Four Mages Rise of the Rune Lords

Beni Benraziel's Background

At dinner that evening Beni opened up to his new friends about his past, “This will be some boring old news for my little friend Jir, but I feel it is in the interest of comradery that you all ought to know a bit about where I come from.” He started in his usual matter-of-fact manner. “I was born and spent the first 100 years of my life in the southern mountains of Kyonin. My parents aren’t necessarily nobles of our race, but they are far from simple people. My mother hoped I would follow in her footsteps as a wizard, and my father had always expected I would become a great inventor like him. I suppose they both got a bit of their wish and yet they both have great disappointments in me. I spent my younger years diligently studying the lessons they both set before me, but the moment I was free from my lessons I ran out the door to relish in the wind and fellowship with the animals and plants all around where we lived.”
He was briefly interrupted by a mew from his side-satchel as Crookshanks poked his head out and insisted on being petted. It was obvious at that point to anyone paying even the most casual attention that Beni truly saw his little feline friend as more than a companion but a true equal. They both adored each other in a way that maybe only a witch can understand.
Beni then continued, “Pardon my distraction. Sometimes my little friend reminds me life is not always about the business and facts of the world. Where was I? Oh right, it was on my one hundredth name day that I decided to leave my parents and home to get a sense of the world outside of Kyonin. I really can’t tell you what drove me to decide that aside from an incredibly warm wind blowing out of the east. It seemed fortuitous that both the suddenly warm wind and my name day corresponded, so off I went like a leaf on the wind toward the west. I managed to fund myself quite well as I traveled from town to town with the alchemy skills my father had taught me. I have found that EVERYONE is in need of potions at some point, but the big change and surprise to me happened the day I met this little furball.”
After scratching under Crookshanks’ jaw Beni continued, “I was out gathering some herbs to brew up a batch of cure potions for a local cleric in Caliphas when I saw a rabbit dart out from the bushes near where I was foraging. I thought it was my lucky day to have rabbit stew and drew and arrow and my bow, but I didn’t hardly have the arrow knocked when this mangy looking fellow came bounding out of the bushes in pursuit of what had just become both our hopes of dinner. I instantly started to laugh at the turn of events and startled poor Crookshanks nearly to the lowest pits of hell. He leapt nearly 5 feet in the air, spun around to face me, and hissed the most threatening sounds at me. This of course made me laugh even harder as I lowered my bow and let the rabbit run its lucky day off into the brush. So there I was having this stare-off with the most ferocious feline and both of us were now one less dinner plan, but there was something deeper in the eyes of Mister Crookshanks. It was as if he looked right through my eyes into the deepest parts of me. So I held out my hand and tried to coax the growling little ball of scruff to come and say a proper hello. Needless to say he and I became fast friends. I gave him protection and companionship and he in return taught me how magick is far greater a force than just spells written down in old dusty tomes. Our adventures continued west from Caliphas as I learned more and more about tapping into the arcane world around me with my newfound friend. It was as if I had finally found my own path instead of taking the road my parents insisted was the one true way. Crookshanks has taught me so much about being more caring for the world around me. I’ve learned to only take what I need, leave the world in better shape than I found it, and always be grateful for the next meal or a warm place to lay my head.”
Beni trailed off into memories of his time with Crookshanks with a gaze in his eye that looked as if he was peering into a distant time and place completely inaccessible within the confines of normal vision.

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From the Desk of Justice Ironbriar II

An old and beautifully filigreed tome with numerous hand-drawn illustrations.

The book presents tales of Tane—the most feared of a group of notorious fey known as the Twisted, goliaths of war and madness dreamt and stitched into being by the Eldest.

The Tane are said to be terrible to behold, and the stories speak of them stumbling into mortal lands, where they ravage kingdoms by creating firestorms, crushing keeps with their feet, and eating dragons.

Specific Tane described include monstrous creatures like the Jabberwock (a thing of scales and fire and crushing fury), the Thrasfyr (also known as the Dreaming Hill of the Dark, a chimeric monster wrapped in chains that the book claims took part in the Three-Thousand-Year War of the Eldest), and the Sard (the Storm of Insanities, a thing of boughs and briars and misery, an ancient Wychwood Elm given life and hate by the Eldest.

This fine tome is appraised at 500 gp.

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From the Desk of Justice Ironbriar I

Wizards Spell Book: Emblazoned with two entwined snake (one red, one green). Contains:

Blink, cat’s grace, chill touch, enlarge person, fox’s cunning, grease, haste, lightning bolt, mage armor, magic missile, scorching ray, shocking grasp, shrink item, spider climb, web.

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The Deed to Foxglove Manor
Clues

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Chasing the Skinsaw
Clues

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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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