaft he tipped with a hardened steel head forged in the smithies of the Deepholm. He swung a battle axe, a gift from the king of Keoland, sharpened with magical spells so that its edge never dulled. Most wondrous of all, he carried a great enchanted shield which deflected many a blow, even those dealt by giants. After our adventures, King Scotti sent him north to fight among the heroes of Furyondy in the recent war against Black Dorakka. When came the giants, Frush returned with haste to lead the crusade in Sterich. They made him captain of the guard of Istivin, and there he remains, so far as I know.”

“That sounds like the kind of man we need on our side!” Bryn exclaims. She dips a quill and writes down the name and the name of the city on a piece of parchment. “Who else travelled with you?”

Cloyer Bulse

“Alas for our magsman, Cloyer Bulse. Often enough, I tried to turn that one to the light. I told him, ‘All criminals must eventually pay,’ but he laughed off my warnings. He was a cloyer, already condemned, awaiting a death sentence in Cryllor’s deepest dungeon when the Lord Kimbertos offered him clemency to become our locksmith, scout, and burglar. An expert in those arts! He joined us under the king’s word that, if he should assist our party with his skills, the king would pardon his many crimes and suspend the sentence of death levied against his head. He walked silently, climbed sheer walls, picked pockets and locks, and always made off with bulse, so we called him Cloyer Bulse. He’s the one that named me Flerd Trantle, for he said the words I spoke were not by lies and flerds, and he mocked the Canticles of Light as no more value than trantles. For those blasphemies he paid dearly. The fire giants captured him, tortured him, killed him, and ate him.”

“Pity that. Sounds like he would have been a useful chap,” Ansgar shakes his head. “I’ve known a few of his type.”

Roaky Swerked

“We brought along a gloomy Suel who served the heathenish gods of his pale ancestors. He had a handsome of face but a dolorous heart. Swerky, dismal predictions were ever on his lips, and his gloomy disposition could darken the brightest day. In battle he wore a suit of heavy mail armor, swung a heavy mace, and roared against his foes until his voice cracked and croaked too hoarse to speak; thus we named him Roaky Swerked. Little love I had for Roaky and his gods, and I know nothing of what became of him. I suppose he returned to Niole Dra and used his share of the plunder to build a sanctuary to his heathen divinities.”

“We can always use more healers. Doesn’t matter to me what gods they serve so long as they don’t serve the giants,” Bryn says.

Gleep Wurp

“Three spellcasters travelled with us, and one of them did serve the giants. The most powerful of our number was a great mage who had attained the high level of wizard, Gleed Wurp the Eyebiter by name and reputation. He carried with him a wand of fire with which he left but embers and burning gleeds. He excelled in all the eye-biting tricks of his trade, but he scowled like a wurp and never smiled. Thus he wore the name. Beek called him a gleep by way of jest, and that became his new moniker. He never forgave the insult nor did we let him forget it. Gleep wore a most wondrous robe by which he could blend into any background all but invisible. Fiend! Under the poisonous curse of a certain amulet he found, his heart turned black. He betrayed us to the giants and abandoned us and many others as well.

“Thanks to Gleep’s treachery, I fell to the frosts. Beek Gwenders also died in that fight. Our companions took his body with them, but me they abandoned to the giants. By the grace of the Pure Light, the frosts did not cook me. Instead, they froze me into a block of ice. Thanks be to Pholtus, salvation came to me when another band of mercenaries found me in that lair.

“As yet, Gleep’s treachery remained unknown. He abandoned the rest of my companions in the halls of the fire giant king. What became of Gleep? Gossips and globtales say that, after the fall of King Snurre, he made his way to Molag to serve those devilish Hierarchs. Perhaps he there remains.”

“More’s the pity. A real-life wizard like that could really turn the tide against the giants!” Ansgar exclaims.

Faffle Dwe’omercraeft

“You might yet find Faffle Dwe’omercraeft. He ranked second among our magic users and was a sorcerer by title. The wand he carried could cover our foes with a sheet of ice or strike them with a freezing blast. He froze the flesh of many a giant and frosted their beards stiff. Faffle was a Flanman like yourselves, but he also spoke Olven, Oeredian, and seven other languages besides, yet his tongue stuttered over every syllable, no matter what the language. For that we called him Faffle. I never learned his true name. Thank the Blinding Light, he seldom faffled in dweomercraft, but when he did, his spells might go awry. He was boon companion to that fool of an elf, Fonkin Hoddypeak. Last I know, he followed Fonkin to leafy Derelion to visit his home among the boughs of the Dimwood Forest.”

“We’ll find Faffle if he’s to be found, but everyone says a shadow lies upon leafy Derelion since the giants came,” Bryn remarks.

Fonkin Hoddypeak

“Tell about this fonkin elf that travelled in your company and lived in that place,” Ansgar encourages.

“The House of Hollypeak is an old and noble family of Derelion, haughty and proud, but none too wise. Thus they earn the unkind slur of Hoddypeak. Pendren is the Hollypeak heir. He’s a handsome and winsome son of his father. If you saw him, you would know why the elf maids swoon over him. And he’s good to have on your side in a fight, for he wields both the sword and the spell with admirable cunning. He’s full of laughter and ceaseless jests. Only one thing darkens his good spirits. A wicked half-brother—an evil wretched sort named Kaleb—vexes and torments him and names him the Fonkin of the Hoddypeaks. Perhaps the name would not have stuck so fast had it not be so well-aimed upon the mark, for Pendren is a fool of an elf if ever there was. Every day that fair olven head hatches new absurdities to his own undoing. He said it was Gleep’s fault, but I say his own folly got the pretty-faced fonkin captured. The fires made him prisoner in the dungeons of King Snurre for a time, and that’s where Cloyer died too. After my companions had delivered their revenge upon the fires, Fonkin escaped and returned to Derelion to recruit a company of warriors. He led them into the depths of the earth to smite the dark elves in their hidden vault. If he ever returned, I have not heard.”

“If he’s among his people in the Dim Forest, Daron Lea will know where to find him,” Mayloriel suggests.

Beek Gwenders

“Fonkin loved best a half-blooded elf who applauded his foolery and laughed at all his jests. This half elf was a ranger of no small reputation from the hamlet of Croodle, a village of Yeomanry lands. That fellow had no love for giants, and no love at all for the Crystalmist mountain heights. So much he hated shivering in the cold and snow and ice that he earned himself the name Beek Gwenders. That’s what he called him. Beek carried a crossbow of magical speed with which he could pierce many giants at a turn. Before we set out, the king of Keoland also bestowed upon him a fine suit of chainmail armor, but that was not enough to turn the spear. Beek perished in the glaical rift, skewered by the frost giant Jarl. (I too they left there for dead, frozen into the ice, but later I heard the tale of all that befell my companions.) Now Fonkin begged Roaky to invoke the power of his heathen gods to raise Beek back to life. Neither Roaky nor his so-called gods had power over Nerul. Then came Gleep the Eyebiter and boasted, ‘I have a certain charm that will do the trick.’ He used the dark arts to make the dead ranger walk and fight alongside them, and so they desecrated Beek’s corpse. Had only I been with them, by the Light! When the poor soul’s unfortunate remains became offensive, they gave him a pitiful pyre by dousing him in oil and lighting him ablaze in the halls of the fire giant king. Fonkin thought it a great joke, but the tale grieved me to hear it.”

“By the Green Man! That’s not right!” Brin exclaims.

Redmod Dumple

“One last companion walked with us. The king of Keoland summoned a hero of the Deepholm Clan, a fierce red-bearded dwur to pound against the giant’s shins. He carried a powerful hammer forged in the depths of the mountains and etched with dwarvish runes, specially enchanted for the slaying of giants, and he wore armor of mithril alloy which could turn most any blade or dart. Always impetuous, attacking in haste, and acting against all wisdom, truly a redmod dumpling, and so we named him that: Redmod Dumple. But he was fierce in a fight. I speak the tongue of the dwur. Many long conversations we had, and I learned much of his people. Where has he gone? Took his share of the spoils back to Deepholm where his folk are hid beneath the Crystalmists.”

“Sounds like we’re going to have to find those hidden halls. We need that dwarf and his magic hammer,” Ansgar resolves.

Fighting Giants

Having introduced the whole party of the original giant slayers, Father Trantle tells the tale of how King Kimbertos Scotti of the Lion Throne became exceedingly wroth with the giants devouring his villages from Cryllor and Good Hills all the way to Istivin. He assembled parties of mercenary adventurers to strike the giants in their lairs. Flerd says, “King Scotti charged us to punish the miscreants and teach them with bitter blows not to raid the lands of men.”

Flerd tells the whole tale, sparing no detail, from the steading of the hill giant chief to the glacial rift of the frost giant jarl to the halls of the fire giant king. The telling of the tale lasts all through the afternoon. Those listening feel as if they are caught up in a spell. Ansgar’s mouth hangs agape. Squint takes notes for the composition of an epic poem. Even Gundoriel Thingolin pays some heed as Mayloriel and Bryn offer him brief summaries in translation. When at last the telling of the tale comes at an end, Ansgar says, “Father Trantle, if you will not return with us, at least grant me one boon. Teach me your tricks and stratagems for slaying the giants.”

“That I can do in a few short words. Stay beyond their reach and let your arrows find their mark. Beware a giant’s kick; beware a giant’s blow. One kick from a giant boot will break all your bones. Draw near only by stealth. Hamstring if you can. If you must get close, eliminate the height advantage. Trip them, snare them, net them, or drop them into a pit. Lift yourself to their level by spellcraft or climb what tree or rock will grant you some advantage. Or stay low to flank them with short folk: gnomes, dwarves, and halflings. Be ready to strike when they stoop. Use magic. Cast light spells in their eyes. Let the druids entangle their feet. And remember, lighting always strikes the tallest tree.”

“In Oytwood Forest, we lay ambushes along their path,” Mayloriel boasts. “They never see us among the trees, but they feel the sting of our arrows. Then they flee and fall into our traps.”

Leaving Pregmere

With the telling of bold tales and the sharing of stratagems, the afternoon passes and the summer sun dips low. Flerd serves his guests fine bread and butter. Now comes an urgent knock at the door and Flerd hastens to open. A wise mother from the barracks warns, “The giants sniff about on rumor that the scent of elvish blood wafts in the streets.”

“We should leave Pregmere! As soon as the way is clear,” Squint suggests. He begins to gather his things.

“The gnome is right,” Mayloriel agrees. “We have overstayed, but now we best wait until dusk.”  

The summer sky darkens. The visitors to Pregmere say farewell to Flerd, draw their hooded cloaks tight about them, and slip out into the streets. Yes, the giants are moving about the city streets, and they have set a watch, but the adventurers move by stealth, concealed in their elven cloaks, soft-footed in their elven boots. Only the dog is seen. Neither orc nor giant shows any concern for a stray mongrel wandering the streets at night.

Mayloriel leads them out of town by the road south, opposite the way they came into Pregmere. “We don’t want to pass through those camps a second time. I’ll take you to the Lea, and from there back to Edhellond.”

“But we need to get back to Hochoch as fast as possible to warn them about the invasion!” Ansgar objects.

“Unless you fancy creeping under their noses again as last night, this will be the fastest way,” she assures them.

The Lea Road leads the party into the night. The last light of the sunset fades to dark far beyond the distant Crystalmists. Luna climbs from the east. The road passes through the last standing wheat of Rhychdir Rhos, past the stone shells of abandoned farmhouses and barns whose thatch has long since fallen away. The forlorn stones look haunted under the pale rising moon.

“We need find a place to sleep. We can’t push all night again,” Bryn complains with a tired yawn. She gestures toward the remains of a distant farmhouse silhouetted in the moonlight.

“Better put some miles between us and Pregmere first,” Ansgar encourages her. “Follow the elf. She knows these lands better than we do.”

“Let’s get off the road. I hear the sound of voices,” Gundoriel says to those who know his tongue. The party slips off into the field to hide themselves among the tall standing straw and stubble left behind by the harvesters. Now they can all hear the sound of the giant voices. A mixed troop comes from the south, walking the Lea Road—a noisome cluster of hill giants, two frosts, and a clutch of verbeeg. Some carry lanterns. All of them have weapons and heavy sacks. They are heading for the muster. But wait … here comes another troop from the opposite direction. Orcs and an ogre draw near and halloo the giants. Ansgar creeps closer to the road to spy on their conversation.

“We be tracking the scent of elf and gnome come out from Pregmere. Some Flan flesh too. What have you seen come scampering this way?” a great orc captain inquires of the giants. Ansgar knows the giants’ tongue; he understands what’s said.

“We’ve seen nothing and no one and not a thing to eat but what’s left of them at Lea,” the verbeeg captain complains. “Nothing but these two frosts what joined us on the way to the summons same as us. Walked all day we did.”

The giants move on toward Pregmere. Soon they are out of sight, but Ansgar dares not move, scarcely dares to breathe. Some minutes later, he creeps closer to the road to take a peak. There in the moonlight stands the ogre waiting in the center of the road. The sight of slack-jawed, fang-faced hulk startles the ranger. Up ahead where the road climbs a rise, an orc waves torches to signal to the ogre and his companions. “Sniffers lost the scent up there. They’ve left the road,” an orc near at hand says to the ogre. “Time to fetch the wargs.”

Ansgar creeps as quiet as he can back to where the others wait in the field. “We have to go, fast as we can, quiet as we can! They are coming for us.”

Mayloriel leads the party across the moonlit grain fields with all the haste they can manage, but fatigue and the need for stealth slows their pace. No sign of pursuit. The fields give way to hillocks and rocky heathlands where the limestone escarpments jut up from the soil here and there, forcing them to zigzag their way along. Fang snarls a warning. Far in the distance a wolf-like howl makes inquiry. A second howl, closer than the first, answers. “They are coming,” Mayloriel says. “Now we run.”

To Be Continued


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

Read Part One of The Giant Slayers: Finding Flerd.

DM Notes: In this session, we continue our departure 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 ChiefGlacial 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 continues with Mayloriel, the elven consort of Darlon Lea. 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.

The names of the original tournament characters and their stats appear in the early publications of the G-Series. The odd names are composed of antiquated English words collected in Poplollies & Bellibones: A Celebration of Lost Words. Kaleb Hoddypeak is described in Die Vecna Die! The fate of Flerd Trantle and Beek Gwenders, the treachery of Gleep Wurp, and the imprisonment of Fonkin Hoddypeak, and the sad fate of Cloyer Bulse are related in Hall of the Fire Giant King, Dungeon #200 (March 2012), but Flerd’s death in the glacial rift is contradicted by his presence as a leader of the resistance and priest of Pholtus in Pregemere in Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff. This version of the story reconciles those accounts, and also includes reference to the brief mention of Beek’s fate in the 5e Monster Manual (316): “After Beek died, we cast an animate dead spell on his corpse. It was fun for a while, but the zombie started to smell real bad, so we doused it in oil and set it on fire. Beek would have found that hilarious. — Fonkin Hoddypeak on Friendship.” Faffle’s connection with Fonkin Hoddypeak of Derelion and Gleep Wurp’s involvement with the Horned Society is described in Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff. Fonkin’s expedition into the depths of the earth to pursue the drow is implied in the original tournament character list for the D-Series where Beek also appears as a party member, contradicting his death in the glacial rift and the subsequent torching of his zombie, but whatever. Frush O’Suggil’s role in the purging of Sterich and his post as captain of guard in Istivin is reported in Dungeon Magazine 117.

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