Rise of the Runelords 3.75

Something Wicked This Way Comes
It was a dark and stormy night...

While still in shock from the loss of their respected monk companion, Tellorn, the Heroes of Sandpoint were approached by Sheriff Hemlock with disturbing news. He required their assistance with a recent grisly double murder at the sawmill.

The Sheriff was able to relate several clues to launch the heroes’ investigation, but the most disturbing detail was a note, written in fresh blood and pinned to the coat of one of the murder victims that addressed the dwarf, Durgrim, by name. Also of great concern, was the fact that these two murders appeared to be the second set by the same hand within the past week. Sheriff Hemlock seemed worried that another serial killer may be at work within Sandpoint and he feared that the townsfolk would panic should the details become public. The party set off at once to uncover the truth, stop the murderer and, hopefully, protect the dwarf from whatever dark fate the note had hinted at.

The scene at the mill was bloody indeed with the body of Katrine Vinder, the daughter of a local merchant, split cruelly by a saw blade and the body of the mill’s general manager, a greedy and ill-liked man by the name of Banny Harker, mutilated and pinned to the wall in a ritualistic manner. To the party’s dismay, on Harker’s chest was carved the seven-pointed star design that had been found on several of Nualia’s effects. A stench of rotten meat too intense for the freshly murdered corpses lingered about key areas at the crime scene.

After some consideration, investigation and clever deductions, our investigators turned their attention to Foxglove Manor, the ancestral home of a former benefactor, Aldern Foxglove. Upon arriving at the ruined mansion, a sense of unease and foreboding loomed over the area. The house itself seemed to be perched at the very edge of the sea, ready to leap to its death in a fit of despair. Cold, damp air drove a thick fog over the entire property and evil-looking carrion birds hunched like harbingers of death peering down from barren trees.

Inside, the manor house was equally unnerving, with thick, foul-looking mold covering most of the surfaces. Warped floorboards creaked and sighed with even the slightest motion and the structure seemed to moan pitifully as the ocean wind howled through the rotting walls. But the sense of unease that the group had noticed as they approached soon developed into full blown dread as it became apparent that the memories of past atrocities haunted almost every room promising doom and ruin with each new discovery.

After investigating most of the mold-encrusted rooms and experiencing first-hand the horrors that they had contained, the party came to realize that Aldern had murdered his wife by strangulation and had become something far worse than a mere murderer. Many deaths haunted these halls and a lingering evil from the Foxglove family past tied them all together in a macabre storyline.

Almost ready to quit this dark mansion altogether, our heroes stumbled upon the revenant of Iesha Foxglove, Aldern’s murdered wife, weeping at her reflection in an old mirror in the attic. Durgrim smashed the mirror and Iesha’s eyes flared with anger as she began to move swiftly and inexorably, towards her murderer. The hapless heroes did their best to follow, enduring some of the lingering horrors of this place as they passed, to eventually find Aldern, now a disturbing dread ghoul, in a hidden chamber deep below the mansion’s basement.

A mighty battled was joined between the revenant, Aldern and the adventurers, but soon the party was victorious as Aldern was slain and the revenant faded away. Amongst the ghoul’s effects, Durgrim discovered several of his items that had gone missing in recent weeks and a small miniature portrait of himself that Aldern had apparently commissioned and then worn in a small locket. Also amongst these items, they uncovered a note, signed by ‘Your Mistress, Wanton of Nature’s Pagan Forms’ that indicated that the next step on the trail would take the heroes to Foxglove’s townhouse in the city of Magnimar.

The Skinsaw Murders
Evil Abides

s the muted tones of autumn blanket the land, icy winds from the sea foretell a harsh winter ahead in Varisia. Along the coast, the seaside town of Sandpoint recovers from a recent goblin raid and the echoes of even darker times in the not-too-distant past.

From within her modest walls, a group of would-be heroes has emerged, not only to defend Sandpoint in her hour of need, but to seek out future threats and end them before they can truly begin. Even now these heroes sit content, basking in their newfound glory, unaware that the threat is much greater than they can even comprehend.

The early cold frosts the breath of Sheriff Hemlock and his men as they investigate a grisly scene. Nature prepares to blanket the land with winter, even as the sheriff draws a blanket to hide a corpse horribly gashed, soaked with blood and pinned with an ominous note.

It seems that the region’s troubles are not yet over. In fact, as evil slowly awakens, they may have only just begun…

In Memoriam: Tellorn
A Fallen Warrior

The Heroes of Sandpoint watched with heavy hearts as Father Zantus finished the incantations and lit the pyre beneath the body of their fallen companion. It was a relatively clear day, a departure from the usual heavy fog and icy rains of the past few weeks, and so the wood caught quickly, sending a pillar of smoke wafting up and inland on the brisk ocean breeze.

How had it come to this? The question lingered on their minds (well, maybe not the dwarf’s) as they stood in respectful silence, each reflecting on yesterday’s events. The plan had seemed simple enough – with Nualia and her minions defeated, they expected to make short work of the goblin tribes at Thistletop, eliminate whatever threat this ‘Malfeshnekor’ posed and be ready to lift an ale in the Rusty Dragon before last call. Actually, the halfling Aable’s plan also involved an elaborate and overly-filling celebration feast and he had made careful preparations prior to their departure, but when they did sit in the Dragon’s common room once again their number was one fewer and no one felt much like celebrating.

The goblins had proved easy enough to defeat for this experienced band of adventurers. Already in disarray from the heroes’ earlier raid on Thistletop, many of the goblins simply fled or surrendered. Warchief Ripnugget put up a respectable fight, astride his gecko mount, Stickfoot, but he had too little support from his tribe and he, too, fell before the onslaught.

With the goblins routed and their meager treasure rescued from a foul latrine and properly cleaned, sorted and inventoried, the Heroes of Sandpoint once again descended into the complex beneath the goblin stronghold to find and be rid of Malfeshnekor. After some puzzling, they managed to find a way into the most hidden part of the ancient structure. There, they encountered an ‘illusion remnant’ of some sort, depicting the man from the book and glaive statues issuing some sorts of final orders in Ancient Thassilonian, a disturbing skeleton of what had once been a horribly deformed humanoid and, finally, a set of stone doors that could only be opened with a very particular key (which had handily been collected from the room with the bones).

Beyond those doors, the party found that Malfeshnekor was, in fact, a barghest. A demon-relative of the goblins that had evidently been trapped here when the complex was abandoned thousands of years ago. Both the party and the barghest preferred to forgo the tiresome rituals of parley and instead the battle was joined imemdiately!

The barghest, although a minor sort of demon, proved to be a fearsome foe for the group and the healing prowess of their elven cleric proved to be invaluable. The battle raged on, with several of the brave heroes brushing near death, only to be saved at the last moment by one of their fellows. Malfeshnekor had command of several powerful magics, including invisibility, and a strong resistance to non-magical damage and, for a time, some in the party feared that this fight might prove to be too much for them.

However, the tide began to turn, in no small part due to the efforts of their monk, Tellorn, who was able to summon deep inner strength and wisdom to turn his hands and feet into powerful magical instruments of destruction. As he rained down blow upon blow on the demon, Malfeshnekor howled with rage at his impending defeat and lashed out at the monk with all of his might and laid him low. The elven cleric, exhausted from tending to the injuries of the raging battle, was unable to reach Tellorn in time and the meditative hero shuffled off this mortal coil, even as his companions dealt the final decisive blow to the barghest and banished him from this plane of existence once again.

So here they stood in silence, watching a funeral pyre burn at the edge of the sea and considering the fragile bonds of this life. The monk, Tellorn, left behind no known kin and no legacy to pass to future generations, save in the memories of The Heroes of Sandpoint and the hearts of the townsfolk that he had helped defend.

All in a day's work

After strengthening their resolve, the Heroes of Sandpoint rode north to assault the goblin lair at Thistletop and stop Nualia and her gang before their dark plans could come to fruition. They were joined by a half-orc named Karrnath – a surprisingly charismatic fellow who shone with the ‘touch of destiny’. Karrnath had previously been a traveling companion of Durgrim and Tellorn, as they made their way west from Korvosa.

The party switfly traveled the Lost Coast Road until reaching the Thistle River, which cuts through the overgrown Nettlewood. They cleverly employed a magical Swan Boat, procured by the always-prepared Aable, to follow the river to the sea, thereby avoiding the stinging underbush of the wood.

Imagine their dismay upon realizing that the island that is home to Thistletop is, in fact, a curious and obviously unnatural formation rising almost 80 feet above sea level and completely unscalable! Undaunted by this unexpected challenge, the noble adventurers sought a passage upwards through a sea cave in the cliff face, but only managed to disturb an unusual sea predator in its lair. They had only barely enough time to watch it feed on a hapless goblin, dropped down a chute by its tribe-mates, as they fled to safer ground at a small beach nearby.

From there, these hearty souls managed to scale the sea cliffs unharmed and then sought a pathway through the nettles to the rope bridge beyond. Within the nettle-warrens, they encountered goblins, goblin dogs and the tribe’s spiritual leader, Gogmurt. He was handily defeated, despite his druid mastery of the terrain and his life was graciously spared in exchange for his (somewhat unwilling) assistance.

The group made their way safely across the trapped rope bridge and through the initial goblin guardians to the fort and then quickly found the stairwell and descended to the floor below. It was there that the heroes defeated each of Nualia’s henchmen and captured Tsuto alive, their nemesis from the Glassworks, to return to stand trial as Ameiko had requested.

Making their way even further into the dungeon, they uncovered a secret entrance that led to a much older lower level and, ultimately, to their encounter with Nualia. After narrowly avoiding a vicious blade trap, the party found itself battling the fierce would-be fiend in a bottlenecked situation. However, after several dangerous and frustrating moments, the monk, Tellorn, was able to improve the tactical situation and allow his comrades to aid more effectively.

With Nualia’s threat ended, the group explored further and survived a harrowing enounter with shadows in an ancient crypt before discovering an abandoned, partially sunken treasure room. Although much of what was once valuable was ruined by the years, they were able to recover a respectable sum, including a giant-sized bronze and gold helmet that had recently housed a giant hermit crab that they had to defeat for the right to claim the treasure.

With the Kaijitsu family honor served and the immediate menace to Sandpoint neutralized, the five returned as triumphant heroes ready to spend heard-earned gold and enjoy some well-deserved rest!

Adventure at the Glassworks
Glass and Wrath

The town of Sandpoint seemed to be recovering quickly from the frightening goblin raid of the Swallowtail Festival. Sherriff Belor Hemlock felt that this was not just because of the Heroes’ swift actions on that day, but their continued presence and interaction with the population. Belor asked them to remain in town, and visible, for the next few days, while he traveled to Magnimar to request additional troops to help defend the town against further attack.

The newly formed group took to exploring the town, meeting, greeting (and occasionally, bedding) some of the population of Sandpoint. After a gruesome encounter with a goblin commando that had been trapped in a crawl space since the invasion, the heroes returned to The Rusty Dragon Inn, only to find that the proprietor, Ameiko Kaijitsu, had gone missing. The only clue to her whereabouts was a note, written in the language of her parent’s homeland – Minkai. The note was penned by her brother, Tsuto Kaijitsu, and invited Ameiko to meet him at the family business, the Kaijitsu Glassworks.

The intrepid adventurers headed to the Glassworks, only to find the business locked down tight with windows covered and boarded from the inside. After venturing inside, they came face to face with a pack of gleefully murderous goblins who had murdered the workers and ransacked the production floor. Even more horribly, Lonjiko Kaijitsu, the patriarch of the family had been murdered and his body posed grotesquely and encased in glass. Tsuto was here as well, apparently in league with the goblins, but he fled when his goblin minions were handily defeated.

In the basement of the facility, they stumbled upon the bound and gagged and barely concious Ameiko, who had rejected her brother’s offer to join him and his cohorts in further raids on Sandpoint. They were able to recover Tsuto’s personal notes and diary, that indeed hinted at dark days ahead for the town, led by the machinations of his disturbing, demon-obsessed girlfriend, Nualia.

They also uncovered an old smuggler’s tunnel that connected with an ancient underground complex. Within this ‘dungeon’, the party encountered several horrific monsters with unnaturally long arms ending in three-fingered talons and legs that bent like those of a dog. A writhing network of bulging veins formed dark blue patterns underneath the creatures’ pallid skin and their lower mandibles split in half at the chin creating a repulsive insect-like maw.

At the heart of this underground complex, the party encountered, and eventually defeated, a somewhat insane female quasit who apparently created the horrible creatures from a mysterious, bubbling magical pool.

After reviewing Tsuto’s notes, it became clear that Nualia and her unnamed companions were directing the activities of the goblins and were bent upon the destruction of Sandpoint. Nualia herself seems to be pursuing a demonic transformation, possibly with the aid of a mysterious being referred to as ‘Malfeshnekor’.

The only way the Heroes of Sandpoint can hope to stop her is to travel to the goblin stronghold at Thistletop and strike decisively at her forces, before they can mount another attack.

The Heroes of Sandpoint
A plot against Sandpoint unfolds

As Father Zantus took the stage just before sundown, to begin the consecration ceremony, a woman’s shriek cut through the cool evening breeze. Moments later, Sandpoint was beset by rampaging goblins tearing through the crowd, with mayhem, destruction and fire not far behind.

A few brave souls rose to the occasion, however, and began to quell the goblin menace. Four young adventurers, still strangers, fought side-by-side in the town square to protect the population of Sandpoint.

One was a youthful dwarven scout named Durgrim Skullsplitter was a bit deep in his cups from the day’s festivities, but his eyes and blade were still keen. Another looked to be little more than a human lad, but the brave ‘boy’ turned out to be the youthful halfling Able and his quick rapier soon joined the fight. Their efforts were matched by those of a young half-elven man named Tellorn who rained down punishing blows with fists and feet and the handsome elvish lothario, Alonian, who offered aid to the injured.

Countless townsfolk were spared injury and death by their quick actions that day and, in particular, a nobleman by the name of Aldern Foxglove, benefitted from their intervention. Upon hearing his calls for help, the party turned down a small alley to see this unarmed aristocrat surrounded by a goblin commando astride a foul goblin dog and with several others from the raiding party. Luckily, they arrived in the nick of time and were able to save Aldern’s life.

This little band was quickly heralded as saviors by young and old alike for their efforts and they found themselves greeted with hearty handshakes, blushing maidens, drinks on the house and merchant discounts everywhere in town. The mayor of Sandpoint, Kendra Deverin, officially declared the day following the Swallowtail Festival to be a holiday honoring ‘The Heroes of Sandpoint’ and Sherriff Belor Hemlock then deputized the group into the town guard to help bolster the confidence of Sandpoint’s citizens.

But all was not well on the Lost Coast. It was soon revealed that the raid was merely a distraction for some graverobbers to steal the coffin and mortal remains of the former high priest of Sandpoint, Ezakien Tobyn. Father Tobyn was a figure beloved by the entire town, who perished in the fire that consumed the old chapel and many of the buildings on the northern end of town five years before. The elven ranger and expert goblin hunter, Shalelu Andosana, was able to provide some additional insight on the local goblin tribes and, although no one could explain why the goblins might want his body, it became clear that the goblins were being organized by some external force with dark plans for the town.

Autumn's Herald

The longest, warmest days of summer have passed now and a slight crispness in the air, combined with the scent of hearth-smoke, hints at the coming of autumn. Throughout Varisia, and, indeed, much of the northern continent, preparations are joyfully made for each local version of the Swallowtail Festival which will herald the beginning of harvest season.

The Swallowtail Festival belongs to no particular deity and to all, but it is most closely associated with the goddess Desna, because the celebration honors of the migration of the swallowtail butterflies. This is a day of food and fun with a festival that takes on the peculiar characteristics and idiosyncracies of each township that recognizes this day.

In the quaint seaside town of Sandpoint, the atmosphere of this year’s festival is exceptionally jubilant, as if the local population had something special to celebrate, and indeed they do. The magnificent Sandpoint Cathedral will be consecrated at sundown. This structure is the culmination of 5 years of labor and angst and is one of the notable holy shrines in all of Golarion. Smiles amongst the Sandpoint celebrants will be easy and laughter quick on this day, as this ceremony will close the final chapter on some recent difficult times for the fledgling town.

The Swallowtail Festival in Sandpoint is marked by a seemingly endless stream of sumptuous dishes featuring local seafood and game. Children run giddily through the town square unfurling colorful ribbons and streamers with fingers sticky from too many sweets. When the adults of the town aren’t stuffing themselves full of epicurian masterpieces (or washing them down with the local brew), they manage to get in several rounds of Hook and Trap, a local lawn sport. By tradition, drinks and food are free for all on this day and guests to the town are ‘honored’ with multiple ribbon necklaces and many toasts/drinking challenges.

It is here that our soon-to-be-heroes find themselves on the first day of the month of Rova…

Destiny's Call
Invitation to Adventure

n the wild frontier region known as Varisia, the outposts and fledgling cities of the civilized races struggle to flourish in this untamed land. Megalithic ruins, remnants of a long-forgotten epoch, dot the landscape and stand in silent testament to an ancient cataclysm.

Beyond the world of mortals, events have been set in motion. Even as civilization begins to establish a foothold here, shadows grow longer, winters grow colder and the very land itself begins to shudder. Somewhere, in darkness, evil awakens.

Unaware of what fate has in store, a small band of friends and traveling companions gather in the tiny coastal town of Sandpoint to celebrate the turning of the seasons and the dedication of a grand cathedral. As summer slips into autumn, these few may be all that stands to challenge the rising darkness.

The future is uncertain and the waking world needs heroes like never before. The time is right to answer destiny’s call…


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