Rise of the Runelords

The Iron Cages of Lust
Sins of the Saviors, Part 6

Toilday, 24 Gozran, 4734

After Marcus gives a heads up to Shalelu and Seleval, the adventurers press into Rimeskull. Lea and Amelia avoid sliding over the side of the chute inside the gullet of the cave.

They plunder the white dragon’s hoard and then use their keys to activate the portal to Runeforge. They figure there is about an hour before the portal closes.

They arrive at the central hub of the Runeforge, where a shimmering pool of magic energy bubbles while passages split off in seven different directions. Zavian communes to help them navigate the complex. They learn that they need to go to the Lust and Pride wings to obtain what they need to use the pool to enchant their weapons. Zavian also learns that there may be something helpful to Nualia in the Greed wing. They also realize that the dragon knows they have come in here and it can follow them.

After some debate, they decide to head to the Lust wing of the complex first first. Marcus isn’t happy about it.

Inside the grand cathedral, they find an enormous pavilion, a series of strange cages, and some rude Alu-demons. Amelia tries to make one more friendly with charm monster, but the spell fails. Fighting breaks out and the creatures badly injure Zavian. He takes down one of them and Lea kills another. The survivors flee.

The party approaches the pavilion. Stone giants warn them away, and they are contacted by the Alu-demon alpha, who says their mistress will speak with one of them. Lea volunteers.

The paladin treats with the succubus Delvahine, who doesn’t care about the Runelords. She offers to help the party in their quest in exchange for spending a few minutes of “fun” with Delvahine in her boudoir. Lea wants to know if the information is genuine. The succubus offers a show of good faith, telling the paladin to visit her ally Vraxeris in the Shimmering Veils of Pride. He should have valuable information, and she wants to know what’s been going on with him as he hasn’t visited in some time. Lea accepts this offer.

Reuniting with the others outside, Lea tells them she is going to take one for Golarion if this pans out. They check on the lone shivering captive in the cage outside the pavilion, who the Alu-demons have been calling “Mr. Mutt.” He has been treated horribly and seems quite mad, but is not on the verge of death. They plan to come back for him.

Proceeding into the Shimmering Veils of Pride, they enter a splitting hall of mirrors and are confronted by two sets of mirror doubles, except for Amelia who hangs back in the entryway.

“There can only be one!” the doubles cry out.

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Freezemaw
Sins of the Saviors, Part 5

Oathday,12 Gozran, 4734

The Rune Wardens bid their farewells to the crew of the Misericorde. Captain Daelyn suggests she might stop by Sandpoint or Korvosa sometime to look Amelia up. She also gives the bard a little carved wooden keepsake amulet to remember her by.

Marcus and Lea consider investigating the nearby Brinewall Castle, but the party ultimately decides to press eastward along the Steam River towards Lake Stormunder and their destination at Mount Rimeskull. This far north, it is still bitterly cold with snow on the ground. But the river is noticeably warmer than the surroundings, giving off a warm fog. Amelia recalls that Lake Stormunder is known for its geysers and thermal springs; she suspects that the river is carrying warm water from the lake to the sea.

Seleval kisses the ground once they are ashore and her attitude improves markedly now they are on land. After they have set out, she asks Lea if it would have been okay for her to eat the fish men who attacked the ship. She goes on to ask if there are any intelligent creatures that she can eat, as they taste the best. Lea insists that all intelligent creatures are off the menu. She encourages Seleval to try hunting to get this out of her system, and says she can return to her lamia form.

However, when Seleval attempts to transform, her features become more leonine but her body remains humanoid. She starts to panic and hyperventilate. Marcus determines that she has been afflicted with a curse that is preventing her from completing the transformation. Seleval wails that it is Lamashtu’s vengeance. Lea and Amelia do their best to keep her calm while Marcus makes use of break enchantment, just as he had done on the curse that afflicted Nualia. He suspects that the goddess’ curse could return at a later time.

For now, Seleval reverts to her lamia form and pads alongside the wagon as it glides along the river bank.

Moonday, 16 Gozran, 4734

On the fifth day of the overland trip, Amelia is scouting ahead on her hippogriff Mr. Fluffy when she spies something strange. A longship has been beached on the north bank of the Steam River, and half of the ship is completely encased in ice. There is no sign of any crew. She returns to the wagon to alert the party and they proceed forward together.

Investigating the ship, they find trace body parts (a hand on a railing, feet in boots) frozen to the ship. They determine that the unnatural ice came in a big gout from the east and some sort of enormous creature devoured the bodies in one bite. The ship itself is still seaworthy, and amid the frozen gear they find a heavy wooden shield of the taverns. They give the shield to Seleval to carry for the moment.

Wealday, 18 Gozran, 4734

On the seventh day of the overlap trip, the party comes across a ruined Ulfen campsite with heraldry similar to the frozen longship. Nearby, Amelia spies a group of barbarians attempting to set up an ambush. As the party approaches, they are challenged by Greatchief Oleg Olegsson of the Redhand Clan. He demands tribute in exchange for their passage through his clan’s territory. He is interested in weapons, but would accept Seleval.

Over the others’ objections, Lea challenges Oleg to single combat—if she wins they pay no tribute, if he wins he gets a pick of their weapons. Oleg calls forth his champion, his huge pet dire bear Embers. The bear charges forward and swiftly wrestles Lea to the ground. Somehow, the wrestling match turns more playful as the bear comes to befriend the paladin.

Marcus makes it up to the barbarian by using fabricate to create a new masterwork spear for him. Oleg declares them friends and invites them back to his camp for a celebration. The barbarians warn the party about Freezemaw, a terrible white dragon that has been terrorizing the area and is known to lair near Rimeskull. Marcus crafts several more weapons in exchange for white seal furs from the barbarians. He uses the furs to line the inside of his wagon and to hang on the outside as camouflage.

Oathday, 19 Gozran, 4734

The Rune Wardens finally reach the turbulent shores of Lake Stormunder. Marcus unveils some recent enchantments to his wagon that cause it to fold out into a boat. With Astrid, Amelia and Shalelu navigating, they set out across the lake.

Toilday, 24 Gozran, 4734

After several days on Lake Stormunder, dodging geysers and navigating through fog, the party arrives at the foothills of Rimeskull. Marcus and Zavian use their various stone shape, wall of stone and illusory wall spells to carve a small cave out of a hill to serve as a base camp.

The plan is for Shalelu and Seleval to stay behind, waiting for a few weeks before trekking back down to Sandpoint. Shalelu assures Amelia that her hippogriff will be well cared for. Marcus urges the elf to look after the horses, but if worst comes to worst, to save their horse shoes. Lea gives Seleval her personal copy of the Acts of Iomedae to read while she is away.

Lea then attempts to use the anathema archive to determine how they can leave the Runeforge upon entering, but finds no clear answer. Marcus makes use of the revelation quill and learns that the Runeforge is not on this plane, and those that can travel the planes can find their way back. With that information, Zavian is confident that he can get the party home.

The party then sets out for the nearby hill with the ancient Sihedron Circle. The standing stones turn out to be carvings of the seven Runelords, their mouths agape. The adventurers realize they need to cast an appropriately themed spell to activate each head. Once activated, the heads give off a loud trilling noise and a golden key appears in their mouths.

As they began activating heads, the winds started to pick up. By the time they had claimed several keys, a raging blizzard surrounded them. And out of that blizzard, a huge white dragon suddenly dropped down on top of them.

The dragon then raked them with its freezing breath. While some of the Rune Wardens rush to activate the last heads and grab the keys, others try to fight Freezemaw, who is hidden behind the blizzard. The dragon picks up Lea, carries her high in the air and then drops her, only to be frustrated by her ring of feather fall.

Amelia and Zavian are briefly trapped in a dome of ice, but Marcus burns them out with scorching ray. Zavian dispells the blizzard, giving Amelia and Astrid clear shots as Lea grants the party her smite. The dragon shakes off a cacophonous call but takes a fearsome wound from the redhead’s arrows.

Freezemaw lifts Marcus high up in the air, thwarting his ability to fight back or cast spells. Despite grievous wounds, the wizard readies himself to unleash a fireball as soon as he is released.

Taking heavy damage from Astrid, the dragon tosses Marcus against the side of the mountain as it attempts to escape. It is badly scorched by the wizard’s fireball, but despite the party’s best efforts it manages to dimension door away.

Lea and Amelia rush up to the unconscious Marcus and manage to restore him to consciousness. The adventurers find themselves at the entrance of the Rimeskull cavern, with seven magic keys to Runeforge and an angry white dragon on the loose.

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High Seas Adventure
Sins of the Saviors, Part 4

Starday, 24 Pharast, 4734

Having slain the Sandpoint Devil, laid the ghost cowboy to rest, and re-consecrated the lost Desnan shrine, the party makes camp on the Devil’s Platter. Vivi tries to sort out a lesson from her recent experience, in which everyone made poor decisions but things turned out okay. The Rune Wardens give her life advice.

The lyrakien azata Idun, explains that the bugbear cultists cursed Nualia, which was causing her arm to bulge painfully and distractingly. Marcus casts break enchantment, but Idun warns that the curse was interacting with a different affliction. Through her demon arm and the mark of Lamashtu over her womb, Nualia is still connected to the demon goddess. Lamashtu is using that link to torment her and spread the corruption from her arm to slowly continue the process of turning the aasimar into a demon.

Sunday, 25 Pharast, 4734

Upon the party’s return to Sandpoint, Zavian presents Nualia with an item he had been working on, the Bracer of the Unconquered Sun, which should disguise her demon arm and keep the corruption from spreading for a time.

An attempt to use the revelation quill to find a sacred Desnan site to cure her does not succeed. Lea then uses the Anathema Archive to discover the site of a Thassilonian artifact, the Therassic Flenser, that might do the job. It’s located way out in the Cinderlands. They decide to go after it once they return from Runeforge, while Nualia and her crew chill in Sandpoint in the meantime.

Seleval asks Lea to write a letter to her dad or the high priest letting them know about her situation and their arrangement, in case something should befall Lea. The paladin agrees to do so, scribing a letter to Knight-Captain Laori Vaus.

Shayliss wishes Marcus farewell, providing him with some more drawings to liven up his voyage. She also whispers “I love you Marcus Fengwathil” after kissing him goodbye and he realizes this is the first time she’s actually used the word “love” before. He urges her to have good dreams of him and makes a mental note to cast dreams during the trip.

Lea realizes that Ameiko had scheduled a shift for her right as they were preparing to leave. The innkeeper confesses that she just finds Lea adorable in her frilly uniform and takes the paladin aside to hastily change her clothes.

“Try not to get killed again,” Ameiko says, warning that future deaths will lead to more ridiculous outfits.

Lea makes no promises, but pulls her in for a passionate kiss. “I love you. I’ll be back.”

The party plus Shalelu and Seleval travel to Magnimar and spend several days making purchases in preparation for their trip. Amelia treats Lea and Seleval to a spa day at Fimblethwick’s Splendiferous Spa in the Alabaster District. Seleval enjoys the milk bath especially. In addition to shopping, Marcus continues to market his wares and can tell his name is starting to get out there. Astrid catches up with the barbarian blacksmith Neshka, sharing stories of her battles against the dragons.

Zavian has trouble finding a ship, finally going to the rat-infested Feiger’s Shack on Rag End. There he meets the lizardman Arakos, first mate on the Misericorde, a ship that might suit them. The captain is a young Bekyar woman named Daelyn. She agrees to transport them, but demands cash up front at twice the normal rate. Zavian negotiates her down to 150%, but she bumps it back up to 175% when he remarks on the familiar appearance she has with notorious pirate Keris Farima. Daelyn insists they set sail first thing the next morning. They agree to meet her at Docking Quay 94.

Moonday, 2 Gozran, 4734

After stowing the cart, horses, and hippogriff below decks, the Misericorde hastily pushes off from the docks ahead of an authority figure and a gang of thugs. Daelyn takes an interest in Amelia and invites her to dinner. Lea tries to talk with her, but stumbles over herself and is distracted by Seleval’s sea-sickness. Lea asks if there is any alcohol and Daelyn has grog brought up.

Zavian notices that the ship has a figurehead of Keris in armor, with a misericode jammed between the pauldron and gorget.

Amelia dines with the captain, who is interested to learn more about her and hear some of her songs. The bard notices she has a set of hand drums in her cabin. Initially wary of a trap, Amelia quickly realizes that this dinner is a genuine come on. She ends up spending the night in the captain’s cabin and its soft bed.

The rest of the party is relegated to a cramped room with a set of hammocks. A queasy Seleval insists on hammocking with Lea and mercifully falls asleep almost immediately. Marcus, meanwhile, bivouacs in the hold inside his levitating wagon, which is also warded with an alarm spell. He continues to cast dream spells every night to visit Shayliss.

Toilday, 3 Gozran, 4734

The next morning, Marcus finds the lizardman Arakos suspiciously eyeing the floating wagon, and the horses spiderwalking on the walls. When Marcus tries explaining the magic, Arakos asks if he can switch to Draconic. In doing so, the wizard discovers that the lizardman is far more eloquent in that language. The two have long conversations over the course of the journey.

Marcus and Lea talk to Shalelu that morning to get her sense of the ship and its crew. She notes that it is a pirate ship, but she’s mystified why it is missing its siege weapons. Marcus confirms that they aren’t magically hidden. Lea wonders if the crew has gone legit. Seleval pukes next to her and the paladin uses lay on hands to cure her nausea. The bedraggled lamia is very grateful.

Zavian asks around discreetly about Daelyn’s connection to Keris. He finally ends up talking to a halfling sailor named Rarder, who says that the captain is the youngest of Keris’ daughters. However, Daelyn had a big falling out with her mother a few years back and is out on her own. That’s why she is operating in these northerly waters, far from the Shackles. Zavian stops the halfling from picking his pocket, but pays Rarder 100gp for his information and his silence. The cleric shares this information with the others.

Oathday, 5 Gozran, 4734

On the fourth day of their voyage, the Misericorde passes by one of the great landmarks of the Varisian Gulf—Hollow Mountain. Marcus uses arcane eye to get a closer look. The shores of the island contain ruined structures of Thassilonian design, while hanging overhead is an enormous broken bridge that appears to be the other half of Magnimar’s fabled Irespan.

Carved onto the side of the mountain is the familiar glaring face of [[;alaznist | Runelord Alaznist]]. The wizard spies movement amid the ruins, including several strange spider-like creatures that remind him of the shriezyx monsters that had been released from the Irespan long ago.

Meanwhile, a sailor on the Misericorde slips and falls, breaking his leg. Lea rushes to heal the man and mend his bones. Rarder uses the distraction to try to rummage through Marcus’ pockets and triggers the wizard’s alarm spell. Marcus awakes to see Daelyn holding up Rarder in one hand. The half-elf warns the sailor off from touching him again and makes careful note of his features.

Fireday, 6 Gozran, 4734

On the fifth day of the journey, they leave the relatively quiet waters of the Varisian Gulf for the colder, choppier Steaming Sea. Seleval is truly miserable and has started rationing Lea’s nausea-alleviating lay on hands. The paladin brainstorms with the rest of the party to find some way to help the seasick lamia. Eventually they put her up in the levitating wagon, where the jostling isn’t as bad. Lea stays with her and at Seleval’s request, starts reciting passages from from the Acts of Iomedae.

Sunday, 8 Gozran, 4734

On the seventh day, the Misericorde enters Bunyip Bay, named after the vicious aquatic mammals that dwell there. That morning, a large albatross crashes into the sails and falls to the deck with a broken wing. Lea heals it, but Rarder nonetheless warns that it is an ill omen for the voyage.

That night, Daelyn invites the rest of the party to join her and Amelia in the captain’s cabin for dinner. The meal is interrupted, however, by the eerie calls of bunyips. The ship is placed on alert as the Rune Wardens head out onto the deck and see a massive swarm of bunyips gathered around the ship.

Then the Misericorde jolts under their feet once, then twice, then three times. Daelyn warns that something is caught against the underside of the vessel. Lea and Astrid volunteer to rappel down and investigate. Zavian uses control water to briefly force back the bunyip feeding frenzy. Marcus casts various buffs on himself, including enlarge.

Going over the side, Lea and Astrid discover with their magically-aided sight that a giant octopus has attached itself to the ship and is using its tentacles to batter the keel. One tentacle has even punched through into the cargo hold. They begin attacking the creature, but Astrid is quickly grabbed in one tentacle.

Flying overhead, enlarged Marcus spies several figures climbing the aft of the ship. He shouts a warning to Amelia and Daelyn, who are nearby. Amelia’s daze spell fizzes against the fishmen, but the captain does shoot one.

Two more fishmen race out onto the deck and Amelia overhears them discussing their targets: “the apostate and the cleric.” Marcus spears one with his enormous ranseur, while Arakos blocks the other from getting further. Zavian uses hold person on the fishman threatening Amelia, and the bard skewers it with her laptop. Marcus senses his alarm spell on the wagon going off.

On the underside of the Misericorde, Lea presses past the creature’s tentacles to jam her sword in its brain. She and Astrid then begin cutting the body lose from the ship.

Up top, the two surviving fishmen decide to make a break for it. Daelyn shoots one down as it tries to swim away. Marcus uses a fireball to disperse the bunyips, while warning that something is in the cargo hold.

Zavian races downstairs to find an enormous orange tentacle lying limp in the hold and water bubbling up through a hole in the floor. The wagon has taken some damage. Marcus, in water elemental form, quickly joins the cleric in plugging up the leak. Seleval emerges from the wagon and asks if she had killed the monster. Zavian tells her yes. She remarks that krakens are real pushovers.

Reverting to half-elf form, Marcus begins repairs on his wagon. Seleval offers to help, but finds there is little she can do beyond hold a hammer. Once Lea, dripping wet, stomps into the hold, the hammer is forgotten as the knightly lamia fusses over her soggy princess—at least until the seasickness catches up with her.

The crew resigns themselves to a lot of calamari dinners, while Daelyn decides to make use of the adrenaline by taking Amelia back to her cabin. Zavian unsuccessfully tries to sense any shipwrecks below to investigate.

Wealday, 11 Gozran, 4734

On the tenth day, the Misericorde draws near the ruined Brinewall Castle. A lookout warns of seeing an enormous flying beast far off in the distance. Marcus only gets the barest glimpse of it before the shape disappears below the eastern horizon. Daelyn orders the ship to anchor well off the coast from the haunted castle and promises to take the party ashore the next morning.

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Dealing With the Devil
Sins of the Saviors, Part 3

Fireday, 23 Pharast, 4734

Having returned from their excursion to the Therassic Library with Brodert Quink, Marcus and Shayliss meet up with the rest of the party at the Rusty Dragon to start planning their trip to Lake Stormunder over dinner. Lea and Seleval are stuck working the bar and common room in their ridiculous frilly outfits.

Marcus calls Ameiko over and apologizes about the incident a few weeks ago when he teleported into her Magnimar townhouse and startled the groundskeeper. He asks if it would be all right for the party to teleport there in the future. Ameiko tells him that everyone except Zavian is welcome there.

Marcus asks if he could have some sort of formal note to present to the servants. Ameiko decides to write something on Rusty Dragon stationary and scrawls out a note on one of the branded napkins. After she signs it, she stamps it in red ink with an official Minkaian seal.

The doors to the Rusty Dragon are thrown open and a gust of wind rushes through the commons, nearly blowing away the note. Spurs jingling, a figure in a long dark duster swaggers into the tavern. From beneath a wide brimmed hat, the figure scans the room with pupil-less eyes on a marbled white-gray face. From behind her shoulders, two little cupid wings can just be seen. With all eyes on her, Vivi spies Zavian and waves excitedly.

Zavian approaches, but before he can get close, Nualia interposes herself between the two. The demon-handed aasimar asks a flurry of questions about the vivicar’s well-being, and insists that she “come away from the nasty man.” Vivi tilts her head quizzically and Zavian acknowledges that he and Nualia are not on good terms at the moment.

“Well I guess we can talk it out,” Vivi says.

She sounds like a bubblier version of Nualia as she explains to the two aasimar that she can talk now. She cheerily reiterates this fact to the other Rune Wardens as Nualia steers her towards her table in the far corner. Zavian is able to talk his way into coming along.

vivi stumbles over herself a bit as she tries to elaborate on why she’s returned, finally saying that she’s “screwed up” and “made bad decisions” and wants to go back to the old way of doing what Zavian and Nualia tell her to.

She explains that she had heard about this abandoned Desnan shrine in the Devil’s Platter south east of Sandpoint and decided to go there to leave a sacred stone and revitalize it. Her lyrakien azata companion Idun advised against it, but she pressed on. the two of them were ambushed by Lamashtu cultists and Idun was captured. Vivi barely escaped and attributes the mess to her poor decision-making. She wants Zavian and Nualia to tell her what to do.

As if suddenly remembering something, Vivi rises and pulls up her shirt to reveal a huge bite that has been taken out of her side, sending fractures running throughout her torso. Zavian and Nualia realize she is near death and both start pumping mending magic into her until the damage is repaired. Vivi gives a little sigh of relief and says that the Sandpoint Devil did this to her.

Nualia angrily proposes marching out the next morning with Vivi to kill the creature and rescue Idun. Zavian insists that they need help, and manages to persuade Nualia. Marcus, who has been eavesdropping on this conversation, drops all pretense and makes his interest plain in going after it. Nualia angrily invites all the Rune Wardens along. After getting assents from Astrid and Amelia, Marcus checks in with Lea at the bar, who is eager to finish what she started with the Sandpoint Devil.

Vivi excitedly notes that she will be bringing guns to this monster hunt, and sets a pair of strange metal wands with wooden handles on the table. Marcus is intrigued by the alchemical slug-throwers, although Vivi eventually realizes that letting the wizard peer down the barrels is a bad idea.

Vivi explains that while traveling in the Cinderlands, she met a man from Alkenstar where these weapons are produced. She rescued him from some Shoanti, but later realized that he was a very bad man. So that night, she hit him over the head, stole his clothes and guns, and returned him to the Shoanti to face justice. And that’s how she got the guns, hat, coat, and boots.

Nualia insists on taking the very grimy Vivi off to get cleaned up, with everyone to meet up the next morning in order to set out for the Devil’s Platter. Later that night, after everyone else is asleep, Vivi goes to visit Zavian. The vivicar asks after his decision not to help Nualia on her quest.

Vivi also says she is worried about Nualia, who is not doing well. Here demon arm and the mark of Lamashtu over her womb have grown painful and the arm is starting to spasm and act on its own. Vivi is worried that Nualia’s partial demonic transformation might still be in progress. The aasimar had been questing to get the arm fixed, but Zavian’s decision not help kept her from completing the quest.

Zavian thanks Vivi for this information and promises to do what he can. He and Vivi go outside to talk more while he works on the forge in Marcus’ cart and she gazes up at the stars. Eventually, Vivi heads back to join Nualia. She explains that she sits close to the fire until her clay body gets very warm, and then curls up against her aasimar double to keep her toasty on cold nights.

Starday, 24 Pharast, 4734

The next morning, the Rune Wardens plus Nualia and Vivi pile into Marcus’ wagon. with Amelia following along on her hippogriff. Lea has Seleval stay back at the Rusty Dragon to protect Ameiko (and cover her shift).

It takes about half a day just to reach the Devil’s Platter, a big limestone escarpment that is the largest rocky rise on the Lost Coast. Riddled with clefts, cracks, and caverns, it is rumored to be the home of many local monsters, including the infamous Sandpoint Devil. Marcus’ cart, with its levitation spell and spider-walking horses, scales the walls of the escarpment and then travels across its rocky top to the cylindrical cave known as the Pit.

It is dusk by the time the party arrives. Zavian and Marcus hastily buff themselves and others before the cart heads down into the pit. Vivi guides them to the particular side cavern where she was attacked. There are a series of ledges around the side of the Pit shaft that are connected by wooden scaffolding, but no sign of cultists.

Astrid can hear a faint plaintive call from the side cavern and sees a tiny figure in a cage. She signals for the rest of the party to join her, although Marcus and Amelia hang back by the wagon. Zavian suggests Vivi do the honors of freeing Idun, but when the vivicar tries to shoot out the lock of the cage, the image vanishes while another cage drops out of the ceiling to snare her.

Arrows streak out of the darkness at Zavian and Marcus, but fail to connect. A pair of murderous bugbears rush out to knife Zavian. Two big burly bugbear women with greataxes attack Nualia, while a third bugbear cultist casts a spell that causes the aasimar’s demon arm to bulge and pulse. A heavily pregnant and sickly-looking elven woman emerges across the cavern, seemingly directing the cultists. She begins making her way towards Marcus.

Intense fighting ensues. Zavian and Nualia are surrounded by foes, with Lea and Astrid rushing to aid them. The bugbear cultist summons up a fog that obscures the melee. The bugbear archers nearly kill one of Marcus’ horses and Amelia evacuates the wagon from the Pit.

Vivi struggles to free herself from the cage, warning that the runes on it are starting to glow. Nualia, meanwhile, is distracted by whatever was done to her arm. Zavian decides to go help Vivi and manages to dispel the magic on the cage before it goes off.

Marcus blasts the pregnant elf with scorching rays, but she keeps advancing. He cuts her downn with his ranseur, which causes her to split open and birth forth an enormous vulture-like monster.

Despite the fog, Astrid and Lea are rapidly thinning the ranks of the bugbears. Vivi shoots the hinges off her cell door and escapes. Marcus hurls a fireball to destroy one of the wooden scaffolds and send two bugbear archers falling to their doom. An incapacitated Nualia is grabbed by one of the burly bugbear women and dragged out into the Pit shaft, but doesn’t fall due to her air walk spell.

Then, out of the depths below, a terrifying winged shape emerges, its mouth full of fangs and body like that of a horse. Riding on its back is a spectral figure in a wide-brimmed hat and duster.

“Give me my guns back, you clay-fingered bitch!” the ghost cowboy calls out. He fires his phantom guns into the fog, wounding Astrid and Zavian. The Sandpoint Devil belches hellfire at them.

A butterfly flits in front of Nualia to bestow Desna’s favor. The aasimar shakes off her affliction and channels a burst of positive energy that batters the ghost. Astrid tries to lunge at the Sandpoint Devil, but misses her footing and starts to fall.

Amelia returns to the Pit riding her hippogriff and casts feather fall on Astrid. After the Lamashtu monster shakes off a cacophonous call, she uses grease to send him falling on his feathery ass. Marcus takes this opportunity to get some distance from the creature and then casts command undead on the ghost. He suggests that the cowboy land his steed to better engage with the party, then urges the Rune Wardens to concentrate their attacks on the Sandpoint Devil.

Vivi finally enters the combat and starts pumping bullets into the monster, followed by a nasty attack from Marcus. Lea struggles to make her way towards the creature, but fog and bugbears obstruct her approach.

The ghost cowboy continues to demand the return of Vivi’s guns, so she decides to oblige him. The vivicar tosses both of her guns up to him and he drops his ghost weapons in surprise to catch them. Once the weapons are in hand, the specter vanishes, but Vivi manages to catch one of his ghost pistols as it falls.

Zavian swoops down to collect Astrid, then carries her up to the battle and holds her while she attacks the Sandpoint Devil, finally slaying the beast. With it dead, the party makes short work of the Lamashtu monster. Vivi frees the captive Idun from a cage around the Sandpoint Devil’s neck.

Amid all the chaos, two bugbear cultists manage to slink away.

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The Scribbler's Rhyme
Sins of the Saviors, Part 2

Coming Soon!

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Buried Secrets
Sins of the Saviors, Part 1

Fireday, 9 Pharast, 4734

Amelia, Zavian, and Astrid demoralize the assembled giants using Mokmurian’s head, but the snowstorm prevents the army from breaking up until morning. The trio rest upstairs in Jorgenfist while Lea, Marcus, and Seleval rest in the dragon’s lair. Marcus copies teleport from Mokmurian’s spellbook into his own.

Starday, 10 Pharast, 4734

The next morning, the party regroups and decides to investigate the library. Marcus sends a whispering wind to their hidden camp so that Shalelu and the others are aware of what’s going on.

Down below, they use the key and the password to safely enter the library, where they are greeted by a helpful clockwork librarian. With his assistance, they spend the day researching Karzoug.

They learn that Karzoug was an Azlanti man and the greatest Transmutation wizard in Thassilon, who ruled the realm of Shalast for hundreds of years. Karzoug’s armies consisted primarily of giants, who were controlled by powerful rune giants that were in turn his pawns. Karzoug also counted on other powerful allies as well, including blue dragons, denizens of the nightmare realm of Leng, blood-drinking scarlet walkers, and immense lamia harridans.

Their research indicates that Karzoug study of transmutation magic, associated with the sin of greed, left him atrophied in illusion (pride) and enchantment (lust) magic. Many believed that weapons imbued with those two schools of magic, so-called “dominant weapons,” would pose a great danger against him.

The research also reveals that while he was vulnerable against illusion and enchantment, his greatest rival was Runelord Alaznist, the evoker wizard who ruled Bakrakhan

That evening, Marcus and Zavian trek out to the hidden camp to begin teleporting the civilians to safety, only to discover they’d already left. Marcus’ raven familiar Ash explains that there were giants sniffing around, so Shalelu decided to evacuate the civilians back to Sandpoint. Only Ash and Amelia’s hippogriff remain. Zavian convinces the bird horse to fly down to its mistress at Jorgenfist.

The duo then decide to teleport to Magnimar to sell some of their Jorgenfist plunder. They appear inside Ameiko’s townhouse, scaring the shit out of her Varisian groundskeeper. They manage to convince him not to call the guards, and they leave with a bit of gossip: Ameiko has not at all forgiven her brother’s killer.

The two of them head over to the King and Axe to spend the night, where Zavian catches up with his parents. The are impressed with his new set of wings and disappointed that he broke up with “that nice girl” Nualia.

Sunday, 11 Pharast, 4734

Zavian and Marcus rise in Magnimar and spend the day running to and fro selling their loot. This includes Lea’s earthbreaker, Aztalnok, which she has abruptly decided to give up.

Meanwhile, at Jorgenfist, Lea researches Azlanti physiology and religion to try to learn more about their purple eyes. She learns that the traits were ubiquitous among the Azlanti, but had no magic or religious properties. However, the Azlanti were known to be on average, stronger, smarter, and faster than other humans, which they attributed to magical self-improvement in the early history of their civilization.

Towards the end of the day, Marcus feels a strange sensation, like he is being called over a great distance. He swiftly realizes that Shayliss has activated her bracelet of friends and is trying to call him back to Sandpoint. Rather than accepting the summons, Marcus drags Zavian away from shopping and teleports them both in front of the Vinders’ general store in Sandpoint.

Shayliss quickly brings them up to speed on what has happened. The other day, a big sinkhole collapsed part of the Sandpoint Garrison. Strange noises emanated from the hole, so Marcus’ parents Flint and Clairian led a group of guards down below to investigate. They haven’t come up in over a day, which spurred Shayliss to call Marcus. Sheriff Hemlock has the whole place cordoned off and placed under guard.

Marcus and Zavian realize they need the rest of the party before they can investigate, but Marcus’ teleport spells are limited. So Zavian hits on the idea of summoning Ilmiring and having her recall the rest of the adventurers back to the Sandpoint Cathedral. As they walk through the town, they notice it is still struggling to rebuild from the stone giant raid. Gorvi and his team are packing up from the construction work, while to Magnimarian clay golems continue laboring into the night.

Marcus and Zavian encounter Nualia as she leaves the cathedral. She is still furious with Zavian for his decision not to help her at the ruined bastion the previous weekend. Every attempt to apologize or justify his actions just falls flat, although Nualia does allow that she’s glad he’s not dead. She lets slip that she is waiting for someone to arrive in Sandpoint, and that she is staying at the Rusty Dragon. Zavian notices that her demonic hand is unusually twitchy.

Inside the cathedral, Zavian calls forth Ilmiring, who brings the rest of the party (and Seleval) back from Jorgenfist. Lea thanks her for helping to restore the paladin to life. The trumpet archon warns her not to make a habit of it, then disappears. Shayliss is impressed by the sight.

While the rest of the Rune Wardens head over to the sinkhole, Lea drops by the Rusty Dragon. She brings along Seleval after making clear that the whole lamia thing needs to be secret. When the paladin arrives, Ameiko is busy serving dinner to a large number of families that are in the Rusty Dragon’s common room.

Lea spies Nualia in a corner and decides to put off the inevitable by questioning why the aasimar is staying at the inn. In between snide remarks, Nualia explains that she is waiting for someone to arrive at the Rusty Dragon, but won’t explain who that is. Lea notices that Nualia’s demonic hand seems to be bothering her. Seleval is surprised that Lea doesn’t want to put the insubordinate commoner in her place.

When Ameiko finally notices the paladin, Lea hastily tries to hide her blue eye beneath her hair. After ushering Ameiko into a back room, Lea unveils Longtooth’s severed head. Ameiko is suitably impressed. The dragon’s firebreath left several families homeless, and she is putting them up at the inn until it is repaired. She is also responsible for bringing in the golems, having promised Lord-Mayor Grobaras that the two of them would attend one of his soirees this year.

When Ameiko finally notices Lea’s eye and expresses concern, the paladin hastily makes her exit. She leaves Seleval behind to “protect” Ameiko.

At the sinkhole, Constable Wallas explains how Marcus’ parents and four Sandpoint guards entered and simply vanished. But strange, inhuman howling continues to echo up from below at night.

Once the Rune Wardens are assembled, they descend into the sinkhole, easily finding where it has collapsed into the Catacombs of Wrath that they scoured many months ago. However, they find that the stairwell leading down, which had once been blocked, is now free of debris. As they descend, they hear a strange howling and notice strange webbing that clings to the stairs and walls.

At the bottom, however, it appears to dead end. They eventually find the secret door, as well as two spells: an alarm on the door and a guards and wards effect on the area. They dispell them and enter.

They find themselves in the antechamber to a strange cathedral, where every available surface is inscribed in Thassilonian writing. All of it, save for a single cryptic phrase, appears to be praise to Lamashtu.

Soon the adventurers are being questioned by a weird invisible man. He asks what has happened to Thassilon, what the current nations are above, who has the most powerful magic, and so forth. They ask him questions in turn. He says he was once called Xaliasa and was commander of the Hellstorm Flume for Alaznist, but had secretly betrayed her on behalf of Karzoug, who he also betrayed. When questioned about the missing people, he snickers that he defeated the intruders.

Throughout the conversation, Astrid was carefully pinpointing his location and finally struck him with an arrow. The invisible man fled deeper into the complex, just ahead of Amelia’s glitterdust. Lea uses her boots of speed to give chase and runs into the invisible man’s backup—an enormous glabrezu demon. The fiend cats some sort of spell, but it fails and Lea charges him. The fiend’s giant claws tear into her and soon battle is joined.

While the rest of the party catches up to Lea, reinforcements arrive for the bad guys as six especially vicious yeth hounds join the fray. Lea is dragged down to the ground and brushes against death twice more. Amelia manages to hit the invisible man with glitterdust, but her spells glance off the demon. Zavian enters the battle with a menacing aura, but his presence provokes one of the temple’s Lamashtu statues to activate and attack him.

Eventually, Marcus clears away the yeth hounds with multiple fireballs, Astrid takes the glabrezu demon apart, and Lea cuts down the strange man known as the Scribbler.

Marcus hears his mother calling out and manages to find her stuck to the wall in the Scribbler’s chambers, missing her right arm. She tells him that there were originally two glabrezu demons whose wish magic overpowered his parents. The Scribbler had Flint teleported away to the spires of Xin-Shalast as tribute to his former master. Thanks to a somewhat inappropriately located magic tattoo the couple got in Nex, Clairian can tell he is still on this plane and alive.

She continues to ramble as Marcus helps her towards the surface, apologizing for being a lousy parent. She explains that her parents, archaeo-astronomers in Kaer Maga, were too controlling when she was growing up, so she swung in the opposite direction and was too hands off. She also tells Marcus that she and Flint have squirreled away an inheritance for him at a bank in Kaer Maga, but Flint has the account number on his arm and Clairian isn’t allowed back at the bank after an “incident.”

Meanwhile, Lea begins to have some sort of psychotic break, hacking away heedlessly at the dead demon while Amelia cheers her on.

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Fire and Blood
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Interlude

Fireday, 9 Pharast, 4734

When the alien hounds had torn into her, in complete silence, Lea sank into darkness. She drifted down, down, in total quiet. Then, out of the corner of her eye she glimpsed something hanging in the darkness.

It looked like an enormous shard of glass, but through it she could see a yellow alien sky overlooking a flat wasteland littered with strange ruins. There were figures there, strange creatures in turbans and veils with blue-gray skin. They were using magic to battle giant spiders, and seemed oblivious to her. All in silence.

Then a pair of the alien hounds loped into view, looking at home in the strange realm. They sniffed the air, then turned and stared right at the sinking paladin. Flailing her arms against nothingness, Lea tried to get as far away as possible from the floating shard as she drifted past it, continuing her quiet descent.

Another shard rose into view, this one a window into the splendor and terror of Karzoug’s Thassilon. She saw slaves and giants building an enormous monument to the Runelord, as lamia overseers swaggered among them and a vast army of Shoanti soldiers assembled. All of it under the watchful gaze of a cadre of green-robed wizards.

Lea drifted deeper and glimpsed another shard, this one showcasing a terrible roiling landscape stalked by demons.

Finally, she found herself sinking towards an endpoint, another window at the bottom of this featureless black void. She saw tombstones and immediately tried to swim out of the way, to no avail. She realized that it is her force of will rather than the strength of her arms that counted in this strange nether realm.

She tried to will herself from sinking into the Boneway below, but only slowed her descent. Head-first, she began to transition into Pharasma’s realm, a long line of souls stretching out before her waiting to be judged. Then she felt something grasp and tug at both her legs.

Her bonded spirit Ell-Hayzar and the trumpet archon Ilmiring were pulling her up. The two celestials yanked her free of the Boneway and together carried her higher and higher, rushing towards a brilliant bring light.

Lea gasps into wakefulness, realizing that she can hear again. She is wrapped comfortably in a bedroll, a folded blanket cushioning her head. Her freshly polished and mended armor is stowed nearby. She sits up, realizing that she is still in Mokmurian’s lair.

The knightly lamia Seleval, still in human, is seated beside her and quickly brings her up to speed: Mokmurian is defeated and most of the party has gone above with his head to disband the army of giants he assembled. Marcus remains in the chamber with them, poring through the stone giant’s spellbooks. Seleval explains that she rescued Lea’s body from the alien hounds and brought it to Zavian, then assisted the aasimar in breathing life back into the paladin.

Seleval also alerts Lea to another change: her left eye has lost its purple hue and is now blue like her fathers. The lamia assures her heterochromia is very fashionable, but Lea feels like she left a peace of herself behind when she came back. Seleval admits that the spell should not have worked and it is a minor miracle she was raised. The lamia also quietly confesses that she said a silent prayer to Iomedae on Lea’s behalf—that being the paladin’s goddess, after all.

Marcus finally notices that Lea is awake and takes some time to examine her. He has a particular interest in her strange eyes, which he had last examined up close while she was paralyzed in the Grauls’ basement several months ago.

The two of them concoct a plan to strike out on their own to eliminate the red dragon Longtooth before he flees the area. Marcus reasons the dragon hasn’t left yet because it would take time to pack up his hoard. The half-elf wants to destroy the dragon to avenge its attack on Sandpoint, while Lea had promised its head to Ameiko. She figures that slaying a dragon would be just the thing to improve her mood. Seleval invites herself along, as she has some experience in that department.

While strapping Lea into her armor, the lamia asks for a boon as a reward for helping saving the princess’ life. She wants Lea to use her connections to arrange for her slain sister, Zaelsar, to be resurrected. Lea expresses reservations and says she will pray on the question. Seleval makes it clear this is her top priority. Marcus manages to miss out on this conversation, having gone off to take a bathroom break.

The trio manage to make their way back up to the surface, where they find that the weather has turned and a snow storm now blows down out of the north. Marcus takes the time to harvest scales and other items from the red dragon corpse in the Jorgenfist courtyard. Outside the fortress, the giant army is beginning to disband.

The trio treks across the snowy valley towards the eastern mountain where Longtooth makes his lair. Seleval explains that the dragon slew several lamias before Mokmurian defeated it and compelled it to swear allegiance. The two developed a gridging friendship, and Longtooth helped the stone giant capture other dragons for use as sacrifices.

But when Longtooth returned from the failed attack on Sandpoint, Mokmurian ordered Seleval and Zaelsar not to cure the dragon’s wounds as punishment. Longtooth then retreated to his lair to sulk. Seleval has no idea what spurred the dragon to attack the giants’ camp.

Longtooth’s lair is in a cave 450 feet up a nearly vertical cliff. At the foot of the cave entrance is an enormous piled of gnawed bones, including wyvern, aurochs, and even a roc. To ascend to the lair, Marcus casts fly and invisibility on himself and Lea. Seleval uses air walk to follow behind them.

The cave stinks of dragon, and twists around in a vague u-shape. There is no immediate sign of Longtooth. Lea peers through a hole in the thin cavern wall to see around the bend in the tunnel. She spies the red dragon just as Seleval messages Marcus with a warning.

Longtooth bursts through the thin stone wall and breathes fire on Marcus and Lea, who had thankfully magically shielded themselves against it. A small gang of kobolds emerges from small holes in the floor and begin to swarm Seleval, pulling her down to the ground.

Lea, still invisible, manages to sneak around behind the dragon, who focuses his ire on Marcus. The wizard is further stymied by the dragon’s lair, which has taken on volcanic qualities. Geysers of magma and miasmas of volcanic gas soon clutter the battlefield.

Finally in position, Lea reveals herself to charge the dragon and lands a vicious blow. Longtooth savages her in kind with tooth and claw. Seleval manages to break clear of the growing army of kobolds and Marcus messages her to leave the cave if she doesn’t want to get fried. The lamia hastily follows his advice.

Bleeding profusely, Lea lands the killing blow on Longtooth, snapping his neck. Floating high up in the corner of the room, Marcus hurls a maximized fireball at the cluster of kobolds. The spell ignites the volcanic gas, which incinerates the kobolds in a mini firestorm and eats up all the oxygen in the cave. The adventurers are buffeted about as more air rushes in to fill the vacuum.

Seleval hastily rushes over to Lea and dumps several cure serious wounds into her, then heals Marcus as well. The paladin hacks off the red dragon’s head and hangs her Sihedron medallion on it to create a gentle repose effect. Marcus takes stock of the dragons treasure hoard, which is short on magic items but high on cash and valuable objects.

The trio eventually realizes they don’t have sufficient magic to get out of the cave.They decide to just spend the night. Seleval uses sending to give Zavian a heads up on their situation and then casts stone shape to carve out a secure niche for them to rest. Marcus casts alarm on the entrance to guard against any surviving kobolds.

The lamia offers to shift into her true form so the adventurers can lean up against the soft warm fur of her flanks. She explains that she and her sister Zaelsar used to always sleep cuddled up against one another and she is now frightened to sleep alone. Lea takes her up on the offer, and Marcus eventually follows suit, grudgingly.

While they chat, Lea and Marcus tell Seleval that she is not bound to follow them if she does not want to, and can leave when she wishes so long as she promises not to harm innocents and to continue upholding her knightly vows. Seleval tells them she will think on this.

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Killing Mokmurian
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 17

Fireday, 9 Pharast, 4734

The Rune Wardens stand on threshold of Mokmurian’s lair. The giant lord sneers at them from his throne at the far end of the great chamber, while his runeslave bodyguard stands watch on the stairs. Piles of books, alchemical tools and arcane reagents are scattered about the room, while four pillars hold up the hundred foot tall ceiling.

Zavian and Mokmurian trade threats and the stone giant lord summons up an obscuring and surprisingly dense fog that surrounds the party. Lea presses through the fog towards the throne. Mokmurian responds by calling up a noxious yellow-green cloud around her.

Zavian and Astrid manage to rise above the thick fog—the aasimar takes flight and the half-elf spiderclimbing up the wall. Zavian casts a silence spell on giant lord’s throne to thwart any further spells. Mokmurian, however, flies up into the air beyond the spell.

Meanwhile, the alien hounds the party had been fighting reappear to attack Astrid and Zavian. Their gaze attack has no effect on the cleric and their claws have trouble against the fighter’s armor. The hounds then teleports away. The stone giant runeslave tosses boulders at the adventurers, but misses.

Mokmurian flies forward until he hovers over the noxious cloud, and casts mass reduce person on the Rune Wardens at the chamber entrance. Amelia and Seleval shrink down to halfling size.

The noxious cloud leches away Lea’s health, so she rushes out of it and charges up the stairs to attack the stone giant runeslave. Little Amelia ducks behind a pillar and strikes up an inspiring song. Little Seleval air walks out of the heavy fog. Zavian hunts down one of the alien hounds with his flaming scimitar Sunspark.

Marcus, meanwhile, slips out of the cloud and casts dispell magic on Mokmurian. Unable to remove his stoneskin buff, he strips away the giant lord’s fly spell. He starts to rapidly descend into his own noxious cloud. Astrid looses arrows at him but has trouble penetrating his defenses.

Little Seleval successfully casts blindness on the stone giant runeslave. Mokmurian’s lair, meanwhile, summons up a freezing cloud around Lea and the runeslave. The giant lord himself retreats into the heavy fog, but not before Little Amelia blinds him with glitterdust. He lurks in the fog, trying to scrape the glitter from his eyes and casting a spell. Lea presses the attack on the blinded runeslave, striking it down.

After clearing the glitter from his eyes, Mokmurian rises up into the air and begins slinging spells at Marcus and Lea. The half-elf wizard shrugs off a blast of_disintegrate_, while the paladin is blasted with several scorching rays. The paladin ducks behind the big throne. Sensing weakness, Mokmurian orders his hounds to attack the paladin. Seleval enlarges herself to return to human-size. Marcus blasts Mokmurian with enervation, sapping his strength and vitality.

Two hounds teleport over to flank Lea, slashing at her. The monsters claw and bite. Lea strikes back, bashing one of them to death. Seleval, who had been trying to hack at Mokmurian, races across the room towards Lea but can’t quite reach her. Zavian blesses the party, inflicting more harmful effects onto Mokmurian.

The third hound teleports in to join the attack on Lea, stepping over its dead fellow. This time the creatures find a weakness in her armor, their teeth and claws sinking deep. Trapped in the silence spell, Lea dies without a sound.

Mokmurian now directs his ire towards Marcus, ultimately striding up to the wizard to bash him with a club and unleashing a stored vampiric touch. Marcus is incensed at these copycat tactics, and also at the grievous wounds. The giant lord shrugs off Astrid’s arrows and Little Amelia’s spells.

Zavian casts air walk on Astrid to make it easier for her to close to melee range with Mokmurian. Seleval scoops up Lea’s body, kicking one of the snapping hounds as she goes. Mokmurian orders the hounds to go after Marcus.

Little Amelia casts cacophonous call on Mokmurian one more time, but this time the spell takes hold. The giant lord begins projectile vomiting and staggers away from Marcus. He tries to flee the room but Zavian seals the exit with stone shape. The giant starts running around the room, trying to keep the party at the distance until the spell wears off.

Seleval rushes up to Zavian, Lea’s lifeless body in her arms, and demands that the cleric “fix” the paladin. Working together, they manage to channel enough divine energy to draw Lea’s soul back in her body. The princess remains unconscious, while Seleval begins pumping healing spells into her.

Unable to do much on his own, Mokmurian repeatedly uses his lair’s powers to try to charm Astrid but each time she shakes it off. The fighter manages to cut through the giant lord’s stoneskin. Little Amelia brings the chase to a close by ensnaring Mokmurian with a charm monster.

The charmed Mokmurian is led into the center of the room, where Marcus hopes to interrogate him. Before the questioning can get very far, the giant lord is possessed by Runelord Karzoug. He mocks the party and promises to return soon to awaken the armies of Xin-Shalast. His energies burn the life from Mokmurian, who falls dead to the floor. Marcus curses furiously, having lost his chance to ask questions.

Seleval is terrified that the Runelord saw everyone. She explains that when Karzoug stirred to wakefulness five years ago, he sent his prophetess the Most High Ceoptra into Xin-Shalast to bring the lamias to heel. Seleval’s mother and some the other senior lamias refused, believing that the Runelords’ time had passed. Most High Ceoptra transformed these rebels into lamia hungerers, a fate worse than death, and did so without breaking a sweat. And Ceoptra is a mere servant of Karzoug. The thought of being noticed by the Runelord terrifies Seleval to the bone.

Amelia and Zavian try to bolster her spirits, while Marcus appeals to her anger at what happened to her mother and points out that she has nowhere left to go. Seleval is somewhat heartened, but still troubled, although she admits that she has no other options but to press forward. She is hanging onto the unconscious Lea like a safety blanket throughout this.

The party plunders Mokmurian’s corpse and his lair. They find some magic items that are useful to spellcasters, as well as a second bag of holding that contains Mokmurian’s voluminous spellbooks. They also find the key to the strange bronze doors you’d passed by earlier.

Among Mokmurian’s possessions the adventurers find a map and notes suggesting that he was trying to retrieve a foundation stone from the ruins of something called a Hellstorm Flume. He could use the stone to discern where “the traitor Xaliasa” dwelled and hopefully recover his key to the “Runeforge.” All of the Hellstorm Flume ruins on the map are located out to sea except for one, which is located in Sandpoint.

While the others poke through the room, Zavian tends to Lea’s wounds under Seleval’s watchful gaze. The lamia thanks him for his help and warns him that Lamashtu is still angry with him for taking something precious to her.

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Dream a Little Dream
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 16

Oathday, 8 Pharast, 4734

Having fought their way into the depths of the Thassilonian ruins below Jorgenfist, the Rune Wardens have holed up in a side room to recuperate. Little Marcus spends the better part of two hours deciphering (with Zavian’s assistance) the complex lock on the adamantine scroll case they had recovered from the Black Monk. The scrolls within are ancient and fragile, so Little Marcus asks Amelia to delicately remove them. She extracts a total of eighteen scrolls.

Eight of the scrolls are divine spells including scrying, resurrection, and true resurrection, all of them prepared by a very powerful cleric. Nine of the scrolls prove to be a major artifact known as the anathema archive. Marcus studies the artifact and realizes that it can be used for two purposes: to cast ancient Thassilonian magic, and to research terrible secrets.

The final scroll contains instructions on how to properly access the Therassic Library. Before entering the bronze doors, visitors must utter the password “Viosanxi” or provoke its “shining guardian.” Visitors are then to present the scroll to the clockwork librarian.

With plenty of time to kill, Little Marcus gets out the stone tablet that his parents had retrieved from Hollow Mountain. He learns that it was part of a larger set of tablets recounting the history of the Thassilonian ruin, which served as the fortress of the Runelords of Bakrakhan. This tablet is from the final days of Thassilon, describing how the wrathful Alaznist cooperated with her fellow Runelords to use the Runeforge to devise a method for riding out the coming catastrophe. The tablet explains that Hollow Mountain was shielded and warded to await her return: “It should only take a few thousand years.”

Little Marcus and Zavian then set to work on crafting projects. Lea settles down in a far corner to pray and meditate. Seleval lingers nearby, but after a while starts to get bored and restless. Amelia works on drafting new songs. Little Astrid, meanwhile, stands watch out on the ceiling of the hallway.

After several hours, Little Astrid hears the sound of several creatures attempting to approach quietly. They’re muttering in Giant, but in a higher register than is normal for giants. A javelin and a melon-sized rock come hurtling out of the darkness towards Little Astrid, but miss their mark. Three tall, angular shapes lope into the dim light—two man-sized stone giants and a miniature troll.

A second squad of two reduced-size stone giants and one troll charges down the narrow passage into the party’s camp, where battle is quickly joined. The first squad of man-sized giants runs down the corridor underneath Little Astrid, trying to flank the camp. She charges after them, running along the ceiling and then leaping down to deliver a devastating blow with her double-bladed sword Little Echo. But she misjudges the distance and instead of landing a strike simply faceplants on the floor.

Inside the camp, the fighting is fierce. Little Marcus unleashes a blast of lightning against the intruders and then tries to fend off their attacks with his little ranseur. Lea and Zavian come to his aid, while Amelia strikes up an inspiring tune and hurls glitterdust at the man-sized giants.

By the time the first squad of mini giants gets into flanking position, the second squad is in rough shape. When the sergeant of the second squad is struck down, his squadmates try to flee but Zavian uses wall of stone to bar their exit. The remaining giants prove to be fanatical loyalists of Mokmurian and fight to the bitter end.

Once the bloodletting is done, Seleval identifies them as among the last of Mokmurian’s inner circle. She suspects there are no more than four stone giants remaining in the caverns above.

Once the bodies are cleared away and the Rune Wardens are patched up, Lea decides to tell Seleval about Korvosa. During the conversation, Amelia watches the lamia closely and gets a solid read on her. The bard concludes that Seleval is primarily motivated by fear of the party and is sticking close to Lea in part because she thinks she has the best handle on how to placate the paladin. Seleval also seems very protective of the pouch with her sister’s ashes. Amelia further surmises that Seleval’s commitment to chivalry is only skin deep, but since the tropes of knighthood kept her alive she is playing the role to the hilt.

Lea gets a sense of Seleval’s understanding of knighthood when she asks about the lamia’s coat of arms and realizes they were copied from a famous fictional knight from a chivalric romance. Seleval actually has a battered copy of the book, which belonged to her father and which she says she read very closely growing up. Lea begins to wonder if she’s made a big mistake.

The Rune Wardens eventually lie down to sleep in their camp, and several of them have portentous dreams.

Zavian finds himself in a memory, strolling through the floating fields of Sarenrae’s realm in Nirvana. He is meeting with Elszevina, intending to confess his love for her. When he does so, however, she caresses his cheek and asks “Why did you betray me?”

Her angelic visage darkens and her wings burst into flames as the sky around them turns a hellish red. She tells Zavian that his recovery of his old Birth of Light and Truth testament and his travel to this “thin place” has allowed her to track him down. She promises that he will join her in damnation or be destroyed. Zavian insists he will free her.

The arrival of the trumpet archon Ilmiring banishes Elszevina and brightens the landscape. Ilmiring brings tidings to Zavian about the threats that await the party, including Mokmurian’s otherworldly guardians with a baleful gaze. She says that Mokmurian is ready and waiting, but that if he is slain his army will disperse. Before bidding Zavian farewell, Ilmiring reveals that she fought alongside him in the Dawn Heralds and will answer his summons if he needs her help.

Meanwhile, Lea’s dreams find her visited by her bonded spirit Ell-Hayzar. The angelic being praises her for how she handled the surrender of the lamia, but chastises her for allowing the creature to dine on the harpy and for rushing to knight Seleval, which creates additional complications.

Lea is frustrated that she is being criticized now for being too nice when before she was chided for being too ruthless. Ell-Hayzar warns her against being too hasty, noting that lamias are tainted by Lamashtu and cannot be trusted. Lea pointedly wants to know if Ser Arlynn would be able to redeem the lamia. Ell-Hayzar urges the young paladin not to measure herself against others. The spirit urges her to start to break Seleval’s connection to Lamashtu, but not to rush things.

In Marcus’ dream, he is in a quiet corner of an otherwise bustling Rusty Dragon Inn. He is reading the same paragraph over and over again without processing it. Most likely, this is because Shayliss is nibbling on his ear and whispering very dirty things to him.

This reverie is interrupted by the arrival of his familiar Ash, whose cane clacks against the floor as he strides nervously. The man-sized raven is in his normal garb: waistcoat, top hat and monocle. All of this strikes Marcus as very normal, but there is fear in the bird’s eyes.

Speaking in his typical posh accent, Ash notes that the inn is crowded with some very strange customers. Glancing up from his book, Marcus notices that the other patrons are dressed in yellow turbans and kaftans. Veils cover their mouths, but what little skin can be seen is purple. As he notices, they begin to rise and drift towards him.

Ash alerts Marcus to the fact that his ranseur is on fire. The blazing ranseur flares as the patrons approach, repulsing them. Touching it fills Marcus with anger at these interlopers.

Marcus realizes that Shayliss has been whispering in Thassilonian the whole time and her words have changed: “Kill Karzoug. Mokmurian will point you the way to the traitor, the traitor will lead you to the forge, where you my blessed champion will imbue my ranseur with dominant power that will cut out his greedy heart. You will do this for me, love, and I will make you first among my ragesmiths when I return.”

As he realizes this he sees Shayliss’ face shifts to that of red-haired Runelord Alaznist, who pulls him into an angry kiss. When he wakes, Marcus tastes blood in his mouth. Must have bitten himself in his sleep.

Astrid’s dreams are much more peaceful. She is at home in her village. Her mother Lydia is there, serving up some tea. Lydia is happy that she has been able to find her elvish family and helped make Isandria more welcoming of humans.

Amelia simply has untroubled sleep and rises refreshed.

Fireday, 9 Pharast, 4734

Fully rested, though perhaps not untroubled, the Rune Wardens set out to finish their hunt for Mokmurian. They find a hall with a huge set of big double doors with a huge Sihedron rune on it. They recognize these as the doors from the scroll which are protected by a shining guardian who will strike if a password is not uttered. The doors also require a strange key that they lack.

Unwilling to try breaching the entrance without the key, the adventurers check a side door instead. Beyond, they find the first chamber on this floor with sharp angles. It is inhabited by a trio of alien hounds that can walk on air. Marcus and Amelia resist the strange creature’s gaze attack. The monsters teleport in and out of view as the battle is joined.

The fight takes the party to the far end of the room, where the alien hounds teleport into the chamber beyond. Uncertain of what lies beyond, the party presses forward… where Mokmurian awaits them.

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Cauldron of Giantkind
Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 15

Oathday, 8 Pharast, 4734

Having bought some time with the army of giants outside, the Rune Wardens head back down into the caverns. They discover that the stone barrier they had erect was bashed down. Inspecting the tracks, they realize that stone giants had battered through, ascended, and then retreated back below.

The knightly lamia Seleval, still in her human form, leads the party through the caverns to avoid a stone giant patrol. They pass through the chamber used by the two charmed red dragons. Seleval explains that Mokmurian and Longtooth captured them for use as sacrifices. One dragon, Encontredor, remains at large.

Seleval also swings by her quarters to pick up a few things. The party is repulsed by the thick scent of incense and the horrific Lamashtu murals, so they choose to wait outside. The lamia recovers some unknown items from behind the blood-soaked stone altar—the adventurers glimpse some scrolls and books. Once she’s gathered what she needs, the lamia takes them towards the entrance to the lower level, which is guarded by the troll brothers Hurek and Durek.

The party decides to lay a trap. Astrid perches on the ceiling in her slippers of spider climb, while the others lurk in a side passage waiting to pounce with steel and spell. Seleval, in her lamia form, is sent to coax the trolls into the trap.

Astrid listens in to the conversation (held in Giant). It takes some back and forth but the lion-woman ultimately succeeds in luring the brothers away from their post.

The ambush is swift and devastating. Zavian paralyzes the big troll Durek with a hold person spell, while Marcus’ flaming sphere scorches Hurek. Astrid attacks from about but has trouble keeping her footing. Lea charges forward and Amelia inspires the party. Hurek takes the brunt of the damage and is slain just before Durek breaks free of the spell.

The larger troll brother deals a grievous wound to an overconfident Seleval, but the collective might of the Rune Wardens is too much for him. Once he falls, the party hastily loots the well-equipped trolls and presses on the to the lower levels before a stone giant patrol can investigate.

It is a long, winding trip down the tunnel during which Marcus questions Seleval about the appeal of worshiping Lamashtu. She talks about the goddess’ patronage of the lamias.

The spiraling passage eventually transitions from natural caverns to worked stone. The ruins have an alien feel to them, as every hard edge and sharp angle has been beveled into a soft curve.

The adventurers come across a section of tunnel that appears to have collapsed many years ago. With that direction closed off, the party takes the only path available to them. The passage leads to the Chamber of Reduction, where hill giant and stone giant runeslaves wait in ambush.

Marcus is the first to enter and is stricken with both of the chamber’s strange effects: debilitating nausea from the warped geometry and a reduction in size to approximately halfling height. The affliction impacts the wizard and all seven of his mirror images.

Lea charges in to confront the giants, Iomedae’s grace shielding her from the baleful magic. Astrid sets up in the threshold with her bow and begins loosing arrows. Amelia strikes up a greatly inspiring tune for Lea.

Zavian takes wing and flits into the disorienting chamber, shaking off its effects and navigating around behind the hill giant runeslave. The party realizes that the stone giant runeslave was one of the laconic smiths that they slew after entering the caverns.

Astrid lands the kill shot on the hill giant runeslave, right through the brain. The stone giant runeslave is soon to follow and Lea does her best to make sure he won’t be coming back.

Astrid tries to cross the room, but the Chamber of Reduction takes its toll on her as well. Amelia uses dimension door to transfer herself and Seleval across.

Now significantly stealthier, Little Astrid scouts ahead. She comes across a large stinking chamber illuminated by a flickering fire. The room contains an ornate 12-foot tall cauldron steaming over an impressive firepit at the center.

The cauldron is being watched over by a stone statue that Little Marcus quickly surmises is some sort of construct. He and Astrid use message to coordinate a plan with the rest of the Rune Wardens, who are hanging back.

Little Marcus rushes up to the stone golem to use shape stone to snare its legs. Little Astrid dashes across the wall to strike at the golem with her shrunken double-bladed sword. The noxious fumes from the cauldron start to bother Marcus and Astrid.

It takes time for the rest of the Rune Wardens to catch up. avian swoops in and begins casting magic, while Little Marcus puts some distance between himself and the stone golem. Moments later, Lea and Seleval move up to join Astrid in fighting the golem. Little Marcus spider climbs up to the ceiling.

That’s when a big round walking furnace called a forgefiend bursts out of the wall with a loud “Oh yeah!”

Its first move is to vomit molten slag onto the paladin and the lamia. Lea is warded by her resist energy spell, but Seleval is badly scorched. The smell of burnt fur mixes with the noxious cauldron fumes.

Zavian uses stone shape to plug up the poisonous cauldron, then moves to flank the forgefiend with Lea. Astrid takes apart the stone golem.

The forgefiend tries to retreat back into the wall, but is stricken with Amelia’s cacophonous call as the Rune Wardens close in. The fiend starts coughing up debris from both its mouths.

Surrounded and nauseated, the forgefiend finally succumbs. Meanwhile, the plugged up cauldron starts to hiss ominously. The party flees the room before the explosion.

When they return, they find the cauldron unharmed. Upon inspection, they find that it is some sort of minor artifact used to create runeslaves from giant corpses. It is a thoroughly evil item thrumming with necromantic power, which can only be destroyed by reversing the runeslave ritual with a good aligned giant volunteer. Unable to destroy the cauldron, they put out the fire.

After healing up, the party carefully advances into the next room. They find a macabre trophy room full of stuffed giants wearing armor and posed as if rallying for war. Zavian senses necromantic energy from several of the figures, including the centerpiece—an enormous, headless ogre in armor.

None of the figures stir awake while the party lingers at the threshold, so the Rune Wardens concoct a plan.

Perched on the wall, Little Marcus unleashes a fireball that destroys two zombie hill giants and sets several of the stuffed figures on fire. Zavian blasts one of the other zombie giants with searing light from his sword Sunspark.

The Headless Lord rushes Lea, his double axes held high, but a grease spell from Amelia send it tumbling to the ground. While Little Astrid fires arrows from the ceiling, an overeager Seleval leaps into the fray and gets hammered by one of the other zombie giants.

The Headless Lord is swiftly destroyed and the party moves on to the other zombies. Still stinging from her misjudgment, Seleval kills the last one. After looting the corpses, the party scouts a little further.

They find a side chamber accessible only by narrow, 5-foot wide passages. Beyond that, they reach a hallway with a set of strange metal doors at one end and two other doors along the opposite wall.

After some discussion, they decide that after this last battle they have no choice but to rest and recharge until their spells return. They retreat into the side chamber and set up camp.

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