After some discussion about setting off the avalanche early, the party decided to move the location of their ambush up a little ways out of the avalanche-prone section of the pass, instead. The hid in the trees to either side, taking 20, and as the enemy got closer cast progressively shorter-duration buffs. After all, these were powerful assassins, that outnumbered them seven to five, seven to three if you didn't count Efneisien and Zeffy, who were mostly support.
Just as the enemy was getting too close for comfort, a little girl with a magical anti-cold locket started wandering down the pass from the other direction. This couldn't be a coincidence -- this was obviously either an emmisary from the Winter King or some other trick -- but she was timed just perfectly to reach the ambush spot exactly when they planned to unleash hell, so Zeffy and Efneisien had to intervene.
Zeffy: "Shh! Don't scream! We won't hurt you!"
Efneisien: casts Silence
Anyway, Efneisien dragged the little girl to safety ["How come Efneisien can comfort her, and Zeffy can't?" "Well, Zeffy's dressed as a... umm..." "As a bard." "And Efneisien is obviously a..." "A barbarian." "Well, it's mostly the silence spell giving him time to work."] and Zeffy found a new hiding place outside the silence spell, although she didn't have time to take 20 hiding the second time.
...so when the wall of mist that the enemies could presuambly see through approached, with two glowing orbs scouting ahead, she was spotted. She recognized the orb as an elemental of sorts that couldn't be charmed, so was about ready to start singing her bard song to signal the others to attack (since the enemy wasn't in optimal position, but *was* in range of fireball and stuff) when Sara (the NPC assassin chick) threw a net that silently dropped the orb into the bushes, from which it never emerged.
Zeffy still cast hasten, just in case -- figuring that that spell wouldn't be any *more* obvious than the net. That bet seemed to pay off, as the enemy didn't notice.
...and after a couple of rounds, not forwarned, the enemy got close enough, and Ignacious tossed in a fireball to disperse the mist (he didn't have a lot of confidence it would do much to the assassins, even if two of them were casters instead of straight rogues).
The surprise round was mostly spend casting spells -- a bard song, some really short duration buffs -- altough Chit Chit did charge the mage and trip him off his horse. Then the party won initiative... so it was pretty ugly for the assassins. Zeffy took out their leader with Tasha's Hideous Laughter after Heyyou mauled him, and Chit Chit and some of Iggy's summoned apes finished off the mage.
The cleric tried to take down Chit Chit with an inflict critical wounds spell, but Efneisien had actually guessed correctly with an earlier Spell Immunity, so it fizzled. The white abishai (!!) being used as packmules summoned a red abishai to help them. The other assassins... were pathetic. Oh, and the remaining glowy orb only fired one magic missile at a time, so it wasn't much of a threat.
Basically, the party just rolled over them. Aside from a single hit from a magic missle (the other missiles were wasted against some of Zeffy's images after she started shooting arrows at it) no one was even hurt. The red abishai would have been a threat if it didn't vanish when the whites were slaughtered one round later, maybe. The cleric mostly ran away, but couldn't get away from Chit Chit. The rogues were REALLY REALLY WEAK. I can't stress that enough.
Then... the giant came, screaming about the death of his goat and tossing boulders into the pass. The party couldn't really run away because there were a bunch of captive dwarves and the all-important shipment of mithril to guard, so Efneisien dimension-doored himself and the two fighters into melee with the giant, while Ignacious' apes started charging up the hill, and the mage himself started shooting scorching rays. (Zeffy just kept on shooting arrows at the glowing orb, since it wasn't dead yet and she had no way of getting up there)
Unfortunately, going into melee with the giant was a really bad idea. Its first hit cut Efneisien in half (116 points of damage, with a critical Smite Good), and... for some unknown reason, it decided not to take its other three attacks and its cleave against Heyyou and Chit Chit, so they killed it next round.
Tom: "You know, when I DM I don't kill off characters unless they did something stupid."
Me: "Teleporting into melee with a giant was pretty stupid."
Tom: *leaves the room and sulks* (Well, actually, he responded with a completely true statement about how he was pretty sure the giant wouldn't actually kill anyone in one hit, which was true (it got lucky with the critical), and that the party's melee could take it down in a couple rounds, which was also true. Then left the room and sulked.)
Me (to the GM): "You know, you can't really complain about the party being too strong for the monsters if you pull your punches like that."
Josh: "This *is* D+D, and at this level we can afford to raise the dead."
GM: "Um... the monster was CR 17. It wasn't going to miss with its boulders... how many hits do you think Iggy and Zeffy could take?"
Me: "... okay, I guess the lesson here is 'never leave a potential enemy alive if you have the option of murdering him in his sleep'. Zeffy's totally going Chaotic Neutral."
Eric: "Chit chit would be fine with that, he's already chaotic neutral."
The dwarves eventually came out of their drugged stupor, and were very grateful to be rescued -- grateful enough to spring for a True Ressurection for Efneisien when they got back to the mine. [because we haven't been actually earning XP for a while now, just 'okay, everyone can level up', which totally screws people who fall behind 'cause they'll never catch up]. Apparently, mithril miners are *loaded*.
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