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DMMike

After the note's treasure!

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As the sun descended, the party mounted and prepared to ride southwest along the Imperial road. Sarah preferred to keep her word to Dru-gar and observe the eastern plain, but she
felt too vulnerable to voyage without her companions. Baraki started east, but turned when
he noticed that the party was going west.
"Where do you go?" he asked in the giant tongue.
Sarah explained, "my companions go to seek justice for this dead man. You may
follow us if you wish."
Baraki stammered, then exclaimed, "I follow orders or I go home!"
"Let's go!" interrupted Pokey, in the human tongue.
"Please forgive us, Baraki. I will try to get their aid when we return from this
diversion," said Sarah.
Baraki grunted his displeasure, and walked off northwest, toward Hussan-home.
Skyler was determined to pray longer for the dead man, and told the party that he would
catch up with them as soon as possible.

The Imperial road was a highway built in the second age, which ran from the former capitol
of the Human-Elf empire, Sangrella, to the mountain range of the southwest, the Great
Curtain. The stone road hadn't seen maintenance for centuries, but the party's dire wolf
mounts didn't seem to mind.
As the sun pushed below the mountains, Pokey saw movement on a nearby hilltop.
"Shhh...hey! There's something up there," he whispered as he crawled off the side of the
road, into the grass. The others soon noticed, and followed suit.
On the hilltop were two giants, talking to each other. Rex began sneaking up on the
giants to eavesdrop on them. However, it wasn't long before the mischievous dire wolves
caught wind of the giants, and being unhitched, decided to investigate. Rex was able to
grab the reins of one wolf, but the other three (including the mount of Richter Wolfe, the
party's rear security) continued their impromptu hunt.
The unidentified giants did not fail to notice several dire wolves closing in on
them, and being wise countrymen (countrygiants), decided to cautiously retreat. After Rex
was able to spy the giants, and the party's mounts, crossing to the other side of the valley
towards a wood, he returned with the bad news. Cutting their losses, the party continued
along the Imperial road.

Arriving on a plain amongst the hills, the party saw a hamlet ahead. This community was
marked mostly by the large tents known to be used by giants, and following the road, the
party approached it. Two giants with greataxes and red decorations on their leather armor
guarded the road.
The giants announced that they were at war with an as-yet undecided enemy, and the
small-folk would not be allowed through. So Pokey provided the words that would get them
through to Sarah, who translated to giant-speak. Unimpressed, the giants offered the party
a challenge.
"Before that grove to the north, there's a small cave. In it we keep the Treasure
of the Star-Adal. Bring only that one thing to us, and we'll let you pass."
"Is it guarded? By what?" asked Rex, for the rest of the party.
"We keep a beast in there."
"But what if we kill it?" asked Pokey, through Sarah.
"Don't worry. It's common to this country," came the reply.
After a brief group discussion, the party members decided that their need for
rations and shelter was outmatched by their need to avoid beast-bearing caves. So they
politely declined the giants' offer, and skirted the hamlet. It was at this point that a
dire wolf returned to the party, or to its fellow wolf. It was bloody, but in otherwise
good shape,
Night fell, and Rex and Pokey did enough hunting to sustain the party, though it
took much of the night, and Pokey was unable to find a venison tree. There was some
scratching about during the night, but no critters were found.
The next day, the party came to the foot of the Great Curtain, and nestled in
amongst the climbing rocks was a ruined settlement. Broken stone houses surrounded a
temple, marked by desecrated statues and crumbling columns. Little remained of its second
floor, and most of that floor and the ground floor had collapsed into the lower floor.
Rex toyed with the idea of jumping across platforms to use the nearby stairwell, but
found it safer to use Pokey's rope, which the rest of the party did. As everyone steadied
themselves in the shade and on the rubble of the lower floor, voiceless groans issued from
unseen places...

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