Return of the Runelords

Give these Monstrous Humanoids a Furever Home
The City Outside of Time, Part 1

Toilday, 30 Pharast, 4744

The Black Cats take the rest of the afternoon off, resting in the magnificent mansion. Vicky writes up her notes for the Pathfinder society. Ghera feels strong enough in her powers to go to sleep without the keep watch spell.

Wealday, 31 Pharast, 4744

The following day, the adventurers re-convene with the ex-Peacock Spirit Cultists, who reveal that the Mother of Oblivion in the lake no longer recognizes them as allies now that their “god” is dead. As a result, it is too dangerous to leave the temple via the causeway.

At Udrexa’s insistence, the party seeks out the lake monster. It shrugs off Gwen and Vicky’s spells, but Udrexa beats it to death with her fists.

The Black Cats then seek out the monstrous humanoids they defeated earlier. The medusas, wereboars, and hobgoblins are all at the Cloister of Cerulean Languor, in some kind of stand off. The adventurers offer to teleport them out of the valley as well.

Udrexa persuades the Karrigan Patch and the wereboars to come with her to the Monastery of the Scarlet Sun in Magnimar. Vicky convinces the medusas to go to Korvosa and seek employment at the Winking Medusa tavern. The hobgoblins just want Lucia to drop them off with a contact of theirs in Kaer Maga, a half-orc named Olzihm Kith.

Lucia teleports the hobgoblins to Olzihm’s location in a seedy tavern called the Greedy Hunter. She learns that Olzihm is also a witch, and agrees to trade him a high level spell in exchange for information on where she can find more powerful witches to learn from.

Olzihm tells her about Old Megus, a witch who lives outside of Sandpoint. He’s also heard about a coven of witches who consort with hags in the Mushfens. And he has heard that there are a group of witches at the Twilight Academy in Galduria, which interests Lucia because her cousin Sado is studying there.

Olzihm is impressed by the little halfling woman. The two flirt and get to know each other better while Rita teaches his cat familiar Thistle a spell, a process that takes seven hours.

Meanwhile, Ghera teleports Udrexa and the wereboars to the Dockway district of Magnimar. She’s still unused to the process and comes through a little nauseous. Udrexa brings them to the monastery, where she finds Headmistress Belawara tending to the fire garden. The contract devil welcomes the wereboars to the monastery and has another monk, Opal, arrange for their lodging.

Udrexa also introduces Ghera as her girlfriend and Belawara welcomes her as well with good cheer. She does privately ask Udrexa about long term plans with Ghera, as she worries the tiefling could get her heart broken by the sailor. But Udrexa is convinced she and Ghera are a match.

After hearing of Udrexa’s exploits, including developing her tail technique, Belawara challenges her to a sparring match. Udrexa starts the fight with an aggressive flying kick attack, but Belawara stands her ground and starts pressing Udrexa backwards until finally knocking her out of the ring with a blow from her own tail. Belawara is impressed with Udrexa’s progress, while the tiefling recognizes she has much left to learn. The match draws the attention of several other monks, including Naari and Opal.

Vicky teleports the medusas to the alley behind the Winking Medusa. After disguising their head snakes, she takes them inside. Having already tipped off the proprietor Shaula, she introduces the sisterhood to their fellow medusa. Shaula promises to find positions for them at her establishment or with some of her other contacts.

Vicky suggests that the medusas could also try to join Ecclesia’s Order of knights and asks if Shaula could arrange a meeting. She says that the last time she saw one of the lamia knights, Malakah, was several months ago and the lamia was asking for information about Lea’s whereabouts. Vicky makes a mental note to follow up on that.

Rather than hang around, Vicky bids her farewells and returns to the temple to meet up with the others. She recalls that Ghera’s teleportation magic is more limited and that she won’t be able to make the return trip until the next day. And Lucia is nowhere to be found.

Vicky spends the rest of the day ferrying the ex-Peacock Spirit Cultists around Varisia. Afterwards, Vicky recreates the magnificent mansion with a more dour décor. She retreats to her room to sulk.

When Lucia returns hours later, a little drunk from her time at the tavern with Olzihm, she is met by Elle. The simulacrum warns her of Vicky’s foul mood. Since Vicky didn’t bother to create a room for Lucia, Elle lends the halfling her own room.

Oathday, 1 Pharast, 4744

The party reunites that morning to decide their next moves. Udrexa and Lucia have business in Magnimar, as well as sales to make, while Vicky intends to go to Korvosa for her own errands. She also intends to help research a way for the Shadow Librarian, Sule, to leave the temple safely.

Each with their own tasks, the party splits up.

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Shadows on the Wall
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 17

The Black Cats execute the defeated Runelord Xanderghul. They discover his plans to combat Runelord Alaznist’s distortions of history. He had found a back door into Crystilan, the City Outside of Time and the only place unaffected by her temporal manipulations.

The adventurers befriend and name the Shadow Librarian, Sule. They also vanquish the angry Peacock Spirit Cultists, but spare most of them. They convince the surviving leader, Turan, to have the cultists throughout Varisia stand down.

Ghera warns the party that during her shopping trip to Magnimar, she learned that Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras has died under mysterious circumstances.

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Pride's Heart
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 16

The Black Cats infiltrate Runelord Xanderghul’s inner sanctum and face down the immortal wizard in a terrible battle.

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Big Trouble in the Temple Vault
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 15

The Black Cats fight giants in the Vault of Crimson Longing below the Temple of the Peacock Spirit. Udrexa grows as a person. A shrine is disabled and a hidden back door is discovered.

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The Three Headed Woman
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 14

Sunday, 28 Pharast, 4744

After the party recovers from their fight with the asuras, Udrexa and Rita scout ahead. They discover a torture chamber with a number of ill-used racks. Picking the magical locks of the doors, they also discover and plunder a storage room as well as workshop room for repairing torture devices.

After coming across a door that Udrexa couldn’t unlock, the party circles back around to a room they had bypassed. They discover that it is a chamber with a poor of acid in the floor and a peacock shrine in a glass case. While the party draws back, Lucia raises another group of ghouls to pull the feathers from it. One of the ghouls was destroyed by a gout of acid, and the removal of the ward appears to affect the dungeon itself somehow.

Returning to the unopened door, Udrexa continues to have trouble opening it. Lucia and Vicky realize that the magic of the door could be tricked into letting them through. Vicky casts infernal healing on herself as part of the deception and manages to unlock it.

Immediately waiting for her on the other side is a three-headed, six-armed woman who has been waiting for the door to open. The creature slices into the wizard, easily piercing her defenses.

As a killing blow drives towards Vicky, the Steward of Time intervenes. Looking older than the last time the party had seen her, in middle-age, she catches the blow with her enormous hourglass. This produces the crack that they witnessed the first time they saw her. The Steward tells Vicky that this was not her time, for the Steward still awaits her in Stethelos. The Steward then fades from view.

The three-headed woman pirouettes over Vicky and Udrexa to attack the tiefling monk. She also attempts to cast spiritual weapon to finish off Vicky, but the wizard uses her exploiter powers to counter the spell. Vicky then uses her dimensional slide to retreat back to Elle.

An adhukait asura joins the fray, flanking Udrexa with the three-headed woman. In the ensuing battle, the three-headed woman carves into the tiefling monk. Udrexa calls upon Pharasma’s blessing to deflect a killing blow. Lucia brings the monk back to full health with a heal spell delivered by Rita. Ghera casts haste on Udrexa, Emeq, Lucia, Rita and herself. Emeq charges into battle. Elle heals Vicky, who dispels several magic spells on the three-headed woman. Sondra tosses a dagger at the creature, who catches it in one hand.

After taking some hits, the three-headed woman retreats into an adjacent room. Emeq presses the attack, unleashing a hasted series of jabs before finishing her with a thrust through two of her throats. Udrexa obliterates the adhukait asura.

The party loots the remains and obtains the key to Hobbin’s cell. The party releases the avoral, who is incredibly grateful. He tells them the secret that had kept him imprisoned for 10,000 years. In his investigations of the cult, he came to believe that the Peacock Spirit and Runelord Xanderghul are one and the same.

Nestara insists that this is impossible, that the Peacock Spirit predates Xanderghul by ages, but Hobbin says that no word of the entity existed before the Runelord “discovered” it. As for why Hobbin was left alive, he can only speculate, but while he was a prisoner with a shattered mind who could find him or believe him? Lucia persuades Nestara that when they confront Xanderghul, it will verify one way or another the truth of these claims.

The party then inspects the remaining two rooms in the dungeon. One contains a collection of transcripts of interrogations the asuras conducted on behalf of the Peacock Spirit Cult thousands of years ago.

The next room appears to have been the office for the three-headed woman, Dhanishti. It includes a corner with what appears to be a vivisection table. The party takes three books from the bookshelf above the fireplace. Emeq relaxes on a comfortable sofa with the Love Stool, while Udrexa finds treasure stowed in the desk. This includes a robe of powerlessness which had been used on Hobbin. They realize it will take a combined remove curse and heal to cure him of its effects.

Vicky puts her foot down and insists that the Black Lions rest before proceeding deeper into the dungeon. She excitedly shows off her new spell, mage’s magnificent mansion. She calls forth a shimmering door and takes them inside.

A beautiful foyer with red carpet leads to a central lounge area decorated like a winter lodge, with furs on the floor and a 20 ft. high vaulted ceiling. A coffee table large enough to seat the party sits in the middle of the chamber, in features an ice bucket depression where several bottles of wine are chilling. Candelabras and a massive skylight provide illumination, as do the windows which gaze out onto a snowy landscape. Ghostly servants appear to take any loads off the Black Lions to take to their rooms.

The first room on the right belongs to Udrexa and Ghera. Like the other chambers, it is outfitted based on what Vicky assumes her friends would enjoy. Udrexa’s room is a fully functional gym with a monk aesthetic and Minkaian flourishes such as floor pillows and futons. It also features a large, fully stocked liquor cabinet and a ton of drug paraphernalia.

The second room is for Emeq and the other members of the Love Stool. Its decor is a mixture of Magnimarian and Efreeti. An enormous bed takes up much of the room, and there is a huge ceiling-mounted mirror directly above it. The rest of the ceiling has star-themed decoration in keeping with Audrahni’s patron’s iconography. Many other mirrors are mounted on the walls around the room to help Emeq admire himself and his companions. And in a corner of the room is a fully-stiocked writing desk and comfortable chair for Sondra.

The third room has its name scratched out in this timeline.

The fourth room is for Lucia. It is modeled on a cozier version of her hut, with everything sized for a halfling. It includes a kitchenette for making teas and stews. On one side of the room is a projection of the full moon, with enough space to perform any rituals. There is also a doctor’s exam area, for the halfling to practice her healer’s craft.

Each private room has a small attached bathroom. But there is also a staircase in the common area leading down to the lower level. Smaller guest rooms are down theres, as well as a Minkaian-style public bath.

Vicky, Elle, Hobbin, Udrexa, and Ghera headed down to the bath to relax and get a massage from ghost servants.

Meanwhile, Lucia arranges a conversation between Emeq and Nestara. After some small talk, the ifrit questions Nestara about the cult’s involvement in Magnimar. She is aware of the cell led by Hira Doss, and that the cult is recruiting ambitious members of the nobility with promises of helping them achieve their goals. Emeq asks if one could walk away from the cult. Nestara hems and haws before acknowledging that any apostates would face reprisals. There are no backsies in the Peacock Spirit Cult.

Later that evening, Lucia notices that Rita is in a good mood, preening over her new appearance and eager to show off the use of her hands. Lucia asks her if this is her original form. Rita explains that no, she was something much more powerful, but she is pleased to be a demon once again. Now she can pay obeisance to Nocticula under the old way, just as Lucia pays homage under the new way.

In the Love Stool’s room, Sondra takes advantage of the writing desk to scribble down the day’s notes. Emeq, meanwhile, gives Audrahni a massage. He asks her for her thoughts on what the fallout would be for his family if Xanderghul is the Peacock Spirit and is slain. Audrahni expects it will throw the cult into chaos, and is hopeful that his family would avoid reprisals.

Emeq is worried that losing the cult’s backing could undo decades of political work by his family, which his brother might recover from but his father probably would not. Audrahni is not an expert on politics, but she assures Emeq she would be at his side if he needs to go back to help his family in Magnimar. He’s grateful to hear that.

When the rest of the party has gone to bed, Elle asks Vicky where their room is. Vicky points up to the skylight. They fly through the illusory window to the hidden room above. Vicky expresses anxiety about facing off against a god. Elle objects to that — Xanderghul is no god, just a powerful being like demons and celestials that could also grant spells but can still be killed. Vicky is heartened by that, but wonders if Sorshen and Alaznist have that same power. She hopes to eventually surpass them, but needs to know what she is up against.

Moonday, 29 Pharast, 4744

That morning, Emeq wakes early. He lets Sondra sleep and Audrahni trance a little longer and steps outside with a cup of coffee to enjoy the snowfall. He discovered that the exterior of the mansion extends only a few feet before it ends in an illusory wall. Nonetheless, he enjoys the illusion.

Once the party is up, they enjoy a nice breakfast and some tears to wine. The ghost servants provide everyone their clean laundry, with the scents they requested. Refreshed and ready, they exit the mansion and descend down the spiral staircase down to the next level of the dungeon.

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Dungeon of Fiery Fury
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 13

The Black Cats venture into the dungeon below the Temple of the Peacock Spirit. A strange prisoner begs their help. The goddess Pharasma grants a boon.

More Coming Soon!

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Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 12

Fireday, Pharast 26, 4744

The Black Lions rest up in the afternoon for a nighttime confrontation with the shining children who guard the Jade Gardens of Jealousy where another peacock shrine is located. Audrahni has another moment of confusion, as if she hadn’t seen Emeq and Sondra for weeks. She chalks it up to more time distortion nonsense.

As night falls, the party buffs themselves up before heading out. Approaching the garden, Udrexa, Lucia and Vicky are able to see a pair of invisible creatures floating in the trees. The shining children notice that they have been seen and battle begins.

The shining children activate brilliant bursts of light that blind Vicky, Rita, Gwen, and Udrexa. They try to keep their distance, firing brilliant burning rays. The party’s spellcasters respond with their own magic, while Emeq and Udrexa close the distance. Gwen wildshapes into a dire bat in order to navigate by blindsense.

Audrahni is disabled by a stunning effect. The shining children concentrate attacks on Emeq, who is badly wounded, but Lucia sustains him with healing and he is able to slay his foe. Vicky melts another with acid, while Udrexa trusts her monk senses to leap from enemy to enemy and finish them off.

After the battle is done, Lucia sends the rest of the party away. Vicky distracts Elle with healing Emeq while the halfling calls forth a band of ghouls that she sends to remove the feathers from the peacock shrine. The ghouls set off a trap, which poisons Rita but Lucia is able to treat her. The magical backlash doesn’t affect the ghouls.

With half the party blinded and the clerics Audrahni and Nestara unable to treat them until they can memorize new spells, the Black Lions retreat back to the Golden Garrison to rest up. Vicky uses arcane eye to scout around the cathedral. She sees a large shape in the water that took interest in the garden. In the cathedral, there is a late night meeting in the central nave.

Starday, Pharast 27, 4744

Lucia has an unseen servant clean up the wereboars’ quarters in the garrison so that the party can spread out. She also works with Emeq and Sondra to prepare a meal from the magic cupboard’s random ingredients.

Elle uses her magic to cure Rita of her poison damage. The blinded demon bat is even crankier than usual. Vicky dictates notes to Elle for her Pathfinder report. Ghera dotes on the blinded Udrexa and stands watch over her while she rests.

Lucia also spends time with Nestara, the dominated Peacock Spirit Cultist. She learns that Nestara’s last name is Agrithera, and that she came from a well-to-do family in Kaer Maga before hearing the Peacock Spirit’s call. Nestara urges the party to try negotiating with High Priestess Zurea rather than pursuing violence. Lucia also promises to release Nestara once their mission here is complete.

Audrahni briefly feels like someone is missing, but figures it’s more time distortion nonsense.

Sunday, Pharast 28, 4744

After a day of rest, Nestara and Audrahni are able to cure Vicky, Udrexa, Gwen, and Rita of their blindness.

However, Rita is feeling listless and does not awake to teach Lucia a fresh set of spells. She is only left with her remaining unused spells.

Once they are ready, the party travel to the cathedral. To traverse the causeway without provoking the monster in the lake, Lucia disguises herself in cult gab while Vicky literally disguises herself as Verim, the polymorphed cultist.

The cathedral doors are unlocked. Nestara warns them about the glyph of warding over the entrance to the nave, which can be bypassed with the passcode “Zurea.”

In the nave of the cathedral, they are greeted by Zurea Salvus and waiting cultists. She offers them a drink and they retire to the mess hall. Another two dozen cultists gather to join them.

The party manages to persuade Zurea that Xanderghul may have sabotaged the shrines. After ascertaining that the shrines can be restored by adding the feather rod back in, Zurea agrees to let them investigate the lower levels of the cathedral. Those chambers are so dangerous that they are off limits to the cultists.

The priestess tries to pressure the party into participating in a ritual of thanks to the Peacock Spirit before they go, but the Black Lions “respectfully” refuse. This darkens Zurea’s mood, and she orders them to get out of her sight. Nestara is assigned to go with them as a witness, while the peacock Verim is left with the cultists.

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Clearing the Forest
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 11

While resting at the Golden Garrison, the Black Cats hear strange noises in the night. The next morning, they venture deeper into the valley, discovering a large cathedral built out in the middle of a lake. It is accessible by a long stone causeway guarded by a gatehouse.

After clearing out the aggressive brush around the gatehouse, the adventurers press inside. Within, they are awaited by a dozen Peacock Spirit Cultists who invite them to meet High Priestess Zurea. Instead, Lucia uses mind fog to debilitate the lead cultist ahead of a dominate person spell, while the party eliminates the other cultists.

Afterwards, the Black Cats question the dominated priestess Nestara. She knows the location of an additional two Peacock Shrines and reveals that there might be more below the cathedral in areas the cultists are forbidden to enter.

She warns that the shrine in the Jade Gardens of Jealousy is guarded by alien beings called shining children. The forests around the garden are patrolled by an ancient treant called the Forester. And the lake is guarded by an enormous aquatic monster called a Mother of Oblivion.

Lucia permits Nestara to keep her holy symbol and her armor while serving as their guide. She also tries to build a rapport with the dominated priest. Lucia persuades her that Runelord Xanderghul, who the cult believes to be dead, has profaned the sacred temple site to serve his own selfish needs.

The party’s attempts to disguise themselves as cultists fail to fool the Forester and the find themselves battling him and two animated allies. Although Elle and Udrexa are badly wounded, the adventurers prevail. With their resources expended, the party decides to call it a day at noon and make camp nearby.

Ghera practices her sorcerous powers. Lucia suggests summoning dretch demons to deactivate the Peacock Shrines and suffer their magical backlash. Vicky discusses the ethics of creating simulacrums, whether to trigger the shrines or to spice up Ghera and Udrexa’s love life. Vicky also brainstorms a nighttime attack on the shining children in the garden, a time when their powers would be weaker.

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The Golden Garrison
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 10

After defeating an Asura jailer, the Black Cats invade the Golden Garrison to vanquish wereboars and hobgoblins.

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The Viridian Transcendence
Temple of the Peacock Spirit, Part 9

Lucia gets demonic implants from Ermunid. Vicky gets an ioun stone implant from Sorshen. Udrexa and Ghera get used to staying up together.

The party uses the viridian transcendence ritual to teleport themselves to the Grand Temple of the Peacock Spirit. They defeat a trio of medusa mercenaries, capturing and interrogating them.

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