Four Mages Rise of the Rune Lords

Theo's interlude

It was the mostly the humor of it.

The spell worked wonders; allowing such a weight of that massive and obscene helmet to trot down the trail as though it had grown legs of its own. As the great old helmet trotted into Sandpoint, through the streets, and up to Old Light, Theo laughed to himself with the humor of it all. This would undoubtedly be the most useless prize for clearing Thistletop. Still, he felt happy to laugh. After bequeathing the massive helmet to Brodert Quink, he enjoyed a respite with his remaining friends. He found most of his time spent distracting himself with hard rewarded labors, acting with the Sandpoint Theater under the tutelage of Cyrdak, and avoiding his grief and guilt for Andri’s death. Theo dreamt of a worthwhile distraction. He wished for something to prevent his thoughts from grieving for Andri. He still held tightly a hope that he could restore Andri some day. Truly, for the short time it seemed as though the goblin attacks had waned, the sinister plots of Nualia had been successfully thwarted, and even the power play by the Scarnettis seemed a distant concern.

That morning, as the group sat around their favorite table to have one of Bethna’s many great breakfasts, Sheriff Hemlock alerted the group to a concern regarding a pair of horrible murders in the mill. Horrible indeed. The murders brought forth a new occurrence of the sihedron rune that had been so prominent in Thistletop, and the temple under the glassworks. Troubling still, was how it manifested: this time carved into a miller’s chest. Apparently the only motive had been the man’s greed; known for cooking the books at the mill for his personal gain. Perhaps the Scarnettis aren’t so innocent in their campaign for dominance over Sandpoint.

Meanwhile, distractions were granted, though perhaps not exactly as Theo had wanted. Calistria was a fickle mistress as such, though Theo couldn’t complain. On the lighter side, a scholarly whelp – Adam – made his appearance one morning seeking wondrous items for which he might gain in trade. Theo was amused, but held disinterest as the lad over spoke and carried on far too long for Theo’s liking. Indeed, his snarkier thoughts wandered to shutting him up with a good sausage down his throat, or just putting the brat in a sleeper hold. To Theo’s surprise, Adam seemed to catch on to the torn thoughts. By the end of the night, Theo truly didn’t know if Adam had any interest, if Theo himself had any interest, of if the pair simply wanted to express just how annoying the other truly was.

Troubling further was the report of a second murder site. In actuality, this had occurred prior to the lumber mill, but the mill’s horror was first examined. With the party fully deputized, the crew sought out the abandoned barn in the woods outside the mill. More dead. More stench of unhandled death. More sihedron runes carved into chests. Three chests, all thieves; known swindlers. The only true connection being their greed and their death.

The murders felt reminiscent of Chopper, though only in frequency and suddenness of outbreak. No, this was not some ghost of Chopper come to seek revenge on the greedy. These murders were specific, and the group – Selith – was meant to be drawn into them. Such a disturbing note to read; a lordship beckoning the lad like some bitch in heat. How mad must one be? What lords has he inspired in his travels to draw such attention of serial killers?

Theo felt it would be easiest to determine where intentions lied if he left the posturing aside for a bit and let Adam see some honest barbarian intelligence from him. While the group traveled on horses to the asylum for yet another lead, Theo took the time to explain – through many interruptions and wild assumptions he had to correct – much of what he had learned about Sandpoint and the various intertwined relationships over the past six months in a matter of six hours. Upon immediately hearing, “You’ve been investigating this for six whole months?!” Theo realized just how poorly Adam could listen without assuming and growled at the lad. Thrice Theo would repeat that he lived in Sandpoint far longer than the events since the Swallowtail on the 1st of Rova, but he eventually gave up expecting Adam would listen to anything Theo had to say.

Rumors had turned into anecdotes. Ghouls had been appearing frequently from the southern farmlands and a sighting had occurred as north as inside Sandpoint itself. Troubled by these events, the party plus Adam ventured south to investigate. Ghouls indeed had made their impact on the farmlands. Where once cheerful farmers greeted travelers passing through were absent from their abandoned homesteads and chilling sights. Harvest should be soon, and yet none of these farms showed signs of activity.

The party stopped to investigate one farmhouse, finding it abandoned and a bit bloody from a scuffle. With some time to kill that morning, and with concern growing that this ghoul issue could be far worse than presumed, the group continued south to the Hambley farm. There a troubling sight was discovered: Ghouls inside scarecrows. With a plan to push forward to the house and stop the ghouls at any cost, the group set out to march on the farm. Adam, surprised by a ghoul attacking the back of the party, set ablaze the massive cornfield in reaction. Theo knew there would be consequences for that, but ignored it for the moment.

During the march on the Hambley farm, two scarecrows were discovered to not be ghouls or straw, but instead still alive humans afflicted with ghoul fever. Once again, the Ant Haul spell boosted Theo’s status as party pack mule, this time carrying both Gruffmins with ease as they escaped the spreading fire. At the house, the Gruffmins were secured inside safely while the group chose to clear out the ghouls in the farm.

As expected, the best laid plans went to shit. As Alistair moved to wade through a mob at one entrance, others attempted to sneak out the back. Adam, being quick on his toes to react brazenly, felt it his responsibility to stop them before Theo could intervene. Theo let a quick smile escape as he watched Adam become paralyzed from the bites. In a mighty swing, he bisected the threatening ghoul and spared Adam more pain in his helpless state. Selith provided much needed assistance to Alistair, as even the celestial-touched pretty-boy fell victim to the paralytic affects of the ghouls. Gale saw an opportunity, and further cleared the remaining ghouls from around Adam, trusting and understanding Theo could endure the one blast that went awry as Theo attempted to shield Adam from it. Still, Theo reassured all was well with a thumbs-up to remind her to not fret.

As the few final ghouls fell, the fire began to lick the edges of the cornfield and impose a smoky heat of urgency. Inside the farmhouse, Hambley’s body was found, with once again a sihedron carved into his chest and a creepy love letter to Selith. No longer were these notes even remotely amusing; not even remotely appropriate. Yet, in their words, a betrayal of identity was posed: could this whole morbid show be one of affection from his old sugar daddy from mere weeks ago? Theo shuddered at the troubling thought.

The fire was now roaring closer and closer. With time running out, two disabled farmers and a heavy chest of silver to remove, Theo made the call to make his run for it. In a matter of minutes, his enlarged size, full sprint bounded through the fire and smoke. The Gruffmins barely held on, and ultimately the rest of the party found their own paths to freedom to rejoin and recover. Spent, troubled, and quite possibly afflicted, everyone agreed it was time to head back to Sandpoint for medical attention.

Once again, an abysmal stop at the asylum yielded nothing but a sham doctor and more messages for Selith. Theo was certain these messages were coming from Foxglove, and decided he was going to seek out and confront the creep in the morning. The rest of the group was in agreement.

Back in Sandpoint, Theo was disappointed to hear that Father Zantus was incapable of curing the two afflicted farmers, and was outright worried to hear confirmation that Selith, Alistair and Adam had all contracted Ghoul fever during their march upon the farm. Desperate for answers, Theo spoke to Madam Mvashti. After scolding Theo for contributing to the fire, agreed to help the two farmers in exchange for a formal apology from the group to the forest fey for causing the mess. Theo agreed readily, and organized the group to spend the afternoon finding trinkets and other items the fey may appreciate in offering. He knew at least if he failed as an adventurer he could work as a waiter.

Theo was quite worried the next morning. The approach to the forest was quiet enough, though the whole countryside felt tarnished with death from the ghoul presence. More troubling was the approach to Foxglove manor, which appeared to take on a darker tone of death as they arrived. The house felt metastasized and evil. Alistair felt an overwhelming presence of undeath, and the red-eyed crow lingering outside left Theo ill at ease. Certainly, Foxglove manor must represent Aldern Foxglove the man: sinister and evil in secret. He must pay for his actions against Sandpoint.

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Little Notes
Hand out for the PC's

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Who WAS Aldren?

I’ve been very baffled by recent events. There is a murderer on the loose around Sandpoint, and he apparently is infatuated with me.

Me big concern is that I already know who it is. Aldren hasn’t sent any letters since departing for Magnimar. Could he really be the murderer? The one turning farmers to ghouls? I hope not. Mr. Scarnetti also seems suspicious to me. Too much of the bad things lately have been turning out to be in his benefit.

I just hope Aldren turns out to be alright.

-Selith

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Adam's Vacation Exploits 1

Mage’s Journal,
It’s been quite the last few days of vacation. The most recent township I’ve encountered is called Sandpoint. It’s going through a lot of political upheaval. I probably shouldn’t have stayed, but when I heard there was an adventuring party trading magic items through this town, I couldn’t help myself. The party has been deputized and is investigating a series of murders. I’ve partnered with them on the terms that I’ll get a non-weapon/armor magic item should one come up.
The party consists of a Half-Elf Barbarian (Theo), a Half-Elf Gunslinger (Selith), an Aasimar Oracle of Life, and a human (Gale) who I think is an Investigator. The party is fortunate to have me – I pointed out a few questions that they missed (somewhat obvious in my opinion), and saved them several times.
In our first real encounter, I flame arc’ed an attacking ghoul, blasting it back and incinerating it in one fell swoop! Furthermore, with that one action, I saved a number of dying victims from a lifetime as undead, and burned away cornfields full of ghouls. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how good I am!
Then, in another encounter at a barn, I bravely offered up myself as a distraction to the ghouls sneak attacking us (I was the first to see and engage them!). It was during this encounter that I was paralyzed and contracted Ghoul Fever, but all in my valiant master plan to distract the ghouls and protect my partners. They are SO lucky they are not contracting me through The Guild, it would cost them so much more than one wondrous item. They are getting such a bargain for my highly-sought after skills!
I’m trying not to hog all the glory, at times consciously stepping back and allowing some of the of the other party members to try and shine.
And mixed feelings on that barbarian… such a asshole personality, but so easy on the eyes…
-Adam

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Briar Patch Kids
Treacherous Thistletop's nasty Nettlewood nightmare

Events that took place in the nettlewood

In the early dawn, the group set out for the Nettlewood with Shalelu guiding to the closest trail entrance that would lead to Thistletop. Shalelu had to part ways at this point, advising she would keep extra goblin packs from causing trouble for the adventurers. 

Indeed she kept many of the wretched monsters away, and the group reached the briar patch with minimal issue. Inside however, the unkempt growth proved to be quite difficult for the group to navigate, but eventually much of the briars were explored. Theo found one scouting ledge, which helped him see precisely where the bridge to the island lay. After dispatching a number of goblin dogs, a goblin named Gogmurt threatened their journey further. Theo’s words found silvery luck, and persuaded the goblin to grant them passage on the pretense they would not fight unless attacked first.

Finally, the adventurers found the bridge. Eager to find Ameiko, everyone charged forward. Their folly only too late realized. The bridge dropped and only Selith managed to react quickly enough. Everyone else found the water an unforgiving pillow, and everyone struggled to stay above water. Expertly, Gale aided the group into a grotto under the penninsula. Inside the hopes for a path back to the brambles were dashed as a sleeping bunyip was spotted in the distance. Andri, Theo and Gale moved with caution to not wake the creature, but alas, it was roused.

Selith continued to run through the brambles in hopes of finding a path down, finding no such luck and oblivious to the dire events unfolding below.

With a deafening roar, the bunyip announced its hunger, invoking an incredible fear in Gale. Theo urged Andri to push his way to land on the other side of the grotto, but Andri felt the ledge within the grotto was closer for the two heroes to reach. In a splash, the bunyip dove into the water and Gale, terrified, was forced to flee.

Theo struggled to help protect Andri from the powerful jaws of the bunyip, and they both took a few gnarly bites for their efforts. Dread began to overtake Theo’s steady mind, provoking him into a rage to focus his mind on the combat.

Times seemed to slow down. Theo found purchase on the ledge, pulled himself up, and had enough time to look around before he watched Andri sink under the surface. Desperately, he drew the ranseur, but before he could offer the shaft for Andri to take, he saw what he knew to be death.

The blood flowed and bubbled on the surface of the water, eventually streaming out of the grotto in the direction they came. After a moment, Theo was forced to accept that the bunyip had escaped, likely with Andri in his clutches.

After a moment of wailing, Theo made his way out of the grotto and onto the beach nearby. Gale’s fear had vanished by now, and she only just arrived to hear the sad news. Up the cliff side, Selith called down quizzically about Andri’s absence, concerned they could not find him. 

Theo recounted the events in the grotto, failing to maintain his composure when he had to put words to the death. Exhausted, defeated, and with few options, the group retreated from the brambles.

A few hours had passed as the group struggled to find the main road; finding a shrine to Desna just before nightfall. Theo was by far the most emotionally broken, though cracks in Gale’s morale had grown intense and fragile. Theo took a moment outside to commune with Calistria, venting his sorrow and failures. Eventually everyone found rest within the shrine.

Just before dawn, a knock came on the door to the shrine. The lightest sleeper of the bunch, Theo roused and checked to see who was there. Before him stood a strikingly beautiful man, skin as white as pure snow. In his groggy state Theo thought he saw a ghost or an angel before him. Fleeting, the hope that such a man had been sent by Calistria crossed Theo’s mind, but he dismissed it.

Alistair, an asimar on his way to Sandpoint, had more than evidently lost his way and his caravan on the journey from Magnimar. Selith woke up shortly after and seemed aloof to the newcomer. Theo suspected the prospect of an impoverished but alluring man would be competition for any funds Selith could milk from the various nobles. Fortunately for Theo, Alistair wasn’t very observant and didn’t see the glaring sneer on Theo’s face toward Selith’s commentary. Theo urged Selith to wake Gale, so the group could decide their best course of action. 

Everyone agreed a quick stop back in Sandpoint was a good idea, prompting Theo to charge through his shopping errands as Gale and Selith spoke to father Zantus about the latest turn of events. Selith and Gale were presented with the battered form of Shalelu, clutching onto life from a vicious melee against a warg. Gale helped explain what exactly a warg was, invoking a thought of terror in Alistair. Soon, Theo returned with a climbing harness, extra rope, and a few traps and nets planned to entangle the bunyip. 

Set and prepared, the party returned to Thistletop. As they traveled forward into the brambles, a pack of goblin dogs pounced on Alistair. Theo rushed in to rescue, showing renewed prowess against the pack as many were felled by the weakest of strikes. 

Not surprising to Theo, but once the group had reached the brambles again, they chose instead to rush toward the bridge to avoid any protracted conflicts. However, Gogmurt, the goblin Druid they had negotiated with before, unleashed a fury of magic to avenge the party’s failure to defeat Ripnugget the previous day.

Desperately, the group found Gogmurt’s advantage a dire turn of events, enabling him and his fire cat to almost kill Selith. For his own efforts to heal the gunslinger, Alistair himself was nearly killed. In a moment of grace, Theo overcame the entangling vines enough to deliver a shocking grasp upon the hellcat, annihilating the beast in a single blow.

Selith took the distance to draw first blood upon the goblin. The tide had turned, and Gogmurt now sought to retreat further into the thick brambles to summon something new. Alistair found his wits and teleported Theo within range of Gogmurt. With a lunge, Theo slammed the ranseur into the foul creature and successfully disrupted the casting. Gogmurt responded by escaping from the remaining fight. Exhausted once again, the group found themselves forced to retreat back to Sandpoint to recover from their near loss.

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Discoveries at the Sandpoint Glassworks

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This Journal entry was found on a desk in the basement level of the glassworks

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After Hours
(Andri and Theo discuss their new group of "friends")

Late that evening, Theo stopped by Andri’s room, “Hey you got a minute?"
Andri turned and smiled, “yeah, what’s up?"
“Is it just me or does Aldren not like us?” Theo asked.
“Well, it’s obvious he likes Selith. I don’t think he has an opinion on Gale. You and I though, less than warm reception."
Theo frowned, “I hate him. He’s a dick.”
Andri shrugs, “Well I’m not gonna do him any favors for free anytime soon.”
“Brings up another point. We barely know Selith and Gale, Aldren is pretty much only interested socially with Selith. What does he need with us?"
“I don’t follow."
Theo rephrased, “I mean, do you think Aldren is working some angle for something?"
Andri stopped and turned to face Theo, “I hadn’t considered that.”
“Why invite us boar hunting today after how terribly the yesterday went?"
Andri nodded, following Theo’s logic. “Perhaps he’s testing us, all of us?"
“I doubt we passed that test if there was one,” Theo sighed, sitting on the chair in Andri’s room. “I doubt I’d want to pass it. I mean, I like Selith and Gale, but I’m getting torn up out there.”
“Well, I think you should talk to Aldren tomorrow. Ask him what he wants."
“Yeah, I think I will. Thanks, Andri,” Theo got up to leave.
“Oh…Choppers Isle tomorrow?"
Theo paused, “What?"
“We should check out Chopper’s Island."
“Why?” Theo asked, still not getting it.
“I think he was framed,” Andri declared, revealing a card. “I suspect the sheriff."
“Wait…you mentioned the other night you suspected Father Zantus was connected with the cathedral fire, now you’re suspecting Sheriff Hemlock…Do you think anyone else in the town leadership is involved?” There was a genuine worry in Theo’s voice.
“Yep, but too many suspects right now."
“Listen, we gotta be careful about implicating the sheriff. I think Madam Kaye’s close to him; we could lose our rooms,” Theo warned, then changed his tone. “Or maybe she might know if he’s changed…or if he’s capable of framing someone like that."
“Do we know anything about who was killed ‘by Chopper?’ He wasn’t tried. They just killed him. No trial, no chance of defense; just hearsay."
“That’s unsettling, and that’s coming from a guy that grows monster claws when he’s angry."
“So tomorrow we’ll check out Chopper’s Isle?” Andri asked again.
“Yeah…Plus that’s right near Old Light. I’m still curious about what was there.”
“I’m telling you it’s just a light house.”
“We shall see,” Theo grinned as he finally stood to leave. “Have a good night, Andri. See you in the morning."

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Boar Hunting

Agreeing to cover ground quickly, the group split up to ask four of Sandpoint’s most knowledgable. Fittingly, Andri chose to speak with Madam Mvashti, a harrower like himself and a denizen of Sandpoint since its founding. Theo chose to seek the Sage Brodert Quink, under the assumption that common ground would arise in the academics of ancient structures. Selith and Gale chose to seek their knowledge from the temple-library to Irori, hoping that Sabyl Sorn would be willing to answer their questions.

Sabyl Sorn was disinterested in providing much information, imparting at best the knowledge that the fire spread to the white deer inn.

Madam Mvashti provided her knowledge with equal parts mystery. She provided many details of Nualia’s divine heritage, the late unpleasantness, and the impression something dark had the spirits on edge. Before parting, Madamn Mvashit gifted one of her harrow to Andri, in hopes he would find the spirits helpful to him. Andri left the house noting how gracious and kind his host had been.

Brodert Quink was an unusual man, but answered many of Theo’s questions beyond what he anticipated. He dove into detail on Nualia’s heritage and childhood, noting that much was expected of the poor child. He also glanced on Chopper’s murder spree, which troubled the town in the month leading up to the cathedral fire. With so much knowledge around, Theo couldn’t help but ask what brought the sage to Sandpoint. The answer could not have been less dry.

With a lead to dig further into Nualia, Theo ran into Selith and Gale at the Turandarok academy. Meanwhile, Andri communed with his new deck.

Within the walls of Turandarok, Theo extrapolated that perhaps Nualia’s introversion was as much her will as it was Father Tobyn desperately seeking to protect her. From what, no one could speculate. Eventually, everyone regrouped in the Rusty Dragon Inn, where notes and stories were shared and corroborated. With parallels drawn, Andri couldn’t help but think the murders were equally in part diversion to whatever burned the cathedral as the goblin attack had been to raid the tombs.

Theo brought forth his final piece of fascinating information: Old Light was a Thasilonian weapon. Immediately, and perhaps as the sage suspected he would have been, Theo’s information was ridiculed as wildly inaccurate. Frustrated, he kept the rest of his interest in the tower to himself.

About that point in the afternoon, Aldren stopped by to see Selith, subtly ignoring the rest of the group. Annoyed at the disrespect, Theo respectully parted ways for the evening, seeking to run a few more errands before the market closed. Andri doted on Selith for a bit before inviting him on a boar hunt. When Selith hesitated, Aldren explained the invitation to the whole group. Quickly the others agreed.

Later, Theo had returned with a few more curative potions in his bag, and finished his meal alone as others retired for the evening. A woman named Sheliss entered the tavern seeking anyone from the group to help her. Theo was hesitant to assist, since the need to exterminate rats was not the way he wanted to spend his evening. After neither could agree on the price, Sheliss leaves and Theo retires to the Pixie’s Kitten for the night.

The next morning, bright and early, Aldren meets Selith, Gale, Andri and Theo near the gates to Sandpoint, ready to hunt boar. Eager to try his skill at tracking, Theo struggles to find boar or his way in the woods. After others take the lead and with most of the day spent, the group set to return with no boar found.

To their horror, Gale was attacked by a giant mantis on their way home. Quickly Theo moved to flank the creature, and Aldren held his own better than the heroes of Sandpoint could claim. With some grit and luck, and a bit of tenacity by Andri pulling Gale out of harm’s reach, the mantis was felled. Theo took a moment to take the mantis claws, and followed the group upon their return.

At dinner, Aldren offered little in support or interest in the group, and his doting on Selith made Theo actively disinterested in the conversation. Not long after dinner, a shrieking woman rushed in with a wounded child.

Amelie Barett explained her situation, how her son had fretted about a monster in his closet, how she and her husband shrugged off his fears, and how it all changed the moment her son was attacked.

Eager to investigate, the group gathered their gear to head out. Aldren chose to part from the group for the evening. While Selith was quite cordial in bidding his farewells, Theo took the opposite extreme and acknowledged the departure dismissively.

At Amelie’s home, the group cautiously investigated for any sign of monsters. The likely hiding spot was still the son’s closet, as now a pair of legs stuck out from the furniture, unmoving. After the skeletons surprised him in the crypts the day before, Theo was prepared for anything around each corner. To his chagrin, the goblin still surprised him.

The close quarters in the room offered a fair degree of difficulty for most of the group, as many rely on space and clear targets to defend themselves effectively. Theo swung with his sword, struggling to find purchase against in the tight space. As the closet was nearly annihilated, Theo finally dealt the killing hit; his greatsword sinking into the gonlin’s skull. Suddenly a loud crash had exploded the closet from below, and quickly Andri called out to Selith that the goblin was dead.

Theo carefully delivered the grave news to Amelie, and the group escorted her back to the Rusty Dragon where Ameiko comped Amelie her room for the night; her own gesture of condolences for Amelie’s tragic loss.

The next morning, Lonjiku, Ameiko’s father, stormed into the tavern of the Rusty Dragon, demanding she come with him and abandon the town of Sandpoint. Should she agree, he bargained it might be enough for the old man to begin accepting her apology for the atrocious behavior she’s displayed toward him. Upon her refusal, the old man declared Ameiko was out of the will and “as dead to [him] as her mother.”

Lonjiku’s intensity was enough to shake Theo for merely challenging the old man’s tone. As he recovered, Selith turned to comfort Ameiko, effectively, and Andri sought to chase down Lonjiku to ask him why. When Lonjiku realized Andri was not a Sandpoint native, he immediately dismissed Andri like a bug on his shoe. Insulted, Andri returned to sulk with the others and finish breakfast.

Aldren appeared, again, and offered to take the group out one more time for a boar hunt. Selith immediately said yes, starting the trend for others to agree. At the stables where Aldren kept his horse and gear, the group met the stable master, Daverin Hoske. Daverin recognized the group instantly, and offered them a reward for every pair of goblin ears they should find in their excursions. With the gear in hand, the group set out to hunt boar once again.

After struggling with the tracking once again, now frustrated at the entire ordeal, Theo gave up trying to assist in the hunt, hanging back to heckle the doting couple ahead. Selith remained close to Aldren, asking many questions about the progress and gaining plenty of answers. Andri had begun to see the same double standard and joined Theo in the quiet heckling, even with Gale as their only audience.

As the second day of hunting drew to a close, it appeared that even with Aldren leading they would not find any boar. Unlike yesterday, however, Aldren seemed cheerfully dismissive of the failure, since it can happen so easily. To everyone’s surprise, they came across a small family of boar, and promptly engaged.

Aldren prepared to flank, but appeared annoyed when Theo couldn’t easily maneuver to do so effectively. While Theo could handle the boar spear, his discomfort with such a weapon showed and he struggled to connect with the first boar. Before he had another chance, Aldren impaled the beast expertly.

Annoyed, Theo turned his direction to the other adult as it charged at Selith. Gale moved to assist Selith, but instead earned a tusk into her stomach as she reeled from the pain. Andri rushed over and began working up his curative magics, desperate to help his friends. A solid hit upon the boar earned Theo mere snark from Aldren. Furious, Theo turned to glare at Aldren, but Aldren had already returned to ignoring Theo and doting on Selith for helping him defeat the other boar.

Aldren’s adrenaline was high, and rallied the party to chase down the piglets. Growing frustrated, Theo charged behind Aldren, but the weapon balance got the better of him and his attack on the piglet missed. Gale arrived at the new melee, and proceeded to stab one of the piglets. Sleigh was next to join, shooting a thunderous bullet and missing wildly. Just as Andri arrived, Gale took another tusk into her stomach and passed out from the injury. In a dire turn of events, Theo took an aggressive hit from the other piglet and also fell unconscious.

As the group panicked to save the friends, Aldren and Selith worked to end one of the piglets, leaving Aldren himself to take the brunt of the final boar’s attack. Andri, concerned for his best friend, focused his curative energy to revive Theo. With Theo awake, Aldren finishes the final boar, giving Theo the chance to pass Selith a curative potion. Andri directed his curative magic upon Gale, pulling her from the brink. Aldren took note that no such healing was offered to him, but everyone was too oblivious to realize the error had even been made.

With the boars dressed and bound on Aldren’s horse, the successful hunting party returned to Sandpoint. The group enjoyed another hearty meal in the Rusty Dragon. Not before long, Sheliss appeared again. Upon seeing the full group, she excitedly approached, still asking for help clearing the rats from her basement. Still unswayed, Theo jested that his price still stood. Andri perceived that the rats weren’t exactly rats, and upon pressing the matter, everyone quickly discovered she was attempting to seduce them. Aldren took that exact moment to sneak away with Selith; his expertise so trained no one noticed until they were gone. Andri curtly rebuked Sheliss, but Theo made sure she knew not to try again. Now furious, Sheliss stormed out of the Rusty Dragon, leaving Gale, Andri, and Theo to finish dinner.

After dinner, Gale attempted to clean Theo’s wounds, but some of his injuries were bad enough that she advised they see Father Zantus. Father Zantus, still grateful for the group’s heroics for Amelie Barett, provided Theo with the curatives he needed for no charge. Grateful, Theo donated to the church before he and Gale returned to the Rusty Dragon. Bidding farewell to Gale for the night, Theo returned to the Pixie’s Kitten for a bath and a private conversation with Andri before he, too, went to sleep.

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The Desecrated Vault

Everything had returned to almost normal the following day after the Swallowtail Festival. While the market saw an exceptional crowd in addition to countless more booths of travelled merchants, the regular hustle and bustle offered a perfect day for shopping.

Theo, having salvaged some of the better choices from the goblins’ remains last night, found that a few important weapons were desired for his best friend. Having procured the new crossbow for Andri, he remained in the market browsing for anything that might catch his eyes.

Selith and Gale set off on their own shopping spree, seeking out alchemical oddities and engineering wonders to improve the deadly weapons they wielded. With the plans drawn for alchemical cartridges and some other small items in hand, the pair continued shopping for more ideas on what they could use to advance their projects.

Andri, with a strong need to continue honing his craft, shuffled his cards at a small corner table within the Rusty Dragon. While there were no takers for his talents, a young boy named Merry delivered a message from Sheriff Hemlock summoning the four adventurers to the Barracks.

Within the half hour, Andri found Theo and informed him of their summons. Theo was far less phased by the news than Andri, as Theo speculated the summons was to ask questions about the goblin attack. Catching the gaze of Selith and Gale, the four made their way to the Barracks to see what exactly caused Sheriff Hemlock to call upon them.

Sheriff Hemlock thanked the party for their deeds protecting the town from the goblins, and recruited their skills to investigate another troubling development from last night. According to Father Zantus, someone had disturbed the boneyard during the commotion with the goblins, and with the militia spread thin on patrols, it was up to the four to find out what happened.

While the boneyard seemed mundane enough, it was clear exactly where Father Zantus had pinpointed this disturbance. At one of the above ground crypts, a large door hung loosely off its hinges in the frame. Overly confident and without any suspicion of danger, Theo swung the door open to peer inward.

With the response of instant karma, two skeletons immediately lunged at Theo, dropping the bloodrager in seconds. As the remaining party struggled to both save Theo and fight off the skeletons, Theo managed to assist with a few attempts to fell the foul creatures before being felled again himself. With a bit of luck, the party barely defeated the resistant skeletons and made their way into the crypt. Theo, however, chose to stay behind to catch his breath and lick his wounds.

Andri’s magical nature led him to find the source of the skeletons, a robe of bones. Concerned about the nature of the item, he chose to store it within his own backpack until he could later decide what to do about it. With Selith’s help, Andri and Selith found the source of the disturbance from last night: the desecrated tomb of Father Tobyn. With more questions than answers, the group returned to the grand cathedral and sought answers from Father Zantus and Sheriff Hemlock.

With details of the Cathedral fire imparted, the group had yet more questions than before and fewer in the answered column than desired. Since most of the day was still before them, they chose to set out across town to seek answers from those that might offer a different perspective.

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The Swallotail Festival

The Swallowtail Festival always brings an excitement to Sandpoint, and this year was no different. Well, maybe a bit different. This year the Swallowtail Festival would set the stage for the new Grand Cathedral to be finally unveiled. Everyone from cities as near as Magnimar to farther away abodes such as Riddleport had made pilgrimage and adventure to this years festival.

Theoric and Andri had barely lived in Sandpoint for six months by this time, but already both had settled into their new home within the Pixie’s Kitten. Both spent their evenings and days near the festival square leading up to today. Many caravans had already arrived, and yet even more were still arriving today. On one of the caravans from yesterday, a mysterious stranger planted his feet among the arriving travelers stopping into the Rusty Dragon.

It seemed the entire town had crowded their way into the festival grounds for the morning announcements. The portly Mayor Deverin looked quite lovely during her speech, which seemed only to electrify the crowd over the significance of the cathedral’s completion. She quickly passed along the stage to Sheriff Hemlock, who seemed to expertly suck all the energy with his rules, regulations and boring bits of protocols. Fortunately, shortly after, Cyrdak Drokkus appeared onstage and revived the near-dead crowd as he plugged his theater and their new play, “The Harpy’s Curse.” Theo caught some snarks from a few Magnimar residents bemoaning that the play hadn’t even opened in Magnimar yet.
Oddly, Lonjiku Kaijitsu was supposed to say a few words, but was ill and absent from the morning’s speeches. Shortly after, Father Zantus took the stage and welcomed all of the new visitors to Sandpoint, and the festivities began.

The morning hours were filled with revelry and fun had by all. Though Theo made the embarrassing error to flirt with an Irori follower, he refused to let the shame ruin his fun for the day. Andri unsuccessfully chose a mark of value, yielding little more than false prides for dirt on some nobility. By lunch, the crowd had gathered once again to hear Father Zantus retell the story of Desna, a tradition that precedes the release of the Swallowtail butterflies featured in the story. With the butterflies’ release, wenches from all of the local taverns appear and begin to peddle their samples to any traveller or resident interested. While many delicious dishes had been curated, Aemiko Kaijitu’s curry was the clear winner among the crowd.

Finally, after playing games for most of the afternoon, the crowd gathers one final time into the festival square to socialize. While Father Zantus had planned well with a thunderstone to call the crowd’s attention, his moment was stolen by screeches from the edge of the crowd. Within seconds, Goblins had entered the festival grounds and began terrorizing the denizens, seeking out to cause the most disruption possible.

Never ones to flee from danger, Theo and Andri immediately sought one group of the small fiends and went to work. Across the square, the mysterious stranger and a young dark-haired woman with more gadgets than armor pinned down the second group. Theo, enraged into battle, swiped and slashed and evicerated three goblins as they struggled to disrupt the combat. With Andri providing excellent support, the two residents quickly ended the little skirmish and leant their aid to the newcomers.

The mysterious stranger was introduced as Selith, a gunslinger, and his new, dark-haired friend identified herself as Gale, an alchemist.

With the goblins slain, Theo tried to take a moment to rest, but one last threat loomed around the corner. Quick to act, Theo ran forward to strike a killing blow to one more goblin, unaware at the disruption he caused for the alchemist Gale. With quick work dispatching the final group of goblins, the crew managed to save Aldern Foxglove, a noble of Sandpoint. Grateful, he took a liking to Selith and proceeded to fawn over both Selith’s gun and his talents with the weapon.

With drinks on the house at the Rusty Dragon, the party celebrated their newfound friendships and patronage. Eventually everyone retired to their rooms, and the Swallowtail Festival came to a close.

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