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.