Rise of the Runelords

The Departure
Rise of the Runelords Prelude

Korvosa, 18 Rova, 4732

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Tap, tap, tap. Softly the rain fell against the stained glass on the eastern wall of Aquilos’ study. The tired King sat in a modest but well upholstered chair facing a small fireplace, breaking his stillness to reach for his wine cup. He took a sip every so often as he stared intently into the flames cracking in the fireplace.

Five months, he thought, five months of careful planning and negotiations… It took years of maneuvering to get the Jeggare’s to settle for a mid-level marriage alliance with Ecclesia as the price for their support in many of the social reforms and public works projects that had just started to bear fruit. The Jeggare boy was a bit of a problem, much like his daughter in some respects, but he would suffice in order to secure their continued support. At the very least Aquilos could have said he’d tried, so long as Ecclesia proved to be charming and agreeable.

Perhaps he was only fooling himself; a want that had very much gone awry. That could only be the explanation to as why he clearly he underestimated her stubbornness, much like his own, and allowed a few dramatic hours ruin plans years in the making. The evening played back over and over in his head, calculating each point that led the conversation between his daughter and the Jeggare boy to go south: an ill-humored jest, a tactless explanation, and too much wine opposed by apt barbs, a sober wit and finally an overzealous left hook. In any other situation, in a different place, a different time perhaps, he might’ve been proud. The monumental work that will now be required to mend the evenings events quickly dashed that thought as he returned to his wine.

“Damn that foolish girl,” he muttered, taking another sip.

A soft knock came at the door before it creaked open. Without awaiting acknowledgement, a tall, lithe girl with long, light brown hair had entered. Her face was proud and determined, at odds with her soft, lovely features quite like the loose and ill fitting clothing she chose to wear. Ecclesia gathered the words she practiced out in the hall, only to have her father, still looking into the fire, speak first.

“I thought I told you to wear the dress your sister Ryah picked out for you tonight.”

“Father,” Ecclesia responded, " I didn’t come here to talk about my attire."

“No I supposed you didn’t,” Aqulios retorted flatly. “I suppose you came to explain and apologize for your behavior earlier this evening.”

“Apologize?” Ecclesia said, “I have nothing to apologize for! Monty had it coming; I simply obliged. He should be thanking me it happened in private and not at court! You, on the other hand, should have something to say to me for springing that horrible excuse for a man-child on me without the courtesy to at least run the idea by me! You tell me to show up to dinner, which you never do, wear something you know I’ll hate and expect me to pretend I’m okay with you marrying me off to the first daft lordling that comes to the door?”

“Are you quite finished?” Aquilos said, holding back what anger in his voice as he stood to face her. “Because once again, you’ve failed to see with those godsdamned eyes of yours the bigger picture and the consequences of your actions!”

Godsdamned eyes, she winced. An insult she only half understood. Partly because no manner of probing could get her father to explain it nor did anyone else in the household understand it.

“I made myself very clear when I had the servant drop off the dress,” Aquilos continued. “‘Wear the dress, show up to dinner this evening with our guests, and be as charming and open minded as I knew you could be.’ You managed none of those things. You must have realized the importance of the Jeggare’s coming to the castle: To get them one step closer to signing off on doing more to help our city, to inject the additional capital to fund the projects that would uplift our working class Ecclesia! And nothing comes out of their coffers without a price, and a marriage alliance with the royal house is what they sought. I wasn’t going to have you married tonight, but I needed them to see you at your best. From a great showing on your part and a predictably poor showing on their son’s we could’ve come back to negotiations and taken the marriage proposal off the table. Instead you busted any chances of that happening the moment you broke their boy’s nose. Years of talks, months of planning, gone within an hour! Monty is a mean-spirited fool, but not every problem can be solved with your fists, no matter how strong your convictions are.”

Aquilos paused for a moment to let his words sink in before continuing in a quieter tone, “I’ve clearly overestimated your abilities, and you’ve left me with little options for you. If I can’t trust you to mind your temper in private how can I have you serve out in public?”

Her downcast eyes immediately shot back up, her furrowed brow betraying her response. She had only brought up public service at the Cathedral a few weeks ago after he’d barred her from military service in Sable Company or within the Guard. Serving in the Korvosan Army like her brother was out of the question as well. If she convinced him to allow her to help in the Cathedral, perhaps she could then learn under the Knight Captain. Perhaps that could lead to her to Lastwall like Ser Arlynn or Ser Irabeth. As if with sharp shears she could feel this path being violently cut away from her, leaving her once again stuck purposeless within the confines of the Castle.

“Y-you can’t take that away from me Father! " Ecclesia stammered out, holding back tears, “I can feel her calling me. It rings in my ears, it swells within my heart! I can’t hardly contain it now. I wasn’t meant to sit in a cage of stone and iron my whole life!”

“You were meant to do as you are told!” Aquilos roared back. “How many times must I explain this to you: You are a princess of Korvosa! It is our duty to serve our people in whatever capacity that is needed. We need to sacrifice our wants and desires in what’s best for our city. Your siblings understand this and have found joy in their place. Why must you constantly challenge me on everything I put before you?”

“I don’t understand what you’re so afraid of!” Ecclesia protested, " How can you be so certain of what my path is if you don’t let me do anything?! Anytime I show promise in something you suddenly see doom for us all and I’m forbidden from continuing!" The tears were streaming down her face now, gliding off familiar slopes of her cheeks. “Why do you only look at me as a problem to be dealt with instead of as your daughter, like Ryah or Rem?”

The stern king’s face softened, she struck an all too familiar wound in his heart. Out of all his children, save Telus, he has been the strictest with her. But unlike his firstborn, he held her at arm’s length when it came to his affection. He told himself it was necessary to keep her from harm, to prevent a second darkness from taking hold on everything he had built and held dear. The price never got easier, and each year, each argument, each word the price grew heavier in his heart.

“You know that’s not true, Ecclesia,” he responded softly, his eyes fixed on hers. “I love you just the same as all my children. Your mother and I want only the best for you, so you don’t have to make the mistakes and sacrifices we had to make. Especially given your unique circumstances.”

There it is again, she thought, wiping the tears from her face and regaining her composure. If it’s not ‘Godsdamned’ it’s ‘unique’, and neither tell me anything… Ever since her unusually late conception and birth, her life had always been treated with a mix of malevolent omen or miraculous blessing. Her violet colored eyes a constant reminder of how different she was from the rest of her family.

“I’m tired of hearing how ‘unique’ I am!” Ecclesia said firmly, “I’m tired of all of it! What’s the point of being ‘unique’ if you won’t let me serve alongside my brother in the Bloodsworn Vale? What’s the point if you don’t let me serve the Goddess you claim to believe? What’s the point of having me—”

“Enough!” The king shouted, his weary face growing stern once more. “You’ve made your point clear. Despite what you think I can compromise. Instead of punishing you for your disobedience, I will instead confer with your mother on what path you will take. In return you will obey with what we decide without question or protest, do I make myself clear?”

“That’s hardly fa—”

“It’s the only other choice you’re being given. " Aquilos said flatly, " And it will be the last one. In the meantime you will stay in your room until we call upon you, is that clear?"

“Clear, father.” She replied, gritting her teeth. With that, she gave a small bow, turned and marched out of the study. He sighed deeply as he returned to this chair in front of the fire.

“One way or another, that girl is going to be the death of me…” he muttered.

Korvosa, 19 Rova, 4732

Aquilos had been pacing angrily in his study for several hours early that morning. His legs protested but his rage sustained him.

He had arranged for an early morning start for the celebration of Ecclesia’s birthday, but the girl was nowhere to be found on the castle grounds. The initial panic soon gave way to anger as they discovered the note she had left him in his study. Her defiant words fanning the flames of his temper as he waited impatiently from the scouts he’d sent to retrieve her.

When the report came back from Harse, it confirmed the worst case scenario: she had help and a hippogriff. Her head start meant she was beyond his reach for now. He plopped down in his chair in front of the fire, gave the order to cancel the celebration and to put out the official statement; the princess has fallen ill once more and celebrations will resume once she’s made a recovery.

That girl is going to be the death of me…he told himself, gazing once more into the embers of his fireplace.

Somewhere over the Mindspin Mountains, 19 Rova, 4732

The morning sun had just begun to peak through the storm clouds from the night before. Ecclesia held on tight to the guardswoman’s waist as they soared through the air upon the hippogriff’s back.

“Father’s probably furious with you,” Ecclesia said into her ear," I’m sorry I got you into this mess."

A wry smile flashed across Remmy’s face as she replied, " Don’t you worry about that Lea. It’s high time I returned the favor on Nox for using me as an anchor for that Erinyes general. Did I ever tell you that story?"

“Quite a few times, but it’s one of my favorites. Besides, we have some ways to go before we get to Lastwall.” Ecclesia smiled.

“Well, it all started when your dad decided to ‘do something nice for me’ after his little visit to the Grey District…”

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A Paladin's Journal, Part I
A selection from Ser Lea's journal in AR 4733

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Sandpoint, Rova 18th, AR 4733

I arrived in Sandpoint just a few hours ago. The last few days of traveling up from Magnimar have been rather uneventful, much to my dismay. I really don’t see what the fuss is over, perhaps the diviners were wrong. Perhaps they will sense this after the festival, and reassign me. For the town’s sake, I hope I’m right.

Speaking of which, this place seems rather quaint; almost like a smaller Veldraine or a larger Harse. I can’t decide which. People seem to move slower here though, none of the hustle and bustle of Magnimar or Korvosa. It’s not quite what I expected, to be honest.

I’ve met with the Sheriff, Belor I think his name was. I seemed to be taking his time as he looked over my credentials, but with all that is going on for the festival I suppose he has his hands full. He suggested I take a tour of the town and share any security concerns with him later this week before the festival when I could spare a moment. Odd sense of time, this place has.

I’ve decided to lodge here at The White Deer, which is where I’m writing this entry. The Shoanti man running the place gave me a few weird looks but was otherwise polite. Not that I’m unused to that. The room here is quite lovely, almost if it was recently renovated. He’s advised that I try his specialty tonight for supper, which after cleaning up I’ll take him up on his offer. It will be good to have a hot meal after being on the road with naught but a few rations the last few days.

All of this is very lovely, but I can’t seem to perceive any danger here. I’ve seen no bandits, no goblins, or anything out of sorts. A lot of fuss over nothing. I know it’s not becoming of a newly minted Paladin to be looking for trouble, but I didn’t become a paladin to play honor guard. I will remain vigilant though.

Before I go downstairs for supper, there’s one more item I’d like to record. I can’t stop thinking about the town’s sign. It a mirror just below the welcome sign that read “See yourself as we see you.” I stared at it for what felt like half an hour. I almost didn’t recognize myself. The young woman staring back at me looked brave and tough in her armor, with an unshakable confidence. If it weren’t for my eyes, I’d swear I was looking at hero from a bard’s tale at the beginning of her adventure. Definitely not what I expected on the eve of my 16th birthday. All of my hard work this past year is finally paying off. I’m sure nothing bad will happen to the town, at least while I’m here.

I’ll make you proud of me, Mom and Dad.

Sandpoint, Rova 19th, AR 4733

Today’s my birthday! Although no one knows who I am here. I imagine there isn’t a ceremony or party back home either. I wish I could see Mom and Auntie Laori, or Ryah and both Remmys. I guess I’m feeling a little homesick, it’s been a while since I’ve been back home. I even miss Dad and Telus a little, not that they miss me I’m sure.

I shouldn’t be so negative, especially after my morning prayers. I think I might stop by The Rusty Dragon for breakfast, I hear there’s a lot going on there. Then maybe stop by the new Cathedral. Or the Theater. Or maybe all of the above? Keeping busy is the best way of warding off bad thoughts, Laori always said.

Last night, I overheard that there’s another notable Korovsan in town as well. I’m surprised that’s news to people, but I suppose there’s not much gossip around these parts. Or maybe this person is larger than life. Still, it would be nice to reminisce about home for a bit, assuming she wouldn’t know who I really am. Maybe I’ll try to approach in private or something, that way I can make sure. Or maybe that’s too suspicious. Arg, this is why I hate noble intrigue! Even though I’m a Paladin, I can’t seem to escape Dad’s political entanglements. Especially after that near incident in Magnimar a few days back, I should be more careful. The last thing I need is Dad ransoming me out of Magnimar or worse. Perhaps I’ll ask this Ameiko person during breakfast if she knows her or where she’s staying and I can make heads or tails of it then.

I’ll pen more on this later, but for now: breakfast!

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A Paladin's Journal, Part II
A selection from Ser Lea's journal in AR 4733

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Evening: Sandpoint, 19 Rova, AR 4733

I spent the day trying to track down this famous Korvosan. What a wild goose chase that ended up being! The only compensation for the chase was finding out her name, Amelia Orisini; a name I’m quite familiar with. I don’t remember the person as much, only that she’s a tad bit older than me and would’ve spent more time with my sister Ryah. Another famous daughter of Korvosa in Sandpoint indeed. I don’t think she’s here incognito like I am, but I can’t imagine what she’d be doing here. Judging by all of the running around I had to do to find her I doubt she knows what’s she’s doing here, it’s as if her whims rule her every move! I gave up after the trail grew cold at the Pixie’s Kitten, as I was stopped by the Madame there who said she doesn’t betray the confidentiality of her patrons. As I certainly wasn’t about to pay for services just to be allowed in, I decided I would wait her out here at the Rusty Dragon.

It’s certainly more rowdy here than at the White Deer. I’ve gotten a few more odd looks here, though more of the lecherous nature. One drunken sod had the nerve to put his hands on me and loudly ask if I was an angel because “my ass had to be heavenly." Before I could retort Ameiko thankfully stepped in and gracefully advised he was barking up the wrong tree, much to his embarrassment as the rest of the establishment roared with laughter. She apologized for regular’s behavior, Belas I think she called him, as he normally not so…handsy. She paid for my meal and brought me a little dessert, saying that “I looked like I should be celebrating something today," smiled, and walked off. Either she’s a mind reader or maybe I’m not as incognito as I think I am . . .


Morning: Sandpoint, 23 Rova, AR 4733

Today’s the day of the festival! Most of the preparations and duties with Belor have been completed, so after my initial patrol he suggested I take in the festival and relax. Normally I would advise on a diligent stance, there honestly hasn’t been anything of worthwhile note to warrant any concern. I’ve given him my recommendations on the gates and the overall defensiveness of the town, but I suspect I’ve only told him something he already knows and with the absence of an impending threat, there really isn’t any cause for extra concern. This isn’t Lastwall, there are no enemies at our gates here.

With that happy thought in mind, I think I’ll try my hand at some of the games. I hear the blacksmith is offering a grand prize –a masterwork Earth Breaker! I’ve grown fond of the one I have “on loan”, but one to truly call my own is rather tempting. If the Inheritor will’s it, perhaps it will be mine when I test my strength. I can hardly hold in my excitement!

. . .

It is mine! Truly and fairly! It took a while and a few trips back, but I was able to muster enough strength and dexterity to hit the mark perfectly! There were some worthy challengers to be sure, but the Goddess was with me today so none could stand in my way! I must ask Garridan later in regards to its name, seeing as he was its previous owner. I will write more on the rest of the festivities and the strange individuals I’ve met later tonight, but first I need to finish my bowl of curry before the Temple Consecration Ceremony starts.

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Festival and Fire
Burnt Offerings, Part 1

Starday, 23 Rova, 4733

The Swallowtail Festival

The town of Sandpoint is celebrating the Swallowtail Festival, a Desnan holiday held on the Autumnal Equinox, which this year is also marking the consecration of the new Sandpoint Cathedral.

The festival draws large crowds from Sandpoint and beyond, including Amelia the bard, Astrid the fighter, Ser Lea the paladin of Iomedae, Marcus the wizard, and Zavian the cleric of Abadar.

The event is kicked off by a series of speeches. Mayor Kendra Deverin delivers a warm welcome, while the somber Sheriff Belor Hemlock calls for a moment of silence to remember those lost in the fire that claimed the old chapel. The third speaker, Lonjuku Kaijitsu, had to cancel on account of illness, but his place is taken by Cyrdak Drokkus, owner of the renowned Sandpoint Theater. After a not entirely self-serving account of how the new cathedral was funded, Cyrdak turns the stage over to Father Abstalar Zantus, who declares the festival underway.

The five adventurers cross each other’s paths as they experience the festival, trying their hand at various games. Lea, Astrid, and Marcus each try their hand at a test of strength. After multiple attempts, Lea walks away with the grand prize, a masterwork earthbreaker. Zavian pits his wits against the local sage Brodert Quink in a game of tafl, finally besting the scholar. Lea participates in the lizard races, while Zavian makes a bit of coin betting on them. Amelia breaks out her lute and strikes up a series of Desnan devotional songs, attracting a small crowd.

We Be Goblins!

As sunset approaches, the festival is crashed by dozens of goblins, which attack the attendees while singing a horrible song. The five adventurers rush forward to protect the townsfolk, defeating several waves of the green-skinned little freaks with a mix of magic and muscle. Lea is badly wounded in the fighting, but Father Zantus is able to heal her and Amelia, who was hit by flying cutlery.

The adventurers follow the sound of fighting to rescue Aldern Foxglove from a squad of goblins, including a commando mounted on a goblin dog. Foxglove promises to repay them, and chats up Amelia, who recalls him from Korvosa. At this point, it is clear that the battle is over.

The adventurers get to know each other over dinner at the Rusty Dragon, where owner Ameiko Kaijitsu offered them a week’s free room and board.

Tomb Trouble

The next day, Sheriff Belor Hemlock asks them to accompany him to investigate a vault in the local cemetery, where Father Zantus noticed a tomb door sitting half open the morning after the raid.

They find goblin tracks around the tomb, as well as the tracks of a single human-sized person. Inside, Lea steps into a skeleton ambush and is grievously hurt. The party rallies, however, and with Belor’s help are able to defeat the three skeletons. Strangely, the undead don’t appear to have been woken from the tomb’s residents, but might be connected to a robe with missing patches found discarded in the corner.

The party discovers that the bones of the old priest, Ezakien Tobyn, have been stolen from the tomb. Belor is mystified—the priest had no enemies. He perished in the Great Fire along with his adopted daughter Nualia Tobyn. Her body was lost to the fire, but the party checks to make sure her ashes are still in the tomb’s reliquary.

Local Heroes

Following that excitement, Marcus retires to the Red Dog Smithy to do more crafting, while Zavian goes down to the town hall to work with Mayor Deverin on settling disputes between residents. Over the course of the day, Zavian attracts an audience of admiring young women, but he ignores their alluring looks and focuses on business.

Lea drops her scale mail off with Marcus, then heads over to the Rovanky Tannery to talk to Larz about getting some leather armor she can wear around town. She wants it to be dyed black and red. Larz figures she’s a Korvosan, but is happy to take her business.

Astrid asks Belor to look into information about her missing brother. She also goes down to the town hall to ask the Mayor for permission to review the town records and look for clues to her brother’s whereabouts.

Amelia, meanwhile, settles in at the Rusty Dragon, where she sings her own compositions, accompanied by her lute.

The Shopkeeper’s Daughter

The following day, Marcus continues working on crafting and repairs Lea’s armor. Once he is done with his work, he takes a walk through the town. He is approached by Shayliss, the younger of local General Store owner Ven Vinder’s two daughters. She praises his bravery during the raid and asks for his help dealing with the “rats” in the General Store basement.

Unable to read Shayliss’ increasingly obvious signals, Marcus is surprised when she gets them along and starts undoing her bodice. However, after a moment’s thought, he cheerily goes along as she leads him towards the carefully prepared cot in the back. He sends his familiar, the raven Ash, to act as a lookout.

Before things can get too far below the belt, Ash squawks a warning as Ven starts to head down the stairs into the basement. Acting quickly, Marcus casts reduce person on himself and hides in a dark corner. When Ven pokes around looking for the “rat” Shayliss blurts out that she was looking for, Marcus has Ash serve as a distraction. After Ven leaves, Shayliss appears excited by Marcus’ use of magic and asks to see him again. The half-elf agrees, then makes a quick exit.

The Boar Hunt

Outside, Marcus runs into Lea and Zav. He doesn’t discuss what happened in the basement, but instead explains how happy he is to have met a group of skilled people willing to stand up themselves and defend the town. The heroes go for a meal at Risa’s Tavern, where they continue to bond and share stories.

At Risa’s, Aldern approaches them to offer his repayment for their heroism. He invites them on a boar hunt in the Tickwood, and offers to purchase horses for all of them. He is especially excited to have Amelia along. The adventurers take him up on the offer, and the following morning they head out for the hunt.

Whatever his faults, Aldern proves to be a charming conversationalist. He flirts extensively with Ashla as they go about the hunt. It takes a little while, but they manage to stir up an angry boar, which Zavian ultimately brings down with a shot from his crossbow. They haul the boar carcass back to the Rusty Dragon, where Ameiko fixes it up for a grand dinner.

Trouble at the Rusty Dragon

The dinner is interrupted by the arrival of Lonjiku, who shouts something in Minkaian and stalks through the common room, looking for someone. He ends up criticizing the adventurers for bringing trouble to the town.

Finally, Ameiko comes out to meet him, a ladle of soup in her hand. He says they are returning to their holdings in Magnimar and insists that she go with him or be disowned. She refuses, he tries to grab her, and Lea intervenes. The paladin escorts the noble out, but he calls over his shoulder “You’re as dead to me as your mother!”

Ameiko picks up her ladle, which she’d slapped her father with, and plucks a long strand of hair from it. “Looks like I need a clean ladle, because jackass stew isn’t on the menu!” This elicits a cheer from the patrons and she seems to perk up a bit, returning to the kitchen.

After this awkward sequence, Aldern says his farewells.

Monster in the Closet

While the party wraps things up, they are interrupted by a frightened woman named Amele Barett, who has her children with her. She explains that since the raid, her son insisted on sleeping with their dog Petal and kept complaining at night about a goblin in his closet. They have checked his closet several times and found nothing.

Tonight, when her son started calling out again, her husband Alergast decided they should just leave him alone to get over his fear. Then the boy’s cries turned to shrieks. When they rusted into his room, they found Petal dead and a goblin gnawing on the boys arm. Alergast flew into a rage and chase the goblin back to the closet, where it had been hiding under a loose board. Amele grabbed her children and sought out the adventurers.

The party wastes no time rushing over to the Barett residence to investigate. They find Alergast dead and his face half-eaten by a crazed goblin who leaps at them with a shiv. Astrid purees it with her double sword. They turn the scene over to Sheriff Belor, while Zavian comforts the family. Amele is distraught that the party wasn’t able to save her husband, which sets off Marcus. Lea escorts him outside.

The half-elf wizard sends Ash out to find Shalelu, an elven ranger who patrols the wilds around Sandpoint and is known for her hatred of goblins. The raven reports back that Shalelu has just arrived in town and was meeting with the Mayor. They arrange to see her in the morning.

Grim News from Mosswood

The adventurers arrive at the town hall first thing in the morning, where they meet with Sheriff Belor Hemlock, Mayor Kendra Deverin, and Shalelu. The elven ranger explains that there are five goblin tribes in the Sandpoint area, which normally keep each other in check with constant tribal warfare. But goblin attacks have been rising in recent weeks.

Shalelu intervened to save a farmstead from an attack by a band of Mosswood goblins and learned they were involved in the raid on Sandpoint. In fact, inspecting the bodies recovered from the raid, Shalelu has determined that all five tribes were involved in the attack. That kind of coordination suggests there is some more powerful being that has managed to earn the following of all the goblin tribes—which is bad news for Sandpoint.

Belor says he is going to request that Magnimar send a contingent of soldiers to strengthen the town’s defenses. Unfortunately, with the city officials distracted by the rivalry with Korvosa and other issues, he will have to make the request in person in order to make sure it is acted on promptly.

While he is gone, the sheriff asks the adventurers to stay in town, patrol the streets and maintain a public presence in order to alleviate concerns. He has asked Shalelu to sniff around the local goblin territories to see if she can get any more information on what is happening.

After the meeting, the party sits down to breakfast with Shalelu at the Rusty Dragon. The elf shares more insights into goblins. She explains that goblins hate and fear dogs, and they love to sing. They are spectacularly stupid creatures, but vicious and numerous.

There are five goblin tribes in the area. The Birdcruncher goblins are the closest to Sandpoint, but the least aggressive. The Seven Tooth goblins are known to raid the town’s junkyard beach for supplies. The Licktoad goblins dwell in the Brinestump swamp south of town. The Mosswood goblins are the largest tribe, but are hampered by infighting. The Thistletop goblins dwell on a small island near the Nettlewood north of town.

There are only a few local goblins that have lived long enough to get a reputation as “heroes.” they include Big Gugmut, a large Mosswood goblin said to have hobgoblin blood in him; Koruvus, a Seven Tooth champion with a magic sword who went missing a few months ago; Vorka, a notorious cannibal that preys on Licktoad goblins, Rendwattle Gutwad, the obese chief of the Mosswood tribe, and Ripnugget, chief of the Thistletop goblins.

Shalelu also mentions Bruthazmus, a notorious bugbear raider with a deep hatred of elves. Shalelu has traded arrows with him, but neither has gotten the upper hand.

After the meal, the elf ranger catches up with her good friend Ameiko, then makes some purchases before heading out of town.

Zavian makes his way to the Cathedral, where he works with Father Zantus and several other clerics to properly consecrate the new religious center. Lea, meanwhile, makes a couple of patrols, then hangs out with Ameiko to commiserate over their family situations.

The Missing Bartender

The following morning, the adventurers are awoken early by Bethana, the Rusty Dragon’s halfling maid, who explains that Ameiko is missing! Bethana found a crumpled note in her room, written in Minkaian. Having picked up some of the language from her employer, she translated the note for the party.

It is from Tsuto, Ameiko’s estranged half-elf brother, who left town five years ago after accusing Lonjiku of killing his mother. The letter warns that Lonjiku had a role in the goblin raid and asks Ameiko to meet up with Tsuto at the Glassworks so they can figure out to find a way to keep Lonjiku from evading justice. Bethana has a low opinion of Tsuto and is worried that something has happened to Ameiko. She urges the party to go to the Glassworks and find out what happened.

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A Paladin's Journal, Part III
A selection from Ser Lea's journal in AR 4733

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Sandpoint, 24 Rova, AR 4733

I struggle to write these words. What has taken place…I cannot fully express the frustration at my own folly and hubris. I wrongfully judged the danger present here in Sandpoint, and in my blindness a horrible goblin menace was allowed in to crash the festivities. We managed to push the vile little beasts back and caused a rout, but not without our own casualties. Many innocent lives were lost yesterday, and we are all still reeling from the loss.
What I struggle with most about what happened is…myself. Rather, my inability to aid those who were in need of saving. So foolish I was, that before I knew it I was among those needing rescuing. I am supposed to be a Paladin of the Inheritor! Not some Princ well, okay, technically I am but what I mean is damsel; I’m not some damsel in distress needing anyone to save me. But saved I was, by an angelic stranger who happened to be fighting nearby. As if by fate that night, three others joined us in the fight. Strangely enough, the other three appeared to be half-elves. We fated few gathered our strength and continued to push back against the raid, but there were far too few of us to save everyone unfortunately.

I must returned to my studies. Chammady always said that when I am troubled, to turn to the Goddess’ words, to The Acts, for guidance.


Sandpoint, 27 Rova, AR 4733

The last few days have been troubling indeed. I am humbled to say I am beginning to see the wisdom of the Sword Knights in sending me here as there is much to be done in here in Varisia after all. Upon my honor, I will get to the bottom of this nefarious plot. Graciously, I won’t be alone in this task, as I will be accompanied by the others who aided me during the goblin raid a few nights ago. Now that I’ve gotten to meet them properly, I think I have a pretty good impression of them:

  • Zavian: What the aasimar lacks in conversation, he makes up for in his staunch, unending devotion to law and order. I can definitely learn much from someone so gifted and versed in Abadar’s word. If only he’d be so inclined to share his knowledge, he always seems to be buried in a book when not investigating with us…
  • Astrid: Incredibly modest and friendly for a half-elf. There’s a sense of wonder in her eyes that simply is otherworldly. Her innocent and cheerful demeanor seem out of place in our line of work, but when her blades come out I would be remiss if I discounted them. She’s a far more capable fighter than I am, and I thank the goddess she’s working with us. I hope we can help her find what she’s looking for.
  • Marcus: If Astrid is a glowing exception to the stereotypes of half-elves and Elves, Marcus is certainly an irksome reminder of how they truly are most of the time. He’s haughty, rude and so dismissive of my views on things! At least his heart is in the right place, however bad he is at expressing himself. I like his Raven, Ash, far better than I like him.
  • Amelia: Many of the wild rumors and stories from court about her are certainly true. Trying to follow her steps is quite exhausting, but somehow fun all the same. I had a near outing with her, but after talking with her privately she agreed to keep my little ‘royal’ secret for now. It’s so good to have a fellow countrywoman accompany me on this quest, I feel less homesick every minute we chat.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our new accommodations provider, Ameiko. She’s been so gracious at letting us stay at the Rusty Dragon that I feel a little guilty in receiving such grand hospitality for nothing in return. She’s been a great source of advice and joy these past few days, and so very witty and charming. Spending my off time with her has helped me keep focus on the important work we’re doing here in Sandpoint.

Speaking of which, Astrid just stopped by to let me know that the boar that we brought Ameiko is ready downstairs for us. Gotta run!

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Murder at the Glassworks
Burnt Offerings, Part 2

Fireday, 29 Rova, 4733

The Missing Bartender

The Rusty Dragon’s halfling maid Bethana Corwin contacted the adventurers to tell them that Ameiko Kaijitsu has gone missing. The bartender left the Rusty Dragon the night before for a secret meeting with her estranged half-brother Tsuto at the family’s Glassworks.

As a chill fall dawn breaks over Sandpoint, the party hustles out to investigate the Glassworks. The town is still waking up, with Gorvi and his streetsweepers still tidying up the previous day’s mess. The half-orc garbage man leers at the female adventurers as they pass by.

The windows of the Glassworks are shrouded with dark curtains and the doors are locked, but the furnaces continue to billow out thick black smoke. Amelia tries knocking on the front door, while Marcus circles around back to the loading doors where Ameiko was supposed to meet her brother.

Zavian asks on of the streetsweeps for information. He talks to a fellow in ratty hat who heard a woman’s scream at the Glassworks the night before. The vagrant notes that the place has been closed up for a few days, and figures that Lonjiku Kaijitsy and staff are working on a big project that needs privacy.

Marcus goes to loading entrance that Ameiko used and sees footprints going in but not coming out. He breaks a window and climbs in.

At the front door, no one answers Amelia’s knock. Astrid considers climbing the building. Lea pounds on the door and demands they open. There is no response. A crowd starts to gather as Lea begins hammering on the door while Zavian writes up a search warrant. Amelia hypnotizes the onlookers into leaving.

In the back of the building, Marcus finds bloody footprints leading downstairs. He finds smashes glass on the floor and sees movement in the forge room. A safe in back sits open and empty. Marcus casts a spell to shrink himself down so he can creep up to the forge room.

In front, Lea finally batters down the door and the party enters. No one answers their calls, but they hear noise coming from the forge room.

Goblins and Glass

The forge room is a hideous spectacle, littered with partially dismembered bodies, many of them half-cover in melted glass. In one corner sits a figure completely encased in glass.

Nine goblins putter around the room, playing with body parts and molten glass, or just smashing things in an idle, bored fashion. The noisy rumble of the furnace masks the sound of the main party forming up at the from entrance, while Marcus slips in the back.

The wizard is the first to act, dropping three of the goblins with color spray. The rest of the adventurers charge into the room after being blessed by Zavian. Amelia quickly charms a goblin into turning on its fellows, while Lea smites the most likely leader.

The goblins respond by throwing broken glass at Zavian and going after the adventurers with hot tongs dripping with molten glass. Lea avoids being burned, but Zavian gets scalded.

But the disorganized goblins prove no match for the adventurers, who take four of them captive (against Zavian’s wishes). Once the little monsters are bound and gagged, they investigate the glass-covered corpse in the chair. It is Lonjiku Kaijitsu. Inspection of the remains shows that he was stabbed to death, then posed on the chair and encased in molten glass. The other bodies in the chamber prove to be all that is left of the Glassworks’ staff.

Ambush Below the Earth

After this grisly discovery, the party redoubles their efforts to find the missing Ameiko. They follow the bloody footprints Marcus discovered down into the basement of the Glassworks. Almost immediately, they come across a walled in area that has been smashed open. Beyond, they find a small, dusty office in which someone has been sleeping for several days. Beside the office is a door that leads to a long, winding tunnel.

Figuring that is where the goblins came from, the party holds off investigating it further until they can inspect the rest of the basement. After they have rounded a corner, they are ambushed by a hidden band of goblins and their leader, Tsuto Kaijitsu. Goblin arrows nearly fell Amelia and Zavian is likewise dealt a solid blow.

In the ensuing fight, Tsuto nearly kicks Astrid’s head in but is thrown off at the last second. In a similar twist of fate, Marcus tries to bringdown Tsuto and his goblins with color spray, but they manage to resist the spell’s supernatural effects only to be nauseated by its undulating colors. Tsuto attempts an escape, but Zavian and Astrid give chase, with the fighter leaving him bleeding on the ground. Zavian grudgingly agrees to stabilize him and the renegade half-elf is chained up in the old office.

Tsuto’s Journal

Rifling through Tsuto’s possessions, the party comes across his journal. In it, Tsuto discusses the success of the raid, which was merely a distraction so that the bones of Ezakien Tobyn could be retrieved from the graveyard. The journal notes that a “real raid” will be happening as soon as Tsuto’s lover is able to release something called Malfeshnekor. The journal mentions two other conspirators, the goblin chief Ripnugget and the bugbear Bruthazmus.

Marcus quickly recognizes the woman in Tsuto’s drawings as Nualia, Ezakien’s adopted aasimar daughter who was thought to have died with him in the fire five years ago. Not only did she survive, but she appears to have become a Lamashtu cultist obsessed with removing her celestial “taint.”

The rest of the journal is devoted to plans of attack on Sandpoint and erotic drawings of Nualia that leave Lea blushing.

Rescuing Ameiko

After stowing away the prisoner and securing his journal, the party then tracks down the room where a badly wounded Ameiko is being held. They revive her and help her out of the building, informing her of her father’s fate. Lea and Zavian take Ameiko to the Cathedral for additional care, while the others carry Tsuto to the Sandpoint Garrison.

On his way out, Zavian puts down the captive goblins, saving his golden bolt for another day.

At the Garrison, Marcus, Astrid, and Amelia nonchalantly drop off the half-elf, reeling off his list of crimes to a flabbergasted Constable Wallas. The prisoner is quickly taken into custody and Wallas frets over the danger to Sandpoint and the paperwork he will have to do to process the case.

At the Cathedral, Father Zantus provides Ameiko further healing, though she refuses to accept more than one curative spell. Zantus, meanwhile, turns down Lea’s offer to pay for his services.

Ameiko explains that her brother helped the goblins get into Sandpoint. He said that he was working with a group of mercenaries out at Thistletop and that they had something big planned for Sandpoint. He told her she should skip town and then tried to get her to join him. That was when she hit him, at which point he called in his goblins and they beat the crap out of her.

While Zavian prepares for Alergast Barett’s funeral later that day, Lea escorts Ameiko back to the Rusty Dragon. The bartender promises them free room and board for the rest of their lives.

Over the next few days, Lea is never far from Ameiko’s side. The whole town comes together to wish her well. Meanwhile, Marcus uses the metal from the goblin dogslicers to craft a collection of maces that he sells to the townsfolk. He is approached by Shayliss, who wants to arrange another tryst. He invites her to dinner that night at the Rusty Dragon.

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A Paladin's Journal, Part IV
A selection from Ser Lea's journal in AR 4733

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Sandpoint, 30 Rova, AR 4733

If the previous days have been any indication, the days of peace and relative quiet for this town have ended. This is especially true for my dear friend Ameiko, her father murdered by her brother. Lonjiku wasn’t a good man, that anyone could see, but he didn’t deserve to die. Nor did Ameiko deserved the harm she receive at the hands of her brother and his goblins. I just thank the Gods we arrived in time. Never before had I had such righteous anger flow through me as we battled against Tsuto and his goblins. Although it made my heart sink to see Ameiko in such a state, it felt good to rescue someone on time, and to bring those who committed such evils to justice that day.

And now, at last we have a solid lead on our masterminds for the current troubles. It seems for the moment we can rest a bit easier knowing we’ll be on the offensive against this Nualia. Perhaps we can make this town safe again.

I must cut this short, however, as I am needed by Ameiko’s side. Her whole world changed these past few days, and she’s going to need time to process all that’s happened. For all that she’s done for me, I have to be there for her in time of need now.

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What Lies Beneath
Burnt Offerings, Part 3

Downtime

After selling weapons in the market square, Marcus meets with Shayliss at the Rusty Dragon for their date. The shopkeeper’s daughter is more concerned with completing their tryst than with making small talk, which suits Marcus just fine.

Amelia finally connects with Cyrdak, the director of the Sandpoint Theater. He is very excited to get her on stage to do a performance honoring the party’s role in repelling the goblin raiders. Cyrdak apologetically explains that he’d put off her audition so as not to offend the Magnimarian diva Avishandra, who didn’t want to be upstaged by a local hero’s 15 minutes of fame.

Although Lea has been doing her best to keep Ameiko’s spirits up after her kidnapping and the loss of her father, the young paladin finds herself feeling glum as 6 Lamashan rolls around. In Korvosa and Lastwall, Ascendance Day is commemorated with public plays, tests of body and mind, and other grand spectacles. In Sandpoint, however, the celebration amounts to little more than a quick toast to the goddess.

Zavian, having finished officiating a long string of funerals, gathers the adventurers together to question Tsuto Kaijitsu. Marcus begs off, insisting that he has work to do, though the others suspect his evening with Shayliss—who has yet to be seen leaving his room—might also be a factor.

Pleas and Bargains

At the Sandpoint Garrison, Constable Wallas explains that the Watch has not been able to get Tsuto to talk. He says they have sent word to Magnimar and expect a ship any day now to take the half-elf down to the city to stand trial before the Justice Court.

Wallas takes the party down into the garrison’s jail, which is overseen by a Shoanti man named Vachedi. He leaves them with Tsuto, who is seated cross-legged on his jail cot. The half-elf ignores their initial attempts to get his attention.

Lea and Zavian get a good cop, bad cop routine going in their efforts to get him to cooperate in exchange for a plea deal. Tsuto doubts their ability to hold up their bargain, and points out that even if he dies, Nualia will bring him back after she razes the town.

The adventurers find that his concern for Nualia is the best button to push. Drawing on the information in Tsuto’s journal, they convince him that if her plan to purge herself of her “celestial taint” is successful, it will mean the end of the woman he loves. Tsuto admits his fears about Nualia’s worship of Lamashtu and his belief that she may not be in full possession of her faculties.

He offers to provide information in exchange for their solemn oath, in writing, that no permanent harm come to Nualia. He also wants her to avoid prison time and suggests sending her to a sanitarium outside of town. Lea speculates that Nualia could be a victim of magical influence, like the former Queen Ileosa.

With the deal struck, Tsuto provides information on recent events and Nualia’s future plans:

  • He blackmailed his father into leaving the north gate open before the raid. Lonjiku had been renting the Glassworks’ furnaces to the Sczarni so they could dispose of bodies, which Tsuto threatened to expose.
  • The goblins in the Glassworks entered through an old smugglers’ tunnel that runs from a sea cave up into the building.
  • The tunnel also connects with some ruins underground overseen by a quasit demon. Tsuto says the quasit inducted Nualia into Lamashtu’s priesthood and blames the demon for sending Nualia down this path. The quasit has the ability to create hideous monsters, several of which dwell below with it.
  • Nualia is camped out at Thistletop, a small goblin infested island north of town, along with three other mercenaries: the bugbear Bruthazmus, a merc from Riddleport named Orik Vancaskerkin, and a wizard named Lyrie Akenja who knows about the island’s ruins.
  • Thistletop sits just off the coast from the Nettlewood. The goblins have a nest in the nettles on shore, and have built a fort on the island, which is accessible via a trapped bridge. There are ruins beneath the fort, which is where Nualia is camped out, trying to find a way to release a creature called Malfeshnekor.

Mercenary Business

As the party concludes their interrogation, a flustered Wallas lets a stern, muscular woman with raven-black hair and gilded armor into the dungeon. She introduces herself as Viorian Dekanti, Captain of the Black Talon mercenary company. She has been sent by Justice Ironbriar to escort Tsuto down to Magnimar to face trial.

The adventurers are surprised to see a mercenary carrying out this work, but Viorian claims to have done it before. Zavian provides her with the plea bargain he arranged with the half-elf, while Lea asks that he be treated well on the journey. Viorian makes it clear that good treatment isn’t free and the paladin grudgingly pays her to cover the “expense.” As he is hauled off, Tsuto insists that they stick by their agreement and not harm Nualia.

Secrets in the Dark

The party explores the tunnel beneath the Glassworks, which winds for over a thousand feet before reaching a sea cave. There are two other tunnels accessible from the cave, one of which appears to have been bricked over and then smashed open recently. The adventurers decide to investigate that tunnel first.

Not too far down, they spy something lurking in the darkness on a side tunnel. Zavian takes point and is attacked by a strange creature armed with a ranseur. Amelia uses ghost sound to throw it off balance.The creature manages to bite Zavian, but the cleric is able maneuver it into being flanked by him and Lea. The party pummels the creature until it goes down.

Searching the room, they find evidence that the monster was not alone.

Beyond the cave where the thing was lurking, they find walls of finished stone, apparently ancient ruins beneath the earth. They press deeper into the compound, finding a room with smashed grain jars. They enter a chamber with a red marble statue of a beautiful but furious-looking woman holding a gilded ranseur. Lea smashes the weapon loose so that Marcus can claim it. Zavian senses the way up and then they press deeper, coming upon a altar of Lamashtu.

The paladin and the cleric smash it, their blows ringing out down the tunnels. Marcus reduces his size to try to hide. The noise attracts the attention of an man-sized mutated goblin, who spouts threats and insults at them, taking so long that the party is able to ready for battle.

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Catacombs of Wrath
Burnt Offerings, Part 4

Fireday, 6 Lamashan, 4733

Having created an enormous racket thanks to Lea and Zavian’s efforts to destroy the altar to Lamashtu in the catacombs beneath Sandpoint, the party has attracted unwanted attention.

The goblin hero Koruvus, mutated into a three-armed, man-sized freak wielding what appears to be a magic sword, confronts them over their desecration of the shrine. He is joined by two more of the pale-skinned monstrosities the party fought before.

Lea charges the goblin head on with her earthbreaker. He replies by spitting a stream of acid onto her and Zavian. Meanwhile, his two companions flank Astrid. The rest of the party moves to her defense. Astrid manages to stab one of the creatures in the brain, but her sword catches in its skull, leaving her vulnerable to counterattack.

Another of the pale monsters, this one carrying a ranseur, bursts through the doors at the opposite end of the room. It charges towards the cluster of adventurers, but slips on the waters of Lamashtu that spilled forth from the broken altar.

Lea bashes in the head of Koruvus, while Amelia tricks the new creature into not attacking her.

Lea shakes off a hostile spell. The spell is followed up by another, a ray fired by a quasit. The creature then flits into the adjacent room, hovering over a glowing well, and spills some blood in it, summoning two more pale-skinned monsters, which diminishes the glow.

As the party finishes off the remaining enemies in the shrine, the two new creatures move up to guard the door to their chamber. Marcus, his spirit inflamed by a bite from one of the monsters, punches one in the face telekinetically. Then Astrid runs up the length of its ranseur and stabs it in the brain

As the party closes in on the other creature, the quasit summons a dretch demon. That fiend calls forth a stinking cloud that disrupts the party’s actions and nauseates Marcus.

The adventurers rush out of the cloud. Zavian and Astrid attack the remaining pale monster, while Marcus rushes out to steady himself on the wall and Lea goes after the dretch.

The quasit tries to charm Astrid, but Amelia countersongs her attempt. Lea and the dretch face off.

The remaining pale creature is taken down and Zavian flanks the dretch with Lea, but the cleric has trouble damaging it. Marcus examines the wall, finding a crack.

The dretch badly wounds Lea. The paladin calls on her goddess for strength, then strikes back against the demon, hammering it into submission.

Marcus leverages the wall into collapsing, creating a path into the room around the cloud. The quasit finally compels Astrid to flee in terror.

The party tries to identify where the invisible fiend is lurking. The quasit reappears near Lea, cutting her with a returning dagger. The paladin takes a running jump at the demon, but loses her grip on the earthbreaker and faceplants on the ground. Zavian tries to hit the creature with his crossbow but misses.

The creature descends to hit Lea with a touch spell. The paladin resists it and grapples her. The quasit struggles free and rises up into the air. Zavian summons an eagle, which locks itself in battle with the quasit, tearing at it with beak and claw. Lea rises to her feet, climbs up onto the dais, and leaps at the demon again with her sword, finally cutting it down.

The party regroups and loots the bodies, finding an enchanted morningstar on Koruvus and a tiny dagger on the quasit. Marcus feels the ranseur tugging him towards the triangular well.

The paladin and the cleric can’t identify it, other than to confirm it has nothing to do with the faith of Lamashtu. Marcus decides to thrust his ranseur into the well, and is struck with a series of visions.

He sees the well sitting dark an empty, as if for a long time. Then, suddenly, it flares to life, the glowing orange liquid bubbling up out of nowhere in a flare of orange light. The vision follows the light as it ripples up and out of the catacombs and spreading across Sandpoint. The light gradually fades as it spreads, dying out just beyond the town boundaries. But three small lights linger behind like embers—one on Chopper’s Isle, one at the old chapel, and one at Kaijitsu Manor.

Marcus then sees a flash of images of violence and pain. The Chopper’s victims, including Das Korvus’ wife and child, being cut down and mutilated. A door being wedged shut, a fire being kindled. A gruesome shrine to some bird-like monster. Angry shouts in a foreign tongue. Someone being thrown from a cliff in the dark. A woman crying out in labor. A monstrous stillborn child being swaddled up and hustled away. The well sitting dark and empty once again for long months.

Then Marcus sees goblins charging through the streets of Sandpoint on the Swallowtail Festival. He sees himself and his companions cutting down the goblins. For each that perishes, the well glows brighter with orange light. He then sees blood falling into the orange liquid, and sees another of the pale creatures rise out of the well, as the orange glow diminishes significantly.

At this point, Marcus is able to remove the ranseur from the well. He tells the others of what he saw and they debate what to do. the discuss the possibility of spilling blood into the well to summon more of the creatures, kill them, and drain down its power. But Lea is concerned that the well could be recharged again until the party defeats Nualia and the goblins. Marcus suggests that they consult with the local sage, Brodert Quink. First though, they must finish exploring the complex.

They discover an ancient prison and put down the remaining, zombified captives. Astrid discovers evidence that the prison was visited more recently—the black leather quiver of an elven warrior of Isandria, with the name “Dace” scribed on it in silver elven runes.

The adventurers find signs that the complex was the also site of some sort of grotesque experiments on the prisoners. They come across a meditation chamber under a permanent levitation spell. They retrieve a mostly-full bottle of Magnimarian wine, a wand of shocking grasp, a scroll, and a book of Lamashtu written in Abyssal. They also find a stairwell leading down. The stairs seem to be solidly blocked by rubble, which is good because strange sounds and a creepy vibe emanate from below.

The final area they investigate is a tunnel leading up, which passes through a small chamber with a large basin of water ringed with skulls. Zavian and Lea believe it to be a washing well of the kind used by various temples to cleanse petitioners before they enter a sacred space. Cautious, they send Lea to investigate.

As the young paladin approaches the basin, a grotesque floating head rises up from the well and opens a mouth full of fangs and lets out a terrifying shriek. Amelia freezes, paralyzed by the sound, but the others are able to keep the blood from freezing in their veins. Marcus lunges at the creature with his gilded ranseur, but the polearm slips from his hand and flies into the basin. The water begins to boil. The adventurers manage to cut down the head before it can do more than bite.

Lea then sloshes into the basin to retrieve the ranseur. As she touches it, a wave of intense, directionless wrath washes over her. Suddenly, she sees a room, somewhere else in the complex, back when it was still new. The building is shaking with tremors that send dust sprinkling down from the ceiling. Humans in long red robes, with their hair bound up in elaborate headdresses rush back and forth, manipulating glowing runes that ripple and shift on the walls.

The humans are tall, fair, with dark hair, high cheekbones, and violet eyes. They rush about with an air of desperation, while an illusory head, many times larger than life, floats over them barking orders in a strange tongue. It is the same woman who was portrayed in the red marble statue, now alive and furious. She shouts some final command and then vanishes. The humans gather together, performing some strange ritual. Then the walls ripple with fiery energy, which surges upwards, leaving a darkened facility behind, which begins to collapse.

While Lea is stricken with her vision, the ranseur glows with fiery orange energy, which lances up into the ceiling in a terrible flash, boring a hole straight up into daylight. All of the water in the basin boils away, leaving only the steam, and the polished skull of the monster. The ranseur is cold to the touch.

After discerning that the stairs leading up are also blocked by rubble, the adventurers double back to reemerge in the Glassworks. Lea returns to the Rusty Dragon to change, while the others head to the White Deer for lunch.

At the Rusty Dragon, Ameiko throws a surprise party for Lea to celebrate Ascendance Day. The Minkaian bard acts out a morality play of Iomedae’s Eighth Act, playing the Inheritor while using an illusion to create the graveknight that she talks into falling onto its own swords. As feats of physical and mental prowess, she arranges an arm wrestling and riddle contest. Lea manages to overcome both and is awarded a fine white cloak, the traditional victor’s prize. Ameiko explains that she saw how glum the paladin looked that morning over the lack of celebration and after everything Lea had done for her, she wanted to give back.

After the party, Lea reunites with the others and they go pay a visit to Brodert Quink’s house, an old building located as close to the looming ruin of Old Light as possible.

That night, Lea summons the rest of the party to her room, where she reveals her heritage as Princess Ecclesia Ionomia of the Houses of Kroft and Nox. Marcus is skeptical of the hidden princess until Amelia vouches for her. The party agrees to keep her secret, which could become inconvenient if known in Magnimar.

Lea then goes to confide the truth in Ameiko, who says that she has known all along. As a well-informed innkeeper and a noble, she’d already heard a great deal about the runaway paladin princess with the strange eyes and had quickly put two and two together.

The following day, the party makes purchases and prepares for the expedition to Thistletop.

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Attack on Thistletop
Burnt Offerings, Part 5

Fireday, 6 Lamashan – Oathday, 12 Lamashan, 4733

After their adventure in the catacombs below Sandpoint, the adventurers prepare to launch an all out attack on Thistletop. They commission Das Korvut to prepare some of his finest armor and make other purchases in town. During their preparations, the annual harvest festival takes place. Amelia buys a set of wooden puppets during the celebration, while Astrid participates in the festivities. Lea patrols the streets, noting that even during the party there is a sense of unease lingering over the city. Residents are quietly fortifying their houses, and people check their surroundings every time a dog barks. Marcus’ arms business is booming, and he hires on a young dwarven warrior named Duli to help guard his cart. Practicing the ranseur with Astrid, Marcus turns his old quarterstaff over to Shayliss to serve as protection while he’s out of town. Despite the heightened sense of alert, there is little call for Zavian’s clerical services that week.

As they are making final preparations for departure, Shalelu returns to the town and quickly makes a beeline for the Rusty Dragon, where she has a long private chat with Ameiko. Afterwards, the elven ranger thanks the adventurers for rescuing her friend and thwarting the evil that lurked within the town walls. Shalelu describes her own findings out in the wilderness: the planned attack on Sandpoint will include not only the five local tribes, but even goblins as far away as the Fogscar Mountains.

She’s learned that the ringleaders are based on Thistletop and she had returned to alert the party and seek their aid in tracking down a goblin with information on the island fort, it seems the party is far ahead of her on that score. The elf offers to either accompany them on the attack, or stay behind to keep a watchful eye on town. The adventurers ultimately invite her to join them, recognizing that they will need a tracker to guide them through the Nettlewood to Thistletop.

Fireday, 13 Lamashan, 4733

They take their horses and Marcus’ wagon north along the Lost Coast Way. They chat with Shalelu a bit about city vs. country life, in which she and Zavian disagree. Shalelu explains that while she patrols around the Sandpoint area and considers it the closest thing to home these days, she ranges much farther across Varisia, including to her hometown of Crying Leaf in the Mierani Forest. Lea asks if she visits Korvosan territory, but she says she avoids it so as not to cross the Shoanti.

As they proceed north, Shalelu points out the paupers’ graves, a site that tends to attract ghouls. When Lea asks how to prevent this, she explains that the ground not only needs to be hallowed, but also regularly guarded.

Attack_on_Thistletop_01_-_Riding_to_Nettlewood.jpg

They arrive at the Nettlewood, which is tangled with briars. They leave the wagon and the horses with Duli and enter on foot. Shalelu leads them through the forest, searching for goblin footpaths, a process that takes several hours. Zavian and Lea stumble into a goblinberry bush, but suffer no ill-effects beyond some aches in their joints. The elf finally leads them to a goblin nest inside a huge thicket of briars that rise to treetop height.

The party discusses whether to approach the fort on Thistletop via the bridge on the other side of the nest, or by sailing out to the island. The decide to clear out the goblin warren first and then investigate the sea approach.

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The goblin tunnels through the wood are low and narrow, forcing them to move stooped over. Shalelu is especially unhappy with this and looks distinctly uncomfortable and unsettle to be in such a confined space. They hear a strange, booming call echoing through the briars to their right, which the elf ranger identifies as a bunyip, a monster that’s sort of a combination of shark and seal. To their left, they can hear the sound of a large group of goblins talking and arguing.

The adventurers decide to draw the goblins towards the sound of the bunyip by using Amelia’s ghost sound spell to mimic dog barks. The trick works and the goblins rush past, intent on defeating the dogs to prove their worth to Chief Ripnugget. While Astrid keeps watch, the party investigates the goblins’ nesting area, finding little of interest.

Astrid, meanwhile, sees the goblins fan out searching for the dogs. Several goblins go off to fetch their own goblin dogs. The adventurers gather together to try to lure the goblins into a trap, but they make too much noise getting into position. As the goblins turn towards the sound of intruders, Astrid finds herself hiding alone in the shadows amongst a gaggle of goblins. Zavian steps forward to begin preaching the word of Abadar, enthralling most of the little monsters, though several resist the distraction and heckle him back that they prefer Nualia’s sermons.

The arrival of the goblin druid Gogmurt, however, complicates everything. He commands the briars to entangle the party, leaving the majority of them bunched up at the entrance to the chamber while Astrid and Lea stand out in the open. The entanglement also distracts Zavian from his preaching, breaking his enthrall spell.

Lea, recognizing that Gogmurt and the other goblins are from different tribes, sows enough dissension that the druid walks off in a huff, leaving the fight to the dozen goblin warriors. Most of them charge the paladin, while several goblin dog riders attempt to push Astrid into the hole.

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Shalelu thins the goblins’ numbers with her arrows, taking some pressure off of Lea. Zavian and Marcus, still hunched over to present a lower profile to goblin arrows, move forward to assist the paladin with morningstar and ranseur. Astrid, meanwhile, successfully resists the attempts to throw her in the hole, and instead it is one of the goblin dog riders who takes the tumble. Amelia attempts to put a band of goblins to sleep, but only manages to knock out a single rider.

One hammer fall at a time, Lea clears away the remaining goblins around her, calling up the Inheritor’s grace to sustain her from their dogslicers. As the threat of goblin arrows diminishes, Zavian and Marcus rise to their full height to finish off their foe. While the party mops up stragglers, Lea goes dashing after a riderless goblin dog, bringing it down with a well-thrown dagger.

However, the isolated paladin is vulnerable to ambush by Gogmurt. The druid’s firepelt cougar temperamentally refuses to assist, but even so the goblin is able to sear Lea badly with a burning scimitar. Zavian rushes to her aid, while Shaelu takes up a position with her bow. Wounded, Gogmurt attempts to retreat but is cut off. Near-death, the goblin druid begs for mercy.

The adventurers drag him back over to the howling hole, where he blurts out information on the political situation in the Thistletop goblin trip. Once a top adviser to Warchief Ripnugget, Gogmurt was pushed aside when the chieftain made an alliance with Nualia against the druid’s advice. Gogmurt believes that Ripnugget has become infatuated with Nualia, despite the fact that Gogmurt has seen the aasimar and Tsuto “going at it like donkey rats” in the Nettlewood.

Gogmurt also describes the three others Nualia brought to Thistletop—the bugbear Bruthazmus, a human man dressed in metal, and an angry dark-skinned woman who burns goblins that get in her way. Gogmurt asks the heroes to get rid of these interlopers. If they do, he can promise that his tribe will never bother Sandpoint again. The adventurers consider this offer, but Shalelu warns that goblins simply lack the attention spn to keep any promise they make.

The party then questions Gogmurt about the fort itself. The only entrance the goblins use is the bridge, which is trapped if more than three longshanks cross it at a time. The trap can be disabled at the opposite end of the bridge. However, Ripnugget has been warned that adventurers are in the area, and his guards aren’t likely to let anyone cross the bridge. The party decides to force Gogmurt to cross the bridge and disable the trap, threatening that Shalelu will shoot him if he tries anything funny. The goblin reluctantly moves out onto the bridge, where he is spotted by goblin lookouts and killed in a hail of arrows. The lookouts cheer at their victory.

With the sun starting to sink low on the horizon, the adventurers then work up a different plan. Shalelu will harry the goblins at the bridge entrance to keep them distracted. The party will set up a fake campsite in the hopes that this plus Shalelu will lure the goblins out for an attack. Meanwhile, the rest of the party will head down to the beach to summon up a swan boat and then circle around to the back of the island. There, Amelia will scale the cliffs and attack a grappling hook the rest of the party can use.

It is night by the time the adventurers reach the top of the island, the darkest helping to obscure their approach. They send Ash to inform Shalelu of their success and ask her to step up her attack in order to keep the goblins distracted. The elf ranger does so, and the party makes their way over the stockade wall into the fort’s courtyard. They kill some sleeping goblin dogs. They also find a strange outbuilding with a battered door the goblins appear to have hastily nailed shut. The two dead goblins lying in front, their heads crushed in, suggest that whatever is beyond the door is something the goblins don’t want to get out. They decide to leave the building alone for now.

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The party cautiously enters the wooden building to the north of the courtyard. Inside, they find an empty meeting room and what appears to be a latrine. Zavian recognizes that it isn’t up to code and couldn’t possibly function as a latrine for long. Investigating, Amelia and Astrid find a secret door that reveals a treasure chest with a huge padlock. Amelia disables a nasty trap on the chest and picks the lock. Inside they find a small treasure trove in goods and gear.

The last door they investigate is a set of stone stairs leading down into the dark. The adventurers decide to press deeper into the ruins below, where they expect to find Nualia and her followers.

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