The group journeyed deeper into the western tribe lands searching for the missing Aegnus trading expedition.
Mounted on horseback/dogback or riding in the carriage, the group manages to travel about 35 miles a day through the valleys framed by steep mountains. Bridgette does a lot of hunting throughout and supplements their meager rations with plenty of game. Her prize catch is a young mountain goat – taken alive – however her dreams of goatskin gloves don’t last long.
On their second night after leaving the hamlet where they were ambushed by orcs the group makes camp under a bluff. This is when a ferocious Dire Cougar leaps into their camp and carries off the young goat that Bridgette had caught. The group at first attempts to fight the beast but after see how much damage it dealt with a claw swipe they let it escape…much to Bridgette’s disappointment.
The next day the group comes upon a trading post where three valleys come together. Scouting out the hovel before approaching, they count seven Trolls, twelve Orcs, two Giants, and an Ogre. Though more creatures lurk inside the makeshift buildings.
Kendra and Spazzlethrop are left behind with the carriage while the others enter the settlement to gather information on the trading expedition. There’s some trouble initially because the group overtly hunts through the settlement…nearly resulting in a fight when Bridgette’s wolf starts sniffing up an orc…but Edward defuses the situation.
Most of the traders in the settlement do not speak Common but they eventually discover a Fire Giant who does. His responses to their inquiries are not exactly helpful but at least they can understand him.
Spazzlethrop, growing impatient, decides to mount his riding dog and make his way to the settlement. Edward, Caldus, and Bridgette are disturbed to see the gnome approaching… The Fire Giant had warned them that the orcs hate gnomes. However, Spazzlethrop is mistaken for a goblin or an orc or just a green person due to his affliction. He trades some goods at the outpost, obtaining some cool glowing berries, before making his way over to the Fire Giant. He tries to trade Aurachalcum to the Fire Giant for information but it just melts in the Giant’s hand… For whatever reason the Fire Giant then confirms that, yes, an expedition from Haven did come through here recently and that it headed up the northern valley. More than that he claims not to know.
The group quickly departs the trading outpost and makes their way to the north. They ride late into the night to put some distance between them and the outpost. They finally stop to spend the night in a pine grove.
Fog hangs heavily as the group continues on their way north the next day. They pass cairns in the mist and catch glimpses of stone structures perched high on the mountains above. Bridgette and Caldus attempt to look for signs of the expedition but – while wagon wheels have passed this way – it’s been too long for them to clearly tell if these are the right tracks. The sun slowly burns away the fog revealing that the stone structures in the mountains above are massive castles half shrouded in cloud.
The valley abruptly splits into a number of smaller ones – Caldus determines that only three of them could have supported the expedition’s wagons. Caldus also thinks he sees something in the sky above but with the sun overhead it’s hard to tell what. Kendra, Bridgette, Edward, and Caldus split up to scout ahead…leaving Spazzlethrop to guard the carriage and horses.
Caldus discovers a wagonwheel in the valley that he’s exploring but quickly retreats when boulders start raining down from the mountains above. He catches a glimpse of gigantic forms high above.
Bridgette’s valley becomes steeper and steeper – until it’s clearly impassable to a wagon.
Kendra and Edward follow a valley until it ends in a tunnel cut under the mountain. Kendra is fascinated by this…but Edward decides to head back to the carriage.
Spazzlethrop is sleeping in the carriage when a rather hungry gryphon dives out of the sky and attempts to carry off the horse! On his way back Edward is – of course – alarmed by this sight but after witnessing firsthand how much damage the gryphon can do he tries to escape it’s attention.
Spazzlethrop then uses one of his mysterious abilities to temporarily erase the gryphon from time. This doesn’t help the horse but does give Edward a chance to undo the harness and then hide. Returning to time, the gryphon snatches up the horse and flies back into the sky.
Edwards hurries off to gather the others leaving Spazzlethrop alone once more. After a few minutes the gnome hears a sound like a thunderclap…then another and another…approaching him. He’s suddenly joined by a equine figure with a shimmering aubergine coat, a lively green mane, and a golden horn. Yellow eyes examine him with…interest?
To Spazzlethrop’s surprise the strange equine speaks Common. Perhaps more surprising, the equine labels him a “misgnomer” diagnosing his affliction as “being dead and alive at the same time.” Somehow, according to the equine, Spazzlethrop screwed up time? Spazzlethrop asks the equine if it knows what the glowing berries are that he acquired at the trading post? The equine responds by eating the offered berries and answering “tasty”. The equine also notes that it came over because it felt Spazzlethrop “mess with time” when he erased the gryphon. Spazzlethrop explains what he did and asks if the equine can mess with time as well – the equine is excited at the process and asks to erase Spazzlethrop from time. The gnome says something along the lines of, “Sure. Why not.” However, when the equine touches Spazzlethrop with its horn the gnome is not erased from time…instead he, just for a moment, feels health and vigor return to his flesh. Then the sensation fades. The equine is irritated that Spazzlethrop was not erased from time and the gnome ventures, “Maybe you just need practice?” At this the equine bounds off up the side of a mountain to practice by erasing gryphons from time.
Spazzlethrop decides to not tell the others about his encounter with the equine on their return.
The group is trying to decide what to do now that their horse has been carried off when a loud voice calls down to them from above. Looking around, they spot a Giantess descending from the mountain. She knows they come from the valley and claims to know know Aengus. She asks the group to come up to her home to rest and eat, then she’ll answer their questions. After some initial hesitation the group agrees and she offers them a large sack to ride in – the sack is large enough to hold the entire group, the carriage, and riding dog. Caldus and Kendra insist on climbing themselves while the others ride in the bag. Edward asks the Giantess her name and is told Uld. The Giantess quickly climbs over the rough terrain to a hidden path cut into the mountain – it’s still giant’s path so steps are a challenge for the climbers – that leads high to the castles above.