Hanrik and Yolanda make their way down the final 600 foot section of pulleys and ropes taking them down to the valley floor. Welcome to Klauthen Vale. Several hundred feet out from the valley wall from them are 3 carts pulled by oxen. They also see a dozen Bullywugs, armed and patrolling the carts. There seems to be 10 to 12 figures tied to the sides of the carts dwarves, gnomes, elves, orcs and humans. The carts are covered with tarps but you can see pole arms protruding from the back of the rear cart. As you approach stealthily, they ready themselves as the carts turn around and begin to move out just as you attack.
Taking out the rear most bullywugs is Hanriks plan as Yolanda seek out to free any of the captives to find out if they want to fight for their freedom. A half orc named Lum, a dwarf named Bouldergut and a rogue named Viktur join in the melee after they are freed and find their weapons upon the carts. As bullywugs fall you gain control of the rear wagon as Hanrik tries to use his animal control skills to steer the cart towards the remaining carts. Leaps, tumbles and bow shots are a common sight as carts ram and bullywugs continue to fall. Gaining the rest of their gear from the carts after the battle ends, the 3 join the group seeking treasure and adventure here in the vale.
Lum had learned a bit of info from one of the other captives. The bullywugs are connected to the evil that has befallen this vale and taken position on and in the island further up river. The captives have been forced to search out an ancient dwarven stronghold seeking weapons, armor, goods and items the priests want. Possible magic items have also been found and gathered. The carts were heading to this stronghold to add these to the work force. He also learned that a great “Giant” stronghold lies in the same valley wall some distance before the dwarven hold. The evil figures had gathered there but the purpose was not known. Someof the party decides to rest before heading out but pleasantly find that a 1 hour rest brings you to be fully rested as if you had rested for 8 hours.
Heading out along the far valley wall to the north/northwest where Bouldergut had found a trail, you make your way along the rocky terrain closer to the valley side but having the rangers in your group brings easier movement in this difficult terrain so you make good time. Over an hour later you come to the top of a rise and find a clearing before you leading to massive pillars bordering two 40 foot tall doors within an overhang with stairs leading up to a landing and the doors. The doors are both open with darkness beyond.
Moving in and searching you have come into a huge room with stairs and columns. Even with your dark vision you cannot see the ceiling. Half way down the massive hall you find what looks to be an old fountain but standing within it is a detailed statue of a female storm giant wreathed by magical streaking energy. You cannot touch this as a magical barrier surrounds the half wall around the fountain. A name is crudely carved near the rear of the fountain, Iymrith. History checks find this name to be that of a ancient female storm giant queen who ruled and united the giants long ago to battle the dragons for supremacy. Bouldergut realizes that this entire space was made by the dwarves of long ago probably as slaves to the giants. The ornate carvings and stone work are dwarven masterpieces. Stairs lead up both sides of the hall some 40 feet to open halls leading to 2 pair of huge doors. Viktur attempts to pick the lock he found on one of these doors but even with an exceptional attempt, he fails to open the door. Past the storm giant figure are two rows of huge columns and enormous tapestries running the length of this hall/room. The tapestries and columns have images in/upon them showing great battles and powerful magics being wielded by fire, frost, cloud and storm. Images of battle against good dragons with evil dragons shown to be fighting alongside the giants. Near the end of the hall is a great thrown and seated upon it is a fire giant. Again very detailed in viewing but you cannot touch as a magical barrier separates you and it. On the tall wall behind the thrown are four 40 foot tall archways identical to one another except for the second from the left is dark while the other three are flush stone within the archway. Yolanda fires an arrow into the dark arch and it disappears into the darkness. He tries to pass his hand into the darkness only to find it feels like a flat stone surface. Climbing the archways you find a “Giant” rune carved at each peek. From left to right they are the Cloud rune, Death rune, Fire rune and Frost rune. You all take a full rest here before moving on.
Heading out back along the valley wall towards the known dwarven stronghold, you travel another couple hours until you come upon another clearing. This time you find another huge double door in the side of the valley wall with open double doors leading out across a stone bridge that strattles a long deep ravine paralleling the valley wall. At the end of this bridge rest two more carts and oxen along with more Bullywugs and an Ogre. Watching you see captive again coming in and out of the double doors hauling material to the carts. As you move in closer you see one cart piled with shiny items. A full frontal attack is you plan as you sneak up and fire ranged weapons. Melee attacks follow as a bloody fight befalls the bullywugs and ogre but only after a horn was sounded by one of the guards at the bridge. The captives all fled back into the double doors in the valley wall. You stand victorious before the bridge.