The Watcher of the Mists

Loose Ends
Session 20

Wealday, 28 Rova 4707

The night after attending Simon Korvut’s funeral, Charrone had a strange and disturbing dream. In the dream, she rode a black heavy warhorse, and wore spiked black armor of the Hellknights: an armor she rememembered all too well. She realized that she was back with her old platoon of the Order of the Nail, who were putting down a peasant revolt north of Korvosa: heavily armored knights on horseback charged the ranks of serfs, unarmored and armed with nothing but pitchforks and pruning hooks. She clutched her holy symbol and raised it to heal the peasants who had fallen, but the energy coursing through her felt cold, and rays of black energy struck the peasants and more fell. She felt simultaneously horrified and strangely gleeful. Instead of the symbol of Iomedae, she realized that the symbol she held forth was a skull wearing a crown. Then a fist-sized stone bounced off her helmet, and she saw that a peasant had thrown it at her. Rage filled her, and she dismounted, strode to the peasant (who stood her ground), and ran her sword straight through the young woman’s chest, twisting the blade as she withdrew it. As scarlet blood poured out of the wound, the peasant fixed Charrone with a defiant gaze, and she realized that the peasant had her own face. Charrone awoke in a cold sweat, and felt for the holy symbol of Iomedae around her neck. It was still there, and it was quite warm to the touch.

Oathday, 29 Rova 4707

The next morning, Charrone brought the Amulet of Undead Command to Brother Zantus at the cathedral to ask his opinion. He held it up, and cast a spell. He then asked Charrone to follow him to the cathedral library. Looking through several texts, he found a description of a similar item. “This item allows one to command the undead by channeling the power of a god who favors the undead. It was probably made by the cult of Uragotha, or possibly by followers of Zon-Kuthon, or even Lamashtu. While certainly useful in some circumstances, I don’t see how commanding the undead to do your bidding could ever be a good thing. The undead are an abomination to all living things. If it were up to me, this thing should be destroyed.” She took the amulet, thanked the Desnan priest, and left.

Back at the Rusty Dragon, she sought McGregor’s advice on how to destroy such a thing. After looking at it for a moment, he replied, “Well, it looks like it’s made out of bone and gold. If you smash it hard with a hammer, it should just shatter.” She went to the alley behind the inn, set the amulet on the cobblestones, and smashed it as hard as she could with her horseman’s mace. The amulet shattered with a crackle of magical energy and a burst of yellowish smoke. Charrone noticed the distinct smell of brimstone from its remains.

Later, while Charrone was walking past Savah’s armory, she noticed that a wagon was parked in front of the shop. Figuring that new merchandise was being delivered, she stopped in. Sure enough, a shipment of new arms and armor had just arrived from Magnimar. “Ah, Charrone,” said Savah, “I think I have something that you might be interested in,” and led the paladin to a back room.

Standing on a pedestal was an exquisite suit of full plate armor. It was of fine steel, gilded, and the breastplate bore an etching of the holy symbol of Iomedae. “This is an fine suit of armor, most befitting someone of your vocation.” said Savah. “It was commissioned by the Knights of Ozem in 4622 and constructed by the legendary armorer Brad Therostram in Lastwall as a gift to General Falconheart, Hammer of Iomedae, commander of the First Mendevian Crusade. Twenty years later, Falconheart sold the armor to raise funds to hire more mercenaries for the Second Crusade, and this suit has changed hands several times in the intervening years. When I heard that the suit was on the market in Magnimar, I had to see it for myself. Unfortunately, no sooner had I acquired it than some other debts came due, and I am forced to sell it again.” Charrone immediately put down a large deposit, and borrowed the remaining funds from the other members of the party to purchase the armor.

When she donned the armor, pieces of it seemed to magically shift their dimensions such that it fit her perfectly.

Fireday, 30 Rova 4707

The day after Simon Korvut’s remains were buried next to his mother’s Halfred went to the Red Dog Smithy to talk with Das Korvut. Korvut seemed in better spirits than he had in a long time, and Halfred thought his words were much clearer than the last time they’d spoken. He didn’t notice any whiskey on the smith’s breath, either. Halfred commissioned a masterwork breastplate, but asked Korvut if he could make it extra flexible: strong, but less constricting of movement. Korvut said that he could, and began the construction.

Sunday, 2 Lamashan [Oct], 4707

Larissa had the same dream again: She was standing on a rocky ledge overlooking a golden city of domes and spires nestled in a forbidding mountain valley. She didn’t share what else she dreamed with the rest of the party: a voice spoke to her in Thassilonian, praising her on her choice to become a wizard. The voice also told her that it could teach her ancient secrets of the magic of lost Thassilon. When she turned, she saw that the voice came from a floating Sihedron Rune. She then woke up in her bed in her room at the Dragon.

That day, Larissa became very concerned with finding the probable location of the domed city. She purchased a map of the area from The Way North, the local cartographer’s shop, and then went to pay the historian Bordert Quint a visit. She described the mosaic to Quint, and drew a facsimile of the image from memory. Quint studied it, and then brought out his own map of Varisia, a map on which he had marked all of the major Thassilonian ruins.

“Well, from what you describe, it sounds like an ancient city of Thassilon. Our understanding is that all of the cities of Thassilon were destroyed millennia ago, but what you saw seems to match the few descriptions that survived the long ages.” He pointed out several Thassilonian ruins that were in or near mountains, but none of them seemed to match the description of the city.

At dinner that night, Larissa suggested that the party return to Thistletop for one last visit, to see if there was anything that they’d missed. She said that she especially wanted to visit the flooded treasure room again.

Moonday, 3 Lamashan 4707

The party set off to Thistletop for the fourth, and presumably last, time. Again, they met no oppositioin as they made their way up the Lost Coast Road, and then along the now-familiar goblin trails. Halfred noted that he didn’t see any signs of goblin tracks.

The goblin fortress seemed little changed since the last time they had been there two weeks earlier. The rope bridge was still intact, and Larissa could see that the knots she’d tied were still holding. The front doors stood open, and no one appeared to man the lookout towers. Inside, a quick recon of the fortress revealed that all of the foodstuffs were gone, as were just about all of the tools and weapons that the party had left behind. Halfred said that it looked like the last goblins had been here about a week ago.

They explored the first dungeon level, and found pretty much the same thing. However, when Charrone opened the door to the torture chamber, she had a sudden feeling of dread: she realized that she had forgotten that she had locked one of the goblins in a cell, and had never come back for her! Opening that cell, the party was assailed by the stench of death, and found a rotting goblin corpse. Charrone fell to one knee and immediately prayed to Iomedae for forgiveness, for even a goblin deserved a better fate.

The party went down to the lowest level, and found that the trap was still disarmed. The illusion of the man on the throne was still replaying the same three sentences. In the treasure room, Larissa made a very detailed copy of the mosaic of the Thassilonian city. While she made her drawing, Halfred decided to do a more thorough job of exploring the tide pool. Removing his armor and holding a dagger between his teeth, he plunged into the cold seawater. He quickly found a narrow underwater passage that led to open water. Squeezing his way through the passage, and fighting the strong current, he surfaced, finding himself in the water below the cliffs of Skull Rock, looking back at a beach below the rope bridge. He swam back toward the beach, and made a cursory search for his dropped warhammer. While he didn’t find the weapon, he did notice that there was a sea cave under the cliffs by the mainland. He then swam back to the crevice and re-entered the sunken treasure room.

The group decided to explore the beach below Thistletop, and found a goblin trail to the beach facing the western side of Skull Rock. Larissa noticed another cave, this one completely under water. She and Halfred decided to investigate. They removed their armor and swam into the passage. This time, Halfred brought his ranseur. After about thirty feet, they surfaced in an flooded grotto. A rock ledge was along the south wall, and they made for that. They also saw a bit of sunlight from another cave opening to the north, and still more from a chimney passage in the roof.

As they swam for the ledge, Halfred felt a large creature brush past him. “Sharktopus!” shouted Halfred. A dorsal fin approached, and he felt the sharp pain of something biting his leg, just as they both made it to the ledge. The creature surfaced, and they saw that it didn’t have tentacles, but looked more like a weird hybrid between a shark and a leopard seal. It opened its toothy maw and roared, and the humans felt suddenly panicked, but immediately came back to their senses. Halfred stabbed it with his ranseur, and Larissa threw one of her daggers at it. The creature swam at them again, launching itself onto the ledge, attempting to pull Halfred back into the water. Halfred was bitten again, but stood his ground, and stabbed the creature again. This was a lucky strike, and blood poured out of the creature as it spastically flopped for a moment, and then was still.

Larissa noticed that something sparked on the floor of the grotto, and she dived in to retrive it. After several dives, the two found scores of coins, a few gems, and some pieces of jewelry that had accumulated in this cave over the years. When they were satisfied that they had found all of the treasure, they returned to the party.

With nothing left to explore, the party gathered their things and returned to Sandpoint.

[GM’s Note: With the close of this session, we say good-bye to two players, who have decided to move on to other things: Scott (Larissa) and Laurie (Charrone). Farewell, and best of luck!]

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Chopper's Isle
Session 19 (part 3)

Toilday, 27 Rova 4707 AR

Just after breakfast, the Sandpoint Six gathered near the Old Light and gazed over at Chopper’s Isle. The island covered about two acres, and was rocky, uneven, and heavily forested. All sides of the island were sheer cliffs, which ranged from 40 to 80 feet in height. It only lay about 200 feet off the mainland, and at low tide, all that separated the two was a stretch of damp sand. When the tide came in, the water depth was only about ten feet at most.

The artist Jervis Stoot made his home there for 15 years. Stoot was a reclusive, eccentric artist known for his lifelike and ornate wood carvings of birds. His art had been much loved in Sandpoint: it was considered a great honor to own a building, fence, or tree that had been graced by a Stoot carving. But five years ago, it came to light that the serial murderer known as the Chopper was really Stoot himself. 25 murders had been attributed to the Chopper. Chopper’s last victim was Sheriff Avertin, and it was then-deputy (now Sheriff) Belor Hemlock who tracked the Chopper to Stoot’s cabin on Stoot’s Isle. Everyone knows the story of what he found there: Jervis Stoot, bearing the injuries sustained by the now-dead Avertin, knelt before an idol to a demon. On the altar were the eyes and tongues of all of the victims of the Chopper. Hemlock fought the wounded Stoot, and Stoot’s body was burned in a pyre that afternoon. The townsfolk then burned down Stoot’s cabin, destroyed the wooden stairs up the cliffs, and abandoned the island, now named for the Chopper, to the elements.

Ameiko had told the heroes that no one had set foot on the island in five years, in an effort to put the grisly past behind them. Unsurprisingly, a small crowd had gathered to watch the Heroes of Goblin Day descend a crumbling stone staircase to the beach, and walk across the exposed sea bed to the cliffs of Chopper’s Isle.

Halfred found where the wooden staircase had been, and being an expert climber, scaled the cliff using the staircase anchors for hand- and foot-holds. At the top, he tied roped to sturdy trees and threw them to the rest of the group, who had a much easier time ascending. The adventurers then searched the island for the remains of Stoot’s cabin. One thing of interest were the numerous beautiful carvings of birds that seemed to be on just about every tree on the island: songbirds, eagles, ospreys, storks, cranes, gulls, falcons, and more.

After about an hour of searching, the group found the burned-out remains of a modest cabin. Only the foundation of the cabin seemed to be of any substance: the burned rafters had collapsed, and the walls and roof collapsed in during the fire. Searching through the rubble, Larissa found a singed oilskin satchel, in which were two sets of masterwork woodworking tools that still seemed to be in decent shape. Looking for a way into the basement, Charrone and Larissa each found a way down: Larissa found a stone trap door that opened up to a stone staircase, and Charrone found a section of unstable floor that broke away. She managed to leap clear before falling into the darkness. McGregor conjured a glowing orb and sent it down: there was a chamber below, about 30 feet below the surface.

Taking the stairs, the group found a large circular room. The walls and floor were tiled in a vaguely familiar fashion: it seemed very similar to the style of tiling in both the catacombs below the Glassworks and the second dungeon level in Thistletop. The walls of the room were covered with wood carvings and paintings of birds, but these birds were different than Stoot’s public works: these were all winged monsters or demons. In the center of the room stood an eight-foot tall wooden statue of winged male humanoid with a jeweled avian head. McGregor recognized the figure as being similar to the image of the demon lord Pazuzu that he’d read in the Book of Lamashtu. Larissa began prying off the jewels from the statue. Stone doors stood to the north and south, and to the east was a passageway blocked by rubble: obviously a tunnel collapse. Charrone used her Iomedae-given sight to look for hidden evil, and found some: She detected an evil presence in the room, but was unable to pinpoint it.

Larissa listened at the door to the south, and detecting nothing, asked Charrone to open it. She did, revealing a small room with a stone spiral staircase descending into darkness. Charrone led the way, and the rest of the party followed.

After following the stairs about fifty feet, Charrone suddenly felt as if she were being watched. Looking into the darkness, she was surprised to see a man wearing a hooded cloak of feathers mumbling and knocking his head against the blood-smeared wall. The man turned to Charrone, and the paladin saw its bloody, empty eye sockets, and blood dripped from his mouth. He pulled a small knife from his cloak and lunged at her. She gasped, but the vision suddenly faded. No one else saw the vision. Charrone felt the presence of evil in that location. McGregor cast detect undead, and also felt the presence of unlife in the area, but could not pinpoint its exact location. The group pressed onward.

The stairs ended in a small stone room. Three passages exited the room, but all of them were impassible due to tunnel collapse. Scraps of damp paper littered the floor, and there were several tiny bone carvings of horrific winged creatures scattered about. A moldy blanket lay on a pallet of rotting straw in one corner.

Ted began to gather the scraps of paper. Many of them were drawings of more winged demonic creatures, but Ted noticed that they were of a much less-skilled hand. One scrap had the same sentence written one hundred times, in a juvenile hand: “I now serve only Lord Pazuzu.” Declan probed the pallet with his scimitar, and found that there was something lumpy under the blanket. However, as soon as the pallet was disturbed, the ghostly image of a child manifested.

“No! Leave me alone! Mr Stoot will get me! He’s the Chopper!” shouted the ghost. While the ghost looked like a child, its mouth was filled with jagged, shark-like teeth. It flew toward Declan and touched him. The ghostly hand passed through Declan’s armor, and the cleric felt strangely fatigued. Declan raised his holy symbol and channeled the cleansing light of Sarenrae, and the ghost seemed to be hurt by the light.

“Wait, I think we should have pity on him. He’s just a kid!” said Charrone. Remembering the amulet of undead command she had recovered from the quasit below the Glassworks, Charrone held the amulet forth and attempted to use it. The words, “By the Midnight Lord, I command thee to halt!” came out of her lips, somewhat unexpectedly. She felt a coldness well up from within her, then into the amulet, and waves of dark energy flowed from the amulet to the ghost. The ghost hesitated for a split second, but then gazed balefully at Charrone, and moved to attack her. Charrone dropped the amulet, and as it fell she saw its form change to that of a tiny humanoid skull wearing a gold crown. She felt oddly ill. The ghost attempted to touch her, but she stepped away before it could touch her.

McGregor cast a spell, and flames erupted around the ghost. Decaln summoned the power of the Dawnflower agin, and the creature screamed and then vanished, the sound echoing through the chamber.

Declan pulled back the blanket and found the skeleton of a human child. Next to the skeleton was the half-rotten remains of a stuffed toy in the shape of a dog. Charrone noticed that the toy looked like the dogs at Korvut’s smithy. With surprising tenderness, Halfred bundled the skeleton and toy in the blanket and gently picked it up. The group went back up the stairs, into the main chamber, and then to the northern door in that room. Larissa listened again, and hearing nothing, asked Charrone to open it. The door opened easily.

Beyond that door was a short corridor which led into another circular room. This room contained a truly disturbing sight: Another, smaller statue of the winged birdlike humanoid stood before a large bookshelf. The shelf did not hold any books, but rather dozens of glass jars. Inside most of the jars was a sickly yellowish liquid, and floating in the liquid of each of the jars was either a pair of eyeballs or a tongue. On the western wall stood a lectern, on which was a book open to a drawing of the same winged humanoid. The picture was labeled, “Pazuzu, King of the Wind Demons.” The party took the book, and gathered up all of the jars, and then returned to the surface. They left the island and returned to town.

First stop was the cathedral to inform Brother Zantus that they had found the remains of Simon Korvut, and that a burial ceremony would need to be performed. Zantus agreed, and began preparations. Next stop was the Garrison, where they reported what they’s found to the Sheriff, nad to ask what should be done with the recovered body parts. (Answer: burn them in a funeral pyre.) Finally, Charrone took the toy with her and went to see Korvut. She explained what they had found, and handed the smith the toy. He took the toy, held it gently, and started to sob. Charrone brought him to the cathedral, where Zantus was preparing funeral rites. Zantus led the burial ceremony later that afternoon.

After the ceremony, Korvut said to Charrone," Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for finding my boy. Alive or dead, I needed to know what had happened to him. If you’re still interested in hiring me, I’d be happy to make that shield for you."

The next morning, at breakfast at the Rusty Dragon, a messenger entered the barroom. He walked over to Declan, and said, “I have a delivery for you, sir. No payment is needed.” The box was addressed to Declan and was signed “Mme. M.” Declan opened it to find a fully-charged wand of cure light wounds.

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Das Korvut's Story
Session 19 (part 2)

Moonday, 26 Rova 4707

After the meeting with Madame Mvashti, Charrone decided to try to have a chat with the town smith again. He wasn’t at his shop, but a neighbor mentioned that he was probably having lunch “and a drink or three” at Risa’s Tavern. The paladin thought that lunch sounded like a good idea anyway, and headed over there.

Risa’s was the smallest tavern in town, and catered to an almost exclusively local crowd. When Charrone entered the barroom, someone shouted, “Hey look! It’s Charrone of the Sandpoint Six!” and several people started to applaud. Charrone waved back. She noticed that Das Korvut was sitting at the bar. He glanced her way, frowned, then turned back to his lunch. Charrone sat at the bar two seats away from him. A smiling woman in her late 30s was behind the bar. “Welcome to Risa’s Place,” she said. “What can I get for you today? We’ve got spiced potato stew today, and I just tapped the first cask of this year’s cider.” Charrone said that sounded lovely, and asked if she was Risa. “Me? No, I’m Lanalee. Risa’s my mother. She’s mostly retired, but we still use all of her recipes!”

Charrone then turned to the smith. “Good afternoon, Mr. Korvut!” The smith nodded back curtly. “I’m so sorry if I caught you at a bad time the other day. I do apologize.” Korvut shrugged. The paladin continued, “It’s just that I’d heard so much about your skill at forging weapons and armor. It’s rare that a human can learn the ancient Dwarven arts. I understand they’re pretty secretive.” Korvut shrugged again. “I was hoping that I could commission a new shield. Mine got pretty battered recently when I was fighting a bugbear.”

“A bugbear? You adventuring sorts fight a lot of monsters, don’t you?” Korvut observed.

“Sometimes,” replied Charrone, “and other times we have to fight people. I’ve found that the worst monsters can be human.” At that, Korvut nodded. He drained his glass and asked for a refill.

“That’s for damn sure. It wasn’t goblins that killed my family.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but may I ask what happened?”

The smith got a faraway look in his eyes. “It was five years ago. Before the fire. There had been two murders in as many days, but people were thinking it was the Sczarni settling debts among themselves, so no one was too worried for themselves yet. That would change. Maia, that was my wife, and our boy Simon went from the shop to Vindler’s general store a little after dark. They wanted to get there before he closed. When they hadn’t come back after an hour, I got worried, so I walked over there myself to see what was holding them up. There was a crowd of people by the entrance to Tanglefoot Alley, and they hushed up real quick when I walked by. Deputy Hemlock walked over to me, and told me that something bad had happened to Maia, and that I didn’t want to see it. I pushed past him and saw her, or what was left of her, on the ground. Should have taken his advice and not looked. Then, I asked where Simon was. Nobody had seen him. I spent weeks looking for Simon, even before Hemlock figured out he was Jervis Stoot all along. I couldn’t get Sheriff Avertin to put together a proper search party. He said he needed to find the Chopper to protect the living. After both Avertin and the Chopper were dead, I still coudln’t get anyone to help beside one or two of the town guard on their off-nights. And then there was the fire. I guess a missing ten-year-old boy is small potatoes compared to those, but I never forgave them for giving up on my son like that.” He drained his glass and asked for another.

Charrone was taken aback by his story. “That is tragic. I am so sorry…”

Krovut cut her off. “I don’t want your pity! If you adventurers had been interested, you could have taken care of the Chopper easily! Or at least used your magic to find Simon. But no, we ere on our own. Where were you then?” demanded Korvut.

“Five years ago, I was fourteen years old, and still living with my parents in Kintargo, in Cheliax,” said Charrone quietly.

Korvut softened. “Fourteen? That’s how old Simon would be now. Or how old he should be. I’ve seen him, you know. Simon. But he still looks like he’s nine.”

“What do you mean that you saw him?”

“It’s happened three times. The local kids, they make fun of me. The first time, I thought it was one of them throwing stones at my shop’s windows. But then I saw him: Simon looking into my window. I ran outside, but he ran away from me, up High Street. I see him turn left onto Tower Street, but by the time I got there, he was nowhere to be seen. The same thing happened two other times, most recently last week.” He continued, " I went to see Madame Mvashti, and she told me to seek help from the last people I’d want it from. Maybe that’s you folks. Can you help me? I just have to know what happened to my son!"

Charrone said that she would do whatever it took.

Back at the Rusty Dragon, Charrone filled in the rest of the party what she’d learned. Looking at a map of town, they realized that the path the spirit of Simon took headed straight for Chopper’s Isle, where the Chopper had lived for 15 years as the unassuming artist Jervis Stoot.

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The Mysterious Madame Mvashti
Session 19 (part 1)

Sunday, 18 Rova 4707

The Sandpoint Heroes accepted an invitation to a luncheon at the Sandpoint Mercantile League offices. When they arrived, they found the main hall had been converted into a banquet room, and all of the towns leaders were present. Mayor Deverin gave a short speech about how the town had been saved by the brave action of these six adopted heroes. As a token of appreciation, she bestowed upon each adventurer a purse of 1500 pieces of gold.

Moonday, 19 Rova 4707

A modest town-wide celebration was declared in honor of the Sandpoint Six, the heroes of Goblin Day. There was much rejoicing.

After the feast, the party took a much-needed week off of adventuring. Ted worked in the makeshift lab in his room to brew potions. Larissa put the magical theories she’d been studying for so long to the test, and successfully completed a ceremony to bond an amulet to herself, which which she could work magic and join the ranks of wizards. As her bonded object, she used the Sihedron Medallion, which had been recovered from Nualia in the dungeons of Thistletop.

That night, Larissa had an odd dream. In the dream, she was back in the flooded treasure room below Thistletop, looking at the mosaic of the golden domed city in the mountains. The image of the city before her eyes shifted, and became real. She realized the she now stood on a ledge on a mountain high above that city and was looking down at it. The sun glinted off of the golden roofs of the majestic buildings. She thought she heard a voice say her name, and then she woke up. She was alone in her room in the Rusty Dragon.

Over the following week, several members of the party individually investigated how they could acquire more powerful magic items, and found that several shops in town occasionally dealt in magic. Most obvious was the Feathered Serpent, a shop that catered to arcane magic. Both Ted and McGregor had purchased spell components and materials to scribe magical scrolls at this shop; they had also noticed that the shop had spell scrolls for sale, and occasionally stocked wands and more esoteric arcane items. Bottled Solutions, the local alchemist’s shop, also stocked potions, and several common potions could be purchased on order. Kesk the jeweler occasionally traded in enchanted jewelry. While Vernah’s Clothing mostly stocked the latest Korvosan fashions, she also stocked wearable magic items occasionally. One could never be sure what magic items might be available at the Sandpoint Boutique at a given moment. While she didn’t actively sell them, it was rumored that Madame Mvashti the fortune-teller knew how to craft wands. Savah’s Armory frequently stocked magical arms and armor. Savah herself mentioned that the local smith Das Korvut, owner of Red Dog Smithy, had been trained in the Dwarven tradition of weaponsmithing, and his skills had once been in high demand. However, after his wife and son became victims of the Chopper five years ago, he had turned his back on such things and now rarely crafted anything more interesting than scythes and plowshares if he crafted anything at all. When pressed, Savah admitted that Das now spent most of his time in one of the local taverns and was rarely seen in public sober any more.

Starday, 24 Rova 4707

Charrone decided to have a conversation with Mr. Korvut about the possibility of commissioning an enchanted set of armor. On her way over, she happened to pass by a group of children playing hopscotch. They seemed to be chanting a rhyme that mentioned Mr. Korvut by name:

Here comes crazy-man Das Korvut,
Mad as a snake stuck in a wagon rut!
See how his chops go bouncity-bounce?
How many drunkards has he trounced?
One! Two! Three! Four…

When Charrone arrived at the Red Dog smithy, she heard the barking of several large dogs. The top half of the door opened, and she was face-to-face with a very tall, ruddy-faced man with very bushy muttonchop whiskers. He sneered, and when he spoke, she could smell the whiskey on his breath. “Well, if it isn’t one of the Sandpoint Heroes! Come to spread some of your new-found money around here?” He spat at the ground. “Pfft. You adventurers are all alike. Useless! Sure, you killed a few goblins. So what? Where were you adventurers five years ago, huh? Killin’ goblins is one thing, but standing up to a killer who slaughters innocent folks by night is something else! Where were you adventurers then, huh? High-tailin’ it to a barroom, that’s where you all were. Now, by the Abyss, get outta here before I set my dogs on you!” He slammed the door before she could object.

Moonday, 26 Rova 4707

Declan, McGregor, and Charrone went to visit Madame Mvashti, the venerable Varisian fortune-teller and mystic. As they approached Mme. Mvashti’s handsome but run-down house, they were surprised to see Das Korvut leaving. The smith saw the local heroes, frowned, and looked away. He then turned down an alley and was out of sight. Declan waled up to the front door, and as he raised his hand to knock, the door slowly opened of its own accord.

The heady scent of incense wafted out of the door. Inside was a lavishly-decorated room. Heavy red curtains draped the walls. An exquisitely woven rug covered the floor. A crystal chandelier provided illumination. In the center of the room was a large round wooden table covered in green felt. Behind the table facing the door was an overstuffed chair, on which sat Madame Mvashti. “Yes, come in,” she beckoned. “Lady Charrone of Kintargo in far Cheliax. Enter. Borther Declan, priest of the Dawnflower, come in. And the wizard and scholar McGregor, please, sit. I will tell you your future.”

The three entered, and the door shut behind them. They sat on low wooden benches. The old woman took out a worn but expensive-looking Harrow Deck and expertly shuffled and fanned the cards. “Lady Charrone, please pick a card, then turn it up.” The paladin drew a card, and placed it face up on the table. The image on the card was of an armored knight on a rearing horse, her sword-arm raised. “Ah, very appropriate. The card is The Paladin. Its suit is hammers, which represent force and strength at arms. Its inclination is a good omen; its disposition favors what is known. This card represents standing firm against opposition. You will not back away from danger, and I see danger in your future.” She gathered back the cards. “So, you did not come to see me to have your fortunes told. What is it you wish of me?”

Declan replied, “Madame, we have been told that you know how to fashion magical wands. I have been seeking a wand of healing to assist us on our mission to protect this town. Would you be able to craft such a thing for us?”

The old woman fixed the priest with an inscrutable gaze. “You are very direct. Like the rays of the sun. That is an admirable quality. Yes, I would be able to craft such an item. However, I have little need for money.” She paused.

After an uncomfortably long silence, McGregor said, “Well, we are adventurers. Perhaps there is a service we could perform for you?”

At that, the old woman smiled. “Perhaps. You saw the man who left this place just before you arrived, yes? He is a very troubled man. He came to me to ask what the cards have in store for him. I told him that I could not help him but that there were others in town that could: people from whom he would never request help. If you could find out what troubles him and solve it for him, then yes, I will craft that item for you.”

The door opened by itself. “That is all for now. Good luck.”

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Thistletop: Third Foray
Session 18

Starday, 17 Rova 4707

After a well-deserved good night’s sleep at the Rusty Dragon Inn, the Sandpoint Heroes returned to Thistletop for a third foray, arriving late morning on Saturday. The goblin fortress was completely undisturbed from the previous day, as were the rooms in the dungeon levels that they passed.

The trap on the second level of the dungeon was still disabled, sothe party opened the southern door at the far end of the corridor. They found themselves inside a large L-shaped room. To the west, the walls were decorated with a mosaic showing piles of treasure, coffers filled with gems, and chests overflowing with gold. The walls at the end of the room angled in toward a pillar that appeared to be made of solid gold and was fashioned to resemble a pile of gold coins. Some of the tiles in the mosaic were in the shape of Thassilonian runes, all of which praised the virtue of wealth and the acquisition of great fortune.

To the south was a set of ornately-carved stone doors. Runes on the doors indicated that the room beyond was the final resting place of the architects of “this great monument.” Larissa pressed her ear to the door, but did not hear anything. Charrone opened the doors. Beyond was a large, stark room with five sarcophagi set in alcoves in the walls. The party entered the room. As soon as everyone was inside, the door slammed shut, and from three of the sarcophagi came vaguely humanoid shadows that appeared not to be cast by anything! The shadows moved toward the party, and struck at Halfred, Charrone, and Declan. Halfred felt something cold pass through him, and he suddenly found himself weakened. Everyone drew their weapons and attacked, but most of the party realized that their non-magical weapons had no effect on the creatures. Fortunately, Charrone’s sword and the spellcasters’ magic seemed to affect the creatures. Declan channeled the holy fires of the Dawnflower as well, and the incorporeal creatures were defeated.

Halfred found a secret door in the room, and the party followed a corridor that led to a set of stairs down. They could hear the gentle sloshing of water, and smelled the ocean as they descended. The stairs opened into a room that was partly submerged, and partly eroded by the water. One wall of the room was another mosaic showing a gleaming golden city of domes and spires surrounded by mountains. The floor slanted toward the west here as well, and the western part of the room was underwater. The decayed remains of chests, jewelry, and gilded weapons were in the room, both above and below the surface of the water. The items that were underwater seemed to be encrusted with barnacles, coral, and mussels, but one thing that was still recognizable was a giant-sized golden helmet, also studded with sea creatures. The party began to sort through the remains of this treasure room, and was able to recover a fair amount of ancient gold coins, gems, and still-usable weapons.

However, when Halfred looked at the giant golden helm, he noticed that it wasn’t where he’d remembered it was. He poked the helmet with his ranseur, and two antennae, ten very long spindly legs, and two large claws extended from the helmet: apparently, the helmet was now the home of a giant hermit crab, which was not happy about being disturbed. It attacked. But a single giant crab, even one with ten-foot-long claws, was no match for the Sandpoint Heroes, who defeated it easily. With the crab dead, they gathered up the rest of the treasure and returned to the L-shaped room.

Examining the mosaics depicting treasure, Larissa notices two actual coin slots that were incorporated into depictions of donation boxes: one on the north wall, and one on the south. She dropped in a silver piece, but, strangely, did not hear the “clink” of a coin landing into anything. Halfred stood beside the other, and on a count of three, each dropped a gold piece into the slot. The sound of stone grinding on stone echoed through the room, and the golden pillar of coins slowly recessed into the floor, revealing a corridor beyond.

That corridor ended with three doors: one each to the north, east, and south. Larissa listened at each, and heard a faint voice coming from the north wall. She couldn’t make out the words, but recognized snippets of spoken ancient Thassilonian. The door was unlocked and apparently untrapped, so Charrone threw it open.

Inside was an audience chamber of some sort. The ceiling glowed faintly, bathing the room in dim light. Two stone statues of a stern-looking man wearing robes and holding a glaive stood beside an ornately-carved stone throne. In the throne sat the faint, ghostly image of a stern-looking man wearing robes. The image spoke, but its words seemed faint and distant, as if coming up from the bottom of a well. The language the image spoke was ancient Thassilonian, and it used an accent that none of the scholars in the party had ever heard before. The image seemed to start in mid-sentence, and then stopped in mid-sentence again, repeating exactly the words it had just spoke and motions it had just made:

“…is upon us, but I command you to remain. Witness my power, how Alaznist’s petty wrath is but a flash compared to my strength! Take my final work to your graves, and let its memory be the last thing you…”

Ted cast detect magic, and determined that the image was a powerful illusion, that had apparently been running for centuries. There was nothing else of interest in the room.

Returning to the corridor, Charrone opened the eastern door. Inside was an ancient laboratory of some sort. A large marble table stood in the center, with many heavy steel rings set just below its surface. Rusty chains lay in a pile below it. Three smaller low stone tables were to the sides of the room, each covered with a green silk cloth. On each of the cloths were a collection of gleaming steel surgical tools: saws, knives, probes, and other tools whose purpose was not immediately apparent. One object was of particular interest: a brass-and-silver object made in the shape of a seven-pointed star. One side of it was covered with a seemingly-random pattern of divots and nodules; the other had a narrow handle. “That’s the Sihedron rune again,” said Larissa. She took that item. A pile of humanoid bones was on the floor next to one of the low tables— too many to be one skeleton, but too few to be two. Ted reported that nothing in the room radiated magic, and McGregor gathered the surgical tools and silks, which all appeared to be valuable.

Returning to the corridor, Larissa examined the double doors to the south, which were firmly shut and had no handles or knobs. Pushing on them didn’t move them a hair’s breadth. In the center of one of the doors was the indented outline of a seven-pointed star, its shape covered with hollows and bumps. Larissa took the brass-and-silver star she’d found in the other room, and gauged them to be about the same size. She pressed the star into the outline, and after rotating it a few times, found that it pressed into the hollow exactly. There was an audible “Click” and the doors swung open.

Inside was a large rectangular room. A wide fire pit was in the middle, its hot flames lapping up four feet into the air. In the corners of the room were wooden platforms, upon each rested a candelabra bearing a number of lit candles. Another mosaic depicting the Sihedron Rune dominated the south wall.

The group entered the room to check it out. As soon as all of the group was in the room, a loud roar shook the air, and from nowhere, a huge beast appeared as it ripped into Halfred, who staggered back in shock. As barbarian’s blood dripped off the creatures mouth, it roared, “Ah, flesh! It has been centuries since I have feasted!” The creature was shaggy, and resembled a cross between a wolf and a goblin, combining the worst features of both. Its feral eyes glowed with a red malevolence, and it grinned and attacked Halfred again.

This time, the Ulfen warrior was ready, and skewered the beast with his ranseur. It was a lucky strike, and black ichor poured out of the wound. It howled in pain and outrage: a terrifying sound, but no one seemed to be affected by it. Charrone cried, “In the name of Iomedae the Inheritor, Lady of Justice, I smite thee!” and ran her sword through the creature’s chest. Larissa let loose an enchanted arrow she’d found in the treasure room, and Declan cast the cleansing fires of Sarenrae at the foul beast. Mortally wounded, the beast lashed out at Charrone, but only hit a glancing blow. Charrone struck at it again with her empowered sword, and the beast collapsed, its body quickly dissolving into foul black ichor, which began to evaporate.

“I think that may have been that mysterious Malfeshnakor,” said Charrone, cleaning the ichor from her blade.

“He sure wasn’t that tough,” said Halfred, “Tsuto’s journal made him sound like a demon or something.”

“It was a demon of sorts,” replied Declan, “and you needed magic to overcome its defenses. If it’d been set loose on Sandpoint, I don’t want to imagine the carnage it would have caused.”

“I think it may have been imprisoned in this room,” pondered Ted, “or Nualia would have already released him to do just that.”

Searching the room, the group found two secret alcoves, which contained more everburning candles, the indecipherable crumbled remains of many scrolls, and a silver coffer. Inside the coffer was powdered bone, and among the bone powder was a magic ring. Ted tried to identify it, but its secrets eluded him at the moment.

Satisfied that they had fully explored the dungeon, the party returned to the surface and then traveled back to Sandpoint. They informed the sheriff and mayor that the Thistletop problem was taken care of once and for all.

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Showdown With the Dark Priestess!
Session 17 (part 2)

Fireday, 16 Rova 4707, mid-afternoon

The stairs were slanted slightly to the west, and of a different construction than the chambers the group had just explored. They led about fifty feet down to an empty room that had a fair amount of stone and tile debris all over the floor. A oil lamp sitting on the floor provided illumination. A single door led to the east, and a search revealed nothing save the lamp. Larissa listened at the door, and hearing nothing, entered.

Beyond the door was a corridor leading east, lined with semicircular alcoves. In each alcove was a stone statue of a robed man holding a glaive. At the end of the corridor were doors heading north and south. As Larissa quietly walked down the hallway to scout ahead, she heard a disconcerting “click.” Without time for thought, she sprang backward just astwo steel portcullises dropped on either side of where she had stood, falling with a loud clang! Safely on the party’s side of the metal gate, she watched the stone statues in the alcoves inside this newly-formed cage animate and begin to sweep the area between them with their glaives. After a few seconds of that, the statues recessed into their alcoves, just as a trap door in the floor dropped away, revealing a spiked pit. After a few more seconds, the trap door closed again, but the portcullises did not retract. Halfred and Charrone managed to lift one portcullis and spike it open. Larissa found the pressure plate and disabled it, then they opened the far gate.

At the end of the corridor, Charrone threw open the door to the north. Upon touching the door, a previously-unseen glyph glowed brightly and then exploded in fire, burning the paladin badly. She threw open the door and stepped inside. The room was round and lined with bookshelves. A single candle provided dim illumination. A fountain of normal-seeming water bubbled soothingly at the far wall. “Ah, the Sandpoint Heroes. I’ve been expecting you,” said a sultry female voice. From the shadows stepped a silver-haired woman with unearthly beautiful features and violet eyes. She was armored in a breastplate and greaves, but the plate that should have been covering her abdomen was missing, and her midriff was bare. Her abdomen was terribly scarred, as if something had clawed its way out of her womb. She held a falchion in her right hand— a hand that was a red and scaly, with three fingers that each ended in a razor-sharp talon. Her entire right arm was likewise demonic. Her left hand held a potion bottle, which she quaffed, and there were then four duplicates of her standing side-by-side. Charrone couldn’t tell the real one from the illusion. “Nualia,” said Charrone, “you shall pay dearly for your crimes,” and the paladin drew her sword.

Halfred charged her with his ranseur, but only managed to strike one of the illusions, which winked out. She sidestepped and presented an unholy symbol, calling out to Lamashtu. A wave of crackling black energy shot from the symbol, weakening all of the heroes. Charrone repositioned so as to strike her, but suddenly felt a stabbing pain in the back of her leg. Whirling, she saw the black-cloaked half-orc female from the previous day, her face half-hidden behind a black veil. She drew another dagger, and even in the dim light, Charrone could tell that there was a sticky substance clinging to the blade. Larissa entered the room and aimed an arrow at the priestess, but another of the demon dogs seemed to appear out of nowhere and bit her arm, spoiling the shot. Ted cast a spell to strengthen Halfred, and McGregor cast a magic jet of flame at the half-orc, singeing her badly.

“Lamashtu will feast on your souls, and Malfeshnakor shall gnaw your bones!” shouted Nualia, as she slashed at Halfred with her falchion, slicing into his arm. Declan moved into the room, holding forth his symbol of Sarenrae. “No, you shall feel the cleansing fire of the Dawnflower!” he replied, and a fan of flame shot from his outstretched symbol, immolating both the half-orc and the priestess. At that McGregor used the sorceress’ skull-tipped wand to cast a ray of crackling black necromantic energy at the half-orc. The ray struck her right in the head, and she collapsed.

“In the name of Iomedae the Inheritor, the Lady of Justice, I smite thee!” shouted Charrone. Holy energy enveloped her, and she swung her sword at Nualia. This blow struck true, cutting a nasty-looking gash across the evil priestess’ demonic arm. Scarlet blood gushed from the wound. Halfred turned and skewered the demonic dog, killing it in one mighty blow. Ted cast magic missile at Nualia, striking her once and dispelling one of her illusions. Nualia stepped back again, and invoked Lamashtu again; this time a ray of brilliant energy struck Charrone, wounding her gravely. Larissa fired arrows at the priestess, striking her once, and winking out another of the illusions. McGregor used the wand to cast another ray of necromantic energy at her, and dispelled the last of her illusions. Charrone feinted with her sword, and Nualia fell for it. The paladin then lunged at the off-balance priestess, running her through. As the life left the fallen asimar’s eyes, she whispered, “Damn… you… all…” as her final words.

With the main threat defeated, the party decided to take the bodies of Nualia and her conspirators back to Sandpoint. They also put togehter a dossier from the many documents found throughout Thistletop and its dungeons that fully documented Nualia’s crimes and her now-dead companions’ complicity in the Goblin Day raid. Returning to the surface, they found the newly-liberated Marla Forsythe (to whom they gave a spare set of clean womens’ clothes from the half-orc), and the warhorse, which seemed to be in much better spirits.

The journey back to Sandpoint was brief and uneventful, and they returned a little before dusk. After giving Deverin and Hemlock a full briefing, the bodies of the fallen were gathered and burned in a pyre on the beach below the Sandpoint Boneyard,in a funeral ceremony for fallen enemies presided by Brother Zantus.

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In the Dungeons of Thistletop
Session 17 (part 1)

Fireday, 16 Rova 4707, afternoon

Charrone crouched into a defensive position, and raised her shield to take the impact of the demonic dog’s flying charge, but the second one found an opening and mauled her leg. The paladin swung her enchanted sword and connected; foul-smelling black ichor bubbled out of the creature’s wound. Halfred charged in, smashing the other demon dog on the head with the magical heavy flail he’d claimed earlier in the day from the bugbear. Larissa sneaked into the room while the enemy creatures were distracted by the fight, and let loose an arrow from the shadows, grazing one.

Once inside the room, it was apparent that it was indeed a temple to Lamashtu, as a ten foot tall black stone statue of the Demon Mother of Monsters dominated the north end of the room. The statue held a glowing stone kukri in each of its hands, and the two weapons each glowed with magical energy: one blue and one orange. Under the glittering red eyes of the statue, Charrone, Halfred, and Larissa managed to drop the demon dogs while sustaining minimal injuries. The Abyssal creatures began to dissolve into a pool of ichor almost immediately, but McGregor managed to acquire two vials of the stuff before it boiled away.

After the fight was over, Declan examined the black marble altar below the idol of the demon-goddess. He noticed iron rings set into its sides, presumably used to tie down sacrifices. The group also saw ashes and bits of charred bone on the floor beside the altar. Larissa noticed that the idol’s eyes were set with large garnets, which she pried loose. The heroes did not find anything else of value in the room.

Continuing to explore the complex, the group next found a room that was obviously a torture chamber. Six prison cell doors lined the south wall. As soon as they entered the chamber, they heard a hoarse voice say, “Please, water!” in both the common Taldan tongue and Goblin. The voice came from behind one of the cell doors. Larissa picked the lock, and opened the door to find a human woman huddled in a tiny cell. She was naked, filthy, and her arms were chained to the wall. Larissa freed her from the manacles, and offered her a cloak, her waterskin, and some trail rations. “By the gods, are you all right? How long have you been here?” asked Charrone. After taking a long swig of water, the woman introduced herself as Marla Forsythe, a merchant from Magnimar. She said that she was with a trading caravan going along the Lost Coast Road to Windsong Abbey, when they were ambushed by goblins three weeks earlier. She said that herself and five other humans were taken prisoner and held in this room. One by one, her fellow prisoners were taken out of the room, sometimes by goblins and sometimes by a human, and then she never saw them again. She said she sometimes heard them, though… and shuddered. Declan escorted her back up to the goblin fortress, gave her a weapon, and told her to hole herself in the room. The group would be back later to escort her back to Sandpoint.

Winding their way through the rest of the chambers, they found a workroom where weapons were fashioned from refuse from human settlements, and a grotto guarded by squid-like monster. Halfred made short work of the squid creature, and siezed its treasure.

From there, they then found a corridor off of which were five bedrooms. Halfred explored them. Most of these bedrooms were unoccupied, but in one Halfred found the human soldier they had encountered in the first fight in the Throne Room the previous day, asleep in bed. The man stirred when Halfred opened the door, but didn’t awaken. In a burst of rage, Halfred skewered the sleeping figure through the gut with his mithril ranseur. The man’s eyes opened wide and his face took on an expression of great pain and surprise, locking his gaze with Halfred’s. He only managed a blood-choked gurgle before he died.

One other chamber that appeared to be empty actually had three female goblins. After a short fight, two of the goblins were dead, and a third captured. She said that they were Ripnugget’s wives, and now were Bruthazmus’ wives since Ripnugget was dead. Charrone locked her in one of the cells until they could secure the rest of the complex.

As they explored this underground lair of the complex, Larissa sketched a map of the layout in charcoal on a sheet of paper. “I would guess that we’ve explored all of this level, but no Nualia. I think we may have missed something. Let’s start over,” and headed back to the room in which they had encountered the necromancer. A through search of the room revealed a concealed door which led to a set of stairs descending into darkness…

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The Dungeons of Thistletop
Session 16 (part 2)

Fireday, 16 Rova 4707, early afternoon

The Heroes found a second, wider set of stone stairs leading down into the depths of Skull Rock, but decided to take the narrower set of staris that they had found earlier. At the bottom of those stairs was a stone door. Larissa descended the narrow stairs and pressed her ear to the door. She could hear the quiet but animated voices of two goblins. It sounded as if they were arguing. She quietly checked the door and saw that it was unlocked, and motioned for Halfred and Charrone to come to the door. Charrone threw open the door and rushed in, closely followed by Halfred.

The room held a large wooden table with chairs. Stone doors led east and west. There was a paper map of the town of Sandpoint tacked to one wall, and two chalkboards on other walls. The table was littered with papers— and sitting at it were two goblins playing cards with a poor-quality Harrow deck. The goblins appeared surprised at the intrusion, but quickly recovered, shouting death threats in goblin and pulling out swords. But two goblin warriors were no match for the combined forces of the Sandpoint Heroes, and they lay dead on the stone floor in scant moments. Ted quickly scanned to papers, and saw that they appeared to be plans for a full-scale sack of the town.

Larissa noticed some kind of writing on the western door, and investigated it. As soon as she got close enough to make out the script, the letters exploded in a burst of magical energy, the force of which blasted her flat on her back, and she lost consciousness. Declan saw to her injuries. The door itself seemed to be weakened by the blast, and Charrone threw it open and stepped through.

A black bolt of magical energy struck the paladin, and she felt both chilled to the bone and that it was slightly difficult to breathe— almost as if some of her essential life energy had been sapped. An attractive young human woman stood in the corner of the room. She had the dark skin and hair of a Garundi, and her long hair was done in dozens of tight braids. Most of the braids ended in the skull of a small animal. She wore a black silk dress with a silver skull pattern embroidered onto it. She held an ebony wand tipped with a human skull. Charrone could also see that the woman had Thassilonian runes tattooed onto her face and hands. “So, you’re the ones who slew all those goblins. I expected better.” She began to cast a spell.

That was the opening Charrone was looking for. With lightning-like speed, the paladin swung at the sorceress’ arms, interrupting her spell. Halfred then burst in, swinging his axe, and he connected as well. Larissa then ran in, and shot the woman with an arrow. McGregor wtruck her with a bold of magical energy, while Ted just looked at her with disdain. Surprisingly, she still stood after taking successive hits, and pointed her wand at Halfred. The black ray went wide this time. Charrone thrust her sword through the sorceress’ chest, twisting the blade. Still trying to summon her magic, she feebly pointed her wand again and tried to utter a command word, but only blood came out of her mouth. She collapsed to the floor, dead.

The sorceress had several spell scrolls on her, but the big find was a black leather-bound book. Inside the front cover was written in a neat hand, “Hermetical Grimoire of Lyrie Akenja.” Inside were spell formulae in the manner of wizards. The spells in the book were mostly necromantic, but with many others that dealt with exploration or discovery.

The room itself held archaeological artifacts of ancient Thassilon, texts about the same, and also shovels, picks, survey tools, and other implements that one would use to explore ancient ruins. However, the party decided to explore the rest of the dungeon before their defensive spells expired, so they pressed on.

Following the worked stone passages, they found themselves in a small room where the illiterate goblins seemed to records their exploits. Painted onto the walls were representations of goblins raiding caravans, fighting a bat-winged creature, fighting other goblins, and setting things on fire. One particularly large drawing apparently showed Skull Rock from the side, with Thistletop at the top, a layer of passages just below the surface, and in the middle an immense goblin with snake-like eyes and a sword in each hand. If the scale were to be believed, the goblin would be about thirty feet tall. “Hmmm,” said McGregor, “Tsuto’s letter mentioned that Nualia was working in the ‘lower levels’ to free something called Malfeshnakor. I wonder if that’s it?” Without commenting, the group pressed on.

They came to a chamber with several passages leading out of it, including a set of stone double doors. The doors were covered with detailed carvings, but the carvings were extremely disturbing: monsters engaged in sex acts with seemingly unwilling women; creatures bursting from the wombs of pregnant females; the face of a three-eyed jackal watching over all of it. “Lamashtu,” said Declan quietly, “this is depicting rites of the cult of Lamashtu, Demon Mother of Monsters. This must be a temple.”

Charrone tried the doors, which opened easily. The paladin brought to mind the Sight of the Inheritor, which let her see the evil that needed to be judged— and felt the strong presence of otherworldly evil hovering near the ceiling just on either side of the door! Glancing up, she saw two demonic doglike entities staring down at her. They both lunged, their fangs bared!

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Thistletop: Second Battle of the Throne Room
Session 16 (part 1)

Fireday, 16 Rova 4707, late morning

[The session picked up immediately at the end of the previous session]

Inside the bedroom of the slain Thistletop chieftain, Larissa crouched by the door that led to the goblin throne room and pressed her ear to it. She heard the shrill guttural voices of goblins, but did not understand their language. “Stupid little freaks,” she thought. She motioned for the others to come into the room, and the other five Sandpoint Heroes crept in. She tested the door, finding it locked. She locked eyes with Charrone, who nodded back, and Larissa stood clear of the door, pulling out her bow as she stepped back. The rest of the party likewise took out their weapons. Charrone silently mouthed, “One, two, three…” and threw her weight into the door. It burst open, and the Sandpoint Heroes rushed into the throne room.

Inside the throne room were about ten goblins, including a warchanter sitting on what had been Ripnugget’s throne. Towering over the goblins was a heavy flail-wielding bugbear—the same bugbear that led the second attack on the party on the previous day. The goblins apparently had been alerted to the party’s presence, probably from the sound of Halfred and Charrone chopping through the secret door. Two female goblins stood aside the door through which the party ran, and they took swings at Charrone’s knees as she stepped through. The crude goblin swords bounced harmlessly off of Charrone’s greaves. Halfred ran straight at the bugbear, swinging his greataxe. Larissa tumbled into the corner, letting arrows fly.

The fight was on! Charrone engaged the goblin warchanter to prevent her from casting spells. Two other goblins attacked the paladin, but weren’t able to get past her defenses. Halfred and the bugbear swung their heavy weapons at each other, but could not connect.

“You longshanks back? We kill you MORE!” shouted the bugbear.

“You didn’t kill any of us the first time— how can you kill us more? WE killed a lot of goblins— and we’re gonna kill you!” shouted back Halfred, and he connected, spilling bugbear blood. The bugbear screamed in rage, swinging his heavy flail, connecting with the barbarian’s shoulder.

Larissa held off three goblins plus the slain chieftain’s pet giant lizard. The lizard leaped at her, catching her arm in its jaws. It tried to bite her arm off, but the rogue stabbed it in the eye with her rapier, and it let go. Decaln also waded into combat, fending off goblin attacks with his black Orcish scimitar, but the goblins were too agile for him to strike a solid blow. Ted charged his magic wand of shock, and zapped one of the goblins that got too close. McGregor fired bolts of magical energy.

The goblin spellcaster attempted to ensorcell Charrone, but the paladin’s will was too strong to succumb to such a petty enchantment. In return, she ran the goblin through. Halfred and the bugbear were wearing each other out— but the barbarian managed to get better positioning, and in a furious swing, brought his axe down squarely into the monster’s chest. The bugbear locked its lizard-like eyes onto Halfred and hissed “No…you…die…” as it dropped its flail and sank to its knees. Halfred swung again in a wide arc and connected his axe into the bugbear’s neck, almost completely severing it. The monster’s lifeblood poured out of it, and lay motionless on the dirt floor.

With their leaders dead, the goblins increased the frenzy of their attacks, but what little coordination they used fell aside, and they were little match to the combined forces of the Sandpoint Heroes. After two more rounds, all of the goblins and the lizard were also dead.

Declan healed everyone, and Ted felt for the presence of magic. The bugbear and the warchanter each had a few items of interest— including the bugbear’s heavy flail. Halfred claimed that. McGregor took the warchanter’s magic wand. The bugbear also had a smaller keyring with three keys, each of which were identical to keys on Ripnugget’s key ring that the party had found a day earlier.

The group explored the rest of the wooden complex, finding workrooms, a crude goblin armory, barracks, and an extremely unsettling larder— which included fresh and preserved human meat. No other combatants were found in the rest of the Thisteltop fortress.

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Thistletop: Second Incursion
Session 15

Fireday, 16 Rova 4707

Leaving Charrone’s horse at the Goblin Squash Stables in Sandpoint, the party set off on foot to return to Thistletop. Since they’d already been there and back, finding the goblin lair took much less time that the previous day, and after about an hour, the Sandpoint Heroes found themselves before the entrance to the Thistletop goblin-tunnels in the thicket across from Skull Rock. The leafy curtain that served as a hard-to-spot door was closed. Larissa listened for activity beyond, and hearing none, opened the door. They looked into a familiar tunnel through the thorny thicket. Halfred, remembering that he fell into a pit trap, probed where he remembered the pit to be with his ranseur, and the branches and leaves covering the pit fell into it.

Larissa scouted ahead, and saw a goblin dog in the tunnel that led to the rope bridge. Reporting back to the party, they attempted to sneak up on them, but the rat-like creatures noticed them anyway and charged them. However, these goblin dogs didn’t move or act normally— they all appeared to have gaping bloody wounds, their eyes seemed milky, and they moved with a lurching stagger. To the party’s horror, they quickly realized that these goblin dogs were some of the ones the party had killed yesterday, and that someone or something had animated the corpses as new guardians (which was something they had seen earlier in the week in the Catacombs). One of the undead creatures bit Charrone, but she lopped its head off with her sword, and Halfred hacked a chunk out of another with his greataxe. While they fought the two undead goblin dogs, four undead goblin warriors lurched forward from their hiding place in a watchpost and joined the fight. The wizards zapped the zombie goblins with magical energy, and Larissa fired arrows at them. While one zombie managed to claw Halfred, the heroes destroyed the zombies with little difficulty.

The party approached the bridge over the chasm across from Skull Rock. Charrone spotted one goblin in each of the watchtowers, but neither of them seemed to be paying any attention: One was throwing stones at seagulls, while the other pretended to throw stones at seagulls but was really throwing them at the first goblin. Under cover of nearby brush, Larissa examined the bridge, and determined that the goblins had reset the trap that would cause one side to drop away if too much weight was applied to it. She ran across the bridge to disable the trap. Thankfully, the goblins seemed too interested in their game of killing birds with stones to notice. Larissa gave the signal, and the party ran across the bridge. They all attempted to hide in the bushes next to the towers in case the goblins decided to actually do their jobs as lookouts.

Larissa picked the lock on the door, and Charrone threw open the doors. Suddenly, the sound of a loud bell ringing could be heard. Ted recognized it as an alarm spell that had been placed on the door. Looking through the door, the party saw that the trophy room was now filled with zombie goblins! Also, at the sound of the alarm, the goblins at the watchtowers turned their rock-throwing attention to the party, but then switched to their shortbows. As the zombies clawed at Charrone and Larissa, Declan summoned the Holy Light of the Dawnflower at the zombies. Smoke rose from the zomies as the burning rays of golden sunshine shone from Declan’s holy symbol. A few of the zombies remained standing, but they quickly fell to Halfred’s axe, Charrone’s sword, and Declan’s scimitar. The group pressed into the room.

Deciding not to press straight to the Throne Room this time, they followed a corridor to the west. They found a couple of unoccupied store rooms, including one that held mostly foodstuffs (barrels of pickles and apples, sacks of grain, hanging sausages), and one that held goblin dog riding gear and bales of straw. Thinking that goblins might be distracted by food, Charrone took a pocketful of apples and some sausages. They also checked out the west tower, which by now was unmanned. From there they went north, and found an open-air courtyard.

The courtyard ground was packed earth, with a few tufts of grass sticking up here and there, and liberally sprinkled with of piles of fecal matter— this place appeared to be where the goblins once kept their ratlike pets. But now, the goblins seemed to be using the courtyard as a charnel-house: about a score of goblin corpses were neatly stacked like cordwood along the eastern wall, and six dead goblin dogs were piled along the western wall. A wooden shack stood along the northern wall, and two bloated goblin corpses lay next to its door. These two dead goblins appeared to have been laying there for several days at least, and a quick examination showed that both of their heads had been bashed in with a large blunt object. The door to the shed was nailed shut, then covered over with more boards that were also nailed in. The door itself was battered, as if something inside had been trying to bash its way out. Larissa listened at the door, and heard the sound of a large animal breathing, and perhaps a sickly whinny.

They pried open the door, and found inside a once-handsome heavy horse, but now it seemed both very sickly and wild with rage. It bolted out of the shed, charging past Larissa, and then reared, striking at Charrone with its hooves. Charrone, being an expert horsewoman, stood her ground and managed to calm it by offering it an apple. She could tell that the poor beast hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in days, and must have been shut up in that shed for the whole time— and that probably it had been what had killed the two goblins. Someone went back to a storeroom for the straw and more apples, and they then took a few minutes to see to the horse’s needs. Once it seemed that the horse would probably stay put, they continued to explore the goblin lair by taking the northern door.

That led to a winding corridor that led past a few empty rooms, including the goblin latrine, and to another door that led to a stone staircase leading down. Larissa searched the area and found two things of interest: the wall behind the latrine was hollow, as was a section of the corridor wall across from the door to the stairs. She found a catch in the latrine to open a sliding door, and in the tiny room behind it was a large seaman’s chest. She dragged the chest into the hallway. As she got out her lockpicks, Ted said, “Hey, why don’t you try one of these?” and offered her Ripnugget’s key ring. One of the keys seemed to be the kind that would fit the keyhole, and she tried the key. However, she had an odd feeling about the chest, and decided to turn the key to the left instead of the right, and the chest opened. Looking at the lock, she saw that if she had turned it to the right, she would have been stuck by a spring-loaded needle that seemed to be covered by a black tarry substance. “Glad I didn’t set that off,” she said. Inside the chest were a thousands of coins (mostly copper and silver, but a few gold), a fine chainmail shirt, some jewelry, and a few other useful items. They dragged the chest to the shed that used to hold the horse, and nailed the door back shut.

Larissa turned her attention to the hollow-sounding panel in the hall. She estimated that this panel was most likely a secret door, but one that could not be opened from this side. Tapping it again, she said that the panel was likely not very thick, and that someone strong could probably chop through it with an axe fairly quickly. Ted handed Charrone a hatchet and suggested that she and Halfred should strike the door simultaneously to try to bust it down in one blow, so as not to give anyone on the other side any warning. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea.

So, on a silent count of three, Halfred and Charrone chopped at the door at the same time with all of their might. The door, being of goblin construction, couldn’t withstand such an assault, and splintered open. Everyone rushed into the room. The room appeared to be a richly-furnished (for a goblin) bedroom: a four-poster canopy bed with an ornately carved headboard stood at one side, it filthy silk sheets in a messy pile. Horse and dog skins covered the floor, and the walls were “decorated” with horse and dog ears nailed to them. Empty wine bottles littered the floor and a table, which also was covered with bloody seagull feathers, beaks, and feet. A single door led south. Larissa listened at the door, and heard goblin voices beyond…

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