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+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic V +
+ Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and other +
+ terms used in these stories are the property of Wizards of the Coast +
+ which has in no way endorsed or authorized their use. Any such +
+ property contained within these stories are not representative of +
+ Wizards of the Coast in any fashion. +
+ The player characters depicted in these stories are copyright +
+ 1991-2005 by Thomas A. Miller. Any resemblance to any persons +
+ or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental. +
+ Copying and/or distribution of these stories is permissible under +
+ the sole condition that no money is made in the process. In that +
+ case, I hope you enjoy them! +
+ Alindyar 18th level drow wizard +
+ Bosco 13th level halfling thief +
+ Lyra 14th level female drow wizard +
+ Mongo 18th level dwarven warrior +
+ summoned allies: +
+ Host of Kaloth (only those summoned and still around) +
+ white king 15' iron golem with hammer and axe, currently in mud +
+ white queen 25' titaness with mattock +
+ black king 30' cyclops +
+ black queen death naga, currently badly wounded +
+ black bishop gaunt, bearded high priest +
+ white rook 10' ivory golem with shortsword +
+ 4 white pawns white-armored warriors with longswords +
+ 5 black pawns black-armored warriors with spiked maces +
+ Date: 1/4/580 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: indeterminate, probably late morning +
+ Place: the depths of the vacant fortress of Greyspire +
+ Climate: cold +
+ "You work for the devil, you'd better be ready to die for him." +
+ - from _The Punisher_ comic, late 2004 +
DCCCLXV. Demonic Tactics
Carnage and mayhem ruled the day, helped along by healthy doses of
battle and magic, not to mention a great deal of blood and gore. Things
weren't looking quite so good for the adventurers now, as the head demon
had just beaten the death naga...
N'Gasai: (gets to his feet, brandishing his sword even as his whip flies
into his other hand) NO MORE GAMES. (he brings his sword down on the
naga's neck, severing its head)
death naga: (its body vanishes, to be reborn as an inert figurine within
Bosco's chess set)
black pawn #1: Damn!
Heartened by their master's triumph, the hundreds of demons in the pit
fought with renewed vigor, taking a heavy toll. Already, most of the
pawn-warriors were down, and a number of the more powerful members of the
Host of Kaloth had fallen as well. Even those who yet fought on were
beginning to tire or weaken, especially given the seemingly limitless
numbers of demonic foes that assailed them...
ivory golem: (cuts a dog-demon in half, then suddenly finds itself beset
by a mob of small, rubbery demonoids)
The things latched onto the golem's limbs, and then each other, their
goal being to hamper its movements and ultimately trap its mighty limbs.
The golem wasn't going easily, though; a single blow from its huge fist
flattened one of the foes, and a moment later, a spider-like demon was
smashed into pulp by a heavy stone foot. The problem, though, was that
the rubbery demons were clinging to the golem's body, and it didn't have
the manual dexterity (or the rational intelligence) to remove them. The
golem simply went about its business, pulverizing demons in its path,
while the rubbery demons slowly built up around its body. It wasn't
long before the golem found itself unable to move normally, or swing a
fist...and then it toppled over, hitting the stone floor with a great
impact, even as more demons piled onto it. While their claws and teeth
weren't inflicting much damage on the golem's rocky body, the construct
was unable to fight back or right itself, which pretty much took it out
of the fight.
lieutenant-demon #3: (barking orders to various other demons in some
weird language, it directs the forces of N'Gasai into various tactics)
lieutenant-demon #4: (looks up suddenly, just in time to see a huge
titaness: (brings her maul down, smashing the lieutenant-demon, then
turns to face N'Gasai himself) Ah.
N'Gasai: (raises his whip, snarling) TIME TO DIE.
Meanwhile, after being flown halfway around the cavern while fighting
a winged demon, Bosco had landed in a remote edge of the huge chamber...
and made a startling discovery.
Several crude wooden racks had been set up, against the bottommost tier
of the arena floor. Bound to these racks were several corpses; all were
bloody and battered, with obvious signs of torture.
The halfling approached the first of the racks, noting that the body
hanging from the frame was that of a dwarf. A long spear protruded from
the chest of this dwarf, who looked familiar to Bosco even in death...
Bosco: Oh no...Gorin!
Next to the dwarf's body was that of another dwarf, and then an elf,
which had been half-eaten. The next two were human, the furthest badly
burned and charred. The sight was hideous; the smell was terrible.
Bosco: (walking past these horrors, the battle temporarily forgotten)
What the hell...?
body on third rack: (suddenly opens its eyes, groaning) Urrrg...
Bosco: Ack! (he jumps back, sword in hand)
The not-quite-dead body was that of a tall, muscular human; despite
extensive torture and wounds, he was still recognizable to Bosco.
Bosco: Lord Marcus!
Lord Marcus: Unggg...
Bosco: Who...who would do this to people?
voice: Why, I would, of course!
Bosco: (turns, sword pointed at the speaker)
The halfling faced a short, wizened humanoid, resembling a miniature
person who was extremely skinny and emaciated. The thing had bulbous,
pale eyes and a mouthful of needle-like teeth, as well as pointed ears.
wizened demon: We were hungry, but not _that_ hungry! (he points to
the beaten, semi-conscious Lord Marcus) The boss wanted him kept
alive for as long as possible...which is a pretty long time when you
can use healing spells to bring him back from death's door...
Bosco: You tortured him, then healed him so you could torture him some
wizened demon: (nods, grinning) And again and again and again! Isn't
Bosco: (shakes his head) You're sick.
wizened demon: Of course I am. (he holds up one hand, whose fingernails
lengthen into sharp talons) And you're about to be dead.
Elsewhere, near the double entry doors, the drow and the black bishop
were working to implement the latter's plan...
black bishop: (working a powerful spell) Almost done-
Lyra: (floating in the air so that she can see over Alindyar's wall of
stone, she spots some hyena-like demons bounding in their direction,
at full speed) You'd better hurry.
Alindyar: (eyeing his wall of stone, he waves a hand, concentrating)
The stone barrier, which was about ten feet high and stretched right
out of the floor, suddenly shifted and reformed with a loud crunching
sound. The rock lengthened, stretching to extend overhead as well, the
stone reshaping into a rough dome of thick columns. A series of vertical
slots, about four inches wide, allowed the spellcasters to see their
charging foes but still be protected from them.
Alindyar: (smirks) Aye.
Lyra: (watching the demons approach) I hope it holds.
The hyena-demons slammed into the rock "bars", apparently heedless of
any danger to themselves. They extended paws and snouts through the
openings, trying to reach the prey within, but they were unable to get
through the spaces.
Alindyar: We should be fine...as long as they lack the ability to
change into jelly and squeeze through.
The barking demons suddenly moved aside, as a tall, slender demon
with red skin approached the stony barrier.
tall, slender demon: (touches the stone shell) Impressive. This
smells like an illusion...yet it is not. (he regards Alindyar) What
Alindyar: Never mind that.
tall, slender demon: No matter. (it holds out one hand, which begins
to blaze with a fiery red flame) This barrier you have erected will
serve as your tomb.
Elsewhere in the mammoth cavern, various one-on-one conflicts were in
Mongo: (catching his hammer, he watches grimly as a gigantic goat-like
demon falls with a smashed head, a hundred feet away) And stay down.
The dwarf whirled then, hammer ready, as the gigantic cyclops strode
by - but somehow, the summoned monster knew who its allies and enemies
were, for it merely looked at Mongo as it passed.
cyclops: GROK! (it wades into a horde of assorted demons, and begins
ripping them apart with its bare hands)
The cyclops was no master tactician or spell-caster; rather, its sole
strength was just that: strength. At thirty feet in height, and with
a strength greater than any giant, the cyclops was a one-man (or one-
giant) wrecking crew. Even better, its skin was unusually thick and
tough; the claws and teeth of the demons only made scratches - and only
seemed to enrage the huge monster further.
cyclops: (looks down at the demon that just bit its toe) GROK! (it
grabs the demon, a lizard-like specimen that squirms in the cyclops'
cyclops: GROK! (clenches its massive fist, reducing the demon to red
Mongo: Hah. (he whirls to face a bull-like demon with a huge, misshapen
head tipped with wicked curved horns) What the hell?!?
bull-demon: (bears down on the dwarf)
Mongo: (lacking time to hurl his hammer, he instead swings it, timing
the blow with the bullish demon's charge)
There was a tremendous smacking sound, like a club hitting a slab of
hanging meat. The bull-demon stopped dead in its tracks, its crimson
eyes crossed...and then fell, unmoving.
Mongo: That's what you- (he turns, unaware until too late of the
charge of a second bull-demon) Damn!
bull-demon #2: (lowers its horned head, ramming the surprised dwarf
head-on with enough force to level a house)
Meanwhile, the ivory golem was completely incapacitated, as its stone
form was completely covered with the mob of rubbery-bodied demons. They
had formed a pulsating mass around the golem, preventing it from moving
its limbs. It was a stalemate; the demons weren't damaging the golem in
any way, but it couldn't move or attack. Of course, this was exactly the
intention of the lieutenant-demons who'd ordered this attack. The golem
was a powerful adversary, and removing it from the battle didn't hurt the
demons one bit.
Nearby, the demon lordling N'Gasai and the titaness were locked in
deadly battle. The demon lordling had struck first, his whip scoring
several bloody gashes on the titaness before she'd grabbed the thing
and pulled N'Gasai toward her. Since then, he'd taken a blow from the
maul, breaking several ribs, and was now trying to get a sword-blow in.
Both combatants were aware that if the demon missed with his sword, he'd
leave himself open to another blow from the powerful hammer.
titaness: (switches tactics suddenly, blasting the demon with a multi-
colored spray of magical light)
N'Gasai: (staggers from multiple types of damage, then retaliates with
a spell of death, which weakens but doesn't slay the gigantic woman)
While those two foes exchanged magical attacks, Bosco was fighting for
his life against the short, wizened demon with the bulbous eyes and rows
of needle-like teeth.
wizened demon: (rakes at the halfling with his long, sharp talons,
missing by inches as the deft foe leaps back) You're a fast one, but
I'll get you sooner or later.
Bosco: (rises into the air, his boots' wings flapping madly) Maybe,
wizened demon: (grins, floating upward himself)
As the demon floated toward him, Bosco let an enchanted dagger fly,
right toward the foe's face...but the little demon caught the blade in
wizened demon: Nice try, but none are faster than I. (it reverses its
grip on the blade, and then throws it back at Bosco)
Bosco dodged, but he was hampered by the fact that he was flying and
somewhat off-balance. Despite the halfling's considerable speed, the
dagger sliced a deep gash in his sword-arm...and caused him to drop his
Bosco: Aargh! (he immediately flies down to try and recover his sword)
The wizened demon was faster in the air, though, and intercepted the
halfling, grabbing him around the neck with one hand.
Bosco: (struggles, but is unable to escape the impossibly strong grip)
Ghak...(he pulls out his other magical dagger, intending to stab the
demon in the eye)
wizened demon: (grabs Bosco's wrist with its free hand, forcing him to
drop the blade) I don't think so. (it opens its mouth to an extent
far beyond what should be possible, exposing the rows of thin, needle-
like teeth) Prepare to be eaten.
Bosco: (his eyes widen as his head is pulled toward that open maw with
its hundreds of sharp teeth)
The halfling acted out of desperation, his free hand reaching in his
pocket for anything that might be of use. Just moments before his head
would have met the demon's toothy mouth, Bosco produced a small stone
marble - and threw it into that maw with all his might!
wizened demon: You mean to stop me with a pea?!? Inconceivable- (it
suddenly coughs) G- g...kak...(it begins choking) Ghak!
Bosco: (released from the monster's iron grip, he flies backward a few
feet) I never thought of those marbles as weapons, but who cares?
That thing's duplicating itself in your stomach right now...and I'd
hate to be you when there are thousands of marbles bouncing around in
wizened demon: (spits up a great gout of blackish-red blood) GHAK!
Across the cavern, on the other end of the pit's floor, the drow's
protective stone cage had suddenly become a prison, as the tall, slender
demon with the red skin stood there, its entire body now ablaze with
some terrible spell of fire about to be cast.
tall, slender demon: I'll soon feed upon your roasted flesh.
Lyra: Feed on this. (she fires a thin, white beam of intense cold at
the fiery demon)
tall, slender fire-demon: Nooooooo...(it looks directly at Lyra, even as
her ice-spell fizzles and dies out) Hah hah, just kidding!
tall, slender fire-demon: Time to die. (it raises its arms)
Alindyar was preparing a defense (or perhaps a counterattack) but none
would ever know if it would have worked, for a small, armored form sailed
through the air, then across the stone floor, finally skidding to a stop
right in front of the fire-demon.
Mongo: Ow. (dazed, he stands up)
tall, slender fire-demon: What?!?
Mongo: Huh? (he spots the burning demon, and does the first thing that
comes to mind)
Even as the dwarf's hammer swung at the demon's head, the latter used
whatever massive fire-attack it had been building toward, launching a
thick _wave_ of flames directly at Mongo and the spellcasters behind him.
These flames were as hot and fierce as dragon's breath, melting the very
stone of the floor as they moved, and singing the flesh of combatants who
were fifty feet away.
tall, slender fire-demon: (falls, its left arm and shoulder crushed by
the force of Mongo's blow) Aaaaargh! I'll have the last laugh yet,
for nothing can withstand my flames...eh?
Something incredible was happening. Rather than being incinerated,
the drow were witnessing the entire wave of flame converge on Mongo...
converge, and then vanish!
Mongo: (completely unscathed, he wipes sweat from his brow) I didn't
know my armor could do _that_!
Lyra: (spies something glowing brightly on one of the dwarf's hands)
I don't think it did.
Mongo: Huh? (he holds up his hand, studying the metal ring that glows
with bright white light)
Lyra: (realizes that she can feel the heat coming from the ring)
Mongo: I don't feel anything. What's going on?
Something large and fiery was forming in front of Mongo. It looked
like a fire elemental, except larger. A twenty-foot high mass of bright
yellow flames, it possessed two darker, reddish eyes that floated within
the fire-body. The thing seemed to regard Mongo for a moment..and then,
surprisingly, it spoke - in a language only Mongo could understand,
thanks to the ring.
fire elemental lord: (speaking in a hissing voice) What service is
required of me?
fire elemental lord: I have been summoned by the bearer of that ring,
now that it was awakened from its dormant state. (the hissing voice
takes on a somewhat surly tone) What is my task?
Mongo's mind was simple and direct; rather than ask questions or
wonder why, he took the opportunity that had been handed to him.
Mongo: (barely suppressing his rage) Your task? (he clenches his jaw)
Kill as many of these demons as you can.
fire elemental lord: Done. (it turns to the fire-demon and extends a
tall, slender fire-demon: (screams as all of its flames are sucked from
its body to the elemental, leaving behind a thin, sticklike figure of
Mongo: (smashes the demon into black fragments with a single blow of
his hammer) Good riddance.
bull-demon: (finally comes charging toward Mongo, ready to ram him
fire elemental lord: (points to the demon, and a pillar of flame comes
from nowhere, burning the monster to a crisp right then and there)
hyena-demons: (the ones pawing at the stone barrier that protects the
spellcasters) Aieeeeeee! (they all burst into flame)
fire elemental lord: And now for the rest...
Instantly, and violently, most of the demons in the cavern burst into
flame. Some - especially the more powerful ones - were resistant to
conventional flame, and perhaps even magical flame. However, the fires
that the elemental lord commanded were among the most powerful that could
exist on the material plane...and so, demon-flesh burned, melted, and
became ash. Most of the demons that had ganged up on the cyclops were
incinerated, as were the rubbery ones that had immobilized the ivory
N'Gasai: (locked in close combat with the titaness, he feels no flames
due to the way Mongo worded his command to the elemental lord) WHAT
Mongo: Your little army down here is being taken apart, a piece at a
time, that's what's happening.
N'Gasai: NO! (in a sudden burst of power, he slashes the titaness with
his sword, knocking her back, and charges at Mongo) YOU SHALL DIE FOR
Just then, as if to add insult to injury, a large circular section of
floor, in the middle of the cavern, transformed into a purple disc.
Lyra: It's about damn time.
black bishop: (free of the stone barrier that Alindyar just removed, he
addresses all within earshot, which is everyone present thanks to a
magically-boosted voice) ATTENTION, ALL YOU DEMONS! I HAVE OPENED A
GATE TO THE ABYSS. IF YOU WISH TO SIMPLY GO HOME, AND BE FREED FROM
THE SERVICE OF N'GASAI, YOU SHOULD HURRY, BEFORE THE GATE CLOSES
All across the cavern, the various demons took note of the gate and
the black-robed priest's words. His supposition had of course been
correct: they were in N'Gasai's service against their will, and because
they lacked the power to return home. In general, the demons' morale was
low right now; most of them had been killed or wounded, and things were
not looking good. Normally, none of them would have dared to flee (much
less even _think_ about fleeing) but with the gate to their home plane
wide open and right before them, the choice was simple.
N'Gasai: (watches as demons desert him by the dozens, leaping and flying
and slithering into the gate) NO...NO!
Mongo: Oh, yes. (he hurls Stormcrest, knocking the demon to its knees)
N'Gasai: ARGH! (he struggles to get back to his feet, even as the last
of the other demons heads for the gate to the Abyss...and even as some
sort of thick gray tentacle appears from the other side, snaking out
onto the floor)
black bishop: Uh-oh.
N'Gasai: YOU MUST PAY. (he locks his gaze on the black bishop)
Alindyar: Aie. Look out there-
The next instant, a black ray shot from the demon's eye, hitting the
priest, who vanished instantly, leaving behind a few floating specks of
black dust. The gate shimmered, then immediately begun to shrink. The
exploratory gray tentacle, from whatever was in the Abyss on the other
side of the gate, quickly withdrew...and a moment later, the gate was
Mongo: Don't celebrate just yet. (he hurls Stormcrest again, knocking
the demon lordling into the lowest tier of the pit's floor)
N'Gasai rose to his feet, unsteadily and weakly. After decades of no
combat or exertion, this day had seen him suffer acid, fire, the crushing
coils of the naga, and many wounds from blade, hammer, and fist. His
very nature allowed him to regenerate injuries, but not fast enough to
save him from foes this powerful.
N'Gasai: (points at Mongo, who throws his hammer again, breaking ribs
and sending the demon to the floor yet again) AAARGH!
Mongo: You're done, demon. We found your little hideaway...your army's
either dead or has abandoned you...and now you're outnumbered.
N'Gasai: (looks around, seeing the dwarf backed up by the titaness, the
cyclops, the ivory golem, the fire elemental king, and the pair of
drow...none of whom appear to be in a forgiving mood) BUT...BUT...IT
CANNOT BE...YOU MUST SPARE ME. I CAN GIVE YOU IMMENSE POWER...
Mongo: (catches his hammer) No more tricks. No more words.
N'Gasai: I CAN GRANT YOUR DEEPEST WISH-
Mongo: Oh, you can? (he glares at the demon) You want to know what
my deepest wish is?
Mongo: It's for you to die, here and now. (he hurls Stormcrest, the
hammer trailed by a powerful bolt of lightning)
The mighty weapon hit the demon lordling in the head, the resultant
thunderclap masking the sound of the snapping neck. The demon's horned
skull was split in half, leaking nasty-looking gore out onto the floor.
Mongo: (to the fire elemental lord) Can you get rid of those remains,
once and for all? Just in case?
fire elemental lord: Easily. (it points, and the demon's corpse bursts
into unnaturally hot flames, causing the others to back away)
Mongo: (watching the demon lordling's body melt) Burn, you bastard.
fire elemental lord: I'll be departing now, once this is done.
fire elemental lord: I can aid you once every moon - if you are wearing
the ring, all you must do is concentrate. But I warn you: do not
summon me for trivial matters.
Mongo: (nods) You have my deepest thanks for all your help today - we
couldn't have done it without you. Don't worry, I won't waste your
time if I call you again.
Shortly, the corpse was completely burned away, the elemental lord was
gone, and the survivors regrouped...
Lyra: Whew. That was a tough one.
Mongo: Do you think the demon's really dead?
Lyra: From what I know of their kind, yes. Or at least on this world.
titaness: (nods) This is true. His soul has returned to the Abyss,
where it will be imprisoned and tormented by other demons for the
better part of a century while having absolutely zero power.
Mongo: Good enough. (he shakes his head suddenly) Wait, wait. (he
turns to the gigantic titaness, looking up...and up, and up) You can
titaness: I should think so. I am, after all, a titan.
Mongo: (craning his neck, almost painfully since her face is about two
floors above his) How come you know so much about demons?
titaness: I am possessed of supra-genius intellect. I know more things
than most of your worldly libraries.
Mongo: Oh. I guess I thought you were just a gigantic warrior.
titaness: (smiles, hefting her maul) I'm also a gigantic warrior.
(she gestures to the cyclops) For pure brute force, and nothing more,
he's the one you want.
Mongo: I guess you should be telling all this to Bosco. (he blinks)
Hey! Where _is_ Bosco?
Bosco: (from nearby) I could use some help over here...and maybe a
healing potion or two.
The halfling was doing his best to drag the half-dead Lord Marcus
toward the others - an impossible task, given their comparative sizes,
but Bosco wasn't giving up. The next moment, he didn't have to, as
Mongo and the others rushed to his aid.
Lord Marcus: (mumbling incoherently between broken teeth and smashed
Mongo: We need a priest.
titaness: I can help. (she touches the battered general's head with
one gigantic finger, and his wounds begin to knit together and heal)
Bosco: Whoa! (he wonders how and why this mighty titan ever got tied
to the chess set)
Lord Marcus: (sits up weakly) What's going on?
Mongo: Are you okay?
Lord Marcus: More or less. It was terrible...they came from nowhere,
struck swiftly and brutally. They had the fortress within an hour,
and without Wu's magic, we couldn't match their spells and powers.
Mongo: Greyspire's best wizard.
Lord Marcus: Archmage, actually. He's been comatose since the battle
with the Nine. (he looks around soberly) I fear I already know the
answer to this question, but...did anyone else survive?
Mongo: It doesn't look like it. I'm not sure how you did, really.
Lord Marcus: Every time they brought me to the brink of death, they
used magic to heal me...so that they could torture me some more.
Mongo: So Gorin's gone...(he turns to Bosco) Did you find his body
Bosco: (sighs) Yeah, I did. It- he's strung up on a frame next to
where I found Lord Marcus, across the room there.
Mongo: (stands, without a word, and heads over that way)
Bosco: (to Lord Marcus) What happened to all your people?
Lord Marcus: (his eyes blank) Most of them were eaten, while I was
forced to watch.
Lyra: That's horrible!
Lord Marcus: If it sounds horrible, just think what it must have been
like to witness. (he shudders)
Bosco: Damned demons. But we got them!
Lord Marcus: (somewhat flatly) That won't bring my soldiers back. (he
stares at the nearby wall, glassy-eyed)
As wounds were bound and stock taken of the post-battle situation, a
surprising announcement was made.
titaness: I can bring back a few of the dead.
Mongo: (having carried Gorin's body over to this end of the cavern's
floor) You can?!?
Lord Marcus: You can...I mean, it's possible?
titaness: Most of the bodies here are too far gone, but there are a
few - including this dwarf - that can be resurrected.
Mongo: (smiles, ever so thinly)
titaness: (to Bosco) Assuming, of course, that this is what you wish
me to do?
titaness: It will take some time. If you others can work on securing
this place, I can prepare to use my magic.
Bosco: Right. (to the cyclops) You - ugly.
cyclops: (it looks around)
Bosco: DOWN HERE!!!
cyclops: (looks down) Grok?
Bosco: Go around and step on any half-dead demons you find.
cyclops: (nods) Grok! (it begins to wander around the cavern, and
every now and then, a heavy footstep shakes the floor)
Mongo: Hmm...you know, I could use my earthquake horn to collapse this
Lord Marcus: (shakes his head) That might bring the entire fortress
down on us. Not to mention that I need to recover some things from
it, as well as down here, if they took our magical items and treasures.
(he bows his head) Dead...so many dead.
Mongo hung his head and frowned. Despite having avenged the murders
of the Host of Greyspire, he somehow felt that it wasn't enough.
next: a lighthearted April Fools story
notes: I'm getting tired of demons in all their forms. This will
probably be the last big story/arc that involves demons.
On another note, the cyclops here is the same monster whose stats
have been on the website for years. I created the thing for the
original Underdark gaming session but it never actually made an
appearance...until now, 15 years later!
I hated to kill off the entire host of Greyspire, but these things
happen. Plotlines without deaths - some of them significant - carry
very little weight in the big scheme of things, at least in a serious
saga like the one I'm writing.
One more thing (which will be revealed later if it comes up) - the
storm giant who lived atop Greyspire was absent during the attack and
thus was not involved in the battle. Had he been, and had Wu been there
as well, things might have turned out differently.
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