Pathfinder Inconsistent Adventures

Dragon Punch(bowl)

The Heroes of Sandpoint found themselves in the Rusty Dragon, engaged in their own business and relaxation. While the Wilburforce chapter house was being rebuilt, Conrad Hauser still held his table, looking over papers, contracts, and finances, while a second dwarf ran errands, bringing books, files, and items to the Sergeant-At-Arms. As the party gathered around Conrad, seeking direction and work, Conrad’s first response was, “Black Fang is still your problem. The caravan for the Kaijitsu vault leaves in a week. There’s always the occasional goblin raids in the farmholds.” As he lists opportunities, the dwarven runner returns with a stack of papers, including invitations to the Kaijitsu family Swallowtail Festival (See Kaijitsu Family in the Wiki) for every member of the party.

Meanwhile, renowned heroes from the Sandpoing region, Ameiko Kaijitsu, Tsuto Kaijitso, and Shalelu Andosana, were hunting for Troglodytes and information in the Brinestump Marsh.

Local knowledge revealed tales of a dragon visiting The Dragon’s Punchbowl, small island to the north of Sandpoint. The island is home to drakes, and few if any ships visit it, as there are no known natural resources. Some of those that do visit do not return; the island is surrounded by reefs. The party took for the library at Tothian University, research into Black Dragons revelaed information that led the party to head to the Punchbowl. Meanwhile, Busty and Phozzie secured a ship, with Sanrara Quinn, a hard swearing captain, and her crew of Besmara’s Kiss. After a negotiation, Captain Sandara agreed to a fifteen-hour trip, in exchange for 25 gold per passenger, and 10% of any loot the party claimed.

The Dragon’s Punchbowl is less than half-a-mile long and quarter of a mile wide, raising from a sandy beach to temperate forest to a caldera lake some 500 feet above the seafloor. A walk around the island revealed a wrecked ship on the shore, and shortly thereafter, three zombies shuffled from the treeline, assaulting the party. Tired from the row ashore, the battle further exhausted the party. Continuing to explore the island, the party eventually headed up the mountain, discovering a brackish lake, stained red with silt. With a screech, a river drake flew from a rocky outcropping, attacking the party. Battle ensued, and the party slew the drake.

Using the Potion of Water Breathing she acquired, Cora explored the lake, finding, at its center, a heavy stone slab lined with runes. An Arcane Lock and the weight of the stone upon it prevented Cora from moving it.

Contact with Black Fang via the Sending Tome led the party to conclude he was not on the island, there was something more powerful than he below the locked stone, and he realized the fundamentalist Troglodytes were not as useful of minions as he had hoped.

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Gofers, Part II & Aftermath

Crysoner broke away from the group that had retrieved the iron box from the Elven Paracountess Amorthya Zarta; with the feeling Raiden was directing her to explore more about the Elf’s actions, particularly in summoning a devil. She made her farewells, and began her investigation questioning Rilen, the blacksmith-proprietor of Thunderstruck Arms, her uncle in town.

Along the way, some of the party couldn’t help but shake the feeling they were being watched.
The remaining members of the party met at the warehouse Nicodemus Gur described, an old “pelican” sitting at the waters-edge end of a pier, nearly collapsing under the weight of its own roof. Tied to the pier, a small rowboat bobbed in the harbor’s water. Standing at the edge of the pier was a human warrior, who identified himself as Jochi, sent by Sergeant-at-Arms Hauser to assist with “convincing” Gur to do right by the company.

Kyras quickly popped the lock on the warehouse door, and the adventurers’ eyes adjusted to the dim light of the warehouse. Some filtered in through darkened windows, and some bounced off the walls, reflecting off the harbor water through a large hole in the floor. The crate with three crows arranged in a triangle rested precariously on two boards over the hole. Stacks of crates, barrels, and simple coffins lined the walls; quick rummaging revealed most were full of mundane trade goods. A beam with a block-and-tackle crane ran the length of the warehouse, and when Kyras attempted to climb to the crane to secure the crate, he disturbed a nest of dire rats that had taken up residence. While the adventurers battled the rats inside, Busty and Del had take the rowboat and moved under the warehouse to catch the crate should it fall (this would become a VERY good idea). Gr’lk stood guard outside; distracted by the pelicans flying overhead and the crowds on shore, did not hear the sounds of the battle inside. After clearing the rats, Kyras attempted to secure the crate, but slipped, landing on the crate for a moment, until it, he, and the boards supporting it crashed into the boat below. Inside, they found a mahogany box containing a collection of unrelated books and a leather portfolio holding the cargo manifests and dispatch lists for many of the Lost Coast’s larger shipping conglomerates.

Leaving the docks heading around Sandpoint Harbor to the manor district, some of the party caught a glimpse of a handle-bar mustached face watching them intently, but as a crowd moved between them, the small face was gone.

At the Valdemar Manor, the party met Sujin, known as “The Sapphire Sage,” a native of the “Exotic East” and adviser to the Valdemar family. He explained that Lord Valdemar was busy with the markets back “in town,” but he had been appointed to negotiate the rights to delve the Valdemar Vaults in the Akki Mountains. In order to “prove” their worth, the party had half-an-hour to solve a puzzle he had set up for them, and with their success, they were granted the permissions for the company to explore the Valdemar’s holdings.

Aftermath
Over the next few days, the Varisian Gulf calmed as the storm moved inland, drenching Sandpoint with a consistent downpour for the better part of a day. The rain dampened the “Carnival” atmosphere that had come with the ships and caravans, the merchants and traders tightly bundled below decks or within wagons. Early the morning that the storm broke, the caravans packed up and moved on, the ships unfurled sails and set to sea, leaving Sandpoint calmer, quieter, and a bit wealthier than before. While the pranksters that created the illusory disturbance driving the party into the alley were never caught, Lady Harte of the Silver Crusade identified the unholy symbol as of Chemosh [ DM’s Note: Change of name from what was mentioned in-session ], a god of undeath also known as “The Lord of Bones.” His following is small among the living, and while not unheard of in Varisia, rare. The female human sorceress with the ambush party was identified as Hali Fostra, a young mage who had recently been expelled from Thothian University for performing unlicensed charms on the members of the gladiator club. The other three: human male (rogue), human female (cleric), and Halfling male (barbarian), were unknown to Sandpoint.

On the information provided by the party, the Silver Crusade investigated Auntie Baldwin’s Home for Recovery further. “Auntie” Baldwin had been selling much of the medical supplies received from groups like the Silver Crusade on the black market, and using her own skills as a healing adept to provide genuine healing for the children in her care. Additionally, some of the orphaned children in her care were rented out to wealthier visitors to Sandpoint to provide menial labor. While none of the children were abused, Baldwin charged far more than room and board would require, and simply pocked the rest. The years of hiding her operation had turned her into a raging alcoholic. On the morning of the deluge, the Silver Crusade and the Sandpoint Watch arrested “Auntie” Baldwin, and placed a cloister of clerics in charge of the Home for Recovery. Bellum was awarded “The Order of the Inheritor,” a measure of distinction within the church of Iomedae.

Upon receiving the leather satchel from the party, Nicodemus Gur disappeared from Sandpoint. The Pickled Imp was temporarily taken over and cleaned up a bit by an alchemist who had come to Sandpoint in one of the caravans to take a teaching position at the University. Most of the knock-off and questionable goods were disposed of. Captain Redgrave of the Watch did seize the pelican warehouse, but only discovered the hole in the floor, a pile of mangled dire rats, and the mundane trade goods left behind. The floor was hastily repaired and a new, higher-quality lock installed, but the building still sits, mostly abandoned except for the occasional seabird upon its creaking roof, waiting for the Watch to empty it or for it to finally sink into the harbor’s waters. When pressed, Sergeant-at-Arms Hauser revealed that Gur would be returning to Sandpoint; he was being used as part of another contract to ferret out a smuggling ring between Magnimar, Sandpoint, and the pirate city of Riddleport to the north.

With the help of a hyperactive yet intensely focused gnome Professor of Gnomish Studies and Conjuration, Ahzen Gemedge, at Thothian University, the green gemstone taken from the body of Hali Fostra was revealed to “unleash dark energies when broken or smashed.”

Sujin, and through him Lord Valdemar, sent word via a letter that he was impressed with the resourcefulness, strength, and character of the party in solving his “little riddle” in the basement of the Valdemar Manor. He requested that if the adventurers were to explore the Valdemar holdings in the mountains to the Far East, to pay him a visit first.

Grudgingly, Sergeant-At-Arms Hauser lets you know that within the iron box taken from Lady Amorthya Zarta’s was supposedly an enchanted hook that could be use to bind a devil or a demon to the prime material plane. The paracountess was researching how to open it, but was unable to do so.

Slowly, the offices of Wilburforce are rebuilt. In a staff meeting, Sergeant-At-Arms Hauser takes a moment a runs through the recent recruit’s accomplishments:
“For driving off the dragon known as ‘Black Fang,’ and protecting the farmholds of the Sandpoint environs,
“For halting a troglodyte incursion into the above-ground world,
“For assisting in an ongoing investigation of Riddleport piracy,
“For uncovering a small-scale smuggling operation of medicinal goods here in Sandpoint,
“For securing Lord Valdemar’s permissions for expedition in his family’s holdings to the east,
“I award you the rank of ‘Agent,’ and return this to you,” He hands the Tome of Black Fang to the first party member to step forward. With what might pass for a small, subtle, and almost pained grin, the expression unaccustomed to the dwarf’s stoic face, “You now have the right to choose your assignments, and my congratulations.” He raps on the stone lectern in front of him with the butt of his war hammer, and the assembled members of the company applaud.

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Gofers, Part I

To give the company’s researchers time to review Black Fang’s tome, and in reward for their service, Sergeant-At-Arms Hauser gave the party the day (mostly) off, in exchange for running a few errands for the company, as highlighted on the “To Do” list he provided:

1. A man named Nicodemus Gur runs a curio shop called the Pickled Imp. Go to him and fill his request as a favor to the company. I believe it has something to do with a set of rare books.
2. Lady Allison Harte of Io’s Silver Crusade requested aid and is expecting you at the Sandpoint Cathedral. She needs someone to deliver a parcel of medicine and curatives to a needy orphanage and verify the character of the recipient.
3. Visit the manor of the Valdemar family. The Company needs to obtain permission to delve the ancestral vaults the family has dominion over in the Mysterious Wast. He has made a verbal agreement, and your visit makes it official. You will receive an official charter and detailed maps. Do not embarrass the Company in this matter.
3. Elven Paracountess Amorthya Zarta possesses an item loaned from the Vaults. Meet with her in her town home and retrieve the item in her possession.

Sandpoint was hosting an impromptu market festival, a small fleet of emrchant ships had sheltered at Sandpoint Harbor from a hurricane passing through, and two merchant caravans, one passing to the East and one to the city-state of Magnimar, crossed routes. As the party traveled, the crowded streets slowed travel for what should have been a quick walk between locations. Heading first to the Pickled Imp, a site Kyras knew (although he’d be unlikely to admit), the party met Nicodemus Gur, a greasy-haired, mustached man who seemed to be ready to either offer his grandmother for sale or run out the back door. Gur asked the party to recover a satchel from a pelican warehouse—standing at the end of pier—at the harbor. Taking Gur’s information, the decision was made to head to the docks later, as the other locations stood closer to Gur’s semi-secret shop. The party split to move faster: half of them went to visit the Eleven Paracountess, while half, led by Bellum, went to the Cathedral.

At the Cathedral, the party met Lady Harte, likewise a paladin of Io, and was tasked to deliver a package of medicine to Auntie Baldwin’s Home for Recovery, an orphanage and “pediatric” hospital in a once-grand manor house near the remains of the Old Light. Baldwin was a sycophantic old woman, and not entirely honest in her dealings. Bellum was able to detect that her nature was evil, but she appeared to generally care for the children in her charge well. The children they spoke with all reveled that they were well-cared-for and their illnesses were taken care of. Gorvi, the half-orc garbage collector who lived in a small chack across from the Home, revealed to the party that Baldwin hired some of the orphaned children out for house- and service-work to the wealthier townspeople. A grocer the party encountered on the street shared that Baldwin was one of her best customers, for whiskey. When confronted, Baldwin explained these accusations away as the children were able made a nominal profit to help support the home, and the whiskey was simply to take the edge off of caring for the kids. Baldwin closely monitored the party while they were on her property, and they left with a feeling of discontent, but nonetheless, reported to the Silver Crusade.

The rest of the party found Paracountess Zartha’s town home in the shadow of Sandpoint Theater, and were admitted by a relaxed, but dutiful butler. Leading the party up three flights of stairs, all appointed in onyx and mahogany, silver and platinum, and rich violet, the servant stopped at double doors and knocked. “Oh, let them in,” a voice purred from inside; stepping in, the party found a comfortable, richly-decorated sitting room. A second double-door led out, and from the shadow next to it, a woman materialized as she slunk into the room’s candlelight. Wearing a tight, revealing gown, Amorthya Zarta was nothing of not flirtatious with the party, as she disclosed that the item she borrowed from the Company was an silver box, and it was in her bedchamber, through the second set of doors. However, a “servant” of hers had broken free and was “throwing a tantrum.” Inspection of the bedchamber revealed not only the lush bed and rack, but the servant was a devil of sorts, who was laying waste to the room. Questioned, the devil, Krevus, admitted that he needed the box to keep his people free; with a silver dagger provided by the Paracountess, the party was able to banish the devil, and retrieve the box. Zarta insisted they returned to play next time they were free.

And so, both parties headed to their next task…

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Tower of the Troglodyte Thane, Part II

In the room with a single brazier, its coals casting a dim light around the room, the adventurers approached a small door. A muffled cry for help could be heard from the other side; Kyras efforts to pick the lock failed, but with anger to help those trapped rising, Phozzie smasshed himself into the door, destroying most of it, and revealing Crysoner, the monk with whom they faced Black Fang, and Delphekit, a gnome. The two had met up after Crysoner parted company with the bard, and in their own pursuit of Black Fang had been captured by the Troglodytes. An inspection of the rest of the floor revealed a a water damaged library where the crack ran up the side of the tower, and the collapsed side open to view the Devil’s Platter.

As they peeked into the stairwell, a javelin embedded itself into the door frame. The party found the remains of the stairs hung down enough that they could be climbed with some effort. The room above was a throne room, extended all sides of the tower’s cloverleaf footprint. Four troglodytes flanked the stairway, one enormous with a spiked club. At the east end stood an ornate throne, as the first party members climbed up, a troglodyte rose and signaled to attack. He began chanting, as his pet crocodile moved forward. A difficult, and extended battle later, the succeeded in slaying the troglodytes. Among the treasure in a chest behind the throne, the party found a leather bound tome, the writing of which was in Draconic.

Under detection, the tome clearly radiated Conjuration and Divination magic. The leather, sewn together irregularly, though appearing ancient, felt soft and supple in the holder’s hands. Kyras was able to discern the writing was a conversation between Black Fang and the troglodyte druid, Tasskar. The tome could be used to send messages, and Black Fang was not amused ad the scribbled idle threats to him.

From there, the party returned to Sandpoint, finding Sergeant-At-Arms Hauser in the Rusty Dragon, and delivering the tome to him. Hauser gave the group the rest of the day off, and provided a list of things to do while they were out spending their reward.

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Tower of the Troglodyte Thane, Part I

Offscreen The night after chasing off the dragon, Black Fang, Crysoner the monk was haunted by dreams, which she took as a sign from Raiden. In the morning, she announced plans to set off on her own to seek clues to her Raiden’s message. Crysoner’s dream revealed a path that would lead her to the north end of the Tors, and The bard, in a chivalrous gesture, insisted she not travel alone and would accompany her. The party agreed to travel north with her as far as the Lost Coast Road running along the north edge of the Devil’s Platter, then they would split, with the remaining three heading back to report to Conrad, in Sandpoint.

Meanwhile, in Sandpoint Sergeant-At-Arms Conrad Hauser realized the group he sent out to investigate the cattle mutilations had yet to return. Calling on two new recruits, Gr’lk, the half-orc alchemist, and Phosgene, the Barbarian, Conrad sent them via the shorter Lost Coast Road to approach the Tors and see if they could locate the missing adventurers.

Approaching The Devil’s Bargain Crossroads, where a less-traveled road up into the Devil’s Platter and down to the Lost Coast, the two groups spotted each other. A brief, but tense, encounter was cut short by the re-appearance of Black Fang, who attempted a flyby attack on the party. While some of the party scattered into the trees, the dragon’s acidic breath caught Bellum full-on, but his armor protected him from the brunt of the attack; splatter caught Kyras, standing behind Bellum. On his second attack, Black Fang’s claw caught in Phozzie’s armor, allowing the barbarian an attack with his great axe. After dislodging himself, Black Fang took wing to the north, into the Devil’s Platter. Respite from the battle was short, as an earthquake shook the area, knocking down trees and slowing return travel to Sandpoint.

In Sandpoint, the adventurers discovered the company headquarters—a old and storied building in Sandpoint that once served as a brothel—reduced to rubble. Asking around, they found that the Sergeant-At-Arms had set up a temporary headquarters in the Rusty Dragon, Sandpoint’s largest and most famous inn. Sitting at a well-apportioned table was Conrad, two other armed dwarves, and Bill, the Farmer. The party reported on what had transpired, and negotiated for half their 1000 gp reward upfront. The party would depart in the morning, to track Black Fang into the Devil’s Platter. Upon meeting Sergeant-At-Arms Hauser once again, he provided an additional member of their party, an enchantress.

Once arriving at the Crossroads, the party headed into the Devil’s Platter, eventually discovering a tall tower, the eastern edge of which had collapsed, leaving four floors visible from the outside. Upon inspection, the walls appeared to be completely smooth granite, the tower in a four-leaf-clover shape. Investigating inside the first floor, they found it choked with rubble, each room an octagon shape. In one room draped with spider webs. Gr’lk, the alchemist, set the webs aflame, but was immediately set upon by two giant spiders dropping from the ceiling. After slaying the spiders, a small spiral stairway, collapsed in upon itself, was discovered. With the barbarian’s climbing skills, the party was able to scale the inside of the stairwell, and enter the second floor.

Upon opening the door, a stench overwhelmed the party, rotting eggs and raw sewage. As they adjusted, the party searched a ruined armory; damaged shields, rotted leather armor, and broken spear shafts lay strew around. Eventually, under a dented and chipped shield, they found +1 Poison-Resistant Studded Leather Armor and an ancient banner emblazoned with the heraldry of the Lodge of the Phoenix, a celebrated mercenary company from the Age of Empires. Two doors led away from the room, one to the left and one to the right of the stairwell. Over the door to the right, the group spotted a crude javelin trap, designed to drop on anyone coming through the door form the opposite side. As the rest of the party debated what the significance of the trap may be, Kyras simply disarmed it. As the rogue opened the door, two javelins flew at him, one missing and embedding into the wall, one into his shoulder.

Two troglodytes stood in the next room. Despite their stench sickening some of the party, they were able to make quick work of one, but the second escaped through the opposite door. Warily following his trail, the party entered the side of the tower that was collapsed; the view of dusk shrouding the plateau was eerily beautiful, as the sun set behind the tower. Moving into the next room, the musty smell of mold mixed with that of electric ozone. Shelves and broken sundries lay moldering on the floor; a long crack in the wall had let rainwater in, rotting much of what was once in this room. Searching for anything magical, Cora discovered a small lizard huddled under a shelf. She recognized it as a shocker lizard, and fed it a bit of her rations, winning the small lizard over to her with a minimal electric shock. Entering back around to the original room from which they entered the level; the troglodyte had managed to escape, but the floor appeared to be clear.

The floor of the third level had collapsed further back than that of the second and fourth, and rather than climb the stairwell, where the troglodyte might be, the adventurers chose to throw a grappling hook up, entering the third floor of the tower from the outside. This half of the tower level was taken up by one large room, rather than two smaller ones. A quick search revealed a hidden door in the wall, and the party was able to enter the other half of the level: an hour-glass shaped temple that Bellum recognized as dedicated to Thoth, god of knowledge and magic. The most notable aspect of the room was three skeletons: two human and one, charred, of a troglodyte, lying in the center of the room. As Kyras approached a nearby altar carved from obsidian, the human skeletons stood up and ignited in flame, engaging the party. After the battle, an inspection of the room revealed the walls were carved with proverbs of Thoth: “Knowledge is power,” “The more you know,” “Knowing is half the battle,” “That’s one to grow on,” etc. Two altars, the nearest of dark obsidian and one of pure white marble stood at opposite ends of the room, on each lay a mummified hand wearing a ring. The altar settings were adorned with images of Thoth, and a silver holy symbol of the god lay on each altar as well. A door to the central stairwell seemed fixed shut. The party decided to retreat to the partially collapsed room, as it seemed the most defensible point and camp for the night.

The next morning, a climb up the stairwell led to another octagonal room, in which the stench of troglodytes hung. Sleeping mats lay strewn about the floor, and, as with the second level, two rooms led off to each side of the central stairwell. Cautiously entering the room to the stairwell’s right revealed another octagonal room and another door across the room. A small brazier stood in the center of the room, its coals burnt down to embers. Approaching the far door, the party heard a muffled cry for help…

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Intermission
Or, on her way to the river...

The harsh wind whipped across the road. The remainder of the party had disappeared to the west as they set off back to Sandpoint. Such was not her path, however. Against the wind she squinted and cast her gaze north. Less than a mile from the coast, the salt in the air was impossible to ignore.
The river was scarcely a couple miles east along the Lost Coast Road. Crysoner set off at a trot, the rhythmic crunching of dirt under her sandals providing something easy to focus on, anything to keep her mind from the dreams. They were impossible to decipher, and already much had been forgotten…or perhaps blocked from her mind.
Get to the river. The rest would come.
The dragon, Black Fang, would be dealt with in time. Their prior battle with the beast was a tale worthy of…well, perhaps not songs, but at least a verse from an inebriated minstrel. The livestock was safe, if only for a time, and she had already surrendered her share of the fee. Certainly others in the group would find the coin more useful. While they returned to the city to report on their findings, she ventured on her own for a time.
It was good to be out of the city, exploring the countryside on her own terms this time. Things appeared much differently when not sneaking through the brush under the cover of night. One of her shirt sleeves was tattered, burned during an episode in the goblin caverns. Well, patience had never truly been one of her strengths.
The Nettlewood stood between her and the coastline, providing a good bit of shade against the midday sun. Crysoner slowed to a walk and stopped as the Thistle river came into view. Save the sounds of the water, silence echoed through the wood and along the road. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end; she stretched her senses to an almost painful extent but could detect nothing amiss.
Clenching her hands into fists, she took a deep breath and cautiously proceeded towards the river. She reached the bank undisturbed and crept ahead, scanning the muddy ground for something. Exactly what it was she sought remained a bit of a mystery; that part of the dream remained cloudy. She squatted down and rested her hands on the ground. In her dream there had been an ancient, worn desk along the river bank, adorned with only a candle and a scroll tube.
A bolt of lightning had struck the desk leaving nothing that she could remember. Nothing at all. She sighed and straightened herself, scanning the surface of the river bank one last time and meandered south along the river. Her mind wandered off, but snapped back to the present when she stumbled and nearly fell. Crysoner caught herself and looked back at a broken fragment of a scroll tube jutting from the riverbank.
She smiled and took a step forward before falling to her knees. Her eyes went wide and she reached around to the back of her neck. A needle was buried into her flesh. She barely got her hands out in time to keep from face planting in the dirt. Once, twice she shook her head but her vision blurred and began to darken. Only a faint voice registered before the blackness swallowed her.
“You are proving to be far too meddlesome for your own good.

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Black Fang's Dungeon

Summoned to the offices of the Wilberforce Adventuring Company by Conrad Hauser, the Company’s Sergeant-at-Arms, five heroes for hire are asked to investigate a rash of cattle mutilations in the farm holds east of Sandpoint. From “Bill the Farmer,” appointed to make the trek to Sandpoint and plead their case, the party learned that in the past few weeks, 14 cattle have been found torn to pieces, and apparently melted. Recently, a small group of farm children were exploring in the hills and came across the carcass of one of the cattle in a small valley. Stuck was a long black fang, which he produced for the adventurer to investigate. Conrad added to the farmer’s story that the Black Fang Goblins were known to use charred fangs and claws of large beasts as daggers and spear heads. Plans were made, deals were struck, and for 1000 gold, the party agreed to investigate the mutilations.

As they left Sandpoint, riding a cart Bill the Farmer brought to town, party traveled along the south edge of plateau known as the Devil’s Platter, and to a chalky path leading into the Tors, a small range of low mountains—hills, really, that marked the eastern edge of the Sandpoint region. After trekking up a rocky mountain path, the party discovered the box canyon Bill described, the mutilated body of a single cow, and a moss-covered, well-weathered statue of a ceremonially-armored Minotaur. Closer inspection of the Minotaur revealed an unknown symbol carved into its armor, a circle with a crescent turned sideways atop it. As the party began to inspect the walls of the box canyon, a high-pitched giggle was heard, and it became clear that the mossy walls were not rock, but rather the draped moss concealed a cave, from which three goblins burst, their wickedly curved short swords at the ready. The adventurers were able to make quick work of them however, and moved into the cave to explore, finding their ratty bedrolls and a heavy stone door, slightly ajar, through which a golden light shone.

Through the doorway, the party found a square room, in the center of which stood a gently-glowing fountain. A search of the room revealed a rough-hewn cavern leading off to the northwest; from that direction came nasally, high-pitched voices. Another well-carved stone door was hung in the southeast corner, fixed tight. Arcane runes glowed on the fountain, which Cora was able to decipher as, “With a golden offering to Vex, goddess of chance, one will receive a boon.” The party, with the exception of the devout paladin, Bellum Pacifica, tossed a coin into the fountain and received a variety of blessings.

Through the cavern door, the sound of bickering, high-pitched voices grew louder. Sneaking around the corner, Kyras discovered a small group of goblins bickering. In order to pacify them, the bard entered, singing an epic. The enthralled goblins hummed along, as the party entered to parlay with their king, Fathead I. It seemed Fathead’s sister ran off with their holiest of relics, representing their draconic god. It also seemed Fathead could not count above three. The party agreed to retrieve the icon in exchange for free passage through the “throne room.”

The party retraced their steps through the fountain room and through the stone door into a rectangular room in which two statues of Minotaurs flanked a raised dais and altar, upon which a fist-sized ruby sat. The adventurers quickly learned the room was trapped, as they approached the dais, a sheet of flame engulfed the room, singing Kyras and sending Crysomer into shock. Kyras was able to disable the trap and retrieve the ruby, noting along the way that the Minotaurs had the same crescent-over-circle emblem the statue outside bore. The ruby provided resistance to energy-based attacks once per day. Quickly pressing forward, so the trap would not reset itself, the party found itself in a room draped with spider webs. Small spiders scurried among the web, and as Kyras searched through the sticky mess, a giant spider dropped on him until the rest of the party was able to slay it. Wrapped in spider silk was a desiccated goblin body, on which the party found a small toy dragon, designed to flap its wings when the tail was pulled. Also on the goblin’s body was a wand, identified as a wand of magic missiles.

At the far end of the spider’s lair, the party entered a narrow natural cavern, in the middle of which stood a pillar, again carved with the same crescent-over-circle symbol. Scratched into the wall were the words, “The wyrm’s breath drips death,” in Elvish (oddly, it still rhymed). On the far side of the pillar lay the skeleton of an elf, upon which the party found enchanted boots and gloves. The adventurers camped in this room for the night; to provide a chance to heal and regain spells.

The sound of flowing water could be heard as the party squeezed through a narrow passageway and into a large chamber; an underground stream bubbled through this cavern and a conveniently-placed treasure chest lie across the stream on a small rise. A shadow could be seen moving in the depths of the stream, but Kyras tied a rope around himself and dove into the chilly water. In the chest, he found an ornate long sword, and a hefty sack of cash. As he was nearing the home shore, he felt a tug at his leg; a reef claw, something akin to an eel with a crawfish’s claws, had grabbed the rogue, and was pulling him under. With assistance from the party reeling him in, Kyras was able to land on the bank, and the party slew the reef claw. Cora’s analysis revealed the sword to be a Dragonsbane Longsword.

A tunnel led out of the stream cavern, and wound around until the party found themselves back in King Fathead’s “throne room.” The goblins rejoiced when their “totem” (the dragon toy) was returned to them, and warned the adventurers about the room above, and the dragon beyond, confirming what the party had long suspected, that a dragon was behind the cattle mutilations. A quick climb led up the sheer rock wall at the far end of the throne room, and into a crypt, where five skeletons were interred. Four rose up to combat those who would defile their crypt, most simple wielding ancient scimitars and shields, but one in ornate, but aged and damaged full plate. While they battled the undead, the party could hear “oohs,” “aahs,” and cheers from the goblins in the room below, as the creatures listened to the sounds of the fight and were occasionally entertained by flashes of magic. Putting the skeletons to rest for good, the party again chose to camp, remaining in the crypt. Throughout the night, the sounds of heavy wings and the occasional screech could be heard from the tunnel that led away from the crypt.

The next morning, the goblin throne room was silent; looking over the edge, the party found it abandoned. Again pressing on, the tunnel away led down a carved flight of stairs, through a worked stone chamber; the smell of open air refreshed the party. A collapsed wall in the worked room led into a large natural cavern, which opened to the sky above. Daylight cast shadows on the ground, and one large shadow slowly unfurled its wings and turned to face the party. With a hiss, black acid spat from its jaws, catch the party full on; Cora went down, the others burned in pain. With an acrobatic roll, Kyras was able to flank the dragon, Crysomer drew upon her inner strength and battered it with a flurry of blows, and upon Bellum’s swing of the Dragonsbane Longsword, and the beast took flight through the open ceiling live to fight another day. The party was able to claim the dragon’s small horde, and returning to their point of entry, found Wilburforce the donkey missing!

Somewhere, a goblin boss has trained a war donkey to carry him into battle

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