The party only wanted to fight giants, but that was not in the cards. Instead, they fought a managere of bizarre creatures.
Planning and logic were applied to the challenge of the giants. The two fights involving the giant guard and the giants investigating the death of their comrade have led the party to several conclusions. Principally, there are probably a lot of giants with a long-term settlement near the area they have been encountered, and they must be dealt with one at a time. So several schemes to extract the best possible advantage from the situation have been devised. One, which required testing, was using teleport as an anchor and safety line.
The first test replaced Yoink with a tentacle swinging rock monster. A second attempt was cut short in the search for a better test site when the party attracted the interest of a small group of ochre jellies. This party, having never encountered a slime monster before, but knowing the hazard of slimes to be their resilience and unpredictability, retreated to experiment. Arrows caused the creatures to divide, but fire hurt them. So much oil and coal was applied from a healthy distance.
Further teleport testing seemed to produce results that were not confused by uncontrolled factors. So clearly the correct response was for the party to add additional variables.
The suspicious rope from the not-so-secret room was used to link the party members, eventually causing them to be teleported under the canopy of a huge virgin forest at the foot of a sinister looking blackthorn tree. A line of floating gold coins pointed the way to a door in the side of the colossal tree. This party always has too much sense to go messing with the obvious traps and attempted to gather information before messing with the tree. But this GM has consequences in mind for them that do not stick their heads in the lion’s jaws, and flying haflings flew out of the tree to snatch at and steal from the party. Most attempts were foiled. Only Glauben lost his decorated repeater crossbow.
During the fight, Yoink attempted evasive action which caused the dark creature below to use its magic to attempt to restrain the gnomes within its ant-lion’s-den. How could the creature have predicted that teleportation away was a possibility?
Honorable mention: using the curvature of the wall of force against the enemies, Glauben shot an arrow up over the bows of the tree and dropped the arrow perfectly into a concealed enemy hafling.
The party regrouped at Talowdale and conferred with the epic party before returning to the Killing Tree. This time they boldly opened the door and went deep into the bowels of the Killing Tree. The rope ladder snapped! The party grabbed their safety line only to be fired on from above and stabbed at from wooden spears set into the tree. Ever downward into the darkness the gnomes climbed and fell until they reached the cavern of murky water beneath the Killing Tree.
Yoink and Glauben reached out toward the two points of light in the darkness only to be snatched at by the tentacles of the dark creature. For a few tense seconds our heroes slashed at the tentacles and fought against being battered and dragged under the neck-high water. Grim found the central mass where all the tentacles came from and struck, hard. In the last desperate seconds before Yoink activated the teleportation ring so the party could escape, Grim dealt the death blow to the foul creature.