Session 6: Prologue: A Giant Task

Orson sprinted forward occasionally leaping over the remnants of once great gravestones and brick lined pathways- the area was a cemetery before the fall of Neverwinter, but now it had stones and rubble strewn about.

His chest burned from running and dirty sweat stung his eyes, but his boots continued to carry him forward.

There may be undead lurking about but Orson did not care- a pack of zombies, even an appetite of ghouls were child’s play compared to his current pursuer. A loud scream could be heard behind him, it sounded like Jeft the Smith, causing him to miss a step. He looked back toward the sound of his old friend.  Something caught his hard boots and Orson tumbled forward crashing hard into the ground.

They had come to Neverwinter to seek riches and glory.  This was his fourth job from the city watch. Orson and his four companions were to patrol Black Lake District for potential bounties.  “It sounded easy enough at the time” he thought.

The fall caused the air to expel out of Orson’s chest- what little air he had managed to gather anyway.  He had been running for ages and the beast kept pursuit.  My how his chest burned.

Wiping sweat from his vision, he looked back to see what tripped him and saw a winged shape behind him close to the ground. His arms, burning from exhaustion, instinctively reached for his short sword.  He drew the weapon and stabbed at the winged, humanoid shape. Orson aimed where the shoulder met the neck- a definite killing blow that Orson had executed many times before.

Orson’s short sword thrust forward and his hand felt instant pain as his blade struck the target; accompanied with a loud ringing sound. It felt and sounded like he hit solid metal. The blade skittered from Orson’s grip.  Lightning flashed and he saw the creature that tripped him. A once great statue of a harpy- it’s bronze features now worn from years of rain and abuse.  Probably an adornment for an ancient noble’s grave. Nobles always liked anything that grabbed attention, emitted power, or garnered envy.  Why not an expensive statue in death- it’s value exceeding your average farmer’s life of hard work.  “Hell maybe even five farmers” he thought.

Hands stinging from pain, Orson could not help but snicker with ironic relief. Panting, he collected his thoughts. The area was once a majestic place of rest for the dead- “How bloody appropriate” he thought. The cemetery’s gardens were once full of lush greenery over rolling hills. “This cemetery may have been called Emerald Cemetery or was it Jade…”

A thunderous roar could be heard from behind Orson. “Shit!” he muttered to himself while taking cover behind a large and once-ornate grave marker. It sounded less than twenty strides away. His ears rang from the roar.  He peered around the corner but saw nothing.  Lighting again, illuminated the sky but his pursuer was no where to be seen.  Rolling thunder following seconds behind and Orson absently shivered.  It smelled like rain.

Orson slowed his heavy panting as best he could but he was worried his heart’s beat would give away his location. Blood pounded through his body. He reached for his belt dagger with his partially numb hand and prepared himself. His short sword lay somewhere on the ground, having dropped it from stabbing that damn statue earlier, but he could not find it in the poor light.  “Fool” he scolded. Rain began to fall and dappled his surcoat that was emblazoned with the Lord protector’s sigil.

“So it will end like this” Orson grimaced. His numb fingers struggling to find the best grip on his dagger.  It was a good dagger.  Mythril.  Forged years earlier from a dwarvish bladesmith.

“Bloody Neverwinter watch and it’s bullshit glory was always a bad bloody idea” he now lamented.  Turning the white metal blade in his hand.

He had lost his longtime comrades just minutes ago. There was Iron Tarkus, Myr the Pale, Captain Dorrin Svold , and Jeft the Smith. Companions from a great warlord’s campaign seven years earlier.  Friendships made through war and solidified through their many adventures.  They were the second patrol after the first waned to corruption and carousing.  Now they were dead- Jeft’s children now fatherless, Tarkus’s ancient bloodline forever erased. “Their dreams of riches and glory met their end but I will be damned if I don’t go down with a bloody blade in my hand” he silently grumbled to himself.  “No time to mourn the dead.”

“I will go for it’s groin” Orson thought. “That should slow it no matter how damn big it is… Or really piss it off.”

He waited, blade ready, body coiled like a spring.  Finally starting to get feeling back in his hand.

Orson listened intently.  He heard a slight moan in the distance before him. His eyes squinted into the darkness to find it’s source.  Lightning flickered as if Talos, god of thunder, sensed his need for light.

It was a zombie about 50 paces away. “Necromancers and their undead abominations have been known to inhabit these parts” he reminded himself.  Maybe he could use it to his advantage.

He pressed himself back, his spine trying to melt into the gravestone.  Some dust fell on his shoulder. And more on his other shoulder. “Maybe the old gravestone will collapse” he thought.  He pushed back more- lightly testing the headstone’s strength.  More bits of tiny rubble fell on his head.  He felt the structure give way with a violent force and a giant meaty hand grabbed at Orson’s legs.

He turned his head to look up and his eyes went wide.  “SHIT!” he yelled as the behemoth’s massively, heavy maul met his chest.  Orson’s body exploded in blood against the gravestone and it’s immediate surrounding.

The massive shape bellowed a deafening roar again, a victorious toothy grin on it’s face.  It stood as tall as four men stacked and had a torso the size of a carriage.

Rain falling about it’s grey hulking skin, it grabbed at the bloody mess that was Orson. It turned it’s massive shape around, dragging it’s giant metal maul in a hand the size of a chest and Orson’s mangled corpse in the other.

And so the Hill Giant walked back from whence it came, dinner in hand, and not a care in the world.  This was his domain and all who trespass shall receive the same fate…