Desirra traveled to Giant Country, meeting a polite knight named Sir Shield on the way. They made their way to the lands of the Forest Giants with little incident, and she was reunited with her old friend Trammis, who told them what he knew about the rumored spreading blight:
- Lesser giants; hill giants and ogres, mostly, were coming from the hills to the north to trade with increased frequency because their livestock were sickening and dying, and there was less to eat there. Some of these migrants were actually staying in the south, because they had been driven from their places.
- Crops, even standing trees were also affected by this strange malaise, and in some extreme cases, standing structures were giving way to this consumptive rot that seemed to be gripping the land.
- It hand not spread any farther than the hilly lands to the north of the foreest giant territory, but Trammis was afraid what would happen if it spread to the lands of the evil giantkin.
So the three of them decided to see what they could see about this strange chain of occurrences. The lands were indeed suffering; the sunlight had a thin, watery quality to it, the earth had a wasted, used-up look to the trained eye, and the erstwhile paladin’s detect evil revealed an ambient trace of evil in the air, which intensified once the sun went down. A few days out, they discovered a strange, unsettling sight.
A gang of humanoids was depositing shovelfulls of the fouled earth from a rusted, pitted sheet-metal cart into the ground. The strange part was that these humanoids were… altered. In various places, parts of their bodies had been replaced with completely ordinary objects: one had a bedpost for a leg, there was another whose torso had been replaced with a chest of drawers, a third had had its spine replaced with a large spring, and so on. Even more disturbing was that these people were all still alive.
Upon spying the group, the once-people attacked them, but the party was able to dispatch them with relative ease. The dirt was clearly, almost painfully evil, and the party was able to follow the tracks that the cart had made.
A day or two later, the party was waylaid by a gang of ogres led by a hill giant, who had actually been busy trying to rob some other people, a young girl with heavy bandages around her hands, midriff, arms and legs, and a man in very heavy armor (which didn’t sem to help him, as he was flung through the woods to land badly, breaking his leg and barely able to stand) who did not lift his visor. The hill giant picked up the wagon that the two victims were riding on, and threw it at Trammis, then Shield, and it went crashing into the woods.
Desirra filleted a couple ogres, and Trammis punted one 60 feet, then the would-be robbers decided that the PCs were tougher than they looked and fled. The two robbery victims thanked the party, then one of them, a girl, asked Trammis and Shield (who were rather wary of the two of them, one because they were trespassing in Forest giant lands, the other because they had traces of Evil about them) to please help recover the wagon.
They grudgingly did, while the girl talked with Desirra, then magically transported her to someplace where she did not want to be, slapped some spectral bells on her body, and challenged Desirra to some sort of dance-off, where she was forced to hop, skip, jump and dance her way through some sort of vertical obstacle course while a strange monster chased after her and visions of other people unfolded before her that she did not understand nor like. If she failed to step lively enough (and sometimes even when she did), she was punished by a horrid jangling from the ghostly bels that chafed at her very soul at times.
The catgirl was frustrated and annoyed and didn’t really get what was going on, and finally got enough of the beat to dance her way out of the remaining obstacles and back to the place that she had left, much the worse for wear.
12 hours later.
While that was happening, Shield and Trammis found that the wagon had fallen into a sinkhole, at the bottom of which was a lake. The wagon was floating in the lake. They tried to rescue the wagon and were attacked by an angry glob of solidified evil. Its touch was significantly unpleasant, but Shield was able to channel his faith to defeat it after Trammis beat the crap out of it with his axe.
The two of them recovered the wagon, then found that Desirra and the girl had disappeared. They were not happy about this, and started asking the armored man what had happened.
He didn’t know. He was really rather evasive, but it seemed that he had to be. They let it lie, but if they did not get satisfaction soon, they threatened to do unpleasant thigns to him. However, Desirra returned before that happened.
Some more cryptic dialogue ensued where it was made mildly clear that there was Something Happening, and that they were Being Helped After A Fashion, although none of them liked the form that the help was taking. Some dickering for the wagon went on, when finally it was worked out that they would give the wagon back to the girl and she would take away their corruption. It was painful, but they were cleansed. Desirra’s wounds were much worse than previously thought, and the strange girl gave them some advice as to how they might be healed- there were sacred springs and other blessed natural spaces in the world, more importantly, one near the forest giant village.
The strange girl answered and evaded some other questions, telling them that if they wanted more, they should seek the Silent Scholar, the one she had given much information to, just the way that they wanted her to, and he failed in the end. She also advised them that “The clowns are exactly what they appear to be,” that if Trammis took his people’s warriors to the heart of this corruption (which she was hesitant to admit _could _be embraced and used to fight the encroaching darkness with), they would be killed by Knucklebone (a giant boogeyman of sorts whom the girl insisted was real) or turned into more of those things, or perhaps both.
“You will gather your warriors, and I will give you what you want- I will take you there, and Knucklebone will kill you. She will kill you all. they will replace your heart with a furnace and set you to digging, or worse.”
The three of them asked if they would be able to call upon her again, she told them that they would not, for she had other things to do, other people to tell about the situation in the hopes that this world would be able to use the Chance that it had been Given to survive after Something had been Taken from it. She then took them on a ride in her wagon, which grew chicken feet and waddled off into the night.
When the day came, the three of them found that they had been given items of some kind. (they were not evil) Further inspection found the girl in the market place of the giant village, and Trammis took Desirra to see the village elders and start spreading the word about the Shit That Was Going Down.
Desirra spent 24 hours convalescing at the giants’ sacred spring, and then she began making her way back to the lands of Men.