The Runelords will Rise

Reinforcements

Reinforcements
It took a week but reinforcement arrived to take over control of the Fort. With it safely secured we began our treck to discover what happened to the lost Ranger Captain. Our answers seemed to lead to the Whitewillow in the Shimmer glens. We had the choice of heading around and following the river OR cutting across the Kreegwood to Bitter Hollow. The Kreegwood was to be full of Ogers but we took care of most of them when we killed the Grauls and those from the Fort. There was always a chance that something could happen but it was the fastest we could get there. The trip was uneventful to Bitter Hollow but it was miserable. Wet, and rain has been with us for many a day. When not wet, low dreary clouds hung over us.
The town of Bitter Hollow, if you could call it a town, was just huts for trappers and others to sell their goods to head down the river to Turtleback, and on to Magnimar. Our simple camp seemed more fit for life than some of the homes there. Leaving Captain Ettienne Navarre, Josek’s new paladin companion, with the horses we traveled into the Shimmerglens. Unnatural doesn’t even cover this place. I know it to have once been a beautiful place but, evil, grief, death, and… unnatural ness permeates. I see things between trees, and out the corner of my eye, that I know are not there, but seem so real. There are places where still water sits that no life lives. I have seen such pools, and they are places of death. One of my companions thought he might drink from one, and thankfully stopped before he could do so. We continued on, and found a sailing ship. I found that odd. I don’t know much about sailing ships, but I do know that given the natures of the waters around it is highly unlikely that one could come to this place on its own, so to speak. It could only be there by magic, and very powerful magic indeed. I wanted away from it as fast as possible.
The journey through the Shimmerglens to the Nymphs home was made much easier by the fact we had a guide in the form of a Pixy of some sort. He was a bit excitable, and just wanted to please his mistress. He didn’t threaten us, but you can’t blame us for being a little bit wary of him. The last time we tangled with his kind it didn’t go well for us. Not a pleasant memory. He led us to a pool that was still… too still. This was the Nymph’s home. As a child of nature myself I thought it best if I approached her. What I didn’t count on was my friends coming with me. Just our luck she turned her blinding radiance upon us. I averted my eyes quick enough that I was not blinded but most of my companions were not so lucky. She told us that he love had been taken, and his soul was not at rest. She would reward us if we brought his remains back to her. Considering her love had been captured by a group of ogres and that vile woman who we ran into at the Fort, it would be no problem to do as she asked.
Up in the mountains was the strong hold of the Hook Mountain Clan. The climb would be treacherous but we could do it. We planned for most everything but we didn’t count on the high winds and blizzard of snow that pounded on us at every step. I had to carry Mei because she was being nearly blow away from the strength of the wind. The grumblings of my companions about couldn’t I do something about the weather grew a little daunting at times. Yes I can do things to control the weather, but this weather is not natural weather. There is only so much I can do. I can lessen the cold on every one, and I can turn into a polar bear at night to help keep people warm but there is only so much I can do.
I saw some sort of light coming out of the snow. It could be an entrance into their lair, which means warmth and shelter for us. But that also means that more enemies are nearby, possibly hiding in all the blowing snow…….

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Rebuilding

The past few days have been rough for all of us. Thankfully none of my humanoid companions were killed but there has been much death here at the keep. Bagheera gave his life to protect us but we were forced to push on. It took a lot out of us, but we killed the leaders of the Ogre clan. We feared we would have to fight our way out of the keep, but by using the heads of their leaders as intimidation we frightened the other 40 ogres out of the keep. They may be gone but their destructiveness was not.

As we searched the keep we found many things of interest, one of which was love letters from the Captain of the keep and a lock of hair from a Nymph in the Shimmerglens, specifically the Whitewillow. He was gone during the attack visiting her apparently. That could be a lucky happen stance for him, or highly incriminating. We found a map room full of torn maps. What a waste! Combing through it we found a few useable maps, and clues to strong hold north of Fort Rannick in the mountains.

We had sent for reinforcements but it would still be days before they would return. We could not leave the Fort undefended. What if the ogres come back, what of the rumors of possible stone giants ? Between the strength of the animals I can summon and my own abilities to become creatures the heavy lifting and pulling has been achieved around the fort. If anything the front gate is closed so no outsiders can enter.

We were in the keep for a week tending to our wounds and rebuilding what we could. I was given a day to call forth my new companion. I both looked forward and dreaded the ceremony.

Meda was not pleased to see me. She didn’t say it but she seemed a little disappointed that I had lost Bagheera so quickly. Autumn had been with me for over a year before she was lost in battled, and then I had Bagheera for just three months before he perished. In speaking with her, she agreed that in my heart that I knew that Bagheera wouldn’t be with me for long. He had not been comfortable going to the city with me, and how many hunters near there eyed him as a possible trophy for their collection. Traveling north to Turtleback Ferry on the ship wasn’t too bad for him but it was cramped. Being as big as he was, he had trouble getting around the small spaces. That should have given me a clue to what was to come. The more we traveled and tried to work together the more we both found that he was not happy. I had planned to release him and find another companion who would find my work easier to handle, but death took him before that could be so.

Like before there were animals that wanted to be my companion but each time there was something about their nature that I felt didn’t fit with my life. I really enjoyed having Autumn in my life. She was small enough that she could go where ever I did. She was lithe enough to get into places that she needed. She didn’t do much damage when she attacked, but she didn’t get hit as often either.

Meda finally brought me to a nice forest full of animals. She suggested I have a contest of sorts. Whoever could pass my trials could be my companion. I proposed a race, that also tested their agility. Many animals could not go through tight spaces, or move quickly enough to keep up. The next test was to see if they could survive battle. I imaged up a mockup of Telchar. He is one of the toughest of us to hit, if he could hurt them, they would not fare well. The whole time I saw a large sun yellowed fire pelt yearning to take his turn. It has been cocky in the first trials that he could move well and run fast, but I noticed that because he was nearly as large as Bagerrah that he couldn’t get in the tight places Autumn could have. He stepped up to my faux Telchar and tried to attack him… and missed. Telchar’s hammar bashed into the side of his head knocking him nearly senseless. Again the cat tried to attack him, but the frying pan sized paws were too slow to land a hit on Telchar’s armor, that is not to say the claws weren’t leaveing dents. One more round from Telchar and the cat was unconscious. All I could do was shake my head no, he would not be my companion. One of the last to approach was another firepelt. She was smaller than many of the fire pelts. When she attacked Telchar she actually hit him, didn’t do much damage but still did some. When he swung to hit her, he missed, and missed again, and finally got a blow on her but she took it and kept going. The trouble the faux Telchar had hitting her was that she was moving all over the place, like, well like our friend Morfin. Just like him she would bounce around Telchar and get a good swipe at him, and then be out of his reach before he could bring his sword around. When time was called I could only smile. I could not say right then that she would be the one, but she put on one heck of showing.

When it was all said and done, I did choose the small fire pelt. She was the same age as Autum had been, but different pelt color, and personality. She was loving but she wanted to get out there and help. She wanted to be a partner not a rock in the way. I liked her, and she was going to be my friend. When I opened my eyes finally I found the cat, Mei, to be purring asleep in my lap. Given the dreary weather, having a small warm furry friend around will be nice.

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A little bat weeps

We progressed through the tunnels but it got more and more treacherous. I ultimately changed back into myself, it made life simpler, at least I thought so. The travel through the tunnels made Bagheera miserable. The whole time he had to squeeze and wiggle his way through some of the places. He nearly got stuck a few times. I am just finding he is getting more and more unhappy as we go along. It is great that one swipe of his paw can take a man’s head off, and he makes a great buddy but he is just a REALLY big boy and adventuring with me may not be the best place for him. Right now there is little I can do about it but we shall see when we get out of this mess.

As we went through the tunnels we ran into more of those shocker lizards. The rest of them were ready to take them on but I told them if we didn’t go into their space, and go near their eggs they would leave us alone. Honestly I would not want to see what would happen if 50 of those suckers decided to let loose a chained blast of electricity. Extra crispy would be an understatement.

We ultimately came across a secret door which Telchar opening into a very nicely decorated former dungeon. Not often you can say that. Inside we found a beautiful woman who proceeded to tell us how one of our ranger ‘friends’ had given us his fellows to her and the ogres. He didn’t live long after that. With him dead we turned our attention to her but somehow this woman seemed to have this magical power over Telchar and Tyrel. Whatever this thing was it needed to die, and quickly. I sent in Bageerah to help Morfin, which helped some but the fact that Tyrel and Telchar wouldn’t let us past to attack her put a damper on things. Morfin and Bagheera would die if they didn’t get some sort of help. I didn’t know what to do but the best I could think of was to turn into a bat, and fly up into the rafters above the woman, and cast spells from there. I dropped a nice lighting ball spell on her and she shrugged it off. Made me mad! This thing had spell resistance. Little by little we managed to damage her to a point where she finally disappeared into a portal. We didn’t kill her but at least she can’t hurt us now.

We didn’t find anything of interest in the room other than the nice furnishings. I flew up to the next level and came out in a hall way. I took up a position in the rafters to watch the hallway while my friends dealt with what was in the rooms. They found another ogre and killed it quickly. Just as we thought we were done we heard a roar. Trouble was coming and I let loose a rock spell that would damage anything coming, and slow them down getting to us. That more time moving would allow our archers time to riddle them with holes. They managed to keep them at bay until one big and nasty guy appeared from a room down the hall. Bagheera ran forward to attack the thing. His job was to slow this thing down so the other could kill it. Sadly protecting us was the last thing my poor cat ever did. He took the blows that were meant for our companions which allowed for them to kill it. He delayed the thing long enough for our friends to do their jobs. May Desna have mercy on his soul.

As much as I wish to stay and grieve my friend we must push on. More danger lurks around the corner, and there is no time for the tears of a little brown bat.

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Onto the Keep

Having cleared the house, we went to find out what were the voices we heard. Notice I said WHAT not WHO. In this place I doubt I would be surprised what we find in there. When we opened the door we found “Junior”, well actually he was the ogre that Lexia bribed earlier to go away. Turns out he returned home with his dire wolves. Soon as he saw us he sicked his dogs on us. Soon as I saw them charge I went for the item I had been hanging on to since we dealt with those blasted goblin dogs. I pulled from my pack a scroll of Calm Animal. It quite simply made all the dire wolves, and sadly Kipp, sit down and become non-combative. Hey it worked so the animals were no longer wanting to rip our throats out. That just left big ugly. He didn’t last too long with my companions around.

Once the ogre was dead we put the wolves where they wouldn’t hurt us. It wasn’t their fault their master was a bad guy, but we couldn’t become doggie chow either. At the far end of the barn was a boarded up door. The last boarded up door we took down had my wonderful horse Starshadow behind it. As they tore the boards away they found that not only was it boarded shut but something had WEBED it shut. Deciding retreat is better than death; we left the door alone and made our way up the stairs to the cat walk.

Up there we found in the back area where the door was boarded off the three rangers we were looking for. Kipp was so happy to see his master again. We looked down into the web but didn’t see anything but lots and lots of big webs. The rangers said that “Biggun” lived down there. The name enough had us beat a hasty retreat. The plan was made that we would send the wolves away where they wouldn’t hurt anyone and then burn the barn to the ground. A few fire spells, a fire elemental, or just plain flint and steel we would get that thing to the ground.
As we talked to the rangers, and they took back their gear we saw that one of them had the 7 point star tattooed on his wrist. This did not bode well in his favor. After talking to them some more if was found that those that we on that ‘pleasure’ boat ended up getting those tattoos. It seemed that it marked their soul as belonging to the cult. A cult mind you that seems to feed on lust and greed. This guy is a walking untrustworthy dead man. He is the rangers’ friend, but that doesn’t mean we have to trust HIM in particular.

They informed us of what happened at the keep and gave us suggestions on how to take it back. Option number one was to try talking our way in the front door, now Lexia and Josek can be quite persuasive but I am not sure if they can do it or not. The other option is to go in the back way. There is a cave behind a water fall. If we go at night, and someone casts obscuring mist from right next to the waterfall, the rest of the party could make it to the cave and into the tunnels bellow.

I volunteered since I could easily hide as a diminutive animal and still cast the spell. I turned into a toad and made my way into the tunnels. It takes a while to get places if you are that little. Once the spell was cast, my friends made their way to the tunnel. Before turning into a toad I ordered Bagheera to protect Lexia. I assumed this would be a good idea, since I ended up riding around the caves in her cleavage. Lexia did give me one warning though. I would be spell fodder if I even thought about giving her warts. That is just a myth any way, but I made touched as little of her skin as necessary just to be safe.
We made our way in without trouble, until we came to a large cavern where there were two shocker lizards. One lizard isn’t a problem but two can let out an electrical charge that can be quite deadly. The more of those things there are the bigger charge the more deadly. They didn’t live long between the arrows, bolts, and Telchar’s sword. The rangers gave us permission to take what we needed from the stores they had hidden in the caves. In a crate they found magical arrows. That made Morfin quite happy.

Thanks to the rangers they suggested a certain path so that we could by-pass more of those lizards, and go toward the keep. Let’s hope those rangers continue to be trustworthy.

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Letter from the North

Father,
I know it has been quite some time since I have last written, for that I am sorry, but please tell Mother it is not an excuse to send two letters a week.
My life lately has been quite exciting, although some days I don’t feel quite like myself.
After having spent some time in the North, in Magnimar, I have learned a few new tricks. I have worked with a well-regarded wizard and learned the secrets to creating magical weapons. I will still need a little bit of tutoring, but the inventory at my shop should increase although I need to be careful not to put too high a burden on the Sand Point economy.
I am glad to see that you were able to work something out with Kameiko regarding Mother’s jam. It was quite the hit and I am sure the travelers through Sand Point will appreciate a surprise treat.
Now to the other reason I am writing. The shop is doing very well, and Agna is a great fit in the forge and in town. She has made herself at home nicely, and I have to admit she isn’t as bad as I remember. With her work, the money I have been able to invest, and the prospect of more “unique” weapons to be crafted, the future looks bright.
Please tell Mother not to interpret this as saying I am ready to settle down and start a family, but more along the lines that I am preparing the future for such an occurrence. I know the life of a traveler is a hard one, and old travelers are a rare breed, but should I make it to that seasoned status, I would like to have the option to have a family and livelihood waiting.
My fellow travelling companions and I are going to be heading out for the far North, looking for trouble as always. I will keep an eye out for any groups of dwarves and the possibilities of establishing trade routes. I am sure some of the materials out there, as well as the food and wine would go over quite well under the mountain.
As always, I will do my best to make you and Mother proud.
Your loving son,
Telchar

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Journal of your friendly neighborhood pocket spellcaster

As we followed Kipp we came to a clearing, in all honesty it was a pasture of some sort, but there were no grazing aninmals near by just an Ogerkin bent on destroying us. I sent Bagheera ahead to kill the thing and provide support for our fighters. That thing nearly killed him but it died quickly. Fearfull his bellows would bring more of them we hurried as quietly as we could toward where the main farm would have been located. From the trees we spotted a farm house and a barn. We needed to know what we were up against so we sent Morfin ahead to scout about. He was able to return to us with some helpful information, but I will say if that one saw blade trap had gone off, it would not have been good for him or us.

After much discussion it was decided we split our group in two, normally a bad idea but this time it was a practical one. Stealthy is not my or Bageehra’s cup or tea. If we did not want the other oger kin to know we were there those who were not trained in the stealthy arts needed to stay behind under cover. Shylu and Morf would scout out the house and return to the group. There in lie a problem. If they ran in to trouble, they would have no help. It was doubltful their crys for help could be heard by those outside, and who knows what could be in those buildings. They needed some way to have back up. There was no safe way to get a message back to the group in time to get help. What they needed was an army that could fit into their pockets. Again I felt everyones eyes turn to me. I think I said a few choise explicities in elven and druidic, but I said I would go. I can summon help to us should the need arise, and because I can turn into a tiny little flying squirrel (who by the way can run as fast as Telchar I might add) could hang out in some one’s pocket until needed. They sneak about and I just keep an eye out for trouble. All I could do would be to squeak if I saw anything; it wouldn’t do much good but even that is better than nothing. As I climbed into the pocket, and poked my little nose out, I kept telling myself, “Isn’t this what you wanted? Didn’t you want to just a be a small creature out of the fight?” Yes it was but I was thinking bat, bird or something that if all heck broke loose I could simply fly out to reach of danger. A little dinky squirrel is not what I had in mind.

I could not help the few twitters of laughter when Morf had been boasting about his better skills at finding traps when he falls in one, but when I saw that …. Abomination all laughter stopped. That huge Tendriculos was a plant of darkness and corruption. They are only created when foul magic and things of a vengeful nature spirit taking revenge on those defiling nature. Poor Morf was nearly swallowed by its purple maw of a mouth. When the ranger was captured, I bailed out of the pocket and made my way out of its reach. Soon as I was out of its reach I began summoning help. Sadly our friends could not hear us, and even if they could they wouldn’t arrive in time to save them. I could easily get away and leave them to die, but that is not who I am. This is a time when my knowledge comes to fruition. These things are immune to acid, and can paralyze their prey. When paralyzed they will swallow their prey whole. If these things are not crushed with something bludgeoning, or burned with fire they will ‘heal’ themselves. Morf doesn’t have a fiery blade, or even a club, the ranger shoots arrows, which left… me. Lucky me, oh well time to save our asses.

I called forth a strong fighter in a Griffon, in the hopes it would keep the things busy while I called forth more help. I called down a holy fire, and kept it from ‘healing’, and threw a burning tar ball at it that kept it burning and not healing until my fire elementals could arrive. With me keeping it from healing the others were able to free themselves, and kill the thing. I thought we were safe. That did not happen. We had no more gone one room when another ogre appeared, with his donkey rats. This ogre reminded me of the wild boar, fighting until they were nothing left of them. I called in air elementals to beat the thing down and strirges to drain away the rats blood. I was getting low on spells before my elemental was able to strike down the ogre and turn it’s ferocity on the donkey rats. The fight over we returned to our friends. Three quarts spent, and bloody we returned to them, me still in squirrel form. We were not going back into that house without them with us. I can bring in the combatants for one fight but, two. Sorry someone would be squished and it was NOT going to be me.
We went in and began exploring. We found a butchering place; sadly, the kills found there were not of the animal kind, but from what we can tell it was of the human Black Arrows. Poor Lexia was vomiting over the sight. I know that Morf is sometimes said to be a little paranoid over his looking for traps, but given the deadly ness of the battle-axes and things that swung out of hidden places in this place, I cannot say I blamed him.

We found what could only be called a ‘nursery’. Inside were two small Orgerkin, half orgers, the child of an oger and a humanoid. I think I know where the unholy corruption of nature came from that spawned that Tendriculos. Given that these things are known to interbreed it makes my skin crawl. They are so malformed and grotesque they almost should be pitied, if they were not trying to kill us. Telchar’s blade and Tyrell’s bolts released them from their suffering. As we continued our way through the place we found boxes of bones. I thought they were as the others, the garbage from their ‘meals’ on the black arrows. Sadly Josek said they were Ogerkin babies, female babies. They were letting the males live, most likely to make more ogerkin. That thought made even my skin crawl.

We finally came to a large bedroom where we found Mammie , a very obese Oger laying on a bed, painting with the blood of the fallen dead. She had three zombies of the black arrows. She was none too pleased to have us in her bedroom, and was cursing her sons in every language she seemed to know. I changed back into my human form in order to direct Bageehrah better, and to draw my weapons. My spells are near spent, and I was NOT going to end my life squished as a flying squirrel. Our mighty fighters dealt with her and she was now dead. This left me exhausted, and pretty much spent. My magic is nearly all gone but I still have my weapons. I fear her calls for her ‘sons’ means the voices we heard in the barn may be them, then again it could be Kipps masters. Only Desa knows what lies before us.

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A trip of the river

It felt so good to be out of the unnaturalness of Magnimar. I do not see how my companions can stand it. Josek I can understand why he likes it because it is a place of commerce but really, this is NOT my place to be. We were there for a couple weeks, which is no wonder why I am so stir crazy. It wasn’t all bad. While there, I was able to upgrade a few things. I finally could afford a new collar for Bagheera. The magic on it allows for his bite and claws to be magical and do more damage to our foes.

Given the dangers we have recently run into I found I needed to upgrade my armors, but I cannot get just any armor as my friends can. Metal blocks the energies of nature, so my protections must be of nature or magic. This left me few choices. I could get armors made of shaped wood, bone, or stone, but they are very heavy and hard to move it. In addition, they are not effective when I wild shape. She I am hard to hit when I am a falcon, but I would prefer something between my flesh and some creature’s sword. That left magical means. I was able to get a ring of protection that will deflect their attacks. It will work when I am in wild shape. That will give me a little more protection. My true protection is that which has held true for thousands of years, if you cannot reach me you can’t hurt me. Also, if you have a wall of creatures, be they allies or summoned creatures, between you and those that try to hurt you , the safer you will be. One of the fighters from the pub laughed at how druids had walls of meat to protect them not walls of metal. I would have laughed, but sadly, it is true.

The last thing I picked up was a circlet that opened my mind to new things. It made me wiser and I could see the world much more clearly. I was not necessarily smarter but I was able to see the nature of our world much easier. If my friends thought I saw things before, now it was more so. Several members of the lesser members of the thieves’ guild do not like me very much, considering the number of times I caught them trying to pick people’s pockets. I tipped them a few silvers because, like it or not it was their lively hood. They were just lucky that I caught them and not someone who would take their hand. A simple recommendation that they try elsewhere and a tip seemed to satisfy them.

While waiting for my friends I was able to take Starshadow outside the city and into the forest. I made friends with some of the local rangers. Many of them are hired as guides to local lords so that they may hunt. Bagheera is a very tempting target for those trophy hunters given his size and coat. The rangers were able to remind the lords that shooting a druid’s animal companion is a VERY bad idea. I think most of the locals were glad to see Bagheera finally go when we left town because he was killing all the prize game. A 700 pound firepelt eats far more and larger game than his 150 pound cousins do. It was amusing when that hunting party stumbled upon me visiting Bagheera. The look on their faces as a vicious large fire pelt lapped up a bowl of cream was priceless.

It was almost a relief when were summoned to by the mayor. The Order of Black Arrows, a group of rangers at Fort Rannik, had been out of contact for over a month. It was not like them to be out of contact for that long. It did not take much pressure for me to be convinced to travel out into the mountainous wilderness to investigate this. It was 50 gps to take the ferry up the river, but it beat walking the whole way. Star Shadow and Bagheera did not care for the boat that much, but it was nice for me to practice my wild shape skills. I was able to go hunting in different shapes, and we never wanted for food. I could be wrong but I think some of the sailors said that was the best they had eaten on a trip up river.

I must have really been enjoying the trip because it was the best sleep I had gotten in a while. The sway of the ship, the lapping of the water, the purr of Bagheera as I lay against him to stay warm. I was really enjoying the trip. That was until Bagheera heaved himself out from under me, waking me up. He had heard the sounds of battle and had awoken to try to help. His standing order is “defend your master”. The problem was I was NOT being attacked, my friends were. I ordered him to attack, then turned into an air elemental to help fight. I wasn’t wearing any armor, and in wild shape I do have better armor than in ‘naked’ human form. The frogmen things did not live long. I had tried a new spell called Strong Jaw on Bageera, and he was turning them into goo with one bite and a swipe. I was a bit impressed that Telchar killed so many by himself.

When we got to Turtleback Ferry safely it was a relief. I am feeling a little more in my element being this far from ‘civilization’. It was raining so we took shelter in the inn. Thankfully, with the town use to rangers being about they didn’t make too big of fuss about the cat other than it better behave himself. There had been a series of deaths recently, specifically when a boat sank out on the lake. It was a place of debauchery, and gambling, so some folk were glad to see it go, others are already missing it. From what we gathered, the Black Arrows were not well liked about the town.

We heard that there were a group of half ogres living nearby that might know what was going on. They were along the way to Fort Ranik. As we were going towards there, I heard the sound of an injured fire pelt. I could not very well leave an injured firepelt in trouble, the cat would not be happy with me much less Desna. I found it with Morph right on my heels. I do not know much about traps, and it is possible it was just one big trap. Helpless creature crying for help, humanoids come to help it, then the big trap goes boom! Thankfully, it was just an average sized fire pelt named Kipp that was trapped in a bear trap. Morph got the trap open and I turned into a fire pelt to get information from it.

What I was able to get from Kipp was that his master, who was a ranger, had gone missing. He was trying to find him, and that his master had been nearby. It was then that two dire wolves, and one butt ugly ogre showed up. I was ready to either run or fight but Lexi turned on the charm and waved some gold at him, and what do you know he gave us information. He left us alone and no one got hurt. That was a new one for us.

With the danger gone, Kipp told me he would show us to his master, and proceeded to lead us to a nearby was a trail that his master’s scent was on. I stayed in fire pelt form so that I could get information from Kipp, and pass it along to my companion via yes or no answers. As we got further up the trail Bagheera started saying he smelled blood. That was not surprising as we were in ogre lands, there could be a fresh kill. I should have guessed that Kipp would lead us to his master all right. He led us to the front door of those Ogres’ cabin. Oh well, we tried not to shed unnecessary blood today. Let us hope the blood to be shed today is theirs and not ours.

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Xanesha's 'draining' day

The scurrying of the people into the local pubs to place bets on us surviving should have given us a clue what we were heading into. The ground floor was not too bad, nothing of real interest until Morphin got a little too close to something in the far corner. Thanks to Lexia we were able to identify the thing as a scarecrow golem. I had never seen one before but it seemed so unnatural that it needed to die, and quickly. Given I had such good luck in the sawmill I readied a special lighting spell. I would bring down a might force of lightning strikes to kill this thing. Just as my bolts are to come crashing down, Lexis screamed “NO!” I managed to redirect my lightning bolt away from the creature just in the nick of time. Turns out that lightening, specifically electricity heals the stupid things. The others had been attempting to bring this thing down, and it would not do to have me heal the thing of its injuries. They would not thank me for that. The long and the short of it was that it is now dead, and we could proceed up the stairs without fear of it ambushing us from behind.

When proceeded to start the climb up the 180 foot tall clock tower. As I am climbing, yet again at the back of the group, which I have no problem doing in the first place, I am doubly glad to do it this day. You see the stairs are not the easiest climb; in fact, they are downright treacherously rickety. My plan was, should the stairs fail, and my companions start to fall, my hope is that by transforming into a dire bat I can at least save one of them. Not the most pleasant of thought but better to save one life than none at all. Thankfully, the stairs did not give out of their own accord. A bell fell on them. Actually, it was due to some faceless stalkers type things causing one of the massive four bells to fall so that it would strike our party members. Poor Lexia and Josek really got their bell rung. Ok, ok bad pun but seriously after the ‘Hey nice plumage!’, and ‘Rideum horsie!’ comments people have been throwing at me I have earned that one poor pun.

Soon as the bell hit the stairs, I transformed into the biggest flying creature that I could think of, a dire bat. I knew some druids chose these things as their companions, and even used them as their travel mounts. I did not have to dive to catch Lexia and Joesek but I did have to help ferry everyone over the holes made by the bells. I stayed in that form and flew up to the bells to weight for them. Waiting for us up in the belfry were more of those skin walker things. One got ahold of me and tried to drain away my lifeblood. I do not think so mister! I managed to bite at the thing so it would let me go. With a little cross bow help the things was dead and Joesek nearly so. When will clerics learn they need to heal themselves, before they heal others? We need you alive to keep us alive!
I may have scared the neighbors a little when I flew outside and up onto the roof. It was a lot easier to do that then to attempt to waddle myself up those rickety stairs, besides if a companion fell I was there to catch them. It did not help Morph much that I saw those faceless stalkers in the shadows and all I could do was squeak and screech at him. Being in animal form has its advantages, and disadvantages.

That is when trouble started. The ravens had been delivering messages to a Lamia, and a big one at that. She cast a spell on herself to appear as if there was five of her in the area. The only way we can tell if it is the real her is to hit it with something. Telchar, Morphin, and Tyrel stepped up to go toe to toe with the thing. I started bring in help. I started by bringing in meat shields. I chose wild boar because given experience these things will not go down until they are good and dead and these things did not. Oh, she hit them but she had a hard time killing them. I then summoned Striges to attack her. Yes I know they are nothing more than huge blood sucking mosquitos, but those blood sucking mosquitoes can make her much easier to kill. Therefore, the things die quickly they still take out part of her life with them. I must have summoned a dozen and each slowly drained her of her life’s blood. Then I added air elementals to strike at her. Sadly she charmed one of them, and I was forced to dismiss it. As she was nearing death she jumped from the tower, using a ring of feather fall to float to the ground safely. The striges followed her and drained her blood, and my elementals follow her and struck at her.

I saw Morph take off down the stairs hoping to meet her at the bottom. I transformed into a falcon and flew down after her; she was NOT going to get away. I not more came up to the ground when a well-aimed cross bow bolt struck her in the top of the head, splitting her skull killing her. Nice shooting Tyrell.

Morphin drug her body back into the shadow clock so it was not on display for the masses. They had to already be a little bit panicked given they had just seen 3 air elements, a dozen striges beating the crap out of snake woman thing only for her to die right outside their door from a cross bow bolt to the head. Not the prettiest sight to have on your doorstep. He found some nice treasure on her body, and then made his slow trek back up the 180 feet of stairs, while I on the other hand flew back up to the roof with ease.

We found treasure chests full of gold, silver, platinum, and jewels. We had to hire a mule and cart to take it away with us back to the temple. With that, and the 6000 gold pieces of reward money each we received some shopping might be in order. I have had my eye on a few things lately and I think they would come in quite handy. Lexia needs to finish translating the book, Joesek needs to handle our business transactions, and I need to find out what Bagheera has gotten into. I mean how much can a 700-pound, size of small horse fire pelt get into, right…?

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Side Quest

“The sounds still haunt me of their screams. When I got out from under the house… I went back inside…” William’s lip begins to quiver, “…I saw my family’s mutilated bodies. M-My father pinned to the wall, bloody, and part of his face removed… I…I…” To distraught to go on William sinks down in his chair lowering his head.

Amiko leans forward to rest her hand on his shoulder, “It couldn’t have been a pretty sight, Will. A few weeks ago, my father was encased in glass, when the goblins attacked the glassworks. I can understand your pain at seeing family…” She takes a breath and sighs.

William looks up at her finishing off her thought, “…member die in horrible gruesome deaths.” William sighs with her, “I think it is this town.”

“Amen to that Will!” Amiko smiles slightly and laughs. “I think we’ll need to drink to that!” She says while reaching behind her for a bottle of Whiskey and two glasses placing them in front of her and him, “I got this here whiskey from a gnome alchemist. It’s one heck of an expensive bottle of fine spirits. Bee saving it for a long time for some kind of special event.” Opening the bottle and pouring some into each glass, “I figure this be an event special enough. Cheers!”

William looks at his glass and holds it up to Amiko’s and nods, “Cheers.” He says and takes a swig of the liquid and nearly gags on the strong flavor of the potent alcohol. His voice sounding a bit rough he looks at Amiko, “You… call this a good bottle of whiskey?”

Laughing, Amiko pours herself another glass, “No used to drinking the hard stuff, eh William?” Flashing a smile at him pouring him another glass as well, “The gnome promised me it’ll grow hair on yer chest, or get ye drunk quicker than normal.”

Watching Amiko down her second glass he looks at his and back up at Amiko, “Hopefully you won’t get any hair growing on yours, but perhaps mine.” He laughs drinking down his second glass, but surprisingly it was a bit smoother this time around, and tasted less like drinking a wizard’s fireball.

Amiko rolls her eyes at him, “You cheeky boy…” She smiles pouring him and her another glass and offers up a toast, “To the loved ones lost, and to the ones we love. May they find their way and may their journey be swift and safe.”

Nodding at the toast and taking his third glass drinking it down, “Thank you Amiko, I needed this.”

Amiko nods, “I did too. Thank you for sharing this with me, William.” She tosses back her third glass and slams it onto the bar in front of her, “Enough of this sappy stuff.” She loudly states pouring another glass for her and him looking him dead in the eyes, “So… tell me what do you think about Morf?”

“Morf…? Why… uh…” Feeling a bit off guard at the straightforward question he knows he likes him and find him kind, and considerate. He thinks back and acknowledges that he was there for him a few times already, stayed with him the other night watching over him after everything. He looks at Amiko and comes to the realization he has feelings for the elf, but he’s never been in love before, or cared about anybody in that way… until now, or perhaps it was the booze talking as he stutters out, “I…I think he’s a very nice person… He…He’s kind, caring, and charming.”

Amiko laughs again seeing the expressions that come across William’s face with that question, “Drink up… Will. For our friends and loved ones on the dangerous road they travel right now.” Smiling to herself being the little matchmaker. “To the Sandpoint Six.”

Willian still thinking about Morf he nods at Amiko, “Yes, to our friends and loved ones out there, The Sandpoint Six.”

Together they both drink the evening away forgetting their heartaches, and sadness for just a little while, and to new revelations of a hopeful new relationship on the horizon.

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You ever get the feeling...

You ever have the feeling you are about to be pounced upon? Ok, I wouldn’t say literally – for most people- but have you ever walked into a room and everyone’s head turns to you and they seem to have a predatory smile on their faces, yeah that is how I felt coming into the rookery.
We had finished the mess with the skinwalkers and the Judge as their leader. The fact he was now dead was a huge matter. If some high and mighty local aristocrat has turned himself into lich, yes he deserves to die and his body destroyed to prevent further rising of undead. In our hometown our word, and that of our wonderful cleric Joesek is enough to keep the guards from hanging us. Here is the large city, who are we to say the judge was an evil priest. Just a couple nights prior Morphin and I were fraternizing with known underworld characters, and then I do not want to know how we found this God forsaken sawmill. The whole situation reeks of trouble. Thankfully, we are in a city where we can get witnesses and can provide witness in a lawful manner. It was a bit humiliating listening to the comments from my companions about me being in a horse for them to ride, but if it meant keeping my head out of a hangmen’s noose, I’ll deal with it.

They call me a bit twitchy given how much I notice around me, but this whole place drives my senses nuts. To me this place is wrong. The sawmill in of its self is just wrong given the nature of the evidence of tortures that have taken place here, but the city it’s self is not natural. There are those of my brethren that worship in the nature that thrives in the city, but myself, I just want to run from it. Too much metal and worked stone for my taste. We had just left the bodies of the skin walkers and were making our way up the stairs where we found even more things that are gruesome. I have had no problem taking the position at the back of the party. If trouble were to sneak up behind us, I would be the one to spot it. Sadly, this also means I am the last one through the door typically. The look of my companion’s faces when I stepped into the rookery made me want to just go back down again. Hoping they had a good reason to have those smiles on their faces, I continued into the room.

The way they said my name as I approached them didn’t make me feel any better; however once they explained what needed to be done I needn’t have worried. The basic idea was that the Judge had been using ravens to transport messages from the sawmill to someplace else. The party wanted me to turn into a raven myself and follow them where they went. It was tiring flying back and forth but we were able to confirm that the messages had been going to the top of the clock tower in the Under bridge area. Once we had dealt with the unpleasantness of the whole Judge thing, we would deal with the clock tower.

In our searching of the sawmill we found a coded book that Lexia would be able to decipher. It was going to take her a week to do that, a week we did not have. Deciding it was safer in the temple than in some tavern we stayed the night in the temple. We were well taken care of, if you call a spartan but functional room, and quality food as well taken care of. Granted, the thing we were really paying for was the fact there were multiple champions and clerics standing guard over the stone walls. The most simple of creatures know that if there is a chance you will be hunted find a safe den of sympathy creatures and sleep there. We had the law on our side, and the protection of the church for the moment. For the night, we will rest and take care of the clock tower in the morning.

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