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Chronicle of the Heroes of Sandpoint

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Post  Saoirse on Sun Jul 19, 2015 11:55 pm

Pharast the 2nd, 4711

We stopped in Riddleport on our way home to acquire some much needed gear, but it was a short detour. Once we arrived in Sandpoint, we found that someone was waiting for us. Her name is Catherica Ironwalker, a warrior from Magimar trained in the spear and bow. She had learned of our investigations into rune magic and the runelords and the waking of Karzoug. . .and desires to aid us on this quest.

Clearly she is mad.

Cath is a high functioning madwoman however, and we see no reason to turn her away from the opportunity to commit suicide by noble intent. Plus we could really use the extra help!

We headed off to speak with Brodert about the happenings in Runeforge and what we had learned, hoping that he would have some information for us as well. He did. We need to find Mhar-Massif, the mountain upon which Xin-Shalast is said to stand, within which we will find Karzoug. . . Brodert gave us something of a lead. Sketchy, but better than nothing. He produced a letter from a Pathfinder friend of his which talks of the Vekker dwarves out of Janderhoff which had gone off to find the ‘city of gold’ many years before. Of course they were never seen again. Their last known whereabouts however, was a camp somewhere along a river in the Kodor Mountains. Again, sketchy.

The plan is to Item Lola, Teleport over to Jorgenfist and then put her in the Storval Deep and sail up the river into the foothills. Should get us most of the way until the waters become too rough.

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Post  Saoirse on Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:19 am

Pharast the 15th, 4711

Navigating up the river, we have finally reached the point at the edge of the mountains to where we can go no further. The rushing waters and table-sized chunks of ice flowing down at us make continued travel by boat impossible, so we have disembarked Lola and headed into the mountains by foot using Fly spells as needed to get us through the most treacherous of terrains. Titus was able to create a wand of Endure Elements on our journey over, so those who are not inured to the cold are protected from any harmful effects.

It’s good to be moving again. The air is cold here and dry, in spite of our proximity to the water, does nothing for to aid the fading elasticity of my skin. I can feel this husk splitting away at the joints. In spite of the sharp pains, this condition does not seem to be affecting my mobility, which I find both fortunate and ominous. It seems I am on borrowed time.

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Post  Saoirse on Thu Aug 13, 2015 2:33 am

Pharast the 21st, 4711

Today has been full of the unexpected. I write this evening as I stare, salivating, over my sleeping companions. I believe this to be a compulsory magical effect, as I’ve never so much as looked at them in such a manner before in spite of my predilections, but I cannot seem to shake it and hope it fades with the dawn. In lieu of sleep, I shall recall the curious events of the day.

It was nearing dusk as we were following along the river, when we finally spied what we’d been seeking. A split log tower and attached cabin that could only be the Vekker dwarves’ encampment. It seemed utterly deserted and began slow and careful inspection room by room to find any evidence or indication that they might have found the location of Xin Shallast. Okay, there was some smashing, but only as required. The few locks Vranti couldn’t bypass were smashed through by Catherica.

At first we found a few sundry items. Mining supplies, daggers, boots. Soon enough we came across the first signs of life. . .or so we thought. Behind a set of double doors we found a dwarf standing before a pile of gold dust, stuffing it into his face as quickly as he could. Titus revealed this to be a haunt; a specter of tragedy past, but only after Nuari had decided to sample some of it for himself as advised by his dwarven brother. It wasn’t gold of course, but some kind of white powder. Once he’d taken a fistful of it, the haunt disappeared. We’re hoping Nuari will be okay. Titus says he doesn’t appear to be poisoned so perhaps he was able to resist the effects.

More alert than ever, we headed up into the tower on rickety stairs. Hardly desirous of a fall from this height, I cast Fly on all of us, which proved useful as the stairs were also a haunt-sprung trap. Part of the stairs dropped away and the chain which hung from the upper floor began waving about as if seeking a neck to throttle. It’s not often one witnesses a battle against a chain. . . Nuari’s acid and Skookumchuk’s fist handily ended the threat and we moved to the top floor.

In a secret room we found a ledger among some bags of accrued wealth. Inside was a detailed map of the region’s mines, all of which were noted to have been played out. Much to my dismay, it appears that several of the final pages of the journal have been torn out.

As we were searching, we heard a strange, mournful howl on the wind which sounded like a bellowing elk from great distance, and though we looked out the windows, we saw nothing save a rising wind portending the oncoming storm. Ignoring the ill-omen we hastened about our business.

In one of the rooms we found a portrait of the two Vekker brothers, and it was there that we first felt the hunger for flesh which most would deem unnatural. Small drippings of blood could be seen on the floor as if there had been a tearing of flesh and then out on the adjoining balcony we found four sets of dwarf bones picked clean and bearing evidence of having been gnawed upon by dwarven teeth! Something terrible indeed had happened here. As if in proof, whispers rose on the wind speaking of dark deeds -- compelling us to commit these same atrocities, but Titus destroyed the haunt with his divine magic before we started in on the first course.

By this time we had searched the entire encampment and found no sign of the missing journal pages which were our best hope for discovering the path to Xin Shallast. It was late and we were discussing options when Skook spied a humanoid shape out the window in the snow. Out the gnome went after the figure, but as soon as he was spied, the shape – a dwarf, cried, “Run for your lives they’re going to eat you!”, and ran off, disappearing into the gathering snowstorm
Inside we all began eyeing each other warily. . .

The storm blew in with a fury, howling in at us over the mountains, and with it. . .came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at our cabin door. Only, it was not so gentle a rapping, but more of a loud knocking. We looked around to find the source and narrowed it down to the front door of the lower level, but found nothing upon opening it. Then the whole of the building began to shake and it was all we could do to keep our feet! Fearing the whole place was about to come down our heads, we began to move outside where it was not shaking, and were ambushed by a huge dead tree that we’d noticed in passing upon our early entry. So, chains and now trees. It’s been an interesting day.

The house shook, the wind howled, the haunt had Vranti and I slavering for the flesh of our friends, and the tree was whomping us zealously. It was a bad spot to be in surely, but we’ve been in worse. Titus destroyed the haunt, which stilled the house and cured us of our cannibalistic tendencies while the others whomped the willow right back and ended its shambling semblance of life. An unfortunate turn of phrase I realize as I have used the same term to describe myself at times. But I’m talking about a tree here. A tree. Not me.

We were soaking up some much needed healing magics when one of the Vekker brothers – in ghostly form, approached us. He claimed that he could show us the way to Xin Shallast! He would do so only if we could bring back his mad and hungry brother’s bones, which lay only a mile north of the cabin. If we bring him back, he would show us the way and the way to end his unlife as well.

It was something. The best lead we had yet and it was given to us by the dead. Worn out and depleted, we decide to wait out the storm and rest for the night before heading out to search for dwarf bones. Rest. The hunger still lingers and it disturbs me. Perhaps I am more susceptible than the others? I miss Tiny’s company. Schmuck was very useful of course, but Tiny was special to me. I need to find another companion soon. . .one whose flesh doesn’t smell so much like raw pork. . .

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:24 am

Pharast the 22nd, 4711

Morning came, sharp and cold and we managed to not eat each other in the night.  A good start to a productive day, always!

Titus finished bandaging us up from the previous day’s brutalities and we headed off north into the mountains to try and find the remains of the wayward Vekker brother.  It was as the other sibling said, about a mile north and high up on a cliff we found a clearing with a long dead firepit and a corpse, well preserved with legs ending in blackened stumps.  

As we were examining the body, a giant white worm burrows out of the rock behind us and attacks, hitting Titus and Skookumchuck with a terrible blow.  Then a new threat emerged!  The Vekker dwarf’s ghost rose up out of the corpse with a terrifying moan and lashed out at Cath with a touch that completely bypassed her powerful armor and shield.  The worm breathed a cone of cold upon us all, but that was the last thing he was able to do as Nuari and Skook ended it shortly after.  The dwarven ghost was destroyed as well, but not permanently, we would need to take his corpse back to the other ghost brother for that to be done properly or so he says.  

Lonely as I’ve been, I decided to make use of the fresh corpse and Wendell the Worm was reborn!  We were riding him back down the mountain’s slope when we heard that elk-ish howling sound again….closer this time, and I will admit it scared me this time.  I am not normally afraid of the unnatural.  Clearly.  There was something about that sound though that chilled the already cooling heart of me!

When we reached the cabin, the ghost of Silas Vekker met us and requested that we bring his brother’s body inside.  We did so and watched as the ghost of Karivek rose again, though not nearly as maliciously as earlier and his corpse dissolved before our eyes. The brothers stared at each other, locked in some kind of spiritual battle of wills.  There was nothing we could do but wait it out and hope Silas was the victor.

Or so we thought.  A giant, albino, demon elk-headed humanoid had other plans for us so it would seem!  No one knew what it was exactly but it was huge and horrible and not of this plane.   It burst upon us, smashing through the ceiling of the cabin and grabbing poor Nuari after nearly disemboweling him with its claws!  

A very physical battle ensued while the spiritual one continued in the eye of the fray.  Nuari was freed and revived from the brink, but the creature was intent on snatching one of us up in those wicked claws and raked at us furiously as it attacked us through the hole in the ceiling.  In the end, we must have injured it badly enough that it decided it had had enough and moved to retreat.  Wendell got a parting shot on the beast but not enough to end it, and it flew off, disappearing over the snow.

It was a full ten minutes later that we watched as Karivek’s ghost relaxed and after accepting his brother’s forgiveness, he sighed deeply and faded away.  Silas too seemed at peace then, though sad for the tragedy that occurred here.  

He remained true to his word.  Our part had been accomplished and so, before he himself faded away to whatever afterlife awaited him, he produced the missing pages of the journal.

Therein lies the details of what will be our journey to finding Xin Shalast!  We must travel farther up the Kazaron River until we reach the second tributary, which was once known as the river Ava.  They claim it to be a difficult river to navigate and the travel was hard.  The air thins out rapidly as the journey takes you upstream to a place called the Fens of the Icemists, approximately fifteen thousand feet in elevation.  

There is a trick to finding the city of gold however -- which explains why after all these thousands of years it has remained elusive, we must wait at the Fens and starve ourselves by the time the next full moon is upon us.  Only then will a phantom river appear out of Icemist which will lead us into an even higher range of mountains.  To Mhar Massif, it must be!  The river will take us to Xin-Shalast, and from there. . .Karzoug.

Much debate ensued at this point, for these instructions proved difficult on a couple of fronts.  First, we are ill-equipped for travel at such heights.  We would begin suffering from altitude sickness long before we arrive at the city, effectively crippling us at a time when we will need to be at our best.  Second, the full moon is in three days. . .  It would be nearly impossible to get everyone up to the Fens and starving in three days time and still we would have the first problem to deal with.

We did find a potion among the Vekkers’ belongings called an Elixir of the Peaks which would be exactly what we’d need to survive at those altitudes, and it lasts a full 8 hours.  We need more of them.  The next full moon is not until the 23rd of Gozran, so we’ve decided to travel up as close to the Fens as we can before porting back to Magnimar where we can have plenty of those potions crafted for us.  When the time draws near, we can simply return to our latest progress and continue our journey, starving ourselves at the Fens so we can see this phantom river when it appears at the full moon.

I hate having to wait another month before facing him, but to go in unprepared would be a death sentence.  Not only for us, but for many, many others as the Runelord of Greed would rise again.

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Post  Saoirse on Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:13 am

Pharast the 23rd, 4711

We spent the remainder of the previous day traveling up further into these mountains before finding a cleft in the rock that afforded some protection from the elements, where we could catch a few hours of well-deserved rest. Today was much of the same until we spotted what appeared to be gnawed upon rocks, around dusk. Continuing warily, Skookumchuk and Vranti spotted an eyeball popping up from a large bolder just as a white dragon flew up at us from over the edge of the cliff!

We were not fooled. Having spent entirely too much time fighting white dragons and then undead white dragons, it was quite clear that this one was only an illusion, but what was not an illusion were the two grotesque, repugnant, fleshy monstrosities that revealed themselves from what we’d believed were boulders! They could have been pregenerators of Mammy Graul. . .

These Grandmammies are called Hungerers. Once Lamias, they were fleshwarped by the Thassilonians ten thousand years ago, for use as guardians. Effective guardians, but not effective enough. We defeated the pair, and I Animated one for use as a hover blob. The huge creatures fly and may be handy transportation through the mountains if it becomes necessary.

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Post  Saoirse on Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:15 am

Pharast the 27th, 4711

We finally reached the Fens of the Icemist this evening. The air is thin here, making it difficult to take even my occasional breaths. I can only imagine what my companions are enduring and that is not even taking into account the cold. An eerie crystalline mist rises up over a thin ice sheet, and rather than enter in blindly, we chose to scope out the periphery using Fly to avoid falling through the ice.

Having achieved a good mental map of the area we will be returning to, we will Teleport back to Magnimar until the next full moon.

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Post  Saoirse on Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:22 am

Gozran the 23rd, 4711

It is so good to be out of the city. . . Maybe I’ve spent too much time out in the wilderness, because I find that place stifling. It didn’t help that I ate rats and cats for most of the month in order to avoid any undue attention from the inn residents or my companions. I find the accusations of moral ambiguity wearisome.

When we arrived back at the Fens, most of us hadn’t eaten anything in a week’s time, and all of us were ravenously hungry, so we felt we were ready to use tonight’s full moon to make our way to Mhar Massif by way of the ghostly River Ava!

Moving into the misty region, we were greeting with an inhuman voice. ”Eww. . .” It seems that Gak, my undead, Grandmammy hover blob was not considered comely in the eyes of the dark haired, purple skinned, ice fey that materialized out of the mist. Svevenka, as she is called, is the Master of the Icemist and the cousin of the ill-fated nymph Myriana whose ghost we redeemed outside of Turtleback Ferry! She knew us all she claimed, except for the two who had most recently joined, and she thanked us for the help we had given her kinsfey.

After putting my offensive undead creatures away, she was very helpful toward our goals in Xin Shalast. Svevenka was able to tell us that many giants -- mostly frost and cloud types, have been drawn to Xin Shalast, and being coerced into helping through some mental magics. She knew not of an Occlusion field, but advised that we find the Spared within the city. Though difficult to find, they are the descendants of the original occupants of Xin Shalast, and have been reduced to slaves and worse. They may be willing to aid us where they can.

The Fen Mistress also offered her fens as a sanctuary in case we needed to retreat, regroup and rest. While I hope this will not be necessary, the option is invaluable!

As the moon began to rise, Svevenka departed and we went off into the Icemist to find our path. I could not see it at first, which I blame on my mostly dead eyes, but the rest spotted the glowing, spectral river flowing out of the fens. I brought out Gak the Hoverblob again so we would not need to concern ourselves with thin ice, and off we went following the phantom river.

I felt a strangeness as we passed through some kind of field into another realm. Svevenka mentioned that Xin Shalast lay within a realm close to, but not our own. When I turned around to comment on this sensation, I noticed that Nuari was not with us! He’d simply disappeared from the back of Gak! This was all kinds of not good. . .

We backtracked a bit and felt our return to our home plane but the dwarf wasn’t there either. The moon was still high in the sky, so having a bit of time before our window closed, we flew back toward the fens where we were intercepted by Svevenka and Nuari on our way. She was bringing our lost friend -- who had apparently not been quite starving enough, back to us.

Off we went again, keeping a wary eye on Nuari this time and when we passed through into the new realm, he stayed with us! It seems that half hour without food pushed him over the edge of really hungry to starving.

An ancient road appeared below us. One of actual gold like the stories all say! I was surprised by this but probably shouldn’t be. Xin Shalast was. . .or is, ruled by the Runelord of Greed after all. I expect that there will be many extravagancies to see!

The golden road was one hundred feet wide and followed the River Ava. We traveled upon it until we passed beneath a high cliff face and spotted movement above us. Gak lifted us up onto the ledge to spoil the ambush of the ambushers, who showed themselves to be four cloud giants and one frost giant. Giants hit quite hard. . . No one was mortally injured, but it was a difficult battle. Vranti was able to Charm one of the cloud giants who answered some of our questions. He said that there were large and powerful giants he called Masters of Runes, which went out into the mountains to find giant tribes and bring them back to Xin Shalast to rebuild the city. The Occlusion field was known to him and while he himself could not get through it, he did know that the generals wore rings which allowed them to pass through the field. We will need to find these rings if we intend on getting to Karzoug! He spoke of the “Most High Coptra” as the one who gave them commands. A lamia, if his description is correct, and one of these ringed generals. As far as what lay immediately ahead of us, he revealed that the gates were guarded by two dozen vrocks that herd aurochs for food.

That is where the salivating began. Well, not me, having already sated myself on cloud giant blood in the cave they’d emerged from, but the thought of beef sent the rest of my companions slavering.

I animated the frost giant, which I later learned had been named Bjormundal, and Vranti’s newfound friend joined us as we continued down the golden road toward our fate.

As we descended into a glacial valley, we were afforded our first view of the lower portion of the ancient city. The size and scale defied belief and I made mental notes of how to describe this to Brodert when we returned to Sandpoint. The golden road maintained its path as the city around it dipped into the valley, making it appear like the road was flying above the city as it wound its way up to the peaks of Mhar Massif. The buildings that lined the road were stories high, with their main entrances on the fourth or fifth floors where the road met the doorways. Towers of different colors and heights rose along the cityscape in the areas that had not been devastated by the molten flow of a long-dead volcano. Soaring above it all was the Face of Mhar Massif. Karzoug’s likeness watched as we approached the gate of his precious city and provided an unnerving pair of eyes that followed us as we plotted his definitive demise.

Three vrock-ish things met us at the gate. They were not vrocks, or at least no longer as such, but again, fleshwarped creatures that served their Thassilonian masters. We attempted to talk our way into the city but thankfully we had not hung all our hopes on that method, for we were attacked shortly thereafter and had to fight for our right to enter. That right was gained.

The next two hours were spent resting as we filled our starving bellies with roasted aurochs. Vranti’s giant friend told us that there was one general that he knew of within the city, which is Ghlorofaex, a blue dragon. Naturally. We are glad to still be holding on to those arrows of dragon bane that we found in Arkrhyst’s lair! Gladder still that Cath knows how to use a bow!

After everyone had their fill and spirits had risen, we chose to descend into the under city and not immediately take the golden road which rose high above all else. The giant told us that the Spared, or the slaves has he calls them, would be found scrabbling out a sad existence in the darkened tunnels whose entrances were within the destruction wrought by the lava flow. So down we went, into the ruins.

We were set upon by two huge red. . .spider. . .tentacle things. Certainly not native to this plane. They were out for blood quite literally, and nearly drained Vranti and his giant friend dry before the creatures were able to be destroyed.

It was not long before we found an entrance to the tunnels in a narrow crevasse. I was forced to Item my undead and Vranti had to leave his giant by the entrance because they were simply too large to fit through. We descended into a large, black pit. Once a room of a building large enough to house giants, there were a number of tunnels leading from this place into other places of darkness. Some tunnels were ancient and large, others were smaller and more recently dug.

Taking the large path, we wandered for some time before beginning to call out for the Spared, who were probably terrified of our presence and had been said to possess a great aptitude for hiding. This would not make our job easier. . .

Eventually we were found, but it was not by the Spared. Not exactly. We were attacked by to obese, naked vampires that charged at us from the walls and ceiling. Now, I don’t know about the others, but this took me more than a little by surprise. . . I spend a lot of time around dead things, but this one was new on me.

I was able to Command one of the vampires and the other, seriously injured, managed to shift into mist form and slip through a crack in the wall. I followed, going incorporeal and found it lying inert in its little crypt where it was attempting to rejuvenate itself. I stabbed it through the heart with my staff, cut off its head and poured a vial of holy water onto it, which Titus had given me for the deed. Finding nothing of value on it or in the room I returned to my companions where we had our interview with the vampire.

The Spared are food to these creatures, which were once Spared themselves. These vampires are lorded over by something called the Hidden Beast which he knew nothing of because, “It is hidden.” Okay then! In accordance with the belief that a good tool should never go to waste, this vampire and Skookumchuk went to track down one of the Spared hiding in the tunnels.

The vampire did as he was told and did not injure the Spared that was found, bound and slung over Skook’s shoulder, but he didn’t have any qualms about tormenting the poor wretch verbally all the way back to our group. By the time the Spared arrived he had accepted his fate and was ready for death. Not so helpful. Again with the accusations of moral ambiguity! I have told you how they weary me. . .

Vranti came to the rescue by Modifying the poor fellow’s memory (apparently there is no moral ambiguity with this. . .I do not understand, but I have made my peace with the double standard). He convinced the Spared that Skook had saved him from the vampire, who I’d commanded to go mist himself and hide around the corner not moving until I came to get him. Now, much more talkative, he introduced himself as Morgiv and lavished thanks upon us. You’re welcome, little naked man. You’re welcome.

We asked about the Hidden Beast, which he knew of though had not seen – because it is hidden -- and he knew where its lair was, a place called the Hypogeum. When asked, he was also able to tell us that there was a hidden path up to the spires of Xin Shalast, which will be a much safer route for us to take when we have our Occlusion field-passing-rings, than traveling openly through the city. Excellent news!

He agreed that the Spared would provide us with what assistance they could, if we would do away with the Hidden Beast that hunted them mercilessly. A job which we would happily have done with or without any promised aid.

So off we went with Morgiv, who led us to the lair of the Hidden Beast and left us at the doorway to a great stone room with a throne upon a raised dais in the center. A skeleton wearing a crown sat upon the throne, but bore no magic either on the crown or the bones. I tossed my paper zombies to the ground, and we prepared ourselves before facing the unknown.

Skookumchuk, Vranti and Cath moved in toward the throne and the skeleton began talking….but it wasn’t really the skeleton. With my enhanced eyes, I could see that there were invisible tentacles emerging from thin openings on the sides of the dais, which were manipulating the skeleton’s jaw to make it look like it was talking! Crying out to my companions, Titus flashed a wand of Glitterdust at the invisible, vampiric, land octopus I was watching squish and ooze itself into the room with us from below the throne. Now everyone could see the glittering octo-vampire! Four other naked vampires joined the fray as we struck at the evil monstrosity with great prejudice.

We did well against the creature. Better than I had anticipated, I will admit and it wasn’t long before the thing faded to mist and retreated down below the throne. Well that couldn’t stand, so I took another vial of holy water from Titus and followed it down the hole. Probably not the brightest move, I thought on the way down, but it paid off. Unsure as to where exactly such a beast kept its heart, I stabbed at it repeatedly with my staff until I found something that looked plausible and then cut it into pieces – decapitating the decapus, before pouring holy water onto the mess of a corpse. Now this body was not without treasure! Upon one of its desiccated tentacles was a RING! A ring with a sihedron symbol that matched the description of one of the generals’ rings that would allow us through the Occlusion field! There was a second ring as well, one of Invisibility.

Pleased, I returned the items to my companions and finished off the other four vampires, relieving them of their more sundry items.
When we returned to Morgiv he seemed surprised that we were alive, but overjoyed at our success! He led us to a safe place to rest for the evening and regroup, for there will be much to discuss tomorrow regarding our next steps in this assault.

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:36 am

Gozran the 24th, 4711

We were on our way early this morning after going over some of our options with the contacts we’ve met within the city.  Morgiv had little more to provide us in the way of ring locations but to say that he believes that most of the generals are exceptionally large giants called Masters of Runes which are most often off influencing other giant clans to come to Xin Shalast.  

After breaking our fast, we made our way back to Vranti’s cloud giant, gladly ending the unlife of the vampire I’d earlier commandeered, on the journey to the city proper.  We questioned the giant about the dragon, Ghlorofaex and the Masters of Runes Morgiv mentioned.  He was quite helpful.  He says that the dragon most often resides in the northwestern part of the lower city.  He was also able to tell us that there might be a Master of Runes in the giant encampment on the western central side of the lower city.  We would need to be careful however, as there are hundreds of giants milling about.  Certain death if we are seen!

Under cover of spell and stealth, Skook sneaked into the encampment looking for a giant standing head and shoulders above the others.  Seeing none, he returned to us and we decided to lie in wait on the road for one to come in the direction of camp.

It was not long before we spotted a rune giant, accompanied by two storm giants, approaching in the distance.  It seems a rare gift to be able to prepare for a battle before combat is upon us, so we were eager to make the most of it!  Good thing we did. . .   In spite of our preparations, the battle was brutal.  The storm giants loosed lightning which killed my Wendell outright, but they were of little additional trouble compared with their enormous cousin!  The Master of Runes proved nearly impossible to hit with weapons, and while he himself had a little trouble hitting Skook and Cath, when he did. . . well, he left a mark. . .  Cath nearly died but Titus refused to allow that on his watch.  Finally and after much effort, the giant fell, plummeting to earth like a mighty sequoia, which is precisely what I named him after the Animating.  One more ring found.  Four more to go!

Morning had not even passed and we weren’t about to let the day go to waste, so we pressed on.  Morgiv previously warned us that the portion of the city called the Tangle was one to avoid at all cost, so naturally we decided that we needed to investigate.

Thick, almost jungle-like vegetation hung from the ancient ruins in this section of the city, growing up in between the buildings until it appeared nature had swallowed it whole.  We spent hours wandering until we came to a very large building in the center of the ecosystem, which, apart from being boarded up, appeared nearly untouched.

We found the giant-sized double doors to be barred, so after knocking proved ineffective, Sequoia bashed it in to reveal two rune giants, two red dragons and two shambling mounds waiting for us within!  Immediately I noticed something off about the creatures, for they did not appear to be alive, but neither were they undead. . .  Considering the wet, green vines that were sprouting from their bodies, it almost seemed as if they’d become part of the vegetation.  Something was clearly controlling them.  Something that yet remained unseen.

Skook, Cath, Vranti and Sequoia carved a path into the building while Nuari and I rained down hell from the doorway.  I found Horrid Wilting to be especially effective against these plant-based zombies.  Things appeared to be rather well in hand until we penetrated far enough into the structure for its greatest denizen to reach us.  In the center of the room was something like a huge well.  The thing within must have sensed Cath encroaching upon it, for a huge vine shot out and wrapped around to begin crushing her!  We hacked that vine apart and determined that it must have some sort of tremor sense, for when we used our boots of flying, we were not attacked.  Once its minions were destroyed, we all flew near the well to see to the destruction of the master.  

Down at the bottom of the well, partially submerged in fetid water, clung a gargantuan plant!  Huge vines anchored it to the walls of the well, covering the area in dark green ivy-like leaves.  Small green bulbs and bright yellow and mottled purple flowers dotted the center of the thing.  We had some difficulty as it tried to entrance those of us who needed to get near, but we eventually emerged the victors.  Skook swam down to the bottom of the well and found two more sihedron rings, probably those belonging to the two unfortunate rune giants who had gotten too close to this plant god!  It must have fancied itself so, developing an intelligence over the millennia, for upon inspecting the room, we found shrines set up by the thralls in its honor.  

It had been a long day and tired as we were, we returned to Morgiv to rest for the evening.  He was able to give us quite an accurate location and description of the dragon’s lair, which is our next stop in our quest for rings.  He and the Spared also made good on their promise for a ‘reward’ for freeing them from the Hidden Beast!  Among the items they found in a long buried temple, were a Staff of Healing and some scrolls, one of which was a scroll of True Resurrection!  Only in stories have I heard of such a powerful spell able to be scribed.  This is the stuff of legends!  If somehow we manage to defeat Karzoug without necessitating the use of this scroll, and if somehow I can survive and return to Sandpoint, than this spell may allow me to fulfill a vow I made to Aldern Foxglove.  A second chance at life.  A second chance to become something more than what he was.

Skookumchuck believes that I have some sort of romantic attachment to either the man or the dread ghast he became, but the truth is that I am incapable of experiencing the sort of emotion that romance elicits.  My heart is far too busy laboring in its task to push the sludge of blood around my body, than to worry about increasing its tempo on account of some ill-conceived “feelings”!  No, the truth is much simpler.  Aldern made terrible mistakes in his life and I believe he regretted them deeply….but then Xanesha and Lucretia effectively turned him into the monster he became and used him for their own evil ends.  This scroll could be his second chance.  A chance to put things right!  

My own second chance lies before me, within those lofty spires of Xin Shalast.  The fall of Karzoug and the salvation of countless lives should surely be enough to make amends for those lives I took in my former shell.   Is it not so?  It must be, for I will have little time left for anything more.  If I have a soul remaining to me, than I choose to make sure it’s one worth claiming.  Does not Aldern deserve the same chance?

Last edited by Morelen on Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:24 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:23 am

Gozran the 25th, 4711

We awoke in the very early morning hours to seek out the lair of Ghlorofaex under the cover of darkness. We had no desire to be spotted by an army of giants as we flew out over the city after all! The lair precisely where we were told it would be, a huge, partially destroyed building in the lower city’s upper west side. We prepared ourselves for combat before entering and while we made good effort to try to remain silent, dragons are rather known for their excellent senses, so though he had been sleeping when we stepped into his chamber, he was certainly not as we attempted our approach.

Thankfully, this fight was much less blood-soaked than the ones with the white wyrm and the ravener had been. The blue had no place to run or fly to get out of our reach within the chamber, so aside from some painful electrocutions and poor Bjormundal taking claws and teeth to the face, we remained relatively unscathed. We picked through his horde of treasure and found the ring we were looking for as well as a good deal of useful items that we happily sacked away.

While I worked on Animating my very first dragon, Skookumchuk went off to fly around the city looking for a place that might house another general with a ring. The rest of us spent most of the day relaxing in the zombie dragon’s lair until the gnome came back around early evening from his scouting mission. He relayed his find – a colosseum of immense proportions, which was built to showcase chariot races between giants and their mastodon steeds! Just wow. . . I can see how that would be an impressive sight! Skook believes we will be able to find one someone of import within one of the spectator boxes.

Off we flew, Invisibly, to the colosseum. When we found our way inside, Skook led us to the boxes, where we eventually came across some sort of ice devil with a wicked spear. He was not alone. Two of his buddies, those dreaded blood spiders were accompanying him, and with their reach, it proved difficult to get in close to attack the devil. Sequoia was badly damaged, but the rest of us – thanks to some timely heals, managed to bring all three of them down and net ourselves the final sihedron ring!

We will rest in the tunnels of the Spared this night and prepare ourselves as we can for tomorrow’s assault upon the Spires of Xin Shalast!

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Post  Saoirse on Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:49 pm

Gozran the 26th, 4711

It took ten minutes for Titus to rouse me this morning. Ten minutes and at least two bruised ribs, for which the goblin professed dubious apology. My condition has alarmingly worsened. The magic that sustains me seems to be depleting at an ever increasing rate, possibly due to the intense spell usage over the past days, which manifests itself as premature physical exhaustion and deterioration of my body. My face is near fully skeletal now. I’ve had neither the time nor inclination to investigate the rest of my parts and I’ve neither the time nor inclination to worry about it. After all, we must survive the coming battles in order for there to be a future to worry about.

Morgiv, our little naked friend, pointed us in the direction of the Hidden Path. We flew up those one and a half miles of narrow stairs and emerged onto a cliff face where we found another path that led up to the Spires of Xin Shalast four thousand feet up the mountain.

On our journey we encountered aid in the form of information from an unexpected source. Immensely bloated, purple spiders of the plane of Leng, hailed us in our own tongue from the face of the cliff. We prepared for a battle but they seemed more intent on talking, asking us our purpose in our journey up to the spires. Seeing no harm in it (as our coming would be no new knowledge to Karzoug), we explained our intent and they offered some advice. It seems that Karzoug had formed a compact with the denizens of Leng in order to create a “Leng Device” which will somehow aid the Runelord in his machinations. They have no desire to see Karzoug succeed in his purpose; though there is little doubt their own motivations are different from our own. Still, the enemy of our enemy is our friend…for a while, and we agreed that destroying the device and those denizens of Leng that support it, would be in the best interest of both this world and theirs.

Continuing up the steep path we spotted two sets of spires in the distance, one to the west and one to the east. We explored both areas thoroughly but it seems they were merely relics of Xin Shalast’s heyday. Well preserved but currently in disuse. We picked up the path which became more of a trail, a switchback that led us up to the massive pinnacle of Mhar Massif.

Hundreds of fifty-foot tall stone arches greeted us upon our arrival, but even so impressive a spectacle was eclipsed by the spire two hundred feet in diameter that rose in a spiraling column to a staggering two thousand feet in height. Here, surely, Runelord Karzoug presided over the runes of Xin Shalast and dreamed of what it could once again become. We’re here to put that dream to permanent end. Game faces on, we ascended the spiraling ramp up to the pinnacle of the pinnacle and begin our final assault.

Upon entering into the spire, we observed scenes of Thassilonian life, etched into the stone walls in exquisite detail, adorned with gems of all types and overlaid with gold. Months ago I might have salivated over the simple historical knowledge that even these bas reliefs provided (figuratively of course, as I no longer have the ability to salivate), but now my thoughts are bent only upon achieving one purpose.

We were not immediately noticed – though the immense forms of Tesla, my blue zombie dragon, and Bjormundal were with me, and so we spied the four well-armored cloud giant guards before they saw us. We moved in to attack, but to take them all down quietly proved difficult and one of them raised the spire’s alarm and soon brought a good deal more company. Vranti was able to Charm one of the cloud giants to our side before everything hit the proverbial Blade Barrier, and honestly I cannot say how many creatures started pouring down that hallway toward us. There were so many. . . Two rune giants, a number of storm giants, a few humans, at least one hungerer that I well recall and more still I’m sure, but one most notable was Xanesia! All the way across the world we have followed that lamia matriarch. Here she would finally meet a most deserved end!

For a time I thought we might meet a similar end right in that very room. It was as close as we’ve ever come to failing, but tomorrow yet looms. . .

We were beating on the cloud giants when the monstrous horde approached, and a hungerer peeked her ugly head around the corner of the huge doorway and Charmed me, instructing me to protect them all from my friends! I am thankful that it was worded in that way, for I obeyed by erecting a Wall of Force in the entrance, effectively shielding them off from our attacks – and us, theirs. Titus broke the enchantment before I could do any real damage.

Those creatures able to teleport, Xanesia and the hungerer among them, popped in and began to attack, eventually bringing down my poor Tesla. It was a short unlife, but one well spent as he took a few of them down with him as well as shielding us from a good deal of pain. Everything that teleported into our room died horribly, except for slippery Xanesia who popped back out before we could separate her snake parts from her woman parts. Then began a few seconds of stare down as our two groups, one of evil and one of good…ish, gazed hatefully at each other through the Wall of Force. Titus did some frantic healing, while Vranti, Nuari and I prepared some protections for what was coming. Sequoia was brought up to take Tesla’s place and I was able to get Stoneskin on Skook and Cath before the mountains of flesh behind the Wall parted momentarily to allow a human mage to shoot a Disintegrate at the barrier, bringing it down instantly.

At that point chaos reigned. Magic exploded in all directions, raising goose bumps on the skin I have remaining. The greater force allayed against us was bottlenecked in the hall which I am sure saved us, for it allowed our frontliners, Skook, Cath and giants (both charmed and undead) to slaughter the nearest assailants while Nuari and I launched our larger spells toward the back, raining pain and death down upon the hordes waiting their turn. That’s not to say they didn’t get their licks in. Storm giants launched lightning bolts at us while the Rune giants hacked away with their huge greatswords at a reach of twenty feet. Titus was running around like a crazy goblin trying to keep everyone upright and not get himself dead in the process. Then Sequoia was felled. Worse yet, another human – this one a fighter of some sort, made her appearance holding a blade forged by Greed. Flying fifteen feet off the ground, I thought myself safe from her melee attacks. I was in terrible error. The warrior flew up to me and with one slice turned me into a gemstone statue!

I remember no more until Titus used his scroll of Stone to Flesh to free me. Vranti too, was struck by her blade but his Runeforged weapon protected him from the transmutation spells. I won’t be sheathing my dagger again, possibly ever. Also, while I was otherwise unaware of my surroundings, Cath was struck down and Titus Resurrected her to get her back in the fight before that warrior woman and her wicked blade could do any more damage. Cath and Nuari finally finished her off while Skook pummeled a bloody swath through the remainder of the giants. Xanesia, with nowhere left to run, was one of the last to fall and with the aid of a good deal of magic, we did not.

Even after such a fight, it was hardly time to call it a day. We did take a few minutes to right ourselves and pick over the dead, however, and I Raised the two Rune giants who helped take out my Sequoia, and named them Sequoia 2 and 3 in his memory. I also Raised one of the Storm giants and named him Billie. This place is a meat grinder. . .

Skook picked up the sword the warrior woman was using, an intelligent golden scimitar that goes by the name of Chellan, and was immediately made aware of how evil the powerful artifact is. He put it in the portable hole partly to keep it out of the hands of any of our enemies and partly to shut it up.

We went off to explore the remainder of the spire, room by room, which we found had been recently vacated by the inhabitants whose bodies now lay in that first hall. An image of Karzoug appeared before us, proclaiming our efforts pathetic and our lives worthless and certain to be brief, and when Skookumchuk struck it with his dominant weapon that we created in Runeforge, the image disappeared. We made note of this.

One of the rooms we came across boasted a shrine to the Philosophy of Greed, inside of which we found a giant silver key (which we would use to open some giant doors) and three scrolls of Resurrection! Titus squealed with glee, but no doubt he would deny it if asked.

We encountered some sort of shadowy creature in our explorations that did not last long. Cath stunned the thing and then Skook and Nuari destroyed it with only minimal effort. More disturbing was the angel that attacked us. Clearly not of its own volition, it regretted what it was doing but had no choice in the matter. We tried to beat it into unconsciousness and Dismiss it but were having a terrible time doing so, when another image of Karzoug appeared behind us as we fought. This time he didn’t bother insulting, but launched a spell of cold at us! Nuari started toward him with his Runeforged axe, but Titus took aim with his dominant crossbow and actually brought down that second image while the rest of us continued to deal with the angel. After much trouble we were able to render the being unconscious and as unconsciousness is implied consent, Nuari Dismissed it back to its home plane.

At this point, after every battle, it became a discussion of whether to press on or rest, as Nuari, Titus and I were coming to the end of our magical reserves. We would not want to face Karzoug at less than our best, and certainly not where we were at that point! Still, we’d yet to find the Leng Device that the spiders had told us about, so we chose to continue on a bit longer.

Down a narrow hall we found a narrow door which opened to a room covered in sigils. Upon stepping foot in the room and attempting to examine the markings, each of us were transported to a dark and featureless Maze and having never been affected by such a spell before it was very disconcerting to suddenly find myself alone in such a place! Thankfully I was able to quickly get my bearings and help to lead the others out. Vranti then tried to use his knowledge of traps to discover the reset time, only to accidentally spring it again. Titus this time was the only one able to keep his wits about him and led the rest of us out of the spell.

We passed through the room hastily and found ourselves before what could only be the Leng Device we sought! The central structure, a huge stone ring, dominated the far end of the room, projecting a sort of energy field which showed a view of Xin-Shalast almost like a window. However, what was projected was not the city we’d just traveled through. There were no empty ruins or lava flow destruction. It was Xin-Shalast as it would perhaps appear at the peak of its power! Bustling with life, many races traversed the streets and air, the city was bright with color and activity, music and thriving markets.

The “window” ring was connected by thick cables to cabinets and tables that lined both sides of the room and every surface was cluttered with many buttons and switches and things making beep boops and boop beeps – the latter being far more dangerous than the former I am sure. There was no time to examine further though, for the great machine was not unmanned! Twelve Denizens of Leng stood at their stations working at the device, paying us no heed. They were humanoid with claws and strangely distended jaws and long, slavering tongues.

Though I hated taking the word of the evil spiders, these denizens were working for or with Karzoug and were clearly not here for the good of our world, whatever the Leng spiders’ motivations may be. Nuari and I struck first, leaving only four standing which were handily dealt with by Skook, Cath and Vranti.

After the brief violence we all peered helplessly at the complicated and immensely powerful artifact. Skookumchuk immediately wanted to punch it. We reasoned that perhaps it would be better for one of the giant zombies to try it in case there was an explosion and he relented though not without some disappointment. So Billie was up! We squeezed him down the hall and through the door into the Device room while we backed out to what we hoped was a safe distance. Bash at it as he might, he could do no damage to the machine. While he was trying, a long tentacle thing reached through the portal and attacked Billie with a wicked barb! We moved in as a Hound of Tindalos, which we had previously encountered in the bowels of Jorgenfist, leaped through and tried to make with the eating. They are not friendly hounds.

Once it was dispatched, the “window” to Xin-Shalast winked out, leaving a fuzzy, gray swirling energy field in its place. The Device had been disabled but not destroyed. Wishing to be thorough, Nuari used his Legend Lore spell to try to discover a way to destroy the machine. He learned that part of the reason it was created was to distort time in order for a certain cult to try to awaken their dead or sleeping god who lies at the heart of Mhar Massif. Karzoug seems to have intended to use it to pull beings from the glory days of Xin-Shalast into the present. Neither option is good for us. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any way to destroy it, but now that it has been disabled it would take a monumental effort -- a great amount of time and specific knowledge to get it started up again. We can feel reasonably comfortable leaving this here until the Runelord has been dealt with.

Deciding once again to continue on, we backtracked and explored some new areas, meeting with another vision of Karzoug along the way but he had no chance to attack before Skook shoved his sai through the image. We came to a great hall of prison cells, one end of which sported a shimmering and glowing golden wall of mist which turned out to be a portal to the city proper. This portal would actually take us though the Occlusion field, whereas a regular Teleport would not. Taking note of this potential exit, we moved along checking the cells, leaving no stone unturned. At the end of the hall was a huge golden statue of Karzoug who never does get enough of seeing his own face. He did carve it into this mountain after all. Across the room from the statue was a small platform upon which stood a sarcophagus and in front of the sarcophagus stood a Shemhazian demon. Looking like a cross between a bear, a bulldog and a praying mantis, it wasted no time getting down to its business, and attacked. We attacked him right back, feeling a good deal better about pounding this thing, than we did about that angel!

Skook and Cath destroyed it with much zeal after a brief battle in which Vranti was bitten and slightly weakened by the creature. Feeling not that badly off, he asked that Titus conserve his spells, which the goblin was pleased to do.

We checked the sarcophagus, which was empty as we suspected. At this end of the hall there was another shimmering golden wall, though this one was of energy, not of mist. Very different! This was a more powerful version of Wall of Force, which would have been terribly unwise to touch. Instead, Nuari used Disintegrate which did bring the wall down after blasting him in the face, and as we raised our eyes to the room, we saw three boulders thrown by cloud giants sailing toward us!

Diving out of the way, we sustained only minor injuries and we moved into the room, my giants, Sequoia 2 and Billie getting in the faces of two of the cloud giants. We didn’t have much time to look about the room, except to see an immense golden sphere slowly rotating in the center of the room, with a stone ramp leading up to a small platform on the surface of the orb. A shimmering pillar of light rises from the platform to the ceiling. It didn’t appear to be an immediate threat, so that became a ‘later’ problem as we dealt with the giants and a fourth threat from the back of the room. A giant lamia! Most High Ceoptra. . . half giantess and half giant firepelt cougar! Impressive. . . Very impressive.

I was very much flagging at this point, but I hoped it wouldn’t show excessively. I think only the sludge of adrenaline moving at a snail’s pace around my system was keeping me up at this point, and I found – and yet find, myself envious of my companions’ endless vitality!

We wasted no time dispatching of the giants while Cath charged the lamia hoping to interrupt her spells, but was temporarily blocked by a Blade Barrier. She was a difficult fight and her divine spells used to devastating effect, casting Destruction upon Skookumchuk and nearly killing him where he stood, but after we surrounded her, it was not long before she was brought down.

Nuari used another Legend Lore on the giant golden orb while the rest of us stripped the bodies of useful items. He discovered that it is called an Anima Focus. A powerful artifact created by Karzoug himself that maintains a link between the material plane and a demi-plane of his creation. The artifact allows for the siphoning of greedy souls into it, whereby Karzoug is strengthened. No doubt that the all of the Skinsaw murders and the sihedron tattoos by Xanetia and Lucretia were to prepare the victims’ souls to be drawn here to this very spot! The only way this thing can be destroyed would be by first destroying the soul lens on the other side of this portal. And on the other side of this portal? Undoubtedly the Runelord of Greed himself!

It is time to rest. After picking the bodies clean, we made our way back to the Leng Device room to patch ourselves up, gather our strength and prepare for what is to come.

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:09 am

Gozran the 27th, 4711

In the small hours of the morning we prepared to meet our fate, and that encounter – whether for weal or for woe, would change the course of history in Avistan.

No pressure.

When the six of us and my two rune giant zombies were outfitted with the appropriate protective spells, we ascended to the top of the Anima Focus and with our runeforged weapons grasped firmly in our hands, stepped into the pillar of shimmering radiance.

We emerged within the Eye of Avarice, an enormous but single room where stone platforms and pathways led up to an impressive throne upon which sat the Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed himself! He was hardly alone and we were hardly unexpected. A blue dragon crouched, snarling at his right hand, while a rune giant blocked any straight lines of attack against the master of this domain with his impossibly large frame. Flanking us, as we appeared upon a stone platform opposite the throne, were two storm giants each holding massive bows. Each platform and path dropped off to what appeared to be a lake of fire one hundred feet below us and pillars of scorching flame rose from that lake to the ceiling, burning anyone that strayed too near. A runewell, replete with greedy souls, stood in the center of the room, while a huge lens of brass and glass resided nearby to focus those energies.

Karzoug proclaimed our deaths at hand – a very real possibility, and then the world erupted. Meteors flew from his outstretched hand and exploded at our backs only a second before he raised a rod in his hand and stopped time! I would not have known it had I not briefly caught a glimpse of his gesturing but when time restarted, I had no idea what he might have done. Unnerving to say the least. There was little time to think on it as the dragon stepped up to breathe a gout of lightning into our ranks and the storm giants threw bolts of a similar type. Had Nuari not used his spells to protect us from fire before entering, I believe that many of us would not have survived that initial assault. As it was, we were badly burned, but not out of the fight.

Titus worked on healing up our wounds while our frontliners moved into the fray. I was happy to stay well back, entirely opposite Karzoug and prepare to counter further spells he might throw our way. This was not one hundred percent effective. He was a runelord after all! Still, I made myself more than a little nuisance, dispelling a Horrid Wilting that would not have been healthsome in our already crispy state. Skook darted straight for Karzoug while Nuari stepped forward to engage the blue dragon. With Vranti at his side, using his gifts to aid the effectiveness of our castings, the dwarven sorcerer shot a rainbow of death from his hand that struck the beast full in the face. The smell of cooking white meat filled the air, but it was the poison that did him in. He tasted the rainbow and he died.

We let out a brief cheer of triumph mixed with relief! The odds were not so stacked against us now. Oh, still against us surely but any time you can remove a dragon from the equation, it is best to do so! Catherica moved in to take on the rune giant one on one. A bold move, but with her armor and that shield planted firmly in the ground, she is a bit like an armadillo. Except thankfully, without the leprosy. I have enough parts falling off. . .

Karzoug was throwing around spells at an alarming rate, and the trouble was that I could only maybe stop one of them at a time. Enough to take the edge off but not win the war. I was able to counter a Maze spell leveled at Skookumchuk for instance, but had no chance to stop the Forcecage from being dropped on top of Nuari. Well, bother! Then time stopped again. As before, we had no way of knowing what might have been done until moments later when my giants started to move in a direction toward the runelord, and Sequoia 3 was Repulsed by a magical field. We were all affected by this spell, only Skook and Vranti and Sequoia 2 managed to resist the effects while the rest of us were unable at all to move forward!

Things quickly got worse. . . A Prismatic Wall appeared before us, separating my giants, Titus and myself from the rest of my companions. . . . and then much worse. Across the room, Skook engaged Karzoug and was joined by Vranti who rushed in a stabbed the runelord in the back, drawing blood! Excitedly, he raised his weapon and shouted out, “He bleeds!”, to which Karzoug responded with a Finger of Death that I could not counter and which Vranti was unable to resist. He fell instantly dead at the feet of our great enemy. Titus cursed loudly in frustration, as he was unable to move any nearer the runelord and thus our fallen companion in order to Resurrect him!

Using quickened spells to bolster my strength with the storm giants’ life force, I began a desperate campaign to bring down some of Karzoug’s protections, most importantly, that Repulsion Field. For my efforts, a Greater Dispel was reflected, bringing down many of my own protections and sent me drifting out of the sky toward the lake of lava.

While I was scrambling to avoid certain doom, Cath was holding her own against the rune giant and Skook was doing some damage against Karzoug. Nuari emerged from the Forcecage while Titus and Sequoia 2 brought down one of the storm giants. By the time I recast Fly on myself and peeked over the top of the Prismatic Wall, Skook was gone, spirited away by a Maze spell.

Things were getting desperate now. Backing away from my companions, I laid down one of my own Horrid Wilting spells which hurt the remaining storm giant as well as Karzoug and subsequently used up the rest of his Spell Turning. I took part of that to the face as well, but it did clear the way for Nuari to start raining destruction with impunity down upon the head of the runelord!

In spite of his successes in the battle thus far, Karzoug was more than annoyed with the fact that his treasured Transmutations spells were not functioning as he expected. Nor was he pleased with any of his spells being countered. It was me that he approached then, declaring that he had grown tired of my interference and struck out at me with a Polymorph Other spell. I have wondered since that time, what he might have chosen to turn me into, but sadly we will never know. The spell was absorbed by my runeforged dagger once carried by Zerye, and I took that opportunity to Animate the dead storm giant at his feet, who lurched to the side to slam Karzoug with a mighty fist. This hardly killed the runelord to my dismay. It did however, provide distraction enough for Nuari to launch a devastating Disintegrate spell which blasted past all of the wizard’s resistances and reduced him to naught but ash and magical items.

Before any of us could register what was just accomplished, the golden liquid of the runewell burst with a wave of power as its master’s life ended and reverted back to a grey, lifeless pool of water. That burst of power brought Vranti back to the land of the living and brought down all of Karzoug’s magic within the Eye of Avarice. The storm giant and the rune giant dropped their weapons and surrendered. The Heroes of Sandpoint saved much more than Sandpoint this day!

Karzoug’s burning glaive – which had been launching fireballs at us throughout the battle, resisted near the pile of ash that was its master. Nuari picked it up and the intelligent weapon acknowledged his magical prowess and suggested it could teach him so very much more! Our sorcerer, having proved his worth and achieved part of his destiny here this day, was not swayed by the evil weapon nor the power it offered, and instead saw that it was shoved into the sack with Chellan.

A couple of minutes later, Skookumchuk appeared after escaping the Maze spell and we filled him in on what had occurred. The rune giant was ordered to destroy the lens which will be necessary if we wish to destroy the larger Anima Focus back in Xin Shalast. For now we rest and recover until Titus can prepare the appropriate spell to bring us back to that plane.

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:51 pm

Desnus the 29th, 4711

A planetar brought us back to Xin Shalast at Titus' call and took back to the heavens with him, Chellan and Karzoug's burning glaive so that they might be kept out of reach of corruptible mortal man. After destroying the Anima Focus and prying up enough wealth from the spires of Xin Shalast to make each of us even more fabulously wealthy, the Heroes of Sandpoint returned to the currently quiet little city whose name they bore.  At the White Deer we met for the last time, over heaping plates of peppercorn venison, bowls of tasteless gruel and baskets full of fresh loaves of bread.  

Catherica, our member of shortest tenure but of no less value, would go to the south to visit her father before searching out rumors of Thassilonian evil rising in Varisia or beyond.  Any rising runelords or their vassals beware!  Vranti returned to his order in Riddleport to report all that had occurred.  His investigations into the Skinsaw Murders had carried him so much farther than he had anticipated!  He seems interested in retirement now and I hope he might find some peace in that endeavor.  Skookumchuk, never one to sit for long, sailed off on Lola intent on accomplishing the life mission once held by our departed druid, Zerye.  He would work to fight the demonic evils at the Worldwound and heal the land.  If such a thing can be done, Skook is one to make it happen.  Rather homeless as an elf-born dwarf, Nuari is making plans to build a grand estate in Sandpoint from the riches pried from the walls of Xin-Shalast.  He seems more at peace with himself now than I have ever known him.  

Titus and I redeemed Misgivings, the Foxglove estate, Dispelling the evil of the house so that it might be properly repaired.  The man-turned-goblin has been a stalwart companion to me for a long time and it was therefore the very least I could do to purchase a scroll that enabled me to Polymorph him back into a human bearing a striking likeness to the man he once was.  Kindly, he agreed to help me with one final project that I’ll admit I’ve been obsessing over for many months.  Aldern Foxglove was brought back from death and unlife using the scroll of True Resurrection given us by the Spared in Xin Shalast!  

Lord Foxglove was understandably confused about all that had transpired but he had a good deal of recollection of his time as a dread ghast and was mortified by the evil that was wrought through him due to some very unfortunate choices in his former life.  But not just his choices. . .  I also revealed his great-uncle Vorel’s schemes and failed attempt at lichdom and his ties to the Brothers of the Seven.  What’s more, I confronted him with our knowledge of the murder of his wife Iesha and one of the carpenters that had worked for him on the house and I was admittedly glad to see him overwhelmed with regret for a life that had gone so horribly wrong.  I, myself know such regret and I hope it will cause him to walk more carefully a path worthy of a repentant man.  

Xanesha is dead, the Brothers of the Seven destroyed, the deed to Misgivings returned to Aldern, and I have seen that Aesrick Battlehorn, the Guildmaster of the Carpenter’s guild here in Sandpoint has be well paid for rebuilding the old Foxglove mansion.  One day it could be what was always intended; the ancestral home of the Foxglove family.  The young lord has been given every opportunity for a new and virtuous life.

After this was accomplished, Titus prepared for his journey home, opting to take the long road instead of using the immediacy afforded by magic.  He finally confided in me a secret that he had kept close since our meeting.  He is a priest not of Nethys, but of Lissala, the goddess of runes, fate and reward of service, who also happens to be the deity that first taught the seven virtues of rule to the Thassilonian Empire before the runelords corrupted them utterly.  This is why he sought us out, me in particular due to my interest and knowledge of ancient Thassilon.  Titus has revealed to me that his goddess is stirring once again; that he is not the only priest she has raised up.  After returning home for a brief time, he intends to seek out those like-minded individuals who seek for a return of her virtues and hopes that one day a temple could once again be raised in her honor.

We parted as friends, knowing we would never again see the other but wishing the best for whatever came next.  It was harder to let go of Titus than I expected.

My zombies I have destroyed one by one, that being significantly less difficult emotionally than I had expected.  The past is in the past.  I am tired of death in all its forms.  That includes this shell that is dying all around me.  

I’m fully skeletal now and having much difficulty walking without stumbling.  I am afraid to use more magic even for flight, for I know I have precious little left to me.  Nuari visits me nightly at the White Deer where I keep my room.  He has no idea how much it means to me to have him here in these final days and I am no good at expressing such sentiment.  I have written him and left to him all my worldly possessions.  Feeble I know, but I hope that will be enough for him to deduce the truth of the depth of my appreciation for his friendship.  

Brodert Quink has not left my side, but not for reasons of friendship so much as the wonder of the tale we have to tell!  He knows nothing of my condition, thinking me only ill or fatigued, which I greatly prefer to the truth just now.  I have been able to share all of our discoveries with him, but even so, I will leave him a copy of this journal for his perusal at his leisure.  Perhaps some good will come of the knowledge we’ve gleaned.

Last edited by Morelen on Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:09 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:54 pm

Arodus the 30th, 4711

The Swallowtail Festival is in less than a month! While I had hoped to see the release of the butterflies a second time in this life, I know instinctively that I will not make it so long.

Tonight I intend on finishing a gift for Brodert Quink; a set of spectacles to replace his own, which would aid him in any further dungeon-delving adventures he seeks to undertake. I write this a bit tongue-in-cheek (though neither do I possess any longer), for the scholar is self-admittedly well past his prime but his energy seems boundless and his appetite for knowledge has not slackened in the slightest. It would surprise me not at all if he discovers yet another runewell all on his own! I hope he does just that.

My own energies are not so boundless. Finishing this magical gift will finish me. I have no regrets though. . . not from this second life I’ve been given. I’ve known friendship. I’ve known victory. I’ve even known a bit of happiness, especially in these last few months. However, I don’t know in which direction the scales have been more heavily weighted. For good or for evil? I don’t know. Perhaps the gods will judge me more kindly than I have judged myself. It is my belief that I’ll find out soon.

I admit that I am afraid. . .

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Post  Saoirse on Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:59 pm

Tucked away in the back cover of the journal is a small envelope.  Within is familiar gold locket that bears a tiny painting of Morelen that once belonged to Aldern Foxglove, and a note that reads:

I have left this journal for you with the hope that you will someday grasp the fullness of what you’ve been given.  I want you to understand that you were not afforded this second chance at life because you were worthy of it.  I certainly was no more worthy of mine!  We were given this second chance precisely because we are not worthy of it, because the gods in their grace and wisdom know we will fight tooth and nail to avoid making those same mistakes as our former selves.  

My second life is now nearly at an end.  While I have managed to accomplish much good over these extra months given me, it is my dearest hope that my final act will shine more brightly than anything written in this journal.  My final act – my final hope – is you, Aldern Foxglove.  

Live a life worthy of this chance you’ve been given!  If our former lives were indeed tainted by some curse, it is no longer thus, for we have died to it!  You are not what you were.  You are more.  Greater.  Raised again to become a force of good in this world!  There will be those that doubt you – maybe even hate you.  Do not give in to the anger you will feel, for you (indeed we both) have given others reason for their doubt and their hate.  Instead, prove them wrong with love and good deeds.  

I wish I could live to see what you become, Aldern, but that favor is not one that has been given me.  If ever you need a confidant or a mentor in the months and years ahead, seek out Nuari in Sandpoint.  He knows as much about you as I do, and his hopes for you mirror my own.  He is good company and a good friend.  One needs such as him in this life!

You have been given every tool necessary.  You have been shown the path and the lantern has been put in your hand to keep the darkness at bay.  Use these things wisely, my lord.  Make this time count for something exemplary and honorable!

Live the life you were meant to live.

~ Morelen”

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