Return of the Runelords

Death Rising
Runeplague, Part 18

The Black Lions confront Zutha’s fragment.

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Defiant's Garden
Runeplague, Part 17

Emeq confronts his brother about the family’s schemes. Udrexa makes a difficult choice. Vicky goes to far.

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The Exquisite Triple Cross
Runeplague, Part 16

The Black Lions prepare to reclaim Baraket. Vicky proves to be popular with all the wrong people.

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Dead Things
Runeplague, Part 15

Wealday, 10 Calistril, 4744

The Black Cats return to Magnimar on a cold, overcast morning. There is an atmosphere of anxiety that hangs over the city, exacerbated by the town criers on seemingly every street corner who are denouncing the Lord-Mayor for the loss of Ilsurian.

The criers, who all seem to be employed by the same organization, allege that the Lord-Mayor has been spending too much time chasing relics and phantoms with the Sihedron Council to properly defend Magnimar from the number one threat next door—Korvosa.

Victoria takes a moment to contact the Sihedron Council secretary, Welben, via sending and schedule a meeting the following morning at 10am sharp. She then proceeds to get the party settled back into their rooms at the Gryphine while Udrexa and Gwen stable their horses.

The adventurers spend the rest of the day shopping and trading their goods. They decide to sell the enchanted leaves that the Erlking Vulpin gave them. Vicky has a strange momentary sensation that someone was trying to magically observe her.

That night, after the rest of the party is asleep, Vicky hears a strange tapping on the window pane of their suite. It turns out to be an intelligent juju zombie named Sebastian, who politely asks for Runelord Zutha’s Bone Grimoire on behalf of the nameless entity that commands him. After some back and forth, they arrange for a midnight parley the next fay with his master at the ruins of the Shadow Clock Tower in Underbridge.

An hour or so later, Udrexa quietly rises and slips out of the suite. She travels to the Friendly Merchant tavern in Underbridge and asks the tavernkeeper Siov Cassimel to arrange a meeting with her old contact at the Night Scales thieves’ guild, Orin Rasp. A meeting is set for 11 o’clock at night the following day.

Oathday, 11 Calistril, 4744

Over breakfast, Vicky updates the others about her encounter with Sebastian. They try to figure out what could create juju zombies in order to determine what they are dealing with, but the list is too long and includes everything from powerful undead to oozes to the fabled Sword of Gluttony.

The adventurers teleport in to Heidmarch Manor for their meeting with the Sihedron Council, but find only Lady Sheila Heidmarch waiting for them. She explains that the political fallout of the invasion of Ilsurian has poisoned relationships on the council. Ser Chammady insists it was not a sanctioned attack by Korvosa, but Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras refuses to believe her, which offends the paladin’s sense of honor. The Council is not meeting until things cool down.

The Black Cats update Lady Heidmarch about the high points of their activities—their alliance with Sorshen, the Cult of the Peacock Spirit attack in Korvosa, the destruction of the Brotherhood of the Seal, and the capture of Zutha’s Bone Grimoire.

Lady Heidmarch alerts them to another complication. Looking at Udrexa, she says that there was an attempted burglary of the Council’s vault several months ago. The burglars, agents of the Night Scales, failed to get in, but their mission appears to have been a distraction.

That same night, someone slipped a cursed paper into Lady Heidmarch’s desk. When she read the paper, she was afflicted with an enchantment effect that compelled her to remove Baraket, the Sword of Pride, from the Vault and deliver it to the Night Scales. It is now in the clutches of the thieves’ guild, if they haven’t already sold it to the most likely buyer, the Cult of the Peacock Spirit.

The Night Scales are a sizable organization and would be challenging for the party to confront head on. They could try to outbid the Cult, or simply kill the Cultists to take away the buyer.

Udrexa admits that she is meeting with her Night Scales contact that evening, and suggests that they could offer to hand Vicky over since the guild seems interested in the bounty on the wizard’s head. Udrexa insists this would simply a ruse.

That evening, the tiefling monk returns to the Friendly Merchant to speak with Orin Rasp. She gives him the Abyssal Runestone and asks what the Night Scales plan to use it for, but he refuses to tell her. However, her debt to the thieves’ guild is repaid.

Udrexa asks about Baraket, warning that the Night Scales are in over their heads with the Thassilonian relic. Rasp obliquely confirms that the Cult of the Peacock Spirit are the buyers. However, he hints that the Night Scales are planning to double cross them.

Rasp is willing to help lead Udrexa to the Peacock Spirit Cultists, for a price. Udrexa offers to give the Night Scales the chance to kidnap Vicky when the Black Cats crash the handoff. Rasp takes the deal and tells Udrexa about the meeting taking place the following night.

Following her meeting, the tiefling hurries to join the rest of the party at the ruins of the Shadow Clock Tower, where they are scheduled to parley with Sebastian’s master. Just before the appointed time, Lucia and Audrahni cast death ward on everyone to shield them from the negative energy and death effects undead are so fond of.

Sebatian’s master initially contacts them telepathically, but they manage to coax it into showing itself. The creature is an intelligent necromantic ooze known as a gravesludge. It is dead set on retrieving the Bone Grimoire in order to usher in the return of Runelord Zutha and a glorious new age of undeath.

With negotiations at an impasse, a fight breaks out. Sebastian reluctantly starts things by casting a powerful a cone of cold spell. Vicky quickly paralyzes him with a halt undead spell to shut down any further magic.

But the gravesludge has other juju zombie servants. Agatha, a berserker girl armed with a strange glowing falchion, rushes out to help the ooze fight Udrexa. Agatha also immediately starts flirting with Udrexa. Another zombie, the pirate Warrick, ambushes Vicky in midair but can’t get through her unflappable mien spell.

Gwen unleashes flame strikes on the ooze and Agatha. Rita, transformed into a sinister fey creature know as a whisperer, attacks with her tentacle arms. Lucia unleashes healing magic. Udrexa takes a beating from the ooze, saved only by the death ward. She finally turns the tables and destroys the gravesludge with a devastating blow.

At the destruction of the entity, Warrick immediately backs off from his attacks. Agatha, badly injured, sidles over to Udrexa and hits on her.

Vicky promises to help the juju zombies regain their mortal forms. But Lucia and Audrahni warn that it doesn’t work that way.

As they argue about the next steps, a trio of greater shadows attacks. One of them tries to strike Victoria with a fatal blow, but its negative energy attacks are useless against the death ward. The shadows are unable to do anything to the warded party.

Lucia unleashes her positive energy, wounding the shadows and destroying Agatha. Audrahni joins in. Gwen calls down a flurry of lighting from the sky. Udrexa finishes off the last shadow and Rita hunts down the fleeing Warrick to destroy him as well.

Vicky is furious that the others broke her promise to the juju zombies and storms off. The remaining Black Cats destroy Sebastian and then loot the zombies’ bodies. They realize that even Gwen’s reincarnation won’t work to restore creatures that were tainted by undeath. They collect the corpses for burial.

When they return to the Gryphine, they find Vicky sulking. She is also physically ill at having her promise broken.

Lucia studies the glowing falchion that Agatha had wielded and makes a startling discovery. It is in fact the legendary Sword of Gluttony, but the artifact is currently dormant with only a fraction of its power available.

Fireday, 12 Calistril, 4744

The next morning, Lucia reveals the sword’s true nature to Vicky and they have a serious conversation. Vicky explains how she is literally bound by her promises and recognizes the need to be more careful in making them. Lucia won’t budge over the issue of destroying the undead, despite Vicky’s protestations about free will.

A Midwinter Night's Dream
Runeplague, Part 14

The Black Cats get drawn into a messy fey love triangle. Lucia makes amends with the crew of the Witha. Udrexa confronts toll collectors.

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The Fall of Ilsurian
Runeplague, Part 13

The Black Cats’ boat trip is crashed by unwelcome visitors. The adventurers witness an invasion.

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A Bone to Pick
Runeplague, Part 12

While resting up in Kaer Maga, Lucia and Audrahni play a prank. Emeq gets troubling news.

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The Sundered Seal
Runeplague, Part 11

The Black Lions battle their way through the Shrine of the Seal.

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The Road to Kaer Maga
Runeplague, Part 10

Moonday, 28 Kuthona, 4743

The Black Cats set out from Korvosa, traveling north on horseback towards the city of Kaer Maga. Winter has arrived and it is quite cold out. The first night they make camp inside a climate-controlled magical dome that Victoria creates, called a tiny hut.

They decide to make a girls’ night of it, with hot cocoa and cookies that Laori gave them. Audrahni asks if anyone knows any good ghost stories; Gwenllian and Lucia tell their tales, which creep out Vicky.

Toilday, 29 Kuthona, 4743

The next day the party makes it to the village of Harse and spends the night at the local inn, while a gentle snowfall blankets the land outside. Victoria asks about the local gossip. Lucia seeks out a witch to learn a new spell. Udrexa is approached by a nervous man named Hobbs Alter, who is also traveling north and asks if he could accompany them. After conferring with the others, she agrees.

Gwen, who has been traveling in horse form, hangs out with the horses in the stables and gets them drunk. One of the horses, which calls itself “Walked Through Two Houses,” tells Gwen that its new master is very strange. He smells part human and part “not-dog.”

Wealday, 30 Kuthona, 4743

The next morning, they saddle up and head out. Gwen, once again in horse form, recognizes Walked Through Two Houses as belonging to Hobbs. Gwen alerts the others.

The party also encounters a patrol of Korvosan soldiers, who view them skeptically, especially after horse-Gwen starts talking. Once the soldiers ascertain that Gwen has not been polymorphed against her will and the rest of the party’s story checks out, they let them on their way. However, the captain warns the Black Cats to seek shelter as there is a blizzard coming.

That evening, as the party make camp within the tiny hut, Lucia uses her physician’s glasses to confirm that Hobbs is afflicted with lycanthropy. He has also lost track of the cycles of the moon and does not realize that this night he will transform into a werewolf.

Unfortunately, because he has had the curse for longer than three days, the only way to cure him is a remove curse spell cast by a 12th level cleric. Vicky is not a cleric, but she can boost the caster level of her spells, so they chain up Hobbs while Lucia hastily tries to teach Victoria remove curse. This proves successful at removing the lycanthropy, but it has side effects such as turning Hobbs’ hair white.

That night, the blizzard hits. Victoria takes the opportunity to try and commune with her pact patron. She learns that it is a cruel entity of primeval cold that calls itself the Heart of Winter. She does not share this information with the party.

Oathday, 31 Kuthona, 4743

The next day, the group arrives in the dwarven city of Janderhoff, where they make arrangements to spend the night. It is New Year’s Eve and they get caught up in the festivities at a tavern and inn called the Thirsty Scoundrel.

Audrahni gets very drunk and attempts to dance with Victoria, but does not do a good job. Lucia gives her fortune, and Vicky encourages her back onto the dance floor, where they put on a much better show this time.

Udrexa, meanwhile, gets drawn into a wrestling match with a wild dwarven man named Oskert. He proves to be tough competition, but she ultimately manages to pin him to the ground.

Vicky also gets majorly drunk and becomes convinced she can speak Dwarvish.

Outside, Gwen speaks to the giant goats the dwarves use as beasts of burden. The goats view the wild revelry as a sign that dwarven society is collapsing and they will have to flee to the hills come first light.

Fireday, 1 Abadius, 4744

The next morning, Vicky wakes up in her room with a dire hangover. Unwilling to get up, she sends for soup and is also given a dwarven hangover cure that seems to work. The others wake up on the floor down below. After a late start, they continue their journey north.

Starday, 2 Abadius, 4744

They have an uneventful stopover in the town of Sirathu, the northernmost Korvosan settlement.

Sunday, 3 Abadius, 4744

The next day, they reach the base of the Storval Rise, the enormous cliff face that divides Varisia between the southern lowlands and the northern Storval Plateau. The City of Kaer Maga is perched on the edge of the cliff, built into a strange ancient ruin.

The only way to access it from the ground level is to take the Halflight Path, a twisting passageway that winds through the strange tunnels and caverns below the city, occasionally exiting out onto the cliffside for stretches at a time. An organization known as the Duskwardens guides people through the path.

The party knows that their objective is the Shrine of the Seal, which is run by a Brotherhood of monks and which the necromancer Erigantus has supposedly overrun. The Shrine is located somewhere below Kaer Maga, and they ask a dwarven Duskwarden named Crottle where they can find it.

He takes them to the secret entrance to the shrine. Following the tunnel, they reach an iron door marked with the symbol of Erastil, god of hunting, farming, and family. Vicky uses a knock spell to throw the door open. The chamber beyond looks like a dusty temple to Erastil.

An elderly caretaker greets the party but tells them that the shrine is closed due to an outbreak of filth fever among the brothers. Lucia volunteers her services as a doctor, and the caretaker grudgingly leads her deeper inside. Lucia recognizes that the caretaker is moving like someone pretending to be old.

Her suspicions are confirmed when the old man turns into a female drider, a creature with the upper body of a drow elf and the lower body of a spider. Lucia is able to disrupt the creature’s spellcasting and afflict it with her evil eye, Gwen blasts her with a flamestrike, and Victoria blinds her with glitterdust. Then Udrexa beats the creature to death with her fists.

After scavenging the drider’s gear, they start to explore the chamber. It is not too long before Udrexa opens a secret door, revealing a small room with a very angry clay golem inside. The massive golem surges forward to attack them.

Royal Rewards
Runeplague, Part 9

Sunday, 20 Kuthona, 4743

The Black Cats, decked out in elegant garments, sit down to a royal meal with the King and Queen of Korvosa and members of the court.

King Aquilos and Queen Cressida thank them for their swift and courageous actions in defeating the peacock phoenix the other night. As a token of appreciation, they are each provided with a voucher worth 6,000gp with any merchant in Korvosa.

Victoria artfully describes their efforts against the Cult of the Peacock Spirit and the cult’s connection to the returning Runelords. She avoids any details about Sorshen.

The King asks if the party knows anything about his missing daughter, Lea, and the other Sihedron Heroes. But the Black Cats have little to tell him. He urges them to keep investigating, as the wizards of Korvosa’s Acadamae have not been able to find them.

As the dinner progresses, Victoria catches up with Princess Ryah, a wizard who studied at the Acadamae and a childhood acquaintance. Victoria asks Ryah to get her access to the Acadamae’s archives.

Another attendee, Commandant Kel of the Sable Company Marines, is accompanied by an animated doll named Nathaly. The doll has tense interactions with Gwen and Rita when it tries to take food from their table.

Victoria also catches up with the Crown Prince, Telus, who is preoccupied with concern about the threat the rising Runelords pose. When Karzoug reemerged, he threatened Varisia with an army of giants, and Telus is alarmed that there is no obvious military threat massing.

Udrexa, meanwhile, chats with two of the other attendees at the dinner — Korlun Farima and Ajay Jalnto. Udrexa proceeds to get very drunk.

Victoria urges Lucia to talk with Lady Kyra Loranth, mother of the halfling Nicky that the party had encountered the other night. The two share pleasant conversation, but don’t have much in common.

Kyra talks about serving as a patron of halflings in Korvosa and implies that she is helping halflings escape from slavery in the Chelaxian Empire to the south. But she is also head of the Crimson Society, the licensed thieves guild, which Lucia views as simply what the Roadkeepers could have evolved into.

Victoria notices that Udrexa is drunk and distracted, and requests a private moment with Gia Amprei, her birth mother. She gives Gia her Abyssal Runestone for safekeeping.

Meanwhile, the bubbly goth elf Laori Vaus, high priestess of Iomedae, starts chatting up Audrahni. Despite their wildly different demeanors, the two forlorn elves seem to get along very well.

The party finally departs the castle and travels back to the Winking Medusa. There, they find that Runelord Sorshen is waiting for them. She thanks them for their efforts the other night, promises doses of perfume when it’s ready, and gives them her dance of the seven veils item. Victoria asks to meet her the next day for lunch.

The party resolves to stay in Korvosa for a week to carry out business and make preparations for a trip north on horseback to Kaer Maga.

Moonday, 21 Kuthona, 4743

The next day, Udrexa goes out to shop and make sales. She is accompanied by Rita, with the bat keeping an eye on her purchases.

Lucia goes back to Tyalee’s Whim to check on Athard, the Yamasoth Cultist she has dominated. She sees him chatting with Johan as he swabs the deck. Lucia asks Athard what he would do after being released from domination. He feels like he’s burned bridges with Yamasoth due to his failure, so he’d probably do what he did before the cult, just drift around. Lucia decides not to renew the dominate spell and let it expire.

Lucia is approached by Ghera, who wants to see Udrexa as soon as possible. Lucia misunderstands and thinks the Varisian woman wants to arrange a romantic liaison with the tiefling.

Elsewhere, Victoria goes to lunch with Sorshen. She asks the runelord about simulacrums and clone, having heard that Queen Ileosa had created a special simulacrum of herself using an artifact of Sorshen’s. The runelord notes that the artifact, the Everdawn Pool, gives the blood simulacrums a uniquely strong connection to their creator.

Victoria admits that she wants Sorshen’s help creating a clone of herself, as a backup in case something happens to her in Kaer Maga. Sorshen tells her that she cannot cast the clone spell because it is from a forbidden school. As an enchanter, she simply charmed other wizards into casting those spells for her. She says she will look into arranging something, but it will take time.

Meanwhile, Udrexa returns to the Winking Medusa and learns that Victoria is gone. She uses this opportunity to search her room for the Abyssal runestone, but doesn’t find it. She seeks out Nicky the halfling at a tavern called the Sticky Mermaid and asks for his help. They figure out that Victoria likely passed the runestone on to Gia Amprei.

Udrexa and Rita decide to scope out Gia’s tower in Castle Korvosa, but decide the security is too tight for a burglary attempt. Lucia catches up with them and passes along Ghera’s message.

Udrexa meets with Ghera in her cabin in Tyalee’s Whim. The Varisian woman reveals that her tattoos are glowing again, but not pulsing like in Riddleport. She also explains that one reason she has kept her tattoos hidden is that a few years back, a rogue hellknight in Korvosa murdered Varisians with the tattoos and tried to use their skins in some ritual.

The tattoos are traditional marks given to Varisians with sorcerous powers. Ghera explains that the caravan she was raised in was part of a clan of Sczarni, Varisian mafia. They wanted to use her in their criminal enterprises, so she ran away and has tried to hide her magical abilities.

Udrexa relates to Ghera’s feelings of being an outcast and running away from controlling authorities. The two reaffirm their relationship and spend the rest of the afternoon together.

Toilday, 22 Kuthona – Moonday, 28 Kuthona, 4743

Over the rest of the week, the party makes additional purchases. Victoria visits the Acadamae for research and also reconnects with other acquaintances from the court.

Lucia also goes on a few dates with the elf merchant Terskil. She learns that his stall was damaged during the peacock phoenix attack. Feeling guilty for having manipulated and stolen from him, Lucia gives him 1,000gp. This definitely gets his attention.

The morning of 28 Kuthona, the party sets out for the stables to collect their horses for the journey north. However, as they cross Arlynn Farima Plaza, there is a familiar flash of green light as a very unfamiliar creature suddenly appears.

The monster has the torso of an armless, eyeless woman and the abdomen and legs of an alien spider. It skitters across the air with supernatural speed and attacks the entire party. All those it touches feel an overwhelming sense of misery and self-loathing — except for Audrahni and Lucia.

The creature is a misery siktempora, an entity from the Dimension of Time created by another creature’s negative emotions. Misery siktemporas are known to hunt down their unwitting creators and this one is very focused on Victoria. The creature proves very difficult to hit with melee attacks, immune to mind affecting magic, and seems to shrug off everything they throw at it.

After the creature dodges her call lightning storm spell, Gwen decides to repeat the strategy that worked so well against the peacock phoenix. She casts baleful polymorph and the extraplanar entity turns into a fluffy white rabbit. However, the bunny siktempora manages to retain its consciousness and psychic abilities. Unable to harm the party, it teleports away.

After that unnerving encounter, the party collects their horses from the stables — except for Victoria and Lucia, who summon their mounts.

The Black Cats are visited once more by Sorshen, who gives them four doses of her magical perfume.

With this parting gift, the adventurers set out north from Korvosa on the week long journey to Kaer Maga.


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