Rise of the Runelords

The Hungry Dead

The Spires of Xin-Shalast, Part 8

Toilday, 3 Erastus, 4734

As the party finishes cleaning up the Moon Temple of Desna, Zavian admits that he wants to try to pick things back up with Nualia once the Karzoug business is done with. She’s amenable to this, and wants to get an early start to it. Zavian uses stone shape to give them some privacy in an adjoining chamber, but their loud noises still carry through.

As she beds down, Amelia is visited by her wooden Daelyn doll, which has been animated. The doll explains that Daelyn can speak to her for only one minute a day. After ascertaining that Amelia is okay, the doll tells her that when she finds the ship, she should pull the dagger out of the figurehead. It is useful against constructs. After some prodding, the doll admits the figurehead is a construct and may be helpful if they make it clear they are friends of Daelyn.

That night, Astrid has a vision of her late mother Lydia, who sends her on a quest to the Obelisk Forest of Mundatei. An army of undead Thassilonian sorcerers is entombed there and poised to awake. She slips away from the party in the night, with a letter explaining her actions.

While lounging with the sleeping Nualia in the aftermath of their energetic evening, Zavian is visiting again by the contract devil Belawara. He rejects her offer, but she tells him it is still on the table should he ever change his mind. He realizes he has a long way to go to free Elszevina from her contract.

Wealday, 4 Erastus – Wealday, 18 Erastus, 4734

The following morning, the Rune Wardens part ways with Nualia and Vivi. The restored aasimar plans to help restore the temple, then take the scenic route back to Sandpoint. Nualia turns down Marcus’ offer to teleport them there.

The party spends the next two weeks traveling across the northern Cinderlands. They overcome a patch of difficult sand, while Zavian carefully navigates for them. The Sarenrite priest takes them unerringly to the River Kazaraon and they follow it east and north up into the Kodar Mountains.

Along the way, Lea consults with Zavian about a new spell Iomedae had bestow upon her, allowing her to manifest angelic wings for short periods of time. She asks for the aasimar’s instruction on flying.

Amelia, meanwhile, makes use of her ability to speak with animals to recruit owls to watch the party’s camp at night night.

Oathday, 19 Erastus, 4734

In the shadow of the Kodars, while practicing another flying lesson, Lea and Zavian make another discover. They spot a structure on the cliff overlooking the chilly waters of the Kazaron. There is a large cabin at the top of the cliff, with an enclosed wooden shaft leading down to a smaller structure at the foot of the rise.

Marcus casts overland flight on himself and floats in to investigate. Lea is not far behind him. Rather than entering the structure, Marcus uses his ring of x-ray vision to peer through the wooden wall. Inside are mining supplies and detritus, plus a strange dwarf eating gold dust.

The dwarf looks up and stares at the wizard through the wall and invites him and Lea to join in his feats. Lea circles around to the door to enter and investigate. When the paladin steps naked into his x-ray view, Marcus realizes that dwarf is still clothed. Lea recognizes it as a haunt and blasts it with positive energy.

The large dead tree looming behind Marcus chooses that moment to suddenly uproot itself and attack him. Marcus and Zavian battle the creature, which Amelia identifies as an undead treant. It batters them backwards and pushes towards the cart, which Ameiko immediately sends clattering out of reach.

The undead treant proves to be very vulnerable to fire. In its death throes, the huge burning tree falls down, striking Lea before collapsing onto the building. Marcus puts out the flames with cone of cold. Lea investigates a hollow in the tree trunk full of bones, which also holds some pieces of loot.

The fell creature vanquished, the Rune Wardens break into the lover level of the cabin. Outside, a snowstorm starts to kick up. Before going further, they use stone shape to carve out and then seal off a garage in the cliff to store Marcus’ wagon.

The lower level is largely abandoned. It seems have served as a sorting place for mine ore, with the gold then hauled up the shaft. Investigating the stairwell, Amelia is cautious for dwarven traps. She summons an ape and orders it to move up the stairs.

Zavian flies directly up the shaft with his metal wings, only for the ore hauling chain to suddenly animate and grapple him. The ape, meanwhile, triggers the stair trap and is rescued with a feather fall. Lea extricates Zavian from the chain’s grasp and Marcus then disintegrates the object.

Upstairs, Amelia discovers a hidden strongroom with the dwarves’ collected treasure and a ledger with notes and maps of the region. The last few pages have been torn out.

In the wrecked common room of the cabin, Amelia is stricken with hunger. Realizing it is another haunt, Lea dispels it. Zavian uses magic to sense nearby undead. He pokes his head outside and sees a figure out in the snow. He immediately closes and locks the door.

Investigating the next undead aura in the other room, Lea and Zavian open the door after some struggle. Lea investigates the pile of bones inside and is suddenly attacked by hungry dwarven ghosts. One of them gets a good bite on her.

After destroying that haunt and investigating the rest of the cabin, the party hears knocking down below. When they investigate, the knocking becomes slamming and a host of dwarven ghosts appear. They unsuccessfully try to possess the party before Lea and Zavian banish them.

A new ghost forms, that of Silas Vekker, and it explains that it will provide the way to Xin-Shalast if they can bring it the bones of its brother so they can reconcile.

The party rests in the garage they carved out of the cliff, where they set up a rope trick.


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