Return of the Runelords

When Worms Fly
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 7

Fireday, 30 Lamashan. 4743

The adventurers Gwen the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, and Victoria the human wizard have been transported to the entrance to the Forgotten Sepulchers. The entrance features a blue marble statue of the dead Runelord Thybidos which has been sliced into six pieces — head, arms, legs, and torso — suspended magically in place.

The walls are inscribed with elaborate Thassilonian insults denouncing the dead Runelords. When the adventurers speak his name aloud, a stone pillar at the far end of the chamber descends into the ground, revealing a much larger room.

The vast chamber has a large wrap-around balcony with six slabs of stone built into the walls. The décor features Thybidos humiliated again and again by Alaznist. Audrahni doesn’t like the place, warning that the tomb seems almost designed to create undead.

At the far end of the room is a fane dedicated to the concept of Wrath. The adventurers determine that someone who drinks from the shrine’s fountain will gain the one-time ability to cast a destructive spell like fireball or lightning bolt. Lucia and Victoria drink from the pool, while everyone else collects the water in a bottle, wary of potential side effects.

The adventurers find a sneering epitaph for Thybidos, which Victoria begins to read aloud for the group. When she speaks the word “betrayed,” they discover that the slabs lining the walls of the large chamber retract when certain words are spoken aloud. They accidentally release a monstrous creature that is made up of a mass of writhing worms assembled into a humanoid shape. Lucia recognizes it as a worm that walks, created when the soul of an evil wizard infects the corpse worms as they devour his body.

The creature was once a Thassilonian wizard named Zerrund and has gone mad after thousands of years of being sealed away. He flies around the chamber blasting at the party with spells, and proves very resistant to many forms of attack. He seems to have trouble casting spells, and occasionally lashes out with a wormy fist.

Udrexa is grossed out by the abomination and has trouble reaching it as it flies about. The party runs low on spells as they try to hurt the monster. They realize it is resistant against targeted magic but vulnerable to area of effect spells. Gwen and Victoria summon up sleet and ice storms, which accidentally catch Audrahni in the blast.

Victoria draws upon her arcane exploits to counter a potentially lethal scorching ray that Zerrund sends her way. Lucia calls upon the power of the wrathful pool to blast it with a red lightning bolt, badly wounding it. Victoria dispels the creature’s fly spell, sending it tumbling to the ground where it discorporates into a mass of writhing worms. A disgusted Udrexa finishes it off with alchemist fire.

Having been worn out by the fight, the party decides to head back to their basecamp in the forest, trudging through a rainstorm in the middle of the night to get there. They have to set up their tent in the rain. Once they are under shelter, they strip out of their soaking clothes and try to dry off. Audrahni, who hates the damp and the cold, is especially miserable.

They sleep in to mid morning before they are rested. Victoria uses prestidigitation to dry off their clothes and gear. There’s still a steady drizzle outside, so they are quite damp by the time they return to the Forgotten Sepulchers.

Lucia uses witchcraft to reassemble Zerrund’s human body and then uses the speak with dead spell to question him. He does not know much about the tomb complex, as he was sealed away with a chunk of wormy flesh from Thybidos’ bodies.

When they ask him who was the Runelord who preceded Thybidos, the corpses gasps out “Xiren.” That causes another slab in the chamber to open up. Inside is just a skull with some bone fragments, apparently the remains of Runelord Xiren.

Udrexa, meanwhile, plunders a gemstone from the alcove that Zerrund was sealed into.

The party carefully studies the remaining slabs, which have symbols carved onto them. They deduce that the slab with gemstone-sized depressions in it is the one that will lead them to Thybidos. Finally, Victoria begins to read the epitaph inscription on the slab aloud. When she reaches the word “beast,” another slab descends.

Udrexa leads the way as the party investigates, and sees a gemstone floating in the center of the room. When she approaches it, a big snake monster called a fiendish death worm suddenly appears in the room and attacks. Udrexa pounds on it while Audrahni sets up a flank. Fearful that it is another deadly threat, Victoria summons a celestial aurochs to attack it but by that point the creature is almost dead. Udrexa pockets the gem.

Victoria reads further in the epitaph. When she speaks the word “loyalty” aloud, it another slab retracts. Victoria and Udrexa find a winding hall of sarcophagi. The last sarcophagus lies open, with a mummified warrior woman within. A gemstone can be seen clenched in her mouth. She telepathically questions them about their purpose. Victoria and Udrexa claim they are here to help free Thybidos. The dead woman opens her mouth so they can take the gem.

When Victoria reads the last line of the epitaph and speaks the word “beloved” another slab retracts. Beyond is some sort of reliquary where six funerary urns with red gems are placed on pedestals behind an iron grate. The party identifies the only valuable grate and Victoria goes to get it. Tampering with the urn provokes the wraiths in the ash pit on the far side of the room.

The incorporeal creatures are difficult for most of the party to harm, but they concentrate their attacks on Gwen and Audrahni, the two people without mage armor. Gwen experiences a strange moment where time seems to flow backwards, allowing her to dodge an attack that had seemed to connect with her. Lucia, meanwhile, continuously channels positive energy until the wraiths are blasted away.

Having gathered the gems, the adventurers return to the final slab and places the stones in their respective slots. There is a “click” and the door descends into the ground. The adventurers press on into a darkened hallway.

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Running the Gauntlet
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 6

Oathday, 29 Lamashan, 4743

As the rest of the party settles in to rest, the prisoner Damil Russo chats up Victoria the human wizard for a little while, trying to build a rapport with her. She plays along, but doesn’t give out any additional information.

Once folks are rested, the adventurers discuss what to do with their captive and agree to let him go after he promises not to oppose them again and try to persuade his “love stool” to do the same.

Lucia the halfling witch heads back out to the surface to commune with Rita under the light of the moon. She receives access to new magics, but Rita warns that these are no cure for her curse, and that they could be withdrawn at any time if she fails to do as her patron wishes.

Fireday, 30 Lamashan, 4743

When she returns to the group, the others are amazed at the change that has befallen the halfling. She looks a good 40-50 years younger and seems more spry as well. She explains that this is the result of two spells she was granted by her patron, which let her take the likeness of an earlier age and which lessen the physical burden of her aging. It is no cure for the curse, however.

Victoria also takes this opportunity to reveal the secret of her parentage. Her mother was a former adventurer of sorts who was killed and resurrected in a cloned body of the Runelord Sorshen, making Victoria a daughter of Sorshen by proxy. Victoria also explains that she has been using several aliases to hide her identity, as there are places where her strange form of spellcasting is not welcome.

Udrexa the tiefling monk appreciates that everyone trusts each other enough to be willing to share these details. She pulls them all into a big hug.

Lucia notes that there were a couple of chambers that they had not yet explored, so they backtrack to investigate. Both appear to be reading rooms, but the second room also has a pair of skeletons on the ground, leather cords around their necks. Two choking shades rise up from the bodies to attack the group.

One tries to climb inside of Audrahni’s mouth, but she coughs it out. The other seeps into Gwenllian’s lungs, but the human druid turns into an air elemental. Lucia blasts the shades with positive energy, Victoria hits one with a magic missile, and Udrexa punches one to death. The remaining ghost seeps inside Rita and starts attacking her from within, but gets obliterated by positive energy. At Audrahni’s urging, the party removes the leather cords from the skeleton’s necks, which should set the spirits to rest.

With the entire Forsaken Mezzanine explored, the party heads to the secret entrance to the Gauntlet of Fury. A spiral staircase takes them down to a long hallway lined with scowled statues of warriors. Inscribed over the arch of the hallway is a message: “Those who pass beyond, aspirant or doomed, may endure the Gauntlet to earn Wrath’s blessing.”

Victoria and Lucia identify a magical trap midway down the hallway that could fill much of the chamber with fire. Udrexa takes her time to disable the trap and they proceed to the bronze doors at the western end of the hall. The doors swing open at the lightest touch, but shut and lock behind them once they pass through.

The chamber beyond is mostly filled by a pool of water, with a narrow walkway around it. In the center of the pool is a platform with a hideous stone monster on it, clutching a gem in its mouth. The platform can be accessed by slippery, one-foot wide walkways just beneath the water.

To the southeast is another set of bronze doors that appear to have been forced open by someone or some thing that smashed its way into the room. To the northeast is a closed iron slab that bears the warped visage of Yamasoth the qlippoth lord—a tentacle circle with a fanged maw and an eye at the center of the mouth. The design on the iron slab has an empty indentation where his central eye would be.

The monstrous statue appears to have once been alive and then turned to stone. As she inspects it with detect magic, Victoria feels a sudden compulsion to retrieve the gem from the statue’s mouth. She mentions this thought and starts to make her way to one of the slippery walkways to the statue. Udrexa beats her to the punch, though, nimbly racing up to the statue to pluck out the gem.

At that point, the statue turns back into flesh. A writhing chaos beast attacks Udrexa, but has trouble landing a blow against the monk. Victoria scrambles up the side of the wall with spider climbing. Lucia grants fortune to Udrexa. Gwen calls lightning, but has some trouble getting through the creature’s spell resistance.

Seeing what Gwen is doing, Lucia cuts herself and blasts the creature with a fountain of blood, knocking it into the water. It swims towards her, but can’t quite haul itself ashore. Gwen calls down lightning again and this time fries it.

The party places the gem in the depression of the iron door, but it just shatters. Udrexa is distraught at the loss of this valuable item.

After determining that none of the other gems they collected so far would fit in the door, the party decides to explore the southeast corridor. There, they find the remains of constructs that appear to have sprouted from the heads of several statues and been destroyed by whoever passed through here.

On the other side of the corridor, they arrive at a balcony overlooking some sort of fighting pit. There are bronze bars across the balcony preventing them from entering the pit. On the balcony, sitting on a plinth, is a large red gem of the size and shape to fit in the iron door. The party is suspicious that whoever came through here didn’t take the gem, but after determining it isn’t trapped, they head back to the iron door.

They place the gem into the slot on Yamasoth’s vile visage, and it briefly seems to turn into a real eye. The face closes it’s mouth, “blinking” and the iron door slides into the floor.

The party continues down a narrow, rubble-strewn corridor. They find a dead body of a red-headed man with wild hair, and a brawny build. His longsword is broken, but he is still dressed in magical hide armor. He has suffered a variety of piercing and slashing wounds, and has been dead for several days.

The party moves on, arriving at a chamber with a pool of water in its center. Walkways on either side of the pool lead to two doors, while inscribed on the far wall between the doors is a design that looks vaguely like the portal the party saw in the Underflume below Roderick’s Cove. It is inert.

The northern door has a silver inlay showing a wizard casting a burning spell, and bears the inscription “Scald me with your wrathful magic.” The southern door shows a soldier charging into battle with a ranseur, and has the message “Scour me with your furious arms.”

Victoria blasts the northern door with ray of frost, while Udrexa hits the southern door with her three section staff. Both slide into the ground.

They explore the northern passageway first. Udrexa creeps on ahead, quiet as a shadow. She reaches a large, round room with a glowing blue glass orb to the north and three alcoves to the south. The larger southern alcove is sealed off from the rest of the room by narrow bronze bars. Within the alcove is another glowing blue orb, and a haggard looking man with a tentacle coming out of his hunched back. In the smaller alcoves to either side, Udrexa observes masses of twitching flesh and flailing arms.

After consulting with the others, the party decides to hold off investigating the chamber and instead checks out the southern passage. It leads to a large chamber scarred with the damage and detritus of countless battles—although they quickly realize that is merely an illusion for aesthetic value. To the south is a large iron slab with a glowing raseur symbol on it. To the north is a half-ruined passageway.

The adventurers make their way towards the norther corridor, when suddenly a stone slab closes off the exit out of the chamber. A booming voice announces “ROUND ONE: FIGHT!” A second glowing ranseur symbol appears on the iron slab to the south. Four wrathspawn armed with ranseurs come charging out of the northern corridor. The adventurers — mostly Udrexa — make short work of them.

Before they can catch their breath, the voice announces “ROUND TWO: FIGHT!” A trio of spider monsters come crawling out of the northern corridor. Victoria hits one with scorching ray and they learn the creatures are afraid of fire. The three arachnids take longer to bring down, biting and clawing and even poisoning Victoria, but are ultimately destroyed.

ROUND THREE: FIGHT!” announces the voice. third glowing ranseur appears on the slab and then a creature begins tearing its way out through the slab. The adventurers have time to reposition themselves.

Bursting forth is a very angry big mama spider and two more of her offspring. Victoria uses dimensional slide to escape the big one, while the little ones fight Udrexa and Lucia. Victoria ultimately kills big mama spider with bone shatter, drenching Gwen in its goo. Once the last spiderlings are killed as well, all of the monster bodies vanish, revealing them to be summoned creatures.

The booming voice announces "WELL DONE. EMERGE, SOLDIER, AND ACCEPT YOUR REWARD!”

A single Abyssal runestone appears, floating in the air 4 feet off the ground in the middle of the room. It is a circular stone etched with the seven-armed sigil of the Abyss. After determining it’s not a trap, Victoria quickly pockets it. The runestone can allow a spellcaster to cast planar binding spells by expending an equivalent level spell slot. It can also be consumed by a chaotic evil outsider to make it more powerful. And it can be used in certain occult rituals as a component to quicken afflictions associated with the Abyss.

The stone slab sealing off the entrance retracts. After everyone is healed up by Lucia, the party decides to investigate the wizard’s trial to the north. They agree to try to question the tentacled man, who is undoubtedly the murderer Maga.

As they step into the room, Maga lurches to his feet to shout that they should not touch the blue orb. Meanwhile, the two twitching masses of flesh surge out of their alcoves to attack. Luca and Victoria notice that there are many hands jutting out of the fleshy, putrid lumps, fingers reflexively miming the somatic gestures of arcane spellcasting.

The lumps surge onto Udrexa, Lucia, and Victoria, gnawing, tearing, and spewing digestive acids. Victoria flees to the ceiling and the party fans out on the ground. Audrahni warns that these creatures aren’t oozes or aberrations, but actually a form of undead. The wizard blasts the area with a flurry of snowballs, while Lucia blasts them with positive energy. Gwen and Audrahni get nauseated by the monstrosities, but the party is able to obliterate them under the weight of their spells and fists.

Maga Szuul then begs the party to let him out, promising to provide information once free. Victoria demands that he offer information now. After some back and forth, he grudgingly explains that he was here on a mission for the Cult of Yamasoth, to obtain an Abyssal runestone. He and his bodyguards entered through the Forges of Wrath, where he refocused a portal there to bring them to the Gauntlet. He was the only one to survive to the wizard’s challenge, but discovered that alchemical extracts don’t count as spellcasting for the purposes of the trial. He has been stuck here for days, and has run out of food and water. He promises more information if released.

They agree to help. Per his directions, Udrexa touches the blue orb and is teleported into the chamber with Maga. She immediately gets as far away as she can from the corner he had been using as a toilet.

A glowing wrath rune appears on the northern wall. Victoria blasts it with a ray of frost. The rune disappears, replaced with runes of gluttony and pride. Victoria casts vanish. The runes disappear and are replaced with runes of lust, greed, and wrath. Lucia casts ill omen. The lust and greed runes disappear, and only the wrath rune remains. Victoria casts ray of frost again.

The final symbol disappears and the booming voice announces “WELL DONE. EMERGE, APPRENTICE, AND ACCEPT YOUR REWARD!” A single Abyssal runestone appears, floating in the air four feet off the ground in the middle of the room.

Maga touches the blue orb in the southern alcove and teleports back into the main chamber. Udrexa immediately follows him.

Maga thanks the party, and reveals more information about the Cult of Yamasoth’s plans. He explains that the cult is preparing some sort of nasty contagion called the “polymorph plague,” which the Abyssal runestone was supposed to help them mass produce the plague to spread across Varisia. Maga says the cult is located in the Gecko, one of the Irespan pilings in Magnimar. He says that he is reconsidering his membership in the group. The adventurers allow him to leave.

Lucia heals up the party using a wand of cure light wounds. They are left trying to decide where to go next. The Abyssal runestone was for Sorshen’s task, to speak with the dead Runelord Thybidos in the Forgotten Sepulchers. However, they also have a mission from the Sihedron Council to shut down the portal hub in the Forges of Wrath. Additionally, they were ask to look for what information they could find about Runelord Alaznist’s plans for her return.

As they step back into the chamber with the pool and the portal-like design on the wall, the portal comes to life, creating a swirling field of gray mist. The adventurers realize that they have no information on where this portal could lead. Lucia does recall reading that those champions who passed the ordeal of the Gauntlet were taken to a reception room.

Though Victoria thinks it is unwise, the party decides to venture through the portal. As they pass through, they hear a raspy, male voice in their minds: “Seek me… free me… become my
wrathful champions…”

They arrive in a rubble strewn room. A hallway off to the left leads to the surface, where they can faintly hear the drizzle of rain. To the east, a second hallway ends at a circular pillar that blocks entrance to a large room beyond save for narrow gaps to either side. In the middle of the room is a blue marble statue of a thin man with a cruel face and long hair fringing a bald pate, his arms outstretched. The statue is somehow standing upright despite one-inch-wide gaps that separate it into six components—a head, two arms, two legs, and a torso. A plaque at the statue’s base bears a single word: “Thybidos.”

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The Forsaken Mezzanine
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 5

29 Lamashan, 4743

After a strange night in the shadow of Hollow Mountain, Gwenllian the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk and Victoria the human wizard prepare to travel to the shrine that the Peacock Spirit Cultists were seen entering. The ranger Kelhuud gives them directions and warns that a storm is coming. Audrahni gets out her umbrella.

After trudging through the downpour, the party arrives at the shrine. The building is made of pitted yellow stone that bears carvings of a demonic merfolk with an eel for a body. Udrexa recognizes it as an obscure demon lord named Ibdurengian, who was slain by the god Aroden four thousand years ago.

Inside, the floor has an elaborate mosaic of a coiled serpent, its tail cut off by the far wall. Lucia recognizes it as the personal symbol of the dead Runelord Thybidos, who was killed by Alaznist when she usurped his title.

In the center of the room is a sacrificial altar coated with what looks like semi-congealed blood. Udrexa realizes it is not blood, but a type of living poison called scarlet bliss exuded by shrines to Ibdurengian. Audrahni notes that scarlet bliss is on her list of bad hallucinogens.

Per Udrexa’s warning, Victoria uses mage hand to dribble holy water over the altar. It burns away the poison. Once the scarlet bliss is gone, they can read a phrase on the altar that hints at the secret door Udrexa already found.

In the hidden room at the back of the chamber, the mosaic of the hydra’s tail continues, curling towards a statue of Ibdurengian in the southern part of the room. In the northern part of the room, there are four statues of other humanoid aquatic monsters with bright red gems for eyes. All four of those statues appear to be spattered with fresh gore.

Lucia quickly determines that the gore is not more scarlet bliss, but when the party tries to inspect more closely the gore springs to life. It is a fiendish ooze monster known as the Breath of Ibdurengian. Gwen blasts it with call lightning, but the electricity has no effect. The big red ooze slams into Udrexa, badly woulding her and leaving her coated in a nauseating residue. Aurahni and Rita hastily clean it off of her so she isn’t incapacitated.

Victoria realizes the creature is incredible volatile and could easily be set on fire, while being immune to fire damage. It is also resistant to many other forms of damage. Victoria summons a lantern archon to help fight the creature. With everyone piling on, the ooze is vanquished.

After scavenging the gems it was guarding, the adventurers inspect the statue of Ibdurengian and note scrape marks on the floor. They discover that it can be easily pushed aside to reveal a staircase leading down into darkness.

The staircase opens out onto a vast library chamber, lined with empty bookshelves. The books themselves have crumpled into dust over the years, which now coats most of the surfaces inside. Recent tracks through the dust can be easily seen.

Victoria casts invisibility on Udrexa and Lucia so that they can scout ahead. She also casts spider climbing on the halfling so that she can proceed along the high vaulted ceiling. The two of them carefully follow the tracks in the dust across the vast chamber. At the far end, hallways branch off to the north and south, with tracks going in both directions.

And at the end of the chamber is an alcove wit a massive iron desk, behind which is searched a rusty clockwork automaton. The construct has a strange slot in its chest and sits inter at the desk. It does not notice as Udrexa and Lucia continue down the south hallway.

They reach another intersection where they find the remains of what appears to have been a four-armed clockwork automaton, destroyed in a recent battle. Tracks lead into rooms to the west and east. The western room contains books and papers that were preserved against the ravages of time, but the place has been ransacked with books tossed everywhere. Udrexa and Lucia conclude that the cultists must have done this.

In the eastern room, there is a door leading further into the complex, but their attention is drawn to the desk where a handsome dark-haired man with a fencing scar is seated. He is engrossed in a book, every now and then taking notes. Lucia sends Rita back to fetch the others, and the two of them prepare to ambush the man.

At the bat’s insistence, Victoria, Gwen, and Audrahni make their way through the library halls as stealthily as they can. Audrahni slips in a dust pile and falls to the ground just a stone’s throw away from the automaton at the desk. It does not move and they warily proceed past it. Once the three of them are in the hall outside the eastern room, Udrexa and Lucia launch their surprise attack.

Lucia hexes the man with ill omen and Udrexa tries to incapacitate him with a stunning fist, but misses as he suddenly sits up. The man keeps his cool and rises to his feet, drawing not one, but two rapiers. He jabs Udrexa with a mithral blade. The rest of the party moves into the room to join the fray. Audrahni rushes over to brace the far door in case reinforcements come to his aid.

The fencer seems eager for a grand battle, but it is not to be. Victoria afflicts him with hideous laughter and he collapses to the ground. Udrexa proceeds to knock him unconscious. At Victoria’s direction, they strip him of his weapons, armor and clothing. Udrexa binds him up with manacles. Once he has been secured, Lucia wakes him up.

The man is Damil Russo, one of the three Peacock Spirit Cultists who journeyed to Hollow Mountain. They question him about his companions and his mission. He says he was traveling with Hira and Aliciette, and that they were seeking ancient lore here at the Forsaken Mezzanine. He is hopeful that his two ladies will rescue him.

While Damil is charming, Victoria concludes that he is parceling out half-truths while playing for time. She asks Udrexa to knock him out, which the tiefling cheerfully obliges. The women take a moment to appreciate Damil’s good looks, and then Victoria proposes using him as a hostage in negotiations with the other cultists. They have Audrahni, who is stronger than she looks, prop him up on a floating disk. Then they open the door to the next chamber.

Inside, they find that the dust has cleared away to make a small campsite where a collection of scavenged tomes have been piled up. A blond human woman with a whip greets them. She is Aliciette, and Victoria recognizes the sigil on her coat as the symbol of House Cardoso, exiled nobility who were driven from Andoren after the revolution for slave trading.

While Aliciette enters negotiations with the party, Lucia walks up on the ceiling and sweeps the room with detect magic, looking for Hira. She detects illusion magic which has already moved past her, heading for the door. Lucia proceeds to vomit blood all over the illusion.

“Ew! Gross!” shrieks the now very visible Hira Doss.

In the ensuing battle, the party struggles to try to kill or incapacitate the women before they can escape. Hira and Aliciette, meanwhile, attempt to reach Damil — who they both seem romantically attached to — but can’t quite pull off a rescue. Ultimately, the women use their viridian transcendence teleport ability to escape, leaving Damil as a prisoner.

Afterwards, the party takes some time to explore the rest of the complex and the few books that remain. Victoria investigates the books the cultists had scavenged and Audrahni stands guard over Damil.

Meanwhile, Udrexa, Lucia, and Gwen explore the southeast wing of the Forsaken Mezzanine. They are attacked by a room full of poltergeists, but with her growing powers Lucia is able to vaporize them with positive energy channeling. In the next chamber, they find a haunt left by a Thassilonian bureaucrat, still obsessively trying to organize his files.

After blasting that haunt away as well, Lucia casts comprehend languages and finishes sorting the files in order to lay the clerk’s spirit to rest. In so doing, she discovers a hidden entrance to the Gauntlet of Fury is located in the bureaucrat’s office. Rather than explore it, though, they move on to the northwest wing of the mezzanine.

They find a series of private reading rooms and discover a hidden door behind a creepy statue. After Udrexa unlocks it, they find a private reading room. This chamber has a handy haversack carrying moonstones and a dagger of venom. It also has a book-shaped object that Lucia realizes is some sort of clockwork key. With this discovery, they regroup with the others.

Victoria has found that the cultists were considering heading into the Gauntlet to acquire an abyssal runestone with which to consult the dead Runelord Thybidos. She has also found more directions to Thybidos’ location in the Forgotten Sepulchers.

They awake Damil Russo and question him some more. He trades information for pants, explaining that Hira and Aliciette were teleported back to a safe house in Magnimar they will abandon immediately. The viridian transcendence ability they used was granted to them by the high priestess of the cult, a blue-haired woman of Mwangi background who visited Magnimar to consult with Hira.

The adventurers realize that there might be multiple cult cells operating throughout Varisia. Damil insists that he knows nothing about Corstela’s Order of Resplendence in Roderic’s Cove. The adventurers march their shirtless, shoe-less prisoner up to the automaton they noticed earlier. Damil insists that it is inert.

When Victoria insert the clockwork cartridge into the slot in its chest, the automaton stirs and opens a secret door. It returns moments later with a tome that it hands to the wizard before shutting down. The object is a blessed book, a useful resource for any wizard. The party explores the secret room and finds more reference materials, as well as a manual of clay golem crafting.

With the Mezzanine now mostly explored, the adventurers decide he next step is the Gauntlet. But they will need to rest first to recuperate, so they take over the Peacock Spirit Cultists’ abandoned camp and settle in.

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Under the Mountain's Gaze
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 4

23 Lamashan, 4743

After getting their new mission from the Sihedron Council, the party — Emeq the ifrit fighter, Gwenllian the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, and Victoria the human wizard — makes preparations for the journey to Hollow Mountain.

Over lunch, Sondra prods the others about coming up with a team name, now that they are on the map of the Council. Several ideas are suggested: “Bad Bitches” (doesn’t apply to Emeq), “Covenant of the Cove” (a little clumsy for casual conversation), “Rune Saviors” (‘savior’ doesn’t seem the best fit), “Flower Pals” (not on theme), “Fire Monkeys,” (Victoria disapproves), “Runic Inquisition” (a maybe), “Scions of the Cove” (another maybe).

Audrahni pulls Emeq aside to ask him if he’d considered the dangers of Hollow Mountain and whether it might be better for her and especially Sondra to stay back in Magnimar. The elf is fine with either option, but wanted to make sure he’d considered it. Emeq notes that Magnimar has not exactly been safe. He knows that Audrahni knows how to look after herself, and he’s been starting to train Sondra to do the same. He thinks the trip will be an educational opportunity. Aurahni is persuaded by this and they both agree to look after Sondra during the trip.

Victoria, meanwhile, is reexamining the note the party obtained from the bugbear ninja Dith-Ka, which had a list of their names on it written in Varisian. She discovers that the note was treated with a secret page spell. Dispelling the magic reveals a longer note describing the party and where to find them, with the advice that the party may have been softened up by a gift of cigars. The note promises more work for Dith-Ka when Peacock Spirit cultists return from the “Forsaken Mezzanine.” Victoria recalls that the Mezzanine is a location within Hollow Mountain.

The adventurers get supplies loaded onto Tyalee’s Whim and Captain Sursha alerts the party that two other ships departed for Hollow Mountain in recent days. One, the Lordim Rider carried a group of hairy, brutish men to Old Man’s Launch, the same site where the party intends to go ashore. The thugs were seen killing the tow sailors who rowed them ashore, and the Lordim Rider fled back to Magnimar rather than even collect the bodies. The second ship, the Frijaya, was bound for Kalsgard in the far north, but dropped off three well-dressed fops at the island along the way.

As the party goes about their business, Udrexa is surreptitiously passed a note from an old acquaintance. She slips away from the others to meet with him in an alley off of Lost Lane, in the impoverished Rag End neighborhood. Its Orin Rasp, her old contact in the Night Scales, who reminds her that she still owes the thieves’ guild for the job she bailed out on.

Rasp wants to get the “inside scoop” of what the Sihedron Council is up to, but Udrexa is concerned that could put her friends in danger. Instead, she shares information about the security of the Sihedron Council vault. Rasp accepts this as a down payment on her debt, but warns that the Night Scales will find other ways to collect if she isn’t cooperative. As she leaves the meeting, Udrexa realizes she has kept her promise to keep the Sihedron Council’s mission for the party a secret.

The adventurers retire back to their rooms at the Gryphine for one more night on dry land. The hotel provides a sumptuous meal, by way of apology for last night’s unpleasantness. After the meal, Sondra and Audrahni invite Emeq back to their room, this time to do more than just cuddle. Victoria, meanwhile, places silent alarm spells on the main suite, but there are no surprise visitors that night.

24 Lamashan, 4743

The next morning, everyone rises early to get to the ship. Sondra is embarrassed at how noisy she was last night, but after some teasing Audrahni covers for her. The only one who seems to have noticed was Victoria, who swears to secrecy.

Boarding Tyalee’s Whim at the appropriate hour, they set out from Magnimar, on a course that follows a chain of islands north towards Rivenrake Isle and Hollow Mountain. It is a four day journey and the party tries to settle in.

The sailor Ghera, who Udrexa saved from being swept overboard on the trip down, gives her a bottle of mid-shelf whiskey by way of thanks. The tiefling proceeds to spend a large part of the trip in her cups.

That afternoon, the lookout spots several distant figures riding giant sea horses, who seem to be pacing the ship. Sursha figures that they are sea elves or gillmen from a settlement in the Thassilonian ruins below the water. Tyalee’s Whim is traveling far from regular trade routes, so the patrol is probably just keeping an eye on them. After about an hour, the riders disappear below the waves.

25 Lamashan, 4743

The next day, Emeq and Sondra are sparring on the main deck when a gust of wind knocks loose the ropes tying down one of the sails. The ropes hit Sondra in the face and knock her clean out. Lucia gets her revived and healed, but there’s still a huge bruise and swelling on her face.

After the situation has calmed down, Sondra seeks Lucia out to thank her for the healing spell. She also apologizes for how she used to avoid the halfling back in Roderic’s Cove, and promises to do what she can to help Lucia with her affliction.

Lucia’s opinion of Sondra quietly rises a few notches, and then rises a few more when Sondra says that she’s the “most normal person here” and asks for advice on the adventuring life. They sympathize about wanting to get involved in bigger, more exciting events than a simple life in a small town. Sondra gives Lucia a hug and promises to chat with her more often.

26 Lamashan, 4743

On the morning of the third day, the lookout spots a sail on the horizon. Captain Sursha watches the other ship on her spyglass and concludes that it is on an intercept course. Once they confirm that the vessel is flying the skulls and crossbones of a pirate, Victoria offers to fly over there and deliver some punishment. Sursha suggests she start with a shot across their bow.

Victoria flies out to with 450 feet of the vessel and then drops an ice storm onto the largest group of sailors on the main deck. The deluge of enormous balls of hail knocks half a dozen of them unconscious.

The pirate captain, an elven woman in a blue coat with wide-brimmed hat, uses some sort of navigational device to judge the distance out to Victoria. The captain snaps her fingers in frustration, a spark of electricity flaring off of them. She gives an order and the pirate ship starts to wheel around. It departs the area soon thereafter.

27 Lamashan, 4743

On the fourth day, the tension that’s been building in the crew as Tyalee’s Whim draws closer to the dreaded mountain. Crewmen Johan and Gyles the halfling get into a shouting match over perceived slights. Johan asks if Gyles wants to take a swing at him. Continuin her private feud, Lucia plants a suggestion on the halfling that he does indeed want to fight.

Gyles punches Johan in the crotch, but his knuckles crack against something hard. The other sailor says that he’s wise to the halfling’s tricks. Emeq intervenes at this point, eyes blazing with elemental fire, and intimidates the two men into backing down.

28 Lamashan, 4743

The morning of the fifth day, Tyalee’s Whim passes under the watchful gaze of the enormous face of Runelord Alaznist carved into the side of hollow mountain. Circling around to the west, the ship arrives at the secluded beach known as Old Man’s Launch. The adventurers disembark aboard a skiff.

The boat with the two dead sailors from the Lordim Rider is still there. Victoria invites a disgusted Sondra over to light the signal fire for Kelhuud. Lucia, meanwhile, uses speak with dead to question one of the bodies. They don’t learn much more than what they already knew, save that the leader of the six brutes who committed the murder is a hunchback named “Maga.”

Audrahni insists on burying the two men, and Victoria summons some small earth elementals to help dig the holes. Emeq then assists with filling the graves back in, using Audrahni’s portable shovel, “Vola.”

With the signal fire lit, the party begins to travel inland, following a trail that winds its way through the thick forest. After about ten minutes travel, they hear the sound of running water and emerge in a clearing overlooking a ravine with a river stretching through it. A large tree trunk extends across the gap as a makeshift bridge.

Udrexa impatiently steps onto the log, rousing two enormous insect monsters known as blightspawn. The buzzing of the creatures’ horrible wings inflicted a sense of torpor on most of the adventurers, with only Audrahni and Lucia unaffected.

Udrexa is caught out on the tree trunk, flanked by the man-sized bug monsters. They quickly begin to attack her and start to successfully latch on with huge, blood-raining proboscis. Emeq and Audrahni have trouble reaching the bugs with their melee weapons. They also discover that the aberrations are resistant to non-magical weapons.

Lucia tries to heal and buff Udrexa as best she can, and uses her magic to try to draw the monsters toward the edge of the ravine where the others can strike at them..Victoria tries to get away from the lethargic buzzing. Gwen calls down lightning and starts zapping them. Sondra gets a spare dagger from Audrahni and tosses it at one of the creatures, for minimal damage.

Eventually, Victoria recovers from the lethargy and recognizes the creatures as blightspawn. Realizing that they at least understand Aklo, she uses their intelligence against them by casting hideous laughter on one of them. The bug starts buzzing hilariously and drops down into the river below. Udrexa takes this opportunity to use her feather step ability to get away from the log. The other bug, badly wounded, flees into the forest.

Lucia does her best to patch up Udrexa, but the tiefling lost a lot of blood. Victoria summons up a floating disk for them both to ride on as the party continues to follow the trail deeper into the island. A short while later they reach a “T” intersection, branching east and west. A pile of stones points east.

Following the arrow, they arrive at a dead end clearing, where a human male leans against a tree, his sword drawn. He warns them that he has an arrow trained on them if they try any funny business. The adventurers learn this is Kelhuud, their guide, and tell him about their mission to Hollow Mountain.

He offers to show them the way to the Forges of Wrath, and warns that they are not the only adventurers on this part of the island. Maga and his five followers were last seen heading in the direction of the Forges of Wrath. And a trio of “fancy folk” were seen entering a strange shrine not too far from here.

Kelhuud allows the party to use his camp as a base, and reveals that the dead end to the clearing was a blind hiding his campsite. Also hidden from the party was another Kelhuud, this one armed with a bow. The two Kelhuuds insist they are a singular person and grow frustrated with anyone who claims otherwise.

The party spends the rest of the day resting, while Lucia tends to Udrexa. That night, Victoria and Emeq offer to help the Kelhuuds take watch. All day, Victoria has had a troubling sense that something is watching her. However, nothing ambushes her during her shift.

During the early morning hours, while Emeq is on his shift, the rest of the group awakens to find that he has gone. In his place is a strikingly beautiful dark-haired woman dressed in red and purple, carrying a double-bladed guisarme. Victoria and Lucia recognize her before she introduces herself as the infamous Runelord Sorshen.

“I am not your enemy,” she tells them, and warns that Alaznist has indeed woken and abandoned Hollow Mountain. Sorshen says they would both benefit from Alaznist’s defeat and offer to help them. She urges the party to obtain “an Abyssal runestone from the Gauntlet of Fury” and then bring it to the “Forlorn Sepulchers beyond the weeping dragons,” where they can question “old Thybidos,” Alaznist’s murdered predecessor. Once they have done this, Sorshen asks them to seek her out in Korvosa.

Victoria is absolutely terrified at the sight of Runelord Sorshen, who bears a striking resemblance to her. But before disappearing, the runelord gives her a friendly wink and Victoria feels a sense of relief wash over her.

Emeq, meanwhile, is doing his patrols around the encampment and senses a presence, but can’t see anything. The others bring him up to speed on the dream visitation when they awake the next morning.

29 Lamashan, 4743

Over breakfast, the party quizzes Kelhuud about the Forgotten Sepulchers and the Gauntlet of Fury. He knows nothing of the later, but the adventurers have a strange sense of where they need to go to find it. The Gauntlet is a location Kelhuud has heard of, but he does not know of an entrance to it.

Unable to follow up on Sorshen’s tip for the moment, the adventurers decide that they want to track down the three Peacock Spirit cultists first. They prepares to head west to the mysterious shrine the cultists entered several days ago and never emerged from.

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Rooms at the Gryphine
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 3

Oathday, 22 Lamashan, 4743

Having arrived in Magnimar at dawn and turned the Sword of Pride over to the Sihedron Council, the adventurers find themselves with a free day in town before their meeting with the full Council tomorrow.

Udrexa quietly splits off and makes her way down to the Underbridge District, a shadow-cloaked part of the city located directly under the broken bridge of the Irespan. She scopes out the Monastery of the Scarlet Sun, a white-walled compound that is by far the nicest building in town. Its bell tower contains not a bell, but a glowing red-orange orb of light that bathes the Underbridge in the colors of sunset during daylight hours. It seems pretty much the same as when she left it.

The tiefling uses her old route to sneak over the wall and then silently makes her way through the halls to the office of the headmistress, Belawara. She is disappointed to find that her old teacher is absent, and rather than poke through her files Udrexa turns to go. But she has been followed by an old rival of hers, a man named Naari, who smugly chides her on using the same trick to slip inside. Udrexa tries to use her tail to hastily scribble a note for Belawara, but knocks over an ink pot.

However, the headmistress arrives and dismisses Naari. Belawara has the look of a tiefling with red skin, horns, clawed hands and feet, and a sweeping tail, but Udrexa knows she is more than that. She is a genuine devil, but one who has seemingly escaped hell’s grasp.

Though her words are initially sharp, Belawara ultimately forgives Udrexa the transgressions that led to her departure from the monastery. The tiefling insists that she’s made real progress in her training while beating heads with her new friends. The two talk about how to get along in society as a fiendish-looking creature.

Belawara urges Udrexa to try to rein in her impulsive side, and reveals that she has been bound to the monastery to prevent her from backsliding on her own redemptive journey. She hasn’t heard from their mutual friends Reri and Zavian in some time, and asks Udrexa to keep an ear out for news about them. Before the tiefling leaves, Belawara gives her some tiefling appropriate makeup and horn care items so that she can keep up appearances while adventuring.

Meanwhile, Victoria goes shopping for more spells. She swings by the Bazaar of Sails and puts some feelers out for a wizard willing to sell spells with no questions asked. She is ultimately directed to a creepy elf named Elros. He takes down her request and asks her to return in an hour.

When she does come back an hour later, his stall at the bazaar has vanished but he appears behind her. He provides three different spellbooks, clearly written by three different wizards, for her to copy from. At the end of the transaction, her refers to her as “Victanja” and she chides him for breaching the no questions asked policy.

Back in the upper level of the city, Lucia makes her way to the city watch headquarters located in the Pediment Building. She has come to try to cure the opera singer Viralane Barivisai of her curse. However, Rita warns that the curse is more complicated then it first appears.

On closer inspection, it appears that before the curse can be removed magically, Viralane must first acknowledge and atone for the pain she caused with her adulterous behavior. On Lucia’s way out, she runs into Viralane’s halfling servant Corla and convinces her of the need to get the actress to atone. First, however, they will need to convince Victoria not to press charges.

Elsewhere in the city, Audrahni is taking Gwenllian on a bit of a sightseeing tour. The morose elf appreciates the druid’s off-center perspective on things. Gwen has also picked up various treats and tourist items, including a scarf the color of the Magnimarian flag and a bag of rock candy shaped like animals.

That evening, the adventurers reunite in order to assist Audrahni with her ritual to bless the site of the cultist Ilsynor’s murder. The former cleric explains that it is a ten minute prayer that is normally performed by multiple mourners. Lucia and Victoria offer to assist.

Before beginning the prayer, however, the adventurers take magical precautions against a potential ghost attack. These precautions prove wise when the prayer is interrupted by Ilsynor’s angry spirit. The party quickly defeats it and Audrahni is able to complete the ritual with help from Victoria and Lucia.

When she is done, sparkling lights appear over the area as Ashava blesses the site and also grants a boon to the entire party. In her typical monotone, Audrahni explains that she is overjoyed and has rekindled a spark of her old faith.

Flush with success, the adventurers return to their suite at the Gryphine and have a nice dinner. As the evening winds down, there is a tap at their door. They find two small packages addressed to them from an anonymous benefactor. Immediately suspicious, they inspect the packages and realize that one of them appears to have a magical trap. They notify the night manager, who turns the items over to the city watch. A chambermaid saw a blond half-elf woman carrying the packages.

On edge, Victoria casts two alarm spells to cover the suite. Rather than retire to her adjacent room, Audrahni crashes in the common room. Victoria uses keep watch to stay up in the common room, while Udrexa guards the door in the west half of the suite.

At around 3am, the alarm spell goes off as a creature enters the room and attacks Lucia with a short sword. It is a tongue-less bugbear ninja assassin name Dith-Ka. Udrexa barrels into the room and stuns him. The adventurers beat him into unconsciousness. They take his gear and a note with their names on it. They turn him over to the watch.

Fireday, 23 Lamashan, 4743

The next morning, the party attends the meeting of the full Sihedron Council. In addition to Lady Sheila Heidmarch, it includes Lord-Mayor Halmeer Grobaras, the influential merchant Sabriyya Kalmeralm, and the adventurer Koriah Azmeren.

The Council explains that around the time the party was first getting caught up in their adventures in Roderic’s Cove, the powerful Thassilonian artifact known as the Sihedron flared with magical energy. This was either the awakening of a runelord, or the death of a runelord, but many other portents suggested that the Runelord Alaznist at least had awoken.

The Council dispatched the legendary Sihedron Heroes, armed with the eponymous artifact, to investigate. And that was the last they have heard of them. All efforts to contact the heroes have failed. The Council’s agents are tracking down various other leads on what is taking place, but they have yet to send anyone to investigate Alaznist’s old fortress of Hollow Mountain.

The party is deputized as agents of the Council and tasked with going to Hollow Mountain to shut down the network of portals that Mozamer was studying, and to search for any clues of Alaznist’s plans. The Council will pay for Tyalee’s Whim to transport them to Rivenrake Island, where the mountain is located. As a reward for securing Baraket, the Sword of Pride, the adventurers are also allowed to select a magical item from the Council’s vault.

After the meeting, the party begins preparations to depart Magnimar. They also debate adopting a name for their group. “Rune Saviors,” “Covenant of the Cove” are floated as possibilities.

Lucia also takes Victoria to see Viralane. They release the actress from the lip stitch spell and she shares what little she knows about the Cult of the Peacock Spirit. The leader is a blond half-elf woman named Hira Doss, and she works with a roguish human man who has a fencing scar on his face. Viralane never caught his name, but anted to. The other cultists are nobodies as far as Viralane was concerned.

They always met in taverns and other public areas, so she doesn’t know where their headquarters is. They did imbue her with the viridian path ritual, a one-way teleport to a cult safehouse. They were very determined to get the Sword of Pride as a sacred relic of the Peacock Spirit.

Satisfied with this information, Victoria agrees not to press charges against Viralane. Lucia and Corla do tell her about the need to repent and atone before the curse can be lifted. Viralane says she will be staying in town a while yet and they can find her at an inn called the King and Axe.

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Tainted Water
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 2

Toilday, 20 Lamashan, 4743

With Tyalee’s Whim docked in Sandpoint for overnight repairs, the party heads ashore. Lucia immediately goes to the cathedral to get Rita cured of her disease by Father Zantus. Udrexa goes shopping for monk gear at the House of Blue Stones. The party cuts open the primeval fish’s guts and finds a gold statue of two entwined succubi. They sell the fish meat.

As the sun sets, Victoria goes to the Rusty Dragon. She talks to the halfling owner Bethana and gets the rundown on the tavern’s previous owner, Ameiko Kaijitsu, who is now the Empress of the distant land of Minkai. Her Queen-Consort, Lea Kroft-Nox. After sharing stories of her adventurers, Victoria gets the last room at the Rusty Dragon.

Meanwhile, Viralane brings the rest of the party to her favorite tavern, Cracktooth’s, located near the Sandpoint Theater. She gets a warm welcome from the owner, Cracktooth and the regulars. Cracktooth invites her to perform, but she demurs, saying that her voice is out of sorts..

Emeq notices Audrahni acting strangely, wearing a green hooded cloak and trying to lurk in the shadows. He pulls her aside and she explains that she was banned from the place ten years ago due to her terrible poetry. She insists that it won’t be an issue.

The adventurers enjoy a delicious meal while a string of performers take the stage in the tavern. It’s a tough crowd, and anyone not up to snuff is heckled. A tremor of excitement comes over the audience as a filthy, overweight half-orc named Gorvi takes the stage. He proceeds to sing in a beautiful tenor and gets an ovation from the crowd.

Throughout the evening, people keep asking Viralane to perform and as she gets deeper into her cups, she becomes more coy about it. Udrexa notices that her servant Corla is growing increasingly concerned.

Towards the end of the evening, Cracktooth does a stand-up routine about Magnimarian politics. A tipsy Sondra wants to get up to correct him about bureaucratic detail, but Emeq stops her and together with Audrahni keeps her distracted.

Cracktooth begs Viralane to come up and sing his favorite song and she agrees. Udrexa and Lucia question Corla with a bit of magic about why the halfling is so concerned by the prospect. She simply says it’s a bad idea for Viralane to do this.

Viralane takes the stage and starts singing. Before the end of the first stanza her voice warbles terribly. The crowd starts to jeer. Viralane looks hurt, and then furious.

Before things can escalate, Lucia uses suggestion to get Cracktooth to defend her. He comes back on stage and tells everyone to calm down. He says that it was his fault for putting her on the spot, since she’d told him earlier that her voice was out of sorts. This seems to mollify the rowdy crowd, but Viralane quickly hustles out of there.

While the others head back to the ship, Emeq, Audrahni and Sondra decide to keep the evening going. They head over to the Rusty Dragon to see about getting lodging there. Bethana tells them that the last room was taken a little while ago, and suggests they go to the White Deer. The trio stays around in the bar for a while to enjoy a few more drinks.

They talk about the events of the storm, when Audrahni was nearly washed off the ship. Emeq was only able to grab hold of her as she went over because he’d been tethered by Sondra. Emeq praises the teamwork in that moment, and both ladies express continued interest in the three-legged “love stool” of a relationship they are developing.

Over at the White Deer, a more upscale inn, they get a discount for being sent over by Bethana. Emeq asks how many rooms they would want, and after a moment’s consideration Sondra admits she isn’t ready to share one room just yet. “In Magnimar,” she promises.

Wealday, 21 Lamashan, 4743

The next morning, Victoria rises early and heads over to the Kaijitsu Manor, now converted into a Minkaian trading post. She takes a moment to appreciate the large portrait of Ameiko, Lea, and their two little girls, before heading to the baths. Afterwards, she has to make a bit of a dash to get back to Tyalee’s Whim in time and is gently chided by Captain Sursha. The captain announces that they will reach Magnimar by dawn tomorrow.

Later that afternoon, as the ship navigates a channel between two islands, Corla emerges from below to summon Sursha to speak with her mistress Viralane. The two disappear below decks and a few minutes later, the captain emerges and orders Elbows Eddi to dump the ship’s water supplies overboard. By way of explanation, she says it has been brought to her attention that the ship’s water had been tainted. They will collect fresh water from a spring on the nearby island.

Corla then asks Victoria to come speak with Viralane right away, but the wizard insists that it will have to wait until after she is done helping retrieve the water. Victoria, Lucia, and Udrexa head out with a shore party led by Elbows Eddi. They land on the island and trek inland to a clear spring. After Lucia confirms the water is clear, they begin loading up the barrels. Victoria uses two floating disk spells to help haul it back to the rowboat.

Meanwhile, back aboard Tyalee’s Whim, Emeq finds the whole tainted water business a bit suspicious and asks Captain Sursha about it. She says that Viralane and Corla had discovered the issue and brought it to her attention. Finding this a little suspicious, Emeq wants to talk to the actress and her halfling servant. Before seeking them out, though, he brings along Sondra to help with the talking.

They visit Viralane’s quarters and she explains that Corla discovered the issue with the water. The halfling explains that she was fetching water and discovered that it smelled foul, like tainted water slaves drank in Westcrown. Emeq senses that Corla’s story is not adding up, when Sondra makes some excuses and hustles them both out of the room.

The half-elf clerk agrees that Corla was lying, but warns that she was getting a very dangerous vibe from Viralane. It seemed as if the actress was unhappy Sondra was there, as if she wanted to get Emeq by himself. Sondra urges Emeq to get Audrahni, and he asks her to hide in a nearby room and watch Viralane’s room to make sure no one leaves.

Emeq arrives up on deck just as the shore party is returning. He loops everyone in on his suspicions. Just then, Corla comes up on deck and again asks Victoria to meet with her mistress.

Victoria agrees to go below, while Lucia stealthily follows. Emeq realizes that he left Sondra by herself in a dangerous position and hurries down to check on her. She is thankfully unharmed.

In Viralane’s room, Victoria declines an offer of tea. The actress asks if she had heard about the incident at Cracktooth’s the night before. Viralane explains that she is under the effects of a curse, one placed on her by the wife of a nobleman she’d been having an adulterous affair with. The curse ensures that any performance she does on a formal stage is a disaster. She has gone to magical specialists across the Inner Sea to find treatment, but none have been able to cure her.

Victoria admits she is no expert in curses, and suggests that Viralane talk to Lucia instead. The actress tells her that she’s already found someone who can cure her, so long as she performs a service.

Viralane attempts to charm Victoria, but the wizard’s unnatural talent for enchantment magic allows her to resist. A disappointed Viralane tells Corla to jam the door. Victoria warns that they’ve just made a terrible mistake.

Viralane suggests that Victoria give her the swords, but the wizard resists again. Corla jabs at her with a dagger and she feels a sting of poison, but resists its effects as well. Outside the room, Emeq rushes up to the door and is joined by Udrexa. The two start trying to break it down.

Victoria backs into a corner of the cabin and then summons mad monkeys, who fil most of the rest of the chamber. The horrible little creatures screech and claw at Viralane and Corla. The actress is nauseated by the attack. Corla takes another swing at Victoria.

Emeq and Udrexa bash the door open. They both attack Corla, but it is Sondra who delivers the decisive blow with her dagger that sends the halfling falling to the floor. They drag her away to stabilize her. Udrexa also retrieves an unconscious Viralane.

Lucia tends to Corla and uses suggestion to question her. They learn that Viralane fell in with a half-elf woman named Hira Doss, head of the Cult of the Peacock Spirit in Magnimar. Hira Doss promised to release Viralane of her curse if she retrieved the Sword of Pride from the party. She was imbued with a one-time teleport spell called the viridian transcendence to make her escape.

Corla urges the party to be merciful, saying that Viralane isn’t evil, just self-absorbed. She earned the halfling’s unwavering loyalty by freeing her from slavery in Cheliax. The adventurers decide to turn Viralane over to the city watch in Magnimar. Lucia uses the lip stitch spell on the actress to prevent her from using her teleport in the mean time.

Emeq checks in with Sondra, who admits she is glad she didn’t kill the halfling. But she feels that the weapon training they’ve done has been useful, and Emeq promises to continue it.

Oathday, 21 Lamashan, 4743

Tyalee’s Whim arrives in Magnimar just after dawn, with Captain Sursha docking the ship in the far west district of Ordellia. Beckwood Roos and Viralane are both handed over to the city watch, with Victoria promising to follow up with the latter. After bidding farewell to Sursha, the adventurers begin the long trek across town to Heidmarch Manor.

On arriving at the manor, they arrange a private meeting with Lady Sheila Heidmarch, head of Magnimar’s Pathfinder Society Lodge and leader of the Sihedron Council. She gratefully accepts the Sword of Pride, to be stowed away in the Council’s vault, and questions the party about their experiences in Roderic’s cove. She is very troubled by what she hears and asks them to return tomorrow for a meeting with the full Council. Lady Heidmarch sets them up with rooms at a nice inn called the Gryphine and promises them a reward as well for retrieving the sword.

With their errand accomplished and the day still young, the adventurers decide on their next course of action.

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Sailing the Lost Coast
It Came from Hollow Mountain, Part 1

Fireday, 16 Lamashan, 4743

The four adventurers Udrexa the tiefling monk, Lucia the halfling witch, Gwenllian the human druid, and Victoria the human wizard have set sail for Magnimar aboard the ship Tyalee’s Whim, traveling with their friend Audrahni the morose elf. Lucia and Gwen can’t shake the feeling that they are missing someone, but everyone is accounted for.

The captain, Sursha Antefalle, has invited all the passengers to join her for dinner that evening. After settling into their rooms, the adventurers enjoy a leisurely day of travel. Victoria stays cooped up in her room most of the day, immersed in her studies and overtaken by paranoia that someone might steal the Sword of Pride, Baraket, from its hiding place on her person.

Udrexa, meanwhile, adapts her monk training routines to the deck of the ship, though she has to avoid the crew as they go about their duties. Sursha complements her on her routine, and wonders about instituting something similar for the crew. Udrexa warns that they might hurt themselves mimicking her training.

At the appointed hour, the adventurers join the other passengers at the captain’s table. Audrahni takes the seat to the left of Sursha, while the actress Viralane Barivisai is given the seat of honor to her right. A place is set for Viralane’s maidservant, the halfling Corla, but she prefers to stand attentively beside her mistress. Beckwood Roos, the pale, dour man in black whose mysterious crate is stowed below, arrive last to the diner.

As appetizers are served, Sursha explains that she’d like everyone to introduce themselves and maybe share a little with the other guests, so they can all get to know one another as they go around the table. The captain begins by sharing a little about herself. She was born on the ship and has spent her life sailing the Varisian Gulf, first with her father and now on her own.

Victoria asks her about the ship’s name, which proves to be a faux pas. Sursha falls silent for a moment and Audrahni puts a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Best we not speak of lost loves,” the captain answers after a moment. “Certainly, more cheerful conversation is proper for our table.”

Sursha asks Victoria to introduce herself, and the young wizard spins a tale of growing up in Absalom and serving as a courtier in Korvosa and Magnimar before traveling to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings to study languages. Viralane inquires what district in Absalom Victoria is from. Upon learning it is the Foreign Quarter, Viralane waxes nostalgic about her time there.

Since she is being so chatty, Sursha invites Viralane to introduce herself next. The actress describes how she came from humble beginnings to gain renown as a performer in the major cities of southern and western Avistan. She expresses disdain for the Chelish Opera that is currently all the rage and tells some salacious stories from her early career, including the time that a Druman kalistocrat tried to woo her with jewels while promising to dispatch his current wife. Naturally, she declined his advances and alerted the other woman.

Beckwood Roos interjects that he’d heard about an incident in Egorian where Viralane was the instigator of adultery. She denounces him for his foul manners and immediately stops talking, a dark expression on her face.

To keep the conversation going, Sursha turns to Udrexa to know more about her. The tiefling is rather guarded, saying that she grew up as a street urchin and was a petty criminal working for the likes of Clegg Zincher. Eventually she was taken in at the monastery by two women named Reri and Belawara. She is trying to put her past behind her, and warns that the less others know about it, the better. Udrexa also admits she’s finding it easier to turn a new leaf thanks to all the violence the party has been indulging in of late.

The halfling crewman Gyles comes in at this point to serve the main course, lemon-braised lingcod and fried potatoes.

Sursha invites Beckwood Roos to introduce himself. He is very terse, explaining that he came from an insignificant village in the nation of Ustalav, studied at the Sincomakti School of Sciences, and left his studies to travel. He refuses to discuss what he studied, calling it “esoteric matters of little interest” to the other passengers. Victoria notices something strange about his accent that she can’t quite place.

Lucia is the next guest that Sursha invites to speak. She explains that she is a healer and is traveling with her friends on business to Magnimar. She admits that it is her first sea voyage and she is still getting used to the swaying of the ship. Sursha suggests she talk to the halfling crewman Gyles for pointers on getting her sea legs. Viralane tries to be friendly, but avoids eye contact with the old woman.

Sursha invites Corla to share something about herself. The halfling woman has little to say. She’s used to traveling with Viralane and has no issue on the ship. She thanks Sursha for the food.

Gwen is the next person Sursha invites to speak. The druid describes her journey out of the mountains to Roderic’s Cove to learn about live in the human world. Apparently money is a thing.

Audrahni is the last passenger Sursha asks to speak. She awkwardly explains she is a graveyard keeper in Roderic’s Cove, traveling with her friends to Magnimar. She’s known Sursha for years. Rather than talk about herself, she instead shares a fable from Varisian history. She tells the legend of Saint Sazzleru, a priestess of the empyreal lord Ashava, and how she defeated a powerful three-eyed demon known as the Misbegotten Prince who had subjugated the Varisians of the Lost Coast during the Age of Anguish.

Over a dessert of herbed cheese and sweet wine, Victoria asks Viralane about her current project. The actress says she has taken time off from performing to work on an original opera, The Rise and Fall of Thassilon, in which she would play the lead role as Runelord Sorshen. Victoria plays dumb and asks Viralane to tell her about Sorshen. The actress gives her the abbreviated version of the Runelord’s history, nothing beyond common knowledge.

Sursha then persuades Viralane to entertain the crew with a song from one of her previous performances. The red headed woman leads them out onto the main deck, where she launches into the final aria of the tragic opera Daughter of Orlos. As she sings, she climbs up the rigging of the main mast. Vitoria and Udrexa both realize that Viralane is about to jump from the crow’s nest, but the tiefling can’t act fast enough and the wizard decides to watch what happens.

There is a gasp as Viralane hurls herself from the mast. But rather than plummeting, she drifts gently downwards, completing the aria. When she lands on the deck, spools of crimson fabric unfurl from her dress to depict her character’s gruesome demise. Beckwood Roos and Lucia are the first to start clapping and soon the whole crew is joining in.

Victoria is curious about the special effect and wonders if Corla is involved, but can’t find the halfling among the crowd of crew members. Gwen determines that Viralane used a ring of feather fall to slow her descent.

After this performance, Victoria calls a private meeting with the party. She is deeply suspicious of Beckwood, and is paranoid in general about the crew. Audrahni vouches for Sursha and Lucia says her opinion carries a great deal of weight, which causes the elf to blush.

That night, Victoria deploys various protective spells on her room and uses the keep watch spell to stay awake all night. The rocking of the ship leaves her slightly queasy. Udrexa sleeps for a couple of hours and stealthily scouts the ship. She learns that there are typically only three crew members on night duty.

Starday, 17 Lamashan, 4743

The next morning is colder than the last few days, with moderate winds helping Tyalee’s Whim make good time. When the adventurers come onto the deck, the mist-shrouded peaks of the Fogscar Mountains can be seen off the port side.

That morning, three sailors sit about the deck repairing a torn sail. As they do so, they talk among themselves and occasionally break into a sea shanty. Lucia seeks out the halfling sailor Gyles, but he asks her to keep her distance. He doesn’t want his good luck to be affected by her “jinx.” Lucia agrees to stay away, but feels quietly resentful given that she can cast the fortune hex that literally gives good luck.

That afternoon, the Tyalee’s Whim sails through a small patch of debris: broken spars, pieces of decking and a sodden mass of sail floats seemingly serenely on the gentle swell. What caused the other ship to sink is a mystery.

Sunday, 18 Lamashan, 4743

That morning, Tyalee’s Whim leaves the Fogscar Mountains behind and begins sailing along coastlines of cliffs and sea stacks. It is a perfect fall day, with clear skies and strong winds bearing the ship ever southward.

To travel between the passenger cabins and the main deck, the adventurers have to pass through the ship’s hold, which contains both cargo crates and livestock, including four cows and the party’s two horses. Gwen notices that something is causing the creatures to become agitated, and she goes to alert the captain that the “moo-beasts” are being disturbed by something. Sursha asks Gwen and her friends to take a look in the hold.

While Gwen calms down the animals, Udrexa investigates the cargo crates. She is startled when Beckwood’s reinforced crate suddenly bursts open. A quivering pile of tumorous flesh spills out, leaving behind a trail of slime. Pseudopods lash out from its amorphous body, but Udrexa ducks out of the way.

Lucia stays back and casts a fortune hex on Udrexa. Gwen turns her quarterstaff into a shillelagh. After blasting the ooze with a scorching ray, Victoria uses create pit to try to trap the creature, but several other crates fall into the pit and it slithers up them to get back onto the deck.

Udrexa and Gwen hammer it with their bludgeoning weapons, while the ooze flails ineffectually with its pseudopods. As it slithers around the room, it leaves behind a greasy trail that makes the terrain difficult to cross. Lucia keeps her distance, but sends Rita to deliver a bestow curse spell. The ooze grabs hold of the bat, which releases the spell.

Victoria unleashes a flurry of snowballs, which she converts to balls of fire.to harm the ooze. Rita is caught in the blast and is badly wounded. The curse leaves the ooze unable to act, and the adventurers bash it to the ground. It starts to regenerate, and Victoria blasts it with fire again.

The adventurers notify Captain Sursha, who has Beckwood Roos hauled up onto the deck. He is appalled at this event, apologizing for his negligence which endangered everyone aboard the ship. He explains that he was transporting the ooze to his lab in Nisroch, where he hoped to distill its regenerative qualities into a fleshwarping elixir he could present to the leaders of Nidal. Sursha has him confined to quarters until they arrive in Magnimar, where he will be handed over to the authorities.

Beckwood thanks the party for killing the “hungry flesh” before it killed anyone. He gives them several potions, including three doses of “oozeclot unguent.”

Lucia, meanwhile, is very concerned that Rita has been afflicted with a tumor infestation. This disease could kill the bat and turn it into another hungry flesh. She does her best to treat Rita, but only manages to keep the disease at bay. Rita, meanwhile, is in a very bad mood.

Moonday, 19 Lamashan, 4743

It is another perfect fall day, with clear skies and strong winds. That morning, a few off-duty members of the crew sit by the rail idly fishing and chatting. They are doing quite well—they have already half filled their bucket with fish destined for the galley.

That afternoon, Tyalee’s Whim approaches a notable coastal landmark: Windsong Abbey. As the ship passes through a deep channel between the mainland and a small island, the arches and tall towers of the still-abandoned abbey itself are in full view, sunlight dancing on the stained glass of its windows. The sound of the wind blowing along the cliffs here is eerie and mournful. Viralane takes the opportunity to recite a famous Varisian poem praising Windsong Abbey’s architecture.

About an hour before sunset, Audrahni gathers the party together for a private conversation. To the west, storm clouds gather on the horizon. The elf says she feels a need to share information about her past, but is worried they may think differently about her when she is done.

She explains how she lost her parents when she was a little elfling and spent some years living in the Mushfens before finding her way to the new settlement of Magnimar. She grew up with the community, as it expanded from a village into a city. But like all forlorn elves, she very quickly realized that her human friends would be in her life about as long as a beloved cat or dog would be in a human’s life. This left her depressed as she attended funeral after funeral.

She eventually fell in with a mystery cult to Ashava, an empyreal lord who is the patron of dancers, lost souls, and moonlight. Through the cult, she felt she could use her long life to help shorter-lived people on their passage through the cycle of life. After a few decades, she ended up as the cult’s leader and decided to pursue a major project: creating a monument to one of the cult’s greatest heroine’s, Saint Sazzleru.

Audrahni hired a fellow forlorn elf, a talented sculptor named Ilsynor, to craft the monument. But Ilsynor belonged to a different cult, the Brotherhood of the Seven, who worshiped Norgorber, the god of thievery, murder, and poison. When Audrahni discovered this, she took her evidence to the authorities to have Ilsynor arrested.

Unfortunately, she brought her evidence to Justice Ironbriar, who she later learned was the secret leader of the cult. He shielded Ilsynor from prosecution, and that night the Brotherhood sent assassins who murdered Audrahni’s followers. She escaped as the lone survivor.

Resentful that Ashava had failed to protect her friends and disgusted with the Magnamarian justice system, Audrahni decided to take revenge. She sabotaged the scaffolding around the half-complete monument so that it collapsed on Ilsynor in his sleep. This consigned him to an unblessed grave, a grievous sin in the eyes of Ashava. Audrahni fled the city to escape the Brotherhood and avoid prosecution for her sabotage.

She wandered the Lost Cost for several years, helping those she could, but never able to rekindle her father or escape her sorrow. Even learning that the Sihedron Heroes had exposed Ironbriar and destroyed the Brotherhood was a bitter victory that came too late to save her friends. She was also disturbed by rumors that Ilsynor’s ghost haunted the site of his murder.

Audrahni says that the party’s success at laying Sir Roderic’s spirit to rest and the friendship they’ve shown her has inspired her to confront her path. She asks for their help in a ritual to bless the site, as well as assistance in quieting Ilsynor’s troubled soul. She is worried that the adventurers will think less of her knowing she is a murderer and a faithless priest.

Instead, the three adventurers — Victoria, Udrexa, and Lucia — embrace her and promise to help out. Victoria argues that Ashava didn’t deserve her devotion, but Audrahni still holds out hope that she can reconcile with her divine patron.

Captain Sursha interrupts the gathering to let everyone know that there’s a storm on it’s way and when it hits later that night, she may need all hands on deck to help the ship get through it.

Toilday, 20 Lamashan, 4743

An hour after midnight, the storm envelopes Tyalee’s Whim and the bell is rung to summon all hands. Topside, Captain Sursha is at the wheel, steering Tyalee’s Whim as best she can. “Elbows” Eddi directs the crew to tasks, immediately including the party in his orders as they appear on deck. The storm’s fury is frightening, with the ship listing and climbing dangerously with each white-capped swell, while torrents of rain driven sideways by blasts of wind make visibility a challenge.

Eddi orders the adventurers to help deploy the sea anchor to help stabilize the ship. Several sailors are already struggling with the anchor and it takes the entire party plus Audrahni to get it deployed. Lucia summons three unseen servants and sends them off to help with other mundane tasks on the deck.

Next, the group is asked to trip the mainsail. Victoria uses her dimensional slide ability to teleport up to an advantageous point in the rigging, while Udrexa works on it from below. Together they are able to trim the sail to better handle the gusts of wind from the storm.

A particularly powerful swell crashes over the ship’s deck. Victoria and a sailor named Ghera are washed overboard, but Lucia grabs hold of the wizard with her unseen servants and Udrexa’s tail snags onto the sailor. Bother are hauled back up onto the deck.

Fortunately, the storm is short-lived, and at dawn the sun rises to a clear day. Yet evidence of the storm’s swift violence is everywhere, including significant damage to Tyalee’s Whim. Sursha calls the adventurers over to the aft and explains the rudder may be damaged. She asks Udrexa to swim down and inspect it. The waters are calm, but she warns that she spotted several sharks earlier. They seem to have lost interest in the ship for now, making this a good window of opportunity to dive underwater and inspect the rudder.

Udrexa dives off the back of the ship and begins to investigate the rudder, but her inspection is interrupted by a dark shape moving quickly through the water. A 25-foot-long predatory fish called a dunkleosteus is rushing forward. Lucia tries to use her magic to seal the creature’s lips shut, but to no avail. The primeval fish seizes the tiefling in its mouth and deals a grievous wound to her.

Scrambling for a way to help the beleaguered monk, Victoria hits on a unique idea. She uses the spell mad monkeys to summon a swarm of monkeys to harass the shark under water. These sea monkeys jab their simian fingers in the shark’s eyes and gills, distracting it into releasing Udrexa.

The monk then hits the creature with her stunning fist, further immobilizing it. The crew start to shoot at it with longbows while Udrexa pounds it with her three-section staff. Soon the great fish is no more. Victoria has it hauled up so it can be harvested for meat and teeth. Udrexa is fished out of the water and healed. With the monster dead, the crew is able to make temporary repairs.

The crippled ship limps towards the nearest port, and an hour before sunset arrives in the town of Sandpoint. Captain Sursha pays for overnight repairs and gives everyone shore leave, except for Beckwood and the two sailors guarding him.

Viralane invites the party to join her at her favorite Sandpoint tavern, Cracktooth’s, but Victoria declines the offer. Instead, the wizard makes her way to the Rusty Dragon Inn.

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Three's Company
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 11

Moonday, 12 Lamashan, 4743

After resting in Mozamer’s suite, the party seeks out the hydraggon qlippoth they know lurks in the flooded chamber to the east. They cast light on a stone and toss it into the pool to lure the creature out. Gwenllian blasts it with call lightning. It attacks her and Udrexa with its tongue weapons. Emeq stabs it. Tanya whiffs a ray of enfeeblement. The creature retreats deeper into the room, ducking behind the runs.

Gwen turns into a vulture and follows. Tanya uses dimensional slide to get across the room and hits it with an electrified ray of frost, to no impact. Udrexa runs along the ruins ringing the room. Emeq wades out into the shallow water.

Gwen tries and fails to catch it with stone shape. It wriggles free but ends up next to Emeq.

Lucia deftly leaps about the ruins and ends up on the shaped stone by the creature.

Tanya hits it with an ice spear, which breaks off into a little ice floe.

Emeq stabs the creature, then Udrexa stuns it and hammers it with her three section staff. Gwen blasts it with a storm burst, knocking it unconscious. Then Lucia kills it.

Udrexa recovers the creature’s dropped weapons from the bottom of the pool and also finds a red egg. Tanya identifies it as a qlippoth egg, and Gwen determines that it is edible.

An argument breaks out, with Gwen and Emeq interested in eating the egg, and Tanya and Udrexa eager to sell it. Lucia consults with Rita and votes to eat it.

The party then heads over to investigate the ghostly apparition. Udrexa senses another haunt. Tanya identifies it as a magical scar left by wrath and evocation magic. She also realizes that she can super charge her spells if she allows the scar’s energies to blast her and then uses her willpower to syphon off some energy.

After some dangerous trial and error, she manages to syphon off cold energy from the enraged effigy of Runelord Alaznist, which manifests from the magical scar.

With the scar’s energy temporarily spent, Udrexa explores further and finds a tunnel. The tunnel leads to a brick wall. Gwen and Udrexa batter the wall down. The noise attracts a startled Sondra, and they realize they have burst into the cellar under the town hall.

Sondra promises to stop by that evening after writing a report.

Tanya talks to Garleena to let her know about the ruins below the tavern, so that she has an opportunity to claim them.

Audrahni stops by to check on the group. They let her know about the clearing out of the Underflume.

Sir Roderic manifests and thanks them for saving the town. He tells them that once the sword is taken from town, he can finally be at peace.

Audrahni is overjoyed at this. She says her friend’s ship will arrive in the next couple days to take them to the Sihedron Council in Magnimar. She says they have inspired her to face some personal demons, so she is going with them.

She says that a popular band, the Wicked Sages, is playing and invites Emeq to dance. She proves to be a spectacularly talented dancer.

She thanks Emeq and gives him a kiss on the cheek, then goes to get a drink as her awkwardness returns. Emeq sees Sondra watching him. He heads over to her and asks her to talk outside. Tanya gives them drinks.

Lucia talks with Audrahni, telling her that she played an important role in putting Sir Roderic’s ghost to rest.

Outside, Emeq tries to deflect attention away from the Audrahni interaction, instead updating Sondra on the ghost situation, thanking her for her role in things. Sondra asks what they will be doing now and he explains they are heading to Magnimar. She asks if they would have need of a cartographer and record keeper on their trip. She has some vacation time accrued and has always wanted to travel. Emeq warns that it could be dangerous and she recognizes that but notes that staying in Roderic’s Cove turned out to be dangerous, too. She needs to think things over. Emeq persuades her to come back inside with him.

Inside, the vagrant Kolton has shown up to see the Wicked Sages and feels a sudden prompt to ask Udrexa for a band. The tiefling, meanwhile, has been complaining to all and sundry about the party choosing to sell the egg to a restaurant, leaving thousands of gold pieces on the table. Kolton asks her to dance and she agrees. Despite both of them being well into their cups, they put on a surprisingly good performance. Things escalate to the point where Udrexa drags Kolton upstairs, kicking in the door of a random room and terrorizing the occupant into leaving. She gets some flayleaf from Kolton and then shoves him onto the bed.

Gwen joins in the dancing, performing a pseudodragon romp as best she can without wings.

A drunken Tanya approaches Emeq and Sondra as they step back inside. She insists on being called “Vicky,” the first half of her real name, and tells Sondra what a great guy Emeq is. After a few drinks, Sondra asks Emeq to dance. He leads her through an impressive performance. At the end, she kisses him and says that she will make it official tomorrow but she is planning to go with them to Magnimar. She needs to sit down afterwards, and Emeq finds himself standing next to Audrahni.

The elf congratulates him on improving his performance and escorts him over to the bar. He tries to play off the kiss from Sondra. Audrahni tells him not to hurt her, as she is a sweet person. The elf meanders around to suggesting that if he wants to pursue a more unconventional relationship, in her experience communication is key and he needs to be straightforward with Sondra.

She tells him she likes him and kisses him. She also says she is really glad he can dance, that was very important to her when she was in the cult. She says she is heading home and suggests he walk home Sondra.

Tanya quietly retires downstairs to the Underflume to sleep off the night’s festivities.

Emeq escorts Sondra back and attempts to broach the subject of a polyamorous relationship. Sondra decides to give it a shot and reaffirms her commitment to going with them to Magnimar. She kisses him goodnight. Emeq giddily walks back to the tavern.

Lucia checks out of the party before midnight in order to head back to her hut for some midnight illumination. She also shrinks herself in order to dance wit Rita under the moonlight.

Toilday, 13 Lamashan, 4743

Udrexa awakens to find herself lying beside Kolton in bed. She facetails at her foolishness in sleeping with him. Kolton, meanwhile, is embarrassed that he broke the vow he had made to himself to never sleep under somebody else’s roof. He thanks “Drexi” for the good time and gives her some extra flayleaf. He asks if he should bring her breakfast and she just gestures towards the door with her tail as she keeps slamming her head into the pillow.

The would town has a lazy start to the day after the night’s festivities. A large number of people have turned up at the Rampant Reefclaw restaurant to get hangover cures. Lucia, Gwen, and Emeq show up to sell the red egg. The chef Unli Jevers welcomes the famous heroes and purchases the egg from them for 1,000gp.

They are also able to enjoy a comped meal that includes some of the egg. The food is delicious, but the three of them also feel strange after effects as they are bombarded by memories the egg absorbed from the River Styx. Initially these memories are glimpses of other people’s lives, but soon they start to experience memories from their own lives which don’t make sense—people are missing, events are different. The last few memories even seem to be of events that haven’t happened yet.

Wealday, 14 Lamashan, 4743

After taking a spa day in the Underflume and thoroughly mapping it out and inventorying it, Tanya emerges to sell her information to Garleena for a 250gp fee. This will help ensure that tavernkeeper is able to assert rights to the underground complex.

Oathday, 15 Lamashan, 473

That afternoon, Audrahni tells the adventurers that her friend Captain Sursha Antefalle has arrived in town with her ship, the Tyalee’s Whim.

Lucia hastens to make final preparations. This includes casting sentry skull on Mother Nightthrush’s head and mounting it outside her hut with a message to warn off intruders.

Fireday, 15 Lamashan, 473

The party rises at dawn and, with their bags packed, they head towards the ship. Emeq, Gwen, and Udrexa lead their horses. The group meets up with Audrahni and Sondra, who are awkwardly exchanging pleasantries by the docks. Audrahni leads them to a two-masted brigantine, the Tyalee’s Whim, where they are welcomed aboard by the first mate, a handsome but clumsy half-orc named “Elbows” Eddi.

Captain Sursha Antefalle greets everyone with a cheerful “howdy” and grabs “Aud” in a big hug. Sursha is a blond half-elven woman dressed in sea green leather armor, with a katana at her side. Audrahni introduces the party, with an “it’s complicated” description of her relationship with Emeq. Sursha also takes an interest in Udrexa, as she is fond of “strong, silent types.”

Tanya asks to correct the ship’s manifest, saying that Tanya is a nickname and that her real name is “Victoria Thassil.” Sursha also mentions that there are three other passengers that will be accompanying them on the non-stop voyage to Magnimar.

The first of the three is Beckwood Roos, a deathly pale man dressed in black leather armor who proceeds to aggressively micromanage the crew’s efforts to load his very large, reinforced crate into the ship’s hold. Tanya surreptitiously scans it with detect magic and picks up a faint transmutation aura from within the crate.

Sursha grows antsier over the next hour as the other two passengers still haven’t arrived but the tide is threatening to turn. At the last moment however, the missing guests arrive. The first is a full-figured, red-headed human woman wearing an artfully lacquered lamellar cuirass over a billowing red gown. She is accompanied by a drab halfling woman with an eye patch.

The red head introduces herself as Viralane Barvisai, who Tanya recognizes as an actress of some renown whose operatic performances are known throughout western Avistan. Rumor has it she hasn’t performed lately because she’s been preparing for a huge but still secret role. Viralane’s halfling companion is maid servant, Corla.

Captain Sursha invites all the passengers to dine with her that evening, as the Tyalee’s Whim glides away from Roderic’s Cove and out onto the open waters of the Varisian Gulf.

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Operation Underflume
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 10

Starday, 10 Lamashan, 4743

Emeq the ifrit fighter, Udrexa the tiefling rogue, Tanya the human wizard, Lucia the halfling witch, and Gwenllian the human druid have decided that their next step is to attack the creature Mozamer in his lair below Roderic’s Cove. But first, they must gather intelligence and make preparations.

Udrexa tracks down Kolton, finding him lazily fishing in the creek. She asks him about the ruins below town, but he doesn’t know much. He does tell her that various members of the Horned Fangs have not been seen around town lately and haven’t been going back to their homes.

Meanwhile, Tanya returns to the Peacock Manor to research with Corstela Rostrata in the restricted archives of the Order of Resplendence. Together, they conclude that the “Underflume” that Mozamer inhabits is the lower level of a Hellstorm Flume, one of a series of magical fortresses that the Runelord Alaznist placed on her border with the rival Runelord Karzoug.

Their research also reveals that fleshdregs are fleshwarped monsters created by the Runelords, and are literally failed versions of their larger cousins, the sinspawn. Mozamer himself is most likely a sinspawn.

Finally, they research the aquatic monster that Jana described and conclude it is an outsider from the Abyss known as a hydraggon qlippoth. It is immune to mind affecting effects, and has various elemental effects.

The party regroups at the Creekside Tavern that afternoon, linking up with Jana. They concoct a scheme to infiltrate the Underflume, with Jana presenting them as prospective recruits to the Horned Fangs.

Before they can put this plan into motion, Tanya insists on taking more time to transcribe spells from the cambion’s spellbook. That process will take several days.

Sunday, 11 Lamashan, 4743

Emeq heads down to the Cove Armory to purchase a mithral breastplate with a stylish raven symbol on the collar. He notices that the dwarven merchants have recovered their wagon, which floats magically off the ground, as they prepare for their return to the Iron Peaks.

Moonday, 12 Lamashan, 4743

With Tanya now ready, the party ventures into the Underflume posing as new recruits. They decide to take the long way around the complex to avoid the central ballroom where Horned Fans are sparring with fleshdregs.

They pass through the private lounge, where they talk their way past their old friend Joanne. They also traverse the open lounge, where a female sinspawn is tending bar for a group of Horned Fangs including Victor.

Jana points out the boarded up entrance to a half-collapsed chamber that contains some kind of angry ghost. She leads them down a hallway, noting that her room is off limits.

They enter the foyer, where Jana notes the magic closet. They decide to spend some time investigating and get a set of red gloves out of it, which Gwen takes.

Jana leads them down a long hallway to the entrance to Mozamer’s suite, which is located across from the portal. Tanya investigates and concludes that it is malfunctioning and only works one way. The inscription indicates that it is connected to some place called the “Forges of Wrath” located within Hollow Mountain, an ancient dungeon fortress of Runelord Alaznist.

Jana knocks on the door of the suite and tells Mozamer she’s brought some recruits she’d like for them to meet. She is able to persuade the sinspawn to let them inside, where they are greeted by the monstrous leader of the horned fangs and his two fleshdreg bodyguards.

Mozamer promises them power and glory in service to his mistress Alaznist. The adventurers decide to troll him by asking about the Runelord’s tax policies (“you will never pay taxes to Riddleport again”) and education policies (education will be state-funded, including trade schools and liberal arts colleges). At this point, Mozamer asks if they can skip ahead to the part where they inevitably betray him.

Mozamer bangs the butt of his halberd on the wall to his left and shouts for reinforcements. The adventurers make short work of the two fleshdregs. Emeq, Udrexa, Gwen, and Jana close in on Mozamer while Tanya hangs back in the corner. Lucia guards the hallway, where she vomits forth a swarm of spiders to harry the first batch of fleshdreg reinforcements. Mozamer bites Emeq, inflicting a sickening rage upon him.

Mozamer insists that he isn’t trapped there with them, they are trapped there with him, and channels negative energy. Udrexa responds by using her stunning fist to keep him locked down. Lucia retreats back into the room and tries to block the door.

Fleshdregs and Horned Fang reinforcements arrive. Gwen smashes several fleshdregs that get past Lucia. Tanya uses create pit to trap a fleshdreg, a sinspawn, and a Horned Fang, and Lucia’s spider swarm dives in after them.

Udrexa keeps hammering Mozamer with stunning fists, leaving him incapacitated until the final killing blow is dealt. Once the sinspawn is struck down, Emeq intimidates the Horned Fangs into fleeing. Jana helps the trapped Horned Fang, Amelie, out of the pit while Gwen and Emeq finish off the other trapped creatures with fire.

The adventurers recover a magical halberd and magical chainmail from Mozamer’s body. They also find Mozamer’s notes, which indicate that he was trying to find a way to fix the one-way portal. Disturbingly, his notes indicate that if the proper repairs were made at the portal’s hub in the Forges of Wrath within Hollow Mountain, a whole network of portals could be revived across western Varisia.

Lucia and Tanya also experiment with the magic closet in the foyer and manage to recover a nice dress and an enchanted cloak before the closet malfunctions and implodes.

They still have two areas of the Underflume to investigate, the half collapsed section with the ghostly apparition and the flooded section with the hydraggon qlippoth. They debate whether to just rest in Mozamer’s suite before pressing on.

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The Peacock Manor Job
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 9

Fireday, 9 Lamashan, 4743

After a morning of shopping at the Circle Market, Emeq the ifrit fighter, Udrexa the tiefling monk, Gwenllian the human druid, Lucia the halfling witch, and Tanya the human wizard gather for lunch. They are greeted by an initiate of the Order of Resplendence, who conveys an invitation from Corstela Rostrata to meet them at the Peacock Manor. They decide to hear her out.

That afternoon, they arrive at the manor and are ushered into a meeting room by one of the Order’s philosophers, who Udrexa notes is trained as a monk. A few minutes later, Corstela arrives and introductions are made. Corstela gives Tanya a weird look, and the wizard decides to introduce herself as “Victanya Amprei of Korvosa.”

Corstela asks them about their investigations and tries to steer them towards the Horned Fangs. She reveals that Jana, the Horned Fangs leader, is secretly the daughter of the disgrace former port-governor Jess Gildersleeves, who was run out of town a decade ago for corruption.

The adventurers share some of what they have discovered, including the fleshdregs emerging from below the town, and their leader who claims that Runelord Alaznist is returning. Tanya also explains that the massacre that took plan too weeks ago involved Illusion magic, which was connected to a different Runelord, Xanderghul. Corstela denies all knowledge of this illusion artifact, but offers to share her extensive information on Thassilon in their assault on the fleshdregs.

As the party prepares to leave, Lucia asks Corstela about the letter that was taken from the dwarf Dolland. She admits that she had sought to recruit the dwarf and was interested in what lay inside the vault, but did not know what it was.

After leaving the manor, they agree that Corstela was lying and they plan to return that night for a heist.

First, however, they go to the Creekside Tavern to confront Jana. She agrees to cooperate with them, but only if they go somewhere private. The party heads up to Emeq’s room to take lunch there.

Jana explains that she despised her mother’s corruption and how it forced them to leave Roderic’s Cove. She had vowed to return and root out the rest of the corruption, which was why she created the Horned Fangs. She learned of a second cellar below the tavern’s storage shed, which is enchanted to stay magically cold. She rented the space from Garleena the tavern keeper and took to spending time there.

One evening, when she was drunk and high on flayleaf, she encountered a hideous creature with pale skin, sharp teeth, and a multi-hinged jaw. It tried speaing several languages before finally settling on Varisian to communicate. The creature, Mozamer, revealed that it had emerged from a hidden door leading to a larger ruin complex. Jana decided to make this the headquarters of her gang. However, Mozamer soon usurped control over the Horned Fangs with promises of wealth ad power once his mistress returned. Jana was planning on hiring the party to look into this once they’d gotten the dirt on Corstela.

The adventurers decide to bring Jana in on their heist scheme, as she is adept at sneaking and is also skilled with the quarterstaff. Once they have gotten the sword, they believe they will be in a position to confront Mozamer. Tanya has studied the plans for Peacock Manor and has identified the likely location of Corstela’s room, where the party suspects the sword might be stored.

That night, the party plus Jana infiltrate the manor grounds and approach the northwest side of the sprawling complex. They creep up an exterior staircase to the second floor, where Udrexa picks the lock. Inside they find two Order philosophers patrolling the hall. One of the guards grows suspicious of their intrusion, but Tanya manages to hypnotize him. They lure him outside where Lucia charms him.

Their new friend, Vigo, explains that most of the senior leadership of the Order is gathered in the east wing for a mock ritual, acting out a ritual of the Peacock Spirit to get a stronger connection to their Varisian ancestors. It’s a ritual that Corstela recreated, which she calls the viridian path. The guard identifies the location of a storage area and warns that it’s magically trapped. Only Corstela and Her Pridebound Assistant can access it. The only people currently on this level are the other guard and the Pridebound Assistant, who the guard has never seen.

They suggest that the guard take the rest of the night off. But when he sees Jana, Vigo grows agitated. The adventurers hastily claim that they took her captive for the Order. Vigo promises to alert Corstela at once and dashes off.

Now facing a time limit, Udrexa (with a tiny-sized Lucia in her backpack) sneaks into the inside and knocks out the other guard. The rest of the party joins her inside, with Jana guarding the door.

Udrexa investigates the trap on the storage unit door, but can’t disable the magical trap. Tanya attempts to use a scroll of dispell, but the magic fizzles. So the tiefling monk decides to just set off the trap. She is hammered with incredibly loud sonic damage. She steps inside the storage room, which has a heavy lead-lined door. She picks up a weapon case in the room and gets blasted by a force magic trap, leaving her unconscious.

Corstela’s Pridebound Assistant emerges from a side room to attack the party and reveals itself to be a vile cambion demon armed with sword and spells. While Lucia works to revive Udrexa, Emeq faces off with the cambion. Tanya hits it with a grease spell, but the creature stays upright. Gwen, meanwhile, has been checking the other doors in the hallway, before joining Emeq in fighting the demon.

Udrexa passes the weapon case to Tanya, who uses knock to open it and confirm that it contains Baraket, the Sword of Pride. The tiefling then joins the fight against the cambion. The grease spell eventually causes the cambion to topple over. As the adventurers beat him to death, Corstela and her followers arrive outside the room.

There is a brief standoff at the door. Corstela uses her arcanist ability to counter Tanya’s create pit spell, but her own color spray fails. The adventurers warn that they have slain her demon friend and claimed the sword, both very incriminating. Tanya promises that if Corstela backs down and lets them leave with the sword, no blame will fall to her for the Horned Fangs Massacre. Jana isn’t happy with this idea, but Corstela agrees.

Corstela admits that the sword go the better of her at the massacre, but that it has been dormant since then. She also continues to offer them access to information about Thassilon. The adventurers stuff the cambion’s body into the bag of holding and then leave with the sword.

Outside the manor, Tanya explains her plan to pin the massacre on the dead cambion. They salvage its loot and identify Baraket’s abilities. It is indeed dormant, with minimal abilities, which themselves are suppressed when holding the gauntlets. They decide the risk is too great for Emeq to wield it.

Lucia drinks the cambion’s blood, while Tanya transcribes his spellbooks.

Starday, 10 Lamashan, 4743

The next day, they update Audrahni on their investigation and the recovery of Baraket. She promises to arrange transportation to Magnimar so they can bring the sword to the Sihedron Council. She urges them to be careful in dealing Mozamer and his followers below.

Regrouping back at the tavern, they prepare to delve into the ruins below town to confront Mozamer. Jana is talked into coming, but her focus will be on rescuing the human Horned Fangs.

She warns them that in addition to the humans, Mozamer has recruited another creature like himself as well as over a half a dozen fleshdregs and some sort of fish monster. Tanya wants to research the creature further so that they can be prepared.

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