Wild Abandon

Snowhere to Run

Chapter 49

While the rest of the party deals with the ramifications of planting a magic bean inside a remorhaz (the "remorfications", if you will), Jimothy Jones stirs in a fitful sleep.

The paladin finds himself on a battlefield, surrounded by demons. A hundred feet away is his brave squire, Elspeth Varkestone, being swarmed by fiends! She raises her hammer, which glows with divine energy for a moment, but suddenly fizzles as the beasts leap onto her. Jimothy charges into the fray with his shield forward, driving through the demons like a snowplow. But when he reaches Elspeth, it's too late… the dwarf has been torn to bloody bits.

Suddenly, Jimothy is walking with Rorik down a dimly-lit corridor. An enormous bark-covered arm descends from the darkened ceiling and grabs Rorik, but Jimothy smashes it to bits. Rorik falls to the ground, which gives way beneath him. Jimothy runs over to help his Armor Bro, but he's already out of reach. He watches Rorik disappear, robot arm outstretched, into the void…

Then the smell of burning wood fills the goliath's nostrils as he finds himself standing in the village of his long lost tribe. Armored drow slavers drag away goliaths left and right, and Cora Hale is trying to stop them! Jimothy lets out a roar as he begins laying into the vile elves with Corpsebane. He knocks the helmet off the first to reveal the face of Jorlan Despana! Jorlan laughs at him, and not even Jimothy pounding his face into bloody pulp stops the mocking laughter. Jimothy attacks another—it's Shaela Vae! Again he beats her face in, but again, her laugher does not cease. He feels rage and hatred in his blood as he swirls to attack another, but stops just in time as he sees that it is not another drow behind him, but Cora. The shifter is holding her belly, and Jimothy sees rivers of blood pouring from between her fingers. She collapses, and though Jimothy tries to heal her, it isn't enough. He hears a child cry out, and then… darkness.

"Do you want them all to die?"

"Nyet."

"Then why do you hold to your oath? The fires of faith should not be restrained by useless words. Sacrifices must be made."

"I made promise, I cannot break it."

"Then they will die."

"I shall protect them."

"And what will happen when you cannot…?" Jimothy sees himself falling as September busts through a sewer grate, while Roland Leopold bleeds out with no one to heal him. He sees himself staring at Corpsebane with an ape-like grin as his friends lie dead and Demogorgon brings his tentacles down upon the Mind Flyer. He sees himself totally unconscious as the hell knight devastates his comrades. "Yours is a road fraught with sacrifice, Jimothy Jones. If you ever need my help, all you need do is ask. And remember: the lives of those who have lived many years mean more than the life of one who has not even begun to live. Remember when the Black Stork comes…"

He hears his own voice saying "DIE, DEMON!" and then thunder, before awakening inside a sarcophagus! He pushes the lid off and finds himself in the freezer of the Wave Dancer. He was in Saladesh's coffin. He goes out into the Iron Wastes (unaffected by the extreme cold due to his goliath physiology) to track down his comrades, who are in trouble of their own…

A dragon with tartan scales stares the Black Antlers down. His name is Grackildimyr, and he's pissed that they woke him up with their shenanigans. Mye-kuhl Jancer recognizes the name as that of a green drake who terrorized the forest he grew up in before it vanished, and the necrodancer is able to assuage the dragon. Grackildimyr laments the loss of his green scales, blaming the slaad lord, Renbuu, for his current state. Now he can't fly free without a beast like Fafnir seeing him plain as day—he's been reduced to a doorman! He says that if he ever sees another slaad, he'll kill 'em! Brublind takes one big step behind Jancer.

Nanoc the barbarian says that dragon's were not meant to be spoken to, they were meant to be slain, and charges forward with his sword. Rorik steps in and deflects the blow, telling him to step off. Maevalla the mage and Sprig Ticklenose the gnome calm their comrade and tell him that they should explore the new pyramid, which is ripe for the picking. Jancer claims ownership over the pyramid, and Sprig Ticklenose steps in to negotiate with his party's new-found "patrons", and, although Jancer isn't convinced, Sprig gives his face-palming companions a thumbs-up. They set out.

There is a loud scraping from a cave to the side, and a group of frost giants emerge, staring at the party over the chasm where Grackildimyr is. The tartan dragon awkwardly lowers himself back into the darkness. Jancer (still disguised as Kostchtchie) tells them to bow before their new god. The giants look at each other, uncertain—a silence broken by clapping as a familiar face appears from behind them—Brolaf Fjordson. ( "How is he clapping if he doesn't have hands?"—they were ice hands)

"You aren't a god! You're imposters! THEY'RE the ones I told you about, dudes, the ones who attacked me and stopped me from helping Lord Kostchtchie win the competition!"

"We're imposters?! What about you KROG?!"

Brolaf/Krog laughs off their accusation, and says that the jarl has already seen the glory that awaits her people by following Diancastra, future Queen of the Giants. Rorik says that Jimothy Jones is the one who will be the King of the Giants. Krog says that NO ONE will turn the giants from his goddess. That's when Jimothy arrives.

The paladin is a little confused about whatever the hell's going on, but he challenges Krog (who is visibly shook by having to face Jimothy again) to a battle to prove who is better once and for all. Jimothy shows off his Belt of Frost Giant Strength and says that he's beaten Krog before and is going to do it again.

A brief Deity 'Yo Mama' Off turns into a fistfight, the ice beneath the two breaks, and they are both plunged into the frigid water. Krog taunts Jimothy, pointing out that they're on Diancastra's home turf now! He winds up a punch, but misses horribly, his icy fist stuck in the back of the frozen waterfall (NAT 1). There is an audible gulp, and Jimothy absolutely pummels the orc-souled frost giant, putting Krog in a sleeper hold until he passes out. The giants all kneel in reverence as Jimothy emerges victorious!

Diancastra yells, "Stupid Krog, ya' made me look bad!"

The giant frat boys invite their new leader and his bros to hang out with them, but as the party are making their way around to the entrance, they run into Graz'zt's new general (who they brought along, but was so dim-witted that he didn't realize they were double-crossing his boss), who has just called up the rest of Graz'zt's army on his Sending Stone and revealed where the giants are at! Jimothy grabs the general and takes him inside. Left alone, Jancer sleight of hands Krog's soul gem out of Brolaf's rear-end and places it on his belt, next to the gem holding the frost giant's actual soul.

The party pass through a foyer carved with pictures of frost giants wrestling remorhazes, hunting dragons, and Kostchtchie himself smashing demons with his maul. Rorik goes, "Maybe these guys aren't so bad," before Breezy points out pictures of them stomping on helpless townsfolk and eating stolen livestock. "Oh."

They enter a messy living room covered in crushed skull-cans and dirty clothes. The jarl plops down on a broken couch. Rorik dubs this place 'The Frozone', and the giants say that he's not so bad "for a nerd". The giants seem more interested in sitting around and chilling than anything else, it's only when they learn the demon army is on the way here that they freak out. The jarl tells one of her boys to flush the drugs down the toilet, and wonders how the heck the demons could've found them. Jimothy holds up the struggling general, who Jancer points out is a "nark". The jarl grabs the general and the giants begin to chant,

"Nark! Nark! Nark! Nark!"

While most of the giants head into the bathroom to give the demon general swirlies, Jimothy notices a giant woman in a bearskin cloak stays behind, a white wolf with a bow on its head under her arm. Jimothy asks if he can hold the wolf, and does so, petting the beast gently. The woman, who introduces herself as Ylva Doggystyle (because she dresses up her dogs), then shows them the rest of the winter wolves, as this one is only a pup. The wolves immediately take a shine to the party. One brings Jimothy a severed human arm and they play fetch with it.

Suddenly, there is the sound of cracking and then… CRASH, as a wall of the frost giant frat house is blown open, and a host of demons begins to pour inside!

The Black Antlers and the giants grab their belongings ("Get the booze, bros!") and book it for a secret entrance they can use to escape, which lies beyond the hot tub. Breezy uses a 'Gust of Wind' to hold off the demons for a moment, giving the party a head start. As everyone piles into the tunnel and the mammoth stables beyond, one of Graz'zt's marilith bodyguards, Reluhantis, falls upon Breezy with all six of her swords. "Any who betray the Prince of Demons shall die!" Rorik jumps in the way, and Jimothy, unwilling to abandon his Armor Bro, leaps over with him. Each take three magical sword strikes on the chin before Jancer throws up a 'Wall of Force', allowing them to disengage and escape!

With their foe unable to field their vrocks or chasmes due to the blizzard, the party are able to elude Graz'zt's army and disappear back into the Iron Wastes. The giants tell them that, while their fraternity has accepted Jimothy Jones as their bro-rd and savior, they are but one of many tribes that belonged to Kostchtchie's army. Rorik sighs, as it seems they will have to find and recruit each individual group, but a skald among the giants reveals that, above all else, their kind respect strength, and there is one way for the party to unite all the giants and drive Graz'zt's army out in one fell swoop: subdue Fafnir, Kostchtchie's legendary ancient white dragon mount.

Led high into the mountains, the party decide to camp for the night before attempting the climb up to Fafnir's lair. Popping open a cooler full of beers, the giants and the Black Antlers drink all night. Breezy drinks one and is out almost instantly (her old "masters" never let her drink), while Rorik and Jancer end up being the last men standing, passing out at exactly the same time!

A little hung-over, they scale the mountainside through howling winds and pounding snow, eventually pulling themselves up into the frozen maw of the dragon's cave. Overhead, they recognize a root of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, coiled around the peak. While Jancer remains outside as a "look-out", Jimothy, Rorik, and Breezy fist-bump and head inside. Entering the heart of the mountain, Rorik says they should be very cautious. Jimothy steps forward and shouts, "Dragon, where are you?!" Rorik face-palms, but Breezy screams, as Jimothy is swallowed whole by an enormous creature hanging from the ceiling above them like a bat!

Rorik yells in Draconic, "Wait, dragon, we are not here to fight you, we have come to talk!"

Fafnir looks down at the eldritch knight and unleashes his cold breath on them. Breezy conjures a 'Warding Wind' that protects them from the brunt of the blast, then scowls at Fafnir as she tosses a superheated ball of air ('Fireball') at him. Fafnir gets a NAT 1 on his save and falls from his perch! Rorik sighs, "I guess we're doing this," and casts his own 'Fireball'. FAFNIR GETS A SECOND NAT 1!!!

Lodged in the flesh of the dragon's throat using his hooked S.H.O.E.S. (and now very cold because of the breath that just hit him), Jimothy climbs his way back up towards Fafnir's mouth. He is nearly thrown down the gullet once again as the white wyrm rolls back onto its feet and leaps towards the foolish intruders!

Breezy casts 'Fly' on Rorik, and is just as surprised as he is as a pair of raven-like wings burst from his back. Enrico looks at them, confused, but impressed. Rorik shouts, "I. AM NOT. EDGY!!!" as he slashes six times at the dragon, leaving deep cuts in his hide. Fafnir roars with rage and slams Rorik through a pillar. Breezy charges in with her scimitar, but is struck by Fafnir's tail as it whips around, and is flung into a wall.

Jimothy reaches Fafnir's mouth, but the beast's teeth are shut. The paladin draws Corpsebane and plays dentist, smacking into the dragon's teeth with his mace. Fafnir throws his head back, tossing Jim into the air and catching him in his teeth once again. Rorik gets back up and charges, slicing into Fafnir's belly. Jimothy nearly drowns in the beast's blood as he is vomited onto the icy floor.

Fafnir lets loose another frigid breath that catches the entire party off-guard, and then pounces on them when they're vulnerable. Breezy is pinned beneath a colossal claw, while Rorik and Jim are manhandled by the ancient dragon. Jimothy unleashes a divine barrage on the creature that causes it to back off of the sorceress. Before anyone can celebrate however, Fafnir beats his massive wings and sends the party tumbling head-over-heels up the tunnel they came in through.

Up-top, Jancer is dancing to pass the time as the cave entrance suddenly EXPLODES! Fafnir bursts out and takes flight. Jimothy is able to hold onto the ledge before passing out, while Rorik and the unconscious Breezy are flung into the open air one thousand feet above solid ground. Realizing there's nothing he can do, Rorik glides through the air over to Breezy. He grabs her, lifts his visor, and places his lips on hers—giving her one last breath of air before sliding the sorceress into his Bag of Holding.

As the ground comes up to meet him, Rorik pulls out his journal and writes,

"This may be the end for me. If I do not make it… Isabella, I lo—"

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