Rise of the Runelords VA

Concerning the Situation at Hand: Embittering Business
- 4708, Absolom Reckoning

      There's something very wrong with this whole mess. Indeed, I belive "wrong" and "mess" are far too appropriate for describing everything that's happened so far. Since meeting my newest companions, I've been caged, crushed, trampled, blinded (more than once of late), and been generally made miserable… and the entire affair continues to move downhill. 

      My companions, being the ragged and mismatched band that they are, have continued to bicker constantly. At this point I'm more inclined to abstain from all measure of communication. My previous points of argument tended towards the opinion that "our current course of action is too stupid to be worth anything," but nobody listens. Or, rather, they listen and then show a blatant and unsurprising disregard for the underlying message. Ah, well. Provided we all die here, at least nobody else will ever have to deal with these people. I'm beginning to think we are our biggest enemy, and this is not something you can throw a fireball or swing a sword at.

       After finally "agreeing," we moved in and walked straight into the first of several reminders that we're in over our heads. Redgar, appropriately magicked for stealth, moved down the hall and attempted to release the dragon-blooded dogs guarding the way down and encountered something we had all managed to overlook; dogs have a good sense of smell, and magic requires verbal components to cast. After some goading from Razan we managed to convince them to move on… in the most religious sense possible.

      Our foray continued down a massive deserted stairway and straight into a series of rooms designed to remove those foolish enough to walk in of their lives. The first was covered in some sickening illusion, topped by a spell that reduced us al to Halfling size. As if that wasn't enough, the Gods above also decided to throw a giant of some sort at us in such a state. I suppose Our Lady Gray has a darker sense of humor than I first thought.

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Razan's Account, the Ninth
Warp and Tension

Do you remember, brother, when Nuwairah would tell us stories while she wove? The tension of the warp threads, she said, was what allowed her to create beauty before our eyes. And then she would recount a tale of some great hero – Husam al Din or Sultana Qadr – and how their trials shaped them into the legends they became. I am trying to hold on to that now, hoping that this is all leading to some great purpose and trusting – trying to trust – that the Everlight is weaving. In my mind, I see you arch your brow at my lack of humility. My chuckle at the thought attracted Mallisun’s attention for a moment.

We are deep in the enemy’s lair now. My companions finally realized that we had run out of time for squabbling planning. A monstrosity that had once been a giant nearly killed Redgar and myself. It did kill one of the prisoners. There was nothing we could have done, I think, but it frustrates me all the same. Rage drakes gave us more trouble, hounding Redgar as he flew overhead and grabbing Coram with vicious claws. I was so close to falling that time, I swear I felt the Sun’s heat on my face, but I kept fighting. Eventually, between the lot of us, we sent them to hell where they belong.

One good thing that came out of all that: I have helped some small few to see the Dawnflower’s glory. Presuming I can get them out of here alive, perhaps my Lady will gain a small temple or shrine of her own in Sandpoint.

I killed the lamia Lucrezia, the one they have been hating and harping about since I met them. I felt a little bad for striking the final blow; Syphacia wanted that kill so badly that the mere mention of the thing’s name made the elf’s pretty face a mask of ugly hatred every time. And yet, in the aftermath she seemed to take no satisfaction. I feel responsible for that. I could have held out a moment longer and let her have the kill. Still, difficult to exercise such restraint in the heat of the battle, yes? I also killed the thing’s companion – its lover, maybe? I know not. Nor do I care. The creatures were enacting some unholy rite when we interrupted them.

Redgar’s whale trapped a pair of trolls under the rubble of a wall. I intend, if I survive the next while, to go back and finish them. I will not leave them to an eternity under the rock, not even such vile things.

Have I mentioned how much I loathe magic sometimes? Certainly I appreciate Aramil’s and Piotr’s magecraft when the enemy is scorched by flame or lightning. However, these caverns and rooms that make one ill with the way the walls twist while a giant comes at you and… You will laugh at me here, brother, but I will recount it anyway. For a few minutes I was no bigger than Nuwairah. I have not been halfling-sized since I was five years old. I find the perspective no longer suits me. Redgar, Piotr, and Aramil’s companion Jaben were also so affected. Bah! There is no honor in such tactics!

(To be continued… we hope)

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Chronicles of Coram #17

Shockingly, I'm still alive, and not by any direct form of divine intervention. At least, not that I've noticed.

The group somehow agreed to head down into the dungeon, leaving most of the giants, ogres and other assorted beings behind us. First we went to save Aramil's father, who was still alive, but being kept for some kind of human sacrifice.  There was some kind of giant…. Thing there. IT was sort of a giant, but not completely. It had runes carved into it, and i"ve not seem anything like that before. Eventually, we were able to defeat him.

 We faced off against Lucretia and an associate of hers.  She's finally dead.  In fact, she didn't last very long.  I think our combined hatred of her gave us all a single minded task to kill her this time and be done with her. I had forgotten how unifying hate can be when it's not targeted at me. Her companion fell afterwards.  

 During battle, Redgar summoned what he calls a "Whale" to aid us.  It was of little aid, but after the battle, he sent it to scout ahead, and it managed to collapse some walls and trap trolls under there.  It's a cruel fate, but really no more than they deserve.  I won't shed a tear for them.

We also faced some rage drakes.  The battle did not go well, and sapped a lot of the party resources in spells and some items.  Thankfully, I hope, I've been able to hold on to most of my limted spell repitoire.  I have a feeling we'll be needing it soon, as I am sure another battle lies around the corner for us.

 Should we survive another day, I might actaully start becoming optimisitc.  And that will likely be the death of me.

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Syphacia and Mallisun #10
Syphacia Deals with Lucrecia's Death

In death, the Lamia’s snake-like body had twisted back on itself, such that its torso lay back against the coils of its reptilian lower half. The Lamia’s glittering scales had been burned, broken, and pierced a dozen times during their battle, with many of the arrows from Syphacia’s bow still standing out from ragged wounds in her torso and shoulders. The fiend’s eyes were now directed upwards, with a blank, confused expression that took in nothing at all. As Syphacia approached, she half expected the monster’s eyes to refocus and the Lamia to rise again. Syphacia kept her bow ready with an arrow on the string.

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From the Journal of Redgar Ironhand #22
Redgar on the Run

I write this as I catch my breath between battles, in a room under some strange enchantment. Not twenty feet from me, a runeslave giant lies dead by our hands. Before us, there is yet another door to be turned aside. Our battle must go on, for there is no turning back. I’m not sure how much further I can run, I pray only that it will be far enough.

We know at least that the prisoners from Sandpoint are safe—for the moment—our first stop was to their prison to set them free. There we fought a giant of hideous proportions that emerged from the soil like some great burrowing worm. The battle was fierce but quick, and though we lost one of the prisoners to the monster’s wrath, the others are now free. Unfortunately, by freeing these prisoners, I may have placed my father’s life and the others with him in greater peril. I can only hope that our next battles will be quick enough to allow me to return to free him.

Knowing we would have little time we pressed onward from the prison. It was my idea to try an act of sabotage to aid in our assault, I had Aramil cast invisibility on me and used one of Piotr’s flight spells to proceed into the next chamber. There I found two rage drakes, chained to the floor like guard dogs. I attempted to distract them with a spell, but their senses proved too keen. I managed to release one of the beasts before the other attacked me. I was able to distract the second beast while my friends put down the first. The second didn’t last long after that, but cost us dearly in spells and energy.

We knew the next chamber was the Lamia’s den, and so we proceeded with an all out assault. I summoned Torag’s whale and we did battle with the fiends in a rushed battle of fire and magic. Syphacia fought like a dervish, and finally had the chance to slay the one named Lucrecia with the aid of Razan’s blade. The other Lamia fell quickly after that. It was something liberating to see our old foe finally vanquished—but I knew we had no time to savor our victory.

I sent the whale on to scout ahead while I treated the others’ wounds. We heard a din, and when we approached it became clear that the whale had finished out its magic by crushing a pair of trolls in their cowardly hiding places. It seems the whale was Torag’s servant indeed.

Onward and down, we descended into what we knew to be Mokmurian’s layer. Here we expect stranger foes, creatures unseen by mortal eyes for hundreds of years. At the bottom of the tunnel we entered a strange room whose dimensions defied understanding. Our presence sprang a trap, and I and two others were struck by an enchantment that shrank us in our boots. It was then that a runeslave Giant attacked us. Fortunately, the more magically resistant of us made short work of the brute.

Which brings me back to the door in front of me. In moments we will push it aside and face our next enemy. I’m sure the battle will be fast and brutal. My remaining magic is limited, but Torag has not left me defenseless. We will see how these foes stack up.

Now is the time to stand, now is the time to fight. A warrior’s work is never done.

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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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