Rise of the Runelords

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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