Back to Ottos’ castle

1 August 2021

We decide to go back to level seven. During our way down, we see no Mithrill and no Duergarr at level six. It is completely abandoned and seems robbed of all treasures.

At level seven, we stealthily explore the halls to the south. I cast Tensers’ floating disk to transport Peythur because he cannot see in the dark. The disk will float behind me three feet high and is silent. After walking for a while, we enter an open space; we hear someone humming in the distance. In the back of this cavern, we see a huge carved throne made out of blue and purple chrystals: it glows but is not magical. Farryn wants to take some of the crystal, but we tell him not to: if the owner of this throne returns, we will be in trouble. I spot a carved cross in the rocks on the ground – it is probably just a marking. However, it is very large. The humming approaches us slowly, we hear the sound getting louder. We look around a corner and see a Stone Giant slamming the wall with his pickaxe. It seems like he is carving something in the wall: we deduce it is related to the god of the Stone Giants. Peythur wants to talk to the Giant to see if we can help him and whether he’s friendly. I put on my helmet to understand what will be said in a moment. As Peythur feels up the Giants’ leg, the Giant startles: “What? What is this? Invasion, invasion, get your weapons!”

Peythur tries to calm the Giant, and it seems to work. The Giant looks surprised and is interested. However, he picks Peythur up to eye level and shakes him up and down. Peythur says he is a Firbolg, and not a pureblood Giant. “Never heard of them!” shouts the Giant. Peythur tries to change the subject and complements the Giants’ carving. The Giant replies he is almost finished. I have to suppress a snort of laughter: it looks like stick figures and not nearly done at all. 

“It is beautiful,” says Peythur. I know Peythur cannot see in the dark, so it is even harder not to laugh.

Farryn, who cannot understand Giant, asks in common: “Hey Peythur, is everything okay?” The Giant wasn’t expecting more people and wants to see the source of the sound up close. However, he doesn’t grab Farryn, but me! Valentine reacts immediately with two Eldridge Blasts, dealing quite some damage to the Giant. The Giant lets go of me, but unfortunately not without hurting me: he throws me at the other side of the cavern where I smack against the rock and end up prone on the ground. The Giant attacks Valentine with his great club and calls for his mates. Valentine uses her polymorph to transform the Giant into a bunny to flee this cavern immediately.

We search vigorously for a place to hide and find a place near the stairs. We listen quietly. There must be more than two Giants here… I nod to Valentine to let go of her concentration she is channeling for the polymorph. The Giants walk past us and back to the cavern the bunny transformed back to a Giant. We hear them in the distance: “Well, it was so weird, they looked like rats! I’ve never seen such small folk before. One attacked me and it hurt!” “Oh, that is extraordinary! Come Gravellock, we’ll feed you, and then you’ll feel better.” They walk away, we hear their footsteps fade in the distance.

We explore further and come into another empty cavern. We walk on some brown shells. I did not notice before, but it looks like the exoskeleton from an Umber Hulk. We find a way up, and we choose to explore. It ends somewhere on a higher level: we can feel there’s water. We turn around, we want to find our way to the Wizard Academy, and that is on level nine. For a while, we walk around in circles. Finally, we find something new, a cavern with pickaxes – probably owned by the Giant family. In the adjacent space, we see giant chrystals in a cathedral-like cave. However, the crystals seem broken in places: as if chewed on. In the next room, we find a petrified Basilisk and a path down! We don’t feel like descending already, we feel we need to return to the castle and Otto. As we’re discussing, Farryn wanders off and gets stuck in a pool of quicksand. We succeed in pulling him and Grond out and continue our way to the castle.

Valentine casts dimension door again and takes me with her to the roof of the castle. After, she transforms into a giant owl and picks Farryn and Peythur up. We really want to have dinner again – and we make our way to the dining room. On the third floor, we don’t see the homunculus in the room it was destroying all Ottos’ stuff. It is even neatly organized! On the second floor, we don’t find anything. Peythur tries to call Otto with his staff of birdcall (duck this time), but there is no reaction. On the first floor, we try to open a couple of doors but they’re all locked. I know they lead to the courtyard, so I walk further to the dining room. We are served a delicious meal! Peythur knows the food is served by unseen servants. I know these are not NORMAL unseen servants – these constructs can be further away from the creator (or the creator is nearer than we think).

After dinner, we investigate more rooms and find the homunculus floating above a desk. Valentine disguises herself again as the homunculus: the creature is interested again. He holds up a drawing of Otto, tears it up in little pieces, and throws it in the air like confetti. He is staring at us, awaiting a reaction. Valentine asks if Otto is dead. The homunculus shakes his head. “Where is he?”, he flaps his arms. Together, Farryn and Peythur repair the drawing and ask: “Where is Otto?” The creature responds in gestures again: we understand that Otto flew far away – outside of the castle. He went to the giants. We also understand that the creature wants us to kill Otto. He asks every one of us separately. We all decline, except for Valentine. She hesitates: what is there in return? After some gesturing – he grabs a black helmet from a portal in the other room, but we cannot touch it. We can only have it if we accept the quest. We finally understand it is a helmet that boosts your armor. I ask Valentine: “Are you seriously considering killing someone for a fucking helmet?!” She declines the request – fortunately.

We hear some noise from above, and I pull Valentine away from the homunculus. We walk upstairs: who or what could it be?

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