I think I’m losing my mind. I’m hearing voices. This is getting to be a problem. Every time I start to do something, all I can hear is that it is a bad idea, and that I should do something else instead. I keep looking around at things I know, people I know, and asking myself who they are and how I know them. The motley crew we’ve gathered have also been looking at me strangely.
I can’t let this get out of hand, we have work to do. There are goblins and worse bent on destroying the town, and Hemlock has gone for help. We leave for Thistletop today, to see what we can find out. I expect that we will be outnumbered, and can only hope that we prevail. If we fall here, the city burns.
Ok, so it seems that goblin cowardice pays off. We met a goblin shaman in the thistle patch that was willing to make a deal in exchange for it’s miserable life. This chief “Ripnugget” was apparently the warmonger, killing him and Nualia’s crew should let the shaman take over the tribe, they have agreed to leave Sandpoint alone in the future. Not sure we can trust it, for a goblin, “the future” could mean anytime from tomorrow to next year. I don’t even know if they remember that winter comes each year, or if it’s a surprise each time. Still, Osanna did make the deal, luckily it was broadly worded that we would only kill those goblins who interfere or threaten us, so far as I was concerned, that meant any of them who were breathing.
Ripnugget tried to ambush us of course, stupid goblins. We were ready, and though bloodied, victorious. Afterwards, we found out that the goblins had used more of those old Thassilonian ruins as a home, which is even worse.
Nualia had hired several mercenaries, some local. I took a souveneir for Shalelu during the fighting, I can’t wait to see her face.
Clearing the lower levels proved to be… costly. Kalia was killed by one of the mercenaries. There was nothing we could do, she just stood there firing frantically as he cut her down. She was dead before she hit the floor. We killed him in return, but the loss of one good soul is a steep price, regardless of the outcome.
Oddly, there was a manlike monkey in the prison. Strange creature, Hathus called it a Vanara, I’ve never heard of them. Still, it was welcome help, and after being captured it didn’t want to run out on its own until the area was cleared.
We were able to kill Nualia, although her hired wizard got away. I can’t say as I helped at all, she had another one of those hounds with her, and after it howled I can’t remember anything, until I found myself coming back as they were searching the room.
I was just about to apologize for letting the fear get the better of me when Osanna reprimanded me for mutilating a downed opponent. I have still have no idea what she means, even after talking to her about it during our watch together. Apparently after the hound’s baying I cowered for a few seconds, then stood and jumped into battle with Nualia and her pet, yelling something in Elven. After she fell, I stabbed her through the eye and twisted it to make certain, then stormed off after her cowardly wizard, still cursing in Elven. I don’t even speak Elven, strangely no one would ever teach me. I can’t make sense of it, though I fear it may be related to the voices I have been hearing.
Camping down there was a terrible idea, even if it was mine. The talk I had with Osanna kept me awake for hours. Even worse, when I finally fell asleep I had nightmares about the fight. The hound baying, cowering in the hall, silently screaming at myself to get up and be a man, then blurry visions of doing exactly what she had described to me, but slowly, like I was moving underwater. Thinking about it now, it’s like I can see me, lecturing myself. We will make a hero of you yet, if I have to drag you into it, kicking and screaming. Jana sheltered you, time to man up.
We found an ancient ring and amulet with that same seven pointed star on them, their enchantments unlike anything Hathus or I had ever seen. Maybe with more study, we can figure out what they do. Nualia had a collection of notes and papers that we have yet to fully go through.
Father Zantus has preserved Kalia’s body for the time being, until we can get word to her clan. I made sure that her bow was with her, it wouldn’t do to not leave her with her family weapon.
Unfortunately, we also released something terrible. An evil creature that had been trapped down here for untold years, is now loose. From what we saw it seems it is called a Barghest, but much larger and stronger than normal. It was incredibly tough, though we would have had it if it had not teleported away. I don’t know what we are going to do about it, but now that we have loosed it, it is up to us to track it down if it remains close to sandpoint.
I also don’t know what to do about Hathus. Nualia told us that he had started the fire that killed Father Tobyn, and many of the children. But, she admitted that she is the one who barred her father’s door, to trap him for imprisoning her for her childhood. I don’t know how much to believe. I always thought he was conceited, but a mass murderer?
I think I am too conflicted, Osanna and Samael can handle this. I have my own problems to figure out.
(Module 1, Burnt Offerings, Session 2, 7/13/14. Part 1 of 2.)
The party ate well that night, feasting on roasted boar, poached apples, and spiced mead (except Osanna, who insisted on nothing stronger than fruit juice) from the Rusty Dragon Inn, provided complimentary by Ameiko Kaijitsu. With their bellies full and their bodies weary from the boar hunt earlier in the day, the group of tentative allies slept well that night.
I only have a moment while I prepare myself for an assault on the lower floors. I am beginning to worry. Not about the coming encounters, but my companions. They seem unable to keep their word. Osanna brokered a deal with a goblin to leave the others alone and only remove the leader. Though in the moment, she proved incapable of holding back her sword. Even with repeated reminders of that agreement, all others proved blood thirsty. The task was simple, go to the leader and remove him. Now the poor goblin has no one to oversee but the youth in the basement.
Our sortie into Thistletop has proven to be both surprising and deadly. A skirmish with what turned out to be a goblin druid proved to be a boon. In exchange for his life and rule of the goblin clan after Ripnugget’s demise, he provided valuable intelligence of the enemy’s capabilities and numbers. With this information I’d say that we were better prepared than we would have been otherwise.
Glorious battle was joined. On the first level we slew sentries, horsechopper-wielding commandos, and finally located Ripnugget himself in his haphazard throne room. He demanded a parley with one of our number. My heart of hearts told me that it was most certainly a trap, but if there was even the smallest chance that he could reasoned with then I had to try. I insisted that his two goblin sentries, again commandos, disarm and stand away from their weapons prior to entering the room. My instincts were correct. A trap it was. After insisting that our quarry was under his protection, a squad of four commandos and one of their war chanters attacked along with Ripnugget astride his giant lizard.
We stood victorious. A reward for our valor yielded a great many coins. I was rewarded with a shining angelic ankh crafted of the purest gold. Surely she sees me. Surely she approves of our course. Afterwards, we descended into the depths. We found the double doors that served as an entryway into a blasphemous shrine to Lamashtu complete with altar and 2 hound-like guardians that we were sure would howl loudly and alert nearby assailants of our location. Prudence seemed to be the best course of action as we shut the doors and continued on.
We soon found 2 of our quarry’s cohorts. We engaged the bugbear in his quarters. I threw aside his makeshift barricade and he soon found himself surrounded by steel. He rattled Ko with a sound hit from his heavy flail and called for aid. He was joined by the human sell sword we’d been told of. That’s when things took a turn for the worst. Again I watched as Ko walked the bad side of bravery and was knocked out cold by another bone cracking hit from the bugbear. Outside, in the hall, Kahlia was slain by a resounding hit from the soldier’s bastard sword. The bugbear was brought low and I waylaid the swordsman with a vicious cut.
I closed Kahlia’s eyes for the last time and said the prayers that would hopefully lead her spirit into a better place. Sad though this was, we had no time to grieve. We were burdened with glorious purpose. We five that remained engaged the shrine’s hound-like guardians and slew them, but not before their otherworldly roars shook Hathus to his core. I watched as he abandoned us and retreated down the halls screaming at the top of his lungs. We later found him cowering in the empty jail cells after discovering the living quarters presumably of the bugbear and the rest of the mercenaries.
As I looked into his panic-stricken eyes, the truth was revealed to me. I am now convinced that Hathus lied to me when I spoke with him about the events of the fire 5 years ago. I now also know that those events, whatever the extent of his involvement may have been, have left him a coward and susceptible to fear. When we’re clear of this place I will demand answers. If he attempts to console me in order to soothe my ire, he may find me inconsolable.
It may be about time to talk with my small, green shadow. I fear that his would-be bravery may be the death of him sooner rather than later if he continues to make rash choices in battle. But first….first we need the victory.
The corruption in Sandpoint runs deep. It is the first mistake made by those who have not stood in the presence of the abyss to underestimate how deep and how wide its roots can stretch. Although I at first found it troubling that Lady Ossana bears such a taint in her flesh, I now believe she, more than any of the others, recognizes the danger we now face.
We now know with certainty a few things. The town rests on top of a rat’s nest of tunnels that appear to be from an age gone by. These include a temple dedicated to Lamashtu and tended by demons.
The family of Kaijitsu has self destructed in an orgy of self hate and violence. Again, the influence of the abyss seems likely, although one of the first lessons of an inquisitor is “Doubt not the human spirit’s own weakness”.
Piecing together the tangled history of this town seems to be of utmost importance. The story of the shrine fire, the chopper, and the “deaths” in the fire are at the center of this. To that end, when support arrives from the Citadel, I plan to begin a full and official inquiry. I suspect my companions would resist the necessity of this, so I will stay my hand as long as I can until I have the backing I need. I will have the truth about what happened in the fire. If half the town needs go under the irons to prevent Lamashtu’s spread, then so be it. It is not what I would want for them, but better that than the alternative.
On a more personal note. Lady Ossana has proved her purity of spirit beyond my fears. I now only harbor the fear that she may one day succumb to what must be a nearly insurmountable turmoil. If those of us without her “challenge” fall so easily, she must work ten times as hard to keep her nature in check. I will not see one who has done so much to make better of herself lose that battle. I swear that should she begin to fall, I will save her from herself, even if that means I must fall in doing so.
Osanna shuts and locks the door to her room, doffs her armor, and sits at her humble desk. She lights two candles, and looks at her mirrored twin for a long moment. With a sigh, she sets the perverse Lamashtan grimoire on her desk.
Your own scripture will be your undoing, Demon Queen.
Osanna makes 3 detailed rubbings of the cover of the grimoire, and then studiously pens 3 copies of the same letter.
Brother or Sister Sarenite-
May the Dawnflower find you and her followers in good health and spirits as this letter finds you. I write to you to inform you of the grave goings on in the small town of Sandpoint. The town and its goodly inhabitants have been attacked by goblin raiders hailing from the nearby swamps and islands. More grievous than this is the goblins are being lead and organized by the malformed aasimar-turned-succubus daughter of the once Desnan cleric of this town that allegedly died in the great fire these 5 years ago. It is also highly probable that she has made dark pacts with the local goblin heroes, select human mercenaries, and a bugbear marauder. Two dark shrines to Lamasthu have been uncovered in or near Sandpoint. One has been consecrated, the other was destroyed long ago. If further evidence is what you require, I have enclosed a rubbing of the face of a vile Lamashtan tome detailing the nature and hunting patterns of some of her more nefarious abominations.
The people of this town are stout and undoubtedly good hearted, but against an overwhelming number of goblins lead by well-trained mercenaries and supported by dark Lamashtan magic may be enough to break them. And make no mistake, their sole purpose and intent is to burn, pillage, and destroy Sandpoint and all of its inhabitants. As Sandpoint’s sole paladin, it has been my duty since my arrival to maintain The Evenlight’s shrine, to encourage her worship, and to safeguard the townsfolk with my body and soul as is my oath. It has been decided that the best course of action is to lead a small strike force to the goblin-infested island of Thistletop in order to cut the head off of the snake. I have rallied a handful of defenders that assisted the town guard and me in repelling the initial goblin attack. We depart tomorrow morning. I implore you, for the safety of these good people and for the future of the worship of Sarenrae in the west, send what reinforcements you can to Sandpoint to reinforce these people and protect the faithful. Should I fall, it will pass to you to quell this threat, to grow her worship in Varisia, and to be a beacon of light to guide her worshippers here from the east.
For the Sun and the Fury!
Osanna carefully rolls the 3 bundles and employs wax to seal them with her signet ring bearing the angelic ankh. In the morning, she pays the local courier service extra gold for speed and security during the delivery of her letters.
Yes sir, you heard me correctly. 1 bundle each to the shrines of Sarenrae in Magnimar, Kaer Maga, and Korvosa. With all speed.