Rise of the Runelords

Dealings with the Scribbler

“Abadar, protect me”, I shouted as a knee jerk reaction to the sight of the blade wielding Scribbler mere feet away from me. The Dancing Lights spell cast shadows on his facial features giving him a sinister appearance. This time his voice was not one of reason and parlay but one of unpronounceable magical utterances. He was casting a spell!
It took but an instant but my mind works very quickly when the needs arises. I saw just how precarious my situation had become. As the compulsion ended and my mind cleared I immediately took note of several things. First, I had sealed my escorts in a cathedral of the Mother of Beasts with little chance of escape. Second, my latest challenge was not only casting a spell but brandishing a pair of wicked looking swords. Third, and worst of all I was alone, no Sysstean and no escorts. Finally the group had been attacked by a Suggestion which effectively split the party. I remember, I falsely believed they wanted to sacrifice me to the Mother of Beasts. I do so hate enchantments. So I immediately cast a minor teleport spell to get me back to the entrance to the cathedral dedicated to the Mother of Beasts. Then I cast a Wall of Stone to seal them in the Cathedral. I hope they survive…Maybe it’d be better if they survive AND forgive me. That’s not important NOW.
Now I had to compete with the Scribbler and survive. What spell is he casting? Looks as if he is summoning something. Damn! That worshiper of Lamashtu got the jump on me. If I begin a summoning of my own his summons will appear before I finish and be able to break up my concentration. Then I should break up his concentration with an offensive spell. Drat! Only easily countered Magic Missiles are left. All hope is lost! I will be defeated by a follower of Lamashtu. I shall forever walk this cathedral as a…Better another string of thoughts than to wallow about this fate.
Maybe I can reason with the Scribbler. My words have proven effective before. I can be quite the charming fellow when given the time. I must depart from this course as the summon creature or creatures of the Scribbler will surely not grant me any time to begin a proper parlay. It will attack as soon as it is able.
Clear my mind. Ah yes! I remember when I was an apprentice at the cathedral of Abadar in Magnimar. Whenever I got into a duel with one of the acolytes and I summoned one of my creatures they would negate the spell by a simple protection spell. Then it came to me. I knew the course of action I now must take. If worse came to worse I would cast another minor teleport spell and travel back to the last place I saw the group. I would try to reason with them and break the compulsion. I knew there was little chance of success with that.
First things first, I would fly up out of range of the Scribblers’ sword and then negate the usefulness of his summons. At that time I shall enter a parlay with him and show him the basic failures of his core beliefs. Both he and I will come up with a bargain that can help us all. Abadar be praised and bless us all.

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Second Introductions

Voren sat on the ground leaning against his cell. He had no way of knowing how many hours had passed. His back was to the wall as he stared across to another empty cell. The room was dimly lit and the smell of sweat and waste wafted in the air. He could hear the rhythmic snoring of his dwarven companion coming from the cell to the right. Like the others, the giants had confiscated the majority of their weapons and armor. It was fortunate that the guards hadn’t realized how much equipment they had left with his group. Voren took another comforting glance towards his glove. He’d have his sword by his side should the right opportunity present itself. He glanced to the cell on his left. The elven archer sat there engaged in reverie.

“Elf” he whispered. He stared at her for a moment trying to decide if she had heard him as she continued with her meditation. Voren smiled and waited. He was in no rush. With a lazy yawn, he lifted his hands above his head and settled back into them. He kept one sleepy eye cracked open as he watched the elf’s delicate eyebrow arch upwards in amusement.

“Patience from a half-orc?” she half joked. Voren snorted and couldn’t help but chuckle. To her surprise he replied in elvish. “You’ll find that I am full of surprises.” Despite his tusks, his accent was nearly flawless.

She stared at him briefly stunned. Her mouth slightly agape. “Your elven…it’s… good.”

“I’m glad to have your approval.” She couldn’t tell if that sentence was laced with sarcasm. Until now, she hadn’t given him much thought. Assumed he was another brute that lacked finesse.

“Is foolishly charging into a stronghold and getting captured normal for this group? So far, I can’t say I’m all that interesting in sticking around.”

Shalaelu briefly looked away. “No. This is not the norm. I’m not exactly sure what happened with Kurama and poor Savani but it clearly shook the group. I’m sorry we dragged you into this.”

Voren grunted with a nod of acknowledgement. “It’s always hard to see good men break. I’ve seen it happen to others over the years. Our current situation is definitely troublesome, but I’ve been in far worse”.

The elven ranger couldn’t help but laugh. Even in the depths of the dungeon her laugh was a melodic reprieve. “Truly? Worse than being imprisoned within an impregnable fortress inhabited by hundreds of giants under the command of our enemy?”

The bloodrager chuckled. His laughter rumbled within his chest. It’s sound was similar to large stones rolling down a hill. “I may be inconvenienced and lose most of my stuff, but I’ll survive and rebuild.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m very hard to kill.” He explained. “I’ll awake somewhere a few days after I’m thought dead. From there I’ll start over.”

She looked at him confused. “I don’t understand”. She studied him intently for several minutes. Her expression changed as if she finally realized something important. “You don’t smell like a half orc. What are you? Your scent is familiar to me but there’s something else…I can’t place it.”

He could tell she was skilled. But then someone who lived alone in the woods hunting goblins and giant-kin would be, he mused. She would eventually figure him out. Those he spent more than a few days with always asked the same questions. He may as well test the waters now.

“Its easy to be dismissed when you’re in several pieces”, Voren laughed. "I was younger. Less experienced. I was arrogant and head strong. I underestimated my foe and a group of ogres got the better of me. I had been misinformed of their numbers. Before long I was surrounded and fell to their clubs. They swarmed me and that’s when the ripping and tearing began. I may heal quickly but I still feel all the pain. It nearly drove me mad. I awoke some time later to find several limbs scattered about the room.

Voren continued his tale as he had captured the Ranger’s attention. “There’s something to be said about seeing your own legs across the room. I was fortunate.” He grimly chuckled. “After dragging myself across the floor I was able to press my severed limbs to my stumps and waited as they slowly knitted back together. It was pretty gross stuff. I’m not positive but I think they may have eaten one of my arms. Never did find it. Thing took about a week to fully regrow.” He noticed that his last sentence had her mind spinning.

“Your….trollkin?!?” She quietly gasped. She edged closer to the bars they shared. “That’s what I smelled, but I don’t understand. You don’t look like any troll I’ve ever seen before.”

“That’s because I’m not like other trolls. I have fey blood coursing through my veins. Potent First World stuff. Not sure who my father was, but he wasn’t a troll. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly exactly accepted by my kind. I was the runt, the freak. I smelled wrong to my kin. Fuckers tried to eat me,” he laughed.

So i ran, alone in the world. Eventually, I stumbled upon an overturned merchant wagon. Whatever had killed the merchant and guards had long since left. Most anything of value was taken as well. As i was leaving, I stumbled upon a battered book of Abadar. Let’s just say that book was the first thing in my life that made any sense.” Voren paused and heard a door open nearby. They had a visitor.

“Quiet,” Ostarion hissed. “Someone is coming. Everyone be still.”

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Perspective behind bars

The dimly lit room reeked of refuse and carrion. Macabre art was liberally displayed along the room and reminded Kurama of the ugly situation he found himself in…again. The fact that he still lived provided a glimmer of hope.

He wondered if his friends managed to escape. He hoped he had bought them enough time. His head and back throbbed in agony. He imagined how he must look. It was hard to focus and gather his thoughts. His stomach growled and he cursed his hangover. “Hey” Kurama shouted into the darkness. “I’m not dead yet which means you want something. So let’s talk”.

Battered, he tried to focus on listening but couldn’t hear anything beyond his rasping breath.

“That much is true Kurama.” A familiar melodic voice drifted towards him from the shadows. Xenesia’s sister turned a corner and approached his cell. “Oh don’t act so surprised” she frowned, “You aren’t the only one that has contacts and knows how to get things done. You and your companions have made quite the name for yourself as of late. It won’t matter in the end, but even I’ll admit you’ve been problematic. I honestly thought my dear sister would have been sufficiently prepared to deal with you. Clearly I was wrong.” She shrugged her slender shoulders and studied the young man.

“What are you Kurama?” She lazily walked the length of the cell, “Those crystal arms, are they valuable?” She taunted. Determined not to show weakness to a predator, he met her gaze and simply shrugged. “They are valuable to me”.

She continued her appraisal of him while idly playing with her red hair. “We need not be enemies. In fact I think we could be superb allies. To have achieved so much in such short time speaks highly of you. It would be a shame to see your life snuffed out prematurely. Be reasonable Kurama, you may see us as opponents, but I know talent when I see it and I can tell by your actions that you’re a man of your word. I think we can both get what we want”.

He couldn’t help but chuckle. “And what is it that you think I want miss…”

“You may call me Lucrecia” She answered accompanied with the slightest of nods.

“Lucrecia, I need a drink. If you want a friendly conversation then bring me my flask. I can see it from here with the rest of my gear.”

She laughed. It was rich and deep. “Oh, I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. You’re quite dangerous with your equipment particularly that scimitar of yours. You can’t blame me for being cautious.”

“You’re wrong you know.” Kurama interjected. Slowly he rose to his feet and approached the cell wall. His tone promised violence, “Its not my equipment that makes me dangerous.” His crystalline arms briefly pulsed with energy. “Get me anything then. Ale, wine, it doesn’t matter.”

She studied him for another moment and saw something troubling in his eyes. “My my isn’t that interesting. Do you have any control at all? How addicted are you?” She clicked her tongue in disapproval, spun and approached his equipment. One incantation later she was confident the flask was harmless. Curiosity took her and Lucrecia unscrewed the cap and inhaled. She then sampled a small taste. It was strong and she scrunched up her face in displeasure. Her gaze return to the monk once again. “You drink this regularly?” She shrugged and passed the flask through the bars. She watched as he accepted it with a shaky hand.

Kurama took a deep pull from the flask. Anyone who understood addiction could see how much influence that flask had. He nearly drained it. Within a minute, tension melted away from his shoulders and his whole body language changed. He looked considerably better and more relaxed she noticed his hands no longer shook. “So inbred orgres huh?” He gave Lucrecia another look look over from head to toe. “Are they the normal company you keep?”

A genuine smile crept onto her face. “Oh no” she laughed. "Just a means to an end. “I prefer to surround myself with more sophistication. They are just a convenient tool to be manipulated and directed. We needed the Black Arrows out of the way. There’s always someone around looking for vengeance. It hardly ever takes more than a whisper. I’ll admit I’m bored here. I haven’t had good conversation since that young fool Kaven. It didn’t take much convincing for him to betray his brothers.”

“Oh I see now, drawled Kurama, “Am I just the next fool after Kaven; to be charmed by your words and beauty?”

“Hardly,” she scoffed. “Surely you can tell the difference between a lackey and a peer. Beauty? Well now. You do have some manners,” she teased. "Perhaps there was something magical in that flask of yours all along.

“Kurama, simply put there is something massive in the works orchestrated by people far more powerful than me. I am simply playing my part to assist in the upcoming change to Varisia. Mokmurian would love to meet you.”

He took note of the new name. “Who is that? Is he the one behind all this?”

Again there was more laughter. “It amazes me the trouble you and your friends have managed to cause with such little comprehension. My master is simply another cog in something much grander. We all answer to someone Kurama. I will say no more, but know that by meeting him you will get your answers. Join us. Join me and be part of something much larger. Surely its better then becoming ogre art.”

“Lacrecia, what makes you believe that I can’t escape whenever I choose?”

She studied the Tian Xai again and looked sad for the briefest of moments. "Because you haven’t. “Don’t allow your pride to let you pass up my offer. Look around, things are grim. You are running out of time and your friends would be foolish to return. I’ll visit you tomorrow and give you time to think on my offer. I’m the only one that can save you.”

Before Kuruma returned to his sitting position he handed her back his flask. It was empty any way. As he passed it along his fingers grazed the engraved holy simple and whispered a prayer to his god.

My friends will come. I just need to be patient. Kurama knew he still had one last trick up his sleeve. They all believed his magic was gifted to him through his gear. But they were wrong. The scimitar might help him focus but he felt the remaining pulse of arcane energy deep within. If things truly turned ugly he believed he could still melt into gas and escape. But that would mean losing his sword and his last connection to his sister. He shook his head stubbornly. He had too many unanswered questions. He tried to get as comfortable as he could under the circumstances and waited for his friends. He knew they would come and he had to be ready to play his part.

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2.7 - Shadows of Time

Arriving at the Shadow Clock, the PCs do some quick investigation asking the locals what they know or have heard about the tower. Warily entering, they are surprised by the guardian of the ground floor – a sentient flesh golem named the Scarecrow. Tough, but outnumbered, the construct eventually falls and the PCs make their way up the winding staircase.

Here on the stairs they encounter obstacle number two as one of the four bells hanging high above comes crashing down at the party. Lucky to avoid any major fall, the PCs manage to regain their composure and make their way to the top of the stair and defeat the next set of guardians – three faceless stalkers who prove to be no match for the PCs might.

Emerging out onto the rooftop, they find the living quarters of some unknown creature and go about snooping. As a demon manifests itself in the air, circling the top of the tower, a snake-like woman appears out of nowhere, trying to impale Ostarian. Quick to react, Kurama beheads the she-beast in one fell stroke before she could do any further damage to the wizard.

Searching her belongings they find quite a nice cache of treasure and a note;

Handout_2-7.jpg

Filling in the Lord-Mayor of the events that transpired, they PCs are thrown quite the celebration by the wealthy man and asked if they would do the city of Magnimar – and the region as a whole – a great service. Go to Turtleback Ferry and find out why the Black Arrows have gone silent.

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2.6 - The Seven's Sawmill

Setting off for the Seven’s Sawmill – situated amongst many other such lumber mills on Kyver’s Islet on the banks of the Yondabakari River – the PCs find a normal, run of the mill (get it!) operation. While the two doors are locked, it seems that by all appearances it is a functioning mill. Gaining entry first to the undermill section where the waterwheels churn, they are escorted up and around to the main floor of the mill by cleverly posing as potential customers.

Trying to openly explore the mill leads them to confront some workers who warn them that the dangerous machinery scattered about is quite dangerous and the group gets escorted back down to the loading bay area where they are met after a short wait by the operator of the mill – Justice Ironbriar.

As the honorable Justice feels out the true intent of the group, patience eventually wears thin and combat ensues. Cultists come rushing to the aid of their master as battle lines are drawn and the tight quarters work against the cultists superior numbers. Soon, all are dead by the PCs hands – Ironbriar included. While Ostarian jaunts off to grab the local guardsmen, Kurama conducts a quick sweep of the property and turns up quite a few pieces of useful information as well as a macabre display of twisted human faces in Ironbriar’s office.

Needing to talk their way out of a sticky – and bloody – situation, the group is eventually exonerated from any wrongdoing when Ostarian, Kurama, and a local expert of the guards payroll are able to decipher Ironbriar’s coded journal. Details regarding someone referred to as the “lovely” Xanesha and the new method of murder she’s provided the Justice with as well as their frequent meeting at the Shadow Clock comes to light.

Greeted – and urged – by Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras himself, the PCs have their next task in hand. Find Xanesha and bring her to Justice!

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2.5 - Chasing the Skinsaw

After clearing out the ghoul infestation in the farmlands, the PCs decided following up on the note they found in the Foxglove mansion to be the logical course of action and thus headed back to the sprawling city of Magnimar.

Once inside the city gates, they set out to find the Foxglove townhouse – a much more modest (& pleasant) living accommodation than the mansion to search for clues. Finding the ground floor locked and boarded up, they forced their way inside only to be welcomed by Iesha Foxglove. Taken aback but intrigued by this turn of events, the PCs accepted her offer of dinner while trying to figure out what was really going on.

In a gesture of courtesy and good-will, Ostarian offered to help bring out some refreshments and followed Iesha to the kitchen where a man was preparing food. To his surprise, when the man turned to face him, Ostarian saw Aldern Foxglove – now deceased – staring back at him.

Not like these 2-on-1 odds, he made a hasty retreat back to the group as combat started. Knowing their cover was blown, the two faceless stalkers reverted to their original forms and were quickly overpowered by the PCs.

Taking this opportunity to search the now empty town-home, the PCs uncovered the next breadcrumb in the trail – the deed to the Foxglove Manor with references to both the Brotherhood of the Seven and the Seven’s Sawmill.

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2.3 Walking Scarecrows

Running clean-up duties (and appeasing the GM for his hard work drawing out a super detailed and incredible map) the PCs went to Hambley Farm – the other site the necormancer had marked on his map of ghoul activity.

After a surprise attack from a ghoul, the group was able to work out an effective system for determining where the threats were hidden in order to rid the area of the undead menace that was starting to plague the farmlands.

Ghoul_Attack.jpg

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2.4 Misgivings

After taking a quick jaunt down to Magnimar to cure Dwarin’s blindness (courtesy of the necromancer), the group decided to head to Foxglove Manor to follow a bunch of clues that they had pieced together.

After a quick B&E by Kurama, the group set off to exploring the Manor. It wasn’t long into their search that heard sobbing coming from upstairs. Following the sounds they found the revenant of Iesha Foxglove. After breaking “her” out of the trance she was in, she immediately sought vengance against her husband-turned-killer, Aldern.

Quick to follow, the PC were lead into the depths underneath the manor, running into a speed bump or two along the way. Finally catching up to Iesha, the PCs confronted the now-undead Aldern and made him perma-dead. Searching around in the caverns, they came across a dark patch of fungus which turned out to be the phylactery of the lich Vorel Foxglove. Wisely deciding to destroy the abomination, the PC lifted the evil residing over the mansion.

With the lich gone & the mansion now free from almost all of its dangers, the PCs made quick work of searching & clearing out the rest of the mansion in which they were able to find their next clue – a note to Aldern from Xanesha, Mistress of the Seven – pointing him (and now the PCs) towards returning to his townhome in Magnimar where upon her agents would contact him.

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2.2 - The Thing in the Attic

Arriving at Habe’s Sanitorium, the PCs met with some heavy resistance from the owner & operator – Erin Habe – who claimed to be quite busy with some very important work. After much reluctance, Erin allowed the PCs to speak to Grayst…under supervision.

Upon bringing the clearly insance & sick Grayst down, the tormented man locks eyes on Savanni and his eyes bulge, “He said. He said you would visit me. His Lordship. The one that unmade me said so. He has a place for you. A precious place. I’m so jealous. He has a message for you. He made me remember it. I hope I haven’t forgotten. The master wouldn’t approve if I forgot. Let me see…let…me…see. He said that if you came to his Misgivings, that if you joined his pack, he would end his harvest in your honor.”

Message delivered, Grayst collapsed, issuing a low moan, only to rise again attacking Savanni. Chaos ensued as the PC fought back, the two tiefling bodyguards attempted to keep the peace, and Erin fled upstairs. Half the group followed Mr. Habe – only to be accosted by another of the Sanitorium’s residents, a wererat by the name of Pidget Tergelson. Quickly dispatched, the continued upwards searching for Erin, finally finding him on the top floor locked in a room. Breaking down the door, they found it to be empty and as they found the hidden compartment, Erin made a dash for the stairs but was quickly apprehended.

While this was going on, the PCs who were keeping tabs on the two bodyguards and Grayst’s corpse were surprised when a necromancer came up from the cellar to see what all the commotion was about. Whittling him down, eventually the necromancer beat a hasty retreat with the help of his magics and slipped through the PCs fingers. As the first half of the group joined in the fray, Erin used the commotion to slip away as well.

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2.1 - Murder Most Foul

After some much needed R&R – and the surprise return of Kurama – the PCs were once again approached by Sheriff Hemlock, this time regarding a series of murders in Sandpoint and the surrounding environs.

The first scene was at an abandoned barn south of town while the second was inside the lumber mill. It was a gruesome scene that ended with the deaths of Banny Harker & Katrine Vinder, both in unusual fashion. Even more interesting was a note pinned to one of the deceased with Savanni’s name on it reading “You will learn to love me, desire me in time as she did. Give yourself to tge Pack and it shall all end. – Your Lordship

After following up on some leads – most notably Ibor Thorn (who discovered the scene) and Ven Vinder (Katrine’s father), the PCs set out to search the lumber mill for clues. After a thorough search two main pieces of information were discovered. The first being the rune carved into Harker’s chest, while the second was that someone – or something – made its way up from the river into the mill.

Intrigued and more than a bit unsettled, the PCs decided to head out to Habe’s Sanatorium to question Grayst Sevilla, the body who managed to survive the first set of murders just a few days ago…

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