Rise of the Runelords VA

From the Journal of Redgar Ironhand #14
Redgar Back in his Element

I’m writing this journal in the dark, in a natural cavern behind the human Fortress of Rannick. My spells are nearly spent, there’s all manner of blood and filth in my beard, and there’s at least twenty ogres between our position and any path to freedom. Ah, nothing like a good fight to put things in perspective.

We left Turtleback Ferry nearly a week ago, and since then have sent more than a dozen fiends to just demises. Our first encounter was in the ogre’s woods, where we discovered a family of Ogre-kin engaged in all manner of beastly and unnatural pursuits. We took the battle to them, and through a combination of teamwork and good luck ended their worthless lives and the lives of their bestial companions.

We found in the Ogre’s lair three men who had been captured by the ogre-kin—fighters out of Turtleback Ferry who had been offered as a meal to a great black spider they were keeping as a pet. After mending their wounds, they explained that a tribe of Ogres from Hook Mountain had descended upon Fort Rannick and had slaughtered their way through the garrison there. We sent them back to town for supplies, and ventured up to the base of the mountain to inspect the fort for ourselves. After conducting a reconnoiter of the area and reuniting with the rangers, we launched our assault.

Things could have gone better. We had hoped to stealthfully slip into the caverns behind the fort and launch clandestine attacks against the brutes, but we were discovered on our approach and intercepted at the entrance to the caves. After a rousing (and successful) battle, we escaped into the caves and journeyed inward to find a secret entrance at the base of the keep. Things got worse from there.

We discovered a woman there, and when she told us her name was Lucrecia, Syphacia flew into a rage that nearly cost us all our lives. As expected, Lucrecia turned out to be a powerful spellcaster, and used the confusion engendered by Syphacia’s sudden attack to cast disorienting spells on Razan and myself. Aramil and Coram followed Lucrecia as she tried to escape (quite courageously), but were then set on by an enormous Ogre that nearly did them in. All of this because Syphacia refuses to control her temper. Stupid girl.

We found another way in to the keep, and dispatched two very large ogres before we were forced to retreat again. The fight against these two was hard, but well-won, with teamwork as the key to our victory. We did not encounter Lucrecia again, but I have no doubt we will. This fight is barely begun.

We have retreated back to a chasm at a narrow point of the cave, where I hope we can hold up for the night and replenish our strength. None of the others seem to keen on this idea, but I am quite happy with the situation. I have tried to explain that we are in the best possible position to continue our fight. The ogres can not attack us here, but our avenues of attack are multitudinous. This is the kind of fight that dwarves pray for.

I feel our motley band thrives on situations such as these, where life and death hang in the balance. The stress and urgency of the situation has forestalled for a moment our constant need to berate one another, and given us something like camaraderie in the void. Of my companions, my opinions remain mixed. Razan has shown herself to be one of the fiercest fighters I have ever known, though her vocal devotion to the distant sun grows more wearisome with each passing day. Coram continues to be a lecher and a glutton, but his fighting skills are improving, and his valiance in combat is perhaps greater than it has ever been before. Aramil continues to be the voice of reason in our party, though I fear his reckless courage may someday be the end of him. And our two rangers from Turtleback, Jakardros and Vale, have shown themselves to be brave and steadfast warriors, even in the face of insurmountable odds. (I should probably mention that the third of their number, a liar called Kaven, met an untimely death after it was revealed that he was in league with Lucrecia. I only hope that is treachery has not done harm to our position.)

As for Syphacia, she has yet to say one word of apology to me, and I have come to the conclusion she never will. Syphacia has known neither contrition nor regret in the course of her life. In the heat of battle, she is a fury. In her heart, she is a child.

For now at least, my purpose is thankfully clear. There is a martial campaign to pursue here and an evil to destroy. I asked Torag to show me the path, and he has answered. I have no doubt that it is his desire that I bring his vengeance against these foul brutes. I have no doubt he will show us the way to victory.

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The Badger and the Whale
A story of the Dwarves

Redgar recounts this parable between fights while our heroes hide in the caves beneath Fort Rannick:

Eons ago, before Golarion was given by the Gods to the mortal races, the world belonged to the wild creatures of the world. In this time, the whales still walked on land. They plodded about on great scaly feet and scooped up anything they could find into their wide toothy jaws. The other beasts of the world were forced to the edges of the world—high into the mountains or deep into the forests. Only those beasts that could burrow beneath the ground had sanctuary from the whales’ terrible hunger and wide footfalls.

And so the great whales stomped carelessly through the countryside until Benbuck, King of the Badgers, decided to do something about. He and his kin had sheltered in their burrows for years to escape the whales, as previous badger kings had been far too frightened by the whales to raise a paw against them. But Benbuck was different, and he rallied his kind to fight back. While the whales hibernated in late winter, Benbuck called all the badgers to his royal sett to plan an offensive.

When spring came, the whales awoke to find badger holes everywhere throughout their fields. They found they could not walk two paces without having a badger hole beneath their feet, and in these holes they turned their ankles and fell into undignified poses. The whales cursed the badgers and gnashed their jaws, but there was nothing to be done, for the badgers were too quick and too clever to be caught.

When summer came, the whales laid their eggs, and the second phase of Benbuck’s plan began. At night, while the mother whales slumbered on their nests, the badgers burrowed from beneath to chew holes in the whales’ leather eggs. The mother whales kept the eggs all summer, only to find that they did not hatch. The mother whales cried and screamed, but there was nothing to be done, for the badgers’ own kits had already been birthed and well-fed by the egg yolks.

When fall came, the badger’s tricks were too much, and the whales became furious with anger. They stomped, and ran, and clambered about above ground in great herds to show their anger, but Benbuck and the others didn’t care, because they could hide safely in their burrows. The whales jumped and shouted and tried to knock the roofs of the badgers’ setts down on top of them, but the badgers had built their tunnels well, and the whales’ attacks did nothing.

By the time winter came, the whales had become blind with anger and stupid with rage. They stomped and stampeded until their legs came off, and gnashed their jaws until their teeth fell out. And when the first snows began to fall, the whales realized they had no feet to move with, no teeth to chew with, and no little whales to raise to defend them. Utterly defeated, the whales rolled themselves into the seas. There they stay to this day, where they moan all night and day about their defeat by Benbuck’s kin.

That is why, if you ever turn your ankle in a badger’s hole, you shouldn’t curse the beast. Instead leave a fresh egg by the hole to thank old King Benbuck, and all brave creatures that dwell beneath the earth.

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Razan's Account of Events
Wherein She Encounters A Strange Group And Then A Far Stranger One

Dear Javhed,

I completely understand now why I was sent to these people. They are adrift, they are capricious, and they do not trust one another. How then are they supposed to do anything against the evil that descends? I admit, my training has taught me little about the demi-human cultures, but surely they cannot represent millennia of proud tradition. So far these people have been little more than petty and quarrelsome – although I admit they are all glorious warriors. Brother, I am at a loss as to how to unify them.

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Syphacia and Mallisun #1
Syphacia and Mallisun in Turtleback Ferry

The calls of the ferrymen on the lake echoed up from the water and over the rooftops of the small hamlet of Turtleback Ferry. At past midnight, they were nearly the only sound to be heard, apart from the calls of night birds and the high songs of summer insects. From the eave of a silent inn, the elf Syphacia listened to their distant cries, and wondered if they were the source of her disquiet. Surely she had been in worse places before. Surely the world had given her worse things to consider in the dead of night.

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Coram's Continuing Adventures

I don't kno whow long I can take this, really. I'm just about done with these people, and my desire to leave them keeps getting stronger. It seems that no matter what I do, nothing is good enogh for them.  If it weren't for my need to get their assistance on a task that a God, of all things, insisted I undertake, I'd be gone by now.

Syphacia seems intent on tracking down the source of what corrupted her friend. Surprisingly, that has dovetailed into my own mission.  So, things actually seemed to start off on as good of a note as possible for our group. But of course, things had to go downhill from there.

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And also

Razan seems really hot, but pushy, not that can always be a bad thing in the right circumstances…

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Aramil's journal

I don’t think I have ever been so disgusted in my life. These half-ogres or whatever you call them just can’t be contained in the word “vile.” All the things I have seen, all the things I have been taught about the other planees, could have prepared me for those revolting creatures and their eating and living habits.

I am just glad it is over—for the time being at least. I have to be strong for the others. No doubt we will encounter more and they will need me. It’s all just a good reminder why I fight on the side of life and fight to preserve it rather than just snuff it out on a whim or for breakfast.

PS

Regdar seems really withdrawn, even for a dwarf. I wonder what I did. I will have to ask him how he is doing.

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From the Journal of Redgar Ironhand #13
Redgar wakes twice at Turtleback Ferry

This morning, I awoke twice. First was on a river boat approaching Turtleback ferry. I was happy to be at the end of my journey and ready to venture on with my companions to face our next adversaries. I was happy to have purpose again, ready to put bad memories behind us, and eager to accept a new hero named Razan into our jolly band. Upon arriving in town, are party went their separate ways to prepare for the journey to come, and I sought out the blacksmith to get some time in at the forge.

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Redgar and Syphacia at a Funeral
Redgar and Syphacia follow Emmalyn on the final steps of her journey

During Emmalyn’s ceremony, Redgar and Syphacia stand to one side of the altar. Redgar is in his armor, and Syphacia wears her dappled cloak with her bow and arrows slung across her back. Since Emmalyn’s death, the two have been nearly constantly by her side, keeping vigil over the body until it can be laid to rest. Both have done their best to look presentable for the ceremony, but there is an obvious fatigue in their bearings, like an invisible weight borne across their shoulders.

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Coram's Journal continued

The longer I live, the less I understand. 

 A few months ago, I mentioned that I died. Well, Ooops I did it again. This is getting old. Quickly.

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