Sunday, 29 Lamashan – Wealday, 8 Neth, 4733
Astrid asks Dace about her father and about the land of Isandria. He tells her how Isandria is located in what Magnimar calls the Churlwood. The capital is hidden under layers of illusion, causing the realm to be known as the hidden kingdom. Humans have increasingly encroached on the territory. Astrid’s father, King Thalion, has taken a tolerant approach but a faction called the Highborn wants to purge the land of humans.
Dace asks Astrid about her life in the village, trying to discern her standing. Astrid explains that she lived a simple life with her mother. She knew Prince Eldrin as a friend and only learned he was her half-brother from her dying mother after the giant attack. Dace explains that he and a war band of Ranger Guard under the Prince’s command were hunting the giants. They were in the Sandpoint area when Dace was attacked by the Sandpoint Devil. Astrid promises him that they will destroy the beast, but for now he should be safe at the Rusty Dragon. He admits that while his flesh has healed, his mind is still scarred.
In his spare time, Marcus continues to chaperon Shayliss Vinder as she visits people in town, shops, and pulls him into a quiet corner for some discreet private time. One day, Shayliss asks Marcus if he could train her to be better at defending herself. She doesn’t want to end up like Katrine, who had an ax but couldn’t overcome the ghast.
Testing her abilities, he learns that she can turn pretty much anything into a weapon and throw things with unerring accuracy. Marcus begins to train her with throwing daggers. He also takes the time to continue bonding with her father Ven Vinder, who shares stories of his days in the underground fighting rings of Varisia.
Oathday, 9 Neth, 4733
Wanting to wrap up a loose end, the Rune Wardens investigate the runewell beneath Sandpoint. Zavian brings Nualia with them, hoping the experience could be beneficial. Nualia reveals that she was inducted into Lamashtu’s faith in the ruins by the quasit demon Quasit. Hoping to trigger more visions, Zavian and Nualia jointly lower Marcus’ ranseur into the runewell.
They see a strange Thassilonian man talking with Erylium. He speaks in Abyssal, which Nualia translates. Over the course of his ranting he curses both Alaznist and Karzoug, pledges his true loyalty to Lamashtu, bemoans the doom of Thassilon and expresses hope that he can ride out the disaster. He marches out of the room, glowing runes trailing his footsteps.
The vision shifts time and place. They see young Nualia confronting her lover with her pregnancy. He shoves to the ground, calls her a slut, and says he is skipping town.
The vision shifts again. They see an ash-smeared, wild-eyed Nualia return to the caverns to knock down the walled up entrance to the catacomb in a frenzy.
The vision shifts again. They see a composed and zealous Nualia emerge with a symbol of Lamashtu and the goddess’ mark on her belly.
The vision brings them back to the chamber, Nualia is compelled to try to reach into the runewell with her demonic hand. Zavian tries to stop her and they both fall into the freezing water.
Back in the real world, Nualia’s eyes glow with the runewell’s light and she goes berzerk, attacking everyone in reach except for Zavian with her demonic hand, until knocked unconscious.
Zavian carries her away from the well, manacles her, and then draws blood from her demon arm. Casting the blood into the well summons forth one of the pale-skinned monstrosities, which the party quickly kills. They repeat this process, draining the well down until it is empty.
Zavian tries to use magic to penetrate the deeper chambers, but the preservative spells on the stones resist his attempts. So instead, he draws stone from the sea cave to serve as a plug to fill up the runewell.
Zavian speaks with Nualia after she is returned to her cell. He’s disappointed that she hasn’t let go of Lamashtu, but apologizes for placing her in a difficult situation. He tells her the party will be leaving for a short trip to Magnimar.
Zavian then returns to the Valdemar estate, where he uses the remainder of Nualia’s blood to create the first vivicar. The entity resembles Nualia, but with a more angelic appearance (including ornamental wings), and a curious attitude. Seeing that goodness remains in Nualia is heartening to the aasimar.
Fireday, 10 Neth, 4733
Coming down for breakfast, Lea receives a sending from Knight-Captain Laori Vaus, who congratulates her on the haunted house escapades and says that Ser Chammady of Korvosa will be arriving within a week to help cleanse Foxglove Manor. This puts the paladin’s mind at ease.
Marcus bids Shayliss farewell for the time being, and suggests she show her new skills to her father in hopes of getting more freedom to move around.
They set out south with Shalelu and Ameiko. Shalelu rides out ahead, scouting and commenting on local landmarks, while Ameiko rides with Lea. That night, they arrive at an old Varisian camp, where they encounter a grizzled old man named Berwin.
He told them he was traveling north from Magnimar to go stay with his niece in Galduria. Amelia noticed he was wearing a pair of battered Korvosan army boots, and Lea struck up a conversation with him about the old city.
Berwin warned that tensions were mounting between Magnimar and Korvosa, that there was talk of giants on the move in the wilderness, and that the mysterious “Star-Killer” was terrorizing Magnimar. He feared that something very bad was coming, likely a war, and wanted to steer clear of the major targets.
Berwin refused any help from the party and was gone the next morning.
Lea was surprised to hear that the situation between Magnimar and Korvosa had deteriorated so badly. Ameiko expressed hope that the old man was exaggerating, but neither of them was convinced.
After a light meal, the party bedded down in their tents: Lea and Ameiko sharing one, Amelia and Marcus each claiming an individual tent, and the rest sharing the large tent, while Shalelu tranced out under the stars.
Starday, 11 Neth, 4733
The next morning is cold and windy, and they travel south with their spirits dampened. Shalelu is increasingly concerned by the lack of traffic on the road. She finds tracks in the woods that seem like those of multiple bandit bands. When the elf takes them to a sacred glade to spend the night, they find the guardian dryad tree bound in cold iron chains.
Once freed, the dryad explains that she was trapped by the bandits. The different raiding groups seem to be guided by a hidden hand, since they aren’t fighting each other. the dryad also reveals that a group of giants and a band of Isandrian elves passed by, too, a few weeks ago.
The party camps by the tree that night and the tents are lashed with rain throughout the night.
Sunday, 12 Neth, 4733
The next morning, the sodden party returns to the road. In a forested area a few hours from Magnimar, they come across a distress merchant. One of his horses is dead, his cart axle is broken, and he was robbed of his entire cargo of pewter dinnerware.
Marcus and Lea dismount to help repair the cart, but Shalelu grows antsy, warning that this might be another bandit trap. Shalelu, Ameiko, Zavian, and Astrid notice figures moving through the trees on either side of the road. Zavian rides over to the merchant and demands to know if this is a trap. The man is shocked and terrified as the bandits attack.
Arrows streak out of the trees, one of them piercing Lea and another grazing Zavian. Astrid replies with an arrow of her own, striking true. Amelia moves to the edge of the forest and hurls glitterdust into the midst of one group of bandits, blinding three of them. Four ruffians emerge from the trees and try to pull Ameiko off of Prince. She fends them off and then tumbles free of the horse to flee to Lea’s side.
Lea imbues her earthbreaker with the divine fire of Iomedae, places herself in front of Ameiko and threatens the bandits to flee. Zavian uses stoneshape to warp the ground beneath the feet of three of the ruffians on the road, and Marcus kills two with burning hands. The vivicar moves to engage them.
The bandits recognize Lea and insist that this is all a misunderstanding. “You shot me with an arrow!” “You killed like three of our guys. That makes us even!”
The bandits attempt to flee, but Astrid and Lea give chase. Astrid heads of the group of bandits trying to help their blind fellows escape, while Lea rides down the bandit leader. The five captives are hauled back to the road for interrogation.