Chapter Four

Session 5

Two-headed trouble

Players Present

Planting 18-20

The game begins the morning after the stirge attack in Session 4. Our heroes are somewhat battered and bloody from the fight, but they decide to proceed on their journey. Several of the most badly wounded ride in the wagon to try to get some rest. The next several days pass peacefully as the party travels beside the Mikar river. Peaceful, that is, until the afternoon of Planting 20, when a loud crashing sound is heard approaching through the forest. They just have time to draw their weapons before two ogres come into view. The first ogre smashes a blow into Ishta, causing a frightful amount of damage. After a heated battle, with everyone doing their part, the ogres are defeated.

Later that afternoon, the party approaches a small village. They arrive just in time to see an ettin snatch up a cow and disappear into the woods after its attack on the village. The villagers are understandably upset, but it turns out that this is actually a fairly common occurrence. The ettin has been making similar raids every day or so for several months. The villagers have lost about half of their able-bodied men to these attacks, not to mention a lot of livestock. This most recent attack also destroyed the bridge over the river, which cannot easily be crossed by other means. The villagers plead with the adventurers to rid them of their two-headed problem once and for all.

The locals say that the town is called Newkeep. Upon further questioning, the villagers say that the village used to be located about 10 miles further west, but they were forced to move after a cruel wizard named Kenzil took over the tower. Another item of interest us that the villagers mention they believe the ettin has a den somewhere in the area near Oldkeep.

As the heroes are getting settled in some vacant houses (the former owners having been killed by the ettin), they notice some writing on the outer wall of the chapel. It appears to be a poem or riddle of some kind:

Two heads have we, but born with one.

We avenged, healed, and protected.

Our master was Invincible,

But punished we all who objected.

Heeded we the six-armed king,

And so by our god were rejected.

Thus, this is our fate:

One head, twice bisected.

It turns out that the riddle was written by the ettin, who frequently sneaks into town at night. It seems to act very differently than it does during the day, trying to be stealthy and not harming anyone or anything. It seems to have a particular fascination with the shrine. Restick, the local priest of Heironious says that he cannot believe what is happening, since ettins are known to be mindless beasts that can barely talk, let alone write.

The group decides to observe the ettin if it makes an appearance that night. After relaxing at the village’s outdoor tavern and getting to know the townsfolk a bit, they set a watch. Nothing is seen during the night.

Planting 21

The day dawns bright and sunny, and things seem peaceful enough. The general consesus is to stay in Newkeep to help defend the village should the ettin attack. Sure enough, the ettin makes another appearance, around noon. It travels quickly throuhg the village. The adventurers try to engage it, but it moves too fast for them to keep up. They do a good job with their ranged weapons, and Darius manages to get ahead of it at one point. It is wounded somewhat, but as it retreats, it appears to cast a healing spell on itself. Talis and a few others track it for a mile or so north of the village, but lose the trail when the ettin crosses the river.

The decision is made to wait until nightfall to try to make contact with the ettin when it is feeling more benign. They set multiple watches and are rewarded around midnight when they spot the giant sneaking into town. The left head is very alert, but the right head seems to be dozing. The watchers observe as it sneaks through town to the shrine. It looks like it is kneeling to pray. After a respectful period of time, Kindric quietly asks what it is doing. The ettin is startled, but once it is reassured it tells a strange story.

Just over two years ago, I was part of a group of adventurers that learned that the inhabitants of this village had been forced to flee their home when an evil wizard took control of the local keep. We confronted the wizard in his lair and defeated him, but not without suffering heavy casualties. Only two of us survived the battle. During the battle, the evil wizard polymorphed me into an ettin. Already under the effect of a charm spell, I aided the wizard in pounding my former friends into paste. After the wizard was finally defeated, my surviving partner, a young rogue named Hartmund, promised to go find some help. Hartmund advised me to stay out of sight—to avoid being taken for a real ettin—until he returned. I never saw him again.

When I ran out of food, I began hunting the local wildlife. Soon I had cleared the area around the wizard’s keep, forcing me to range farther afield. I encountered the occasional hunter, but swiftly learned that if they didn’t immediately run from me, I was better off running from them. The old keep became his hiding place. It was not long before I began attracting monstrous attention. I was approached by a band of orcs seeking some “muscle” for their planned raids—including one on the very villagers whose former keep I now occupied. I turned them down—violently—and learned just how easy it was to take advantage of my new body’s brutal strength. Later, several ogres tried to take me down. It was at this point that I discovered that my savagery was greater than I’d dreamed. My second head—which I’d always thought of as merely an extra set of eyes and ears—took on a life of its own, directing my limbs in ways I wouldn’t have chosen myself. At first I believed that I had been imagining things. But the next time I encountered a hunter in the forest, my other head again took charge, and before I could will his limbs to stop, I had beaten the poor man to death. I could only watch in horror as, day after day, my second head took control of our mutual body.

In time, the second head—calling itself “Muck”—gained almost complete control of my body. I became an unwilling passenger, and worse, a witness to Muck’s atrocities. When I objected, Muck pummeled me unconscious. The only times I could operate my body were when Muck was asleep. I had given up on Hartmund ever returning, and resigned myself to life as an ettin—until this development. Now I renewed my efforts at restoring myself to my true form. Through prayer, I came to realize that I could one day cast a dispel magic divine spell, suitably powerful to undo the polymorph spell that had so drastically altered my life. But I found that my deity, Heironeous, would not grant me the dispel magic spell. Instead, I was granted a vision of a kind of riddle, which you have probably already seen scratched on the walls of the shrine in Newkeep. At first I took the verse for instructions on how to live in accordance with Heironeous’s wish, but soon realized that it was somehow the key to my dilemma. Whenever I prayed most fervently, I saw the riddle again. I took to praying all night, whenever Muck was asleep, and writing my visions on the walls of the keep, to better enable him to study the riddle.

Muck, of course, took exception. Although Muck proved unable to read, he defaced the riddles out of spite, and again, beat me for objecting. I despaired until I remembered a small shrine to Heironeous near the place where the villagers had resettled. I began slipping down there to pray and record my visions. Sometimes I had to dodge the villagers, but at least they didn’t erase my notes. Unfortunately, one morning Muck woke up early, and noticed the villagers’ rather plentiful herds of cattle. The hamlet became Muck’s favorite target for raids, which made it even more difficult for me to slip in and out unchallenged. I tried on a few occasions, during my nightly visits, to explain myself, but the villagers wouldn’t listen. I resolved simply to be more careful, but I knew in my heart that it wouldn’t be much longer before the villagers found some adventurers to vanquish the marauding ettin. I wasn’t even sure I would have objected—if it would end my suffering, and Muck’s reign of terror. So now here we are, and I’m pleading for your help.

The group agrees to help Keirnan, and they convince him to accompany him back to his lair, where they can tie him up so that he can’t harm the village during the day when Muck is awake. They don’t make it all the way back, and tie the ettin to a tree when it seems that Muck is starting to stir. When Muck awakes, he flies into a rage, but the ropes hold. Most of the group wants to check out the tower at Oldkeep, but Kindric wants to return to the village to inform the elders of the latest developments.

The rest of the party arrives at the tower. They search around outside and don’t discover anything of interest. All the houses that used to make up the village have been destroyed, either burned or just smashed. There are three relatively new graves to one side, presumably belonging to Kiernan’s former companions. Inside the tower is a disaster. What isn’t foul from the presence of the ettin has been destroyed by fire or other effects of the battle between Kenzil and Keirnan’s group. The ceiling of the main room has a large hole in it. Apparently, Kiernan was polymorphed upstairs, and couldn’t fit down the stairs, so he made his own way down. In the upper room, they discover some treasure that the ettin couldn’t reach. This includes an amulet that may have belonged to Kenzil when he lived here.

Not finding anything interesting, the group heads back toward town. When they arrive at the place that the ettin had been tied up, they discover that it was able to break it’s bonds and is now nowhere to be found. Kindric catches up with the rest of the group at this point.

As they continue back to Newkeep, they realize that Darius isn’t with them, but he catches up almost immediately, saying that he was answering a call of nature. After several more hours of travel, they arrive back at Newkeep…

End session

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