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excerpts from Vraxeris's journal
Excerpts from Vraxeris’s Journal:
“The runeforge pool awoke! I first took this as a sign that Runelord Xanderghul had risen.
When I arrived at the pool to investigate, it seemed that the others had come to the same
conclusion. The foolish Wardens of Envy thought to disrupt the recrudescence, and with the
aid of Kazaven, Ordikan, Athroxis, and that lovely creature Delvahine, we were able to
defeat them utterly. Their Ab jurant Halls lie in ruins. Our treaty was short-lived, though.
Kazaven absconded with the bodies and that treacherous wench Athroxis nearly burned me
to death before I made it back here.”
“I was mistaken. Runelord Xanderghul still slumbers. It is that monster Karzoug who
quickens and nears rebirth. Damnation! He must not be allowed to precede Xanderghul into
the world, for he would rebuild Thassilon in his own inferior image, a testament to his own
greed rather than one of pride in the work. He must be delayed or defeated!”
“I have managed to escape this place, to a certain extent. By astral pro jection I can
explore what the world outside has become. It is a brutish place, yet it pleases me to see
Thassilon’s mark endures in the shape of our monuments. Still, the wilderness of the world
vexes me. Gone is the empire I knew. Karzoug’s city of Xin-Shalast is now hidden high in the
mountains, and when I finally discovered it, I found the spires where his body is hidden to be
inaccessible, warded against astral travelers by the occlusion field around the peak of Mhar-
Massif. As long as his runewell is active, I fear even a physical approach would be impossibly
dea dly. I mu st dete rmin e a way to pie rce thes e wardin gs, and to s end an agent in my place.
No need to risk my own life before my clone is ready.”
Excerpts from Vraxeris’s Journal:
“I have taken steps toward an alliance with Delvahine. She may be able to escape this
pla ce, f o r s h e wa s n o t o f t h e o r i g in a l b lo o d. At t he le a s t, s h e c an c a ll u p o n ag en t s f r o m o u ts i de,
and perhaps through them we can secure servants in the outer world. She seems uninterested
in Sorshen’s return; all the better for Xanderghul, that.”
“The runeforge pool is the key. As I suspected, the occlusion field around Karzoug’s fortress
in Xin-Shalast has a flaw. His lack of knowledge of the intricacies of Sorshen’s and my own
lord Xanderghul’s powers have left an opening. My agents must use components infused with our
lords’ virtues, extract the latent magic within these components, and then anoint their chosen
weapons with this raw power. The runeforged pool seems to have enough reserves to enhance
no more than half a dozen or so runeforged weapons, but those enhanced with enchantment
and illusion magic will be most potent against Karzoug’s defenses. They may even be pivotal
in his defeat. For my own part, fragments of any of the mirrors in the Peacock’s Hall should
suffice for a component. Delvahine’s... equipment... should suffice for enchantment, although one
might be wise to cleanse them before they are handled.”
“The search for an agent goes poorly. Delvahine seems more interested in her own lusts
than aiding me. Worse, the lapses and fevers are increasing. I fear that I will be forced to
see to Karzoug myself, in which event I will need to use the master circle I built into the
Halls of Wrath to escape this place. Yet first, I must set aside my work on delaying Karzoug’s
return and turn back to the final development of my 205th clone. I only hope I have time to
finish before the dementia takes hold...”
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The Champion

The blow landed dully in Mikal's eye, just as he knew it would. He staggered in the rapidly forming circle of jeers and taunts. Again.

“What goes on here?” the Man in Black had said. Mikal had sniffled and shrugged, and the Man crouched before him, considering the run of blood from nose and mouth. He had looked at the receding mob then, and asked the question.

“How will you make it stop?”


Mikal regarded Herxer through his stinging vision, and balled his fists defiantly. Herxer laughed his honking laugh and advanced.

“Do you want it to stop?” the Man in Black had asked.

Mikal half-nodded, half-shrugged, defeated.

“Fie,” the Man had said.

Gently, said the Lady, though she never really said. The words didn't sound. They floated.


“Gently has no moment here,” the Man had said. “No cause more just than self-defense. I ask again boy, do you want it to stop?”

Mikal had met the Man's eye then, and saw the hard understanding. He nodded.

“Say it.”

“I want it to stop,” Mikal had said. Harder than he'd thought.


“Then come with me.”

Mikal made a half step toward Herxer, and hesitated, dragging his back toe. With an exuberant yawp Herxer lunged. The blow went over Mikal, though, who had used his feinting back foot to propel himself inside the bigger boy's reach.

“If you must fight, win. Winning has no rules.”


Mikal's head went into Herxer's throat as one hand grabbed for the oncoming belt and the other drove hard into the boy's crotch. Herxer's battle cry turned into a strangled grunt as his knees buckled and his feet went out from under him.

Mikal's whole-body leap bowled Herxer over, and Mikal tumbled clumsily over the other boy's head.

“You cannot hesitate,” the Man had said. “If you stop to think, you are lost.”

Mikal did not stop to think. Scrabbling to his hands and knees, he flung himself at the purpling pained face of Herxer, fists flailing in wild abandon. He didn't realize he was screaming until his arms tired, and his yowl of rage went winding into a strange trail until it ended with a wheeze.

There were grown men and women then. Someone pulled him from the semi-conscious Herxer even as others swatted and kicked at the mob, dispersing the circle. Mikal looked up at the adults who were restoring order, then blinked his still open eye and looked down the street.

The Man in Black stood calmly there, still and silent as the shadow of death. He tapped his eyepatch and smiled at Mikal. Mikal smiled back, though he winced when he returned the salute and touched his swollen eye.

Then the Man was gone, and Mikal's mother was sweeping him home.

The Champion.
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The Death of the Grotesque Mammy Graul, at the Hands of a Bard.
Mammy Graul, the hideous floating mass of veined fleshy folds and matted crusty bedsheets, clearly recognized she was outmatched. Too many blades were about her, the zombies of dubious heritage that had served as decoration and bodyguard were put down, and she was cut off from immediate retreat.

She wove her hands into intricate motions once more, arcane energy crackling into the room as a tiny vortex kaleidoscoped open beneath her. Her words of power quickly climbed in timbre, but Urist was faster. The skilled musician matched her pitch, and anticipated it, turning her arcane delivery into a duet of a few bars, he filled the tenor space her last syllable should have occupied perfectly, leaving space within an impromptu chord for a higher tone above.

The distraction drove Mammy’s final syllable into a higher register, and the error, for Mammy, was disastrous. The vortex grew beneath her, spinning motes of color taking on glittering diamond edges. The piercing light arced into and through her instead of enveloping her as she had planned, and the grotesque once-woman came unsewn. Great swathes of pimply flesh peeled away, freeing vile gobbets of pustulent fat that roped into the air. Gouts of blood and shredded viscera followed, throwing great stripes of gore across every nearby surface. Bone splintered into sickening shrapnel, slapping into the walls like a single great spit of hail, pinging from armor and shields. The nightmarish wave was thick and foul, spreading through the room in an instant, and just as quickly done.

There was a moment of eerie silence then, filled only by the sloppy drip of Mammy’s remains sliding down the walls to puddle on the floor. Antio had thrown his hands up against the wave, ineffectually shielding himself, and now blinked away the filth that ran into his good eye. Across from the swordsman, Marcus had been taken even more by surprise, and spat violently to rid himself of a particularly unwelcome piece of Mammy’s remains. Both were drenched in gore.

Teo had raised his shield to cover his face, but his unprotected lower body now looked as though he had waded in blood. Colhad peered out from behind his shield where he had instinctively hunkered at the outset of Mammy’s nightmarish demise. He was largely undefiled by the creature’s eruption, though her jawbone had embedded itself in his shield. A gobbet of some unidentifiable organ hung from the semi-toothed arch. Urist had flung his own shield forward against the flow, but had been bowled over by the force of the disastrous spell failure, and he now lay on his back in a sticky puddle. Alden was on one knee behind Antio, having been taking a moment to regroup when Mammy’s remains flooded the room, and while he was not as befouled as many, his snowy white surcoat would never be the same.

Lilliayn stood still, trying to process the filth that had just passed through her incorporeal form to paint a charnal masterpiece on the walls of the repugnant Graul homestead.

“What,” she stammered at last, “was that?”
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Several Shades of Grey
“Are you serious?” Antio was incredulous.

“About this, most assuredly,” replied Lilliayn. “It's not as though we're dealing with Rovagug, or Zon-Kuthon, or even Urgathoa. Norgorber's motivations aren't always violently evil. He's mysterious, no doubt, and untrustworthy by the likes of us, but he approached you directly. Like it or not, you're doing him a favor. We all are, by shriving this cult of his.”

“But if we were actually advancing a sinister plot, surely you'd have been warned,” Antio sat back, uncertain.

“That's what led my thought this way,” Lilliayn said quickly, almost excited. “Typically, I have feelings one way or another on many activities. Here, I have none. It's as though Iomedae waits to see what will happen.”

Antio thought a moment before venturing “so we're pawns.”

Lilliayn shrugged. “Aren't we anyway? Mortal perception of the games gods play is always limited. The best we can do is move with faith.”

“So,” Antio shifted thoughtfully, “just so I understand, you're proposing that I stay open to the possibility of further contact from Norgorber, since he may ask me another favor, which would theoretically provide some clue as to what might be going on?”

“Yes,” Lilliayn nodded, for the third or fourth time. It had taken several explainings to get Antio to put the pieces together.

“Why don't I just ask?”

“Ask?” Lilliayn blinked. “Ask the Reaper of Reputation for another task? Um...”

“No no,” Antio waved a hand to dismiss the notion. “I mean just ask him what he's up to? Should he contact me again, that is. After all, I'm doing him a favor. Why not call it in?”

Lilliayn started to speak several times. “That sounds dangerous,” she ventured at last.

“More dangerous than whatever else he might ask me to do?” Antio smiled grimly. “I'll take my chances.”
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Urist's Journals to Date

27 September 2012

Our investigations led us to the Hambley farm, where we discovered that a pack of ghouls had attacked, slaughtering most of the farmers. After we dealt with the ghouls and rescued the survivors, we had an unexpected encounter on the road.

The Janderhoff branch of my clan, after having been informed of my disappearance, sent a search party to retrieve me, including a small army of guards and three clan higher-ups. I barely convinced my clan elders to allow me to continue my travels, arguing that I was adding more tales to the history of dwarvenkind.

After exchanging some parting words with my clan elders, we headed for Foxglove Manor. There's something wrong about this place.

4 September 2012

Nualia gave us a good amount of trouble, but a well-placed strike from Marcus took her down. I knew we could trust the lad. We searched the entire dungeon, but found hide nor hair of the demon Malfeshnekor. I can only hope that we didn't miss something crucial. We gathered up everything that we could and made our way back to Sandpoint.

...

We've managed to repair our reputation in the town, partly due to Antio's efforts with Ameiko, but mainly due to my expertly-crafted ballad about the battle with the goblins. I have no doubt the song will be playing in Korvosa within the month. I just hope that none of my kin catch word of it.

...

Our high spirits took a turn for the grim this morning. Sheriff Hemlock sent for us in the early hours of the morning and met us outside of town. He wants us to investigate a couple of grisly murders that have sprung up recently in the town. Hemlock wanted us to keep it as low-key as possible, feared that the murders might spark a panic. Apparently they had a similar issue a few years back and the paranoia nearly tore the whole town apart.

Our investigations first took us to the sawmill. It was a proper grisly scene: the sawmill operator and some tart, the sister of the little minx that accosted Colhad, had been butchered in the night. The entire building reeked of old rot, even though the bodies were fresh. Antio and Teo suspect some sort of undead; I'll defer to their experience with such things. Whatever it was, it got in through the second story window and survived a nasty axe wound.

The most interesting thing about the scene was the millworker's corpse. He had been strung up on hooks and had a seven-pointed symbol carved into his chest, like the one carved into the amulet we took from Nualia. I fear that these murders may be part of something much larger.

2 September 2012

Beyond that forboding door stood a terrible ten foot corridor. Behind the _next_ door, we found Nualia, half transformed into a demon, her pawn Tsuto, and another pack of those infernal hounds. The got off to a rather poor start, the beasts pinned us in the corridor and bombarded us with infernal magic, leaving our Iomedaeans hurting. We eventually managed to push into the main room, killing Tsuto and the hounds. Although Nualia is the only enemy remaining, I fear we still have quite a fight in front of us. I'm not a religious dwarf, but I can only pray that we make it out of this alive. Torag help us all.

27 August 2012

Despite our, shall we say, _harrowing_ first encounter, our noble band of heroes continued the assault on the Thistletop Depths. Notably, we were joined by another new companion, a wizard by the name of Teodoros. Alden vouched for him, probably knew him from some previous crusade. While I take no formal issue with the group's new Iomedaean majority, I refuse to hold hands and sing _O Glorious Inheritor of Light_. A Dwarf must maintain his principles.

Our continued assault brought us to yet another accursed temple of Lamashtu. Poor Marcus nearly became food for some manner of devil dog. (Barghests, hellhounds, and yeth hounds, they're all black, all shaggy. I can't be arsed to tell the difference.) We also ran into two of Nualia's hired lackeys. The sellsword seemed like the sort of gent I could have a drink with, the elf witch not so much. Luckily for us they decided their pay wasn't worth their lives and let us pass only lightly singed.

Our efforts brought us to what I presume is the lowest level of this mess, some ancient Thassalonian something-or-other dedicated to the Runelord of Greed. After avoiding a rather nasty trap and exploring a few rooms full of magical claptrap, we found ourselves in front of a rather imposing door. The only thing I can find myself thinking is that something down here must have made those claw marks at the beginning of these ruins. Something big.

15 August 2012

Our invasion of the goblin fortress at Thistletop continues. Although our battle with the goblin chief got off to a rocky start, the arrival of our new companion, Marcus, turned the tide of the battle. Marcus seems like a good enough lad. He holds his liquor well for a human, and his _clandestine_ skills will certainly come in handy. The battle will make a decent verse in my ongoing ballad, _The War at Sandpoint_. Ripnugget is a typical idiotic goblin name, but it takes to meter surprisingly well.

Our sack of the fortress turned up some objects of note as well. Ripnugget's sword is of surprisingly high quality, despite being of goblin make. The only logical explanation is that the idiot creatures got their hands on a piece of good dwarven metal. I'll hold onto it for the time being, until I can get a proper dwarf-make sword. The idiot creatures had also locked a horse in a closet. The poor beast was half-mad from starvation, but we managed to get it safely out of the fortress.

As our assault of the fortress took us underground, we were forced to witness horror that I am reluctant to record here. When I say we caught the bugbear Bruthazmus with his pants down, I unfortunately mean this literally. I think it will be best to leave this particular incident out of my ballad, though it may make an excellent tavern song after time and a few strong drinks
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Tags: Journal , Recap , Summary , Urist
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