At dawn, the party began their journey towards the valley of hill giants. Forte mounted his dragon, and they flew back towards the south west. Before long, they spotted a valley teeming with burly giants that stood as tall as three orcs. Forte frowned, this would not be as easy as he had imagined. He first needed to establish if the giants had intelligence, or if they shared the same language, although he doubted it. There were so many giants that straight up violence wouldn’t work. He had to use his brain.
Forte considered his options. He didn’t need to kill the hill giants, he merely had to relocate them. And thus, he needed to find out what was keeping them in this particular valley. He called upon his pirate companions for reconnaissance and consultation.
They began to investigate the area. He noticed that the hill giants slept on the grass, and spent their time herding a flock of lambs. The lambs were the majority of the hill giant’s food. Forte watched as the hill giants casually knocked away wolves and the occasional raptor that tried to poach a lamb. At night, a single hill giant kept the lambs safe from predators.
His pirates reported that the giants did in fact speak the same language as them, but a very slow version. Plans started forming in Forte’s head.
He considered looking for toxic berries and poisoning their livestock, but the quantity of toxin was barely enough to kill a small animal, much less a towering hill giant. He had a better plan.
“Pirates, listen. We are going to scare the hill giants into leaving, by convincing them that there is a fire breathing devil that comes out every night, and steals lambs, and the only way they can stop the devil is by leaving the valley. Pirates, you will relay the message, since you are already ghosts and will add to the effect. Nightmare, you will fly around and intimidate the hill giants, and then swoop in to steal a lamb every night. Make sure to breath enough fire to get the message across.”
“Aye, sounds like a plan.” Blackbeard replied. Nightmare nodded.
They waited for the moon to come out and for all but one of the giants to fall asleep, and then put the plan into action.
The pirates sauntered into the clearing.
“Who… you?” The lone awake hill giant asked.
“We areeeeeee the ghostsssssssss of the valleyyyyyyy. You will lose one lambbbbb every night to the fire breathing devilllll…” The pirates said.
“No ghosts. Me smash.” The hill giant walked up to the ghost pirates and smashed down with his fist, destroying their corporeal forms.
At that moment, Nightmare bellowed fire from the heavens, causing the hill giant to look up. The dragon then swooped down and stole a lamb before the giant could react, belching a plume of flames as he left.
The hill giant beat his chest and shouted in anger, waking up the other hill giants.
“Gromp, what wrong?” A hill giant asked.
“Fire ghost steal lamb!” Gromp replied in anger. “Lamb stolen!”
“No fire ghost, Gromp. Sleep now.” The hill giant responded.
Gromp hit the ground with anger, and continued to watch over the lambs.
Forte congratulated his party on the job well done, and then camped for the night. He spent the next day hunting and practicing magic, and then waited for the moon to rise again. As the giants fell asleep again, only one giant lay awake, watching over the lambs. It was Gromp again.
The pirates walked up and began to sing. “Leave this valleyyyyyyy. Leaveeee, or you will lose one lamb a nighttttttt.”
Gromp stood up and shouted. “Lamb steal! Gromp smash! Smash now!”
Gromp, who was armed with a club today, walked over and smashed the ground where the ethereal pirates stood. Their physical bodies were destroyed. However, Forte instructed one pirate to stay back tonight. He waited for another hour, and then summoned Blackbeard.
Blackbeard walked up and repeated what his brethren said. Gromp looked absolutely enraged, and walked forwards to smash him. At that moment, a black dragon puffed a ball of fire at the hill giant and rushed for a lamb, snatching it by the neck.
Gromp roared, waking up a few other hill giants.
“Lamb, stolen! Fire ghost steal! Rahh!!” Gromp beat his chest, and slammed his mace on the ground repeatedly.
“Gromp, me watch. You sleep.” A hill giant said.
Gromp grunted and went to bed. The hill giant watched for fire ghosts and other intruders.
Forte decided to wait for tomorrow to continue the plan. They camped for the day, hunting and practicing swordsmanship. Forte sparred with Blackbeard, who he deemed the most useful out of the four pirates. Blackbeard’s swordsmanship was not to be looked down upon, although his ghostly scimitar was constantly broken by Forte’s gravitite greatsword. Whenever the scimitar broke, Blackbeard would exhaust an hour of his physical form to generate a new one.
Finally, it was night time. The pirates went to work.
“Leave this valleyyyyyyyyyyy. Leaveee, or you shall regret it. You will lose twoooooo lambs tonightttt.” The pirates chanted.
The new giant guard looked completely perplexed, after realizing that Gromp was not imagining things. Nightmare swooped down and breathed black fire on the giant’s eyes, blinding him, and scratched at his eyes. The giant bellowed in pain. Nightmare stole two lambs, one by one, by the neck. After that, Forte decided to retire his pawns for that night.
The next morning, Forte observed the hill giants talking to each other. The guard from last night had a nasty scratch mark on his left eye, and scorch marks over his face. After much deliberation, the hill giants began leaving the valley, taking their livestock with them, clearly spooked by the invincible ghosts and the fire breathing demon that put out one giant’s eye.
Forte smirked. His plan was successful. The party settled in for the day, and then Forte started looking for the orichalcum vein. He found it before long, next to an abandoned pickaxe and a dwarvern boot with the mangled leg still inside, with clear bite marks. Apparently the hill giants had found the dwarves mining, and ate at least one of them.
It was a small vein from the surface, but Forte trusted the dwarves’ intuition. The turquoise vein probably ran much deeper. Forte swung at the orichalcum ore, and marveled at how tough it was to mine. He would have to have the pirates working on it every day to mine even a sliver of the precious ore. Forte gave the commands to the pirates, and they started work on mining. Forte smiled. These ethereal pirates were the only people he could truly trust with this work, as a normal human would steal the precious metal for himself once it was mined.
With the help of his ghostly companions and Nightmare, Forte felled a few oak trees and managed to build a small log hut. This was where they would stay for now. Forte felt like it had the makings of a mining outpost, and decided to name it.
He named the outpost Avalon.
It was nearly a month away by horse from any human settlement, but Forte decided that that was the best case scenario. If it was too close, the kingdom would surely want to get their grubby hands on the orichalcum, Forte thought.
The total current inhabitants of Avalon were six, including a human, a dragon, and four ghosts, but Forte was confident that it would grow. Two days passed, and the pirates barely mined a small chunk of orichalcum ore that was smaller than Forte’s palm. It was a start, he thought.