The Watcher of the Mists

The Doll's House (part 2)
Session 65 (part 2)

Exploring the rest of the house revealed a few interesting facts. First, Black kept a meticulously tidy home, and apparently lived there with his mother. The eldre Mrs. Black, however, was not at home. Both Black and his mother had bedrooms off the same hall that adjoined each other. Both rooms had almost identical furnishings, although they were mirror images of each other. Black’s closet was full of distinguished-looking clothings that befit a prosperous artisan; his mother’s clothing was that of a matronly woman of upper-middle-class conservative taste. There was a mannequin head in Black’s mother’s room— the kind that would hold a wig. In both rooms, the party found personal journals. Both journals described completely mundane day-to-day life. They often described similar events from different perspectives. Zandu notices that the handwriting in both journals was very similar.

In the pantry, Halfred mad a grisly discovery. Opening a trapdoor that he believed to lead to a root cellar, he discovered an earthen pit that was unnaturally cold. Inside the pit were a collection of body parts, all expertly removed as if by a skilled surgeon. The pile contained arms, legs, torsos, the head of a young human woman, and a few excised organs. None appeared to be decayed, and it was hard to tell how long they had been there.

They found the stairs to the basement and descended. The basement was a single long room, mostly filled with old odds and ends, including a few porcelain dolls. A painting faced the wall. Turning it over, the adventurers saw that it depicted a stern-looking matron with five children: a sullen-looking, bespectacled teenaged boy and four much younger girls. A chair was in the middle of the room with a dropcloth thrown over it. Zandu noted that there was something bulky in the chair. Halfred pulled off the cloth to reveal another grisly discovery: a huge humanoid figure sat there. It was made of flesh stitched togehter, most likely from several different corpses. It wore a white wig, a blue matronly dress, and bright red dancing shoes. Suddenly, the corpse’s eyes snapped open, it made a lound inarticulate roar, and attacked! It stood at least seven feet tall, and attempted to pummel Halfred with its fists!

Halfred, however, wasn’t surprised by this sudden assault, and while he did take a couple of punches, he drew Fang of the Desert and defended himself. At about this time, four of the porcelain dolls animated and attacked too! McGregor identified the corpse as some kind of flesh golem, and the dolls had the spark of life indicative of soulbound dolls. Between Halfred’s and Zandu’s blades and McGregor’s and Declan’s spells, the creatures were destroyed.

Searching through the odds and ends revealed a few valuables that the party pocketed. They also discovered several volumes of Mrs. Black’s personal journals. The journals reveal that Mrs. Black doted on her four daughters, but never thought highly of her son. However, about ten years ago, all four daughters died suddenly. Mrs. Black blamed her son for the girls getting into his alchemical reagents and poisoning themselves. The journals then detail the thoughts of a woman descending into madness, first believing that her children were brought back to life as porcelain dolls, and then berating her son for creating magical abominations that only appeared to be her dead children. And then, abruptly, the journals snap back into sanity, merely recording the mundane life of an upper-middle-class matron. Zandu noted that the handwriting seemed to change about that time, too.

Zandu then found a secret passage that led to a worked-stone passageway. The passage ended at a disturbing-looking door: a huge porcelain doll’s face. McGregor reported that it radiated both abjuration and illusion magic. When Zandu examined the door to determine how to open it, the door started shouting insults at Chrysalis Black— filthy and vitriolic invective that challenged Black’s intelligence, competence, and sexuality. Through the shouting, Zandu was able to find the mechanism to open the door.

Beyond the door was a scene from a nightmare. A large chamber was filled with horrifying alchemical and necromantic experimental equipment. Two metal dissection tables each held a nude human corpse. One was partly dissected. The center of the room was dominated by a huge machine that buzzed and whirred. Sparks of blue energy shot from some kind of crystal at its top. Connected to the machine by a series of haphazardly-arranged tubes and wires were six glass-and-metal chambers that were filled with a sickly greenish fluid. In each of the chambers was a humanoid figure. In the back of the room was a much larger metal and glass vat that stood at least fifteen feet tall, and it was also connected to the machine. Two gigantic syringes hung from the ceiling on swivel arms. They were both pointed at the central vat. And standing on a dais behind the vat was Chrysalis Black— dressed in a matronly blue dress and wearing a woman’s wig of shoulder-length platinum hair!

Black shouted at the party, “No! Not at the moment of my glorious triumph! They laughed at me at the academy, but I’ll show them! HA HA HA HA!!!” He then threw a big lever on the dais, and the central machine whirred, and twin beams of green energy shot at the vat. More of the greenish fluid pumped into it as well, and the whirring sound increased.

At that, the party attacked. Black had apparently warded himself with several magicks, and the first wave of attacks failed to phase him. The ceiling-mounted syringes swiveled around and fired fluid at Halfred. The fluid was acidic and burned him, and also attempted to cloud his mind, but the Ulfen warrior shook off the effects. Black got off several spells, just as Halfred and Declan closed to confront him. McGregor examined the central machine and worked to shut it down. From inside the vat came the sound of something huge pounding at the inside.

Then, the large vat exploded, showwering everyone nearby with the green fluid. A horrifying monstrosity made of flesh, metal, and porcelain reared up on four legs and raised its three arms and two tentacles in the air. It then began to cough and wheeze, lashed out wildly, and collapsed into a pool of goo. “No!!!” shouted Black, “You killed it! I’ll destroy you for that!” However, Halfred was ready and slashed him across the chest when he attempted to cast another spell. At that, Black disappeared with a loud “whoosh!” McGregor identified that as a triggered teleport effect. “He must have set that up ahead of time, to teleport away if he ever got hit!”

McGregor managed to power down the machine and freed the figures in the chambers. There were six people inside the chambers. All were alive, but badly drained of their life essences. After healing them as best they could and also giving them some of Black’s clothing, the people explained themselves. Three claimed to be Pathfinder agents that were investigating Aspis Consortium interference at the Golemworks. Three others (all of whom were ethnic Varisians) claimed to be simple couriers that had brought a delivery to the Doll’s House, but Black had asked them in, then ensorcelled them.

While McGregor and Declan asked questions, Zandu went through Black’s desk in the lab. He found an interesting letter, dated that day. The letter appeared to be using coded language, and Zandu surmised that it was from the head of the local Aspis Consortium chapter to black, authorizing him to send the Sword of Lust to a client in the city of Kaer Maga.

The party led their rescuees back upstairs, and Zandu went outside to call the city watch. The Aspis agents that the party had subdued and tied up were all missing, although the bodies of the two that they had slain were still there. The guards took the PC’s statements, and after an hour of questioning, let everyone go.

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The Dastardly Mr. Black
Session 64

Synopsis: The party’s investigation into the berserk golems continued at the Golemworks, revealing the creator to be a master artificer named Chrysalis Black. A meeting with Black in his office turned ugly, and he turned out to be a simulacrum! The party then went to Black’s upscale home in the Naos District, where he also runs a shop that sells high-end porcelain dolls.

Wealday, 16 Abadius 4708, mid-afternoon_

Standing in the greenhouse of Heidmarch Manor, the adventurers examined what remained of the malfunctioning angelic guardians. Shiela Heidmarch stated that she had ordered the golems a few months ago, and that they were supposed to be keyed to her personal Wayfinder— meaning that the constructs should have recognized her as their master, and obeyed her commands. “Perhaps the manufacturer would be able to tell us more about that,” suggested Zandu. Heidmarch grinned mirthlessly, “I was hoping you’d say that. I’ll cover expenses. I’d normally handle this myself, but I want to make sure nothing else was stolen. There is also another matter that needs my attention— two other local agents haven’t reported back in far too long.”

McGregor mentioned that most builders of constructs usually stamp their creations with a maker’s mark. An examination of the four constructs turned up something curious: no makers’ marks at all! “This is weird,” said Zandu. “I think we should head over to the factory and ask about this.” After requesting it, Heidmarch’s majordomo (the awakened gorilla Mandili), gave Zandu a copy of the sales receipt. Fortunately, the factory was just across town.

Moonday, 16 Abadius 4708, late afternoon

At the Magnimar Golemworks, Declan asked to speak with the manager on duty. The manager, a portly, balding man named Reemus, met with the party in his office. Upon hearing the story, he was visibly shocked and appalled. “That has NEVER happened to any of our constructs! Lady Heidmarch will get a double refund, plus any damages done!” Conversation turned to the person who constructed the guardians. Reemus asked if the party could describe the maker’s mark on the constructs, and was very confused when told there were none. “Hmm. In that case, I’ll have to look it up.” He rummanged through a filing cabinet, and came up with Heidmarch’s original order. “It looks like the artificer assigned to this one was Chrysalis Black, one of our more accomplished craftsmen. Let’s pay him a vist.” The party offered no objection to that.

Reemus led the party to a set of outbuildings on the Golemworks campus, away from the main assembly and enchantment floor. The etched bronze plaque on the door read, “Chrysalis Black, Master Artificer.” Remus knocked, but there was no answer. He took out a large keyring, and unlocked the door to the building. “Mr. Black must be out. I’ll let you in and you can wait in his office. Let me go put out the word that he has visitors waiting for him.” Reemus showed the party into an opulent office, with a front room decorated like a formal parlor. It had comfortable leather furnature and a well-stocked bar. Halfred helped himself to the latter.

After more than an hour, a middle-aged man in a purple frock coat and vermillion ascot came into the room. He wore gold-rimmed spectacles, and had his long hair tied back in a neat pony tail. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. Reemus tells me that you are looking for me. I am Chrysalis Black.” He then walked over to the bar, stepped behind it, and poured himself a drink. Almost as an afterthought, he offered drinks around, but only Halfred accepted one.

Zandu began by asking about the angelic guardians that he had constructed for Heidmarch Manor. After dodging the question, Black’s voice trailed off a bit, and he looked at Zandu. “Forgive me, but those exquisite ears of yours… are you half-elven?” Zandu replied in the affirmative, but tried to get Black back on topic. After a few go-rounds where the party hinted that he might have had something to do with cursing the constructs and Black deflecting the question, the artificer sighed and said, “All right. Enough of this. Attack!”

At that command, six of the wooden chairs scattered about the room animated and proceeded to try to grapple the adventurers. One succeeded in pinning Zandu, forcing him to sit in the chair, as leather restraints clamped over his wrists and ankled. Black smiled at Zandu’s prediciment, and said, almost lovingly, “Don’t worry, my dear half-elf. I won’t ley anything happen to those magnificent ears!” Halfred attempted to attack the wizard, but a wooden statue of a Mwangi warrior also sprang to life and engaged the barbarian. Even more disturbingly, the large woven Shoanti rug before the fireplace reared up, as if a huge creature rose up from the floor underneath it. Actually, it WAS a huge creature rearing up from the floor: the biggest earth elemental any of the Sandpoint Heroes had ever seen!

McGregor attempted to pin the elemental behind a wall of force, and Declan summoned holy fire to burn the wooden constructs. Several caught fire, and Zandu managed to escape his bonds. Black manged to keep out of hand-to-hand combat, and attempted to enscorcell Halfred, but the Ulfen warrior managed to shake off the effect. Most of the animated furniture destroyed, the wizard and cleric focued their spellcasting at the wizard, who took two direct hits of eldritch blasts. Black staggered forward, reeled, and then… collapsed into a vaguely man-shaped block of melting ice! At the defeat of the wizard, the elemental also broke off the attack, and descended into the earth.

McGregor examined the ice that had been the wizard, and exclaimed, “That wasn’t Black at all! It was a simulacrum! The real Black is still at large.” Looking through the simulacrum’s clothing, Zandu discovered a strange bronze badge, which identified the wearer as a Bronze Agent of the Aspis Consortium. He also found two tickets to tomorrow night’s showing of the Westcrown Imperial Opera Company’s production of Belial’s Gambit, a modern Chelish opera that was performing in town that week. McGregor explored the rest of the office, and found blueprints for the construction of angelic guardians. He rolled those up for safekeeping. He also found some notes on how to break the programming with specific sound effects, which would cause a golem to go berserk. Meanwhile, Halfred raided Black’s liqor cabinet, finding several very expensive bottles of imported spirits.

Responding to the commotion, Reemus and several Golemworks guards showed up around then. Declan expained what happened. Zandu and McGregor showed Reemus the evidence that Black was an Aspis agent, and was also responsible for the attack on Heidmarch Manor. Reemus, shocked that one of their own could be a traitor, told the Heroes of Sandpoint that Black had a second business selling high-end porcelain dolls out of his house in the Naos district. He said that Black lived there with his mother. He then gave the adventurers Black’s address.

[To be continued… next week!]

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The Golemworks Incident
Session 63 (part 2)

Moonday, 16 Abadius 4708

Two weeks after Charrone’s departure, Zandu, Halfred, Declan, and McGregor were having a late breakfast at the Shield and Sheepdog, when a young woman approached them. It was Koriah Azmeren, the young Pathfinder agent who had arranged the sale of the Thassilonian artifacts that they had recovered from Hook Mountain. Koriah relayed a message from Venture-Captain Shiela Heidmarch, the leader of the newly-established Pathfinder Chapterhouse in Magnimar. After an exchange of pleasantires, she said, “Lady Heidmarch was taken aback by the quality and rarity of the antiquities that you sold to us. She would like very much to hear the tale of where you recovered these artifacts and how you acquired them. Honestly, this is the kind of work that Pathfinder agents do, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she offered you membership into the Society.” She handed Declan an engraved invitation to lunch that afternoon.

Four hours later, the party stood before the gates of Heidmarch Manor, in the Alabaster District. On the gates was a large polished brass shield emblazoned with the Glyph of the Open Road, the symbol of the Pathfinder Society. As about the same time, a horse-drawn cart pulled up with four large bundles in the back. A young man stepped off the cart, just as Halfred rang the doorbell. After a few moments, two people came to the gates from the manor house: a yougish Varisian man and a gorilla. The ape held a clipboard and was wearing fine clothes and gold-rimmed spectacles. “Good afternoon,” said the gorilla in perfect Taldane, “are you expected today?” The party and the other man each introduced themselves— the man was making a delivery of merchandise from the Magnimar Golemworks. The ape instructed the other man to assist with the delivery, and escorted the party to the manor house.

“I must apologize,” said the ape, “Lady Heidmarch is in another meeting at the moment, and is running a bit late. Her schedule is rather full today. I must also apologize for the sate of the house. We’re making some renovations presently, and can get a bit noisy at times.” He showed the group to a room with a large table and chairs. A moment later, more servants entered with trays of tea, pastries, and fresh fruit. McGregor asked the ape to stay a moment and join them for some tea while they wait. After pulling a pocketwatch from his waistcoat and checking the time, the ape agreed. The ape said that his name was Mandili, and that he was originally from the mountain jungles of Garund. He aaid that he’s been working for Lady Heidmarch for almost twenty years, formerly as a bodyguard, and now as the estate’s majordomo.

Mandili took his leave after a few more minutes, and the heroes waited almost an hour. While they waited, servants refreshed their beverages. The sounds of workers’ hammers and saws made the waiting a bt more unpleasant than it could have been. Finally, a tall, dark-haired woman wearing a green gown and a silver tiara strode into the room. “I am so sorry to keep you all waiting! I’m Shiela Heidmarch. Welcome to my home, and the newest chapterhouse of the Pathfinder Society. I’m…” she trailed off as the sound of hammering started up again. “Say, why don’t we adjourn to the greenhouse. It’s a little chilly in there this time of year, but at least we can all hear ourselves think!” She led the group through the mansion through a side door into a large circular greenhouse. It was a bit chilly, though much warmer than outside.

The greenhouse was full of lush vegetation from all over Varisia, and some from beyond. As the assembled group entered the greenhouse, the deliveryman and manor servant they’d encountered at the front gate were finishing up unpacking four large wooden crates— apparently the crates from the delivery wagon. Each crate contained a man-sized bronze and steel statue of a female angel. Sunlight glinted off the forged steel feathers of the statues’ wings. The two workers made short bows, dropped their crowbars, and left through the exterior door.

Heidmarch bade everyone sit at a wooden picnic table. “First of all, I want to tell you that we have taken a great deal of interest in the Thassilonian artifacts you sold to us. Our experts confirmed that they are authentic. That was the first complete set of rune giant armor from the Late Runelord period that we have ever recovered. I was hoping you could tell me a little more about how you recovered it.”

The party related the story of what they had encountered at Hook Mountain, and around Turtleback Ferry. Heidmarch listed attentively, punctuating the narrative with several questions.

At the end of the tale, she seemed impressed. “You people are exactly the sort we would like to have in the Society. If I’d met you two years ago, I’d send you to the Grand Lodge in Absalom for field agent training. But you’re certainly beyond that now.” McGregor asked about how people became Pathfinders, and she said that the normal path is to send prospects for a three-year training program at the Grand Lodge, followed by a three-year apprenticeship, followed by promotion to prospective agent. Prospective agents are given their first assignment, and upon successful completion, are considered full agents. But they do occasionally grant a field commission to promising candidates who have already proven themselves without the normal six years of training.

After Heidmarch continuted on about the perks of being a Pathfinder, Zandu asked her what she knew of the Sword of Lust. Taken somewhat aback, she asked why, and Zandu explained that they had found evidence that their enemies were searching for it. She said it was safe… and asked if the party would like to see it! Surprised at the prospect, the party followed her upstairs to a very well-warded trophy room. Among other treasures and artifacts was a glass case in which a gleaming silver-and-gold sword rested on a red velvet cushion. The label read “Aeisha: The Sword of Lust. Thassilonian. c. -2000 AR.” Zandu asked about the defenses, and Heidmarch replied that the room had several magical wards, including a dimensional lock that prevented teleportation effects from working, and that three of the statues in the room were actually guardian constructs that would make short work out of any thieves that managed to slip in. Satisfied, the party returned to the greenhouse, and Heidmarch reset the wards.

Back in the greenhouse, McGregor started to ask about how one attained a field commission into the Pathfinder Society, when all were startled by a the sound of broken glass. A large stone had crashed through the dome of the greenhouse, landing with a thud next to a goldfish pool, and shards of glass rained down on the party. A second, smaller object also fell through the broken ceiling, and when it hit the gound, it exploded like a clap of thunder!

At the sound of the thunderclap, the four newly-purchased constructs animated. For a moment, their motion was reassuring, but then one of them turned to Heidmarch, opened its mouth, and belched a jet of flame at its erstwhile master! The other three moved in to attack the party. Weapons were drawn, and a the fight was joined! While the constructs were partially resistant to magic and weapons, the party was reasonably effective against them. VC Heidmarch, however, was less so— while she moved with the deadly grace of a highly-skilled martial artist, her quarterstaff seemed ineffective against the bronze and steel angelic guardians. A moment into the fight, a loud alarm bell started ringing. “The trophy room!” shouted Heidmarch. “Can you four finish up here?” She tumbled past the constructs and through the side door. After a few more rounds, the party successfully destroyed the malfunctioning constructs. Heidmarch returned.

“I’ve been robbed— just like you warned me about. These malfunctioning constructs must have been a diversion while the thief gained entrance through the roof.” The party followed her back to the trophy room, and McGregor, Zandu, and Heidmarch examined the damage. A perfectly circular hole, about ten feet in diameter, was seemingly cut into the angled of the room and through the roof of the house. Everyone could see the sky through it. The glass case that had held the Sword of Lust was shattered, and the sowrd was missing. Two of the guardian constructs Heidmarch referred to earlier were levitating in mid-air, about a foot off the ground, struggling vainly to advance. The third was shattered into stone shards.

McGregor examined the hole in the roof, and determined that it was a powerful spell effect. Just as he started to speculate what could have caused it, the hole vanished, and the ceiling became whole again. “I’m pretty sure that was a phase door. That’s pretty powerful magic, as is whatwver is levitating those constructs.”

Heidmarch looked like she was seething. “I’ll tell you what. You find out who did this and why, and bring back the sword, and I’ll personally sponsor you into the Society. You can also keep whatever treasure you find. All I want is the sword back into safekeeping. It’s very dangerous in the wrong hands.”

[To Be Continued… next week!]

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Parting of Ways
Session 63 (part 1)

Synopsis: Two party members take their leave. After three weeks in Magnimar, the remaining party is asked to come to Heidmarch Manor, home of the Varisia chapter of the Pathfinder Society. While Venture-Captian Heidmarch was pitching the benefits of membership, her golem guardians went berserk and attacked. But the attack was a diversion, and an ancient artifact of power was stolen. The party investigates!

Moonday, 26 Kuthona 4707; Magnimar

The day after their arrival at the City of Monuments, the party went to the Arvensoar to report the goings-on at Fort Rannick and Turtleback Ferry. After a three-hour debriefing with General Odinburge and three sub-commanders, the leader of the Magnimar military seemed troubled indeed. Durrok volunteered to assist training the local troops against giants, a foe he knew well. Odinburge accepted Durrok’s offer, and the dwarf went with Captain Acacia Uriana, head of the watch. He also said that he would be sending a contingent of troops to reinforce Fort Rannick as soon as he could raise them.

The party spent the rest of Winter Week in Magnimar, enjoying the festivities of the holiday season, staying at The Shield and Sheepdog, their favorite inn within the City of Monuments

Moonday, 02 Abadius 4708

At breakfast, a courier brought a letter to Charrone— it was a request to meet with Chaplain Tira Ronnova, head priestess of Iomedae at the Temple of the Inheritor. Charrone went immediately. At the temple, she was escorted to Ronnova’s office. Ronnova met her at the door. “Charrone. Thank-you for coming. I wish this was better news. Please come in and have a seat.” Charrone was also surprised to find another man also waiting in Ronnova’s office— a man clad in full Hellknight armor. “Charrone, I don’t know if you’ve met Paralictor Halst, commander of Magnimar’s Bastion of the Nail?” Charrone stiffened. The Hellknight stood, and gave a shallow bow.

“Maralictor Genteur,” he said curtly, “we finally meet.”

She gave a shallow bow. “Paralictor. I am sure that you know that I have resigned from the Order, sir,” she replied, “and am no longer entitled to be addressed by that rank. Paravicar Acillmar signed off on my resignation from the Order of the Nail and transer of command to Delwynn of Korvosa, Third Sword Knight of Iomedae. Sir Delwynn then released me of my direct military responsibilities and gave me leave to go to Magnimar.” She sensed something was very wrong. She also noticed that Chaplain Ronnova seemed uncomfortable.

“You are correct, Maralictor,” replied the Hellknight, “yet in the contract you signed upon enlisting in the Order, a Hellknight agrees that his or her Order retains the right to recall any former member that had been released from their vows. You have been reactivated, Maralictor Genteur.” He handed her a sealed scroll.

She recognized the seal of the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune in the wax— the house of Her Infernal Majestrix Queen Abrogail III of Cheliax. Charrone cut the seal and unrolled the scroll, reading it quickly. It was indeed a reactivation to the Order of the Nail, but instead of being recalled to Citadel Vraid in Korvosa , the orders were that she was to join a contingent of Iomedean crusaders to the Crusade in Mendev, as a liaison to the Hellknights. The letter went on to praise Charrone’s reputation, and how she was in a unique opportunity to have feet in both worlds. She was to leave for Mendev within the week!

Halst smirked. “When the Crown sent orders that we were to send a small contingent of Hellknights to help the crusaders in that backwater, Paravicar Acillmar immediately thought of you. And when word of your exploits made it back to Korvosa, he was even more pleased: He now has the stain of a Hellknight that resigned off his hands, and he’s sent you out of his hair for good.”

Ronnova rose, “Paralictor, that’s enough! It’s one thing to involuntarily reactivate a rising star in the Church of the Inheritor, yet it’s another to insult her inside a temple! She has her orders, we acknowlege them as legitimate, and she will comply. Won’t you, Fourth Sword-Knight Charrone?”

Surprised at the sudden promotion, Charrone regained her composure, “Yes, ma’am. I will serve the Inheritor’s will, through the voice of her church. If these are your orders, then I will obey.”

Satisfied, Halst nodded curtly. “Very well. Good luck to you, Maralictor Sword-Knight. Don’t let a demon eat you up there.” He turned to Ronnova. “Chaplain, I believe that I can find my own way out.”

Oathday, 5 Abadius 4708
With a heavy heart, Charrone bade farewell to the rest of the party shortly after dawn, and rode north along the Lost Coast Road with 25 new crusaders.

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Farewell to Hook Mountain
Session 62

Synopsis: After their defeat of the ogres of Hook Mountain, the party gathers up the spoils and rescued prisoners for a return to Fort Rannick. But the remnants of the Kreeg Clan have other plans…

Moonday, 12 Kuthona 4707, late afternoon
Tired and wounded from fighting the ogres in the mines, the party and the ten rescued villagers rested for a bit in the ogre’s common room. McGregor and Halfred assembled a sledge to transport the assembled treasure from the ogres’ treasure room. While that was being built, the rest of the party and the villagers dragged the ogre, giant, undead, and hag corpses into the charnel pit. Zandu poured a good amount of oil they’d found, and then dropped in two flasks of alchemist’s fire to burn the bodies.

As they walked past the looming statue of the 30-foot-tall giant, the party decided that they would take the statue’s bejeweled and gilded armor, and enormous polearm. Halfred climbed the statue, and removed the shield-sized Sihedron Medallion from the statue’s neck. Almost immediately, the statue began to disintegrate— at first, the flesh cracked and crumbled to dust, then the skeleton began to do the same thing. Halfred attempted to jump down, and landed amid the toppling pieces of armor and chunks of extremely brittle bone. They gathered up the pieces of armor and packed them in the sledge.

As they were about to leave, Zandu noticed a couple of stones fall from above the entrance cave— as if something was above the entrance! Using his shoes of stealthy striding, he crept outside into the twilight, and saw a number of ogres standing on a ledge about 20 feet up. One had a large polearm and seemed ready to whack at big chunck of ice that would send a small avalance onto anyone standing near the cave entrance. Zandu crept back in and reported what he saw.

McGregor used dimension door to teleport himself, Zandu, Halfred, and Durrok outside, where they began pelting the ogres with missile-fire. Some of the ogres hurled javelins back, and others charged them. However, even when tired, wounded, and with depleted resources, the Sandpoint Heroes made very short work of the ogres, and left them all dead in the snow. After the fight, adventures and the liberated prisoners returned to Fort Rannick, arriving about three hours after sunset. They spent the night there, happy to be done with ogre-hunting… at least for now.

As the party arrived at Fort Rannick, Durrok noted that it had finally stopped raining: the night sky was clear, and the bright red orb of Akiton was near the just-past-full moon.

Toilday, 13 Kuthona 4707
The party spent a couple of hours briefing Jakardos and the remaining Black Arrows. Since their village had been destroyed, all of the rescued humans volunteered to join the Black Arrows ranks. The party also handed over the nonmagical loot to Jakardos, as it had all been obviously looted from the fort. He thanked the party, and while he looked longingly at a few of the magic items the party had claimed from the Kreegs, he did not say anything about them. Charrone said that they would be giving a full report to General Odinburge upon their return to Magnimar, and the party then took their leave. They arrived at Turtleback Ferry before noon, but word had reached the town first. The town was already celebrating Winter Week, and many cheered as the party rode back into town. Nobody charged the party for food, drink, or stays at the brothel that night.

Wealday, 14 Kuthona 4707
The party rented canoes to return the remains of Col. Lamatar Bayden to the ghost nymph Myriana, to free her spirit and break the curse on Whitewillow. They ghost was overjoyed to be reunited with her beloved, even if it was decomposed remains. She used her magic to reincarnate Lamatar in the form of a centaur, releasing her own spirit in the process. The newly-reborn Lamatar explained to the party that he knows that he is bound to the marshland, and has been given the mantle of protector; he would not be returning to Fort Rannick, but would like to speak with Jakardos if he could. The party said that they’d pass along that message.

Oathday, 15 Kuthona 4707
McGregor met with Mayor Maelin Shreed to discuss the status of the dam. He told the mayor that he thought he might be able to repair the mechanism that opens and closes the floodgates, but that he needed some assistance. The mayor agreed. With the rest of the party as an escort, they returned to Skull’s Crossing, where the two grafted new magical workings onto the ancient Thassilonian magical engines. After two days, the crafting was complete.

Starday, 17 Kuthona 4707
The party secured passage on a large ferry that would be leaving for Magnimar on the following day. For the rest of the day, the town celebrated the final day of Winter Week with Winter’s Feast, and the party was invited.

Sunday, 18 Kuthona 4707
The party embarked on the week-long ferry ride to Magnimar. The passage went without incident, and included two overnight stops (at Ilsurian and Wartle).

Starday, 24 Kuthona 4707
The ferry arrived at Magnimar a little after noon. The party found storage space for their bulky Thassilonian treasures, as they looked for a buyer, and also tried to figure out where the Sword of Lust might be kept.

End of Book 3

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Assault on Kreeg Clanhold, Part 4
Session 61

Synopsis: After securing the Kreeg Clanhold cave complex, the Sandpoint Heroes interrogate their prisoners. What they learn is disturbing…

Moonday, 12 Kuthona 4707, afternoon

The group sent Charrone and Durrok to guard the main passageway against any returning ogres. Zandu, McGregor, Halfred, and Declan returned to the throne room, and found their three prisoners still tied up and unconscious. Zandu looked around and found what he thought might be a small passageway hidden behind a boulder; with Halfred’s assistance, they moved the boulder to find a small chamber filled with treasure: six crates of normal, but valuable goods, including clothing, weapons, books, and art objects. An examination indicated that much of the goods had been looted from Fort Rannick, including a dozen Black Arrow uniforms, several human-sized longswords and longbows that were very similar in construction to those found in the Fort Rannick emergency armory, and a barrel of steel-tipped arrows with black shafts and fletching. Mixed in were several magic items. Zandu also found a chest full of cash, and a coffer that appeared to be of Thassilonian construction. The coffer contained several hundred strange coins, apparently minted back in the days of Thassilon!

Halfred put the unconscious ogress taskmaster from the ogres’ workroom into the stone throne, and tied her securely to it. He then splashed cold water into her face to wake her up. She snarled at the party, but talked when pressed. Under interrogation, she reported that:

  • Barl Breakbones had come to the Kreeg Clanhold about two months ago, bearing the Ancient Symbol of the Ancestors (the Sihedron Rune), and claiming to have been sent by the King of the Giants to add the Kreeg Clan to a new army.
  • After Grokli Kreeg, Grand-Pappy of the clan (and Jaagrath’s father) objected, Barl defeated him in single combat. He then stripped the still-living Grokli naked, ripped his legs out of their sockets, and used his magic to throw the crippled ogre into the snow, where his corpse still lies.
  • Barl ordered the Kreegs to step up their mining operation, and to produce many weapons for the army.
  • The clan sent out several raiding parties to gather more slaves for the mines. She said they brought about 40 humans into the mines, and that “about a quarter of them” are still alive down there, but they would soon have to go gather more as these died off.

After the party decided that she didn’t have anything more to tell them, Halfred kocked her unconscious again. They then put Barl Breakbones in the throne and woke him up. Upon questionsing, he told them:

  • Barl was the servant of Mokmourian, King of the Giants.
  • Mokmourian was chosen by the gods to lead all of the giants in the land to take the land back from the “lesser men” (i.e. humanoids smaller than giants).
  • Mokmourian was raising an army of giants at a place called Jorgenfist, which is located in the Iron Peaks, north of the Storval Deep.
  • Mokmourian has “mighty magic,” and was far more powerful than Barl was.
  • Mokmourian had spies and agents throughout the land: mostly “lesser men,” but few of the spies knew they actually worked for a giant.
  • The king was searching for an underground chamber from the days of the Rune Kings of Old, which held an ancient secret that would ease his conquest; of course, he didn’t need this secret… it would merely make conquest easier.
  • Terakitnus is one of his own stone giant subcommanders that leads a scouting party. He has a red dragon named Longtooth at his command.

At one point, Halfred told Barl that since he’d been defeated, he was actually a “lesser man” and the humans were the greater. Barl said, “You are an Ulfen, correct? You seem learned for an Ulfen.” Halfred replied, “Was that supposed to be a compliment?” Barl grinned, and sneered, “Why yes. I’d never met an Ulfen smart enough to be pedantic.” Halfred smacked him hard, and Barl lost consciousness again.

The party decided that the priestess of Lamashtu wouldn’t have much else to tell them, and they debated the fate of their prisoners. Declan said that the two they interrogated kept saying how that they would destroy humans, and that the one they hadn’t was a priestess of Lamashtu, Demon Mother of Monsters. He said that they were all unrepentent agents of evil, and had not sought redemption… as The Book of Truth and Light tells us, the Dawnflower shows mercy on evil-doers who seek redemption but those who do not shall be put to the sword. Halfred and Zandu then slew the three prisoners, taking their evil out of the world.

The party then geared back up for a fight, and entered the mines. After several hours of fighting, they slew another two dozen ogres and freed eight human slaves. They also brought up five human corpses for a proper burial. One of the female slaves was overjoyed to find her husband among the surviviors, and he equally so. The other woman asked after her brother, and the men shook their heads.

It was now late in the afternoon. The sun would be setting in an hour, and Fort Rannick was at least two hours away.

To be continued…

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Assault on Kreeg Clanhold, Part 3
Session 60

Synopsis: After killing most of the ogres in the Kreeg Clanhold, and sending the few survivors running, the Sandpoint Heroes explored the rest of the cave complex. A coven of hags threatened the party, but more terrifying was a small group of Black Arrow rangers… that thirsted for the flesh of the living!

12 Kuthona 4707

After defeating the ogres in Kreeg Clanhold (and sending several running for their lives), the Sandpoint Heroes explored the remaining chambers. Examining the spellbook of Barl Breakbones, McGregor discovered a disturbing letter.

Entering the ogres’ living chamber, the party found and rescued two half-naked human female slaves. They reported that the ogres had destroyed their village, killed and ate all of the children, separated the men from the women, and sent most of the men into the mines. They said that the women (and a few of the men) were kept as slaves for the ogres, and that they were the only two women left alive. None of the men sent into the mines had come back alive, but the ogres had brought up several of their corpses, which they skinned and ate.

Back in the ogre workroom, the party found two entrances into the mines— one heading up, the other down. Durrok fount points where he could have easily collapsed the mineshafts, but the party decided not to do that. Returning to the main level of the cave complex, the heroes explored the remaining passages. In one chamber, they fought and killed a coven of annis hags and their fast zombie servants, and seized a cabinet of alchemical reagents. Another passage led to a semi-abandoned shrine to Lamashtu, which was guarded by four undead Black Arrow rangers that had each been animated into kind of wight. One of the wights wore the tattered remnants of a Black Arrow colonel’s uniform— and the party strongly suspected that wight was what was left of former commander of Fort Rannick, Col. Lamatar Bayden. After Charrone invoked the power of the Inheritor to smite down the foul creatrure, the party kept its left hand to bring to the ghost of the nymph Myrianna back in Whitewillow. Looting the shrine, the party found gems that served as the three eyes of the image of Lamashtu, and a few spell scrolls inside a hidden compartment within the altar.

The ogre taskmaster, the ogre priestess of Lamashtu, and the stone giant king remained alive, but unconscious and tied up.

Zandu then mused that no one had yet discovered a treasure trove. Perhaps the prisoners would know where it was…

To be continued…

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Assault on Kreeg Clanhold, Part 2
Session 59

Synopsis: While infiltrating the Kreeg Clanhold, the Sandpoint Heroes were discovered— in the Throne Room— and the alarm has been raised! Outnumbered five-to-one, and cut off from the entrance, the heroes do battle with the stone giant in charge of the ogres, and the ogres themselves. Can they survive the onslaught?

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Assault on Kreeg Clanhold, Part 1
Session 58

Synopsis: After fighting their way past the guards without raising the alarm, the Sandpoint Heroes cautiously explored the immense caverns that have served as home to the ogres for generations. But now the ogres are building something— and that can’t be good!

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To Kreeg Clanhold!
Session 57

Synopsis: The party has decided to bring the fight to the ogres! Following perilous trails up the side of Hook Mountain, and braving the fell beasts that stalk the passes, the party arrived at the doorstep of the Kreeg Clanhold: a gaping cavern belching foul black smoke. What horrors lie within?

Game date: Moonday, 12 Kuthona 4707

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