Rise of the Runelords

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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Thistletop (Part Deux)

After clearing out the main level of Thistletop, the PCs delved deeper into the island fortress descending down to the first sub-level. After finding the Warchief’s stable of wives – and quickly dispatching them – the PCs encountered a human mercenary by the name of Orik. After Kurama’s initial attempts at diplomacy via the threat of violence were unsuccessful, Ostarian tried a softer hand and was able to sway the wayward warrior to drop his arms and offered him a chance at redemption. Giving the PCs the few details he knew of, he left Thistletop for Sandpoint, hoping to turn over a new leaf.

Continuing on, the PCs made quick work of most of the rest of this first subterranean level, dispatching the “dangers” with ease. Kurama was even able to exact revenge on Tsuto, as the group made short work of Nualia’s lackeys.

Finding a not-so-secret door, the group descended down to a second subterranean level where, after deftly outmaneuvering a trap, they encountered Nualia. It became readily apparent that she was beyond redemption and after a brief struggle, were able to put an end to her evil plans. Exploring the rest of the dungeon, Verthas was able to find the mechanism for a concealed door that led to a hidden wing.

After searching the rooms here, the PC unfortunately stumbled upon an imprisoned barghest who proved to be more than a match for the weary PCs. Verthas was the first to fall but, after some quick thinking from the group, was saved as Kurama gave his life for his friend.

Tired and weary, mourning their friend, the PCs set out for Sandpoint with the goblin threat officially neutralized. Vowing to return one day to avenge their fallen friend…

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Thistletop
Part I

After emerging from the Catacombs of Wrath, the PCs were quick to seek help in investigating their findings in the hidden complex. Half the party set out to seek counsel from the Thassilonian scholar Brodert Quink in regards to any knowledge he had regarding the strange pool. The other half sought out Father Zantus for any information he could share in regards to Lamashtu.

With the machinations in place to hopefully quell whatever evil remained inside the walls of the long forgotten Thassilonian shrine, and with Sheriff Hemlock back from Magnimar with his reinforcements, the PCs were quick to catch him up on the proceedings from the past few days. Once fully up to speed, the decision was made for the group to head to Thistletop – the base of operations for the plots against Sandpoint – for the PCs to face this foes once and for all and restore peace to the region.

With Dwarin’s help the group was able to locate a trail used by the goblins comes to and from Thistletop. Upon finding a hidden entrance to the compound the PCs dealt with a number of goblins as they twisted their way through the maze of bramble, finally arriving at the bridge that would lead them to the curious round island of Thistletop.

Once safely across the PCs methodically worked their way through the ground floor of the complex, dispatching most all of the Thistletop tribe. Finally, they encountered the leader of this band of goblins, Warchief Ripnugget. A failed attempt at diplomacy followed and a skirmish quickly broke out due to the Warchief’s high opinion of himself. The goblin chief and his brethren were no match for the group and were quickly dealt with.

What lies deeper in the island still remains a mystery at this point in time…

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