Nate, Tim, Jake, Jeff, James and Drew are outside of the Hill Giants Steading beaten and bruised. A few heal spells are cast and a discussion opens up between everyone “What to do next?”.
The giant's alarm rhythm changes again. Two beats a rest and a third beat, over and over. The front doors open for a quiet pause then an army of bugbears march out and start forming a battle line. While the party is still working on a plan of action the wizard, the unnamed wizard from the beginning of the story, appears out of nowhere, casts an Ice Storm on the party and then runs away. Now the party needs to move fast so James summons a dragon for everyone to ride away on. They take off and are high in the air when attacked by two insane and magically hasted manticores also flying high in the air. The first wave of manticore spikes knocks James unconscious, dispelling the summoned dragon that the entire party is riding on. The fall was long and painful at the end. Tim manages to clench Nate in mid-air and cast a Cure Serious Wounds before hitting the ground keeping Nate alive. James is not so fortunate. DOI, dead on impact.
The bugbears cheer and bang on their shields watching the party fall from the sky, then move forward to finish them off. Jeff grabs the wand of wonder and points it at a manticore flying in the air. Again an elephant is summoned. An elephant appears in mid air above the manticore, crashing on top of the manticore and both splattering on the ground. The second manticore has run out of spikes and lands hoping to finish off the already hurt Nate. Nate, barely alive, uses a javelin of lightning on the manticore and soon it is dead. Another dose of Dust of Disappearance and every runs off to hide from the bugbears and rest for the night.
Jeff carries James' body for a short time but as he carries the body it grows larger and turns into a pink/purple color. After it becomes too heavy, Jeff takes James' belongings and leaves the mysterious corpse behind.
The next day the party carefully approaches the Hill Giants Steading and are surprised to see the doors wide open and orcs hanging out having a bonfire and cheerfully drinking and eating. The orcs are walking in and out of the place like they own it. The group is still scared, so they use another dose of Dust of Disappearance and sneak into the steading. While walking in they notice a mysterious canvas with a likeness of them printed on it and orcs cheering and making toasts to the Six Saviors.
While invisible they party searches the place finding nothing but orcs wandering about in ownership. In the basement several jail cells are found with inmates still inside. The first jail cell has James in it naked and wining about how he has been chained up in a jail cell for a week, left behind, forgotten. A week ago when the party originally entered the steading James scouted ahead invisible. The doppelganger took him by surprise, beat him up, turned him over to the giants and swapped places with him. The next cell has a human civil engineer that they free. The next jail cell has an elven wizard who despises the group, especially the half-breed Tim, but agrees to assist them for 1 year as payment for his release.
The party finds the magical chain of transportation and steps through and into a very cold and windy south pole.