Turn-over, Travel, Tall People, and Tricky Traps

There was a shake-up in the party as they decided to leave town. First off, Gargg left in the night to go back to his kitchen, as there was too much heat around the party. Then Delal and Scruffy left as they felt that they were punished for things that they had nothing to do with. For a moment the party had become quite a bit smaller. Thankfully, Scruffy had recommended two more adventurers that might take their place, a cleric and paladin of Utu.
The party set out to the north, avoiding the road to Pahand. There they met their old friend Tru and his bodyguard Natrina, who also joined the party. They had a good night sleep before heading out to the west, covering uncharted lands.
The going went slow, cutting a thin path through the Great Outside. Several days past. Then the party came upon a strange scene, bear-like creatures throwing stones at each other. Seemed they were playing some sort of game. They party avoided these creatures, the clanking of their armor not being louder that the roaring of the beasts.
Another encounter they had, as they came upon a riverside, was with a large, hungry creature, a cross between a bear and a giant eagle. Once again, missile fire worked quite well against the flying horror. It did respond with a deafening roar, which smashed through the party with the certainty of a sonic hammer. The beast was shortly defeated once it came close enough for melee.
Several days and another river later, the party came upon a bridge and road, going NW—SE. K’em exclaimed shock at this finding, as no other roads have been mapped. They chose the path leading away from Hatyaid, relieved to not have to cut their way through anymore.
Camping one night, just off the path, a small, man-shaped creature with big ears and cute, green suit ran up to the party. “You’re late,” he said, “Come with me. You must come quickly.”
The party put their armor on and prepared to follow the little fellow, when they heard the sounds of combat. Explosions, screaming and the clanking of steel broke the otherwise quiet night. The party quickened their pace, though eventually the sounds of fighting lessened down to silence. They came upon a clearing filled with carnage. Over fifty bodies of fighters, monks and clerics lay strewn over the small battlefield. A whimpering figure, probably female by the sound, lay balled up on the ground, naked and covered in blood. She seemed to be at the heart of the carnage.
K’em immediately called for the party to leave. He spoke of danger if they stayed. As they retreated all the way back to the bridge, K’em said that Martina had communicated with him, warned him to leave. The party concluded that the group of now dead warriors was the same group that headed west, ventured out from Selangod, to slay a vampire named Martina.
The party planned to return to the site but were interrupted by the sounds of a wagon coming over the bridge. A couple and their kids were traveling the same path that the party traveled. The party intercepted them and found that they were traders, traveling from the town of Perad to the City of Gogdor, home to giants. That there were towns outside of Selangod proper surprised some in the party. They decided to accompany the travelers, to protect them but also to shield the family from seeing the bloody carnage that lie ahead.
The salvage minded party returned to the site of the battle, satisfied that Martina wasn’t there. They found some money and a large assortment of weapons, but all magic items had been stripped. The party then held services for the fallen priests and paladins of Utu. They set out once more with the wagon folks, made their way to the City of Giants.
Gogdor was a very stratified city. The tall houses lined the streets in near perfect uniformity, all the same size and shape. The giants seemed to live very structured, unified lives. No evil was detected. The huge general store accepted the swords and weapons gleaned from the carnage a few days back. The party stayed at an expensive inn, one intended for human types.
Instead of pressing on to who knows where, the party found that the tavern had a giant barman that had some adventures for curious types. They proceeded to this giant and enquired. He offered them a strange quest, to open a magic box and tell him what happens. The box had resisted all attempts to identify it, suggesting that it was quite powerful. He offered a thousand gold pieces to the party. They took the box back to the inn and, in stages, opened the box.
Poof. The party found themselves in another place completely. The ground was wet dirt and the breeze was cold. The sky was now dark and the moon and stars looked different. More shocking was that the party was completely naked, having no possessions much less warm clothing. They worked to start a fire out of the ample dead wood, a dead forest all around them. They broke off branches to use as clubs and staffs, should the need arise.
They made their way down a path bearing torches, trying to keep warm by continuous movement. The party came upon a puddle and a desiccated skeleton. Natrina pried the corpse with her stick and found a note. They moved on, not wanting to hang around a corpse. The path emptied onto a road, bearing signs of recent traffic. The party turned left and traveled the new road, seeing a light up ahead.
The party found a path leading off the main road, lit by oil lamps. Moving down this path they became aware of a pond or lake on their right. Ahead, they saw a large, decrepit house with a courtyard.
“Man, you’ll catch your death of cold” a heavy-set man said from behind a hedge. After a short conversation, the man ushered them inside the house, with the friendly greeting, “Welcome to House Usher.”



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