Rise of the Runelords VA

Aramil's new entry

Things got pretty exciting and hairy at the same time. It’s amazing how the foes we face become more vile and vile as time goes on as well as so much more powerful to match our ever.

Things got started when we had to figure a route down the mountain to the secret entrance. Natrually I had the foresight to use my magic to summon a gold dragon. After some monetary persuasion the dragon agreed not to ferry is but to act as a distraction against a roc that was patroling the area. Instead it ran into a red dragon and both of them were unable to affect the other with their breath weapons.

We then flew to the entrance where we met some dastardly harpies that almost eviscerated Piotr and Regdar almost lost his hammer. Nasty spiders followed which almost cocooned us until I save Syphacia with a force spell. Then we met some kind of nasty gnomes or the like that kept on kicking us and running before we could retailiate.

That led to a “friendly” kobold who led us to a giant I felt we could trust more. We are in their hands now.

And my father hangs in an execution room ready for the slab. Revenge will be swift and we will save him.

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Syphacia and Mallisun #9
Syphacia and Enga have a sit down

Mallisun held his stare on the Kobold in the way he might challenge a rival cat. His ears were flat, his tail was fluffed, and the hair on his back was up to give the illusion of an inch more of height. Though Syphacia held the firepelt to the floor with pressure from her hand, the cat seemed ready to throw her grip off at any moment to spring at the little reptile.

Enga had a similar coil to her lithe frame. Her scaly hands clenched tight on the shaft of her spear, her knees bent to give her mobility, and her brow knitted with concentration. The more she stared down Mallisun, the more she seemed ready to hurl the spear in their direction. It was some surprise to Syphacia that Enga had held her attack so long.

Syphacia ran a soothing hand down Mallisun’s spine as she searched for any remaining spiders that could avoided her detection earlier. She leaned close into Mallisun’s neck as if examining a particular spot, and begged over their mental link,_ Please stop provoking her_.

She started it, Mallisun returned in a thought.

There was a crashing sound in the hallway outside, and everyone in the room lurched in alarm. Syphacia’s companions reached quickly for their weapons and shields, while the Giantress Conna rose from her seat. Even Enga turned her spear to the hall for a moment, as if ready for attack.

There was some cursing in booming giant speak from beneath the door, and then the sound of an ogre’s cry as he was punished by his overseer. The tension in the room bled away. Mallisun and Enga turned back to their staring contest.

“Why does it stare?” Enga demanded suddenly, “Will angry kitty try to bite Enga?”

“No,” Syphacia said plaintively, “He’s just a little on edge.”

“Enga kill cats before,” the kobold boasted with a heft of her spear, “Big cats…bigger than your orange fur. I make arrows from cat teeth.”

“That was very clever of you.”

“Of course,” Enga replied proudly, “Enga master hunter. Enga has fought cats, bears, wolves, snakes…all creatures…even dragons.”

“That’s amazing.”

“Yes,” Enga agreed, “Enga will write song about it one day. Will be sung for all clutchkin. Enga will be legend.”

Syphacia smiled, “I can’t wait to hear it.”

Enga responded to the expression with momentary confusion. After a second or two her yellow eyes narrowed with suspicion, “Why you no frown like other fools? Why you smile?”

“Because I like you Enga.”

Enga coiled back into a battle stance, “Smiling elf is trying to trick Enga.”

Syphacia felt Mallisun’s jaw clench and his shoulders tense, but she managed to hold him from rising. Syphacia said calmly, “I doubt you would fall for any tricks.”

Enga thought on this a moment, and satisfied, returned to her full height, “Yes. Enga no fool. Greatest of warriors, Enga is. Spearlord…master of battle…greatest of all Scalefolk.”

“I’m sure you’ll make an impressive queen someday.”

“Yes,” Enga agreed, “On silver throne…with pretty blue stones. Enga like the blue stones…and red stones…and sometimes green.”

Syphacia looked down to Mallisun thoughtfully, then back up to Enga. She said, “If we kill Mokmurian, what will you do next?”

The kobold shrugged, “Maybe hunt mammoths, maybe hunt orcs. Maybe hunt orcs riding mammoths. Enga will find something to do. Enga is smart.”

“You won’t go home?” Syphacia asked softly.

“Is not time yet for home,” Enga replied, “More to do here.”

“Like what?”

“Killing, stealing, normal things. Enga must be stronger before she returns.”

“Why?”

“Master of my tribe is old dragon. Blackhorn has watched over us for five hundred years. Enga will need much skill to kill him.”

“You’ll have to fight him?”

Enga’s laugh was like the clucks of an angry chicken, “How else you kill dragon?”

“No Enga, I was asking if you have to fight him to go home. Can you not return until he’s dead? Can you not make peace with him?”

“No,” Enga snapped, “No return without victory—not in Enga’s world.”

Syphacia raised an eyebrow, “Are we not in the same world Enga?”

“Never,” the kobold hissed.

Syphacia was surprised by the answer, but more surprised by the spite she heard in it.

Enga came closer, her hands tightening again around her spear, “Your world, elf world, is world of words. You speak and argue, and tell world what it is. You think words have meaning, and so words do. You think life has meaning, and so it does…until words fail.”

The kobold thrust her spear forward suddenly, close enough it could have grazed Syphacia’s cheek had the kobold wished it. Syphacia fought to hold Mallisun from rising, while she struggled to keep herself from flinching away from the serrated edge.

Enga sneered with mismatched fangs, “Enga’s world is world of power. The strong take, the weak die. Enga learn by living, not by silly words, not by stupid ideas. Life is struggle, life is battle, life has meaning. Life is not lies, is not words. Life is real.”

Syphacia’s eyes slipped toward the spearpoint. She said, “I’m sorry you feel that way Enga.”

Enga made an expression that was probably meant to be a smile. She pulled back the spear and rose again to her rigid warrior pose. She said, “Pretty elf has lots to learn.”

“I suppose I do,” Syphacia responded coolly.

“Mokmurian will teach you,” Enga said confidently, “You’ll see.”

With this Enga laughed again, the sound echoing against the high ceiling. She then darted away on running steps. Enga stopped at the doorway, reached to the handle with a long stretch, and then cracked the door to stare beyond. Enga slipped away as the massive door levered shut on its own weight.

Mallisun put his head against the floor, She’s right.

“I know she is,” Syphacia whispered in answer.

In the far corner of the room, Syphacia could hear Razan, Aramil, and Redgar arguing among themselves. Coram added sarcasm, Piotr added pessimism. The sound of their rushed voices grated in her ears.

She tried to trust that their words would find a way.

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Concerning the Situation at Hand: A Recounting of Events
- 4708, Absolom Reckoning

I'll maintain this journal yet, if only to retain my sanity and squeeze some vague sense of enjoyment from the current situation. The stone floor here is cold, hard, and unyielding… much like our trip into this Hellpit. Between this broken, disheartened little band of riffraff and death lies a mere three or four yards and a piece of leather covering the entryway. I will be mightily surprised if we survive the next few days.

This all started with Aramil recruiting a Dragon to aid us in distracting Mokmurian's various aireborne sentries. I do hope she was well pleased with her payment for the job, I don't imagine she lasted long. On the other hand, she did do her job damn well, considering the facts. The contract was upheld, and that's all I need to concern myself with. Little did we know Mokmurian had far more than a Dragon awaiting us. As we proceeded in our flight down towards the caves, we're beset by Harpies. Nearly bested by Harpiers as well. Blasted fuckers nearly sent me to my death and almost lost the Dwarf's apparent relic of a hammer. None of my remaining spells were of much use, the bastards just flew loopholes around everything I managed to throw. See what happens when we go into a fight without the ability to throw my explosion? That'll teach us to drain the arcanist any more before combat.

Trouble did not end with the Harpies. Ah, нет, that would be too simple. In fact, the two troubles overlapped; we had killed but two of the flying nuisances when, from the cavern ledge, came several massive unholy spiders, their shambling corpses serving as a den for thousands more spiders. Deathwebs, so they're called by the Drow, with webs that extinguish flame and reak of cold and rot. After an exhausting fight, we travel into a tunnel mutated and warped by centuries of arcane energy, where we faced what appeared to be some haggard Gnomes with atrocious fashion sense and a tendency to spout shrill giggles as they kicked us through crevices. I suppose I can't blame them for their cowardice, but Gods, is it annoying to be on the other side of something like that.

Even after all of this shit, I feel as though this will be an enriching experience for many of the people here. It seems as though some take this too lightly. Adventuring is a joke, an amusing hobby devoid of enough danger to kill. They act like petulant Human teenagers, the lot of them, bickering and being contrary just for the sake of it. I hope this situation will at least open somebody's eyes.

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Razan's Account, the Eighth
We're only trying to fight a whole army. ... What?

We squabbled over discussed at length the best way to approach the caves. Several problems presented themselves, among them that we had no idea which cave was the one that might get us into the giants’ lair. In the end, Aramil summoned a gold dragon. (I am intrigued that the beast would answer his call. Perhaps he is more misguided than evil?) It was quite polite, challenging the impression I had thus far of dragon-kind. Still, it took a fair amount of coin to convince it to help us.

We sent it to draw off any guards while we snuck through the air. Brother, you would have laughed at me, trying to walk – with the aid of a spell – a full seir above the jagged rocks. I dared not show discomfort. The group was fractious and nervous enough as it was. But what I would have given to be on a fast horse riding over the plains instead! We could make out the forces arrayed around the fortress, a variety of tribes. It was a daunting sight.

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Chronicles of Coram #16

I fear this shall be the last time I write.  I think my time is finally over. Obviously SOMEONE up there had plans for me, but I believe I have fullfilled those plans, and now live on borrowed time. I think my next death shall be permanent. Having died twice, I don't think I really FEAR death anymore, but still, the thought of it being permanent this time is unsettling.

 We find ourselves somewhere in the middle, I think, of Jorgunfist. Everwhere around us are enemies. I dont' think there's a room other than the one we are in, which does not contain enemies. I fear that any combat in one room will attract the attention of others and bring them running. Everything around us seems to be a giant or an ogre, and as we've learned, they hit hard. Oh, yeah, and Lucretia is here as well. We've had SO much success against her.

Sadly, we do not seem to have an easy way to escape, either. We ran from some fey creatures in some strange tunnels that were very narrow and hard for us to fit through, but easy for them. It was almost impossible for us to fight them.  This was after being caught between harpies and some enormous spider thing. We barely survived that, and have just now found a place to rest. 

The future does NOT look bright.

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From the Journal of Redgar Ironhand #21
Redgar Prepares for the Battle with Mokmurian

If this is not the belly of the beast, then it is certainly some point disturbingly close to it. For we have managed to dig ourselves into the catacombs beneath the fortress Jorgenfist, amidst hundreds of foes eager for our blood, and within reach of the Giant King himself. We rest now only by the gift of a giantress named Conna whom we trust only because she says hates Mokmurian more than we do. We are to kill him for her so that she may take back stewardship of the Stone Giant tribes. Lovely…

I’m sorry to write in a tone of such bitterness, but my bones are tired and my energy nearly spent. It took every ounce of our combined power to fight our way into this cavern, only to realize once we were in that there is no way back out. I should have guessed as much, I should have realized that the lesser known way was not necessarily the easier of our options. I try not to second guess our choices now, but at times it is difficult. It seems that these foes are almost too much for us. I try to believe that there is still hope, but there is only so much blood that can be spilled before hope falters.

Our journey in was certainly not the easiest of feats. It started auspiciously enough, with a summoning spell from Aramil that brought a Gold Dragon named Luminia to our aid. We asked her to distract the sentries while we made our way in through the caves, and she accepted for the price of some jewels and other tribute. This plan, carefully laid, quickly ran afoul of the Red Dragon the giants have as their ally. We don’t know what happened in the fiery battle that followed, we were too busy making our way down into the chasm.

The plan would have gone well, if not for the harpies…and the spider swarms…and the monstrous undead spider hulks the swarms used as their homes. It was only some miracle of teamwork and combat prowess that gave us victory over these foes. And it was not nearly over yet.

The passage beyond the cave entrance was narrow and dark—which was fine—to a point. Beyond this point we found the magics of some mischievous fey—cretins who moved through the rock as if it were water. They attacked us, bloodied us, and nearly killed two of our number. If not for Razan’s bravado I think they could have killed us all.

And then came the most monstrous joke, a kobold imp named Enga the giants had left as sentry at their back door. By the point we reached her we had neither magic nor strength to fight the little wretch, and she seemed to know it. She forced us to treat with her in order to gain her favor, and by Torag, we had not choice but to accommodate her. Through some miracle of Syphacia’s charm and Piotr’s wordsmithing, we were able to convince Enga to take us to Conna. This is where we learned of Conna’s plan to overthrow Mokmurian.

This plan of Conna’s would seem like folly if we had any other choice. Simply put, we’ve been asked to fight our way into Mokmurian’s chamber, past at least three sets of guards, hopefully without bringing the rest of the fortress’s soldiers down on us in the process. Assuming that we can fight our way into his chamber, Mokmurian himself promises to be a near unbeatable foe. This is a creature that has killed or crippled anyone and anything that has ever approached him. I have faith in my strength and skill, but I know not if they are enough to carry us through.

And as I doubt, I think of my father, and I wonder if he lives still. And I wonder, if I die, is there any hope for him—or any of my friends—or perhaps the world at large. Our enemies play with powers of great and terrible import. If we fail, the whole of Golarion could pay for our weakness.

If my father were here, I know he would choose the path that would take the fight to our enemies. He would take it without a glance back, without compunction or doubt. He would fight because it is the right thing to do, and now so must I. He teaches me courage in this dark time. So even if I falter, even if I fail, I know it is courage and honor that brought me to this fate, and I will have no regrets for it.

Perhaps as you read this now I have fallen and am no more. If this is what has come to pass, know that I went to my fate with my back straight and my chin high. Know that I faced evil with allies of pure heart and noble soul. By whatever trick of providence, we came to fight this evil together.

Know that I would have had it no other way.

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Razan's Account, the Seventh
Apologies and Apathies

While in that town I mentioned, there was a giant attack. They came for slaves and food and brought with them a red dragon. I come to loathe the beasts – giants and dragons – more each passing day. Of course, we could not leave the kidnapped to their their fate, so we set off after. This went as well as things always do for us.

Feh! This place infects me with cynicism. Or perhaps it is these people.

We were unable to catch our quarry. Our horses could not make up for the longer legs of the enemy. (What I would not have given for a fine Qadiran steed!) Along the road we ran into another raiding party and here, perhaps, is where part of my foul outlook set in.

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Syphacia and Mallisun #8
Syphacia and Mallisun in a Barren Place

Syphacia focused her senses across the barren plateau, searching beneath the violet canvas of evening sky for some sign of life. She found what she was looking for in the sound of dirt being moved by tiny claws, beneath the roots of a lopsided scrub bush.

“There,” she said to Mallisun, crooking a finger outward, “Beyond the rocks. There’s a mole rabbit digging under that bush.”

Mallisun’s ears rotated to confirm the sound. He listened a moment, then turned his attention elsewhere. There was a kind of sardonic laziness in his thoughts as he pictured a perched owl on a rock outcrop a thousand yards out.

Nightbird, he thought across their link.

Syphacia frowned, “That’s a little obvious, don’t you think?”

His tail flicked in irritation, Your turn.

She took a breath and raised her chin, turning her attention again to the arid plain. As high as they were on the Storval Plateau, there was little to see, and less to comment on. She supposed the vistas between the mountains were nice, but there was little vegetation here, and hardly any life that could subsist on it. What little fauna they had come across thus far had seemed eager enough to kill them. She doubted it would get much better before it got much worse.

The elf spotted a shadow slithering between piles of wind-worn boulders, “There’s a Dustsnake—must be ten feet long. Probably good eating.”

She had added the last bit to invite Mallisun’s stomach into their game, but the cat was too irritated with her to take the bait. Knowing it was his turn, the firepelt raised his head a tad, let out a weary breath, and then laid it back down. He pictured the owl again, Nightbird.

Syphacia mussed the shaggy hair on the back of his neck, “You know you can’t use the same one twice.”

Mallisun grumbled discontent, then turned an ear behind him. He pictured Redgar scribbling in his journal, Dwarf.

Syphacia sighed. She couldn’t blame Mallisun really, the scratching sound of Redgar’s quill could have been a knife in her ear. At least he wasn’t speaking at the moment, which was more than she could say for Aramil and Jaden as they huddled together on the far side of the lean-to. She wondered sometimes if they knew how much of their conversations she overheard even when they spoke in whispers. Callistria’s devotees certainly had imagination on their side—some of their sweet nothings were enough to make even Syphacia blush.

She shook her head in resignation. It had been easier when her companions had slept through the night. Now—thanks to rings of sustenance from Piotr—they were almost always moving, talking, making distracting noises and spoiling the stillness of the night. With their constant stirrings at her back, watch duty had gone from a thankful respite to a loathsome chore.

Behind her she heard Piotr muttering spellwords to himself, Coram swallowing from a wineskin, and Razan measuring long breaths as she meditated. She got the feeling now and then that all five her companions would rather be screaming at each other. But they had found out the price for errant words two days ago when they had been ambushed by a Giant warband. The experience had not been a pleasant one.

Mallisun leaned into her, Tired.

Her expression softened for her companion, “I know baby.”

Hungry, he added. The ring Syphacia wore did not seem to extend its nourishing powers to Mallisun. Of their party, he was the only one who retained the need to eat and drink normally. Redgar had offered to make food and water for Mallisun, but thus far Syphaica had been able to convince the dwarf that it wasn’t necessary. Honestly, she just didn’t want another fight when Mallisun turned his nose up at the offering.

“I’ll find you something tomorrow morning,” she assured the cat. She thought for a moment, then searched her belt pouch for a piece of pork jerky she had purchased in Ravenmoor. Syphacia offered the morsel to her cat, “Until then you can have this.”

Mallisun took the jerky and chewed it with gusto. The smacking sounds of his feline lips would have been disgusting if they hadn’t been so cute.

Don’t like it here, Mallisun thought as he swallowed the meat.

“I know Mal,” Syphacia agreed with a tender caress.

Want to go home, the big cat added petulantly.

Syphacia let her ears turn well beyond the camp, off to distant cries and songs from guttural voices. Even at the distance of more than a mile, the rhythms of Giant drums and ogre chants were distinct on the night breeze. There were thousands of them to be counted—thousands of enemies to take arms and stand in their way.

“Soon”, she answered the cat, “We’ll go home soon.”

They both knew it was a lie.

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Aramil the whatever

Well, here we are into the belly of the enemy. Exposed to the elements, hiding from giant birds, it’s just damned unnerving. And I can’t even allow Jaden’s charms help distract me from the situation. I am just too upset about my father to enjoy the arms of another person.
My magic continues to grow. More spells, and my magic has more effect. Did you see that giant get sucked into the Plane of Shadow? That made the whole trip seem worth it.
Razan is still a pain in my arse. I wish she realized how much Jaden and I respect and admire her, even if we don’t agree with some of her philosophies. But she is so hostile. I wish she could have a relationship like Regdar and Jaden. They are both clerics, of gods of very different alignments. But they seem to get along fine. And what’s wrong with that?

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Coram's Thoughts (#15)
Probably NOT #15, but it's time to number them.

So much has happened recently that it's hard to keep straight. It is, actually, almost overwhelming to me. It makes me want to go bck and drink, almost anyway. But, despite what my companions think, much of my excessive drinking seems to be behind me.

 Upon returning to Magnamar, I found a mesage from my father. He wished to train me in some newer paths of merging fighting and magic. I agreed and have now learned the new techniques he wished to teach me. I find my spell-casting to be more limited than before, which in some ways worries me. However, I have been fortunate enough to learn some other new abilities, which I hope will help keep me alive. 

To whit: I returned to Sandpoint for the Swallowtail festival again. True to form, some other distaster erupted while we were there.  Has it really only been a year? It seems like so much longer.  It must be my companions.  Regardless, the town was beseiged by giants, bears, and a dragon. We managed to survive, but family members and town residents were captured. It was decided we would pursue the giants. After a few distractions along the way, including an almost fatal encounter at some stairs, we have ended up at their fortress.

I have a strange feling that I've seen this before. A fortress with giant type people occupying it.  Hopefully this time we will not find any of "Mamy"'s kin here. They were revolting. After much arguing over how to proceed, Redgar prayed to Torag and found a cave entrance below a cliff.  We will now endeavor to enter the cave and enter the fortress from below. One hopes this will go better than the last time we tried such a thing, but I'm doubtful. 

 As usual, our party bickers constantly. Surprisingly, even Redgar and Syphaccia do not seem to be getting along as well as usual. Part of me is amused by it, but part of me fears it will lead to our deaths.  Well, I've died twice before, so I don't really see the harm in doing so again. 

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