Posted on June 15, 2012
The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, LXIV
Gosh, it feels nice to have a title up that doesn’t have the phrase “My boner” in it.
Thanks a lot to Jokes and Rolland for hosting last night. The brats were awesome. Sorry we went a little longer than usual. I must remember to pack the miniatures the next time I take this show on the road.
I’ll update this soon regarding your proposed route to Xin-Shalast and also about what gear you’ll likely need.
Sandpoint to Magnimar
After face-planting in the luxuriously soft beds of The Rusty Dragon, the party, barring Halvard who had summoned the last of his strength to walk home, woke up considerably later that same morning.
Ron was first to emerge from his room, walking out onto the landing that overlooked the Dragon’s taproom… and finding it full of expectant faces gazing up at him. The townsfolk, alerted to the return of the town’s repeated saviours had gathered to cheer their return. They didn’t know who this new guy was, but they knew who he travelled with and so let out a rousing cheer as Ron was stretching the sleep out of his joints.
The cheer woke everyone else up and as they emerged each party member was cheered, with the biggest rounds of applause going to Dagfinn and Kerplak who have been saving this town longer than anyone else, after all.
Breakfast beers were pressed into hands and backs were slapped as the party mingled with their adoring public. Word of exactly what was achieved at Jorgenfist – war with the Storval giants averted – had really begun to sink in with every member of the populace; not least because it was being ably used as propaganda to boost the flagging morale of the Magnimarians. Dagfinn regaled them with the story of their latest adventures and they drank that shit up.
Ameiko eventually managed to fill the party in on some people who had been looking for them. Most recently historian Brodert Quink, but about a week ago some ‘foreign’ merchants stopped in Sandpoint. Odd fellows by Ameiko’s account, but they were looking for the party and information about them. She is reasonably sure that no-one told them anything.
Brodert Quink, however, just wanted to meet for luncheon.
Kerplak meanwhile extracted himself from the impromptu homecoming party and went to check on his house. As soon as he entered, he knew that something wasn’t right, the house was warm, for a start and he heard a noise in a far room that made him draw his crossbow. He very nearly put a bolt through Wheezy’s face as the dwarf met him with a pickaxe handle in hand, ready to brain any intruder. Manslaughter averted, Wheezy admitted that he had been squatting at Kerplak’s house during the winter. Too ashamed to go back to his family in Janderhoff with no earned wealth, he had stayed on in Sandpoint and assisted with the reconstruction of the town after Longtooth’s raid. Furthermore, by way of rent, he had kept up the maintenance of Kerplak’s house through the winter so that the gnome was returning to a well-stocked larder and clean bedsheets. Kerplak was amenable to his houseguest’s presence and they struck a deal by which Wheezy could earn his rent putting together the acid-tipped bolts that Kerplak favours. All’s well that ends well.
Finishing off the handshaking and backslapping, Albedon, Dagfinn, Torgor and Halvard went to Brodert’s for some cucumber sandwiches, tea and scones. Quink had obviously gone to quite some trouble and was immediately and effusively grateful for the part the group played in restoring his academic legitimacy. His ability to prove that the Old Light of Sandpoint was not a lighthouse but the remains of an ancient weapon of almost unimaginable potency restored his standing in the historical community and set the accepted history of Thassilon on its head. Quink had been invited to give lectures in Magnimar, to host symposia at Windsong Abbey and institutions that had once shunned his fringe theories were now sending him very polite letters requesting his presence and work. He was still woefully incorrect about the age of Thassilon, but he is not letting that get him down.
He was somewhat alarmed to hear that Karzoug is returning to this age and even more alarmed to find out that the party was seeking him in Xin-Shalast. Xin-Shalast, after all, was just a legend; the kind of story that almost all cultures have of fabulous cities, paved with gold, housing the fountain of youth, filled to the brim with harem virgins etc, etc. The idea that it might exist was preposterous – surely someone would have found it. Expeditions of other sorts had been in the vicinity of Mhar Massif, and none had seen any fabulous city, it was, he believed a fool’s errand.
However, Dagfinn’s insistence that the city was real triggered a memory in Quink. Pulling down a carefully tended copy of Eidolon by Cyvil Charms, he produced a letter from the author. Eidolon was a gazetteer of sorts for Thassilon, written many years ago now, quite thoroughly out of date on some matters and flat wrong on a bunch of others. The letter from Charms is included below, probably breaking the format of the website.
By itself, Quink had written the story of the Vekker Bros discovery off as a con, as many investors in Janderhoff apparently did. But the new information about Xin-Shalast and Mhar Massif actually fits with the Vekker’s story. Evidently the Vekkers had found a way to find the hidden city.
During Quink’s resurgence as a scholarly authority on old stuff from the long long ago, he had been approached by the Pathfinder Society who were quite eager to make the acquaintance of the party and gain access to a site as fabulous as Runeforge. Quink pointed them in the direction of Gelik Aberwhinge, the Pathfinder agent who had come to visit him.
Once matters were resolved in Sandpoint, they all set off for Magnimar. Not sure how, they may have Albetaxied.
Their reception in Magnimar was quite different this time around as their fame was considerably higher. They found the nicest areas of the city open to them and found lodgings in the very nicest of establishments. They had shopping to do in Magnimar so they went about that business but also took time to stop by the Pathfinder Society’s branch office.
They were met by Ash. Remember Ash? Ash doubts you do. Because if anyone had remembered Ash, they surely wouldn’t have left him to rot in a prison in Wolf’s Ear while charges of lake piracy were being levelled at him. Eventually the Pathfinder Society interceded on his behalf, but not before he’d come to resent Corwin for abandoning him. Upon finding out that Corwin had been killed, Ash was not particularly happy that no-one else had bothered about him. Such shenanigans had also landed him in hot water with the Society, so here he was, desk clerking as penance.
Ash eventually showed them through to Agent Aberwhinge’s office, a stately and tasteful affair that was far too large for its current occupant, a flamboyantly dressed gnome. Gelik Aberwhinge was delighted to meet the party and after offering congratulations on their string of successes got down to business. The Society wanted to buy access to Runeforge from them so that they could start exploring it ASAP. The party was kind enough to point out that it wasn’t entirely cleared out, but Gelik seemed undaunted. Instead, for an accurate logistics assessment (which Arradin could certainly whip up) and the various different steps and tricks to getting into Runeforge (the keys from the statues mouths) to likely dangers (the space-warping effects at the entrances to each hall) the Pathfinder Scoiety was prepared to pay handsomely. 40,000gp as a lump sum.
The part agreed but Dagfinn also pressed for membership into the Society. Gelik said he’s give it some thought after initially refusing.
When they returned the next day, Gelik had undergone a change of heart as he has accepted giving a field commission to each party member. It seemed only right for people who had done so much already in the way of seeking out Varisia’s hidden past. He was delighted to present each party member with a Wayfinder, a gold and silver compass box that is the badge of office for Pathfinder agents.
Membership of the Pathfinder Society is not to be taken lightly, so Gelik asked that they return to cover the ground rules and Society’s tenets over the next few days. Albedon couldn’t wait to get stuck into the repository of knowledge and so headed straight to the exhibits and library. Everyone else wandered around the room testing their compasses until satisfied. With that, our merry band of newly-minted Pathfinders strolled out into the late winter sunshine…
…only to find the remains of some kind of attack. Two hand-drawn carts of packages lay in the otherwise quiet street and several dead bodies lay around. In between two carts a man lay gasping for air, a crossbow bolt having clearly punctured his lung.
Dagfinn and Halvard rushed forward, healing spells at the ready, but as they laid their hands on the man, they realised that it was a clever illusion. The dying man, the dead bodies and the laden carts were all fake. As that dawned on them, six men, clad nose to toe in flowing silk, with unnaturally large eyes showing beneath their lumpy turbans sprang out of the carts and surrounded the group.
Kerplak activated his Cape of the Mountebank and reappeared on a nearby rooftop, raining bolts down on the attackers.
The short, silk-clad men in unison reached up to the scarves that covered their broad faces and tore them away, revealing an inhuman mouth filled with needle-like teeth and two barb-covered tongues that flickered and coiled out of their mouths like tentacles. They attacked with these terrible mouths, biting into the party and then clawing at them with their powerful fingers.
The party got in some good hits that should have stunned or caused terrible bleeding, but the men seemed to ignore these and continued attacking ferociously, ganging up on individuals, even when that meant ignoring others. As they did so, their wounds seemed to heal quickly. Additionally, the bites of the men caused a physical clumsiness that made one’s limbs harder to control.
It took a while and Halvard and Dagfinn both fell, but Ron’s Axiomatic Quarterstaff, Arradin’s massive sword strokes, Kerplak’s bolts and Torgor’s well placed speartips and arrows brought the feverishly aggressive men down. As they fell their torn robes and crumpled turbans revealed further deformities – shallow foreheads crowned with curving horns, cloven hooves beneath hairy goat-legs, odd barbels on their jaws. But any study of these things was impossible as a few seconds after they fell, the bodies began to fizz and sputter as the flesh was reduced to a foul green foam.
Dagfinn, back on his feet believed that they may have been the odd travellers known as the Men of Leng; reported walking the more desolate reaches of the Storval Plateau. Tales tell of them as explorers of sorts, handing over rubies in exchange for local knowledge and access to obscure regions of the north. True enough, the foam covered robes they left behind contained pockets and pouches stuffed with rubies. Quite why they would be here in Magnimar, ambushing the party, is up for debate.