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.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Entry 8 – Cleansing the Catacombs, and Pauper’s Grave

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

"Uhh... guys?" I could hear Dante's voice from down the hall.

"We're in here!" I called out, relieve that the footsteps were from an ally.

Dante had returned, but even after healing, Hamlin didn’t feel well, so he stayed behind with the priests to rest.

We quickly explained what had happened while he was gone.

When we mentioned Cairn stepping in the water and then going into a blind rage temporarily, Dante asked, "Does that always happen when you step in water?"

Cairn shook his head and sighed.

Dante wandered around the room a little and pointed at the demon’s body on the ground. “What was a quasit doing here?” he asked aloud.

“Is that what that thing is called?” I asked back.

Dante nodded.

“Well, I believe it was doing demon things.”

“That sounds about right for a quasit,” Dante replied.

When he got up on the dais, the bard asked what the golden goop was in the basin on the little altar, before walking back down one of the sets of stairs. We told him the quasit dripped some of its blood into the thing, and two sin eaters emerged from the pool of water in the middle of the room.

"Oo! I wanna try that!" Dante ran back up the stairs and over to the basin.

"Are you serious?" I asked. Then I turned to Cairn. “Is he serious?”

Cairn just sighed.

"Of course! I wanna see if I can summon a demon!"

"I'm leaving," Cairn said flatly, heading for the door. I followed him.

We had just stepped outside the door when Dante went up to the altar and actually cut himself, dripping blood into the yellow liquid. Two sin eaters emerged from the pool in the middle of the room, one heading toward Dante as he exclaimed, "Obey me!"

Cairn sighed and stepped back into the room, moving into a defensive stance. I fired an arrow through the doorway at the one that was advancing toward us, but missed.

It moved up next to Cairn. Swing and a miss.

Shadow ran up and took a bite out of it while the other sin eater clawed at Dante, messing him up pretty badly. He retaliated with his shard blast thing, ripping off a good chunk of it, but it remained standing.

Cairn wounded the one in front of him, and I ran up, leaping directly over the sin eater, clearing it by a solid foot, spinning in midair and smashing down with my staff on its head as I landed. It collapsed in a heap.

"Did you see that? You guys saw that, right? That was awesome. Tell me I'm awesome."

"You're awesome," Cairn replied, not very enthusiastically.

“I’ll take it.” I gave him a thumbs up and an ear-to-ear grin.

Shadow ran and jumped up onto the platform the altar was on to help the bard. Dante managed to avoid getting hit again and stepped back, throwing a kukri at the sin eater.

Cairn and I moved up to help, each moving toward a different set of stairs. Cairn got to it first and finished it off.

"Can we please not mess with demon magic going forward?" he said flatly.

Dante suddenly started playing a song that described the little basin on the altar. It was apparently a runewell, and would keep summoning sin eaters until it ran out of the power that was put into it.

“That was… interesting,” I said.

“I just remembered a song about what this thing is.”

"Apparently… So, is there any way to stop it? Like, break it?"

"I think boiling holy water?" Dante shrugged. We figured we could probably get some of the priests in town to take care of the thing.

We continued telling Dante about what we'd done while he was gone, and mentioned the pits with zombies in them.

"Oh, and we got this off that Koruvus guy." I pulled out the smoldering longsword. Dante asked to have it for a little while. It gave him more reach than his kukris in close quarters. Seemed reasonable enough, so I handed it over.

Dante healed himself and Cairn healed his cat, and we moved along to the last set of stairs we had come upon. The druid took the quasit's body and stuffed it in a bag before we left the room.

The doorway at the top of those stairs revealed a small, circular room, with a mural running around it. It depicted a woman who looked a lot like the statue Dante took the bejeweled ranseur from, killing people. There were a lot of dead bodies in the mural. There was a small pool of clear, clean water, only a few feet across, that was constantly flowing up to the top, then out into another circle around it where the water washed out of the room.

We found another spiral staircase, heading up, but it was collapsed. I examined the rubble, and came to the conclusion it had been collapsed longer than the town had even been in this location.

With no other paths, we left the tunnels and headed to the cathedral to talk to the priests. I asked to talk to Father Zantus alone, and when I showed him the book written in Abyssal, he told me in no uncertain terms to leave, and take the evil writings with me.

Cairn pulled the quasit out of his bag and presented it to Father Xantus. "How do we fight these?"

"With cold iron." He looked over at me as I was waiting for Cairn. "Please take that book out of here."

I asked him if he knew of anyone who might be able to help me translate them, as they were likely our best lead to finding the enemies of Sandpoint. He said the scholar Brodrick Quink might be able to help me, and I hurried out of the cathedral.

Cairn wanted to go to the blacksmith to look into this "cold iron" that the head priest had mentioned. The blacksmith, Das Korvut, said he knew of the material, but didn't have any on hand. Cairn and I each ordered a weapon, and he said it would take some time to acquire the material. I ordered a shortsword, and Cairn requested a new two handed battleaxe. We paid half the fee upfront.

We found Brodrick Quink sitting at the base of the Old Light, where I first met him, muttering to himself.

"I knew it! I knew it! They are wrong!" the old man exclaimed to himself as we approached

"Who's wrong this time, my good man?" I asked him.

"They all are! All the Thassalonian scholars are wrong. This wasn't a lighthouse, it was a weapon!"

"Yes, we talked about that before briefly," I reminded him. He blinked a few times then nodded.

I handed him the book, telling him we found it in tunnels under the city.

"Hmm… It seems like some sort of beastiary… No, no… this is just a Lamashtu holy book. It's not useful to anyone who isn't a priest of that deity." He handed it back to me.

"I'm a priest of Lamashtu," Dante said.

"No you are not," Quink replied.

"I could be."

"You are not deformed, nor are you a Mother of Monsters."

Dante walked a few steps away, looking dejected.

"Was the Sandpoint area settled by anyone else since the Thassalonians built here?"

"You don't know much about the Thassalonians, do you, my boy? They disappeared millenia ago." He went on to describe a number of ruins around the continent.

I managed to interrupt him after a couple minutes in order to answer the question he asked, and told him I had only been able to study the language from some books I came into, but wasn’t able to learn much about their history from them.

I think I sort of reset his train of thought when I did that, because he blinked a few times then looked around at each of us for a moment.

Dante was using the jeweled ranseur as a walking stick now, and it caught Quink's eye. He said it looked like the weapon belonging to Alaznist, one of the Thassalonian Runelords. There were seven of them in total, but he didn’t really feel like talking about them more.

Dante took a closer look at the ranseur, then said sadly, "Aww, it isn't magical."

Cairn mentioned the seven pointed stars we found in the ruins under Sandpoint. Quink said it was a symbol of Thassalonian magic, each point of the star representing a different Runelord and their school of magic. That was all we were going to get out of him about the Thassalonians that day.

Later that day, we escorted the priests into the tunnels when they were ready to cleanse the altar, in case there were any enemies that had somehow escaped our first pass through or snuck in through some hidden passage while we were away. It hadn’t been long, since the priests wanted to cleanse the evil as soon as possible, but you could never be too careful where demons were involved.

It ended up being a rather uneventful expedition.

We met with the mayor again, and informed her of what we'd found in the tunnels so far. Dante suggested she increase the guard on the different entry points to the town, and encourage the militia members to stay armed at all times, because the attack Tsuto hinted at could come at any time. She agreed.

We descended into the tunnels again and took the easterly branch. It continued on for about 600 yards, before it started to angle downward and water was starting to drip down the walls, before eventually becoming fully flooded.

We turned back and took the final, northern path, and it led to a beach. There was a burned out firepit, and some half eaten rabbit carcasses. It was at the base of the cliff somewhat northeast of Sandpoint.

We told the mayor, then decided to turn in for the day, and return to the water-filled passage the next day. Cairn said he had a spell he could use, but would need to prepare it first, that would let him breathe underwater for a couple minutes, so he could more easily explore the sunken passage.

We returned to the tunnels and Cairn cast his spell, then dove into the water. After a number of minutes, Cairn came up the passage behind Dante and I, still fairly drenched after walking through the streets to get back to us. It turned out the passage circled almost the entire town, and the current was fairly strong. His spell wouldn’t have lasted long enough to come back the way he left.

We reported our findings to the mayor once again, and she said she would look into solutions, maybe recruiting the Carpenter's Guild to find a way to seal or collapse the tunnels.

The next day, the blacksmith approached Cairn and I at the Rusty Dragon as we ate lunch, and let us know the shipment he was expecting that morning never arrived. The cold iron for the weapons we commissioned, as well as other supplies, and gold to pay for finished goods were all missing.

We came to an agreement that retrieving the shipment would cover the other half of our payment.

As we headed out, Cairn marked a spot on the cliff above the exit we'd found so that we could post lookouts to see if anyone was coming toward the cave entrance.

We found the missing cart fairly quickly, the horse drawing it lying slain next to it, and the cargo left intact.

We followed tracks that led away from it and came upon Pauper's Grave, a cemetery north of where we found the cart. A man's body was in the middle of the cemetery, stripped naked and cut open.

As we moved closer, we could see a seven-pointed star carved into the man's chest. When we got even closer, I heard rustling in the trees and bushes around the cemetery, and spotted humanoid, probably undead things moving toward us.

"Hey Dante, that Bardic Knowledge thing have anything to say about what these things are?" I asked as I fired an arrow into one of the creatures.

"Yep. They're ghouls."

They closed in on us as Dante began to sing, Cairn and I taking chunks out of a couple of them. Shadow took a bite out of one, but recoiled, spitting and coughing and looking a little ill.

Dante skewered one with his new longsword, then I got bit. I immediately felt a little weaker and somewhat nauseated.

Dante was carving up ghouls with his smoldering blade, felling three of them while I struggled to land a hit. I got hit again and drank a potion after the bard killed the ghoul on me.

Cairn finished off the last one, and we decided to take the dead man's body to the cart while Dante ran back to town to get a horse to pull it.

When we returned, the blacksmith paid Dante with a small sack of gold. "I had deals with the other two, but not with you. Thank you for your help." He said he would expedite the work on our weapons as further thanks so we could better take care of the threat to the town.

We made our way to the cathedral and Father Zantus offered to cure the disease from myself and Shadow. I thanked him for his assistance and excused myself to go get Brodrick Quink to see if he knew of any sort of ritual the Thassalonians might have done with corpses since their runic marking was on the body.

Unfortunately, he didn't know about anything like that, and it took a couple minutes after we arrived back at the cathedral to even find that out because he dry heaved for a few minutes when he first saw the eviscerated body.

I guess just describing the situation to him would have worked just fine. I took note of that for the future, though I hoped we wouldn’t be finding a lot of bodies in that predicament.