The day of the Swallowtail Festival has arrived. The day kicked off with games, drinking, and song. Father Zantus took the dais to dedicate the newly constructed temple; the previous one burned down 5 years ago killing the former church leader and his adopted daughter. Before he could begin the town of Sandpoint was attacked by several goblin raiding parties. Four heroes emerged and held the northwest part of Sandpoint, slaying several goblin raiders and their commanders. With their help the town vanguard managed to force the surviving goblins from the town and back from whence they came. These heroes soon learned that the raiding party consisted of several goblin tribes - something that most familiar with goblin culture found somewhat disturbing. During the raid they saved a nobleman by the name of Aldern Foxglove.
The next day the party visited Aldern. He rewarded them with monetary compensation, horses, and an invitation to attend a boar hunt. Aldern, seemed obnoxiously interested in Vargo. The sheriff asked the party to keep watch over Sandpoint while he went to Magnimar. During, they are called upon by a very frightened woman. It seems that one of the goblins hid out in her house after realizing that he couldn't escape. The party went to her house and discovered her husband dead - half of his face was chewed off. From a hole in the floor boards came a shriek as a crazy eyed goblin jumped up from his hiding place to face whoever stole his dinner. The heroes captured him and questioned him - learning that whoever organized this raid was not a goblin, and is capable of doing far worse torture to the goblin than he feared the heroes could do. They threw him in the town jail for Hemlock to deal with. When Sheriff Hemlock arrived back in town he came with a guest - Shalelu. An elven ranger, she has kept watch on the goblin tribes and has intel to share. She explains that the raid on Sandpoint was one amongst many and that she sees evidence of massive organization - the likes of which she has never seen in goblin culture. She invites them to dinner offering more information on the local tribes. Hemlock informs the party that he was not successful in Magnimar and will return with the Mayor and Aldern to strengthen his case. He ask the party to watch over the town once more. They oblige.
The companions have been watching over the town since Hemlock left for Magnimar. They met with Father Zantos and learned some disturbing news - the remains of Father Tobyn, the former head of the temple, had been removed from their resting place. In addition, the memorial marker of Tobyn's adopted daughter, Nualia, had been knocked over. The companions investigated the grave site and determined that goblins were involved and possibly a human.
Returning to the Rusty Dragon Inn, they were surprised to find that it's caretaker, Ameiko Kaijitsu, wasn't in yet. One of her employees, an elderly woman, was very worried - she told the companions that she could not raise Ms. Kaijitsu at the door to her room. The companions broke into the room and discovered a note written in Ameiko's native tongue of Minkai. The Rusty Dragon employee knew enough Minkai to translate it and did so on the back. The letter was from Ameiko's brother Tsuto. It requested her presence at the glassworks factory. Fearing the worst, the companions hurry to the glass works factory. Inside they discover eight goblin warriors playing "keep away" with a human head. Bodies, broken glass, and general mayhem lay scattered about the glass blowing room. The companions engage the goblins in combat and defeat six of the little runts but two of them flee down the stairs into the basement below. They are able to identify one of the bodies as Lord Kaijitsu - Ameiko's father. In the basement they encounter Tsuto - Ameiko's half-brother. They capture him and attempt to interrogate him but he isn't forthcoming with information. Fortunately they discover his journal.
In an adjacent storage room they discover Ameiko unconscious. Reviving her, they learn that she was lured here by her brother and asked to join him in aiding his master destroy Sandpoint. She refused and was attacked by ten goblins - she claimed two but was overtaken by the remaining eight. She escorts the defeated and bound Tsuto to the Sandpoint jail. Vargo rushes off to alert Zantos of the situation and to notify him of the bodies in the glass blowing room. Ameiko alerts the remaining vanguard and some of the town's elders to begin fortifying against another possible attack.
The companions enter a door from the basement and follow it into what appeared to be an old smuggler's tunnel. One path leads to the shore while the other leads down a dead end. Along the wall was a section that had been bricked up but some of the bricks had been torn away to reveal a cavern system. The heroes entered. Almost immediately they encountered a terrible creature - a sinspawn. They defeated the hideous monster and pressed on.
The came to a room with a statue of a Runelord woman. In the adjacent room they encountered an abomination - the terrifying vargouille. It's ear piercing shriek cut through the silence knocking everyone out except for Henric and Vargo. Together they brought and end to the creature and raised their friends.
Moving on they entered what appeared to be a small prison with a rickety wooden platform that passed over the holding area. They encountered two more sinspawn here. One of them tore down the platform knocking Henric to the ground. They terminated the creatures and moved to the adjacent section of the labyrinth. Eventually they came face to face with what remained of the goblin leader Koruvus. They put the mutated goblin out of it's misery.
Finally they came to a great hall with a raised platform. Inside were two pools - one large pool filled with water and one smaller one filled with a translucent orange fluid. Inside they encountered the quasit Erylium. She immediately summoned a sinspawn, a blood skeleton, and a hell hound. The battle that ensued was deadly. The summoned monsters engaged the heroes in melee while the quasit launched deadly spells from above. At one point it looked grim for the companions. Everyone lay dying and unconscious except for Vargo, Narcisso, and Snowball. Thinking quickly, Narcisso ordered his serpent to remove the healing potion in Tryst's belt pouch and to pour it down his throat. Likewise, he did the same for Henric. Vargo, on the brink of losing consciousness, drank his potion and regained his composure and sank his crossbow bolt deep into the hound's face - it fell to the floor with a sickening thud. Pulling what little strength they had left, they took on Erylium. The ancient familiar fell to the heroes and died on the floor of the ancient chamber.
They could see a long rickety wooden bridge that connected the island to the mainland. Testing its reliability, Tryst nearly fell to his death when the trap was sprung and the bridge fell. However, he had tied a rope around his waist and his companions managed to keep him from plummeting to his probably death 80 feet below. Once they were finally across they engaged a party of goblins and their rat like dogs. Unbeknownst to them they were being watched by a couple of goblins from the forest. What these goblins saw would be told amongst goblin tribes for generations: First came Vargo the Flamewielder (also called Face Roaster depending on which goblin tribe you talk to). Then came Henric the head smasher, Tryst the hole poker, and finally Narcisso the Antler Man (in some tales he is portrayed as the groups pet stag instead of a person).
The party laid siege to the goblin compound defeating the Thistletop warchief Ripnugget. They found a hatch in the courtyard that led to another level below. This level was clean and well kept. They stumbled upon the bug bear Bruthazmus who was a bit preoccupied with some goblin women to notice their approach. Once he saw Narcisso his hatred of elves overcame him and he flew into a frenzied attack. The heroes defeated him and were able to take him alive. Through interrogation they learned that Nualia was a level below and that a magic user may be up ahead. They dispatched the dying bug bear, putting him out of his misery. They found a mercenary locked in a room and managed to avoid a violent confrontation. They learned that he was hired by Nualia but after the Sandpoint raid he expressed that he wanted nothing to do with her. They asked him to stay in the room until they returned.
Finally they encountered Lyrie - the magic user. With a single word she shattered glass vials filled with a potent acid which fell upon Tryst and Henric. Realizing that she had underestimated them she fled to the lower level...
Orik, the mercenary formerly in the employ of Nualia, made his way out of Thistletop despite the heroes request that he stayed in the room they found him in. However, the further away from Thistletop he got the angrier he became as he thought about how Nualia scammed him. Also, he began to worry about possible legal ramifications of his association with the woman - is that why the heroes asked him to wait in his room? Finally he decided to aid them - partly to have a chance at getting the gold he was owed from Nualia and partly because he was hoping to clear his name. He found the party about to give chase down the stairs into the lowest level of Thistletop. They accepted his help graciously after bartering his plunder cut (there was some confusion about 1/5 and 20%).
They headed down the spiral staircase and saw Lyrie leaning against a wall catching her breath at the end of the hallway. She saw them and quickly rounded the corner. Orik charged forward hoping to get his payment out of Lyrie, however, he stepped on a pressure plate and triggered a trap. Two portcullises dropped down and trapped him in a small area as two statues on either side of him began slashing at him with swords (Orik was so single minded about his money he didn't even see the statues). Orik smashed one statue but the floor beneath him opened and dropped him into a 10 foot pit. Tryst disabled the trap and the rest of the group smashed through the floor and pulled Orik out.
When they rounded the corner they were confronted by Nualia Tobyn, Lyrie, and Nualia's pets (two Yeth hounds). Lyrie was instantly killed having already been wounded in the previous fight. The hounds attacked the group while Nualia combined magic and steel to unleash her fury on the intruders. Ultimately, near defeat, her goddess Lamashtu abandoned her. For the first time in a long while she felt like herself. Laying on the stone floor next to the pool of water she pulled the party into a collective dream. The dream was a series of flashback of Nualia's life. She was viewed as an outsider and was ostracized by the people of Sandpoint. Many saw her as a blessing and would attack her on the streets attempting to convince her to cure them. She felt love - only to have it pulled away once her lover learned of her pregnancy. The child had been conceived near the Catacombs under the glassworks factory. She gave birth to a fiend. The party witnessed her breakdown. She accepted Lamashtu, the goddess of monsters, into her heart and began her campaign of terror. She burned down the former Temple with her adopted father inside. She traveled with a group of murderous masked men and hunted down her former lover and brutally murdered him. She sent the goblin raiders to Sandpoint to steal her father's body. She communed with a great beast who whispered evil suggestions into her impressionable mind.
The collective dream ended and the party stood dazed inside Thistletop. Nualia offered apologies to her deceased father and died on the floor of the observation deck. In the room the party found a strange key that they used to enter another room determined to find the beast and get rid of the threat once and for all. They found him - he was a Barghest. The battle that ensued was deadly. It nearly ended with the death of Henric and Orik. Eventually they vanquished the beast and left his carcass to rot on the floor of the labyrinth. The heroes completed their investigation of Thistletop and saved the city of Sandpoint. Orik parted ways with the party and they returned to Sandpoint where they were welcomed as heroes. Their tale will be told to Sandpoint children for centuries.
The Skinsaw Murders
Henric, Narcisso, Vargo, and Tryst have carved out a name for themselves in the little town of Sandpoint. Now, widely regarded as heroes, they begin to make lives for themselves as bounty hunters working for Sheriff Hemlock. They have brought several outlaws to justice over the last month. For the last few weeks they have been tracking two separate groups of criminals. The first group contains well known local con-men Mortwell, Hask, and Tabe. Mysteriously they had tracked them into the farmlands but lost their trail - as if they had just vanished. The men were wanted for petty crimes and so the heroes didn't give it to much thought. They were also investigating an old case concerning two Tiefling brothers who were wanted in several territories throughout Varisia. Hemlock thought that he might reopen the case after receiving a tip that two Tieflings had been spotted in the forests outside of Sandpoint. Unfortunately the heroes were unable to verify this claim.
The heroes were called upon by a disheveled Hemlock. He informed them that there had been a double homicide at the lumber mill. He showed them a note that was found pinned to one of the bodies.
We have spoken of this before my master. Now it begins.
Join the pack and it shall end.
Hemlock quickly revealed that he believed the note to be a ruse to throw off the investigation, but, it might be that the killer knows Vargo and wishes to cast suspicion on him. The victims at the lumber mill were the manager, Habe, and a local girl, Katrine Vendor. The bodies were discovered by another lumber mill employee, Ibhor, who is being held at the garrison but believed to be innocent.
Hemlock also informs them that a similar triple homicide had occurred about a week ago. The victims where Mortwell, Hask, and Tabe. He didn't investigate further because he assumed that they had wronged somebody and that they got what was coming. He covered it up so that it wouldn't alarm the locals. A note was found there as well.
Also, there was a survivor. Unfortunately, the survivor, a man by the name of Grayst, had gone quite insane after witnessing the murders and is now being held at a local asylum.
After inspecting the bodies from the triple homicide and investigating the murder scene at the mill the adventurers concluded that the murderer has the scent of undeath upon him and came from the river near the mill. He crawled up through a second story window and assaulted Habe. Katrine was simply in the way and attempted to fight off the murder with an axe before being pushed into a wood chopper. The murderer ritually killed Habe and carved the Sihedron run on his chest. Similarly, Hask bore the symbol on his chest as well.
The party went to the asylum to question Grayst. To their surprise, they found the two tiefling bandits there but were forced to kill them in self defense. The assylum caretaker, Habe, had grown quite nervous and kept asking them too keep quiet so that they wouldn't disturb his tenant renting the basement below. The party found Grayst quite insane and on the verge of falling to ghoul fever. Grayst mentioned something about "going to the Misgivings" and attacked Vargo. They knew that some of the locals referred to the old abandoned Foxglove manor as "the Misgivings". They subdued him. At the mention of Father Zantos Habe confessed that the tenant below had been experimenting on the bodies of his patients and threatened him if he alerted Zantos about Grayst. He wanted to watch Grayst rise as a ghoul. The adventurers, now deputies of Hemlock, went downstairs to make an arrest. They didn't find an ordinary tenant but a trained necromancer and the risen corpses of former patients. They slayed the abominations and defeated the necromancer. They alerted father Zantos and pressed on with their investigations ruling that these events were merely a coincidence.
As they reported their findings and the events at the assylum to Hemlock, they were approached by several guards escorting and old farmer. He was in a state of panic and mumbling about being attacked by scarecrows in the farmlands. With a nod from Hemlock the party was off. They made their way to Hambley farm only to discover that it was crawling with ghouls - some of them disguised as scarecrows. Vargo figured that after an innocent was bit that the ghouls hung them up like scarecows until they died and came back as ghouls. They defeated the ghouls and found a key to what they assumed was Foxglove Manor.
They decided to barricade themselves up in the farmhouse and spend the night there to avoid bumping into any more ghouls on the way back to town to report to Hemlock.
The investigation of Foxglove Manor turned out to be a messy maze of hauntings that climaxed with a fight between the ghoulish form of Aldern Foxglove with the revenant form of his late wife Iesha. The heroes found a letter from someone known as Xanesha. In the letter she called herself the mistress of the seven and made references to something called the brothers of the seven. She seemed to be aware of Aldern's ghoul fever and encouraged its development. The letter requests that Aldern returns to his townhome in Foxglove if he has forgotten the sihedron ritual.
The companion report back to Hemlock who is busy chasing down ghouls that have spread over the countryside. He gives his blessing that they travel to Magnimar to search Aldern's townhouse.
The companions entered Magnimar shortly after some minor confusion involving Tryst's hand and a merchant's coin purse. Being of noble birth, Vargo posed as the master to the rest of the gang while they pretended to be his servants. They rented a room at a local inn and bathed and changed clothes (especially the druid).
Vargo casually entered into conversation with a few nobles in the inn's Tavern and was surprised to learn that Aldern was in town (seeing that his remains are at the manor home). While Tryst wondered around his former stomping grounds trying to make contact the rest of the party staked out the market place that Aldern frequents. However, they didn't spot Aldern.
They decided to go to his town home. Tryst ultimately made his way to the town home and was peeking in through the back gate when he spotted what appeared to be the living form of Iesha Foxglove picking herbs in the back garden. He made his way to the front and found his comrades. They told him that they just saw a grocer's boy deliver a package to someone who very much looked like Aldern. They paid the grocer's boy for information and the boy swiped one of Henric's shurikens. They decided to let it go.
They knocked on the door of the Foxglove town home and discovered the Foxglove's were preparing food. Aldern didn't seem to recognize them until Iesha whispered something in his ear. Even after he seemed confused about where he met the companions. As they were sitting around the dinner table chatting Iesha, in one quick movement, struck Tryst with a shortsword that she had hidden. Aldern pulled one from a hidden sheath under the table. A battle ensued and the two Foxgloves transformed into some unknown type of creature - they were imposters!
After defeating the shape shifters they found evidence that Aldern was dropping off payments at a place called The Seven's Sawmill. Also, that the Foxglove Manor Home partly belonged to the Brothers of the Seven.
After investigating the sawmill they defeated several cultists and a prominent city Justice. They found a ledger/journal that took them 3 days to translate from a strange hybrid language. From it they learned that he was frequently visiting the Shadow Clock - a 180 foot unfinished clock tower in the lower cleft under the bridge. On their way there, however, they were picked up by the local guard and brought before the Mayor.
The Mayor seemed to accept their story but was upset that they hadn't come to him first. They were identified by the grocer's boy. The Mayor informed the party that there had been a string of murders in Magnimar and it was getting out of hand. He asked them to check out the old clock tower and report back to him.
In the clock tower they came face to face with something out of a child's night mare. A huge flesh golem that wore the garments of a scarecrow. The battle that ensued was deadly. Vargo attempted to crush the monster by launching a fireball at one of the bells 140 feet up. The bell missed the scarecrow and took out several chunks of the rickety wooden stair. Ultimately they destroyed the monster, licked their wounds, and made their way carefully up the stairs. In the bell room they engaged several faceless stalkers. The fight was quick after Henric tossed two of them down to the floor below.
They climbed to the top floor and found themselves face to face with the statue of an angel. There didn't appear to be anything up here. However, a larged winged demon appeared and began to fly around them. Unbeknown to them it was an illusion caused by the invisible Lamia Matriarch, Xanesha, who hid coiled around the statue. She struck Narcisso first with a near killing strike.
Narcisso retreated severely injured. The fight was very deadly. Ultimately she tried to flee by slithering down the side of the tower. However, Vargo leaned over the tower and hit her with a quick spell knocking her off to fall over a 150 feet to her death.
They found a letter from her sister that invited her to come to Turtleback ferry and mentioned that Fort Ranick would soon be sacked. It also mentioned plans to kill the Lord Mayor. The heroes raced to the mayor fearing the worse but found him much as they had left him. Upon hearing the news of his planned assassination he faints.
Hook Mountain Massacre
It has been several weeks since the heroes defeated the Lamia Matriach Xanesha. The mayor has requested an informal meeting at a local tavern.
It has been several weeks since the heroes defeated the Lamia Matriach Xanesha. The mayor has requested an informal meeting at a local tavern.
The mayor is waiting for the heroes in a private dining area. The table is bursting with food and drink.
The mayor informs the party that an elite squadron of soldiers stationed at Fort Ranick known as the Black Arrows has failed to report to Magnimar's contact in the hamlet of Turtleback Ferry. The mayor is being pressured by the government of Magnimar to send a patrol to investigate. He asks the heroes to investigate. They oblige.
First the heroes will stop in Turtleback Ferry for intel. The road there is mostly quiet. On the second night out while Vargo is keeping watch a well known friend surprises them - Shalelu. She asks to join them. They accept.
After a few days by horseback, our heroes reach Turtleback Ferry and head for the Bottoms Up tavern for a quick drink and some food. While there they listen to the gossip. They learn that a casino barge called the Paradise recently sunk killing two dozen people including the owner Lady Lucrecia. The heroes recognize the name Lucrecia from the note they found on Xanesha's body. Could this be Xanesha's sister? They speak with Father Shreed, the priest and mayor of Turtleback Ferry, and learn that the Black Arrows still have yet to make contact with them. The next morning they head out but as they pass the general store they notice that one of the employees has a tattoo of the Sihedron rune. They ask him about it and he quickly denies it while attempting to cover it up. Finally he admits to getting the tattoo at the Paradise. Several of the regulars have one. Lady Lucrecia gave them free gambling chips, food, and complimentary drinks in exchange for letting her put the tattoo on their bodies. He reckons that half the town has one. The party collectively shudders after a quick calculation reveals that number to be roughly 200. They suspect that whatever she is doing it could be similar to the Skinsaw Man's ritual and from Xanesha's note "harvesting greedy souls for the runewell". With this in mind they hit the trail.
While crossing a small river they hear the scream of an animal. They find a firepelt stuck in a hunting trap. This beast appears to be tame. As they go to free it a malicious song can be heard through the forest. A large half human half ogre and his hunting hounds come barreling into the clearing. Unwilling to give up his supper the ogrekin attacks but is swiftly dealt with. His hounds flee once their master falls before the heroes. On his body they find a ratty old blanket with several patches sewn on them. Shalelu recognizes them as black arrow patches. The firepelt leads them through the woods to a sickly farm.
The farm is filled with gruesome warnings to keep out...
A confrontation with a tumerous ogrekin triggers a large battle as he calls for aid from his brothers in the nearby barn…the heroes vanquish these foes but at a great cost.
Henric fought bravely but in the end he succumbed to his injuries…the heroes press on eager to make these inbred ogrekin pay.
In the barn they discover a large ogre spider. They distract it with some chickens. The back of the barn houses a makeshift prison cell. Inside they find what is left of the black arrows. They are shackled to the wall with large chains that locked around their necks. The key is in the house.
The heroes explore the first floor of the large farmhouse.
Tryst discovers a trap that if triggered drops all who are seated into a pit below…they avoid it.
The heroes discover a macabre playpen with two grown but particularly slow ogrekin. They are playing with dolls made from human hair and bone. They attack the heroes but once again fall before their might…a stairway leads to the second floor….
“Boys…entertain our guests while Mammy makes herself purty!”
The large corpulent necromancer magically prepares herself for battle while her three undead sons hungrily attack the heroes. They quickly dispatch with the animated corpses.
“Ma’ Boys! You killed my darling boys!”
Furious Mammy launches a magical attack at them, draining their life while invigorating her own. Near defeat she casts “dimension door” and transports herself to join her husband and sons in the basement.
They search the grounds and find an entrance into a cellar. Inside they fight Husker Graul and his pet donkey rats. Finishing him off they barge into the final room and find a horrible monstrous plant.
In the corner is none other than Mammy Graul…the key to the shackles now visibly hanging around her neck. The fight was deadly but the heroes survived. They free the prisoners, gather the body of their fallen comrade Henric, and flee into the deep forest before any other Graul family members decide to visit their kin.
Not much was said at Henric's funeral. The Black Arrows were well aware that he gave his life trying to save them - this is something they never will forget. Vargo had been unusually quiet over the last several days. Eventually he announced that he must move on. Being hunted by his family did not afford him the luxury of being in one region for too long. The day he left was a solemn one.
The companions, along with the Black Arrows and Shalelu, have set up a temporary camp. Each take turns ranging and keeping watch. One day Shalelu and Jakardos return back from ranging early - they have two people with them. One, a knight of some sort - judging by his heraldry one would assume a Knight of Last Wall. The other, a small gnome with pink hair. The Knight, Rhonin, claims to be looking for Henric Marduzi - his half brother. He had tracked him to Turtleback Ferry and was pointed this way. On his way he was ambushed by an ogre and Lhara came to his aid. As it turned out they were both heading this way. Lhara explained that she was looking for a woman called Lucrecia. She had located her in Turtleback Ferry but her trail ran cold. The populace claims that she perished on the barge, but Lhara claims that Lucrecia is a powerful magic user and that she does not believe that this is true. Lhara is hunting the woman because she murdered her mother and stole a necklace that her family treasured. The companion give Rhonin the sad news about his brother. Rhonin pledges to fulfil his Brother's destiny and to aid them in their mission. Tryst decides to test Rhonin's ability through a few rounds of sparring. Satisfied they accept.
One evening Jakardos brings up Fort Rannick. Now trusting them completely, he divulges more details about the night they were overrun by Ogres. He and a small regiment of men were on ranging detail when the Ogres attacked the fortress. Since about 1/3rd of the men were out ranging the fortress was weak on defense. The ogres breached one of the walls with a strange alchemical device and forced their way into the front gate. With two entry points the remaining arrows didn't stand a chance. Jakardos and his men returned back to the fortress to find it occupied by Ogres. They attempted to retake the fortress but they were slaughtered. As the few survivors escaped the Graul family easily picked them off. All that remains of the Black Arrows are himself, Vale, and Kaven. Jakardos mentions that the attack happened at the perfect time...during ranging duties. He thinks there was a traitor inside the Black Arrows.
The companions decide to do reconnaissance on the Fortress. They note that most of the Ogre army has moved on and only a small occupying force has stayed behind. With the help of Lhara they are able to teleport inside a garrison on the outer wall and grab armor and weapons for the Black Arrows. Inside they come face to face with a nasty Ogre. Lhara immediately webbed the brute to the floor with a spell and Tryst and Rhonin end its life swiftly. Tryst stays behind on the roof of the garrison while the others make their way back to camp to prepare for the attack.
The plan? The plan is to infiltrate the fortress and kill the Ogre chief. It is thought that once he is dead that the rest of the ogres would flee for their lives.
The next morning the party makes their way back to the fortress. Several ogre gaurds stand near the front gate keeping watch. Lhara uses ghost sound and major image to create the illusion of an army of humans marching off to the tree line. Shocked, the Ogres take the bate and open the gate to give chase. Tryst, who was already inside, shut the gate so that they could not get back in. The rest of the party entered the fortress at the breached wall.
A guard house loomed above them. They noticed that it was on the verge of collapse. Lhara sneaked across the fortress grounds while invisible to investigate the barracks. Inside she saw 10 ogres sleeping on broken bunks. The barracks were unusually dry and there was only one exit. Impulsively, she dropped a fire ball just inside and the entire building went up in flames. The Ogres howled with pain as they burned to death. Lhara giggled and ran back to her party. Meanwhile, Tryst and Rhonin managed to chop through one of the guard houses support beams and the entire structure collapsed killing all but one angry Ogre that was up top. He charged them but the injured monster was swiftly dealt with.
The Black Arrows, along with Shalelu, stayed in the fortress courtyard to watch for returning ogres while Tryst, Narcisso, Rhonin, and Lhara entered through the front doors. Inside they encountered several Ogres but they managed to slay them without too much trouble. In the top tower of the inner fortress they came face to face with the Ogre chief, Jaagrath Kreeg and one of his elite troops. The fight that ensued was deadly. Several times during the battle one of the companions faced grave danger. Ultimately the proved victorious and left Jaagrath's corpse on the fortress floor. Only one thing left to deal with - Lucrecia.
The companions licked their wounds and made their way to the only remaining unexplored part of the fortress - the prison. The prison was built in the back mountain wall of the fortress. Someone had reanimated black arrow corpses and set them to guard the cells. The party easily destroyed these abominations and made their way to the cells. Inside they found that the jail cell had been renovated. It was now warm and inviting with throw pillows and luxurious blankets. They had seen this sort of interior design before. They feared that Lucrecia was invisible and watching them. Ultimately the found her but she refused to surrender. After a tedious battle they ended her miserable existence. Lhara found her mother's necklace and put it on. They found some notes on her. One seemed to be the names of people who were marked with the sihedron tattoo. Kaven's name was on the list. The other was from someone called Barl Breakbones. In the letter he mentions that he is with the Kreeg Ogres in their mountain lair deep inside Hook Mountain and that he has assumed leadership. He hopes that Lucrecia's plans for Turtleback Ferry are going well. When she finishes he requests that she join him at Hook Mountain.
After passing on the results of their investigations to the surviving Black Arrows and watching them dole out punishment to the traitor Kaven, the companions traveled back to Turtleback Ferry to meet with the Mayor and explain what happened and pass along Jakardos' message about re-staffing the fortress.
As they made their way there they were hit with an unnaturally powerful rain. When they arrived at Turtleback they found that the small little village was drowning. A violent flood ripped through the streets tearing buildings apart. A women and a group of children were pinned against what was left of the general store, however, the structure looked as if it would give any second. Rushing to their aid the heroes borrowed a small boat and raced out to them. Just as they were about to reach the children a large snake, dislodged by the flood, attacked but was easily dispatched. Something began to stir in the deep beneath the boat. A large serpent emerged from the waters - it's tentacles surrounding the boat and it's snake like head leering at them menacingly.
After a minute of dire combat, the sea monster left deciding that these tasty morsels weren't worth it. The companions saved the children as a roar of cheers rose from the shore line. Many of the citizens had watched them turn the serpent away. As they made their way to dry land with the children they overheard the populace excitedly talking to one another. As they listened they learned that the monster matched the description of a legendary sea monster called the Black Magga that lives in the Storval Deep lake - well beyond the courage of most humans. The lake's flood waters have been held back for as long as anyone can remember by a damn at Skull's Crossing. No one really knew who built the damn and no one had really been to the damn. The damn's flood gates had always worked and so no one ever felt the need to attend it - also, it was infested with trolls.
The Mayor asked the companions to stop by the damn because the village would be in dire peril if the waters broke. He promised them resupply and healing tonics in payment. The companions traveled on the river bank toward the damn but were forced to fight a large two headed giant who had recently killed a wizard judging by the tattered cloak in his lair.
After defeating the giant they made their way to the damn and found a troll lair littered with ogre bodies. Eventually they found the trolls enjoying ogre meat.
Lhara cast a fireball at them instantly killing them. They pressed one and found what appeared to be ogre workers, or what was left of them. They appeared to be breaking down the damn walls to cause the lake waters to flow over. That in tandem with the hard rain is what had flooded the village.
The ogres were so exhausted that they didn't put up much of a fight. The heroes pressed on and found their way to a building inside the damn were they encountered a very large troll that attacked them before they could light the room.
Rhonin took a particularly deadly blow before they could bring the beast down. His wounds were attended by Narcisso while the others found controls for the flood gates in the next room. Unfortunately, the controls didn't seem to do anything. In the next room they discovered why. A pit fiend had been imprisoned over a magic circle. His companion was imprisoned over another magic circle but had been dead for hundred of years. The pit fiend made them promise to release him once he helped them reactivate the flood gates. They agreed. He explained that he and his companion were imprisoned here for thousands of years by the Runelords of ancient Thassilonia. Their essence powered the flood gates.
The companions made a quick stop back in Turtleback Ferry before heading out to investigate the section of the Shimmerglens known as Whitewillow. They were hoping to discover what became of the Black Arrows leader Lamatar Bayden. As they approached the edge of the swamp they were met by a small pixie who called himself Yap. He was visibly distraught and asked them to come help his mistress. They decided to go with him. The swamplands became so think that they had to forge the swamp using some rowboats that Yap led them to. As they entered deeper into the marshes they noticed that the trees looked near death and the also realized that they couldn't hear any living things but themselves. Strange events began happening to them. They began seeing illusions that had disturbing effects on their minds.
At some point in their journey they discovered a large ship. They couldn't understand how a ship this large had gotten hundred of miles away from the Varisian coast. Everyone but Narciso and Yap felt compelled to board the ship. They made their way to the Captains quarters were they discovered the long dead captain clutching a silver goblet and unfamiliar naval charts. On the desk in front of them they found sheet music and associated lyrics that they had never heard before. Whatever was compelling them to board the ship past. As they made their way back to the upper deck a white dog who had been sitting near the nose of the vessel watching them walked toward the tree line and vanished. They tried to follow it but when they entered the tree line they heard a great disturbance in the water behind them as the ship vanished into thin air.
Finally they reached their destination - the mangled corpse of a dryad. As they gazed on her pitiful corpse a specter rose from the Earth and with it's hallowed voice chastised them for failing to protect Fort Rannick when it mattered. They demanded to know what had happened here and she gestured to a small pool of water. They watched as a beautiful dryad fought against ogres side by side with Lamatar. They were gaining ground when Lucrecia showed up with more ogres. Eventually they were overpowered. The Lamatar was forced to watch as the ogres had their way with her and ultimately beat her to death. It was horrible to behold. Her ghost demanded that they find the body of Lamatar and return it to her - or else she would grow her cursed forest until it overtook the world and destroyed the cities of men. With that threat she faded into the mist.
Not knowing where to begin in their search for Lamatar, they decided to wrap up some unfinished business with the Kreeg ogres at their Hook Mountain Lair. Early the next morning, just outside the Kreegwood, Rhonin spotted an ogre spying on them from the woods. He and Tryst chased the ogre and Tryst managed to wrestle the ogre to the ground while Tryst tied him up. The questioned the ogre and learned where the location of the Kreeg mountain home was. Unfortunately (mostly for the ogre) the ogre broke his hand binds and attacked the party. He was dispatched with ease.
The found the cavernous lair and fought their way past the guard on duty outside the entrance. He was quickly dealt with. The entrance was decorated with the ribs of a giant beast - Lhara identified the ribs as those belonging to a great blue dragon.
Just inside they came face to face with a stupid looking hill giant and his ogre cohorts. The giant roared at them in a challenge to fight. His body now lay rotting on the floor of that great cavern.
Further into the lair they found a giant statue who wore beautifully crafted armor and dawned a Sihedron ruin. When they removed the 20lbs amulet the statue crumbled to dust.
One part of the cavern was boarded up. Throw caution to the wind the companions entered anyway. Nothing in here but us stalagmites...also scattered mining picks and ogre body parts. As they passed one of the stalagmites a gaping mouth opened just below to beady eyes - a Roper! It appeared to be injured - possible from the ogres who once mined here. They were able to finish the job with less body parts.
They found three annis hags concocting some devilish stew in a circular cavern. After a short skirmish one of the hags was killed and the other two surrendered. They gave up information about Barl and promised to be allowed to live. They let them go on the condition that they never again meddle in the affairs of others.
Sadly they found the reanimated corpse of Lamatar. After defeating the wight they took his finger so that they could calm the spirit of the dryad.
In the last room they were met a giant ball of fire. Lhara stepped forward and countered it before it reached them. Barl and one of his fellow stone giants were in the room - Barl sat upon a mighty throne. He laughed as he hurled more spells at them and his henchman attacked. He almost killed Tryst but when he ran away he split Narcisso in half with 1 powerful blow. Narcisson fell like back of bricks, spilling blood and guts all over the floor. Snowball slithered away - no longer bound to a human; this is when the rest of the party knew that Narcisso had died. Ultimately they brought down the necromancer. On his body they found a note.
Sandpoint? Again? This troubled our heroes. They made their way back to the dryad ghost in the Shimmerglens. With the last of her essence she turned Lamatar's finger into his whole body. The commander lay naked on the ground shivering and confused. They covered him and explained what happened. He wept for his lost love. He asked them to send a message to Jakardos giving him full command of the Black Arrows. For the rest of his days he vowed to serve as his beloved did - as the protector of the marshlands.
There was one more thing that they had to do. They slowly made their way back to the Kreeg cavern. They found Narcisso's body. They buried their comrade, returning his body to the Earth. He would have wanted it that way. They never saw Snowball again. What they didn't realize was that Snowball always stayed near the body of his former master - he never left. He made his home in the Earth near his body. He hunted, made children, and fought off ogres who tried to disturb the Earth. For the rest of his days Snowball was cut above other snakes - those that caught a rare glimpse of the giant serpent would always think to themselves "there is something different about that damn snake". With that the serpent became a legend. Before Narcisso died on that cavern floor, the only snakes that roamed those parts were small common brown snakes. For hundreds of years after, great powerful serpents ruled the mountain side. The species being unfamiliar to the folks that populated the area and so they called them "The Druid's Dragon" after a children's tale about a powerful druid who once died saving their ancestors.
Fortress of the Stone Giants
After learning about the imminent attack on Sandpoint the heroes raced to where it all begin with haste. They arrived late and learned that Sheriff Hemlock was on patrol duty with several soldiers. Tryst, still holding deputy status, sent one of the guards to fetch Mayor Deverin and Father Zantos to meet them at Ameiko's tavern. After a warm greeting with Ameiko, the party got caught between her and some local thugs who were running an extortion ring.
They dealt with these street punks so easily that Ameiko was generally impressed - and that is saying something! During the fight a drunken' dwarf joined in. Ameiko introduced him as Brax McDugle Junior - son of Captain Brax McDugle.
The mayor and Zantos arrived and after being filled in they raced off to organize a defense. Before she left, the Mayor asked Brax to aid the companions in anyway possible. Owing her a favor or two for getting him out of the drunk tank once...or twice...okay maybe thrice, he obliged.
Over the next several days the town made preparations for war. Hemlock returned and was informed - he immediately jumped into action. Lhara, however, had other plans. Promising top quality ale to Brax she lured him deep into the basement of the alchemist shop. She was friends with the half-elf owner and he promised her that the store would be empty. While Brax stood guard, she drew strange diagrams on the floor, spoke strange incantations, and summoned a demon that was both terrible and beautiful to behold.
Her name was Druscilla. Furious, she threatened to flail their flesh from their bones for daring to trap her here. Lhara tortured her over the next several days before finally making a demand:
"Druscilla...you will serve me for 1 year and do what I ask without revealing any information to anyone that could be used to undermine my goals or cause me harm. After 1 year, I will release you."
Tired and weak the succubus reluctantly agreed. Lhara released her from her prison and removed all curses that she had bestowed upon her. She temporarily dismissed the demon and turned to ask Brax to promise to keep what had happen their little secret - Brax, however, had dozed off in the corner!
The day of the attack arrived. They laid seige to the Northgate killing dozens of guards before the party could make it there.
These giants, however, were a distraction. Over by Tanner's bridge several giants and their vicious dire bear pets were spewing havoc upon the people of Sandpoint. By the time the heroes arrived, much damage had been wrought.
After dispatching with this cluster of enemies they heard an unhinging roar from near the Temple. They moved as fast as they could to deal with whatever new threat had arisen.
There before them, as if it stepped out of their nightmares, flew a small red dragon. It was much smaller than the dragons from the old stories - perhaps it was a juvenile Lhara speculated. It hurled fire at the temple setting it ablaze.
Lhara summoned water from her fingertips to extinguish the blaze as the dragon flew off to roast a different section of town. Casting flight on herself she pursued the winged beast. Meanwhile, the rest of the group followed on the ground below but became entangled in combat with another group of giants - this one led by Terakinus himself. Lhara, pursued the dragon through the skies extinguishing fires as he made them and casting spell after spell at the beast until it confronted her. He launched his breath weapon at her - she barely survived. After a well placed fireball and a couple of arrows from the ground, she brought the mighty beast down. The town, once fearing the dragon, now looked upon this little gnome wide eyed with wonder and terror - she became Lhara, the Dragonslayer.
The battle on the ground was vicious and near the end Terakinus lashed out one last time and ended the life of Tryst. There would be time to mourn later. The party finished off Terakinus and gathered around their friend. Hemlock arrived and was visibly shaken by seeing one of the Sandpoint four slain before his feet. Lhara, landed as gently as a feather next to Hemlock - he stepped out of her way quickly. She saw her friend dead and bowed her head in silence. After a few minutes Hemlock hoarsely spoke up - we have a prisoner. We can't get him to talk. Angry, the companions left Tryst's corpse and made their way to the Garrison. On the way they learned that Scarnetti Manor had been attacked but the soldier managed to bring the giant down and shackle him. With a word from Lhara, a funnel of fire burst from the Earth bringing forth Druscilla. "Force him to be truthful Dru - they killed our friend". Druscilla mumbled something about wishing she could kill some of Lhara's friends while bending down and kissing the giant's cheek. Under the spell of Druscilla he told them that Mokmurian was their leader and that he was a great and powerful master of the arcane who runs his operation out of the fortress called Jorgenfist. Mokmurian had sent several raiding parties like this one throughout Varisia to test the waters. Also, he was looking for something but only Terakinus knew what that something was. Once they had all of the information they could extract, Rhonin gave the giant a quick death.
After the attack, the town slowly began to repair the damages caused by the giants and their dragon. A local artist was commissioned to begin a memorial in the town's center - where the body of Tryst was now buried. His statue was finished in a few weeks.
On the base of the statue was the inscription:
"In honor of the Sandpoint four. They risked their lives for good - some lost their lives far away doing deeds of honor and some lost them here fighting alongside the people of Sandpoint. They will never be forgotten."
Three more pedestals lay to the side of the statue of Tryst - all topped by blocks of stone ready to be carved. Each pedestal had a name: Vargo, Henric Marduzi, Tryst Del Taco, and Narcisso.