Sunday, September 24, 2017

Entry 11 – Nualia’s Demise

[For my previous journal entry, go here. To see where my journey began, go here.]

We rested for a bit, healing up wounds with potions and spells, then descended the stairs.

I searched the door at the bottom of the stairs, and finding no traps, picked the lock. Cairn slowly pushed the door open and we spotted a woman in a hood and cape standing at a table. With items nearby, she was certainly the spellcaster the goblin druid we interrogated told us about.

Hamlin and I lined up shots through the door, preparing to take her out before she could cast anything.

The string on my bow snapped, but Hamlin landed a solid shot in her shoulder.

She stepped back into the corner of the room next to an open door, making some motions with her hands, and multiple images of her appeared.

Cairn and Shadow took swipes at her, duplicates disappearing with each attack. Only one image remained by the time I tried to stab her, and I managed to connect with her real body with my shortsword.

Then the woman disappeared.

“Aww, crapbaskets,” I muttered.

Hamlin fired a crossbow bolt into the space she was occupying, and Cairn and Shadow took a swing in the same space, none seeming to connect. Cairn being between me and the doorway she had moved into, I threw a dagger and it disappeared in midair, a small yelp coming from where it vanished.

The door suddenly slammed shut, and I could hear a sound of stone grinding from behind it.

Cairn chopped down the door, but we couldn’t see anything inside other than some wooden crates and barrels. Shadow sniffed around one of the corners of the little storage room, but we couldn’t find any sort of mechanism to open what had to be a concealed exit.

I pulled a torch off the wall and threw it on the wooden items in the room. “Well, if she comes back this way, she gets to enjoy some smoke inhalation.”

We continued down a hallway to the east, which then turned south. On the western wall was a large set of double doors with the seven pointed star of the Runelords on it. Hamlin and I took turns trying to pick the lock, and I got it to move just a little but still couldn’t unlock it.

A loud, bestial roar came from behind the door, and we decided to head down the eastern passage across the hall. Opening the door, a strange squid-like creature started crawling across the ceiling toward us. Behind it we could see the sea beyond the cliff.

Cairn summoned a fire elemental behind the thing and Hamlin and I let loose with our bows at it from the doorway.

Cairn stepped up behind us and added his sling to the ranged attacks as the fire elemental kept the creature’s attention. It looked like it was oozing some nasty stuff from a stinger it kept poking at the elemental, so none of us wanted to get close enough to expose ourselves to the likely venomous attack that the fire creature was immune to.

Cairn’s next sling rock cracked the thing’s thin carapace, and it fell from the ceiling. I poked the thing with a sword as I crept up the hallway slowly. A pile of goblin bones greeted me as the druid headed up another path. I decided to move back toward my burly half-orc friend, who had apparently come upon some magical hide armor, which he took for himself.

There was also a masterwork glaive that would likely fetch a good price.

As we moved south through the hallways, we took a turn to the west and found stairs leading up to the front entrance to the building.

In the same room were three doors on the south wall. The first door held an unspeakable evil which I cannot describe. I shut the door and opened the next.

Another hallway that bent to the west was before us, and we headed down it, revealing five more doors, two each on the left and right and one at the end of the hall.

We opened the first on the right and a man clad in banded mail armor with his sword and shield resting across his knees was sitting on a bed.

The man slowly stood, raising his sword and shield in his hand. “Well, I guess I have to do my duty.”

Hamlin quickly interjected. “What is your duty?”

“I’m being paid to guard this place.”

I asked, “How much are you being paid?”

He stated, “Two gold per week.”

“I’ll triple it,” Hamlin replied.

“Well, it was a good gig while it lasted, but these people are crazy.”

“Is it really going to be that easy?” I asked.

“I go where the money is. Definition of mercenary,” he replied, holding out his hand. “And again, they’re nuts.”

“Here is your first week’s pay,” Hamlin said as he handed the man six gold coins. “Oh, and by the way, what’s your name?”

“Orik. Tell me what you want hit and I’ll chop it down.”

As he stood up and rested his sword across his shoulder, we got a better look at him and his gear. His shield had his face engraved on it. Interesting choice, but it appeared to be a sturdy shield.

The room next to Orik’s contained neatly arranged living quarters with a stack of papers on a desk, with a small hunk of obsidian holding them in place.

Cairn took the papers, and I tossed the obsidian in my pack. It’d be worth a few gold to the right merchant.

In the next room, which was a little larger than the last couple, we found Nualia’s journal. There were a number of entries, but they started from when she was a child in Sandpoint. She essentially confessed to setting the fire that consumed the church five years ago, with the final entry being just two years ago:

I found him. The Skinsaw cult helped me with the simple request of carving a 7 pointed star in his chest before I opened Delek’s throat. The leader of the skinsaw, a woman with black hair gave me a medallion, with the same star once I had completed the task. On to Sandpoint to complete my holy work!

Cairn searched the next room and found two everburning torches in a case. Endless light that doesn’t burn. Would come in handy eventually.

The last room was covered in blood and dark fur, a stack of bird’s feet at the end of the messy bed.

After searching all the rooms, we backtracked to the room with the stairs that led back to the entrance to the building.

We asked Orik to lead us where we could do the most damage in the little stronghold. He told us there was a prisoner we could set free that would disrupt their plans.

He led us to the west where we found the prisoner. In one of the handful of cells in the room was a dwarf, short even by their people’s standards, with a mostly shaven head except for a short topknot and mutton chops. He was badly beaten and unconscious.

We managed to wake him, but he was in no condition to help us in here.

“So Orik, how was this guy supposed to throw a wrench in their plans or whatever?”

“I don’t know, they were going to sacrifice him or something? That messes with what they were going to do.”

We asked the dwarf if he had any equipment when they took him, and he described some armor and a shield and spear. Orik directed us to the jailor’s “office” where the man’s gear was being kept.

We talked it over and decided to have Hamlin take him back to town. Shadowmist, the horse we found upstairs, could carry the dwarf as long as they didn’t try to move faster than a slow trot, and Hamlin’s skill in handling horses would allow him to lead the horse back to town safely without aggravating the wound on its leg.

With them gone, Orik told us where we could find the bugbear. It would be a good idea to get rid of him now so he couldn’t barge in on a fight later on.

The room was across from the stairs leading to the entrance. Orik opened the door, and I caught a glimpse of the bugbear making out with female goblins.

“Hey, ugly,” Orik said.

“What do you wan-aagh!” one of the goblins said, suddenly screaming as a flaming sphere, courtesy of Cairn, appeared, instantly immolating her.

The other goblin woman charged out, flailing at Orik, who retaliated by cutting her down with one swing of his sword.

Cairn moved the sphere onto Bruthazmus, who howled and charged through the door to attack Cairn, landing a small blow with a large flail.

We were all standing around the doorway and landed a flurry of blows on the bugbear, Cairn finishing him off by moving the ball of fire on top of him.

We found four arrows that were definitely magical, a moderate healing potion, some normal studded leather armor, the bugbear’s heavy flail, a masterwork composite longbow, twenty normal arrows, a few platinum pieces, and a necklace of orc and elf ears.

We left the necklace behind.

I took the platinum, and handed two to Cairn. The both of us glanced at Orik, then each other, nodded, and each handed him a platinum piece.

Orik led us back to the room of cells and to a door on the north wall. He suddenly seemed nervous for the first time as he fumbled with some keys to open the door.

“What’s behind the door?” I asked.

Just as I asked, unnatural growls came from behind the door, sounding like those we heard by the double doors in the earlier hallway.

On the other side of the door was a ten foot tall statue of a pregnant, naked woman, holding a kukri in each hand, one glowing a reddish-orange and the other a reddish-purple. An eerie red light seemed to be cast across the entire room, and two smoky braziers were hanging from the ceiling on either side of the stairs leading up to the dais. At the bottom of the stairs, the room spread out to the east and either side of the path to the double doors was lined with stone pillars.

Two demonic dogs were hovering near the braziers, and I fired an arrow at one of them. It seemed to connect fairly well.

Orik suddenly bolted from the room. The eerie feeling in the room was probably some sort of magical fear garbage.

“I hate demons and magic,” I muttered. Cairn grunted. “Well, when it’s not a friend’s magic. Demons still suck.” The druid nodded.

One of the creatures flew at me and luckily missed. Cairn landed a heavy blow on it, and the other came flying past to attack my druid companion, also missing.

I got struck by one of them and felt the same effect as when the sin eater hit me before. “Not again…” I muttered as overwhelming feelings of guilt made it harder to focus on attacking the creatures.

I took a double stab at the one between Cairn and myself and while I missed with the enchanted shortsword in my left hand, the rapier in my right skewered the creature through the neck and its head fell to the ground, rolling a short distance before the whole thing disappeared.

The other one tried to claw Cairn and missed again, but then I took another heavy hit. I tried to stab with both weapons, but missed due to my injury and stepped back to drink a potion.

Cairn and Shadow kept whittling away at the creature as I healed myself, then stepped back up and landed a blow with each weapon. “That’s what you get, ya piece of crap!”

My druid companion finished it off and the body disappeared like the other one.

We walked up to the dais and found a pool of dirty water with ash and bones in it.

“You think it is Father Tobin’s remains?” Cairn asked.

I just shrugged. “I don’t think there’s a reliable way to tell.”

Cairn looked at the statue, of Lamashtu, we were pretty sure, then moved behind it and putting his back against the statue, placed his feet against the wall and started pushing in order to topple the statue. After a few moments of struggling, I moved over to help and we got it rocking back and forth, eventually toppling it. The head and torso broke off from the rest, and the pieces that fell in the murky water basin sizzled.

I went upstairs and looked around for Orik for a couple minutes and told Cairn I would meet him back in the room where the secret door had to be the woman escaped through. There was no sign of Orik.

“I hate evil magic,” I said to myself as I met back up with Cairn. He nodded.

He had spent the time I was away searching every nook and cranny of the room and found the hidden door.

We went through it and came upon a stone door that looked like it had been beaten and chipped away at, indentations that appeared to have held gems at one time. A few chipped gems were on the ground. Looking them over, I figured they still had a little value to them so I scooped them into a pouch.

There were two alcoves on the north side of the large room, and another two on the south. All but one of the southern alcoves had rubble, the remains of statues. The one that wasn’t completely destroyed looked fairly worn down, but it was of a robed man holding a book and a glaive.

“I… think this might be one of the Runelords,” I said quietly.

There was another door to the east. A suit of armor occupied the alcove on each side of the short hallway beyond the door. The armor looked polished and taken care of.

Another statue stood at the end of the hall. It also looked to be in good condition, as if it were being maintained by somebody.

Cairn detected magic in the hall, but I couldn’t see anything that stood out. Cairn moved forward while I was examining the floor around him from the doorway. Just as he moved between the statues, a portcullis dropped behind him and in front of him. The two suits of armor attacked Cairn at the same time the floor dropped a little and spikes shot up through it.

He managed to avoid one of the suits’ attacks and the spikes in the floor.

I spotted the activation runes along the floor when the trap went off. I told Cairn to hold still when it reset, and I disarmed it.

The armor at the end of the hall had doors flanking it to the north and south.

I asked Cairn which one we should check first. He suggested north.

I opened the door and spotted the wizard woman from before, and someone else who could only be Nualia. Her violet eyes almost seemed to glow, and her left arm was red and scaly, demonic-looking.

I slowly shut the door, but heard her speak from the other side.

“No, no. You’ve come this far.”

I opened the door again.

A red marble table, or bench of sorts, was attached to the wall all the way around the circular, domed room. Crafting tools, ritualistic implements, excavation equipment, and other various items were scattered about the bench. A bubbling pool sat at the north end of the room.

Cairn stepped forward. “I am sorry for the pain and troubles you have experienced in your life, but this evil you are committing will come to an end now.” He set his axe on the ground, leaning it against the wall as he took a large bundle off his back. The cold iron greataxe he had commissioned in Sandpoint was now in his hand.

Nualia replied, sighing. “I had hoped you had come to bask in the glory of Lamashtu, but unfortunately we will have to kill you.”

“Sorry, Nualia, but you’re the one that will be dying here today,” I replied.

Cairn summoned an earth elemental behind the mage, and it landed a solid blow. He then pointed at the mage and said, “Get her.” Shadow darted across the room and clawed at her.

Nualia took a swing with her serrated two handed blade, leaving a decent sized wound in Shadow’s side.

I charged past Cairn, headed directly for Nualia. She started to brace herself for my attack, but I stopped suddenly in front of her, leaping and spinning in the air over her, stabbing with my rapier as I landed, piercing her arm.

Cairn stepped up and took a swing at her as well, and she retaliated by reversing the grip on her sword and… not swinging it at us. She shouted, calling out to Lamashtu, and a wave of energy flowed out of her, all of us reeling back in pain to different degrees.

The mage woman was killed in the attack. She had looked like she was readying a spell, but never got it off.

“I mean, we were probably going to kill her anyway, and I know you’re evil, but that was pretty evil, killing your ally like that,” I said.

Nualia shrugged.

The elemental landed a blow against the demonic woman and Shadow ran from the room at Cairn’s call, the large cat looking badly wounded at this point.

Nualia took a step to Cairn’s side and readied her blade. Cairn reflexively took one hand from his axe and moved it toward the ground, then pulled his hand up, a rocky barrier rising from the ground between him and the demon woman.

She smashed right through it, slicing him as well. It slowed her blow a little, at least.

I moved to get behind her and stabbed her in the shoulder with my rapier again, blood dripping from the two wounds I left in her so far.

She shouted for Lamashtu again, another wave of evil energy flowed out of her, and we all recoiled from the pain.

I stabbed her again, missing with the rapier but connecting with the shortsword this time. Cairn followed up with his axe, and Shadow charged back into the room to bite her.

Nualia apparently had a thing against cats, as she swung her blade at the cat, Shadow collapsing in a heap, breathing shallowly.

Cairn and I both shouted in anger as he fell, and dropped the demonic woman in a flurry of blows.

We searched the room and the bodies.

The spellcaster, Lyria it turned out was her name, had a spellbook and a handful of spell scrolls, a Cloak of Resistance, a small bag of spell components, a fine silver comb, and the dagger I threw into her shoulder when she was invisible earlier.

Nualia had magic armor that none of us would be able to use, and an unholy sword with the symbol of Lamashtu on the pommel. That could make it difficult to sell to normal shops…

She also had a sihedron medallion, and amulet with the seven-pointed star of the Runelords, hanging from a leather cord. Cairn studied it for a little while to figure out its properties. It had the same power as a Cloak of Resistance, as well as the ability to temporarily bestow extra life to the wearer.

We hadn’t even thought to heal ourselves yet when we heard a noise from the hall.

And that’s when Hamlin walked in the door.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Entry 10 – Infiltrating Thistletop

[For my previous journal entry, go here. To see where my journey began, go here.]

We started heading toward the bridge and came across a hole in the ground, an ominous howling coming from within. I had an uneasy feeling being near it and kept walking toward the bridge while Cairn and Hamlin stopped to look at it for a minute.

Across the bridge, we could see a rough-looking wooden fort, with watchtowers on either side of it.

One goblin was milling about in front of one of the towers, apparently just picking up rocks.

Two goblins on the east side of the building were “playing” with a seagull. One was throwing rocks at the bird while the other would yank on a string attached to the seagull’s leg to make hitting it more difficult. Two others were doing the same on the west end.

Three of their grotesque dogs were lounging in the bushes at the base of the building.

We contemplated a few plans, and decided to have Hamlin use his acting skills to pretend to be injured by a goblin blade, which he tucked under his arm, then stumble back into the bushes where we would be lying in wait to ambush them when they came to finish him off.

His ploy worked, and the lone goblin came across the bridge with the three dogs.

When they got close, Hamlin fired a crossbow bolt into the lead dog, Shadow following up with a grazing bite while Cairn moved in behind the goblin at the rear to prevent its escape. I did a flip over the dog to flank it with Shadow, and managed to skewer it with my offhand, finishing it off.

Everything else fell quickly after that, in a flurry of blades and claws and teeth. Only Cairn took any significant damage in the fight, and he drank some potions while I snuck out of the brush to see what the other goblins were doing.

The seagulls from before were being consumed by two of the creatures while the others were pulling another set of seagulls out of cages and trying to tie strings to their legs to continue their games.

The remaining goblins didn’t seem to even notice the missing goblin or dogs, so we decided to rest in order for Cairn to meditate and regain his spells. It was dark out by this point, and the goblins had all moved inside, so we made our way across the bridge.

Cairn went across first, followed by Shadow and Dante. I went next, then Hamlin. When he was almost all the way across, the bridge suddenly collapsed. Hamlin managed to grab onto a plank of the falling structure, slamming against the cliff face before climbing up.

Looking down the rock face, I noticed a pulley system. The bridge was apparently rigged to collapse, and there was a rope system that would let you put it back in place.

Hamlin and I circled the building, but there was only one real entrance at the front. It didn’t even appear to be locked, but I could hear a couple goblin voices behind it. We decided to sneak up on the roof and make our way in through the western tower.

We made our way down the stairs, and came upon a sleeping goblin, which I crept up on and executed without making a sound.

Another goblin was at the bottom of the stairs, rummaging through a sack, though I was not as successful at ending its life quietly as I was with the sleeping one. It managed to get a scrape in on me.

Shadow came leaping down the stairs and jumped over the railing to finish off the creature in front of me, while another goblin came charging into the room, taking a swing at me, but missing.

Cairn barreled down the stairs and chopped that goblin in half.

Moving to the east, we found the main entrance to the building. It looked like it was once a grand entrance hall, now in… disrepair, to say the least. A pile of junk was in front of the entrance.

“The door opened outward, didn’t it?” I whispered to Cairn. He nodded as I shook my head at the goblins’ stupidity.

Poorly taxidermied horse and dog heads were scattered around the room, and feathery black wings were poorly tacked onto the southern wall. They looked large enough for a person-sized creature.

We charged into the room and started hacking away at the two goblins milling about. Shadow eviscerated one with its first claw swipe, and Cairn stepped up and practically exploded the other.

Taking a closer look at the wings on the wall, Cairn said they looked like harpy wings. They were pinned to the wall with a half dozen daggers, one looking a bit more nicely crafted than the others, with a pearl embedded in the pommel. I pocketed it.

Cairn and Hamlin pointed out two of the collars on the mounted dog heads. They were made of fine leather and had a few gemstones attached to them. I estimated each collar to be worth about fifty gold. Into my pack they went as well.

We moved down the hallway headed east from the entrance hallway and came upon three goblins in a room at the base of the eastern watchtower. Two seemed to be playing some sort of card game, but all three were surprised at our sudden appearance in the doorway.

One of the goblins at the table started chanting as the others moved up to attack Cairn. I got stuck behind Shadow in the hallway as everyone tried to shuffle about to attack the goblins, the druid managing to actually move into the room.

In a blur of blades and claws and teeth, Shadow killed two of them and wounded the last before we could do much else than watch Hamlin stab it in the neck. I moved up the tower and didn’t find any other enemies, so returned to the group.

Moving north up another hallway, we came upon a crappy-looking throne room. There were some shamanistic goblins in the room chanting, and ghostly images that looked like the battle in Sandpoint we participated in before, but with images that looked like us, lying dead in the street… the dirty little liars.

The goblin on the makeshift throne greeted us warmly, stated his glee at our not actually being dead, and asked if we had come to swear allegiance to the Thistletop goblins.

We walked into the room calmly, and I noticed four pillars around the rugged throne that were covered in rusty spikes. Would need to make sure to stay away from those, or at least keep a goblin between me and them, during the inevitable fight.

Hamlin immediately answered, “Yes,” and I gave him a funny look. He shrugged.

Cairn said, “Your time is done. Leave.” So much for the ruse Hamlin tried to start.

The leader jumped onto a giant gecko and gave the command to attack. “No, you are done!” he shouted.

“You’ve obviously never fought humans before, have you?” I asked. The goblin leader shook a necklace at me, which had what looked like finger bones on it. “… that weren’t mere farmers you caught unawares or some such. I mean, you’re goblins, and we aren’t pushovers.” I looked to Cairn, who nodded in agreement as he readied his weapon.

The druid, surprisingly, did not use his axe right away, though, instead summoning an earth elemental in the back of the room.

A net was suddenly thrown over Hamlin and myself by one of the goblins, but Hamlin managed to slip out right away.

The gecko-riding goblin leader leapt into the air and flipped upside down, attaching to the ceiling, and came scurrying over to attack the druid… who promptly collapsed to the ground from a heavy blow.

Hamlin stepped back into the doorway we entered from to fire his crossbow at a goblin, and I followed behind him, managing to cast the net off of myself with a flourish and toss it onto the goblin who put it on me all in one motion.

“Ha ha!” I exclaimed, then fell silent when I saw Cairn’s body on the ground.

The leader attacked me from the ceiling, landing a blow, and I managed to hit him back with my shortsword. The goblin I’d thrown the net onto was struggling to get out of it, and I whipped my rapier over, stabbing it in the neck and finishing it off.

I dodged another attack from the ceiling as the (horribly) singing goblin nearby stepped up and tried to stab me with a horsechopper, and I got another small stab in on the leader, who I realized suddenly must be Ripnugget, the Thistletop tribe leader.

Shadow leapt off the ground, swatting at the gecko’s tail, but failing to knock it off the ceiling.

I somehow managed to keep not getting stabbed from both the side and above, and noticed out of the corner of my eye that the earth elemental had disappeared at some point, and Cairn, while still on the ground, suddenly moved. I thought I saw him drink a potion, but then he appeared to be immobile again.

Shadow pulled the lizard down from the ceiling, but Ripnugget managed to land a blow on me as he fell, and everything went black.

I woke up what must have been only a moment later, the singing goblin standing over my body, and managed to sneak a healing potion off my belt without being noticed, feeling a slight amount of vigor return to my body.

Cairn stood up and I saw him drink another potion of his own.

Shadow landed a claw and bite on Ripnugget, who retaliated, wounding our feline friend.

“From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee!” I shouted, as I leapt to my feet, landing a vicious stab on the suddenly flat-footed leader of the Thistletop Tribe.

Why you longshanks not stay dead!?” Ripnugget shouted as Shadow landed another bite.

Cairn then hefted his axe… right into Ripnugget’s face.

Hamlin took a small slash from the remaining goblin, then stabbed it in the face with his dagger. It died from its wounds.

I leapt onto the gecko’s back and tried to calm it down. Shadow decided he wanted a gecko dinner and started clawing at it. Cairn then decided to help him and my newfound dreams of having a giant gecko mount were dashed upon the edge of my druid friend’s axe.

We found a couple of more powerful healing potions, and Cairn drank one since he was on the brink, while I drank one of the potions we had brought with us.

Ripnugget had an oversized (for him) breastplate, and Cairn noted the shortsword was magical. From my experience in the Bartered Coin, I was able to recognize the craftsmanship and determined it was just a minorly enhanced blade. Slightly sharper, easier to land a blow, that sort of thing.

Because I use a shortsword more often, I took it, and Hamlin asked if he could take the cold iron blade I had had crafted before so he had something with more reach than the dagger he’d been using up until now.

Shadow’s ears perked up, and he looked toward the west wall, then I heard a thump and what sounded like a pumpkin being smashed, followed by a goblin-sounding yelp.

I let the others know what I heard, and we decided to look into the rooms on the east side of the “throne room”. We found an armory filled with run down equipment: scrap metal blades, goblin-sized suits of studded leather armor, and two masterwork daggers. Hamlin and I each took one of the finely crafted daggers.

I picked the lock on the door on the north side of the room and found a ring of keys right inside. How did Ripnugget get into the room if the keys were…? I thought to myself. Oh yeah, he’s a dumb goblin and probably just locked himself out.

Also in the room was a silver holy symbol of Lamashtu, the Mother of Monsters, and a brass key that wasn’t on the keyring. The floor was covered in poorly tanned dog and horse hides.

The door to the south of the room filled with dead goblins led to an empty hallway, which led back to the entryway to the fort, with the poorly-taxidermied animals.

We peeked out of another door off the main entryway, and there I saw the smashed pumpkin. Well, what had sounded like a smashed pumpkin was actually a goblin head being smashed, as there were two of them in the yard, along with two of their gross dogs, also dead on the ground, heads or ribcages crushed. Another dog looked wounded and was barking at a small shed at the back of the little yard that was shaking from something inside pounding on the walls.

Hamlin and I took aim with our bows and let fly at the dog. We both hit our mark and the dog fell to the ground barely making a sound, and the pounding in the shed ceased suddenly once the barking stopped.

There was a door just next to the one we entered the yard from, and on the other side was a small storage room with a couple dozen rabbits in cages.

Cairn moved up to the shed slowly and after a moment asked whatever was inside if it understood Common.

A whinnying sound came from within. A horse. Goblins don’t like horses, and horses don’t like goblins.

“I think I know what crushed the goblins’ skulls over there,” I said.

Looking inside the shed through cracks in the wall, we spotted a horse clad in fine barding, neatly tooled leather pieces, and… I recognized it. I knew this horse.

“Shadowmist? What are you doing here?” I threw open the door on the shed.

“You know this horse? How do you know this horse?” Cairn asked.

“My… My father trained this horse, years ago. He was sold to a nobleman, though I can’t remember who. But I’d never forget this fine steed.  He’s one of the finest my father ever raised.”

Shadowmist had appeared to calm down somewhat with all the goblins and dogs dead, so I coaxed him out of the small shed. One of his legs appeared to be wounded and didn’t look too good. Making soothing motions, I managed to calm the horse, and moved to the storage room quickly to get water and what had to be the last clean cloth in the entire fort.

With help from Cairn, we cleaned the infected wound as best we could. At this stage, there wouldn’t be any permanent damage to Shadowmist’s leg, as long as we got it cared for back in Sandpoint soon. Unless it somehow took us multiple days to clear out this little fort, that wouldn’t be an issue.

Further exploration found what appeared to be plans for the attack that had taken place on Sandpoint. Cairn took them as further evidence against the goblins to turn over to the mayor.

We found a chest behind a false wall in a room with a rather disgusting toilet. I couldn’t disarm the trap we found on the chest and wound up being stabbed badly enough I barely survived, needing to drink one of the more powerful healing potions we had found on Ripnugget’s body in order to recover.

Inside the chest we found a large amount of copper and silver (it had to be in the thousands, so we would count it later), about 150 gold pieces and 3 platinum. There were also a few gems I estimated to be worth roughly 20 gold each.

All that was left was to head down the nearby stairs and see what awaited us in the underground levels of Thistletop.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Entry 9 – The Path to Thistletop

[For my previous journal entry, go here. To see where my journey began, go here.]

The sheriff returned with the extra troops he needed a few uneventful days later and we gave a report on the happenings in town since he had left. The attack in the Glassworks, the tunnels, what we found in Pauper’s Grave.

We were paid a single gold piece for our time. Well, really, we were paid ten silver pieces, but whatever. It was ten days’ pay for a town guardsman.

Hamlin had a break from the theater and saw the rest of us strolling through the streets of Sandpoint and we discussed everything that had happened. We ended up deciding to head out east to investigate Thistletop, the location mentioned in Tsuto’s journal where the priest’s body was supposedly taken to be burned.

A few miles east of town, just past Shank’s Wood but before we reached the Pauper’s Grave cemetery again, we found an abandoned wagon.

Dante found a note:

            Messrs. Mortwell, Hask, and Tabe-
A deal has come about that I need capital for. It involves property and gold, and though I am not at liberty to tell you the exact details, it will make us all rich. Come to Bradley’s Barn on Cougar Creek tonight. We can meet there to discuss our futures.
-Your Lordship

There was also a small chest. I looked it over along with Hamlin, who pointed out a trap in the locking mechanism. I tried to disarm it but a small puff of smoke shot into my face and inside the chest, causing me to cough a bit.

I unlocked the chest with relative ease afterward and found a number of scraps of paper, most of them almost destroyed. Probably what the smoke was meant to do: destroy evidence of whatever was inside.

Dante said, “I’ve got this,” and waved his hand and the paper scraps mended themselves back together in the chest.

“I guess I don’t always hate magic,” I whispered to myself.

There was a deed to Hamin’s Farm, and a promissory note for 100 gold from the Scarnetti family. I recognized the name as a rival family to my old Boss’s family back in Magnimar.

We turned north from the road and passed through Pauper’s Grave and the brush started getting thicker as we approached the Nettlewood. After making our way through the forest along the coast for a few hours, Cairn leading us, we could finally see Thistletop, an island attached to the mainland by a small bridge.

Cairn continued marching ahead of us, and moved to a patch of nettles and moved them out of the way to reveal a hidden door, with a small “room” cleared out amidst the shrubbery. The druid moved in further, his abilities allowing him to move freely through the brush, to search things out a bit.

Hamlin and I circled around to the east to search for other entrances or hiding foes. Hamlin spotted a goblin, and we returned to meet up with everyone. Cairn had found one as well, and tried creeping up on it through the brambles that didn’t impede him and his druidness.

His supernatural ability let him move unimpeded, but he could still step on twigs… which he did. One goblin let out a whistle, and the one Hamlin spotted wandered closer, before saying in Goblin, “I don’t see anything.” It wandered back to where it was before.

Hamlin and I crept around and tried to fire arrows at the one goblin, missing because the brush was thicker than we thought. It yelled out they were under attack after its bow broke and snapped into its face, and then it started running away.

Cairn intercepted it and it died in a quick, explosive spray of bloody death.

We could hear more goblins coming from the north, and Cairn stepped into the brambles to flank them as they moved in.

The first goblin didn’t last long, but it managed to dodge a swing from myself, the staff coming down hard into the packed earth, splintering one end. I liked that staff, but it wouldn’t be much use as a weapon anymore.

Dante started his singing as the other goblins approached, Cairn having moved into a chokepoint in the brambles to stop them. Hamlin pushed through the brush to attack one of the goblins, and Dante threw a kukri around the hulking half-orc, scoring a hit.

My path being blocked by my allies, I shouted for Cairn to duck a little, and ran up behind him, dropping my staff and springboarding off his back while drawing my rapier and new cold iron shortsword simultaneously. I spun in the air, landing behind one of the goblins. I missed with the rapier in my right hand, but ran it straight through the neck with the shortsword, severing its head.

Cairn stepped into the brush and Shadow ran past him to eviscerate the remaining goblin.

I picked up my staff, slinging it across my back, and we moved up a little ways before hearing more goblins behind the thick shrubbery. Our last fight had been far enough away that they didn’t hear it, so they weren’t on alert. Three were sleeping around a campfire with another three sitting around it. Another three were nearby, probably acting as sentries.

Cairn summoned a ball of flame on one of the sleepers, which died immediately in the blaze.

Hamlin and I tried to fire arrows into one of the guards but missed while Shadow took a bite out of another and Cairn stepped up, directing his flaming sphere to move onto yet another enemy, consuming it as well.

Hamlin crossbowed one in the face, and it fell over dead, while I stepped up and double stabbed another with my blades, killing it.

I heard another goblin catch fire and scream, then become unable to ever scream again.

“Man, that is one hardcore spell, Cairn,” I said.

The druid nodded.

I heard behind some of the bushes, “Uh-oh, Ripnugget’s not going to be happy...” followed by some light chanting. I saw a bird take off into the sky, and managed to knick it with an arrow, but it kept flying to the Thistletop island.

Emerging from the surrounding trees were a few of the goblins’ little rat-dog creatures and a goblin that was dressed more... naturally than goblins usually are. He looked like he was wearing bark for armor. Like a miniature, not-as-cool Cairn.

Coming from behind the dogs was a firepelt like Shadow, a dark black and red-furred cat the size of a mountain lion.

I fired an arrow at the goblin, but my foot slipped on a root when I stepped forward to line up the shot.

I heard Cairn chanting behind a wall of brush, then saw an earth elemental appear out of the ground and charge the enemy druid.

One of the dogs ran up and tried to bite me, and I stabbed it with both blades, the rapier ripping its gut open.

I heard the thwip of an arrow flying through the air and one of the other dogs let out a whimper, which Dante put an end to quickly as he pushed through the brush and shot flames out of his lute into it and the other remaining dog, both falling over in smoldering heaps.

The firepelt charged at Cairn and essentially negated the healing potion he drank a moment before. Dante stepped up to heal him, as the earth elemental attacked the enemy druid, wounding him badly.

“Have your friend stand down!” Cairn called out. The druid acquiesced, his cat returning to his side quickly as he pled for mercy and that we spare his life. We all gathered around the surrendering foe.

The goblin had a small bag hanging from his shoulder, and Cairn demanded he set it on the ground. The goblin complied.

“What’s across the bridge?” Cairn asked.

“Ripnugget, and the harpy.” He paused, looking slightly worried. “Uhh... don’t tell them I called her a harpy or they’ll kill me.”

“Why do you serve them?”

“I serve Ripnugget. He is my chief.”

“What are they doing?”

“I don’t know.”

“Was a ritual performed here? A body burned?”

“I don’t know. The longshanks do lots of weird things.”

Dante interjected. “How many longshanks are there?”

“There is the harpy, and two more. I think they are married. They go at it like donkeyrats.”

I chuckled at that.

“What can you tell us about those other longshanks?”

“The woman is a spellcaster of some kind.” He shrugged. “And the man wears lots of armor.”

He pled with us to not kill his tribe. Cairn told him to leave because he wouldn’t have a tribe by the time we were done.

He hung his head in defeat and quietly muttered his sister was married to someone in the Birdcrunchers tribe.

Cairn looked intently at the goblin before demanding he give us his cloak. The goblin slowly removed the cloak, stifling sobs as he handed it over.

“Go to the Birdcrunchers. You won’t have anything to come back to here,” Cairn told him as he disappeared through the brush of the Nettlewood.

The size of it seemed humorous as he put it on, but the cloak Cairn took from the goblin druid was a Cloak of Resistance, slightly strengthening his fortitude, reflexes, and ability to resist spells. I’d certainly like to get my hands on such an item some day.

Near the campfire we found all the goblins around was a small chest. Inside were two sets of Angora wool-lined leather armor, both magical. Hamlin and I took them, and putting on magic armor was an interesting experience. For the most part, it was relatively normal, but once equipped, it just fit better than any sort of armor I’d ever worn before. It felt like it was made for me, but I know it wasn’t. When I first held it up, it didn’t look like it would fit any better than what I already had.

The other things we found were a wand of Produce Flame and another of Tree Shape. Cairn took them both.

Under those items was about 800 gold worth of coins and gems.