Nimozaran appeared before the shocked Thrane and the group. Unfortunately it was exactly in the same spot as Tangarth and he was telefraged and shunted into the wall. Since no one really cared about him anyway they quickly forgot about him and carried on. The old geezer happened to have the correct ritual to revive the bitchy little goblin, to the rest of the group’s umbrage.
The group decided that a small raiding party was the only way to get to the hill giant steading and figure out what was going on there. It was about ten miles away through the giant encampments of lean-tos, tents and caves. For the first part the adventures attempted to cut through the forest in the hills that traveled near the road. Wandering around for at least an hour the group found itself traveling in a circle and decided to risk the road. As soon as they set foot on the giant beaten path a loud group of hill giants crossing a bridge saw them. Thinking quick Sir Mike, the only one who spoke giant, grunted out a lie. Not the brightest group of meatheads the giants continued down the road, unconcerned of the motley group of small humanoids. Believing they were emissaries for the Mages of Saruun. Sneaking around a couple more patrols and encampments they finally came to their destination.
A massive timber stronghold hides among the hills. The well-worn trail that you’ve been following ends before a pair of 15-foot-high doors made of ironbound logs. Thicker logs comprise the walls of the stronghold. The wooden roof inclines toward the middle, reaching a height of 30 feet at its peak. The stronghold has no windows, but a squat watchtower overlooks the entrance. Smoke rises from numerous stone chimneys. A log guardhouse stands apart from the main stronghold, but connected by a palisade wall of vertical logs 15 feet high. Heavy log doors set into the palisade lead to a courtyard lodged between the two buildings.
The outer walls of the timber stronghold are fashioned from 5-foot-diameter logs laid horizontally. Inner walls use 3-foot-diameter vertical logs, and doors are ironbound log affairs 15 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 1 foot thick. The dirt floors are covered with stone tiles. Ceiling height varies from about 16 feet at the outer walls to 30 feet at the center. Blackened rafters support the roof. Rain falls often in the hills, and mist settles over the steading at night.
Deciding that is was too risky to try to enter through the main gate the team scrambled up the side of the steading. The moldy roof had a number of huge chimneys, and finding one without smoke billowing from it they tied a rope to the construct Shield and sent him down. Finding an empty dining room he signaled for the rest of the group to repel down.
This dining hall contains a massive oak table surrounded by eight giant-sized chairs. The chairs at the end of the table are draped with furs and look more impressive than the others. Mugs, plates, and candelabra litter the tabletop. Animal furs, racks of antlers, and mounted heads adorn the walls. A copper dragon’s head is mounted above the fireplace.
Most of the furnishings in the steading are sized for 12-foot-tall hill giants. Tables, benches, door handles, and other room fixtures are typically twice as high, long, and wide as their human-sized equivalents and roughly eight times the weight.
Listening at the massive eastern door they heard the clanking of pots and pans and discerned that this must be abutting the kitchen.
Smoke fills this odorous kitchen, which features two large trestle tables covered with pots, kettles and bowls. Counters along the walls are likewise cluttered with wooden utensils, jugs, mugs, and plates. Barrels are piled near the tables, and various cheeses, smoked meats, and sausages hang from the blackened rafters. Simmering in the hearths are two fat iron cauldrons overflowing with hot broth. In front of the hearths stand a pair of hill giants wearing stained leather aprons, screaming instructions at a host of orc slaves and their ogre taskmasters.
Using the confusion of the preparations for dinner the group snuck across the kitchen relatively unnoticed.
Entering a wide corridor they heard loud snoring from one room, a wild giant celebration in the next and then a few conspiratory whispers coming from the end of the hall. They are discussing the recent raid and laughing at the stupidity of the hill giants and ogres. Busting the door open they see the walls of this spacious room are adorned with racks of antlers, cured animal furs and skins, and the heads of various beasts, monsters, dwarves, elves, and humans. Three long, giant-sized beds heaped with furs are pushed into the corners of the room, and sitting on two of them are a pair of chortling stone giants. A large wooden chest is pushed against the east wall between them. A blazing fire crackles in the hearth across from the door.
As the battle ensues one of the stone giants pulls a rope hanging in the corner of the room and a bell is heard down the corridor. Grunts of complaint are heard across the hall as the ogres come from an alcohol induced slumber.
Amazed that the melee did not alert the rest of the steading they take a short rest while Scrooples opened the chest. The chest contains ten 500 gp gems, 700 gp, and a stone tablet engraved in Dwarven. It contains a message is written to Laerthar from Belastraya, sister of the stone giant thane. It translates as follows.
Laerthar, my love, Go to the hill giants. Help Nosnra plan his raids. Make sure he does not lose sight of our greater goal. Do this for your thane. Do this for me. Belastraya
Confirming their suspicions that there is something larger looming behind these giant raids they investigate the ogres sleep chambers and find a stairs leading under the complex.
Smoky, sputtering torches illuminate a spacious square room. Four thick pillars support the 30-foot-high ceiling. Benches and tables have been pushed against the walls, leaving most of the area clear. Brass gongs hang from wooden frames in the southwest and southeast corners, and a bugbear stands in front of each of them. Ironbound wooden doors and gaping hallways lead to other areas of the dungeon, and from somewhere in the darkness, you hear plaintive sobbing. Quietly assassinating the bugbears they asses the secret dungeon they have found. The masonry work down here is quite good, certainly superior to orc or giant work. Characters note that most of the stonework is old, patched in places with new mortar or shored up with newly hewn stone.