Rise of the Runelords

Before Dawn

The Skinsaw Murders Interlude

Starday, 18 Neth, 4733

Moving with divinely-endowed haste, Zavian heads north to meet up with Constable Wallas at the Inn of the Golden Shield, where he takes custody of Nualia. She’s happy to be away from Sandpoint, where she’d been on a work-release program carrying out Zavian’s Abadarian bookkeeping duties.

More recently, she had worked with the Sandpoint Watch to hunt down the surviving goblins from Thistletop, the ones that Shalelu had lured away on her decoy mission. Nualia acted as bait to draw the goblins out where the guards could kill them, an act that had drawn some grudging respect from a town that still feared and hated her.

As the two aasimar travel together, Zavian commends Nualia for helping the town, but acknowledges that bureaucratic work was not suited to her. She asks why he is having her join him in Magnimar and he explains that as an aasimar, she has an important destiny. He wants to help her discover what that is.

Noticing her shivering in the cold, he casts endure elements on her. Zavian admits that he is taking a great risk bringing her south, even though she had passed up previous opportunities to escape. He asks her to swear not to make any escape attempts or violations of the law during her stay in Magnimar.

“I know how you Abadarians take oaths and contracts seriously,” Nualia says with a sly smile. She holds up her red demon hand. “Pinky swear?”

After the vow is made, they travel in silence for a while, until Zavian pauses again. He confesses that he killed Tsuto, but did so in an improper summary execution. He admits that he did wrong, but is trying to do better. Though he also confesses that he killed Tsuto to remove his influence from her, but also out of jealously.

Nualia describes Tsuto as a lovestruck young fool who should have stayed away after things fell apart at Thistletop. That’s why she decided not to take up his escape offer. Besides, she shrugs, Zavian is prettier.

As they continue to travel, Zavian regails her with stories of his wild days as “King of Lowcleft,” which Nualia finds hard to believe. Zavian acknowledges that he has hidden depths.

As they approach the city, he also tells her about the creation of the vivicar and how he has noticed that it has traces of her personality, and signs of the divine goodness within her. He also notes that the vivicar seems drawn to Desna’s constellation. With a cocked eyebrow, Nualia questions him about what activities he got up to with this pliant copy of her . . .

Meanwhile, in Magnimar

Earlier that day, Astrid visits the Bazaar of Sails to ask around for information on Isandria. She is eventually pointed towards an Isandari merchant, Adalas Dorasaer. The bombastic elf was selling baked goods made from rare, fey-touched grains. Astrid purchases some lembas bread, and gets the man talking about the Hidden Kingdom.

She learns that Isandria is currently divided into two factions. The Stalwarts support the King’s policy of tolerating human settlement within the forest realm, while the Highborne want to drive the humans out and preserve elvish culture. She asks if giants are known to live in Isandria and is told that the Ranger Guard would fight off any such incursions.

She also got a brief, slightly condescending lesson in Elvish history. Ten thousand years ago, the Elven farseers sensed the coming disaster of the Earthfall and evacuated the vast majority of their population off of Golarian via an artifact called the Sovyrian Stone.

After the elves returned thousands of years later, they found their ancient lands had been overrun by humans and fouler things. The elves of the Mierani Forest to the north continue to grapple with the dangers that crept into their lands to this very day. But the illusion magics cast upon the Isandari capital of Niriath kept it hidden from looters and squatters, allowing the elves to return as if no time had passed.

After Astrid bids farewell to the the bread merchant Adalas, she climbs the great causeway up to the Summit region and visits the Founder’s Archive. There she buries herself in books on giants, finally coming across a tome that sketches out a valuable overview of the many different breeds of giant.

There are an abundance of the huge creatures in Varisia, mostly sticking to the Kodar Mountains, the Cinderlands, and other wild regions of the interior. She also learns that a giant with a boulder in its hand is bad news, as they are naturally gifted at hurling large rocks.

Sunday, 19 Neth, 4733

Early tin the predawn hours, Astrid meets up with Zavian, who has taken up Captain Kasadei’s offer to serve as bait in her murder investigation. With Zavian dressed as a Sarenrite cleric on a Dawnwalk procession, Astrid sets up an ambush in a nearby alley together with Nualia and the vivicar.

However, the assassin nonetheless gets the drop on Zavian. She is a red haired half-elf woman who probably isn’t related to Astrid. The killer uses a silence spell to mute his calls for help before knifing him in the back.

But the cleric proves more resilient than her normal prey, and soon the cultist attempts to flee the alleyway. The vivicar tackles her and Nualia beats her unconscious. Zavian arrives to chain her up, but before he can do anything her backup swoops down from the alley, a gargoyle Zavian had noticed earlier. The creature has a fiendish look to it and red-tinted skin. It knocks Zavian flat on his ass and swoops up with the unconscious half-elf woman, despite the vivicar’s attempts to hold on.

Zavian casts fly on Astrid, who chases after the monster and finally sees it land at a ruined temple deep in the Underbridge District. She returns to report her findings to Zavian and to Kasadei, who has her guards set a watch on the temple. Recognizing that his party of four is outmatched, Zavian heads back towards the Kaijitsu villa to rally the Rune Wardens.

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