Return of the Runelords

Fire and Festival
Runeplague, Part 8

The Black Lions battle the Cult of the Peacock Spirit and an enormous Peacock Phoenix. Gwen, Emeq, and the Love Stool go on a trip.

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A Night on the Town
Runeplague, Part 7

Starday, 19 Kuthona, 4743

Together with the Runelord Sorshen, the adventurers Victoria, Gwen, Lucia, and Udrexa attend the Crimson Festival events in Kendall Plaza.

Sorshen insists on having most of the party accompany her at all times while she went from activity to activity. First on her agenda is watching an amateur theater performance of a scene from Korvosa’s history, dramatizing Queen Ileosa’s poisoning of her husband King Eodred. The Runelord then insists that Victoria and Audrahni take the stage to dance.

Victoria decides to do an homage to another scene from the history of the Crimson Blades adventuring party—their encounter with the danse macabre. She and Audrahni pull off a spectacular performance, accompanied by a bard named Mely.

Sorshen then decides to mingle among the crowd before going to grab a bite to eat at a nearby seafood restaurant Ye Reel Catch. She finds the meal disappointing and asks the party to entertain her with stories of adventure.

From there, Sorshen takes them to see a game called “Crown of Hams” in which contestants try to pin a replica of Ileosa’s notorious crown onto greasy pigs. The Runelord insists that Udrexa take part. The monk is able to wrestle a pig down and crown it in record time.

Next, Sorshen notices a gnome merchant who had a Thassilonian goblet called a “lying cup,” which she insists the party buy. Gwen ultimately convinces him to sell the goblet. Sorshen then plays a drinking game with Lucia and Victoria in which they ask each other questions and try to tell if the other was lying.

As the party accompanies Sorshen, whenever they keep her entertained or carry out favors for her, she gifts them with magic items hidden in the area and provides additional information. She tells them that the necromancer Erigantus, who had helped the Cult of Yamasoth, has become an unwitting tool for the return of the dead Runelord Zutha. He was the Runelord of Gluttony, whose return was thwarted a decade ago by the adventurer Varian Jeggare, but he was not truly killed.

Zutha is a lich, and his phylactery is split across three vile tomes of necromantic knowledge, allowing him to return to unlife whenever a fool reads the cursed books. Erigantus received one of those tomes, the Bone Grimoire, as payment from the Yamasoth Cultists and his use of it has allowed Zutha to infect his soul. Erigantus has taken over the sanctum of the Brotherhood of the Seal, a monastic order in the city of Kaer Maga, but whatever the necromancer’s schemes he will soon become a vessel for Zutha’s return.

However, Sorshen has developed a runewaking ritual that can be used to destroy Zutha once and for all. They need to reclaim the Bone Grimoire, take it to the isle of Xin, and perform the ritual, which will cause a fragment of Zutha’s soul to manifest in a weakened state. If they can slay him in this form, his soul will be released from his phylactery and he will never be able to return.

Throughout this time, Udrexa, Lucia, and Victoria keep peeling off to attempt to acquire the perfume ingredients that Sorshen requested. Many of the ingredients turn out to be very expensive, so they end up stealing about half of them, resulting in a heightened alert by guards and merchants in the plaza. Lucia also flirts with an elven merchant named Terskil.

Victoria runs into an old acquaintance, the ditzy daughter of the exiled Queen Ileosa, Princess Aspexia “Spex” Arabasti. Spex was supposed to meet with one of the Sihedron heroes, Lea, at the festival and Victoria tells her that Lea has been delayed. Spex and her river bear (giant otter) Thurston head off to enjoy the festivities.

Udrexa, meanwhile, notices that the party is being followed by a young halfling man and decides to confront him. He is Nicky Loranth, a member of Korvosa’s officially licensed thieves’ guild the Crimson Society, and has been tasked with following the adventurers to figure out what they are up to in Korvosa. He notes that Udrexa has been doing some unlicensed thievery, which he offers to overlook if she can tell him about the strange woman the party is meeting. Udrexa indirectly confirms that it is the Runelord Sorshen, but assures him there is no danger.

When they learn that Udrexa has disclosed Sorshen’s identity, Lucia and Victoria are incensed. Victoria is especially alarmed, because she recognizes that Nicky is the son of Lady Kyra Loranth and is likely to bring news of Sorshen’s return straight to the royal court. While Victoria scolds Udrexa, Lucia uses magic to lure Nicky closer and while kissing him attempts to use the dominate person spell. He manages to resist it and attempts to flee, but Victoria catches up with him and intimidates him into keeping quiet until she can report the news herself.

After all of these shenanigans, Sorshen takes the party up to the balcony of a nearby storage tower to relax before the festival’s culmination with the burning of an enormous wooden effigy of Ileosa. It is while they are relaxing that time once again suddenly comes to a halt, freezing the crowds below, and affecting Audrahni and Sorshen as well.

The adventurers are able to prepare a couple buff spells before a strange entity appears in their midst: a tall, pale being in blue robes and wielding a frozen sword, with the top of his head wreathed in blue flames. He initially attacks Lucia, wounding her. Victoria then targets him with an icy prison spell, trapping him in a block of ice. Udrexa proceeds to coup de grace the helpless creature, smashing through the ice and destroying it.

Lucia recognizes the monster as a time flayer, an entity from the Dimension of Time known for hunting down those who disrupt the time stream and killing them before they can do so. Sorshen is startled by what happened, and the party explains their previous experiences with time distortions. This reinforces her conviction that they are the right people to ally with.

They descend from the tower to watch the grand display of igniting the wooden statue of Ileosa. However, as the statue is being lit up, Udrexa notices an elegantly dressed woman in the crowd praying to a glowing holy symbol of the Peacock Spirit.

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All Tomorrow's Party
Runeplague, Part 6

Fireday, 20 Neth, 4743

That evening, the Black Cats recover from their battle with the Yamasoth Cultists and prepare to pursue the escaped cult leader Leptonia.

Lucia questions Athard about the cult and where Leptonia might be going. He speculates that she might try to link up with the necromancer Erigantus, who returned to Kaer Maga after completing his work for the cult. Athard thinks Erigantus was going to do something with the Brotherhood of the Seal.

Lucia tells Athard that she plans to keep him around to do menial labor. She curses him so that he will be afflicted if he tries to harm the party or attack innocents, the curse will lift if his alignment shifts away from evil. She decides to let him keep his unholy symbol of Yamasoth.

Meanwhile, Victoria reaches out to her contacts in the city to track down a wizard of appropriate skill who would be willing to trade spells with her. She eventually finds a silver-haired Cyphermage named Helia Salte, who lets her copy a spell. Helia describes how the Cyphergate and other Thassilonian sites are starting to pulse with energy as they did ten years ago when Runelord Karzoug returned. Victoria gives her a heads up that she is working with the Sihedron Council to confront the rising threat of Runelord Alaznist, and suggests the Cyphermages consult with them.

Udrexa’s squeeze Ghera invites her to a wild pub crawl through Riddleports wharf district that concludes with the two of them falling into bed together at an inn. Later that night, Udrexa awakens early due to her monk metabolism. She notices that the lines of blue runic tattoos on Ghera’s left side are glowing. The glow seems to pulse on a regular basis, like a heartbeat or a ticking clock. Udrexa senses a flow of energy around her which coincides with the pulses on the tattoos.

Starday, 21 Neth, 4743

Victoria spends most of the day preparing her spells for the attack on Leptonia. That night, she is finally ready. A scrying spell reveals Leptonia standing on the deck of a river boat, staring nervously out across the water. Two cloaked figures stand nearby.

Victoria teleports the party onto the boat and catches the half-drow priestess completely by surprise. Gwen blasts her with a flame strike, Lucia inflicts ill omen onto her, Victoria locks her down with dimensional anchor, and Udrexa moves up to attack.

Victoria drops black tentacles onto the ship to snare the priestess and her two hooded bodyguards. She warns the astonished crew not to intervene. Udrexa unleashes a flurry of blows onto Leptonia, ultimately punching through her chest. The bodyguards, Rekaf and Imel, announce that their contract is now voided. Udrexa recognizes them as Sczarni mobsters.

After announcing themselves to the boat crew as the Black Cats, they grab Leptonia’s body and teleport back to Riddleport. They take the body to Clegg Zincher to show that the threat of the Cult has been dealt with. He is furious that a half-drow was involved, as he had previously tangled with the drow ten years ago. He thanks the party again for their efforts and assures them of his friendship.

Audrahni suggests that they could question Leptonia’s body before burying. Lucia casts gentle repose to preserve it, but also drains off a pint to drink for blood transcription.

Udrexa takes this opportunity to circle back and steal the monkey skin pouch with fire elemental gems from Zincher’s armory.

Sunday, 22 Neth, 4743

The next day, the seas are becalmed, so no ships can depart under sail.

Lucia casts speak with dead on Leptonia’s body but don’t get a lot more information than they knew already. She does say that Erigantus has returned to Kaer Maga with his payment, a Thassilonian relic known as the Bone Grimoire. The Black Cats spend the rest of the day selling their plunder.

Lucia studies more samples of the polymorph plague and gets a better understanding of how it affects humanoid creatures. She questions Athard about it as well and concludes that measures that bolster one’s identity would help resist the plague’s effect.

Victoria continues with her experiments with the lesser simulacrum, creating a duplicate of an acquaintance she does not know well — Laori Vaus, high priestess of Iomedae in Korvosa. Sim!Laori is cheerful, bubbly and weird, but does not seem to know anything that Victoria does not. She seems aware of but not bothered by her short lifespan. Victoria spends the day hanging out with her.

Moonday, 23 Neth, 4743

Having concluded their business in Riddleport, the Black Cats finally set sail aboard Tyalee’s Whim.

That evening, Udrexa gives the monkey skin pouch with the fire elemental gems to Ghera, who is amazed at th generous gift. The monk tells her these gems can protect her in times of danger by smashing them to release a fire elemental.

Moonday, 30 Neth, 4743

After a week’s journey, Tyalee’s Whim arrive in Magnimar without incident late in the day. They bed down at the Gryphine, with Victoria especially grateful to be sleeping off the ship.

Toilday, 1 Kuthona, 4743

The next morning, the Black Cats report to the Sihedron Council about the destruction of the Cult of Yamasoth and the end of the polymorph plague threat. There’s still the matter of the necromancer Erigantus in Kaer Maga. But the adventurers decide the next step is to follow up on Runelord Sorshen’s invitation to meet at the city of Korvosa.

After leaving the Sihedron Council, the adventurers suddenly hear the sound of crashing ocean waves, a sound which rises to a deafening crescendo. At that moment, time seems to stand still around them. Only the four of them are unaffected; everyone else is frozen.

The Black Cats are greeted by a strange young woman carrying a curved sword and a complicated, cracked hourglass. She introduces herself as the Steward of Time and says that she has met them twice before in the future. She warns that they have caused great tumult in the Dimension of Time and that entities from that plane will be coming after them. She has brought gifts from their future selves. If they survive, she says she will meet them in Stethelos.

Upon delivering this message, the Steward disappears and time resumes its natural flow. The adventurers receive strange visions of the future and are imbued with additional fragments of power from their future selves. Lucia also recognizes “Stethelos” as being a mysterious city located at the heart of the Dimension of Time, but knows little else about it.

Later that day, Udrexa seeks out Orin Rasp to provide him information on Clegg Zincher’s tenement and its defenses as a means of further appeasing him. It buys her more time, but he is still looking for a suitable artifact as payment.

Oathday, 3 Kuthona, 4743

After spending a couple days in Magnimar getting prepared, the party sets sail aboard Tyalee’s Whim and make their way to the city of Korvosa.

Starday, 19 Kuthona, 4743

Aside from encountering some bro-y dolphins, weathering a storm and sighting a seemingly abandoned vessel, the journey to Korvosa is uneventful.

As they near the city, Victoria receives a sending from Sorshen, instructing the party to meet her at the Gatefoot. They will know the Runelord by the symbol of the Redeemer Queen.

The Black Cats arrive in Korvosa during the annual Crimson Festival, celebrating the city’s liberation from Queen Ileosa and the devil Lorthact 35 years ago. Disembarking in the afternoon, they make their way across town to the monument known as the Gatefoot. It is a massive stone foot on a pedestal that sits along the coastal cliff near the gate to the South Shore district. The rest of the immense statue it was once a part of has been sheared off at the ankle and vanished ages ago.

Waiting for them at the site is Captain Sursha Antefalle, who they left back at the ship, but she is wearing the symbol of the Redeemer Queen. “Sursha” greets them warmly and after checking that there are no bystanders, reveals her true form as Sorshen. She soon adopts another visage, of a more nondescript brunette woman. She notes that her enemies — including the Cult of the Peacock Spirit — walk the streets. While she does not fear them, she also does not wish to waste time fighting them off.

Sorshen invites the party to attend the festival with her, where they can mix business with entertainment. She also tasks them with gathering ingredients for a perfume she’d like to make. Together with the ancient wizard, the Black Cats heads towards the celebrations in Kendall Plaza.

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The Zincher Job
Runeplague, Part 5

The Black Lions warn crimelord Clegg Zincher about the Cult of Yamasoth’s plans to steal his scrolls of true resurrection. The polymorph plague spreads to more victims.

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Blood is Thicker Than Water
Runeplague, Part 4

Fireday, 13 Neth, 4743

Ambushed by two hounds of Tindalos at Heidmarch Manor, the Black Cats fight them with help from Lady Sheila Heidmarch. This time, the party is able to resist without taking much harm. Sheila is not very familiar about the hounds, and the party keeps her in the dark about their own suspicions about time travel.

After leaving the manor, the Black Lions split up. Victoria the human wizard and Lucia the halfling witch both go shopping. Gwenllian the human druid goes wandering around town.

Udrexa the tiefling monk travels to the Monastery of the Scarlet Sun to learn more about what is going on with her mentor, the reformed devil Belawara. She ends up in a sparring match with her former rival Naari; after defeating him, he tells her what he knows of the contract binding Belawara to the monastery.

Shortly after Udrexa left the monastery, the magical monuments in Magnimar began to become corrupted. The Dawn Heralds were asked to investigate, with Belawara taking the lead. She tracked the perpetrators out to the Mushfens, and something happened out there. Belawara apparently went “too far” in dealing with them, leading to a huge argument with Reri and Zavian. Ultimately, Belawara agreed to a form of house arrest, signing a contract binding her to stay within the confines of the monastery until some sort of condition is met.

Udrexa confronts Belawara over this, but the devil woman is not interested in discussing her contract. Instead, she questions Udrexa about the time distortions the Black Lions are experiencing. She warns that Time is its own dimension, and the denizens of that plane are not fond of interlopers meddling in their affairs. She urges Udrexa to tread carefully, because dabbling in time travel is something even angels and devils are scared to do

Emeq the ifrit fighter checks in with the other members of the Love Stool, Sondra and Audrahni at the Gryphine hotel. He tells them that he received a letter summoning him to meet with his father. Emeq has not spoken much about his family prior, but explains that he’d had a falling out with his dad when he left to be an adventurer. After discussing things, they decide it’s best if he hold off introducing the ladies to his family at this time.

Emeq makes his way alone to the familiar spires of Moghadam Manor in Magnimar’s “new money” district of Naos. He is greeted by his father’s majordomo, Stefan Vasser, who escorts him to the meeting room.

A short time later, Melut Moghadam arrives and the two have a tense reunion. The elder ifrit is angered that his son has been meeting with the Sihedron Council, whose membership includes Melut’s chief political opponent, Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras. This has caused his allies on Magnimar’s Council of Ushers to question if he is trying to play both sides, with one son in the opposition and the other aligned with the Lord-Mayor. Melut insists that Emeq cease his work with the Sihedron Council, for the good of the family.

Emeq pushes back, arguing that he is doing vital work to protect the city from the returning Runelords and now this Polymorph Plague. He says that all his father’s political maneuvering will be for naught if the city lies in ruins because of it.

Melut insists that the response to the dangers facing Magnimar is inherently political. He also insists that he is trying to protect Emeq from danger, as his political enemies could try to use or harm his son. Melut ultimately offers a compromise, for Emeq not to meet with the Sihedron Council in person again and stay at arms length from them. Emeq finds this acceptable.

After this meeting, Melut takes Emeq to see his mother Arli. The two of them spend several hours catching up. Emeq ultimately tells her about his unusual relationship with the Love Stool. She is surprised and confused, but ultimately accepting so long as Emeq is behaving as a gentleman and the three of them are happy. She urges him not to share the information with his father, who is too close-minded to understand. Arli suggests he introduce her to the ladies over lunch somewhere else, perhaps including his brother Zalel.

Emeq sees Zalel coming in just as he is leaving. He congratulates his brother on being elected to the Council of Ushers. Zalel apologizes for his role in the falling out, and for their father’s attitude. He is interested in meeting again soon and gives Emeq a card for getting in touch with his office. As he reaches for it, Emeq notices that Zalel is wearing a peacock feather pendant.

Emeq takes his time walking back to the Gryphine, with a lot on his mind.

He arrives just as the rest of the Black Lions have gathered for dinner. Victoria lays out her plans for them to travel to Riddleport aboard two ships: Tyalee’s Whim with Captain Sursha and the Lightning Lasher with Gwen’s new pirate friend Captain Varia. They will use Varia’s debt to Clegg Zincher as an “in” to see him and warn him of the impending cult attack.

Sondra also brings the party up to speed on her research. She believes that whatever time distortion event is attracting the hounds of Tindalos will take place in the future. Such distortions can create “ripples” that extend backwards in time, and which get worse the closer you get to the event. Most significantly, these ripples can draw the attention of other extraplanar creatures far scarier that the hounds.

Sondra thinks she might be able to find out more, with more time. She can’t go out into the field if she’s researching, but she can go on the journey to Riddleport if she brings her books.

After dinner, Emeq takes the Love Stool aside and brings them up to speed on his meeting with his family, including his suspicions about his brother’s connection to the Cult of the Peacock Spirit. They agree that it is suspicious, but he will need to do more investigating to be sure.

He also tells them about his mother’s interest in meeting them. Sondra reveals her mistaken belief that polyamorous relationships are a common ifrit cultural practice. She’s very embarrassed when she learns this is not the case.

Starday, 14 Neth, 4743

The next morning, the Black Lions get ready to depart. Gwen, Lucia, and Emeq decide to journey on the Lightning Lasher, and Victoria goes to familiarize herself with the ship. Captain Varia is happy to have them on board as her first legitimate passengers, and she apologizes to Victoria for her behavior.

The ladies of the Love Stool bid farewell to Emeq and head over to Tyalee’s Whim, where they will be traveling with Udrexa and Victoria. Sondra settles into her cabin with a pile of books to go through, with Audrahni assisting in organizing.

Victoria, meanwhile, loudly insists that she doesn’t want to be disturbed, and secretly teleports back to Magnimar in order to continue copying spells from the merchant Elros before going to bed at the Gryphine.

Udrexa, having purchased some quality whiskey, seeks out the sailor Ghera that evening to share a drink with. The two have quite the party and eventually Udrexa invites the Varisian woman back to her bunk. Udrexa notices that Ghera has strange, blue runic tattoos running down the left side of her body, her left arm, and her left leg. The sailor is reluctant to talk about them, other than to say that they were given to her by her Varisian clan. The two women agree to keep things casual between them for now.

Over on the Lightning Lasher, Gwen, Lucia, and Emeq hit it off with the rough and tumble pirate crew. Lucia also conducts an experiment with a rat she purchased at the bazaar, infecting it with polymorph plague to observe the results. Nothing seems to happen on day one.

Sunday, 15 Neth, 4743

The plague takes hold on the rat on day two, transforming it into a strange aberration known as a zoog. Lucia successfully cures it of the plague using remove disease.

Victoria, meanwhile, decides to take her ruse of staying aboard Tyalee’s Whim one step further. She creates a chunk of ice using the ice spear spell, and carves it into a likeness of herself. Using this material component, she creates a duplicate using lesser simulacrum.

Vicky #2 is not keen on her short existence, but agrees to go along with Victoria’s plan for her to mingle with the others on the ship and disguise Victoria’s absence. Eleven hours later, when the spell is set to expire, the simulacrum is meet back up with Victoria in her cabin.

However, when it is time to return from Magnimar, a teleport misfire has Victoria appear on the deck of an unfamiliar pirate ship. She turns herself invisible and then flies off, looking for land or another ship. She sees a sail on the horizon and races over to it.

Slipping below decks, she discovers to her dismay that she is on a slaver ship. Victoria hides in a storage closet and uses arcane lock to seal the door. The slavers try to get into the closet, but can’t get past the locked door. They decide to hack it open with an axe in the morning.

Back on Tyalee’s Whim, the simulacrum starts to panic. She writes a note, then pounds on Audrahni’s door. She warns that the real Victoria is missing, then melts. Audrahni can’t alert the other ship until she can prepare a sending. The duplicate melts into water as her spell expires.

Audrahni suggests that Sondra and Udrexa join her in a prayer dance for Victoria’s safety.

Moonday, 16 Neth, 4743

The next morning, Audrahni uses sending to alert Lucia, who flis over from the Lightning Lasher. The halfling arrives at about the same time that Victoria teleports back to her room. Victoria reads the note from the simulacrum, who accuses the wizard of abandoning, says she is warning the others of what happened, and asks Victoria to remember her.

A frightened Sondra holds a knife to Victoria and demands she prove she’s not a duplicate. Victoria does, and explains her plan to surreptitiously slip back to Magnimar each day while having a simulacrum maintain the illusion on Tyalee’s Whim. After this incident, Victoria is going to take some time to think about how to use simulacrum going forward. She also wants to schedule a hangout with Sondra, who apparently got on quite well with Vicky #2.

Toilday, 17 Neth, 4743

The next day, the Lighting Lasher passes through a field of floating debris from a wrecked ship. Captain Varia speculates that anything could be the cause, and asks for he adventurers to help keep watch that night.

That evening, Emeq notices something crawling under the hull. He alerts the rest of the crew, and the ship is ready when four aquatic ghouls scale the hull and attack. The adventurers, with help from the pirates, are able to fend them off without aid from Tyalee’s Whim.

Wealday, 18 Neth – Fireday, 20 Neth, 4743

After several more days of sailing without exciting incident, the two ships glide into Riddleport’s busy harbor on the morning of 20 Neth, 4743.

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Raiding the Gecko
Runeplague, Part 3

Oathday, 12 Neth, 4743

The Black Cats — Gwenllian the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, and Victoria the human wizard — continue their delve into the Cult of Yamasoth headquarters in the gecko.

Audrahni the elf cleric uses a consecrate spell on Xanesha’s skull to release her soul from its necromantic binding and send it on to the afterlife. Victoria convinces the four vagrants they rescued — Mari, Thad, Klaus, and Glinda — to stay in the consecrated room. The drunkards warn them about a mutated creature in a nearby room. They had been told by the vampires that if they tried to escape they would be turned into a similar monster.

The party investigates the testing room. Udrexa spies the creature, which appears to be a gross fusion of human and otyugh. The Black Cats get the drop on him. The creature lunges towards Udrexa, while its human head cries out “Save me! Feed me! I’m sorry! So hungry! Save me! Help me! Kill me! I’m so hungry!”

Udrexa dodges its bite and Lucia uses lip stitch to seal up its maw. Udrexa slips in the refuse that litters the floor of the chamber, but proceeds to beat the creature into unconsciousness. She then scrambles out of the mess, disgusted at getting gunk in her hair, and demands that Victoria clean her off with prestidigitation. They tie up the monster and drag it out into the central chamber.

From there, they investigate the east wing of the Gecko and discover the cult’s dormitories. Approximately 20 cultists dwelt here, but the rooms are largely abandoned. Udrexa nonetheless plunders them for what little she can find.

The last room in the east wing belonged to the cult leader. Udrexa misses the signs of the glyph of warding as she opens the door, triggering the magical trap. A trio of babau demons are summoned into the chamber.

The fighting is vicious, with Udrexa and Gwen getting badly hurt. Lucia and Audrahni keep them healed and buffed, while while Victoria tries to control the battlefield. Ultimately, the Black Cats are victorious.

They scavenge through the room and discover notes left by the cult leader, a woman named Leptonia. They learn that a key component in creating the plague was eggs harvested from the bound qlippoth Og-Zeugus that they killed earlier.

They also find information indicating that the cult planned to travel to Riddleport to steal three scrolls of true resurrection from the crimelord Clegg Zincher during an auxction he is holding in a week or so. Leptonia intends to use the scrolls to resurrect the dead Runelord Krune in order to secure his help in perfecting the polymorph plague.

Before departing the Gecko, the Udrexa scavenges the central pit to recover items from the victims the vampires had tossed into the murky waters below. Once this is done, the adventurers exit with the four rescued vagrants.

Udrexa takes them all to a local inn and tavern called the Friendly Merchant, a sketchy dive whose owner is connected to the Night Scales. They rest up and store the unconscious otyugh-man. Lucia works on tending to the injuries of the vagrants and the party.

Fireday, 13 Neth, 4743

The following morning, Lucia returns Xanesha’s skull to the grateful Lucrecia.

The Black Cats hire a cart to carry the otyugh-man with them as they travel to Heidmarch Manor to report back to the Sihedron Council.

As they are completing their report to Lady Sheila Heidmarch, there are two eerie howls as the meeting is crashed by a pair of hounds of Tindalos.

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Monster Blast
Runeplague, Part 2

The Black Lions investigate the Cult of Yamasoth’s headquarters in the Gecko. Gwen makes a new friend at the Captain’s Club.

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Visions and Ghosts
Runeplague, Part 1

Toilday, 3 Neth, 4743

The adventurers Gwen the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, and Victoria the human wizard have an uneasy night after the hound of Tindalos attack on Lucia.

The next morning, Lucia runs into Gyles the halfling sailor, who seems weirdly friendly. Lucia determines that he is still under her curse, but in this timeline he doesn’t seem to have had the same hostile reaction to her he did before.

It is a peaceful day aboard Tyalee’s Whim, with the ship bustling with extra personnel from the Starkissed being directed by Captain Shira Harbuck. She is working under Captain Sursha’s supervision and the two bicker frequently over what needs to be done.

Later that day, Gyles approaches Lucia about this fish that he caught. It has a magic amulet inside, which he asks her to identify. She recognizes it as an aegis of recovery and after some internal debate, tells him what it can do. He is shocked and pleased at this discovery and immediately puts the amulet on.

That night, Gyles cooks up a special dinner for Lucia. After the meal, the Tyalee’s Whim and Starkissed crews strike up some sea shanties. Audrahni encourages them to sing and then asks if anyone in the party wishes to dance. Victoria takes her up on the offer.

The two begin an energetic dance, with Victoria doing her best to keep up with the elf. She uses a bit of magic to spice up the performance. After a moment she realizes she is not the only one doing that. Audrahni is literally glowing, having cast light on herself.

The elf explains that laying Runelord Thybidos to rest in Hollow Mountain was the final step to fully restoring her connection to Ashava and she now has divine powers granted by the True Spark.

Wealday, 4 Neth, 4743

In the afternoon, Udrexa is approached by the sailor Ghera, who she had saved in the storm. Ghera has been saving some of her rum rations to share with the tiefling. Udrexa is pleased that being a hero has such great fringe benefits. She learns a little about Ghera’s past—she was raised in a Varisian caravan, but had a rough home life and ran off to find her fortune on the sea. Ghera continues to be grateful for having been rescued.

Late at night, when Lucia is meditating with Rita, the bat makes a request of her. She asks Lucia to acquire an Abyssal Runestone without letter the others known. Lucia agrees to try.

Victoria, meanwhile, is using the keep watch spell to stay awake during night and read. She notices her room growing unusually cold and realizes the coldness it coming from within her. A frosty image appears in her porthole, of a menacing bat monster and a sinister horned woman. She recognizes them as depictions of Rita and Udrexa. Victoria realizes that this must be a message from the entity she made her pact with.

Victoria heads up on deck where she finds Udrexa awake, doing stretches. She questions Udrexa a little, but figures she is being paranoid and heads back to her room.

Oathday, 5 Neth, 4743

Tyalee’s Whim arrives at Magnimar just after dawn. A fall shower has settled over the city, releasing a steady drizzle throughout the day.

As the party disembarks, Surhsa and Shira invite them to dinner at the Captain’s Club, an exclusive restaurant that is available only to ship captains and their guests.

The adventurers take a cab up to Heidmarch Manor to report to the Sihedron Council. Three council members are present: Lady Sheila Heidmarch, Koriah Azmeren, and woman in golden armor with red hair turning to gray. This is Ser Chammady, paladin of Iomedae, a representative of the city of Korvosa. Also in the room is a fourth woman, a very gentle-looking tiefling with dark hair, horns, and tail. Rita whispers to Lucia that the tiefling can be trusted.

The adventurers update the Council on their adventures in Hollow Mountain, but leave out the dream communication with Runelord Sorshen and the temporal distortions.

During the conversation, Lucia is struck with inspiration. She pulls the skull of Runelord Xiren out of Udrexa’s bag of holding and suggests that they question it. Lady Sheila Heidmarch has them place it on a platter and Lucia uses her witchcraft to give it flesh again so she can use speak with dead.

Her first question is to ask where a Runelord of Wrath would go after leaving Hollow Mountain, but there are too many possibilities. Curious about the possibility that Alaznist is attacking her rivals, Victoria asks where the Runelord of Wrath would strike out against Runelord Content Not Found: xandergul and it told that it would require an attack with overwhelming force on Xin-Cyrusian. Udrexa asks about the weaknesses of the Runelords of Wrath and learns that their forbidden schools are Abjuration and Conjuration.

For the final question, Lucia turns it over to the Council. They confer, and then leave the matter to the mysterious tiefling. She asks Xiren’s head which Runelords would possess the knowledge to summon the Oliphaunt of Jandelay. The head replies that the Runelords of Pride, Lust, Wrath, and Greed would possess such knowledge, but only the truly foolish would attempt to use it. Lucia and Victoria recogniz the Oliphaunt as a mythical creature from the demiplane of Jandelay, an enormous elephantine monster said to embody the concept of apocalypse.

As Lucia stows the head away, she quietly pockets the Abyssal Runestone from Udrexa;s bag.

The party asks the Council about the other Runelords that might be returning and what leads they have. Karzoug, Runelord of Greed, was killed ten years ago by the Sihedron Heroes. Krune, the Runelord of Sloth, was awoken several years ago but slain by members of the Pathfinder Society. Zutha, the Runelord of Gluttony, returned about a decade ago as well, but was defeated by the notorious adventurer Varian Jeggare.

Four Runelords remain unaccounted for: Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath; Xanderghul, Runelord of Pride; Sorshen, Runelord of Lust; and Belimarius, Runelord of Envy. Alaznist has clearly risen, Sorshen is active, and the Cult of the Peacock Spirit is aligned with Xanderghul, but nothing so far has been heard of Belimarius.

The party is then introduced to the tiefling woman, a renowned sculptor named Ayavah. She is also prone to receiving prophetic visions, which the Sihedron Council has relied upon in the past. In her most recent vision, she witnessed the adventurers standing side by side with Runelord Sorshen in front of a vast magical portal.

The vision was confusing, but she had the sense that it was taking place in the future and that there would be dire consequences for Varisia if the adventurers are not there with Sorshen at the appointed time. Because through the portal she could see a giant elephantine shape charging towards them.

Victoria asks if it seemed like the party was working with or fighting against Sorshen. To Ayavah’s eyes, they seemed to be partners. Lady Sheila Heidmarch notes that Sorshen could be a powerful ally against the other Runelords. Ser Chammady disagrees, but has been out-voted by the Council.

Ayavah also has information that could help with investigation of the Cult of Yamasoth. Her apartment has a good view of the Gecko piling below the Irespan where the cult has made its lair. She has seen people as well as a winged demon-like creature fly out of a hexagonal opening that will appear in the stone surface of the tower, 200 feet in the air.

She has also seen the ghost of one of Underbridge’s most notorious monsters, the dead lamia matriarch Xanesha, haunting the Irespan piling. This is strange because Xanesha’s ghost used to haunt the ruins of the Shadow Clock Tower where the Sihedro Heroes had killed her a decade ago.

The Council urges the party to investigate the Cult of Yamasoth at the Gecko piling. The “polymorph plague” the Cult is developing sounds dangerous, and given their interest in Hollow Mountain it is likely that the Cult is gathering other Thassilonian relics.

As the meeting comes to a close, Victoria indicates to Chammady that she wishes to speak afterwards. The two step outside. In the hallway, Ayavah also seeks out Lucia. Meanwhile, Lady Sheila Heidmarch asks Udrexa to stay for a moment to chat.

In the hallway, Ayavah recognizes Lucia as a fellow servant of the Redeemer Queen, the source of the witch’s powers. She and Rita apparently also have a history. Ayavah asks Lucia if she has heard of Nocticula, the demon lord of assassins, darkness, and lust. The Cult of the Redeemer Queen believes that Nocticula is in the process of abandoning her old ways and ascending as a chaotic neutral goddess of artists, outcasts, and midnight. The portents from the cult’s clerics state indicate that this ascension is already happening.

Ayavah believes that her visions come from Nocticula, and that the Redeemer Queen wants the party to work with Runelord Sorshen, who is undergoing a similar transformation into something new and better than she was before. But the Cult of the Redeemer Queen is still considered heretical and misguided by most other religions, so Ayavah has kept her membership a secret.

She tells Lucia that she is leaving Magnimar to travel to northwest Varisia with other followers, but that another worshiper of the Redeemer Queen is staying at her studio in Underbridge. A red-headed woman named Lucrecia, she has more information about Xanesha and a personal interest in seeing the ghost laid to rest. Lucia is overjoyed to learn that her power is not coming from some horrible demonic source. Rita is less enthusiastic.

In a different corner of the mansion, Victoria and Chammady meet. The paladin is uneasy about the possibility of working with Sorshen. She believes the Runelord to be an evil degenerate, and one who could enslave the whole city of Korvosa with her enchantment magic.

Victoria asks her about the state of the city, her mother’s health, and the state of the King. Chammady says that there are no outward indications of Sorshen’s influence, but the portents remain muddled. Victoria’s mother is in good health and is not behaving any stranger than usual. King Aquilos is gravely concerned about these developments, and is furious with the Council for “misplacing” his daughter Lea. Victoria is relieved to hear that nothing dire has befallen the city and tells Chammady that she will need to go there on “Runelord business” in the near future. Chammady asks her to check it when she returns.

In the meeting room, Lady Sheila tells Udrexa that the Night Scales crime syndicate attempted to burgle the Council’s vault. The would-be thieves had inside information on the vault’s defenses. Udrexa initially denies knowledge of the incident, but then admits to it. She does not mention that she was pressured into providing the information due to threats to her friends. Instead, the tiefling rants about how organizations like the Sihedron Council are just out for themselves, whatever they might say about protecting others.

Lady Sheila says that if Udrexa won’t be moved by altruism, she should at least recognize that the Council can pay her more than the Night Scales ever could, and could bring the full force of the law against her as punishment. Udrexa agrees not to provide any more confidential information to the Night Scales. Lady Sheila urges her to cut ties with the dangerous group.

Once Udrexa regroups with the others, the party expresses disappointment that they weren’t given rewards for the mission to Hollow Mountain. Lucia recalls that the Council did say they would cover cost of transportation and logistics, but the party would be paid in the plunder they could acquire. Victoria is determined that from here on out, they get paid directly for their work. She uses a message spell to arrange another meeting with Lady Sheila to discuss payment.

Once they have stepped back out into the gray, rainy day their first order of business is getting lunch. Audrahni takes them to a Vudrani restaurant in the Lowcleft District. Over a meal of some tasty curries, the elf explains her concerns about the ghost of Xanesha moving from the Shadow Clock Tower to the Gecko. It’s unusual for a ghost to shift the site of its haunting, which is usually a place connected to it’s death.

Audrahni believes that a powerful necromancer must have bound Xanesha’s spirit to the Gecko, most likely using the lamia’s remains as an anchor. She warns that if a necromancer is involved, it’s reasonable to believe there could be other undead within. The adventurers ask Audrahni to create more holy water for them.

After lunch, the party splits up to go shopping or crafting. Victoria seeks out her contact Elros for more spells and also goes shopping for a cloak of resistance. Lucia visits Witch’s Way in the Bazaar of Sails to get more spells from her fellow practitioners. Udrexa sells off some of their plundered loot and shops for additional gear.

While she is shopping, Udrexa runs into her old Night Scales mentor Orin Rasp. He seems oddly friendlier than their last interaction, and claims he is trying to buy her time with the thieves guild. He thanks her for the details about the Council vault, but reveals that the burglary was just a ruse for a different operation.

Rasp tells Udrexa that she needs to trade something of value to pay off her debt to the Night Scales. He asks for an Abyssal Runestone, as there are interested buyers, but it won’t be enough by itself. Udrexa realizes that her runestone is missing. Rasp suggests she could turn in her friend “Little Miss Purple,” who has a price on her head, and warns that others might be coming after the wizard. Udrexa refuses to turn on her friend, and promises to find something else of value to trade.

Meanwhile, Lucia takes a break from shopping to confer with Rita. The bat wants to eat the Abyssal Runestone that Lucia stole from Udrexa. The witch enlarges Rita to make it easier for her. The bat eats the stone and after a moment belches energy. She takes on a more primal, sinister visage as power of the stone melds with her.

Gwen wanders the city, drifting down towards the Dockway district and Underbridge. In her travels, she overhears chatter about an affliction striking vagrants and turning them into monsters. She also hears that some sort of winged creature has been kidnapping people in Underbridge. She also learns a great deal about the impressive variety of Magnimar’s rat population.

After her encounter with Rasp, Udrexa goes to visit the the Monastery of the Scarlet Sun. She makes her way to Belawara’s office, but the fiendish woman is much more hostile than their last meeting. In fact, Belawara seems to remember a completely different meeting, which went much worse than the one Udrexa remembers.

Upon realizing the temporal discrepancy, Udrexa apologizes again for her transgressions, promises to do better, and then sets off a smoke bomb to escape. Belawara chases after her, having recognized that something is off, but can’t catch her. The devil woman calls out to Udrexa to be careful.

That afternoon, Lucia seeks out the redheaded woman Lucrecia at Ayavah’s studio, which is located inside another of the Irespan pilings. Over a cup of tea, Lucrecia explains that Xanesha’s ghost patrols the Gecko exterior on a regular basis, popping in and out of the walls. It might be possible to slip inside without confronting her if they time it right.

Lucrecia has a personal interest in laying Xanesha to rest, for the ghost is her dead sister. Lucrecia reveals herself in her full lamia matriarch form, explaining that she was spared by the Sihedron Heroes and has found solace in the faith of the Redeemer Queen, but her sister was not so fortunate. Lucia is touched by this and promises to return Xanesha’s remains for proper burial.

As the shadows grow long, the party regroups and prepares to head over to the Captain’s Club for dinner that evening with Sursha and Shira.

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About Time
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 9

Sunday, 31 Lamashan, 4743

The adventurers Emeq the ifrit fighter, Gwen the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, and Victoria the human wizard decide to break for lunch before pressing on. While munching on sandwiches and listening to the gentle patter of rain against the roof of the Bloodstone Bunker, they discuss a group name for their party. Ultimately, they settle on the “Black Lions” as a team name that best reflects their eclectic group.

Audrahni also scoops Emeq and Sondra into a fierce hug. She says that she had a sudden feeling like she hadn’t seen them in days. But that makes no sense, as they’ve been here all along. An embarrassed Audrahni blames it on the unsettling environment.

When the adventurers begin their descent, Victoria casts feather fall on herself and Sondra, then jumps down the shaft. Sondra hesitates, so Emeq gives her a push. After a moment of stark terror, she starts to enjoy drifting down. The rest of the Black Lions use ropes to rappel down into the Forges of Wrath.

They arrive in a long chamber lined with forge ovens, all of them cold. On the opposite end of the room, an iron door sits half open, with a badly burned corpse lying beside it. Udrexa and Lucia look at different ovens, while Emeq begins striding towards the body. Three of the ovens suddenly begin to flare to life. Fearful that they are about to explode, Lucia and Udrexa dash into the next room.

But instead of exploding, three burning bodies climb out of the ovens, a type of undead known as the Combusted. The party acts swiftly to attack the creatures. Lucia casts a spell that causes the burned body by the door to lurch over to one of the Combusted and grapple it. Udrexa proceeds to obliterate it.

Gwen zaps another, which Victoria finishes off with a snowball spell. Emeq stabs the third one, and is joined by Audrahni who slashes at it. Sondra makes a risky move to flank it, and gets set on fire for her trouble, but she lands the killing blow to destroy the last Combusted. Emeq and Audrahni quickly smother the fire on Sondra. Emeq congratulates her, while Lucia heals her up. Audrahni reveals that the Combusted, had they been able to act, could have filled the room with fire.

They loot the burned body, which appear to be another of Maga Szuul’s Yamasoth cultists. Lucia makes sure to claim the corpse’s masterwork longsword.

Udrexa scouts ahead and discovers Runelord Alaznist’s scowling face carved into a stone wall, a miniature replica of her visage on Hollow Mountain. The tiefling monk realizes that the jaw of the face is hinged. After disabling a trap, the monk gets the mouth open and 10,000gp worth of gems spills out. With some magical assistance from Lucia, Udrexa finds and unlocks a further hidden compartment with another 3,000gp worth of fire opals.

Udrexa continues to scout ahead, taking the southern hallway. To the east, she finds a series of weapon storage rooms, their contents corroded with the passing of millennia. She also finds a large chamber with at least some items that don’t appear corroded. When Udrexa investigates, however, a haunt afflicts her as she picks up two magic items. She flees the room, feeling drained and weak. Lucia and Victoria identify the magic weapons, and Lucia restores the monk to health.

The Black Lions turn west, with Udrexa once again in the lead. She sees a secret door hanging half open in the hall. Creeping inside, she sees several Yamasoth cultists trying to set up an ambush in a chamber that contains a portal and a pool of water.

The tiefling returns to the others to warn them. Then the monk, with Lucia in tow, creeps back to ambush the ambushers. Lucia uses fey form to turn her bat familiar Rita into a redcap. Udrexa launchers herself into the room with a flying kick, and Rita follows with a kick to the shins with iron boots. The rest of the Black Lions rush in after the two of them.

Emeq starts fighting one of the Yamasoth cultists, while Udrexa takes on another and Gwen brings down a third. The party realizes there is an invisible enemy in the room, which turns out to be Maga Szuul, who summons a waspswarm to attack them and tosses a fire bomb.

However, the party is able to wear down Maga and his cultists with sword, first and spell. Ultimately, it is the wasp swarm that is the last to be killed. They loot the bodies. Victoria convinces Lucia and Udrexa to drag Maga’s body out into the hallway before draining it of blood, out of concern for spooking the “Love Stool” (Audrahni and Sondra).

The rest of the Black Lions set about disabling the portal, which they believe can be done by draining the pool of water. Victoria, Sondra, and Gwen start dredge the water in buckets while Audrahni and Emeq go fetch a pushcart to contain it.

Audrahni sees what is happening with Maga Szuul’s body, but doesn’t object so long as it is properly buried afterwards. Emeq asks her for guidance on how to properly bury odies, in case he needs to do so when she is not around. She gives a few pointers and promised to provide some more detailed instructions.

Once the portal pool is drain, the portal itself begins to flash and hum dangerously. Everyone flees the room, but Emeq peers around the corner to watch as the portal’s bronze lattice implodes and the bodies that remained in the room are teleported away.

The Black Lions debate whether to continue exploring the dungeon now that their task is done, but Udrexa presses on down the hall while the others are still discussing. She finds a large chamber that contains an altar with an egg-like object on it, as well as a nest of furs in the corner. There are scraps of paper by the furs, which she recognizes as notes by the sinspawn Mozamer about the portal hub.

As she looks through the notes, she is contacted telepathically by an entity called Boag-Hok, who asks if she is a sacrifice sent by Mozamer. The entity is strangely naïve and chatty, describing how it used to have philosophical conversations with Mozamer about flesh as a vehicle for life.

Udrexa engages the creature in conversation for a time, but when she goes to leave that provokes it to attach. Boag-Hok emerges from the egg-shaped sensor as a swirling black cloud with fangs. He bites Udrexa and she cries out for help. However, the entity has enough substance to it that the monk is able batter it with her fists. It is Emeq who delivers the final blow, rushing in to stab it with his mithral rapier.

There is little of value in here beyond Mozamer’s notes on the portal they already destroyed, so the adventurers soon depart. As they approach the exit to the Forges, they realize that there is one northern tunnel the had not explored. Udrexa, Lucia and Emeq go take a look.

They find a chamber with a shaft leading deeper into the earth, with a complicated set of chains and pulleys set up to haul ore out of a mine down below. Udrexa attempts to drawn up the mine lift, but when she unsticks the controls the whole apparatus snaps. Debris flies everywhere and whatever load that was suspended in the shaft crashes to the ground.

Not ones to let any prize escape their grasp, the Black Lions use their magic and plenty of hard effort to salvage 9,000gp worth of mithral ore from the wreck at the bottom of the shaft. Having retrieved all the can, they finally depart the Forges of Wrath late in the day. They return to Kelhuud’s camp by nightfall.

The unusual ranger questions them about their discoveries and bids them farewell. After another dinner of rations, they bed down for the evening.

Moonday, 1 Neth, 4743

The next morning, the Black Lions rise early and make their way back to Old Man’s Landing, where they retrieve their skill and return to Tyalee’s Whim. Captain Sursha welcomes them aboard excitedly. The whole crew is in good spirits to see that the party has returned hale and whole, and the ship is able to begin putting miles between itself and the foreboding island.

Victoria joins a card game with Elbows Eddi, Johann, and Ghera. Udrexa watches and thinks of her own card game experiences, which were sabotaged by her inability to bluff.

Sursha invites them all to dine with her that night and listens intently to their tales of adventure. She can tell they aren’t sharing everything, but doesn’t press.

After dinner, Audrahni and Sondra invite Emeq back to their quarters, excited to finally have some privacy once again. They are noisy enough that Victoria, who is in the adjacent room, heads up to the deck to stay awake with the keep watch spell. A little while later she is joined by Udrexa, who needs little sleep herself. However, a little while after midnight even Victoria and Udrexa slip into a dream-like state.

Toilday, 2 Neth, 4743

Victoria, Udrexa, Emeq, Gwen, and Lucia find themselves in a shared dream, standing in a grassy meadow. Before them stretches a vast ocean, while behind them rises an ominous forest. A moment complicated-looking scepter appears in the air before them. As they reach towards it, the scepter warps and twists into an infinity symbol before shattering into fragments.

Reality seems to warp around them and they are now standing together on the Irespan in Magnimar. They each see their companions transform into hideous monsters that then clamber down the sides of the Irespan to enter a piling carved with reptilian figures.

Victoria snaps out of the dream and starts to panic, since her keep watch spell should have kept her from falling asleep. She works herself into a tizzy fretting about the magic that must have been involved, and loses control of the spell, ending the evening exhausted.

When the others wake, they compare notes and realize it was another shared dream. Audrahni and Sondra were not part of the vision. None of the adventurers can make heads or tails of it, however.

Later that afternoon, the lookout in the crow’s nest spots a sail on the horizon. It is a ship flying generic flags of distress. It is weaving back and forth on an unstable intercept course with Tyalee’s Whim. Gwen wild shapes into a seagull to go investigate.

The name on the side of the ship reads Starkissed. The crew seem scared and desperate to reach Tyalee’s Whim. The ship appears understaffed, with crewmembers scrambling to keep it on course. Strangely, several crew members seem to be doing nothing more than bracing the doors to the hold, from which Gwen can hear a clucking sound.

After Gwen reports back, the adventurers rouse Victoria, who casts fly on the party. They swoop back over to consult with the Starkissed’s crew. The sailors are desperate to get off the ship as soon as possible. Lucia casts suggestion on the Starkissed’s captain to make her talk.

Captain Shira Harbuck explains that she was hired to smuggle a crate of cockatrices from Riddleport to Korvosa. Somehow the dangerous creatures got loose and have petrified several crew members. She and the surviving crew want nothing more than to get off the ship.

Victoria returns to Tyalee’s Whim to report, with Lucia relaying information via message. Captain Sursha is willing to bring the Starkissed crew aboard, but only if they’ve been thoroughly searched. Elbows Eddi launches the skiff to carry the crew, while Gwen simply carries one over by hand. Captain Shira is the last to leave and tells Victoria she is welcome to sink the ship. The wizard proceeds to blast it with lightning bolts.

After some questioning, the Starkissed’s crew is settled in the cargo hold of Tyalee’s Whim. There’s some tension between Shira Harbuck and her crew, as she had kept them in the dark about the cockatrices until the creatures broke loose. The ship’s rations are stretched just a little bit to accommodate the extra mouths, but there’s enough to go around.

As night settles onto the ship, Lucia slips out of her room. She has spent the voyage so far in her elderly guise, but now transforms into her younger appearance. She quietly slips into the quarters of Gyles the halfling cook and gently wakes him. She casts a suggestion spell telling him this is all a dream.

Lucia proceeds to make out with him for a while, then casts hag’s seasoning on him to make him perpetually delicious to vermin and other creatures, as punishment for accusing her of being a jinx earlier. She tries to cast sleep on him, but when that fails she simply hits him with hold person and takes her leave. She slips past Udrexa, who is now up on the main deck doing exercises, and returns to her room.

In the Love Stool’s room, Emeq is relaxing in bed with Audrahni and Sondra, enjoying the afterglow of their evening escapades. But a strange sense of unease befalls him, just before a hideous purple-skinned beast manifests in the corner of the cabin. It snarls with a moth full of fanged teeth.

Lucia hears the growl and goes to investigate. She blushes at the sight of Audrahni’s sash tied around the doorknob, then opens it excitedly to see what all the commotion is. The creature, whose gaze has been fixed on Emeq, sniffs the air and whips its head around to glare at her. Lucia attempts to afflict it with rigor mortis, but the beast resists her spell.

Victoria stumbles up right behind Lucia to investigate. “Hey guys, what’s going on—whoa?”

The creature’s alien gaze flits over to Victoria. She doesn’t recognize the monster, but it looks like it has bones. She casts a potent bone shatter, causing a cracking sound. But the beast seems to have plenty of fight left in it.

Emeq leaps out of bed wearing nothing but his amulet of natural armor. After the incident at the Gryphine Hotel, the Love Stool has taken to keeping their weapons near to hand at night. Emeg grabs his rapiers and steps forward to stab the creature.

Sondra and Audrahni also scramble out of bed and grab their weapons. Sondra is shrieking and jabbing wildly with her dagger of venom. Audrahni slashes the monster with her bladed scarf. The purple beast, however, doesn’t seem to notice her or Sondra, focusing instead on Emeq, Lucia, and Victoria.

The monster lunges forward to bite Emeq with its fangs and rend him with its claws. But just as one of the claws begins to tear a potentially lethal gash across his red skin, time seems to wind backwards. Given another chance, Emeq is able to parry the claw attack but is not quite fast enough to dodge the bite. He is in rough shape, despite this strange twist of fate.

Gwen lumbers out into the hall, sees the monster attacking the naked Love Stool, and calls upon the fury of the heavens. A lightning bolt zaps the alien monster, which by this point is looking worse for wear.

Lucia uses healing hex and channel positive energy to treat Emeq’s wounds. She asks Rita about the monster and is told only that it’s a nasty thing and she should kill it.

Victoria empowers a snowball, but is so flustered at the sight of Emeq’s nudity that her aim is off. The snowball smacks it against the cabin wall. The Love Stool gasps in shock as they are spattered with snow flecks.

Emeq stabs the monster again with his main rapier, but the creature parries his other sword with its long prehensile tongue. Sondra’s hands are shaking too much to land a blow. Audrahni attempts to aid everyone else in attacking.

Despite its wounds, the monster keeps up its attacks, landing another nasty claw strike against Emeq that badly wounds the ifrit again. It also resists Gwen’s next lightning bolt, but is in dire shape itself.

Elbows Eddi stumbles out of the crew quarters in pajamas with a short sword in hand. He gasps in shock at the brutal scene. Shira Harbuck dashes up from the cargo hold wearing a tunic and armed with a makeshift clubs. She likewise gapes in shock. The room and hallways are too crowded for them to move in and assist.

Lucia channels positive energy, dumping as much as possible into Emeq to seal his wound. Rita rushes in and bites the creature.

Victoria curses the bat’s bloodlust. She pulls out her rod of empowering and blasts the monster with a carefully angled flurry of snowballs. The monster is battered by the volley of magical snowballs and its body falls to the ground. It twitches for a moment and then lies still.

“Put a towel on, for gods’ sake!” Victoria immediate calls out to Emeq. She turns around, face beet red.

Audrahni quickly tosses Emeq’s cloak to Sondra, wraps Emeq’s waist with her sash, and then puts his tunic on herself before grabbing for other clothing.

Lucia asks Victoria if she has ever seen a man nude before. Victoria curls up in a corner and asks the halfling to shut up. Lucia offers to have “the talk” with her. Emeq, still wearing just the sash, walks over and thanks her for her help. Victoria tries to calm down.

Sursha and Udrexa arrive from above deck and are shocked at the site of the dead monster. Sursha immediately accuses Shira of having somehow brought this creature onto her ship. The two start to argue. Victoria tries to separate them.

Lucia takes a long look at the body. She identifies it as an entity known as a hound of Tindalos, an otherworldly predator from beyond the bounds of know reality. They usually only appear on the Material Plane when summoned by reckless spellcasters. However, they have been know to pursue time travelers and other temporally displaced individuals.

The halfling witch recalls Thybidos’ words that the five of them were “out of time.” She also remembers how the creature ignored Sondra and Audrahni. She has a sudden realization. “He wasn’t talking about us being out of time with Alaznist… Was he talking about us messing with time? Being outside of it sometimes?”

Lucia notes that she saw the creature strike Emeq two different ways. Emeq does not know how he could have done this, as he is no spellcaster. Lucia admits that it has happened before for her as well, but she has no idea how it works either. The same thing also happened for Gwen during the battle with the wraiths in the forgotten sepulchers.

Victoria notes that there are things happening that shouldn’t be happening. The shared dream the other night should not have affected her while she was under the keep watch spell, yet it did. She believes there is powerful magic at work.

Lucia also remembers the visions of the future that they had when they ate the qlippoth egg.

Emeq turns to Audrahni, recalling her words the other day that she felt as if she hadn’t seen him and Sondra in a long time. Audrahni admits that she’s had similar feelings like that before, just passing sensations.

Lucia notes that the hound of Tindalos hasn’t vanished, meaning it wasn’t summoned. Shira Harbuck has her crew haul the body up onto the deck to dump overboard. First, though, Lucia harvests it for any valuable parts.

3 Neth, 4743

The next morning, Emeq slowly notices another strange discrepancy. Since the Love Stool became a thing, Audrahni had preferred to sit to his left and Sondra to his right. But somehow during the night, they switched positions and are now consistently sitting on opposite sides to before. When questioned, they insist that those have always been their preferred seats.

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The Degradation of Thybidos
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 8

Fireday, 30 Lamashan, 4743

The adventurers Gwenllian the human druid, Lucia Craft the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, and Victoria the human wizard continue delving into the Forgotten Sepulchers of Hollow Mountains. Having opened the final slab in the central chamber, they follow a winding corridor that ends in an iron door. Udrexa insists on opening the door herself, using her crowbar for leverage on the sticky handle.

The chamber beyond contains five alcoves that hold exquisite portraits of five imperious figures. The first portrait depicted a scowling elderly man trapped in an endless maze watched over by a demonic minotaur figure. Victoria, Lucia, Udrexa, and Audrahni put their heads together to decipher it. They recognize the man as Alderpash, the first Runelord of Wrath, who mysteriously vanished from the history books. The minotaur creature they identify as the demon lord Baphomet. The maze they determine is the Ivory Labyrinth, Baphomet’s realm in the Abyss from which no prisoner has ever escaped.

The next portrait shows a handsome man with waist-length blond hair and heterochromatic eyes (one white, one black). He is depicted on his knees, clutching his head as blood runs from his eyes and gaping mouth. Standing over his shoulder is Runelord Xanderghul, ribbons of eldritch magic extending from his fingers to bore into the man’s soul. They identify the man as Angothane, the second Runelord of Wrath. They remember that he was killed in some sort of schism among the Runelords.

The third portrait depicts what can only be Runelord Runelord Xiren, a thin woman with haunted eyes and dressed in a flowing gown. She is being beheaded by Runelord Thybidos, who is slashing through her through with a blade made of force.

The fourth portrait shows Thybidos twisted in agony as whip-like tendrils of fire lash through his shoulders, hips, and neck, severing his body into six parts. The tendrils of fire extend out
of this alcove along the walls to the outstretched hand of Runelord Alaznist’s portrait in the next alcove. She is depicted in her full glory, perched atop the Irespan as it emerges from Hollow Mountain, with an army of her followers clamoring for her attention below.

Lucia notes that all the Runelords of Wrath seem like unpleasant people. Victoria notes the difference in how their wielded the same magic: Thybidos was more subtle, while Alaznist uses overwhelming force.

Audrahni speaks up, noting that she is something of an expert on crypts — a “cryptographer” if you will — and this sepulcher is still missing a key component: the body. Udrexa searches the room and finds a secret door behind Thybidos’ portrait.

As she opens it, there is a flicker of movement to their left. The depiction of Xiren steps out of her portrait and into the real world, taking on a stone-like appearance. She holds her head in one hand and a stone ranseur in the other.

Victoria recognizes the creature as a type of cephalophore, a stone guardian The wizard recalls that cephalophores are dangerous to strike with weapons because of how tough their stone skin is. The creature attacks the nearest target, Audrahni.

Udrexa rushes to join the fray and unleashes a flurry of blows with fist and feet. Punching stone is as hard on fists as it is on swords, so the monk suffers even as she dishes out punishment.

Gwen is disgusted to learn that the creature is resistant to magic. Lucia uses an earth tremor to damage and slow the creature while getting around its spell resistance. Ultimately, Victoria manages to destroy it with a lightning bolt. Udrexa is disappointed to learn the statue has nothing of value and chucks its head at the portrait it exited.

After healing up, the party follows a long, winding path before reaching an open shaft that rises up 30 feet to a room above. The shaft’s walls are studded with rough cones of red, yellow, or green glass that could be used as hand- and foot-holds for a climb.

Udrexa looks closely and realizes that the yellow and green handholds are triggers for a trap. Only the red ones are safe. She climbs to the top and throws a rope down for the others. While the rest of the party climbs up, Victoria uses dimensional slide to skip to the top.

They come across a circular pit separating them from another round room filled with pillars. Victoria dimensional slides over to it. Lucia tries to jump but doesn’t quite make it and bounces up but not high enough. Udrexa makes the jump. Gwen starts to climb. Adrahni falls to the ground.

Victoria and Udrexa are attacked by tentacled monstrosities, venexion qlippoths from the Kingdom of New Flesh. One qlippoth grabs hold of Victoria and tries to pin her to the ground. She dimensional slides away.

Lucia tries to climb up but can’t manage it. Neither can Gwen. Audrahni reaches the top and is immediately grabbed. Udrexa proves difficult for the tentacles to hit and even harder to grab. She lays into the venexion that had grabbed Victoria.

The wizard blasts the creature with glitterdust, temporarily blinding it. The two venexions start complaining telepathically about being set upon by “daring doxies” and the party starts trading barbs with the foppish monsters. Lucia continues to give fortune to Audrahni, while Gwen climbs up and unleashes a flaming sphere

Udrexa beats one of the monsters to death, and Victoria zaps the other with a lightning bolt.

After healing up, the party presses on, now feeling rather worn out. They make their way to a large domed chamber with a fresco of a six-headed hydra on the floor, with all six heads defaced. Udrexa notices a faint hissing noise and the scent of something burning. They realize there is a haunt in the room. Rita is sent forth to provoke it and a ghostly six headed hydra manifests. It breathes beams of fire at everyone. Rita delivers a healing hex, and then Victoria blasts it with a flurry of snowballs, which dissipates it. As the ghostly hydra fades, so to do the iron bars that had blocked the passage to the west.

Continuing along the passage, they arrive at the final chamber. Hear, the mummified body of Thybidos is chained in six pieces to a spiked throne as two statues with skulls for heads jab his body with ranseurs. After each thrust, his flesh heals just before another strike is made. Thybidos looks out imploringly at them with eyes that are terribly wet and alive.

When the statues notice the party, their skull-like heads detach from their bodies, sprouting a pair of wings and spider-like bodies. Victoria recognizes them as Thassilonian ivory sentinels, resistant to many forms of magic. One of the creatures does a fly-by attack on Gwen, while the other lets out a disorienting shriek that confuses Lucia and Rita.

Gwen summons forth her shillelagh and goes to town against the skulls, flanking with Udrexa. Both of them suffer poison from the skulls spider legs, which gradually saps their health. Still, this doesn’t stop the constructs from being destroyed, with help from Victoria and Audrahni.

With Udrexa and Gwen on their last legs, Lucia recommends that the party flee at the first sign of danger from Thybidos.

Victoria steps forward, holding up an abyssal runestone and appealing to the dead runelord. She is suddenly stricken with a flash of pain. With the pain comes a vision. Victoria realizes Runelord Thybidos wants only the blessing of death, but Alaznist’s curse runs deep. Before he can be released from undeath, Thybidos must do something Alaznist believed he could never do—apologize, in person, to Xiren, the runelord he slew to take position as Runelord of Wrath.

“Bring… me… Xiren…” he says in a rasping voice.

Recovering her composure, Victoria promises to provide the remains but first she has questions. She holds up the Abyssal runestone.

The corpse speaks again: “Alaznist… walks again… while I remain in chains… You have… endured the ordeal… but you do not serve… you must destroy… her… before she… destroys you… Passing the Gauntlet… has won you Wrath’s favor… but that will not hide you… from Alaznist for long…"

Thybidos looks at Victoria, Lucia, Udrexa, and Gwen. “You… are.. out… of time…”

Victoria presses for more information, and Thybidos says “Bring… me… Xiren…”

Lucia decides to just present him with the skull. Thybidos sighs and whispers “Xiren… I am… sorry…”

An instant later, his remains crumble to dust. The passing of his wrathful soul sends a spiritual ripple of psychic energy through all of Hollow Mountain. There is no corresponding echo, and they are left with the sense that there is now no Runelord of Wrath left in the fortress.

Victoria is frustrated that she didn’t have a chance to question Thybidos further, and worries what she will have to say to Runelord Sorshen. Meanwhile, Udrexa searches the room and finds a hidden cash of magic items stowed behind a hidden panel in Thybidos’ throne.

The adventurers slowly make their way back out of the Forgotten Sepulchers and walk back through the rain to Kelhuud’s base camp. It is an especially tough trek for Gwen and Udrexa, still ravaged by poison. They bed down under Lucia’s care.

Starday, 31 Lamashan, 4743

After an uneventful night, Lucia uses lesser restoration to treat the lingering poison affects to restore Gwen and Udrexa. The party decides to complete their mission to shut down the portal in the Forges of Wrath.

Following Kelhuud’s directions, they travel ten miles through the forest. The rain has been reduced to an intermittent mist, that drifts in and out as they travel though the woods. After a few hours, they arrive at a clearing with a large stone structure—the Bloodstone Bunker, entrance to the Forges of Wrath.

Outside the bunker, they find the remains of a campsite. Gwen investigates and determined that six or so humans camped here for about a week, but no one has been here for at least a day. There are no tracks leading away from the camp.

Udrexa finds a scrap of parchment on which is written a strange phrase. She realizes that it is Thassilonian, written out phonetically in the Common tongue so that someone who does not read Thassilonian could read it aloud. It says: “Open for the glory of Alaznist.”

Speaking it aloud causes a dark pillar on the side of the bunker to retract, revealing an entrance. Within, they find a shaft leading 100 feet down. Broken scaffolding for what might have been a staircase lines the shaft, while a rope leading down has been secured nearby. There is also another dark pillar on the west side of the room, seemingly leading to the rest of the bunker. The walls are decorated with images of crab-like qlippoths sacrificing humans while the qlippoth lord Yamasoth looks on like a entactled sun.

At Victoria’s invitation, Udrexa recites the phrase to lower that pillar as well. The circular room beyond is lined with ruined weapon racks that don’t appear to contain anything valuable. Another pillar door lies on the other side of the room.

As Udrexa walks towards the door, there is another flash of light and a horrible worm creature appears in the room. Victoria recognizes it as an aberration called a grimslake, native to the Abyss. The wizard uses create pit to drop it into an extradimensional hole. Gwen starts calling lightning onto it. Udrexa prepares for it to emerge, and Lucia readies its crossbow.

With its creepy caterpillar legs, it crawls up the sheer side of the pit and lunges at Udrexa. The monk gets a good hit in, but Lucia’s crossbow bolt bounces off. Gwen continues to blast it with lightning, and Victoria traps it within a watery aqueous orb, allowing the druid to finish it off.

Investigating the final room, they see that it is decorated with images of humans blissfully committing suicide. A skeleton lies on the floor, apparently having jabbed a sinister looking falcata between it ribs. The party salvages the falcata and heads back to the 100-foot shaft. They begin the descent, with Victoria using feather fall to drop down ahead of the others.

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