Rise of the Runelords

The Black Monk
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 14

Oathday, 8 Pharast, 4734

The Rune Wardens, now accompanied by the knightly lamia Seleval, have gathered in the frigid confines have gathered in the frigid confines of the Black Tower. Above them, the tower is hollow and empty. But they have discovered a hidden trap door leading into a chamber below. Seleval has warned them that it is the home of a powerful undead creature known as the Black Monk.

They pry open the trap door and Zavian casts his azure gaze into the darkness. The trap door leads to a 50 foot shaft, which opens out onto a room below. The aasimar can barely make out the floor below. He casts light on a pebble, then tosses it down. It hits the icy floor and slides out of view.

The party gets out a rope and secures it soundly before dropping it down the shaft. Astrid uses her slippers of spiderclimb to warily descend. The room below has a 20-foot ceiling and numerous alcoves along its round walls, all of it coated in a thick sheen of ice. The temperature is unnaturally frigid.

Worst of all, as Astrid peers into the room, she discovers that the Black Monk is floating near the ceiling, waiting for her. He is wrapped and bound in ancient yellowed linen, and wherever his flesh peeks through it is blackened by age. In one arm, he cradles a rune-inscribed adamantine scroll case. His other had lashes out at Astrid with a series of swift, precise jabs and strikes.

The rest of the Rune Wardens are swift to come to Astrid’s aid. Amelia casts feather fall on the party and they drop one after another down the chute. Even Seleval, who has assumed a human form to descend the narrow shaft.

The Black Monk takes swings at them all, but concentrates his strikes against Astrid. The redheaded half-elf is eventually battered into unconsciousness and tumbles from her perch on the ceiling. Her potentially fatal fall is thwarted by Seleval’s cat-like reflexes, as the lamia snags hold of Astrid and gently carries her to the floor.

Lea heals Astrid and then hits the Black Monk with a spell that compels him to attack her or suffer divine repercussions. The Black Monk responds by letting out a terrible screech that travels up the shaft into the hollow tower, where it reverberates.

Soon, the siren sound of a harpy can be heard filtering down from above. Two more harpy monks swoop down to attack. Zavian calls on righteous might to grow to gigantic size and battles them.

Lea and the Black Monk trade devastating blows. Marcus moves up to support the paladin with his ranseur, while Seleval bolsters her with a healing spell. Lea’s earthbreaker blazes with holy light as she batters the mummy into smithereens.

Meanwhile, the enlarged Zavian uses his enormous flaming scimitar Sunspark to cut a harpy in half. He then squeezes his way up the chute to confront the singing harpy above. However, it manages to escape his clutches. Down below, Amelia lands the killing blow on the other harpy.

The party scavenges the adamantine scrollcase that the Black Monk had been guarding. Marcus realizes it has a complicated lock written in Thassilonian, which will take time to decipher.

Seleval asks Lea for permission to eat one of the dead harpies. Lea waits for the others to ascend the chute before agreeing to let the lamia have a few nibbles. She quickly regrets her decision, as her steel gorget tightens around her neck and her bonded spirit Ell-Hayzar shouts at her from across the aether. Lea calls Seleval off, but then acquiesces to the lamia’s request to be made a proper knight.

Lea and “Ser Seleval of Korvosa” clamber up to join the rest of the party in the ground level of the Black Tower. They can hear angry giants at the gates, demanding to speak to Mokmurian. The dragon Longtooth appears to have vanished.

Amelia uses glibness and a bead from her necklace of fireballs to pose as Mokmurian and scare off the giant chieftains below, at least for the moment. The party decides to descend below and confront Mokmurian.

Charge of the Mammoths
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 13

Oathday, 8 Pharast, 4734

Having rested up, the Rune Wardens exit the rope trick and decide to venture up into the main fortress to take out another ally of Mokmurian’s, the Black Monk. Following Conna’s directions, they head to the central pit.

As they wind their way around the side of the crater, they come across a trio of dire bears. Amelia attempts to fascinate the beasts with her performance, but is only able to get two out of three. Which is not sufficient.

In the ensuing violence, two of the dire bears are slain and a third is stricken with nausea. The angry bears draw the attention of a patrol of stone giants, which hurry towards the fighting. Marcus uses stone shape to barricade the entry to the pit, and the adventurers race upstairs.

The Rune Wardens emerge into the open courtyard of Jorgenfist. There is a stone giant riding a mammoth in the practice yard, while an armored lamia and a young red dragon patrol the grounds.

Thankfully, the party is not immediately noticed thanks to the disturbance going on outside the fort. Plumes of black smoke rise up from the camps surrounding Jorgenfist, as Longtooth swoops overhead spewing down fire. He is pursued by the other young dragon, while the other lamia and several stone giants watch from a nearby tower.

The adventurers duck behind the large stables to get some cover. Inside are three woolly mammoths, who quickly become agitated by the presence of strangers. The Rune Wardens then concoct a plan to try to lure in the nearby lamia and its pet dragon.

Making use of a bead from the necklace of fireballs, the party sets the corner of the stables on fire in an attempt to provoke the mammoths to stampede. They hope this will draw over the lamia and dragon.

Once the blaze is set and the northern stable doors are left open, they hurry over to the burning end of the building. From there, Marcus peers up at the battle in the sky between Longtooth and the other red dragon. Observing their behavior, he comes to realize that the lamias’ two dragons are under some sort of charm effect.

As planned, the unusually knightly lamia and her enthralled dragon approach the burning stables to investigate. Lea, having heard Marcus’ discovery, activates her boots of speed to race out to the dragon and cast protection from evil onto it. This allows the creature to shake off its charm spell and immediately turns on the lamia knight. It ignores Lea’s clumsy attempts to build a rapport.

With the party’s position now revealed, the stone giant rider charges on his mammoth. The prehistoric creature inflicts fearsome wounds onto Astrid, but the giant has less luck. He over-extends with his greatclub and falls off.

The fallen giant is swiftly set upon and slain, but the rampaging mammoth remains a hazard. Lea races back to the creature and miraculously manages to climb onto it. She holds on while the great beast tramples over her friends, then begins trying to coax the creature into arcing around the burning stables.

Meanwhile, the other mammoths charge out of the burning stables, trumpeting in terror and fleeing north across the courtyard. Elsewhere, the knightly lamia and the red dragon fight it out in the mud. Up in the towers, the red headed lamia directs the stone giants to pelt the party with boulders.

Amelia and Marcus start to investigate the Thassilonian tower, but the second young red dragon swoops down and blasts them and Astrid with flame. Zavian, meanwhile, has taken flight with his metal wings, rising up to level with the fort’s walls. He notices that two of the frightened mammoths have been found and calmed by two frost giant who’ve emerged from an outbuilding.

The knightly lamia manages to slay her treacherous dragon as Lea rounds the corner of the stables on the back of the mammoth. The paladin lines up a charge and the lamia turns to face her, grinning with anticipation. The mammoth hurtles forward. The lamia manages to avoid the worst of the beast’s wrath.

Lea leaps off to confront the lion-woman, despite not having drawn a weapon. She asks the lamia knight’s name and learns she is called Seleval of Xin-Shalast. Lea in turn shares her full royal titles. The lamia invites her to fight.

As the two prepare to duel, the two frost giants ride over to excitedly survey the chaos. Zavian flies overhead, trying to get closer to the stone giants in the tower. The red-headed lamia meanwhile has descended to the courtyard.

Lea weathers a devastating series of blows from the lamia Seleval. However, thanks to Iomedae’s grace she is able to withstand the assault. Seleval, realizing that she cannot survive a counterattack, attempts to flee. Lea punches her with a spiked gauntlet, driving the lamia to her knees and to death’s door. Surprisingly, Seleval yields and offers to swear fealty to Lea in exchange for her life.

While all this has been going on, Astrid has been firing arrow after arrow at the stone giants in the tower. Marcus has thrown multiple fireballs at them, but the remaining red dragon gets in his face. Amelia tries to overpower the dragon’s charm spell with a charm of her own, but can quite overcomes the lamia’s magic. She tries again with a scroll of dispell magic. The dragon Econtredor abandons the fight to go after the red-headed lamia, keeping its distance to bath her in fire.

Touched by Seleval’s display of chivalry and sensing a test from Iomedae, Lea accepts Seleval’s fealty. The paladin then moves to heal the party, calling on Seleval to come to her side and loudly declaring that the lamia is under her protection. As the Inheritor’s warmth radiates from Lea’s outstretched arms, she deliberately includes Seleval in its embrace.

The frost giant duo of Istvig and Jaansk charge their mammoths down onto Lea, who scrambles away from their heavy footfalls and dodges their axes. The mammoths press on into the the cluster of Astrid, Marcus, and Amelia. Up above, Zavian summons a speedy Bralani Azata to aid the party with its magic.

Seleval comes to Lea’s side and snares Istvig with a hold person spell. Marcus unleashes a fireball on the fire-allergic frost giants. Zavian’s azata ally lines up a lightning bolt on the two unfortunates.

Meanwhile, the remaining dragon is forced to abandon its fight with the red-headed lamia Zaelsar due to a barrage of boulders from the stone giants. Zaelsar tries to make a break back for the safety of the tower. Lea gives chase and forces Seleval to watch as she kills the lamia’s sister. Feeling a little guilty, the paladin invites her to perform whatever funerary rites are necessary. Seleval blasts the body to ash with magic and then scoops some of the ashes into a leather pouch. Lea realizes that both lamias were priestesses of Lamashtu.

Zavian brings Istvig’s mammoth to its knees and Astrid delivers the finishing cut. The other mammoths mournfully retreat as the frost giants are slain. The azata confronts the last stone giant in the far tower, but is vanquished. Even so, the giant retreats into the tower.

The courtyard is by now littered with bodies. The stables have burnt down. the party investigates the Black Monk’s unnaturally cold tower and discover a trap door that leads below.

Lea introduces the shell-shocked Seleval to the rest of the Rune Wardens. The lamia warns them that the Black Monk is an ancient undead creature from the days of Thassilon. She also notes that it has a trio of harpy acolytes that might come to its aid.

Armed with this information, the adventurers open the trap door.

Astrid's Revenge
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 12

Oathday, 8 Pharast, 4734

While the party rests in the extradimensional space in Marcus’ rope trick, Astrid takes first watch. An hour into Zavian’s watch, Galenmir arrives to collect Conna. Zavian overheats and recalls the giant’s conversation, has Astrid translate for him later. He also notices a strange greatsword on Galenmir’s back. He also notices the haunt grow more aggressive.

Lea has a troubling vision of the evil in this place, glimpses of its history, the summoning of creatures beyond this reality.

As the party prepares to descend, Astrid, Zavian and Amelia notice a large flying eye scope out the room. as soon as he hears this, Marcus is rushing out. He telekinetically punches the eye. Lea and Zavian follow, to temporarily banish the haunt with positive energy.

The party debates their next move, and decide they should use guerrilla tactics to pick off Mokmurian’s lieutenants before going after him. But their deliberations are disrupted by the sound of approaching giant footsteps. The adventurers duck into cover as Galenmir and two runeslave hill giants march down the tunnel.

In the ensuing battle, Zavian blocks Galenmir’s line of retreat and the stone giant summons reinforcements in the form of a bullette and a stone giant. Galenmir’s sword hits hard, and imbues him with a smoky shroud that partially obscures him from sight. As the party wounds him, he starts burning runes (three out of seven) from the sword to stay upright.

Amelia nauseates the bullette with her cacophonous call and it burrows into the earth. Lea is kicked to the ground. Galenmir kicks Astrid into the bullette hole. Marcus blasts Galenmir and the hill giants with a fire ball, then goes toe to toe with the other stone giant. Amelia nauseates Galenmir and he tries to flee, but Lea and Zavian knock him to the ground, hanging half into the hole. Astrid kills the bullette and then kills Galenmir. The other stone giant is also slain.

But two more stone giants rush over and then immediately flee for help. The party, with Galenmir’s body in tow, chases after the stone giant running to warn Lokansir.

The stone giant waits to ambush them just inside the door. But he has a hard time trying to hit Zavian. Lea and Marcus get into the mix. That’s when the enormous hill giant Lokansir emerges, just barely avoiding smashing Lea and Zavian.

Astrid charges up to it and gets some knocks from Lokansir. He lays into her and Lea, but eventually the half-elf cuts him down. The remaining stone giant surrenders. With reinforcements closing in and no way out of the chamber, the party concocts a plan to hide. Marcus sculpts a hole in the wall and casts rope trick in there, then covers it up with an illusory wall.

While Zavian hides in the alcove, the others gather in the center of the room while they await the reinforcements.

Two red dragons burst into the room, with a pair of lamias behind them. Using glibness to sell the lie, Amelia loudly announces the party is fleeing for the surface, then dimension doors them into the alcove and they flee up into the rope trick. After a moment, the sound of the dragons recedes.

The Rune Wardens then settle in for a magically-assisted rest. Lea is visited in her dreams by her bonded spirit, Ell-Hayzar, who chastises her for contemplating the murder of the stone giant prisoner. The spirit warns that Lea is walking a very fine line and that she is held to a higher standard than expediency.

Under Jorgenfist
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 11

Wealday, 7 Pharast, 4734

Having vanquished the undead spiders in the cliffside cave and left their wagon there under Shalelu’s care, the Rune Wardens investigate the narrow tunnel at the back of the cavern. The passage is very narrow, ranging from 3 to 5 feet, forcing them to advance single file. It is pitch darkness, save for the dim light from Lea’s earthbreaker.

They reach a fork in the tunnel and Amelia pauses to try to determine the correct direction. Several minutes pass while she examines the area. Suddenly, small shapes dart among party, cackling and kicking at them with spiked steel boots. They look like ugly, scrawny gnomish men with wispy white beards. All of them carry oversized scythes and wear ugly red caps.

After kicking the party, they duck back into cover among the darkened tunnels. They chortle to each other about having trespassers in their tunnels to prey upon. Before the party can react to this threat, the redcaps dash back out kicking at them again.

Astrid, Lea, and Amelia brace their backs against the tunnel walls and prepare to strike at the next little redcap to appear. Marcus, meanwhile, hurls a fireball through a crack in the rock towards what he believes to be the largest concentration of the ugly little men.

The redcaps shriek for the death of the wizard and charge out with their sickles held high. Astrid and Lea kill several of them, Marcus wounds another with his ranseur. The remaining little men swarm Amelia, mistakenly believing her—the least armored adventurer—to be the mage.

The Rune Wardens make short work of them, leaving one redcap alive who calls for parley. They learn that the evil fey have no love for Mokmurian or his giants, who drove them into these tunnels after they reclaimed the caverns below Jorgenfist. The party persuades the survivor to grant them safe passage through the maze of tunnels so that they can attack the giants. The redcap warns them that a dangerous kobold woman guards the tunnel exit for Mokmurian.

As they proceed, the adventurers are startled by the arrival of the trumpet archon Ilmiring who teleports in Zavian and Ajay. The cleric is much changed from his state just a few days ago, bearing metallic wings and renewed powers now granted by the goddess Sarenrae. The reunited Rune Wardens quickly catch each other up, while Ilmiring bids them farewell.

The narrow tunnel eventually opens out into a much larger cavern. Astrid scouts ahead but can see very little due to the lack of light. She does hear the distant sound of a smithy. After reporting back to the others, the whole party advances. That’s when Enga Keckvia jumps them.

Using the natural chokepoint of the narrow tunnel, the kobold barbarian puts up a fierce fight. Astrid takes the brunt of it, while Lea is unable to get her blazing earthbreaker into bear in the confined space. Amelia’s use of dimension door allows the party to flank the creature and bring it down.

Amelia and Ajay hang back to loot the body while Lea marches down a passage looking for a fight. Zavian, Astrid, and Marcus hastily follow. The four of them come upon a trio of ogre leather workers tanning hides around a boiling vat. They catch the ogres completely unawares. Lea charges right up to them, Marcus gets into ranseur range, and Zavian closes to cast a spell. Astrid hangs back to loose arrows at them.

The fighting goes poorly for the ogres, but it draws the attention of two laconic stone giants from the adjacent smithy. Astrid, hanging back in the corridor, is their first target. With all but one of the ogres subdued, Zavian and Marcus move to help the beleaguered Astrid. Amelia arrives and uses cacophonous call to inflict nausea on one of the giants. The smiths are strictly cut down.

Once the fighting is done, the Rune wardens can here the sound of people calling out for help from inside the smithy. Ajay races ahead of the group and Zavian chases after her. They find that the giants were keeping slaves to help them work the enormous smithy bellows. The captives include several dwarves, who’ve had their beards shaved off, as well as another half dozen Mwangi—including Ajay’s brother Egan, known as “Egg.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the party is approached by an elderly stone giantess named Conna who wants to talk in a safe location. The party leaves their ogre captive in her care, while they escort the freed prisoners back through the redcap tunnels to the spider cave. They ask Shalelu to begin ferrying them back to the Rune Wardens’ hidden camp using Marcus’ wagon. One of the dwarves is impressed with the wagon and wants to talk with Marcus later about marketing it to Janderhoff prospectors.

Once the freed captives are safe, the Rune Wardens reunite with Conna and the ogre captive in a cave haunted by the spirit of her murdered husband. She explains that she’s caught on to Mokmurian’s deal with Karzoug and recognizes that he will doom all of Varisia. Conna gives them the lay of the land and tells them that Mokmurian is one level below, in an ancient library. Before continuing, the party decides to rest in Marcus’ rope trick.

Fortress of the Stone Giants, Interlude

Sunday, 4 Pharast, 4734

After a day of travel through the mountains, Zavian arrives in a high, windy valley with a ruin half buried in the cliff face. It is a different kind of rock than the surrounding mountains and looks as if it had slammed into the cliff. A single open doorway stands there, decorated with strange elegant carvings Zavian can’t make out from a distance.

On approach, he spies a flash of gold among the rocks. Investigating, Zavian is challenged by a travel-worn young amazon in golden armor. The dark-skinned woman is Ser Arlynn Jalento of Korvosa’s Sworn Swords, also known as Ajay.

Once Zavian convinces her of his good intentions, she explains that she is seeking Mwangi captives that have been taken to Jorgenfist. Her mission hasn’t quite gone as planned. Her Shoanti guides and all their horses were killed by giants and she was left to fend for herself in the Iron Peaks. She is waiting for the stone giant inside the ruin to leave, so that she can follow it back to Jorgenfist.

Zavian notices a familiar hound accompanying Ajay. She explains that the dog has helped her survive in the mountains. As far as she knows, it doesn’t talk.

Zavian tells her that his mission is inside the ruin. Ajay is sympathetic, but warns that the giant has pet landsharks prowling around with it. They try to concoct some way to approach without alerting the monsters, but the hound just starts trotting towards the ruin with them chasing after.

As they near the ruin’s entrance, a fearsome bullette erupts from the earth. The landshark pounces on them, shifting its attacks between Zavian and Ajay. The hound doesn’t strike at the bullette, but instead grants magical blessings to both warriors. A terrible battle ensues, with all parties suffering grievous wounds before the monster is finally slain.

At the ruin entrance, Zavian is met by Nualia, who is on her own quest to recover a Desnan artifact from below the ruin. However, the stone giant is in the way and she needs help getting through.

Unfortunately, the landsharks’ burrowing has destabilized the ruins and the hound speaks to warn that there is not enough time to retrieve Zavian’s missing book and help Nualia with her quest.

Zavian makes a fateful choice and decides to press on with his own mission. Nualia cusses him out as he heads off.

The hound archon, now in its bipedal form, explains that this ruin was part of a celestial bastion that was hurtled across the planes during a demonic incursion. As they stride through the ancient battlefield, spectral echoes of the slain continue to clash in the halls. They don’t notice the interlopers.

Zavian feels something drawing him deeper into the fracture fortress and he leads his companions down a rubble pile into a strange sunken chamber. The broken floor hangs out into a black void in defiance of gravity. Zavian feels pulled towards the far end of the chamber.

However, as they stride out onto the floating terrain, the hound archon smells danger. The trio comes comes to a horrible realization that another bullette is clinging to the underside of the floor directly beneath them. The archon urges them to race to the burning brazier nearby.

The landshark destroys a chunk of the floor and Ajay nearly falls. She loses her spear, but Zavian helps her up. They both then join the hound archon at the brazier. At the celestial’s urging, they thrust their hands into the fire and are surrounded by a warding wreathe of flames.

With the bullette prowling out somewhere, the hound archon moves forward to try to draw it out. The beast emerges, ramming its head through the floor and punching out another hole. Zavian jumps the gap, but urges Ajay to hang back.

At this point, there is a sinister thrum that runs through the ruin and the skeletons littering the floor rise up, animated by cruel magic. The hound archon speculates that the stone giant found whatever evil artifact he was seeking.

Some of the skeletons have horns, others have bony wings with a handful of scorched feathers. Zavian realizes that only one skeleton stands between him and the book. The gilded tome lies open, a scimitar driven through it and into the floor. Having lost his mace, Zavian brings out the warhammer Ghoulbreaker.

Facing a lone skeleton, Ajay raised her shield and charges, battering it off the stone floor and into the bottomless chasm.

Before battle can be joined between the skeletons, the archon and Zavian, the landshark erupts through the floor. The hound archon two skeletons scramble for footing, one of them falling into the void.

The bullette’s antics have broken huge gaps in the floor that are ever more challenging to traverse. Zavian finds himself alone and flanked by fiendish skeletons.

Battering his way past the bony guardians, Zavian reaches the book, but the bullette reaches him. The hound archon tries to leap across the gap to assist, but instead barely catches hold of the edge of the crumbling floor.

Casting aside his Abadarian crossbow, Zavian concentrates and prays to Sarenrae, trying to remove the scimitar. With great effort, he draws the sword, which bursts into brilliant flame.

A shimmering, spectral floor flares into existence as the stone floor falls away. The bullette tumbles off into oblivion. Zavian recovers his holy book and discovers that pinned beneath it was the infernal contract he signed in his past life.

The ruin begins to rumble, its structural integrity finally compromised. With the hound archon Maliek carrying the exhausted Ajay over one shoulder, the three of them race through the complex. The spectral celestials cease their warring to salute them while the ghostly fiends cower in terror.

Glancing over his shoulder, Zavian realizes that the ruin is not merely collapsing but imploding. Maliek warns that it is being pulled back into the Outer Planes. As they reach the foyer, they spy a wounded Nualia trying to run out of the other corridor but getting pulled unnaturally back towards the implosion. Zavian manages to pull her to safety, but once she is clear she wants nothing to do with him.

“You have no idea what you’ve cost me,” she says, looking at her demon arm. After healing herself—but not the others—she teleports out.

The hound archon also bids his farewell at this point, though he expects his path will cross with Zavian’s again. Zavian and Ajay find a good place to camp, with the aasimar reading furiously through his book.

Moonday, 5 Pharast, 4734

After a supremely restful sleep, Zavian wakes to a sense of discomfiture in his shoulders that bothers him throughout his prayers to Sarenrae. As the goddess’ divine power washes over him in blessing, Zavian feels a tug and then two brilliant silver wings burst forth from his shoulders. All doubt is banished from his mind as he takes flight.

The Road to Jorgenfist
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 10

Fireday, 2 Pharast, 4734

Setting out from the Storval Stair, it takes a day of travel before the party reaches the foothills of the Iron Peaks. They pass a recently-used stone giant camp along the path to the mountains.

Starday, 3 Pharast, 4734

The party ventures into the mountains, passing a mysterious abandoned cliff village as they climb higher. Amelia takes to the air, while Marcus’ levitating wagon manages the difficult terrain. Lea and Zavian have a somewhat harder time navigating their horses through the rough mountain trails.

Sunday, 4 Pharast, 4734

After the first day in the mountains, Zavian splits off from the rest of the Rune Wardens to seek out the site of his past life’s missing Book of Light and Truth.

Moonday, 5 Pharast, 4734

The tumbling of a few rocks sparks fear in the party, although Shalelu is dismissive. Astrid uses her slippers of spiderwalk to climb up the cliff face and investigate. She stumbles across two stone giants, nearly invisible against the rocky terrain of the Iron Peaks. Their positions revealed, one of the giants whistles to call forth three dire bears from a cave below.

Two dire bears claw at Lea and try to pull her from the saddle. A third dire bear tries to hug Marcus, but he slips through its grasp. One of the other dire bears swipes at Lea, but misses and strikes its companion. Lea manages to get free from her attacker.

Observing this resistance, the stone giants recognize the party as adventurers and attempt to disengage to warn Mokmurian. one of them kicks Astrid backwards, nearly knocking her off the cliff side. The giants then attempt to flee.

Lea and her steed Prince Shadowmist push past the dire bears. She wheels the horse around to attack. Meanwhile, Shalelu drives the magic cart up the side of the mountain to collect Astrid and give chase to the giants. Amelia blinds one of the stone giants with glitterdust.

Marcus casts fly on himself and rises above the reach of the dire bears.

Astrid takes off a stone giant’s head with a shot from her icy burst bow. They capture and question the blinded giant, gaining valuable insight about Jorgenfist. Having convinced the surviving giant that Mokmurian is bad news, the Rune Wardens allow him to go free with his pet bears.

Wealday, 6 Pharast, 4734

That night, the Astrid has a harrowing experience. The party has used stone shape to sculpt out a small cave and then used illusory wall to disguise it. A patrol of bickering and oblivious hill giants pass by, one of them pausing to urinate on the illusion. Thankfully, the ruse holds and the giants move on.

Oathday, 7 Pharast, 4734

The party finally reaches the fringes of the valley which contains Jorgenfist. A large watchtower overlooks the entrance to the valley, while seven giant camps surround the fortress below, which is perched on the edge of a great river canyon.

The party debates whether to attack the watchtower, which they know is guarded by two runeslave hill giants during the day and the taiga giant Cindermaw during the night. Ultimately, they decide to avoid the tower and instead investigate the cliff caves they were told about by their stone giant prisoner.

Skirting the edge of the Jorgenfist valley, the adventurers engage another stone giant patrol. Amelia blinds and greases on giant, while Lea chases down another. Both are swiftly dispatched. To prevent word of their sighting from reaching Mokmurian, Astrid takes out the stone giant’s messenger raven. The icy burst arrow shatters the bird into a thousand frozen shards.

After sculpting and disguising another campsite in the mountains, the party leaves Lea’s horse and Amelia’s hippogriff under the watchful eye of Ash.

In order to access the cliff caves below Jorgenfist, the Rune Wardens ride Marcus’ wagon out along the side of the cliff. They finally disembark at the nearer cave entrance. The interior is crawling with bugs, and the far end of the room is thick with old spider webs. Shalelu hangs back to guard the exit and watch over the wagon.

Lurking in the webs are giant undead spiders crawling with millions of little spiders. The Rune Wardens unleash everything they can on the monsters, including holy light and arcane lightning. It takes a little effort, but soon all three of the monster are destroyed.

After driving out the remaining insects, the Rune Wardens sneak the wagon inside before venturing deeper into a narrow tunnel hidden at the back of the cave.

The Storval Stair
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 9

Sunday, 11 Calistril, 4734

The morning after the coup, the Rune Wardens are invited to breakfast with King Thalion. Astrid converses with the King and he tries to bond with her. He tells her she has a home here in Isandria and offers her a colonel’s commission in the Ranger Guard. King Thalion invites everyone to a party that night.

That day, Marcus seeks out the local blacksmiths and learns techniques from them. Lea gets tips from Naya Hushblade on preserving the lamia head and making it presentable to the nereid. Naya also warns her about the fey’s capriciousness. Amelia spends time with her grandfather, learning about Isandria and its music.

Meanwhile, Zavian contracts one of the harkeners to learn more about the Battle Heralds and his past life. The spell goes awry and he learns more than he bargained for, including that his lost love Elszevina is on Golarion. He is to look for her in the Eye of Avarice. The wizard goes blind, an occupational hazard for seers.

Astrid spends her day reading up on Isandria’s history. She is visited by her old friends Dace and Shar, who were freed from the Queen’s prisons. She also learns how her father met her mother. He was wounded while traveling incognito, and was taken in by a group of human squatters. Lydia saw through his disguise and planned to ransom him, but in the end he saved her settlement from being razed by the Ranger Guard. He admired her cunning and bravery, and continued to visit her. He also recognized the plight of the human settlers and began to make reforms.

That night, the king’s party features fine food, music, and magical entertainment. Afterwards, the party plans their next move with King Thalion. He points out the different ways to reach the Storval Plateau, and they settle on the plan of taking the Storval Stair. He also says that he is sending Eldrin to represent Isandria at the council at Ilsurian.

Moonday, 12 Calistril, 4734

Lea takes a quick detour to visit the nereid Meleena and presents her with the lamia’s head. She spends a couple pleasant hours in the fey creature’s watery abode. The water nymph continues to be interested in the paladin, but doesn’t press. Lea promises to return visit again after her quest is complete.

Toilday, 13 Calistril, 4734

The party sets out for Sandpoint. Zavian is troubled by dreams, where he must choose between Nualia and Elszevina.

Lea takes a quick detour to visit the nereid and presents her with the lamia’s head. She spends a couple pleasant hours in the fey creature’s watery abode. The water nymph continues to be interested in the paladin, but doesn’t press. Lea promises to return visit again after her quest is complete.

Oathday, 15 Calistril, 4734

The Rune Wardens arrive in Sandpoint during a nasty cold snap. Zavian travels to the Cathedral to pray at the shrine to Sarenrae. Marcus catches up with his parents and Shayliss.

Astrid heads to the inn and gets pressed for tales of adventure. Amelia unveils a song hinting at Astrid’s parentage.

Lea seeks out Ameiko at the Glassworks. Her girlfriend is less than happy to hear about the nymph interlude, and insists that if Lea encounters any more, she keep her distance—at least until Ameiko can join her. They jokingly plan a trip to Isandria.

Fireday, 16 Calistril, 4734

After stocking up on supplies, the party prepares to head out for the Storval Stair. Lea hires Shalelu to serve as a guide and a minder for Marcus’ cart.

They find signs of increased giant activity on the trip north. Astrid skips a chance to visit the ruins of her village, determined to press on to find the stone giant general Galenmir responsible for its destruction.

Oathday, 1 Pharast, 4734

Scouting out the Storval Stair using arcane eye, they discover that it is being guarded by a squad of hill giants. They devise a plan to ambush the giants during the night.

Astrid and Amelia use spiderclimb to stealthily ascend the cliff, scouting out the area. They decide to split up, with Astrid going after the hill giant on watch and Amelia using stone shape to wall in the others. Astrid is successful, but Amelia’s spell alerts the giants. They also do an eagle call to signal the others.

Marcus flies up to the window of the structure to blast magic into it, while the others rush up. The hill giant chief orders his warrior to bash down the stone shape barrier and soon they are locked in combat with Astrid, Lea, Amelia and Zavian.

The ruckus draws the attention of a wyvern which attacks Marcus.

The hill giants are cut down one by one, but the wyvern takes more killing. When it starts to cuss out the party as a bunch of “dicks,” they realize wyverns are intelligent creatures. the sass mouth doesn’t improve it’s life span and the winged lizard is slain trying to flee.

Their enemies vanquished, they drag the bodies under cover and then settle in for the night, master of the Storval Stair.

War of Words
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 8

Starday, 10 Calistril, 4734

The Rune Wardens have confronted the stone giant ambassador Kayalithica in her guest quarters at the royal palace in Niriath, capital of Isandria. The stone giant proves capable of summoning earth elementals and telekinetically hurling chunks of rubble. Astrid is the focus of the giant’s wrath and takes a beating.

Marcus makes clever use of spells to disrupt Kayalithica’s efforts, summoning an ice storm and then calling forth a fog cloud to fill the upper part of the chamber so the giant couldn’t see. With her attacks growing in effective, the giant is eventually worn down. Finally, Marcus finishes her off with a blindly launched fireball that blasts out a wall of the guest chamber.

Once the giant is slain, they search the chamber, acquiring an adamantine belt and some sort of gray magic bag from the body. Astrid spots a package hidden up in the trees at the top of the chamber, finding a letter from Mokmurian urging Kayalithica to step up her efforts to negotiate with “the elves” to get the artifact from Sandpoint.

Amelia uses glibness to assuage the concerts of the elf guards rushing towards the burning guest quarters. The adventurers then press on to investigate the Queen’s chambers, to look for more incriminating evidence. Amelia fast talks her way inside, where Inquisitor Inrolod and some elf guards have secured the room. The adventurers try to further confuse the elves by suggesting that the shapeshifting lamia is posing as a guard.

Astrid tries to sneak past the foyer of the Queen’s chambers to her back room, but is spotted by a clear-eyed elf guard. Inrolod reaches for his mace and the guard races for the back room. While Astrid and Zavian close with the inquisitor, Lea rushes after the guard.

Inrolod summons up a swirling ring of fire around himself. That doesn’t stop Astrid and Zavian from beating him into submission and he grudgingly surrenders.

The guard, meanwhile, has run over to a bookshelf and is fiddling with it. Lea runs up to stop him, and Amelia blinds him with glitterdust. The guard whistles, awakening one of the statues in the room, then channels negative energy. This badly wounds Marcus’ familiar Ash, who falls unconscious to the ground. The statue grabs hold of Lea.

The guard reaches through the bookshelf and carries off a brick-sized object. The elf makes a break for it, but Lea jabs out with her earthbreaker one-handed and manages to lay the it low. It falls to the ground, growing and morphing into a readheaded lamia. Marcus hits the statue with a dispel magic, rendering it inert. Lea then draws her longsword and beheads the unconscious lamia. She keeps the head.

After Ash is revived and wounds are healed, the party sends a message to their ally the Blacktree to notify him of what they have found so far. The queen’s chambers include a wizard’s laboratory in which it appears she was researching Isandari mind prisons, but otherwise there are no incriminating notes. The artifact the lamia was trying to steal appears to be a stone, the size of a brick, much heavier than it should be. They question Inrolod and determine he was not colluding with the lamia.

The Rune Wardens debate their next move and decide to wait to hear back from the Blacktree. After 10 minutes, however, a company of guards arrive and demand that they see the queen. There is no fast talking these elves, and the party ends up being accompanied by an entire platoon to the throne room.

The “room” is actually more of a courtyard, with several large stone outcroppings featuring enormous disapparating crystals. Dominating the courtyard is an enormous white tree which has grown out of the largest clusters of crystals. An enormous seat has been carved into the living tree trunk—the Sentinel Throne. Queen Tavara, dressed in white and gold, is gazes down upon them from the high seat. Standing nearby is the Ranger General Naya Hushblade.

The queen questions the adventurers and Amelia weaves a tapestry of lies, but Tavara is clearly not buying it. After a while, she cuts the story short and denounces them for lying in the sight of the Sentinel Throne.

Astrid then drops her disguise, accusing the queen of destroying her village, kidnapping the prince, and usurping the throne from the king. She urges the guards to detain the queen until an investigation can take place. The queen demands that the interlopers be arrested. Naya Hushblade looks uncertain, and the guards who accompanied the party refuse to obey.

Queen Tavara brings matters to a head, hurling a fireball at the adventurers (and incidentally catching the rebel guards). The fire scorches all of them, but the only one who perishes is the badly wounded Inrolod.

The rebel guards confront their counterparts, using only non-lethal strikes. Zavian realizes that the scattered crystal outcroppings are key to the illusory defenses of the sentinel throne. The adventurers begin smashing the crystals.

Queen Tavara, meanwhile, focuses fire on Astrid. After staring down an elvish guard and smashing a crystal, Astrid is struck with multiple scorching rays and falls to the ground, near death. Lea is too far to help. Zavian rushes over but isn’t able to stabilize her using mundane skills.

Amelia uses charm person to win over the uncertain Ranger General Naya Hushblade, who joins them in smashing a crystal and calling for Tavara’s surrender. When the last crystal cluster is destroyed, the Sentinel Throne’s defenses are withdrawn and Marcus, Amelia, and Lea concentrate on the throne and its occupant. Queen Tavara surveys the chamber one last time, then grudgingly surrenders.

The Blacktree, Shalelu, Galodar and Galebrie arrive moments later, flying in on giant owls. They explain that the queen’s sympathizers throughout the city have been defeated. They have control of Niriath. Prince Eldrin arrives and he and Astrid confront the queen.

Queen Tavara insists that she was trying to save Isandria and Eldrin’s future. She argues that the Chelish settler cities, Magnimar, Korvosa and Riddleport, will war with one another until one dominates the region and overruns Isandria before collapsing. Mokmurian’s giants will wash over Varisia like a cleansing fire, obliterating the threat. It becomes clear that she believes Mokmurian has merely unearthed ancient Runelord magics, but insists that Isandria stood free against the Runelords themselves and will be safe from the giants.

(Shalelu notes that in the age of Thassilon, Isandria was protected by the now-fallen elf kingdom in the Mierani Forest and the homeland of Kyonin.)

Tavara says that her husband was too tolerant of the humans, threatening the long-term safety of the kingdom. Astrid confronts her about the attack on her village, and Tavara says that her very existence as a potential claimant to the throne is a threat to Eldrin. Not to mention, a constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity. The queen reveals that her husband is trapped in a mind prison and his body is hidden within the Sentinel throne.

The queen is hauled off in shackles and King Thalion is revived. Still getting up speed, he welcomes the adventurers as guests, promises to get to know Astrid better, and pledges that Isandria (whose illusory defenses were shattered with the crystals) will stand against the giants.

Into Isandria
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 7

The Rune Wardens prepare their plan to infiltrate the hidden elven kingdom of Isandria and confront Queen Tavara. The Blacktree reaches out to a merchant contact, Adalas, who has a cart tricked out with illusion magic. Lea and Zavian obtain hats of disguise. For the others, Galebrie provides enchanted acorns that will disguise them as elves for up to seven hours.

Zavian also visits the Sandpoint Cathedral and leaves his holy symbol, formally abandoning Abadar’s faith. He had come to realize that his faith was a selfish effort to hide from who he really is. His recent escalating arguments with Nualia also come to a head. She tells him to get his shit together, and leaves to take care of her own business.

Oathday, 8 Calistril, 4734

The party sets out for Isandria, traveling in Adalas’ wagon accompanied by Galebrie’s commandos. Astrid hangs onto the disapparating gem. Lea, unable to understand elvish but determined to stay out in the open rather than attempt to hide, concocts a cover story as a deaf mute the merchant took under his wing.

Fireday, 9 Calistril, 4734

They arrive at the edge of the border to find ranger guards expelling a desperate human family. Galebrie is questioned by an elven inquisitor, Inrolod. Lea,in her guise as a deaf mute forlorn elf, helps moves things along. Unable to acquire the gem from Galebrie, Inrolod searches the wagon and just barely misses detecting Amelia.

Once they are clear of the border, the Rune Wardens leave the cart and hand the gem over to Galebrie. Then the adventurers continue through the forest towards the “back door” to the capital Niriath. That night, Marcus uses a rope trick to create a safe and hidden camp site.

Starday, 10 Calistril, 4734

The next day, they hear a strange sound nearby. Astrid investigates and finds a ruined human settlement being picked over by two pixies who are arguing over a silver bell. Astrid resolves the dispute by teaching them rock paper scissors. They reward her with a pinch of pixie dust that will erase the last 5 minutes of memory. In the wreckage of the settlement, Astrid finds an inquisitor’s badge.

From there, they proceed to the waterfall cave where the back door is located. They find a wounded nereid, Meleena. After Lea heals her, the fey woman warns them that a lamia clawed its way through. Meleena kisses Lea to grant her a fey boon: the ability to breath under water. Lea promises to return with the lamia’s head.

Inside the waterfall cave, they find an elf gate, a portal known as an aiudara. With everyone hanging onto Astrid because of her royal blood, they step through. On the other side, they find themselves in the elven city of Niriath. There are murdered guards nearby. After stripping the guards of their outfits and gear, Amelia, Astrid, and Marcus activate their disguise acorns. They proceed through the city to the Blacktree’s house.

Their elvish allies prove to have successfully slipped back across the border. The adventurers warn the Blacktree about the lamia loose in the city. He warns them that there is a stone giant ambassador rumored to be in the palace, undoubtedly negotiating with the Queen over the artifact that the elves recovered from Sandpoint.

The Rune Wardens concoct a plan to infiltrate the palace with Amelia posing as an inquisitor and the rest as ranger guards. Using the bard’s glibness, they easily enter, then go after the giant said to be in the guest quarters. They end up roping in Inrolod and sowing dissent between him and Ambassador Kayalithica.

They ultimately convince Inrolod to send some guards to protect the queen, and to take the rest to guard the artifact. Amelia uses glibness to further confuse the giant, and they question her about who was responsible for the raid on Astrid’s village. They learn that Queen Tavara had hired Mokmurian to destroy the village and slay all within, with the stone giant general Galenmir personally leading the attack.

Having heard all she needs to know, Astrid reveals herself to the giantess and calls for her death.

Elvish Intrigue
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 6

Toilday, 30 Abadius, 4734

The Rune Wardens have gathered in a tavern called the Wanton Warrior to plan their next move,but their deliberations are interrupted by a team of elvish commandos. The elves bear the arms and armor of the Isandari Ranger Guard.

The leader of the commandos, a stern elvish woman, orders the party to lay down arms and prepare to be searched. She claims the party has stolen an important item from Isandria.

“She wants to grab our stones,” Marcus deadpans, and his corny joke causes a wave of titters to spread across the room.

Thanks to some deft negotiation, the Rune Wardens manage to diffuse the tension and convince the elves to sit down to lunch with them. It turns out that the elvish commander is Galebrie, sister to their friend Galodar.

Verifying this mentally with Galodar, they also learn that Galebrie had a scandalous affair with a half-elf stable boy named Wesley. When they bring this up, she turns bring red and quickly cuts them off. This personal connection does fully persuade her of the party’s claims against Queen Tavara.

Galebrie explains that her team was sent by the queen to retrieve a disapparating gem that was stolen from Isandria by a red-headed half-elf. She also warns that the Sentinel Throne can track the location of the gem. To allay suspicion, they decide that the elvish commandos should travel with the party back to Sandpoint to reunite with Prince Eldrin and Galodar.

Wealday, 31 Abadius, 4734

The next day, Galebrie charters an elvish ship, the Green Sceptre, captained by Captain Egon Sarneiros. During the voyage they are stalked by dwarvish pirates, but the Green Sceptre uses a ruse in the night to avoid them.

Oathday, 4 Abadius, 4734

Upon arriving back in Sandpoint, the Rune Wardens learn that there was an incursion by elven commandos. Marcus’ parents prevented them from abducting Prince Eldrin, but the elves managed to abscond with something from the ruins of Old Light.

They also learned that Galodar has returned from his scouting mission to Isandria, and he brought someone back: Blacktree, Amelia’s grandfather. He explains that Queen Tavara and the Highborne faction orchestrated a palace coup. Officially, King Thalion has fallen ill and the Queen is acting unilaterally in his stead. The King’s supporters are being quietly arrested and the Blacktree has heard rumors that there is a stone giant ambassador in the palace.

The Rune Wardens work with the Blacktree to concoct a plan to infiltrate the Hidden Kingdom and get to the bottom of this intrigue.


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