Chapter 16

Flight of the Roc

February 15, 2020

Raz, Gloucester and Naliyi woke to find a letter from Juan stating that he was leaving the party, fearing the amount of heat they were currently attracting. The party of three then set off along the road to the fortress-town of Sadran, arriving by sunset which was just in time to see the titanic Roc fly in and land atop Mount Zebas, miles to the south west.

The trio looked for lodging at the Goldmine Inn and there they met Theren, an elf who was sworn protector of the ruling family of Sadran but at odds with the Baroness for about a year now. As a resident, he informed the party of the Roc’s apparently regular flight schedule between Mount Zebas and the Spire, each trip taking a full day for the Roc to fly the intervening hundred miles.

A family of four sherpas, the Luperaj Brothers, were hired on the spot to take the party (now including Theren) to Mount Zebas first thing in the morning, for which they paid a hundred gold pieces each. They then met another person who had hired the services of the Luperaj Brothers, a dragonborn monk called Zyastan Mora, who was from the same order of monks as the recently fallen Formosa.

Come the dawn, the mighty Roc lifted off from its mountain nest and flew west toward the Spire and the Luperaj Brothers took the adventurers on a day-long trek across mountainous terrain to the peak of Mount Zebas. En route, they came across a lost tiefling wizard called Salbrizaar, also in search of the Roc, and he joined them. Halfway up the mountain, they were attacked by a Hill Giant and a pack of werewolves, two of whom, when slain, reverted to the forms of half the Luperaj Brothers.

During the fight, Theren revealed his magical broom of flying which came in handy as it allowed him to get some altitude and help the party reach the top of Mount Zebas before dark. There they found unmistakable evidence of the Roc’s nesting, with huge scratch marks on the rock from the beast’s colossal talons and bones of large animals strewn about. There they camped, with the elves taking turns on watch and meditating while the rest got as good a sleep as they could with the baying of wolves going on all night.

The next day, the party located the dead giant’s body and dismembered it to carry it in pieces to the top of the mountain as an offering to the Roc. The adventurers then took up hiding positions around the area of the Roc’s landing and watched it come sailing in on the winds at sunset to land on top of the stacked body parts. Like a titanic carrion bird, it pecked and chewed at the remains of the giant and Salbrizaar attempted to magically get close enough to land on its back and grab hold of its huge feathers. The bird immediately took flight and the tiefling was thrown, barely surviving the fall.

The Roc returned to eating the dead giant but was wary of Theren who tried approaching it, only to receive a devastating beak attack that threw him hard. Once it had finished eating the giant’s remains, the bird of legend flew off to a neighbouring peak 6 miles away, not content to rest surrounded by invasive little things like the party members.

They knew they had only tonight to act and Theren’s broomstick could bear enough weight to carry more than one person, so he flew back and forth between Mount Zebas and the nearby peak where the Roc was sleeping, carrying first Mora, then Naliyi.

It took an hour and a half for the elf to make each round trip, and while Raz, Gloucester and Salbrizaar were waiting their turns, they were attacked by a large pack of werewolves that outnumbered them 3-to-1. Raz instantly fled, as did Salbrizaar, and Gloucester faced too many to stand a chance so he sacrificed himself with a double-blast fireball centered on himself which also annihilated most of the werewolves.

The only survivors were the three that chased Raz, but she was able to lose them after a while and they must have circled back to the top of the mountain because baleful howling followed shortly thereafter. Theren returned to find the charred remains of Gloucester surrounded by dead humans, many of whom were recognizable to him as local folks who had gone missing over the years. He flew back to the Roc’s new peak where he had deposited Naliyi and Mora, reporting his findings and showing them Gloucester’s burnt corpse.

Theren stripped down to his absolute essentials and flew back to the other side of the valley, calling out for Raz and Salbrizaar and locating them in that order. Not wishing to leave anyone stranded, everyone dumped as much gear as they could so all three of them would fit on the flying broom at once and make it back to the sleeping Roc in one trip.

The adventurers had to risk mounting the Roc while it was asleep and riding it to the Spire, their ultimate destination, when it awoke, hoping it didn’t notice them. Salbrizaar went first, slowly and carefully this time, followed by Mora and then Naliyi, all three of them daisy-chained together by rope. The elves, Raz and Theren, opted to hold on to its talons for the journey and ride underside and, when dawn finally arrived, the monstrous bird arose and took flight.

The journey was exhausting, soaring over the world to fly back to the Spire’s top, a hundred miles away and five miles high with the adventurers holding on for dear life all the way.  At the top, five miles above the world, they saw a vast glassy lake several square miles across whose edges dropped off in endless waterfalls, supplying water to the world below.

At the center of this lake were three islands. One was barren, another housed a giant beehive and the third was where a simple block building of gigantic proportions stood.

The Roc came to a landing on a roost atop the giant house and soon a white-haired, blue-skinned Cloud Giant came walking up a flight of stairs that led from the rooftop to the ground 50 feet below, perplexed at the appearance of the adventurers instead of the tributes he was apparently expecting, and looking very cross about it.

Chapter 17: The Giant and the Genie