Elohey

Road to Justice
That is quite a lot of mud.

The party traveled west to their home city of Aquitaine. Home is quiet. Most folks are hard at work every day in fields or on ranches, raising the next year’s food. Nobody has time for side ventures like pie-eating contests or legal trials. They are glad to see The Snafu Guild safely back home, and a few townsfolk show up that evening at the Rusty Dragon Inn to hear stories — especially, who is that cranky fellow you have tied up? Who are these two young ladies? Why is the one wearing a thick veil?

And, of course: Did you bring anything for this year’s Swallowtail Festival? We are starting our preparations for it, you know! Only a month away!

Chaliimriia is not here. Darly Quince has not seen the priestess since last she saw all of you. But no one has heard any reason to worry, either. Darly has some fairly crude ideas on what is keeping the elven woman away … ideas she won’t share if she knows Zhang Sephia is in hearing range.

Somehow, last night, Miro Teague solemnly promised the bakers of Aquitaine that he will bring back a full bushel of rutabagas AND no less than three bottles of “Essence of Lemon”. They entrusted to his keeping a necklace of cavansite stones (cavansite is believed to be petrified shell from some kind of dragon) to pay for these future baking ingredients. They hope Miro can get them a good deal, and not spend all the stones; these are an inheritance from great-great-grandmother, and have long been the bakers’ good luck charm. If he can bring back more than half of the necklace AND everything they need, they have promised him the first of EVERY KIND OF BAKED GOOD prepared for the Swallowtail Festival. EACH ONE. First cinnamon roll. First cheddar biscuit. First chess pie. First bowl of chicken-and-dumplings. First rhubarb tart.

The next morning, off you all went to travel the Warden Road north, bound for Morodar. You have a fresh team of donkeys to pull each vehicle. You have Magus Tillion tied up and tied to the railings of the open-topped cart. You have Mungo the very bitey weasel familiar gnawing on the thick bars of the pet carrier which Marcos hastily constructed during his night in Aquitaine. You have food and camping gear stored in the covered wagon. You have Jana and Sally Demay driving the covered wagon.

It’s still the first half of summer. It rains more often than not. So long as you stick to the hardest-packed parts of the road, everything should be just fine.

Right?

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Set in Stone

As spring shades into summer on odd-numbered years, Aquitaine hosts a five-week Great Fair. People spend the summer months recovering. They spend the next six seasons preparing their crafts or their produce, their wardrobes, and their savings. Many spend the spring leading up to the Great Fair working as fast as they can to get ahead of normal duties, to give themselves plenty of free time.

Visitors travel from as far away as Thysbee or Lakefell. Some are part of a regular merchant caravan, accustomed to travel on the Warden Road. Others travel only for emergencies, or to compete and sell and shop at a Fair such as this.

And then, there are the orcs of the Longgrass Plains. Sometimes no orc presence appears at all. Sometimes a hunting party or three will camp out in the wild grassland outside the western border of the city; they might stay a few days, or ten. Their visits might overlap, one hunting party leaving the morning after another one arrived. Rarely, an entire tribe shows up one morning while the Fairgrounds are being set up. That usually means some sort of political negotiation will be happening between the leaders of that tribe and the heads of more “civilized” nations.

This is a “political negotiation” year!

This year’s Great Fair is mostly complete. Some of the merchants are already packing up. They figure that most of the big spending has been done.

Anyway, it’s been raining for a day and a half. It does not look to let up soon. Best get down the road before things start to rot!

~~

A man named John Shire is the spokesperson for one of the caravans. He has a regular route that he travels about four times a year, so he has exchanged friendly nods with the local adventurer guild before.

On even-numbered years, or in the latter half of an odd-numbered year, Shire Merchant Company normally heads north to the Geldar Republic trade city of Morodar. So many merchants head straight there from the Aquitaine Great Fair, however, that Shire’s caravan instead heads east, toward Lakefell. He goes south on the Warden Road first, to get around the bulk of Sog’s Lake. That gives him a mostly straight shot across wild grasslands, south of Thistletop Keep.

“Here’s the problem,” John Shire is lamenting: “I can’t be taking some of these wagons through the Devil’s Platter. I have to use the milder land of the Longgrass. But if this is one of those years-” he waves a tankard roughly westward. “Most likely, safety on the trade routes is the topic of all that bother. I got a daughter! I can’t be having orcs attack my caravan. I’ll be fine once I pass Quilton’s Rise, but until then?”

The captain of the guard for the Shire Merchant Company, one Lawrence Smith, suggests that John hire the adventurers for security. They’ll be more interested, belike, if you tell ’em about Earthshield!

This is an idea that had not occurred to John Shire. He sets out to do exactly that!

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Kobold Diplomacy
I think it's pretty obvious who took all these critters. But WHY?

The aftermath of Nualia’s dark plot have taken hard work in the ancient city of Aquitaine. Storehouses have been depleted and the many uncovered dangers still are not all permanently cleared. Still, this is an important city on the continental trade routes. Her people will recover, will thrive again … unless they starve to death first.

Not only livestock have gone missing from the surrounding ranches, but also many of the draft animals used by the caravans. Citizens are now three times as busy with the work of survival. The city turns to its resident adventurers for support!

PCs:
Marcos Galvos (accompanied by Chibi)
Zhang Sephia (accompanied by Xifeng who does not currently earn XP)
Miro Teague

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings
Lessons of History

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, in the ancient ruins Thistletop, south of Aquitaine …

After Nualia’s defeat, the heroes explored deeper into the ancient ruins. Ancient magics, goulish workshops, and what may have been an expanded tomb all pointed to the complex being the former home of another Runelord.

Uncovering ancient secret doors, they find themselves at a platform and greet what may be another member of the long forgotten Runelord Order, the Runelord Karzoug. In exchange for information, Karzoug agrees to let them stay and sleep. When they have rested, he wants to know what and who has invaded his realm.

The party takes a well-earned rest, with hopes that the conversation with Karzoug will go smooth with little complication.

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings, Part 16
Dust of the Past

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, in the ancient ruins Thistletop, south of Aquitaine …

With Nualia’s death the atmosphere of raw magic, and fear bleeds out from the air and drifts away from the ruin. But the tunnels and crypts below Thistletop remain unexplored. And the feeling of dread permeates the ancient stonework.

With Nualia – and perhaps her mysterious patron’s – influence removed, a new sensation rises in the ruins. A feeling of ancient power rises from the stones themselves. A presence that perhaps has noticed the conflict, and waits to see what the heroes will do next …

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings, Part 15
Mysteries of Thistletop

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, in the ancient ruins Thistletop, south of Aquitaine …

The heroes had met with the Aquitaine Council, the matter could not be considered lightly. Aquitaine was going to be attacked again, but not by a surprise raid of kobolds. It was to be by an army of kobolds, undead and worse.

The Council began preparations: bolstering defenses with the help of a lone kobold loyal to Aedlered, preparing an ancient ritual of divine binding and protection, they begin to do all they can to be safe. At the same time, the heroes take a barge and sail south across to the lake to Thistletop to confront Nualia head on.

At the ruins, they avoid the kobold patrols, and discover a medusa who has been using the upper galleries of Thistletop as a refuge from trophy hunters. Her name was Virasha, and with her help, the heroes make their way past the upper defenses and down into the heart of Nualia’s underground stronghold.

But not all goes as planned, as the heroes are now caught between one of Nualia’s mercenaries and her demonic yeth hounds, and a room damaged by the telltale signs of a Hellcat, summoned from the Abyssal Outlander plane.

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings, Part 14
Council of War

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, in the ancient city of Aquitaine …

… the attack had been well planned to catch the heroes while the slept. But fate had other plans, as the heroes managed to throw off the Graveknight’s spells and confound his skeletal troops. In the end, it was the Graveknight who was trapped, not the heroes.

Now, after a well-deserved rest and meal, one of Aquitaine’s guards arrives at the Rusty Dragon Inn with a message. The Aquitaine council needs to speak to the heroes right away.

Across Sog’s Lake to the south, Nualia stalks through the tunnels beneath the ruins of Thistletop in a rage. The quasit is gone, as is one of the graveknights. She talks deeper into the ancient corridors, intent on completing her fiendish plan. She grabs a Leiterkern and sends a furious message to the kobold tribes, bugbear cultists and graveknights. The message is just one word: “now”

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings, Part 13
Conflict in Aquitaine

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, in the ancient city of Aquitaine on the northern shores of Sog’s Lake …

the heroes emerged from the ancient Catacombs under the city. Behind them, the city guard enter to begin the work of securing the ancient tunnels so they cannot be used to invade Aquitaine again.

Despite the plans of Nualia still hanging over their heads, the heroes retire to the Rusty Dragon Inn to rest. Through the evening, they relax as Ameiko makes her best dishes of grilled herb chicken, hot and sour soup, plum rolls and piles of her own special recipe of spiced triple-tang spring rolls.

While they sleep, dark clouds gather across Aquitaine’s night sky. The walls are quiet. Other than the night watch of the city guard, a lone raven is out for the night. It’s pitch black eyes stare unblinking at the Rusty Dragon Inn, while the chill of undeath rolls off its feathers.

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings, Part 12
To the Halls of Thistletop

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, beneath the ancient city of Aquitaine on the northern shores of Sog’s Lake …

the dust settled in the ancient catacombs. With the quasit killed, her grotesque magespawn creations seem to be less directed, if they have not exploded. The statue of Alaznist returns to its pedestal. Her trident remains with the heroes for the sole purpose of ending the threat posed by the plans of “Lamashtu”.

More questions remain. Aedlered’s axe, just what does it contain? Who made it? What role did the Erylium, the quasit that rebelled against Alaznist, play in Nualia’s plans?

While the heroes secure Alaznist’s catacombs, the Stalker slips through the dark pathways of the Mosswood. No kobold, fey, or even redcap challenges the undead creature.

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

*Map of the catacombs so far (select map for a larger view) *

Map_of_Alaznist_s_Catacombs.jpg

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Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings, Part 11
The Catacombs

It has been said that it all began with a simple band of heroes. Heroes who chose to side with an orcish warrior, instead of a thief.

A thief who called himself ‘king’.

Once upon a time, beneath the ancient city of Aquitaine on the northern shores of Sog’s Lake …

… the heroes followed the old smuggler tunnels and uncovered an ancient complex guarded by vargoulle, and pairs of magespawn guards. The stones in the complex are old, much older than any of the brick of Aquitaine above. Carvings and a statue date the location to the bygone days of the Thassalonian Empire and its Runelord masters.

These chambers seemed dedicated to the Runelord Alaznist. But what does Alaznist or the seven tyrannical Runelords have with Nualia’s plans? And who is this mysterious “Lamashtu” that Tsuto spoke of?

Above, another of the obsidian robed ‘attendants’ to Nualia leaves the rocky crags of the Devil’s Platter and begins his travel through the Mosswood towards Aquitaine.

Dramatis Personae

Julienne
Aedilred Runecutter
Miro Teague
Lee Chung
Marco Galvos

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