Continuing to storm the castle, we now filed through the inner wall towards the courtyard. We could hear snorting from the towers above us, and a heavy thumping reverberating through the ground.
Kalli, Blake, and Raynard wasted no time, and began to climb up the side of the first inner tower. Meanwhile I walked to the corner and peered around, to see a hulking fire giant patrolling down the corridor towards us. Another appeared around the side of the other tower 50 yards to my right.
Up above, the climbers had come upon two squads of ogres on the tower tops, and could see a vast hedge maze in the center of the castle. Raynard dropped down on the ogres, viciously assassinating a couple.
“Case closed,” he announced with his new lawyerly affectation. He and Kalli then proceeded to engage in melee combat with more ogres.
Blake lobbed a fireball over at the next tower across the wall, which burst somewhat feebly, singing the ogres there. He rapidly followed it up with a second more powerful blast, which finished the job… smoking chunks of ogre meat rained down upon us.
By then the fire giant who had rounded the far tower corner had us in his sights. Ben Ken conjured a puddle of Grease before him to interfere with any possible charge, and I intoned a prayer to Chill the Metal in his armor – fire giants hate feeling cold! He spotted us spellcasters though and began just ripping chunks of stone off the rampart walls, and hurling them at us! One rock beamed me after I finished my prayer, slamming me back and nearly breaking my arm. The giant bellowed as he began to feel the freezing bite of metal on his skin, and charged! He lumbered right over the grease pool, barely noticing it, but then Ben Ken turned around, bent over, and wafted a Stinking Cloud at him. This slowed his charge as he coughed and hacked, distracted.
Stefan decided to charge at the first fire giant that was still lumbering down the corridor beyond the first tower. His ice axe bit into the giant’s chest, and Hrolf came trundling up hot on his heels. A moment later, Kalli dropped down from the tower above, hovering behind the giant with her magic sword, and slicing into its back! But the giant just reached back, grabbed ahold of the warrioress’ midsection, and used her to deliver a powerful overhead slam to the half-elven axeman before him! WHAM, that put Stefan on his back, and I could imagine that he could now see a little spinning ring of birdies over his head.
The second giant, coughing and freezing, continued galumphing towards Ben and I. He swung his tremendous club around at me; I ducked and the club went sailing over me, right into an incredulous Ben Ken! I heard at least a dozen bones crack as the poor bastard went sailing down the hall through the inner wall we had come through, back out into the outer bailey. Not feeling up to single combat with an angry fire giant, I quickly darted down the hallway after my battered comrade, for some triage work on his shattered skeleton. As I approached, I could see him gritting his teeth and coughing blood, as he managed to sit up and fling an Acid Arrow past me at the giant’s leering face peeking down the hallway. That would give him pause! He bellowed again, the stood up and stomped off after Stefan and Hrolf. I reached Ben and began praying for his bones to knit back together.
Having stabilized the mad wizard, I jogged back to the inner bailey just in time to see Raynard drop down from the first tower too, attempting to stab the second giant… but the great creature grabbed him in mid air and began flailing him around like a club! I sprinted up, whipping my enchanted flail in great circles and then… CRACKING the iron weight at great speed directly into the giant’s ankle! It let out a piteous howl and fell to it’s knees, dropping the rogue, and then falling to it’s side and moving no more.
Stefan had now come to his senses and crawled from the carnage. He stood up and charged back in, this time burying the head of his ice axe into the center of the last fire giant’s chest! That giant too fell over dead, but backwards and directly onto Raynard. Ouch. We managed to pull it off of him, and paused to catch our breath. I prayed a benediction for the dead monsters’ souls.
We got word that Cadorna, the wealthy merchant who originally hired our company and subsequently screwed us over (sending us through phase-spider infested forests to the gay Nazi Bane-worshippers to be executed), was skulking somewhere in the inner bailey. But we decided to forge on with our primary mission, and head into the hedge maze.
It was dark and foreboding, full of thorny plants and glistening black flowers. There were 3 paths to choose… Ben Ken chose the leftward path and we all followed. A little ways down the path, he came upon a door, and yanked it open… to reveal a surprised hedge wizard, who immediately blasted Ben full in the face with a Ray of Stupefaction! The mad wizard stumbled back, confused, and wandered off further into the maze. I chased after him to see if I could help, and summoned some snakes about me to protect me as I babysat this stupefied imbecile. Kalli shouldered her way past me into the doorway in pursuit of the assailant. But inside the room, she found only a huge man-eating venus fly-trap plant with several waving tendrils that darted at her, wrapping about her limbs and drawing in towards its gaping maw. Stefan followed her in, and began hacking at the tendrils with his axe. Raynard entered too, shooting arrows at the plant’s “face.” The plant then turned it’s attention to the angry axe-wielder, grabbed Stefan, and yanked him off his feet and into it’s mouth! It began gnawing at his armor as his arms and legs flailed wildly.
Kalli escaped, and came to find me, asking me to pray for True Seeing, working under the hypothesis that the plant could be simply an illusion conjured by the hedge wizard who had suspiciously disappeared. I complied, but after my careful research, the evidence failed to support her hypothesis. We were then forced to accept the null hypothesis: it was not an illusion after all, and thus, by deduction, must be a REAL PLANT MONSTER CURRENTLY INGESTING OUR HALF-ELF. Finally, Raynard slew it with his hail of arrows, but just then a fireball then tore through the corridor as the hedge wizard made his escape.
Whew! What else would this sinister maze have in store for us?