Pathfinder Inconsistent Adventures

Homecoming
For WFACO, and the triceratops

All things considered, Frank was rather forgiving about the triceratops, leaving us to continue on our journey back to Sandpoint while hoping to enlist the help of Walthus, the halfling warden of the swamp we’d previously helped.

We departed the farm and quickly located the triceratops, lumbering along the road heading straight for us. From atop the creature called a familiar voice—Walthus had already located the triceratops, and was guiding the creature back to the farm.

Walthus quickly briefed us on the mission awaiting us in Sandpoint on our return. Apparently ruins of an identical tower to the one we’d previously explored had been unearthed. We hadn’t seen such a thing in our initial visit to the Devil’s Platter, but there was little reason to question Walthus further. He carried on, returning to the farm, and we finally returned to Sandpoint.

Conrad welcomed us back to the city by immediately requesting payment for boarding and damages during our stay in Magnimar. Frogan departed after receiving a separate assignment from Conrad, and Conrad confirmed what Walthus had initially told us. We broke for the night, each of us going our separate ways and agreeing to meet in the morning.

Rilen had changed little in my absence. The shop was very well maintained, of course, and his business was quite stable, outfitting passersby and getting some work for the city guard. Blackfang’s corpse had been prepared, but the ultimate enchantments to be placed on the armor were still up for discussion with the party.

After spending the remainder of the night catching up with him, I met the rest of the party in the morning and we set out for the Devil’s Platter. The ruins were easy to locate, and the unmistakable stench of troglodytes filled the air as we approached. With relative ease we dispatched a group sorting through rubble. Before falling, one of them, ostensibly their leader, warned that we didn’t know the folly of what we were doing.

That had never stopped us before.

A stairway leading under the ruins was quickly uncovered after we dispatched the creatures. Utter darkness surrounded us in the lower level and we were quickly assaulted. Some kind of undead troglodytes, as well as lizards, bore down on us. Although my positioning was ideal, i was quickly overwhelmed. These troglodytes were far tougher than what we’d originally faced.

Cora was again able to destroy one of the beasts, and Dell got me back to my feet more often than he should’ve had to. The creatures fell eventually and we proceeded further into the darkness. Adjoining the first chamber was a large, carved one. Everburning torches lined the walls, two of each of the chromatic colors.

Statues of winged minotaurs stood watch over an altar at the far end of the chamber, and Cora was able to locate a pair of draconic runes on the walls, but could only identify one of them—“Endless”. On the altar, a closed iron box rested. My skin crawled and blood boiled. I clutched the token from the cult member druid, remembering her promises of cleansing the world with acid, fire, ice, lightning, and poison.

Dell approached the altar. I stood at his side and the rest of the party cautiously approached at a distance. Dell opened the box and found a huge tome. Cora identified it as possibly being dragon skin. The tome was locked and Dell was unable to force it open, but it was the cover that kept my attention.

Along the top of the cover were five jewels, each again matching the different chromatic colors. Under the jewels was emblazoned a crest, a crescent atop a circle. The rest of the party retreated as Dell took the tome from the chest. With luck, someone in Sandpoint will be able to make sense of this, be it a ritual guide, a religious text, spellbook…or worse.

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Animal farm
Did I mention the triceratops?

Our time in Magnimar had grown long. Seasons had come and gone. A feeling of restlessness had settled over the party, though we all found plenty of meager work to stay occupied.

A messenger arrived, claiming to be from Sandpoint, carrying word from Conrad. Details were few and far between, but the message was clear—if we were willing, our services were once again required.

In short order we set out, back the way we had came all those weeks—months?—ago, traveling back to Sandpoint. While there were still some outstanding matters in Magnimar, namely the cult we encountered before Blackfang’s fall, things had grown quiet and leads had grown cold. It was time to move on.

Frogan, Conrad’s messenger, joined us for our homecoming. Dell had also returned to Magnimar, and while he appeared somehow taller and with a fuller beard, he happily accompanied us on the trip back to Sandpoint.

At Cora’s behest we stopped at a familiar establishment along the road to Sandpoint, Friendly Frank’s Reptile Rehabilitation Ranch. Hoping to be reunited with Sparky, Cora led us through the grounds. A small group of shock lizards approached and she was able to soothe them, but we saw no trace of Frank or anyone else. Silence filled the air. Something was amiss.

Throwing open the doors to the barn, Frogan was nearly overrun by a stampeding beast the likes of which we’d never seen. A “triceratops”, I’m told it’s called. The massive lizard charged through the group, stopping just short of impaling Cora, before fleeing.

Ogres swarmed from the barn and nearly every other building on the premises. We defeated the monsters in short order. Cora single-handedly destroyed her fair share, while the rest of us cleaned up the remainders. Thinking we’d finished the last of them, we encountered an ettin in the last building we searched. The two headed monstrosity proved far more of a match than the others we’d dispatched. Locked in single combat, i was left with little choice but to unleash Raiden’s fury. Lightning coursed through my body, devastating the remaining monsters.

Battered and bruised, we’d won. Frank and the others at the farm were held captive inside the residence. Of course, the triceratops was now freely stampeding through the countryside. Someone had to track the beast down.

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YOLO
Guess what day it is.

Blackfang.

I’d hoped we were finally rid of that menace.

I was wrong.

We sent the former prisoners on their way with the city watch, and had much to ponder. Of the multiple leads, which one demanded the most attention? We had learned of the Prancing Prince, and had also learned of the temple underway using the Irespan as its base. Our trek back to the inn was set against a cacophony of discussion, points and counterpoints being raised.

Ultimately, we were at an impasse, but finally compromised on a plan of action. The next day I set off with Cora to question the harbormaster about the whereabouts and activity of the Prancing Prince, while the rest of the party…preached, sternly.

The harbormaster informed us that all the fees on the Prancing Prince had been paid on time, and there was little activity. We traveled back to the remainder of the party and relayed this information; given the lack of activity, the group decided to check the Irespan, assuming the ship would not be going anywhere.

Unfortunately, our journey to the Irespan proved fruitless, save some rather interesting sights, sounds and smells. The slums under the mammoth structure teemed with those scraping by. Information was scarce, and there was little we could do to help the lot of them, sadly. The very basalt of the bridge was corrupt, they said. It had been mined previously, and unleashed a scourge of demons onto the city.

The impossibly large pillars jutting from the sea like teeth taunted us as we gave up, heading back to the inn, noting a group of armored men monitoring another ship and witnessing a violent brawl in the street. I have to admit, the temptation to get involved—only to test my skills, of course—was high, but we left them to their violence and proceeded to develop a plan for scouting out the Prancing Prince, given that the Irespan appeared to be a dead end.

That plan, unfortunately, was centered upon my sneaking onto the Prancing Prince and scouting things. Given how difficult I’d managed to make otherwise mundane tasks, there was more than a little concern on my part as the plan developed.

Using the small rowboat under the inn, Toshiro and I traveled through the water out to the Prancing Prince, moored in the dock. We’d spotted a trio of cloaked figures heading onto the vessel earlier, so following them seemed to make the most sense.

We’d decided that ten minutes was ample time to allow me to scout the vessel. At that point, I was to either signal the group that I was not in distress, that I needed their assistance, or nothing, which would prompt their approach to the boat (as they were monitoring things from the dock).

The night was clear and starry. I dodged amongst the masts and crates on the deck, making my way towards the fore of the ship, when I noted two things. The first thing I noticed was muffled commotion from the storage hold. The second thing I noticed was a shadowy figure crouched in the stairwell leading down, unmistakably monitoring me as I attempted to prowl about.

As my time drew nigh I sought to signal the group that I was not in danger, and wound up kicking an unseen, unlit, lantern instead, causing an immediate change in plans. Knowing that my time was up I hurried to the edge of the ship and lowered the gangplank; the rest of the party boarded the vessel, but the shadow had disappeared.

The upper deck was clear, and this only fueled the party’s concerns. Many of them guessed that the lack of response from those already aboard the vessel indicated that there was nothing we would find valuable upon the ship. Things were being looked at in the wrong way, however. The truth was only that there was nothing on the upper deck worth guarding.

A group of half-orcs greeted us on our descension to the second level, and the unarmed and unarmored disciples were easily dispatched. We descended to the second level, but before we could explore further a black, winged menace made its presence known.
Blackfang.

The dragon burst from the bottom deck through the cargo hold and onto the top deck. We hurried after, surprised to see the creature lingering above the top deck. Wielding the bodies of crewmen from below, Blackfang viciously attacked, and we countered in kind. Toshiro suffered grave injuries and fell, but Adalan was able to revive him while Bellum and I occupied the beast.

In the midst of the chaos Cora remembered the wand crammed into her pack, the two dragons interwoven. Bellum landed a tremendous blow to the beast while Cora dug out the wand and unleashed a blinding torrent of energy…that flew right over the dragon’s head. We weathered the storm for just a while longer and Cora sent another shot, this time through the beast’s chest, leaving a hole as large as my head.

Over a dozen prisoners were kept below decks. We also recovered a map, which appears to be an overhead view of the Irespan pillars. A letter of sorts was found, some kind of infernal love letter to Izmaco. If demons are involved in this and somehow allied with the dragons…well, best not to think of such things.

The wyrm’s corpse is coming back with us to Sandpoint; I should be able to fashion some armor from the hide, and Rilen will hopefully be able to lend his talents to enchanting the item. The guardsmen indicated they’d been aware of this cult but had little luck making any headway; hopefully, we will fare better. The city watch of Magnimar has provided us with letters of mark, and we are to report to them on our return to continue our investigation.

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A mystery solved
And another uncovered

After our defeat at Bengirr’s hands, we exited the warehouse but were quickly set upon by the city watch. Apparently our dispute had drawn a bit of attention, and as we were unable to tell an entirely convincing story—certainly not on account of my ill-timed interjection of the whole encounter merely being a sparring exercise—the city jail served as our bed for the night.

We were released the next morning and quickly made for Skelg’s home. Given our failure to stop Bengirr, Skelg’s status was unknown at the time. On setting foot on his property, the guards we’d bested previously returned to life, their limbs and bones frigid and driven with mindless rage. They were easily dispatched and inside we found both Skelg and Tyros to have suffered similar fates. We defeated them and searched for Adril to no avail.

On our way back to the inn we noticed a figure trailing us, similar to one I’d seen while in Sandpoint. We pursued the nameless shadow to the docks but lost track of the figure and returned to the inn even more wary of our surroundings. Some of the others had not actually seen the figure and followed anyway, yet even I doubted myself on our return to the Randy Priestess.

The next morning the figure returned to track us, and this time we successfully tracked him back to an inn at the docks, freshly painted and standing out amidst a row of dilapidated structures. The Unlucky Sailor faced the water, its main door unmoving and tracks leading around back. We forced our way into the building and found an unconscious man draped over a bar, accosted by some unarmored spellcaster.

Thugs joined the fray and we dispatched the brutes, leaving only the druid as a prisoner and discovered a group of captured citizens that were to be sent into slavery. The purpose of their labor was to be temples built to beings the druid would not name, only rambling that the world would be cleansed in acid, cold, lightning, fire and poison.

That sounded a bit too familiar. Blackfang wielded acid against us, and the green dragon we encountered used poison as its weapon. Our prisoner confirmed my suspicions—dragons. She held a silver pendant of a dragon, burned and tarnished; nobody in the party or that we rescued could identify it, and the symbol did not belong to a deity I am familiar with. This will require further investigation. With luck, perhaps someone at the museum or one of the temples in the city can identify its affiliation.

The guards were fetched and the captives turned over. The druid repeatedly mentioned “Ismacco”, a slaver taking the six to the “Prancing Prince”, what we believe to be a boat located at or near the docks. The nearest temple was being constructed on the ruins of the Irespan itself. Our immediate course at this point is set. We must find the Prancing Prince, end these slavers, and thwart their construction of this temple.

I fear that may only be the beginning.

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Warm welcome
Making friends everywhere we go

After enough idle time to rest up but not so much to go stir crazy, we were at last reconvened with a simple task to accompany the sarcophagus we’d discovered to the city of Magnimar. Although my time spent at the forge was rejuvenating, I was glad to be able to travel with the company once again.

The journey to Magnimar was refreshingly uneventful. Without incident we reached the Capital District and delivered the ancient relic to the Museum of Antiquities. Conrad had given us leave to remain in Magnimar after completing the task, so I traveled with Bellum to a temple of Iomedae to pay respects while the rest of the group procured lodging at the Randy Priestess.

An establishment of such caliber was a promising omen.

The next morning, while pondering our next course of action within Magnimar, a hulking man claiming to be Conrad’s friend approached us. Adril Hestram was his name, and he had need of our services; more specifically, his friend had need of our services. The northman’s comrade, Skelg “The Ripper”, had fallen ill, and our assistance was requested.

Without any other pressing matters to occupy our time, we set off to Skelg’s estate across town. The guards were hesitant to grant us access at first, and became quite eager to see us off the property. Tensions rapidly escalated and weapons were drawn, but we dispatched them with ease. Making our way into the manor we located Skelg and his manservant Tyros.

Skelg’s quarters were hotter than the forge, it seemed; even under numerous blankets and next to a roaring fire, the northman shivered uncontrollably and could not shake the chill from his bones. We were begged for assistance to help the warrior die an honorable death on his feet rather than in his bed.

A suspicious tapestry in one of the hallways of Skelg’s home gave us a lead to follow, and we eventually tracked down Skelg’s nemesis, Bengirr Haldyrson, to a warehouse at the waterfront. Bellum searched for information at the Rosy Fingers, across the street from the warehouse, but didn’t find the locals receptive to his brand of questioning.

With a bit of prodding we were able to gain access to the warehouse and quickly wished we hadn’t. Bengirr had reclaimed the “Beacon of The North” and was taking it back to Irrisen; unbeknownst to us when we were hired, Skelg had stolen the relic from Haldyr Bjornsson, Bengirr’s father.

Our party fought valiantly but we were outmaneuvered by the northmen and Cora ultimately surrendered after the rest of us had fallen. Bengirr, impressed with our martial ability, restored our health before departing for Irrisen, leaving us with much to ponder before making our next move in the city.

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That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp
Dat aft

Although quarters were cramped, we rested well at the cabin and set off the following morning using a map found at the goblin village to guide us. Walthus gave his best guess as to the meanings of the crude sketches on the map, and we set off toward the ruins of a ship that had run aground. Cora remained behind at the cabin and the rest of us set off.

Toshiro was visibly shaken as we approached the burned out husk and discovered the name of the ship, the Kaijitsu Star. The ship’s aft stood out, impossible to ignore. We thoroughly investigated it; I was able to secure purchase and make my way along the remnants of the structure, finding an enchanted blade in the hold alongside a decayed goblin skull. As the blade is the chosen weapon of his goddess, Adalan took the scimitar for his own use and we continued on. The sword should suit him well; Busty was able to detect necromantic energies emanating from the weapon. Hopefully the priest can contain or make use of them.

From the charred remains of the ship we ventured to the ruins of an outdoor temple. The pillars were huge, and a blood soaked altar stood out against the wilderness. A globe of impenetrable darkness occupied the center of the temple. A simple light spell was cast near it, but did not dispel the darkness. Using his naginata, Bellum prodded the darkness, and then chaos erupted.

A cloud of poisonous fog erupted from the darkness, which subsequently dissipated. A monstrous green dragon was revealed where the darkness had been, and although I had managed to avoid being trapped in the cloud, others were not so fortunate. Busty collapsed, overcome by the toxic cloud. Enraged, Fosdjiin unleashed his axe and sent it sailing towards the wyrm, burying the blade in the creature’s side.

Bellum stepped up and engaged the creature, inflicting a grievous wound with his sword. Adalan was able to revitalize Busty and I closed in on the dragon as well, though my handaxe seemed rather ineffective compared to the blades the others wielded. Without further injury the dragon fell. I can only hope we deal with Blackfang as easily should we encounter him again. The dragon was found to be guarding a stairway leading down, and after regaining our strength we traveled down into the darkness.

As soon as Bellum stepped off the stairs a wave of ethereal purple light washed over us, then retreated. It took a moment for us to realize that some of our magic items had become mundane. Cautiously we proceeded into the darkness; as we are without Kyras, I found myself scouting ahead through the caves. I tried descending through a hole in the stone floor, but my grip slipped, making what should have been an effortless landing unnecessarily painful.

The rest of the party descended on a rope into the chamber. A group of skeletons occupied the room. All but one were strewn on the ground; the last sat atop a decorated chest, and Toshiro recognized the crest on its armor as that of the Kaijitsu clan. Adalan unleashed a torrent of energy that disintegrated all the skeletons save the seated one. Toshiro issued a challenge to the Kaijitsu skeleton, and although he suffered a tremendous wound, the Kaijitsu retainer was able to defeat the skeleton.

With haste we returned to the cabin and reunited with Cora, then made our way back to Sandpoint. There was much discussion along the way about the fate of the chest and the items found within. The disagreement largely centered around the rightful owners of the chest, whether it should be returned to the Kaijitsu family or the party should rightfully claim it as a reward. Truthfully, if Toshiro had not pointed out the Kaijitsu crest, I would not have objected to the party keeping it. Knowing that it once belonged to the Kaijitsu family, however, I did not feel right taking it for our own gain.

Eventually an agreement was reached to return the chest to the Kaijitsu family with Toshiro offering the rest of the group a sum of gold to serve as a reward. The family graciously gave us the entirety of the contents, and we paid a visit to the different magicians in town to determine what exactly we had found. A slippery old acquaintance helped instruct Cora and Busty in the use of one of the wands which, when used properly, could identify the nature of other magical items. We had a multitude of potions and discovered what had drained the magic from our other items. A rod shaped of two intertwined dragons was kept in a smaller chest, nestled within the large one. In the magician’s words, we have to feed it magical items to increase its power.

Perhaps it will make for a nice surprise for our old friend Blackfang.

Through all of this we found no sign of Ameiko’s brother and sadly informed her of this back at the Dragon. Conrad was missing, as he and others in town had departed for a conference of some sort. That blasted cavalier was recounting a tale of rescuing a farmstead from an ogre while we caught up with Ameiko. Perhaps I’ll look into this matter further. Given his tendency to embellish, I suspect it was likely little more than a pair of goblins that his party vanquished.

At last, we’re departing from the Dragon, taking the rest of the night to go our own ways while we wait for Conrad’s return. Perhaps this coin will help Rilen make some needed upgrades to his shop.

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I was daft to build a castle on a swamp
From the journal of Crysoner Garrett

The smell of the Rusty Dragon was different today. Something hung in the air. Even Conrad seemed frayed when discussing the increasing frequency of the goblin raids. The dwarf looked like he was being pulled in too many directions at once. He tasked us with finding out the cause of explosions to the south in the swamp. Without hesitation we accepted the task; as much as I enjoy being back in the city, I am eager to see what the bogs hold.

At the same time, Ameiko urged us to seek out her brother or clues regarding his whereabouts. The ranger had last been seen to the south, and with our destination already being set at the swamp, we agreed to keep alert for any signs of him.

The venture to the swamp was largely uneventful. We traveled along the road much of the trip until finally reaching the Brinestump marsh. There was no sign of Ameiko’s brother along the way. A cabin caught our attention, owned by a Halfling ranger. The Halfling claimed to be Walthus, the self-appointed warden of the swamp. However, the others noted something was more than a little odd about him. Bellum’s senses kept the paladin from being fooled by the faceless stalker who had assumed Walthus’ identity.

We quickly dispatched the creature and after searching the cabin found the true Walthus. He recounted his story and we proceeded to venture back out into the bog, stumbling across a goblin village. The vile Licktoads swarmed us but were dealt with swiftly. With luck that will ease some of the stress of the increased raids.

Before returning to Walthus’ cabin we came across the residence of Megus, the Swamp Witch. Boggards had overrun her shack and her rotting corpse was discovered inside. We drove off the breeding creatures but were unable to stop them from releasing their spawn into the water. This will be something that demands future attention, I fear. After claiming a highly decorated dagger as our prize we rested at Walthus’ cabin and replenished our strength. And yet, still no sign of the missing ranger.

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I'll Sit Here and Drink...

Following clearing cavern, return to basecamp.
Same night, a pyre is built for Jinx.
Next morning, joined by Del, Adalan (Human Cleric of Sarenrae), and Belkun (Illusionist).
Belkun knows Dash, Greer, and Jinx.
The party, the professor, and the laborers begin to excavate the cavern.
That night, it’s revealed Belkun, Dash, Greer, and Jinx, a party known as the Farstriders, were the ones who found the cold iron box Lady Amorthya had in her chambers.
Also, an elven samurai steps from the woods, seeking the Kaijitsus.
Party splits, half to guard the caravan, half to guard the cave.
A laborer is killed by a ghoul.
Kyras disappears.
Cora assumes Kyras was turned by Jinx.
The party splits to search for Kyras.
Coming together not far from the cavern entrance, the party is ambushed by orcs.
Following the orc fight, the cavern is excavated fully.
Upon return to Sandpoint, the party assists with the unloading of the artifacts from the Kaijitsu tomb.
It’s noticed that a laborer pulls up his cloak and disappears into the crowd.
A few attempt to follow, but are unsuccessful.
The party takes the Jade Katana to Kaijitsu Manor.
Lady Amara Li takes the katana, unwraps the hilt, and removes a scroll. She rewards the party.
Lord Kaijitsu gleefully takes the treasures with which he has been provided, but upon seeing Toshiro, orders him out.
Lady Amara Li and Toshiro discuss how she knew the information, it’s revealed the skeleton from the Kaijitsu tomb was his father, and he storms off to claim it.
Sujin, the ever-dutiful servant, provides the remaining party members with a bottle of rice wine, and together, they drink.
Professor Abernathy reveals there is a second, much older, body interred in that sarcophagus, beneath a false bottom.
Accompanied by Bellum and Adalan, Toshiro laid his father to rest in the cemetery at Sandpoint Cathedral.
Meanwhile, Cora and Busty visited Trade Prince Aaqir Al’Hakim, and regretted they were unable to find anything. Hakim was not entirely believing, but still allowed them to go, along with a token of coin for their trouble.
And that’s where we left off…

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You Smell Delicious...

The mission of the members of Wilberforce Adventuring Company was multi-pronged.
1. For Conrad, WiFACo and the University in Sandpoint, the caravan of archaeologists was to be guarded and artifacts of Tianese origin recovered.
2. For Lady Amara Li, Scion of House Kaijitsu, a jade katana was to be recovered.
3. For Trade Prince Hakim, a generations-old trade agreement was to be secured.
4. And of course, Lord Kaijitsu was always looking for odd artifacts of Tianese origin, as well.

Into the catacombs claimed by the Kaijitsu family, the members of WiFACo, led by the now-ghoul Jinx the rogue, entered into a chamber that had clearly been modified. On the ceiling was a fresco of Dosojin, the Tian goddess of travellers, bathed in a yellow light. At each of the doors an arch had been erected in the style of a torii gate. The red-orange paint of the gates and the tiles of the mosaic had chipped and faded through the years. The door directly ahead led to a storeroom, full of crates of musty silks, barrels of now-vinegar rice wine, and other long-forgotten trade goods.

To the north, a door led into a cooler room, fed by a fountain. Once two human statues supported a bowl, from which cool water ran into the fountain’s basin. Now, one statue lay in rubble, water flowing from the remaining one, into the ruined basin, and puddled on the floor, a small stream flowing into the next room. Close examination of the statue revealed the word “Water” carved in Tian on it, when spoke aloud, a gush of cold, fresh water burst forth, knocking anyone in front of it down. A lone five-foot hallway branched off from the room, dead-ending some twenty feet down. A thorough search reveled nothing, however. A doorway led north.

The next chamber was more roughly hewn than the others, an abundance of fungi growing on the floor. The stream from the previous room disappeared into a crack in the wall. Small piles of rubble lay under the fungi; both Bellum and Phozzie swept the fungi away with their weapons, revealing ruined statues similar to the one in the fountain. Phozzie began to refer to tapping stone with his axe as his “detect metal” ability. Gr’lk gathered a variety of the fungi to use examine and use as ingredients. Finding nothing else, the adventurers headed back south, into the chamber with the mosaic. Jinx grew increasingly impatient, struggling with the ghoul taking her over.

The door was locked, Kyras was able to open it without a problem, however. An irregular hallway ran south, jogging east, where a warm glow could be seen around a corner. The hall was notably warmer than the previous chambers. Heading in, to their right, the party discovered another statue, it’s arms outstretched, two gems softly glowing red in its hands. To the left, a shelf stood piled with scrolls. Cora was able to get through to Jinx enough for her to reveal the statue was inscribed with the Tian word for “fire”, but Jinx quickly took to sniffing the party members. A mercy kill was debated. With a careful inspection of the bookshelf, Cora realized that every one of the scrolls she looked at had the same Tian letting, and with that, the bookcase became hazy, the illusion weakened. Back to the statue, Cora attempted to repeat the word for “fire” and the area immediately around it exploded in flame, but died out instantly. A locked door stood at the end of the hall, Kyras was able to unlock it, but noticed something “wrong” with the lock.

The next chamber was perfectly square, another mosaic of Dosojin in tile on the floor. No other door led from this chamber.Four human statues in each corner bearing a lamp. The lamps of the statues each contained a glowing gem, a sliding shutter could hide or reveal the light. After much experimentation, matching the light to that of the yellow in the second chamber caused a door to reveal itself on the far south wall.

In the center of the next room sat a golden sarcophagus, flanked on the wings by eight more. Jinx slunk up to the sarcophagus and read the lone work inscribed there, “death.” With that, the lids of the eight stone tombs were dragged open by hands inside, and slowly, skeletons and zombies stood to face the adventurers, as Jinx turned and attacked as well. During the fight, Kyras was bitten by the ghoul, but the party was able to defeat the undead. Inside the golden sarcophagus rested a corpse, decked out in the finery of a Tianese warrior; a jade katana in his hands. Additional weapons and armor of the Unapproachable East were found on the body as well. But no trade agreement was found.

Eventually, the party returned to the chamber where the fungus grew, and inserted the jade katana in the crack the stream water disappeared into. The rock face tumbled, and the stood up, a small earth elemental guarding whatever was behind the wall. After dispatching the elemental, a small cavern was revealed, no bigger than five feet back and ten feet across. A stone stand in the center of the cavern held a scroll, that appeared to be the original the illusions were based upon. Flanking the scroll were two halfling-sized statues of Tianese warriors, each carrying a spear that appeared to be removable; Detect Magic revealed these were +1 Short Spears. Along one side wall, a shelf contained small chests of gold coins and paper bundles; along the other, a shelf contained bottles of fine rice wine.

Returning to the camp, the party reported to the university team and the other adventurers what transpired. Dashiel, the cavalier, and Greer, the cleric, were saddened by Jinx’s death, and made plans to retrieve her body. The university’s team translated the scroll; it was an inventory ledger of what the cavern contained:

From Jinx: +1 Eel Hide Leather, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, dagger, shortbow, quiver with 20 arrows, masterwork thieves tools, opal worth 200 gold pieces, potions of cure light wounds (x2), potion of protection from evil,

From the body of the Tianese general in the sarcophagus: +2 Lamellar Cuirass (AC +4), +1 Silken Ceremonial Armor (AC +2), +1 Ghost Touch Naginata, Masterwork Butterfly Sword

From the stone chamber: +1 short spear (x2), 5000 gold pieces, stacks of paper in bundles (10,000 gold pieces, but in Tianese bills), 50 bottles of rice wine valued at 10 gold pieces each.

From the storeroom: assorted crates of silks, casks of rice wine, and barrels of spices, all damaged and effectively worthless.

So…now, what?
Do you head home, abandoning the archaeological dig?
Do you stay while they excavate the rest of the site?
Do you seek to find a cure for Kyras, who’s about twenty-three hours from waking up REALLY hungry?
If you DO head back, who gets what (The University, Lady Amara Li, Trade Prince Hakim, Lord Kaijitsu)?

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The Lady with the Demon in her Box

April 13, 2013 23:30
Following their expedition to The Dragon’s Punchbowl, the adventurers found Ameiko Kaijitsu returned from her troglodyte-hunting expedition in the Brinestump Marsh; over drinks, she shares that Tsuto—her elder half-brother—disappeared one night, initially wandering into the swamp, and then his trail disappearing. Ameiko is not overly concerned, as he has wandered off in the past, and when he wants to disappear, he will. There’s a chance he returned to the manor, as he does still live there, but she expected him to return in time for her sister’s party. The ranger, Shalelu Andosana, remained in the marshes to seek more information; both on Tsuto’s whereabouts and on the troglodyte, who declared out-and-out war on the swamp’s goblins.

As the party departed The Rusty Dragon to investigate rumors of Amorthya’s return and see if Tsuto did return home, an explosion rocked Sandpoint. Smoke rose from the theatre block, and it was quickly determined that the imploded, smoldering remains of Amorthya’s town home remained. One black-bricked corner rose from the foundation, the rest of the building haven fallen into the basement. Talk around the scene revealed that many claimed to have seen Amorthya come and go, either walking in the previous night or departing on a broomstick that morning. The elf was scheduled to give a lecture on summoning at the university the following day, and members of the party slipped away from the scene to investigate, speaking with various professors before being directed to Amorthya’s classroom…
Meanwhile, decorative activity for Lady Amara Li’s party bustled on the grounds of Kaijitsu Manor. The same butler who welcomed the adventures upon their first visit for Lord Kaijitsu’s test once again answered the gate. He had not seen “the young Master Tsuto,” nor was he aware of his comings and goings. Turned away, the party met up with their companions at the university…

Upon entering the classroom, it’s quickly noted that there is a silver-haired elven female lying in the front of the room, overlapping a summoning circle. A mottled cat batted at the face of the elf, but quickly jumped to a nearby bookshelf as the adventurers neared. As Bellum picked her up to heal her, the elf’s features melted away, leaving a blank grey face—the doppelganger swung the hand axe he had hidden beneath him at the paladin’s head. Reacting quickly, Bellum dropped the doppelganger. The desk in the front of the room came to life, its brownish-black pseudopods revealing a mimic. Following a tense battle later, the bookshelf the cat jumped on revealed a safe. Kyras’—accurate—investigation revealed a shoddy lock, but failed to reveal the Burning Hands trap that caught both him and Gr’lk in its blast. Inside the safe, the rogue found a small ebony-and-silver chest and a locked tome. An eight-by-eight square grid was embossed upon the tome, alternating black and silver squares. When the grid is touched, a riddle appeared on it…

From his home in the south, a shining knight rode forth
To pass this tome’s key to a bishop wandering from the north
The bishop carried the key to his king’s dark tower in the east
Trace the path of the key for the lock to release

After some debate, the party was able to trace the series of moves in a game of chess that followed the riddle, unlocking the tome. Wary of traps, Cora opened the tome from a distance with the tip of her staff, and the following words glowed upon the page…

Well, that took longer than I expected. I came up with that puzzle while my evening’s entertainment was catching their breaths. I’d expect you to have more endurance than they did. But, I digress. Your superior, Conrad, asked me to pass along any additional information I could. What follows is the process to unlock that little box you picked up from me. Have fun playing with the toys in there, if Conrad allows you to have them.

I also did a little research of my own because it amused me. Black Fang’s little experiment with the troglodytes was an effort to raise an army to take over Sandpoint. Unfortunately for him, religious fanatics like that group of Troglodytes were of no use.

The rest of the book provided an in-depth guide to a ritual to open the silver box retrieved previously. It is far beyond the casting abilities of Cora and Busty, and requires numerous unusual components, including blood or horn of a lesser devil, powdered silver, a blessed holy weapon, black dragon acid, and alchemical frost. It appears all of these will be consumed in the ritual to unlock the box. Meanwhile, the doorway to the room filled with the faces of students and teachers wondering what the commotion was. Departing quickly, the adventurers Returned the tome to Conrad pleased the dwarf, “I knew that lass was more capable than she claimed! There’s always more to her than appears.” He said he would pass it on to casters in Magnimar.

Two days pass uneventfully—while the adventurers considered traveling to the Brinestump Marsh to engage in a search for Tsuto Kaijitsu, but time was against them. At the Snapdragon Festival, aroma of blooming orchids and flowing wine mixed with the acrid tang of recently exploded fireworks, and the sound of strangely discordant music comes from a duo of Tian women playing an unusual stringed instrument and a reed flute. The crowd mingles calmly, most guests clearly hoping to be seen more than actually paying attention to those with whom they converse, though the plum wine seems to have affected many who now move about the manor’s grounds waving sparkling wands of fire and shooting whirring, whizzing fireworks into the sky above the koi pond.

Only the luckiest or most influential received invitations to Amara Li Kaijitsu’s annual Snapdragon Festival celebration, and wise recipients took advantage of them:
Mayor Kendra Deverin, looking nothing like the puppet of her Gr’lk carries.
Watch Sherriff Balor Hemlock, looking uncomfortable in dress uniform
Sujin, the Sapphire Sage who facilitated the test on the previous visit
The gnomish professor spoken to at the university library, engaged in a rapid-fire conversation with the gnomish librarian who assisted research into black dragons, and Del—three, maybe more, conversations occurring at once.
Conrad appeared, with what appears to be a nymph or a sylph on his arm
Other wealthy and powerful from Sandpoint, many professors from the university and well-known actors from the theatre
Sergeant Redgrave was not in attendance, as he was on duty this evening.

After the perusing the party, the adventurers were invited into Amara Li’s private study, where they found her seated on a reed mat before a low table set with an exquisite porcelain tea set. She motioned them to sit with her around the table, and once the door closed behind and they had taken their seats, she began talking in a low, hushed voice without even the hint of a Tian accent:
“Well met, and welcome again to Kaijitso Manor. I hope you find the Snapdragon Festival and my hospitality worthy of your time and energy. I have not brought you here for mere pleasantries, however, and wish to speak to you of a private manor. I have reason to believe that long ago, one of my mother’s most esteemed ancestors, who was rich in power but poor in sense, upon finding a familiar face—or any that was not as pale as the natives, gave a gift to a sellsword, a gift that mercenary did not deserve and my foolish ancestor had no right to give—a ceremonial jade katana. The sellsword supposedly served my ancestor, and I have reason to believe he was buried with the jade katana in a family vault, the vault to which you will be accompanying Professor Archimedes Abernathy. White I understand your role in this expedition was my father’s wishes, I’m looking for an intrepid group to retrieve the sword for me, and I’m hoping that is you. The fame and wealth you will doubtlessly recover will bring you much honor, and if you deliver the katana to me, you will have my favor as well.” Without doubt or debate, the party agreed to Lady Amara Li’s task, Phozzie up and rushing through the rice-paper door. Amara Li face palmed, and dismissed the group,

Outside the private tea room, they bumped into Conrad, who now appeared to have a fae on each arm. He brusquely asked if the group was enjoying itself, and without spending much time to find out their reactions, wandered off with his companions.

A short time later, they were approached by a man decked out in the military finery of an Eagle Knight’s ceremonial uniform—a bright blue overcoat with polished gold buttons, gold eagle epaulets, and a fine, black felt tricorn hat. The handsome man is a charmer who clearly thinks very highly of himself. He speaks loudly and confidently, as if he wants the entire party to “overhear” his conversation “Greetings! I hear you’re headed out into the wilderness on official “family” business. Best of luck outside though you look like sturdy enough adventurers. Perhaps not Eagle Knight material, but qualified for the work of Wilberforce."

At this point, an annoyed Crysoner simply spat at his feet and turned to walk away. As he also turned, he said over his shoulder—“A word of warning, beware the walking dead. Crumbling ruins surrounding are rife with them, and you’re likely to run into more than your fair share. Undeath is the worst kind of slavery."

The rest of the party wound down quietly, as guests began to leave. It’s worth noting that Tsuto Kaijitsu never appeared at the party.

The next morning, while all gathered in the same place, the group was approached by a man in robes and a keffiyeh head scarf. He introduced himself as Trade Prince Aaqir al’Hakam, of Kelesh. He is soft spoken and subtle, quite the contrast to Major Maldris’s ostentatious pomposity, and addresses them in a slow, level voice with a strong accent. “Like a fast-spoken djinn, I’ll get to the quick. I know where you are going. She thinks it belongs to her family. House Damaq of Kelesh claims the ruin, but we are willing to allow you access for the price of a small task easily accomplished during your adventure. You will be well compensated, I assure you, for profits are most rewarding when shared. I assume treasure-seekers like yourselves are interested in such a proposition?” Without waiting for an answer, he continues, his eyes intent and his posture rigid. “We have reason to believe the catacomb she claims is Kelish, not of her people, which is why we claim it, and we are willing to defend it, but there are really only certain things left we are interested in: trade agreements, of which we believe there to be many within the ruins. All we ask that you do is to turn over all trade agreements you find to us as soon as you return to Sandpoint, as we will be able to hold the signers to them even centuries after their signing. The satrap of my house—nay, the entire Empire of the Sands—has much to offer, and I personally have no qualms about sharing those resources with you, specifically. Shall we shake on this agreement?” As it did not blatantly conflict with their mission for Conrad or for Lady Amara Li, they agreed to the Trade Prince’s mission as well.

Two mornings later, the party met at Sandpoint’s north gate, where they met Professor Archimedes Abernathy, and three additional adventurers: Dashille Faireborne, a cavalier; Greer Steen, a cleric of Thoth; and Jinx, a rogue. After the caravan reached the edge of the Mosswood, the three others hacked their way into the forest, while the main group stayed behind to set up camp. As evening fell, Dash and Greer returned, heavily wounded, but Jinx did not. They told of a battle with ghouls, in which the ghouls we slain, but so Jinx also fell. The next morning, the adventurers headed into the woods, while the other two stayed behind at base camp to recover. A mile into the Mosswood, their path ran along a steep stone face, before ending at an open cavern…

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