Remnants of Thassilon

Scary scarecrows, and the new release of an ancient evil

Sheriff Hemlock introduces the rusty coven to the exhausted farmer who had just arrived in Sandpoint telling a fantastic tale of scarecrows coming alive and eating everyone (and their dog). If it wasn’t for the recent evidence of ghoulish activity in the area, the rusties might have been inclined to dismiss the man as a drunk confusing old folk songs with reality. But in light of what they had just learned at Habes sanitarium it seems clear that the nearby farmhouses are in dire need of help.

Wasting no time, the heroes set off to Henly’s place, the last known whereabouts of trouble. Dharma and Olga ride together, followed by Squall and Helia on Kaielea’s horse. The swashbuckling captain herself is on foot, slowing down everyone but not by much.

With all their haste, night has fallen by the time the heroes make it to the outskirts of Henly’s farm. It is dark, and the only way to the farmhouse is through narrow pathways between tall bushels of corn. The rusties make their way in, nervous but hurried, led by Olga who knows every second count if they are not already too late. Suddenly they come upon a gruesome scene. What looked like a mundane scarecrow, turns out on closer inspection to be a body, tied to a post and showing signs of violence. Olga rushes forward to check his vitals, and as she does the figure lets out a shriek and jumps down from the post to attack her. It is too late, the poor farmer is ghoulified beyond recognition. Dharma rides forward, Epona almost knocking the terrified dwarf out of the way, and separates the undead from its head.

The party make their way through the corn fields towards the farmhouse, occasionally encountering undead scarecrows, who manage to bring out a grim mood even if they don’t present much of a challenge to the experienced fighters. Shortly, the heroes arrive in view of the farmhouse, and a large barn. They proceed to the barn, led by Olga, who is wondering if there are any survivors who are not too far gone. Dharma follows Olga, wondering if the poor farmers’ souls can be brought peace by destroying their undead remains. Kaielea follows Dharma, wondering if the poor farmers’ possessions can be brought peace by selling them to people who can still use them. Squall follows Kaielea, wondering if the ghouls are a threat to the field mice and fruit flies in the area. Helia brings up the rear, wondering why they are all wasting time and energy trying to help people who are not her.

The barn is dark and empty. Unless one counts the random body parts strewn about, remains of a ghoul’s dinner. They heroes move on to the farmhouse. They hesitate at the front door, but only for a second. Olga cries out to the occupants, identifying the party as a rescue force from Sandpoint, but no answer comes from inside. They enter the house and begin to search the bedrooms when four ghouls jump from behind cover and attack. Most of them are easily dispatched, but one proves to be more a more stubborn kind of ghoul, and Keliea and Olga spend a few terrifying seconds completely paralyzed by the creatures rancid touch and staring death, literally, in the face. The nasty creature is finally dispatched with missiles, both magical and mundane, and good old fashioned steel.

The stubborn ghoul is dressed differently then the rest. On his body they find a key, marked by the symbol of a noble house. A search of the upstairs room finds no survivors, but they do find the body of Henly the farmer, and recover a small plain key from his person. A blood trail leading from the back door to the barn explains the fate of the rest of the Henly family.

The heroes continue to search the corn fields, finding more ghouls and, to everyone surprise, even two survivors. Both men are clearly infected with the ghoul fever, but father Zantos is able to cure them, when he arrives on the scene a few hours later. He also identifies the heraldic symbol on the key they found. It is the crest of the Foxglove family, whose rich descendant Aldern is rumored to be working on restoring the family manor in the area. He is also rumored to have, at one point, pursued the lovely Dharma romantically, although she claims ignorance of such matters.

The party returns to Sandpoint with the grim news of the massacre at Henly’s place, and a suspicious involvement of the noble Foxgloves. Messengers are dispatched to warn all farms in the area, and a brave messenger rides to request Foxglove’s honorable presence to Sandpoint.

Bored and greedy, the rusty coven decides to take a day trip to the old goblin fort to see if they can get past that mysterious golden statue. After performing some mysterious magic on the thing, Hellia informs them that it is a secret door. One that can be opened by inserting a coin to a slot.

Inside, they find a couple of rooms with implements of torture and various body parts. They also come across a ghostly apparition, repeating some cliched rousing war speech ad noseum. Everyone is very surprised by all this.

The last door is locked with a mysterious mechanism. It is also held closed by magic which is too strong to overcome, despite Olga’s best efforts. But when they finally think of searching the rubble in the torture room, the heroes find a key that will clearly fit the bill.

Apprehensive but greedy, the rusty coven open the locked chamber and look inside. The large room is empty, save for some magical candles in the corners, am eerie fire pit in the middle, and a large carving of the Sahidron symbol on the south wall.

When Kaielea moves around the room, she feels, more then hears, a swift creature moving about. She then hears magical words, followed by more common ones: “They want to hurt me. You are my only friend, you must protect me from them!”

Sensing that something is wrong, Hellia cast an impressive spell into the room. It looks very similar to the one used to find coin slots in hidden doors, but this one also blinds Kailea. Meanwhile, Squall transforms herself in to a big lizardlike animal, and Olga creates an extradimensional pit in the corner of the room where the invisible foe is presumed to be hiding. Hearing a thump, Hellia casts the coin slot spell again, into the pit, and this time the cloud of golden particles settles on a the shape of a large wolf-like creature – the demon Malefeshnekor.

The stunned Rusties watch as the barghest floats up from the pit, and then blinks out of existence only to appear behind them all, next to the exit. They all try valiantly to delay the demon, but Malefeshnekor has had enough of that place. He jumps and bites and blinks through anything they throw at him, and in a moment is out of sight, heading for the surface.

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Blood Biography
Who are you? What are you? When was your blood shed? How was your blod shed?

After returning from Thistletop, our heroes each have their own matters to attend to. Kaielea and Helia head off to Magnimar for some questionable errands. Squall heads back up the river, seemingly intent on a newfound realization while Dharma begins setting up a shrine to her God.

Some weeks pass and Squall returns to town in her canoe, all her belongings and animals in tow, and immediately sets out to convince a disgruntled boat captain to sell his dilapidated, yet buoyant vessel tied up at the docks. Olga Söldrif now out of a job, discovers Squall painting the name “Forlorn Magik” on a sign hanging off the side of the boat and they arrange a business partnership (sealed by a spit handshake as requested by Squall.)

Helia and Kaielea return to town some weeks later, and quickly learn about their “Rusty Coven” noteriety and the newly christened “Broken Condition.” There they are joined by Dharma (with uncharacteristically messy hair) for a pot of Rat Goat Stew. Little time is given for reunion, however, as soon thereafter Sherriff Hemlock arrives to warn of a new set of ghastly murders in the area.

Investigating the gruesome crime scene does not provide anything conclusive, although the smell of rotten flesh is a possible lead. The hero “coven” go to the sanitarium outside of town to question the survivor of the second set of murders. He is unable to answer any questions, but by his appearance Olga suspects he is infected with the ghoul fever. Luckily, Father Zantus is able to get to him in time and the man is expected to make a full recovery.

The heroes now realize that there is a ghoul menace emerging and likely a more sapient and devious intent behind the monsters. Even worse, a certain “Lordship” seems intent on using these attacks to lure Dharma into a nefarious plan. The ramblings of the insane survivor connect the “Lordship” with the note stuck in one of the victims, on which an invitation to Dharma to “join the pack” was written in blood.

The heroes return to town and plan to wait and see what happens. Kaielea and Helia sneak off back to the goblin fort in an attempt to make some money on the side. They get past the gold pile/secret door, and find more doors. One door is locked and clearly magical. Behind another door the discover a ghostly figure on a throne, stuck in an endless loop of inspiring speech. Not knowing what to make of any of this, the “rusties” return to Sandpoint.

The next afternoon news arrives of more ghouls marauding the nearby countryside. So our heroes grab a few batches of holy water and race off to prevent the spread of further ghoul-ification with some good ol’ beheading.

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Mopping up

After a much needed night of rest, the party plans their counter-assault on the crypt of shadows. They also interview Lyre the mage, now behind bars (temporarily) and she seems willing to cooperate in return for leniency. They learn from her that Nualia was the only one communicating, or at least claiming to communicate with Malefeshnakor, who has been somehow contained under the temple-under-the-fort since before Thassilon. A long time.

Olga visits The Curious Goblin again, and finds out that the heavy tome recovered from the chamber of floating junk is a prayer book to Lamashtu. Nothing useful in the book, but she keeps it anyway, to the chagrin of the creepy old guy that always hangs out there.

Squall walks about the docks inquiring about used boats for sale.

The next morning, the heroes prepare themselves with appropriate magics and set off to the island. With Squall’s guidance they make it through the nettlewood forest unmolested and go over the bridge to the goblin fort. There are signs of a recent visit by a few goblins, but none are there now. The heroes go to the lower levels and, sighing, prepare to jump across the stone glave trap. But Dharma has a better idea. She is carrying some wooden planks found upstairs, and a couple of big rocks. A small bridge is built over the pressure-plate and the rest of the party crosses safely. Readying themselves for a fight, they enter the crypt room.

As expected, disturbing the sarcophagi gets the shadows’ attention. But this time the poor undead are quickly put out of their misery, and after a couple of healing spells no one is much the worse for it.

Before leaving though, the heroes look around the room. Kaielea is particularly interested in the INSERT_CARDINAL_DIRECTION wall, which exhibits a suspicious asymmetry with the opposite wall. She doesn’t find anything specific, but her actions draws Olga’s attention, and the cunning dwarf spots a secret door blending into the stone wall. Behind the door is a short corridor leading to a treasure room.

The room is partially flooded. It appears a wall has been breached and the room now connects to the ocean outside. In a deep pool of sea water, the heroes spot the remains of a hoard of treasure. They get excited, briefly, about a huge gold helmet, but Olga informs them it is only a gold veneer and hardly worth the effort of dragging out of the water. While the look around for something that is worth dragging out, Squall jumps in the water and dives deep down and out of sight. Squall swims around for a while, and she spots an underwater tunnel leading out. She hopes. Squall swims down the tunnel and shortly after surfaces near the rocky beach.

Meanwhile, the heroes notice that the only valuable artifact in the pile is sitting right next to a giant hermit crab who has made the gilded helmet its home. Dharma volunteers to go fetch. They tie a rope aroudn her and send her down. As she is filling her satchel with treasure, the crab takes offense. Dharma tries to fend him off with one hand and keeps filling her satchel with the other. The crab helps himself to chunks of her meat, while Olga Kaielea and Helia attack it with magics from the surface. Her work done, Dharma starts climbing back up, but the crab grabs a hold of her and squeezes hard. It doesn’t let go until magical attacks knocks it, and it sinks slowly to the bottom. A drenched and badly hurt Dharma is fished out and partly healed by her cleric friend.

On their way out of the fort, the heroes are joined by Squall, coming from outside. They all return safely to Sandpoint, to learn that Lyre is nowhere to be found. They shrug and go to sleep.

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Running from shadows

Helia settles down for some quiet time reading magical tomes and guarding an unconscious prisoner, while the others go exploring. She is only a few pages into a the first chapter when she hears a a commotion. Heavy boots on stone, a door slamming, and a dwarf crying “Helia get your gear together, we’re leaving!” A moment later a Paladin storms into the room, picks up the unconscious Nualia and shuffles out. Helia follows Dharma to find the rest of the party already on the other side of the stone glave trap. She joins them and the five heroes hustle out of the goblin fort, across the hastily mended bridge, through the dangerous Nettlewood forest, and continuing on the road to Sandpoint.

A few hours later, just before reaching Sandpoint, the party encounters a short man blocking the road ahead. He is there for Kaielea. He informs them that she is wanted for murder in Magnimar (Dharma and Olga knew this already) but he is there for the cargo that the brash fighter had lost at sea a few weeks before. He and his band of archers offer the heroes a share of the bounty if they help him capture Kaielea but they, putting a hand on Helia’s mouth, politely refuse and instead promise to fight him. The short coward decides not to call their bluff and is satisfied to leave with the last known location of his drowned cargo.

Arriving in Sandpoint, the heroes deposit Nualia in a prison cell and spend the day enjoying the congratulatory words of the townspeople. Shelalu is in town and informs them that the goblin threat appears to be disappearing now that their leaders are gone.

The next day is spent shopping and recuperating from battle wounds. In the evening most of the heroes retire to the Rusty Dragon. But Squall has a gut feeling about something and decides to patrol the streets instead. Soon enough she hears a commotion from the barracks and when she goes to investigate she learns there was a jail break. Suto and Nualia are gone, and the guards are pursuing them into the Glassworks.

Squall runs to inform the others and they all rush after the guards. All except Helia who is sound asleep in her private room. When the party arrives at the Glassworks they run down to the tunnel entrance and find a Nualia dead and Lyre, Nualia’s hired mage, knocked out. Ken the town guard informs them Suto has run off into the tunnel just moments before. Kaielea runs after him, Olga stays at the scene to care for the injured guards and Lyre, and Dharma and Squall run back to fetch Dharma’s horse and try to head Suto off at the tunnel other end.

Kaielea follows Suto through tunnels, cliffs, beaches, and oceans, all the while lighting up trees with magic to signal her allies. They all converge on Suto a short distance out of town and bring him down with swords and arrows and big hay-choppers. Thus ends the tragic love story of Suto and Nualia.

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Highlights of a long day

The heroes find Brethasmus the bugbear rolling in the hay. They kill him and his bitches, as well as a brood of dangerous looking goblin babies.

In the next room they find Nualia’s bodyguard, a dangerous character by the name of Orik Van Caskrin. Orik is from riddleport and seems to recognize Kailea. He is allowed to leave with his life and his gear. Olga and Dharma escort him out of the island and disable the bridge behind him.

Going into the evil temple, a wave of fear crashes over everyone. Dharma’s cool and collected demeanor instills courage in her companions and they are able to withstand to the terror. All except Squall who was separated from the others. Squall runs away in panic as the rest do battle against two floating dog-demons. The Yefe hounds stand no chance against the party’s steel and magic. When they are dispatched to their home plane, the heroes search the room ad wait for Squall to return. Kailea helps herself to a couple of eternal flame Kukris.

Meanwhile, Squall is scouting the way to the lower level. Behind the secret door is a stairwwell. The air in the lower level is oddly fresh, and the entire level is tilted, as if constructed so long ago that the ground itself has shifted and moved since then. Squall returns to the party to report and everyone follow her below.

Dharama leads the way as they cross a long narrow room with broken statues lining the walls. Suddenly, as Dharma steps on a floor tile smoother and shinier then the rest, iron portcullises slam down in front of and behind her. She is trapped in a cage, and two stone statues start swinging stone glaves at her. The statues and metal bars are tough and resist attempts to break them. But Kailea becomes so enraged that her hidden reserves of strength and heroism allow her to lift the portcullis right above her head with one hand, and pull the unlucky paladin out with the other. Seconds later, the stone glave attack ceases, the floor slides into the wall to let the non-existing corpse fall through, and then slides back as the iron portcullises lift.

It only takes a 5 foot jump to clear the trap, and so most of the party is son on the other side. Even Olga makes a foolhardy but lucky leap across. Dharma is still contemplating the odds when Kailea open the door to confront whoever has been casting spells in there for the past minute. Nobody is surprised when it turns out to be Nualia herself. She is even more beautiful then in Suto’s sleazy sketches, and her mutant demon hand is even more creepy.

Dharma attempts to clear the trap, now with a stone placed to stop the portcullis from dropping all the way the floor, as the others engage Nualia. Dharma fails and must crawl back to safety, still on the wrong side of the fight. The invisible Squall keeps exploring the hallways until she finds a good spot from which to snipe at Nualia. Kailea engages the insane asmiar directly, while Helia throws magic fire at her and Olga summons big dogs to harass her.

Dharma again fails to clear the trap. Nualia shatters Kailea’s greatsword, but the sorcerer/fighter/barbarian woman pulls out a longsword, and then trips Nualia to the ground. Attacking the prone Nualia with arrows, swords, lightning, fire, hammers, and fangs, she finally goes down. Hoping to get some useful information from their enemy, the heroes decide to keep Nualia alive, to be interrogated when she comes to. Meanwhile, there is time to search the rooms, and go over her journal.

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R.I.P Ripnugget

The goblin druid’s gear makes a nice addition to the party’s loot. Squall dons a ratty, lice infested cloak of feathers, which Helia assures her is imbued with protective magic. Wounded heroes chug healing potions and then walk out of the fort of brambles and approach the rickety wooden bridge to the island.

The bridge looks sketchy. Squall, the lightest, is sent ahead to investigate. She crosses the bridge without incident and finds that the flimsy structure is not due to poor construction alone. This is a clever defense mechanism. The bridge is secured to posts that are only partially buried, so that the weight of too many crossers would pull out the posts and drop the would be attackers in the water.

The heroes decide to cross one by one, using a rope secured to both banks to take some of their weight of the bridge. Four heroes cross without being noticed, but as Dharma prepares to bring in the rear, two goblin heads appear in the wall of the watch tower. They look around and spot the heroes hiding in the bushes below. Before they can raise the alarm, Kaielea hits one with a magic missile and Olga finishes it off with an acid dart and paralyzes the other one with divine magic. Helia then hits the frozen goblin with a shower of meteorites and quiet resumes.

Dharma joins the others and they decide to enter the fort by climbing to the guard tower. Olga knows a spell that makes a rope thrown into the tower tie itself to the stones and the heroes easily make it up. Moving ahead on the roof Squall can see a group of goblins and goblin dogs teasing a tied up seagull, on the other side of the building. The heroes make their way down a spiral staircase to an empty room. It opens up to a trophy room, decorated with horse heads and other skulls. Another door leads into a small bedroom. Several goblins are sleeping soundly, snuggled in buddy-bunk-beds. Kailea and Sqaull smile wickedly and step quietly into the room. They close the door behind them. A few seconds later they come back out, Squall licking her bloody owl talons and Kailea just grinning mysteriously.

The party continues to investigate. An unappetizing butchery of horse meat is a dead end. But another door leads to a short corridor, and at the end a closed door with sounds of battle coming from the other side. Olga open the door a crack and quietly peeks in. A reenactment of the raid on Sandpoint is taking place, with badly crafted illusions of the townspeople as targets. The noisy play prevents the goblins from noticing the group of very real longshanks charging into their midst until it’s too late. Kailea rushes in and cuts one down in one strike. Olga and Helia run in next and engage the goblin spellcaster controlling the illusionary Sandpointers. Then they notice the throne in the corner of the room. And the big goblin on the throne notices them. His giant gecko notices too, and runs along the wall to attack Helia.

Dharma kills the spellcasting goblin and his illusions dissipate, but there are still plenty of combatants in the room. Ripnugget chugs a potion and charges into the fray. He jumps on his trusty gecko and heads straight for Helia. The poor sorceress tries to defend herself but she is no match for Gecknugget. The fierce goblin hero leaves her dying in a pool of blood and directs his attention on Squall.

Olga and a badly wounded Dharma finish off the rest of the little goblins. And help Helia back to her feet with divine healing energy. Unfortunately, the burst of radiant healing energy also revives two of the dying goblins. Kaielea catches one with a magic missile but the other one escapes.

At the other corner of the room Kailea and Squall are facing Gecknugget. Olga tries to help by conjuring an extra-dimensional pit behind the goblin-iguana pair, but they avoid the pit, turn their backs on Kailea and focus on the druid. Squall goes down, and is revived by another divine energy burst. She tries to retreat from the ferocious enemy but Gecknugget is intent on finishing the job. Cowering behind Ripnugget’s throne Squall finds some potentially helpful potions, but is unable to use any before the goblin hero knocks her out again.

But Ripnugget’s passion is also his undoing. So focused on killing the druid, he lets Kailea Dharma and Olga close in on him. Kailea uses her whip to trip Ripnugget, and the others dispatch his mount and then jab and hammer at the prone goblin hero. Ripnugget fights desperately from the ground but eventually falls unconscious from his wounds.

Deciding that Ripnugget might be worth interogating, Olga stops his bleeding and the others tie him to his throne. They plan to question him when he comes to but they fail to account for the state of mind of their wounded druid. As soon as Squall is revived with healing magic, she lunges at the unconscious goblin and, before anyone can stop her, severs his neck with her owl claws and runs around the room with the goblin’s head in her hand.

Just then the sound of more goblins comes from outside the throne room. Squall kicks open the front door and throws the severed head of Ripnugget at a group of goblins and goblin dogs approaching from the trophy room. Some of the shaken goblins run away from the gruesome sight, and the rest are quickly dispatched by Dharma and Kailea. But Squall goes down again.

The annoyed heroes tend to the druid’s wounds but leave her unconscious, resting in a goblin bunk bed. They go on to explore the rest of the building. They find a pantry full of goblin delicacies, and two more sleeping goblins in a guard tower are taken care of. In a small chamber behind a door barred and nailed shut, they find the missing horse. Shadowmist is very agitated, but Dharma manages to calm him down by neighing diplomatically.

The wounded and exhausted heroes rest for the remainder of the day and night in Ripnugget’s personal chambers. They are not attacked but the night is not completely uneventful. Kailea and Squall are visited by strange dreams. Kailea dreams of INTRODUCE BARBARIAN LEVEL HERE.

Meanwhile, the gravely wounded Squall is moaning in her sleep. Her crazed rage earlier in the day, brought on by repeated critical blows in combat, seems to continue into the night as she claws at the air and lets out shrieks that wake others in their slumber… Squall dreams of the dark and restless underbelly of Sandpoint… She’s clawing her way through tunnels that twist in every direction and she’s terrified. All she wants is to see the night sky again; hear the familiar sounds of the forest. But instead she can only follow the old winding tunnels to a strange pool of liquid in a basin. She hates the liquid, even though she doesn’t understand why, and tries to kick over the basin in anger. Its too heavy to topple, but some liquid spills over the side. The pool it creates on the dim floor seems animated and slowing takes shape into some kind of form… it grows right in front of her, into some kind of humanoid… a woman… then Squall sees… HERSELF! She falls back in terror, and does not land… She is swimming in a sea of air as strange unknown script swirls around her. The script whispers mutterings in her ears and burns her eyes. Each time this happens she becomes more angry, and visions of her mother flash in her eyes. She does not understand the words being whispered but she FEELS them. And they make her feel… powerful.

The others experience a calmer night, but Helia visits the latrine for what seems like longer than necessary. In the morning, Olga inquires about this, and Helia explains that she suspects some weirdness in the layout of the shit chamber. Investigating the disgusting mystery, Olga finds two hidden door. The first leads to a small “treasure” room. The tribe’s wealth is stored in a big, trapped chest, that is opened by Ripnugget’s key. Behind the second door are stairs leading down.

The party tracks poo down the stairs and into a room with a big table full of charts and notes. This is the room where the attack on Sandpoint was planned. Shuffling through the notes they find references to a Whispering Beast.

They notice a flickering light under one of the doors leading out. Dharma open it, and a loud humming sound fills the room. Dharma’s sword vibrates wildly for a second but the Paladin manages to keep a firm hold on it. She runs in to face four identical women in robes, holding wands. The paladin hits one with her sword and it disappears. Kailea rushes in and hits one of the other women, who also disappears. Helia sends a magic missile to make a third one disappear. Her illusions gone, the dark female is now facing two angry fighters and a summoned viper in close quarters, and promptly surrenders.

In exchange for her freedom, the mysterious spellcaster spills the beans. She was hired by Nualia, who is trying to uncover some demon thing buried under the island. The archaeologist tells the heroes what to expect on this level, and shows them the stairs leading to the lower levels behind a hidden door in her office. Dharma escorts her out of the fort and the party sets out to find Brethasmos the bugbear.

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A Game of Thorns

Back in the Rusty Dragon, Olga, Dharma, and Kaielea wait for Ameiko to prepare the bath. The smell of mutant goblin sick keeps most other patrons at bay, but one stranger approaches and introduces herself. Helia, a wandering sorceress in need of funds, wished to join the adventure for a share of the loot. The women discuss this in the bath and decide to let her tag along.

They all go together to pay a visit to Chask in The Curious Goblin. He helps them identify some of their loot. He doesn’t read Abyssal, but agrees to ask Sybil, who is a regular customer, to take a look at it the next time she visits. The heroes leave the book with him and go to the temple, in search of the two caravan guards Amiko said were looking for them.

They find the two men by the cliff near the temple. They explain that their caravan was attacked by goblin, who made off with a valuable black horse called Shadowmist. They promise the heroes a handsome sum if they can return the animal.

Meanwhile, Squall is scouting the road through Nettlewood. In the north part of the woods, on the coast overlooking a mysterious island with a skull-shaped mountain, she discovers a goblin fort made of thick brambles.

The following day Squall leads the others through Nettlewood to the goblin fort. It’s a long and troublesome trek through the forest. Thick vegetation slows their progress, and patches of Stinging Nettles are a constant hazard. Helia steps in one and gets a dose of the poisonous sap.

Finally, the group arrives at the goblin fort. They follow Squall in, through the narrow passages. They can hear goblins chattering about some fearsome creature they call Bunyip who lives in the Howling Hole and apparently feeds on goblin. The goblins really should be worried more about the group of heavily armed adventurers closing in on them.

The party approaches the goblin room, still unnoticed. Squall is in the lead. As they crawl stealthily towards the entrance, Olga hears a goblin say something about suspicious noises, and starts the attack.

Squall is in a perfect position to cover the entire chamber with magically animated brambles. Many of the goblins are entangled by nasty thorny vines. Those lucky enough to escape the vines charge out of the room to meet Dharma’s sword. Two of them lose their heads. Another goblin takes Kaielea’s Magic Missile to the chest and starts coughing blood. Suddenly, a Harpy’s shriek resonates through the tunnels. Helia smiles in satisfaction as a goblin screams and runs back in the vine filled room.

The swordswomen continue to engage goblin after goblin. Olga Commands a goblin to flee, and the confused creature starts climbing down the cliff in a mad attempt to escape. Squall peeks out and sees the goblin hanging on for dear life. Then, looking up, she notices a little thrush flying fast towards the island, apparently carrying something that looks like a necklace. As the thrush flies overhead, Squall’s charms convince it to abort its mission.

Olga commands a goblin to lie down at Dharma’s feet and get beheaded. The fleeing goblin comes to its senses and climbs back onto the cliff edge, only to be ripped apart by a wriggling thorny vine.

Only one goblin left alive. The terrified thing tries to hide in the brambles but Kaielea’s Magic Missile finds it. The fight is over.

Squall learns from the thrush that a druid goblin sent it with a message to a Big Goblin on a Big Chair. The pathetic warning message evokes some pity in Olga’s heart, but the goblins started the war and it is too late to stop now.

The heroes go in search of the druid goblin, Squall on top of the bramble canopy and the rest squeezing though its narrow tunnels. They discover a clearing with a nest of red-black hair, and another with tied up goblin dogs. In another larger opening they find a hole in the floor that opens to a sea cave. They keep following the tunnel until it forks: one way leading to a bridge to the island and the other leading to the clearing that Squall discovered scouting the area earlier. They hear noise inside. It must be the goblin druid.

They charge in. The goblin druid is waiting, with his firepelt leopard companion. The goblin druid mutters magical words and the floor and walls spout thorny vines that seek to entangle everyone. Dharma and Kaielea engage the big cat. Squall climbs down from the canopy and attacks the goblin druid from behind, who retreats into the thick of brambles. Olga conjures a magical floating hammer that proceeds to make swooshing sounds near the cat’s ears.

Squall follows the goblin into the brambles, relying on her intuition and asks the thrush for assistance. The bird chirps and hops its way through the brambles as Squall follows, reaching out and shooting electric bolts each time she gets close to the goblin. Meanwhile, Helia concentrates her mind in on the goblin’s magic presence and finally is able to pinpoint a location, firing Magic Missiles blindly into the brambles. Dharma and Kailea finish off the poor kitty and wait anxiously for Squall to report back. At last, the elf returns covered in blood and brambles with the dead goblin’s gear.

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Conjoined goblin myslexia

The next morning, while Squall goes to her cleric’s appointment, Kaielea the pointy eared human goes to sell the previous day’s loot and returns with an armful of gold coins. The human girls then go shopping while Olga hits the bookstore to find some information.

Dharma and Kaielea browse the local smithy. Dharma is measured for a new full-plate armor, and Kaielea, now paranoid about weapon shattering spells, ends up with four swords and four whips dangling from her wide leather belt. She is disappointed that the town’s weapon smith doesn’t carry a greatsword of high enough quality to her taste, and a messenger is dispatched to Magnimar to make sure one is purchased there for her.

Meanwhile, Olga looks over all the relevant books in the Curious Goblin, but comes up empty. Disappointed, she walks over the stables to consult the aging ranger who runs them. He doesn’t know much about demons, but suggests that Sybil, who runs the House of Bluestone establishment might know about such matters. Olga goes to meet Sybil, who reluctantly agrees to listen to a description of the demoness and confirms that it is indeed a Quasit. This is good news, one of Suto’s important allies is vanquished.

Olga returns to the Rusty Dragon, where Kaielea and Dharma are already drinking. Surprisingly, Dharma is drinking ale. Ameiko Kaijitsu had delivered a letter to the young paladin earlier, which had obviously put her in a bad mood, although she says nothing of it to her companions.

It is time to get back to work. The party treks easily through the empty tunnels, confident that they can handle anything still left in there. Their confidence is somewhat lowered though, when they come to the torture room and find their barricade removed, and the door to the lower level busted outwards.

Squall is sent to scout ahead. The elf hermit and her owl companion tiptoe down the stairs, and return to report: The room is well lit by torches lining the walls. Several pits on the floor are covered by rickety wooden lids, and sounds of moaning and shuffling come up from under them. And someone is home. Squall spotted a goblin-looking arm behind the doorway. Zephyr the owl saw it too, and claims it is attached to something bigger and scarier than a goblin. The heroes draw their weapons and line up in order of bravery, Kaielea, Dharma, Olga, and Squall, bringing up the rear with her dog and owl in tow. Olga tosses her signature vial of harpy musk into the room to signal the attack.

As the musk of harpy spreads in the room, a large and hideously deformed creature jumps out form behind the doorway, waving a sword in one hand and an axe in the other. And a dagger in the other! The obviously shaken creature opens its mouth, and with a sickening gurgle hurls a jet of nasty vomit at the perfectly lined heroes. The caustic liquid burns their skin, and the stench overwhelms squall, who is forced to stop and gag for a few seconds. Seeing his mistress in distress, Zephyr does what any loyal owl would, and flies in for the kill.

The goblonoid creature blocks the entrance to the room, until Dharma pushes it in just enough for both her and Kaielea to engage it at the same time. From behind them, they hear Olga’s now familiar magical mutterings and know help is on the way. Over their heads the screeching Zephyr darts beak first into the fray. But, with three weapon wielding arms, the goblonoid is able to fend off all three of them for a while. He clangs steel with Dharma and Kaielea, and knocks Zephyr out with a single blow.

The heroes press on the attack. A big dog, conjured by Olga’s magic, appears behind the goblonoid and bites it in the ass. Kaielea moves into the room, making way for Olga’s hammer to join the fight. The poor goblonoid is now facing four determined attackers. Dharma’s sword open up a long gash in its flank. With a crack of her whip, Kaielea trips it to the ground. Praying for her god’s blessing, Olga moves in and lands a crushing hammer blow on the creature’s rib cage. The mangled creature stands up, gurgling in pain. From behind, Squall’s trusty dog joins the fray, as the outraged elf, now recovered from her nausea, shoots colorful flares at the goblonoid, trying to aid her friends by distracting their opponent. Seeing that the fight is going well Olga steps back and uses her magic to stabilize the dying owl.

Dharma maneuvers around the goblonoid. As she steps on one of the wooden lids it gives way, and she crashes loudly into a deep pit. Sounds of moaning and slashing worry her friends for a few seconds, and then the paladin’s high voice rises out from below – “hey guys, there’s zombies in the pits!” She’s fine.

The others still have their hands full with the mutant goblin. The creature keeps throwing up on them. Olga and Kaielea get a dose of nausea but at last, between hammers and swords and flares, the poor creature is put out of its misery.

Looking over the disgusting battlefield, it seems the only badly injured ones are the animals. Olga uses her healing magic and no creature is in immediate danger of death, but poor Zephyr is still unconscious and is gently put inside a saddle bag carried by the still limping dog.

With everyone’s help, Dharma climbs out of the pit. The companions spend a few minutes playing Whack-A-Zombie until they realize there must be a better way. They use the wooden lids and some oil to make post-funeral pyres for all the zombies. After a short time, the moaning and shuffling cease.

One other door leads out of the zombie room. At the end of a short corridor, they come to a curious, round metal door, with a vault handle. The elf’s sensitive ears make out a soft hum from inside. They open the door to find a spherical chamber, with glowing metal walls. Strange runes appear on the walls only to vanish seconds later. Kaielea can make out Thassilonian words for “anger”, “wrath”, “revenge” and the likes. The Evil of this chamber overwhelms the young paladin, who is attuned to such things.

In the center of the room several objects are floating quietly in mid air. Using her whip Kaielea manages to fish them out. A magic scroll. A book containing images of demonic creatures, a wand, and a bottle of wine. Oh and a dead maggot ridden bird. The bird is non-magical.

Squall summons a flaming sphere that rolls around inside the chamber. Seeing that nothing happens, the elf maiden walks inside and floats around for a while. When she had her fun the companions close the door and stand to consider their options.

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Angry Birds
If a monster falls in the mist and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

Over breakfast Amiko describes her attempt to get some information out of her brother Suto. She had limited success. He spoke of his planned attack on Sandpoint, not giving up a specific time but only the impression that preparations for the attack were not yet finished. He also seems to be expecting to be rescued from the town prison.

Based on this information, the heroes decide that the best course of action would be to continue to explore the caves under Sandpoint, to clear the monster threat from below and perhaps get more clues to the nature of the phantom menace. After readjusting the positioning of the town’s guards, already stretched thin, the heroes go into the caves to resume exploring.

The caves have plenty of tourist attractions. Behind one door the party finds a pair of sinspawn play fighting. Some real fighting then breaks out. A sinspawn is repeatedly tripped by dogs and whips. Zephyr loses a few feathers, but Dharma takes care of it by laying her hand on his mottled head. Kaielea and Dharma perfect a new sinspawn slaying technique – a shield bash to the head knocks it down, a sword to the throat coups it out of its gras.

The room the fighting took place in is, or rather was, a prison. Holding cells line up against the walls but they are empty save for some very old bones. There are more rooms to explore. A staircase leads down to a room with several pits, and a gravely voice that scares granny Squall quickly back up stairs, yelling at her to stay out. The heroes block the door with a heavy table. Another room has three stone doors that open to small cells, containing the remains of monstrous deformities. The doors are inscribed with the mysterious Thassilonian star symbol. Another room apparently used to be an arcane library, as evidenced by the tattered remains of ancient books.

In a small room with a central circular pool there are blood smears on the walls. As the heroes move across the room a green fleshy head with ear-wings flies out from behind a drape and shrieks. Everyone is startled, but unharmed, and a blow from Olga‘s hammer and Kaielea’s shield knocks it down. The poor thing coughs blood, tried to bite someone, and falls dead.

A spiral staircase goes up a short length then is blocked by collapsed walls.

Back in the room with the altar with evil looking water. Olga suspects it’s un-holy water. Large double doors open to a large room with torches on the walls, spiked runes of rage everywhere, doors on either side. A pool in the center with skulls on spikes. Stairs lead up to a pulpit area where a small winged creature wearing mage robes stands next to a small basin of churning water muttering angrily in Thassilonian. As the heroes enter the creature cuts her own wrist and drips some blood into the basin. Suddenly it all makes sense. A cathedral of senseless rage, blood magic and insane ramblings? It’s the church of PMS-ing bitches!

Before the heroes can offer sympathy however, the clawed hands of a sinapwn appear out of the basin. It’s time for a fight.

Squall springs into action. She rides her dog to the edge of the central pool, picks up a skull from one of the spikes, then rides up the stairs to the basin, jumps off and starts splashing freezing liquid everywhere, stopping for a moment only to cast a big cloud of fog that obscures half the room. The angry bird-bitch meanwhile takes to the air and, hovering like a hummingbird, starts casting spell after spell. An oozy creature is summoned next to Dharma and Kaielea, and a big toad is summoned next to the basin, where Olga and Squall, and Squall’s dog, are fighting the sinspawn. The angry bird peeks out of the fog, sees Dharma, and casts a spell that shatters Dharma’s sword to a thousand pieces. Unfazed, Dharma pimpslaps the goo monster to dazeness. Olga makes toad juice with her hammer and Dog has a taste of toad shank. Seeing that the basin cannot be emptied by a bailing skull, Olga and Squall decide to use good old fashioned sacrifice. When the toad is dropped in, a sinspawn climbs out and is unceremoniously dispatched.

The ooze monster disappears to its home plane. Dharma chucks spears, nowhere near the bird, then catches a fear spell in the face and runs around screaming for a few seconds. Out of spells and out of summoned allies, the angry bird floats out of reach throwing around a boomerang dagger. Squall dismisses the obscuring mist and sends Zephyr to “fetch” the magic dagger. Then sends Dog to attack the evil spellcaster flying away. The dog leaps off the balcony, jaws agape, but can’t quite make it and falls to the lower floot. Zephyr wrestles the dagger out of the evil bird’s hand and brings it to Dhamra.

Olga COMMANDS the angry bird to drop down and give her twenty, and it works! The heroes converge on the tiny prone creature and proceed to pound the floor around her with savage blows, stabs, jabs, and bites. Suddenly something connects! Dharma jabs the creature with its own dagger, hard. The wounded bird scratches Squall and her dog with poison claws and takes to the air again. Hovering above Dharma she loses her lunch on the young Paladin’s face, mutters a few magic words and vanishes! Dharma quickly throws the dagger towards the bird’s last known whereabouts. The dagger flies true and, with a thud, comes to a stop in mid air. The heroes follow the invisible creature’s blood trail out of the room as Zepher tracks it.

REDUX

Kaielea’s long legs are barely long enough to let her keep the flying creatures in sight, and she follows Zephyr, who is hopefully following the angry-bird, down the narrow corridors, back through the prison room. On her faithful riding dog, Squall follows closely, while Dharma and Olga lag behind, the Paladin moaning under her heavy armor, the Dwarf’s comically short legs moving fast but advancing slow.

As Kaielea and Squall enter the prison chamber, both birds are out of sight, but there is only one way out of the room. They rush into the torture chamber to find their makeshift barricade of the door to the lower levels disturbed but still standing. The demon was not strong enough to move it. She must be hiding in the next room, from which there is no escape! Seeing that the demon is cornered, Kaielea waits for the others to catch up. Squall arrives and rides her dog to battle. She opens the door and the angry-bird, visible again, attacks. No more spells, no more rituals, not even a flying dagger, but the demon’s poisoned claws are still plenty dangerous. Squall gets two more scratches and two more doses of poison. By the time Dharma gets to her side, the old druid is slumped on her dog, barley able to lift her head. Olga stands in the doorway, blocking the only escape route, while Dharma and Kaielea engage the angry-bird. The bard uses her whip to trip the flying demon and Dharma dives at the prone creature, dagger first. In the Good paladin’s hands, the blade seems to slip right through the demon’s tough hide, and she is mortally wounded. By now the heroes have learned to expect the ability of foul creatures in this dungeon to heal themselves quickly, so just to be sure, Dharma removes the evil bird’s head.

Turning around in triumph, the fighters find Olga busy treating a sickly looking Squall, a grim expression on her face. Amazingly, though the druid is barely able to move, she is busy taking care of her dog’s poisoned wounds. A few seconds later the Dwarf sighs in relief and informs them that the little druid is not in immediate danger of dying any longer. However, Squall is still very weak. The rest are also tired. The heroes decide to call it a day. This level is essentially clear, it’s time to go back to town.

Before going up though, they stop once more at the un-holy temple to deal with the sinspawn portal. It is almost out of whatever fuels it. Throwing a few foul smelling entrails into the basin, they quickly dispose of the emerging sinspawn, and see that the basin is now empty. One less thing to worry about.

Bruised and dirty, the heroes return to town and go straight to Father Zantus. He agrees to prepare some spells to fix their broken druid, taking in payment only the un-holy symbol looted from the demon priestess, which he says is the symbol of Lamashtu. The party then meets with the mayor to discuss the town’s defenses, and retire for the evening.

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Alarming discoveries
Is that a horn on your head or are you happy to see me?

The heroes stand quietly above the body of the sinspawn, wondering if it is really dead. In a few seconds they see the monster’s wounds start to heal. Frantically,Kaielea Brightblade unzips the creature’s belly with her sword as Olga Söldrif melts its face an acid dart. They stand and watch anxiously, but the sinspawn seems to be dead for good now.

Finding nothing of interest in the sinspawn’s cave, they move on down the tunnel. More rooms open up to the right. Some are carefully carved out of the stone, with proper doors built in them. Someone has been busy down here. At the end of a short corridor they can see a flight of stairs, going up.

The party continues to investigate. In a small room they come across a stone statue a beautiful, and strangely furious looking female, holding a long pole arm. Kaielea helps herself to the weapon, which Olga informs her is a ranseur, and a nice one too.

Listening at one closed door they can hear low breathing. Dharma Hildegarde Kaielea and Olga want to investigate but Sereca Squall is either afraid or else she doesn’t care what’s on the other side. To humor the others she starts to blindly cast lightning under the door, but when they whisper at her to stop, who knows what is in there, she is fed up and storms away.

Left with no choice the others follow. Squall climbs the stairs to find another door blocking the way. Since there is probably evil behind this door too, she turns back again. Scouting the tunnels some more, the party comes to a larger room, with a strange looking altar on a dais. The altar is full of dirty looking water and, Dharma informs them, strong evil is emanating from it. The only other exit from this room is through another closed door. So Squall is once again turned away. Since it is getting late, they all agree to go back to town and figure out their next step there.

Back in town, the heroes pay a visit to the prisoner. The half-elf isn’t talking. The guard informs them he hasn’t said a word to anyone. He points them to a box of the prisoner’s belongings, which include some coin, assorted loot, and Suto’s journal. The journal is a frightening record of what appears to be a plan to overrun Sandpoint with hundreds of goblins, and much worse! In his journal, Suto alludes to a ritual involving the dug up corpse of father Tobin, and some sort of unholy resurrection of the priest’s daughter [name?] who died in the same temple fire. Quite the artist, Suto includes many drawings of [name], who he refers to as “his love”, in his journal. The later drawings feature not quite human appendages. Somethings, apparently, had not gone according to Suto’s plan.

As troubling as all this is, the most immediate worry is the planned attack on Sandpoint. It is clear that an army of monsters is assembling to attack the town, including goblins, bugbears, demons, and other “freaks.” The journal provides valuable information on the plan of attack (through the tunnels that open up in the glassworks and elsewhere, and by waterway) but is silent on the possible timing of the attack. The prisoner is likewise silent on the subject.

Seeing as there is nothing more they can do today, the heroes retire, praying that the attack not come that night. While eating their dinner at the Rusty Dragon, Ameiko Kaijitsu thanks them for capturing her brother before he was able to harm her. She shows them a note from Suto, slipped under her door that morning, asking her to come by the glassworks, but she has no theories as to his plan, and offers no explanation on the Kaijitsu family fallout beyond what is already common knowledge. Amiko agrees to try to speak to her brother in the morning, but warns the heroes against holding their hopes too high.

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