South Jersey Jade Regent

Crossing the Pole

After a long night of festivity and celebration, the caravan knew that preparations would be needed. The wagons were prepped for polar travel, supplies were checked, and treasure was sold off. Given the extent of the next length of the journey, it was decided that it would be much safer to spend the whole day with preparations.

Nearing the end of the day, the caravan reconvened and following the evening meal, Ulf unraveled the Map of the High Ice and showcased the path the caravan would be taking.

Map of the High Ice photo MapoftheHighIce_zpsac722936-1.png

“The black line represents the Path of Aganhei. Iqualit isn’t on the path so I drew our course to get there with the yellow line, including new route over the ice to get to where the Storm Tower is amidst the Alabasterine Peaks. Once we’re cleared with business at the Storm Tower, we’ll connect back to the Path of Aganhei at Dead Man’s Dome.

Any questions?"

View
I Say You He Dead

The deft Erutaki warrior swung his twin handaxes at Zack. Up to this point, Zack had never faced off against a foe with such vicious attacks. It wasn’t the axes that wounded Zack so deeply, however. The Erutaki’s axe cuts carried a deep searing pain unlike any normal physical injury. They felt as vile as the unholy blight spells that were pummeling him from somewhere about the frozen chamber. There was something amiss about the Erutaki warrior that caused him to hesitate simply smiting him down.

Zack continued to concentrate on trying to pinpoint the invisible spellcaster and avoid the Erutaki warrior’s blows. Unfortunately, reeling from the pain of the unholy blights, trying find the source of the spells, and being face to face with an unusually powerful warrior had his attention quite divided. After a quick scan of the room, he turned to the Erutaki warrior to see two handaxes slashes he knew he could not avoid. Zack gritted his teeth a barrage of handaxe strikes cut deeply into him. Zack endured the physical pain, but the searing unholy energies that followed each handaxe slash felt as if his soul was being ripped apart. Zack then realized the pain transcended his levels of endurance and against his will, he slumped to the floor as the vision of his friends in trouble faded before him.

Zack awoke to the feeling of a light snowfall. As he opened his eyes, he saw a vast picturesque snowfield. The sky shone in a glorious light shade of blue, which belied the gentle snowfall all about him. Zack did not recognize the landscape before him, despite spending the last few months heading for Golarion’s north pole.

“Hello old friend.”

Zack turned to greet the familiar voice and was met by several individuals. Zack was startled by some of faces who stood before him. The one who greeted Zack was a festively dressed Varisian man. The man held a rainbow colored glaive adorned with woven fibers to make it look like a giant paintbrush.

 photo Alder_zpsbf12fe59.jpg

“Alder…”

“Very good.”

Next to Alder was another old friend of Zack’s. He had a longbow slung over his shoulder and wore colors of a well traveled guardsman. The man gave a familiar nod to the Aasimar.

“Iaian”

“Never thought you’d see me again did you?”

Next was a man he had seen, but never thought he would ever meet. Zack had seen the man’s portrait hanging above the mantle in Ameiko’s estate back in Sandpoint and had helped free his tortured spirit from the vaults below Brinewall Castle a few months prior.

“Rokuro Kaijitsu”

“You have been marked by the seal, tianjian, I am Amatatsu Tsutoku”

Next was an elven woman. She was dressed in the rainments of a priestess and carried a pair of starknives by her side. Zack could swear she looked familiar but couldn’t quite figure out where the familiarity came from. Still, Zack showed deep respect and bowed to the priestess of Desna.

“Ever formal, are you not Star Knight? ‘Tis a shame we’ve not long to speak. I would certainly adore hearing of the wondrous journey my daughter has been on.”

The final figure was shrouded and cloaked in white. The figure’s face was obscured and two luminous blue wings projected from the figure’s shoulders. The figure’s form suggested it was a woman and when she spoke, the haunting echo of her voice sounded familiar to Zack, but he couldn’t quite recognize its familiarity.

 photo Auriel_zps0812622d.jpg

“I bet a lot of this is confusing Zack so I’ll say it straight.”

The no nonsense manner of speech from the angelic figure was also a surprise to Zack.

“You fought defiantly to the end, but the short story is, you’re dead. Don’t despair though, you’re not due here yet. All of us have a vested interest in seeing the royal families retake their rightful place in Minkai and you, Zack, are going to be necessary to help that become a reality. We each speak for a greater power and after my little speech, we’ll only each have one more thing to say before we send you back.”

The rather casual speaking, cloaked figure hovered back as Alder stepped forward.

“Never take anything at face value. Shelyn teaches us that true beauty lies within. The same unfortunately, can be said for evil. Remember, the surface can merely be a mask. You may see good or evil at the surface, but true character will shine forth with careful vigilance.”

Iaian stepped forth next.

“You need to know you’ll never be able to protect everyone no matter how much you’ll try. I told you to finish the fight and not to worry about me. Given how strong that goblin was, that may have been a mistake but I don’t have any regrets about my decisions. You shouldn’t either.”

Tsutoku stepped up afterward.

“Be careful as you traverse into Minkai. As a tianjian, a ‘person of the heavens,’ subterfuge will likely not be a simple option for you and your compatriots. Know that you have Shizuru’s blessing as you continue upon your honorable endeavor.”

The Desnan priestess stepped up next.

“Star Knight, you have the most difficult journey of any who follow the ways of The Great Dreamer. You are both a crusader and a dreamer, but know that you can never be fully one or the other. Though it may feel like a shackling burden, see it more as a difficult journey. The most arduous of journeys often yield the most magnificent of landscapes.”

The elven priestess steps back and the angelic figure whispers in the priestess’ ear, “With any luck, Seanthia, that Star Knight title you called him doesn’t go to his head.”

The angelic figure then claps her hands together and hovers forth again.

“Right Zack. Too bad we can’t explain things a little better. There just isn’t the time right now. Which is funny because… oh… never mind. Just be ready to finish that fight.”

The blue sky illuminates slightly as a fast moving sun and jade colored moon move toward each other. They form an eclipse darkening the snowfield. Stars begin illuminating in the dusk sky and after all of them gain luminescence, the eclipse shines slightly. Zack looks down as his adamantine armor begins to glow a faint golden color. Before he can say another word, he sees the five figures waving their goodbyes to him as the golden shine overtakes his field of vision. With but a moment, the light dissipates revealing the icy cavern, his friends, and the Erutaki warrior who only moments ago, had cut him down. Zack felt a new surge of power the likes of which he had never felt before. Zack gave a quick mental thank you to Desna and the other gods and continued the fight.

View
Liam's Dream Journal Entry 4
aurora, shit went down, failure, Liam, lasers

So Koya touched me. Well, no. Not in that way. Aunt Koya. She helped me when I felt most out of tune with the moon. I couldn’t see anything. My future was blind. Not that I see much but I see ways to improve. As if I am achieving a new level in life. Let me explain:

Recently we encountered a talking wolf. I was rather uncouth to it. And it fled. I don’t blame it. Anyways Koya predicted my future that night. Something called a harrying. It wasn’t painful but at a point her eyes began to glow and she yelled. She yelled a lot and I didn’t understand it but she kept yelling about the wolf. Then the light disappeared and she continued her message as if nothing had occurred. The cards flashed (why doesnt anything normal happen to us on this trip?!)? And after some silence and thought I thanked her and left.

I felt something afterwards. Something inside me but I didn’t know what and I didn’t know how to tap it. I felt like I could smother the world if I wanted. As Mira and her sister’s journey are the most important things currently I decided to forget it.

Then last night it happened. I wouldn’t have written about this save for last night, but, we saw an aurora.

I know. Not what everyone thinks when they think of a moving moment. But I saw Desna in it. It was my first vision while awake. It spoke to me. It spoke to my blood. I swear I was speaking aloud. Maybe I was whispering. I caught Tayllon look at me. I need to be more cautious. He might think me crazy. I know that the group knows I murdered my brother. But they can’t know
I murdered an innocent girl. Not ever. I don’t think I told them. Desna be kind, I did not.

Anyways, this is the first time I can’t remember every one of my Lady’s words; this was also my first awake vision. Am I growing? Am I better? Am I worse? Does she need to speak to me while I am awake to finish my missions now? I am so worried. I won’t fail her but I feel I have fewer reasons to be around the people I am with now. I find myself approaching Sandru with nothing to say. I have an early birthday gift for him that I just can’t seem to let go of. It’s ridiculous!

So, where as I wrote down my previous messages to remember what my Lady has said, I am now writing this down to reflect on her message and hopefully grow from it. I haven’t lost my powers so I am on the right track. As I recall:

""Uluru!" You have done ill! Face what you have done! You are no longer destined to be my will if you do not do not my will. You know my names and wants. I have whispered all of my desires to you and still you fight them. You think being a bandit will still help you when it has only caused you trouble!

“I had dreams of making you an emissary. One to guard the roads and to offer safety and mirth to travelers and to convince the beasts of the wild to be peaceful in nature. Yet you avoid safety and have more often fought beasts than tried to work with them. You are a lacking disciple.

“I send this vision as one last sign of good will. Cross my values again and you will have no more power spring from your fingertips. I see how your friends mock your power but I know you are strong enough to endure such trivial trifles. But, if you undermine me, my words, or my values again I will be sure to undermine you so far you will see Drow!”

I don’t recall the words exactly. But I recall the gist. She showed me images too. All of my friends and even Shalelu in the caravan. They are important somehow. I need to protect them. I must stay with them. I need to work on how to deal with people and animals. I need to improve. My Goddess has redeemed me once. If she tells me to do something, my only reaction is compliance.

I must admit I enjoy the idea of her praise. I only hope it is not too late for it.

-page turn-

I just awoke.

I saw the aurora tonight in my dreams.

It was my blood. It flowed through me and showed me magick. I get Desna gives me power, but maybe this relates the aurora to my ability. I am glad to learn more of my powers and seek more knowledge once we reach civilization.

Also Tayllon was a bit of oxen jerkey and Zack and Mira were fighting over water. I think food is an issue? I will be more vigilant for it.

Also after reading my last entry I might become vegetarian.

Ugh. Must sleep now. Spivey is singing and while I normally find it comforting, helmet-head is singing with her. He sounds like a sword scraped across flint. If Tayllon sleeps through this I will personally … I’ll… I will be cross with him but be on the path to growth. Yes.

And maybe spit in his food. Hehe.

View
Tayllon Journal #1

There is so much evil in the world…It seems no matter where we go there is someone or something that wants to kill us. I used to take pleasure in testing out my combat skills against them, but lately it seems I am lucky to come out of battle with my life. I am afraid…afraid that we may not even make it to our destination without dying of hunger, let alone giants and witches. The others can never know this.

I thought I was ready to explore, ready to find a home that will call me it’s protector, like Shalelu is for Sandpoint, but how could I protect a city when I feel I can’t even protect myself with my current abilities. It’s only thanks to her that I have the will to carry on. I just wish I knew who she was.

Ever since our journey began I’ve been hearing a voice. A voice that gives me encouragement and tells me I am destined to be something more than I am now. A voice that guides me through the harsh terrain and battles that I may encounter. The voice is definitely that of a female, but it isn’t my mother.

Am I going insane? No, there’s got to be a reason she’s speaking to me. But who would wish to help a half-elf misfit like me? I wonder if the others have a voice that aides them as well. Wait…what is it Shalelu always says? “Only though Desna will your path be revealed.” Is this what gives Zack and Liam their purpose? They always insist on preaching, and even though I believe, I’ve never been a follower.

Is it you Desna? Are you the one who’s been helping me since we left Sandpoint? Can you give me the strength I need to protect my friends? If it is you… Please give me a sign!

View
Minkian Legacy

Suishen’s will allowed both Mira and Ameiko to meditate with the blade that night. Coupled with the knowledge imparted from the Amatatsu Seal, the two learned to the full story of the events that had transpired in the decades since the Amatatsu’s flight from Minkai.

For centuries, the land of Minkai was rightfully ruled by the five royal families: the Amatatsu, the Higashiyama, the Shojinawa, the Sugimatu, and the Teikoku. Decades ago, a cabal of oni known as the Five Storms began coming to prominence in the land Minkai. Intent on seizing control of a land they felt they deserved to rule, the Five Storms, began a covert war against the five royal families of Minkai, for by obscure but nonetheless binding divine laws, only once all five families had been wiped out or controlled could the Five Storms take control. By 4652 AR, the Five Storms had come close to their goal. Yet when the oni turned their attention to this last family of nobles, the Amatatsus, they discovered that the family had fled Minkai over the Crown of the World, the inhospitable northern continent at Golarion’s north pole.

When the exiled Amatatsus emerged from the Crown of the World and staggered into the Linnorm Kingdom city of Kalsgard, their numbers had been reduced to a small fraction of a once-grand dynasty. Led by the youngest and only surviving son, Amatatsu Tsutoku, the exiles sold their legendary family sword Suishen to finance a stealthy integration into an alien society. In order to finalize their hidden exile and throw off further pursuit from the Five Storms, the Amatatsus changed their family name to Kaijitsu, and the exiled royals chose new names and switched their order to match Avistan’s naming conventions. Thus did Amatatsu Tsutoku became Rokuro Kaijitsu. Using some of the money they’d received from the sale of Suishen, the Kaijitsus secured a home in the small town of Brinewall and paid to have the only remaining proof of their royal lineage, a minor artifact called the Amatatsu Seal, held in a magical warding box that blocked divination magic in a secure vault under Brinewall Keep.

The Kaijitsus became merchants and glassblowers, hoping that the very idea of a royal family changing its name and working as common merchants would be all but unthinkable to the Five Storms. For several years, it looked as if these drastic steps would work. Eventually, the Kaijitsus’ artistry and skill at glassblowing attracted the attention of several merchant nobles in Magnimar, who offered the family a small villa if they would relocate to the larger city and join Magnimar’s growing aristocracy. Rokuro Kaijitsu accepted the offer, reasoning that belonging to Varisian nobility could only further hide the truth of his family’s legacy from the Five Storms. Rokuro left most of the family servants and business concerns (including the Amatatsu Seal) safe and secure in Brinewall, but moved himself and his wife to Magnimar.

Over the next several years, the Kaijitsus had a son named Lonjiku, helped found the town of Sandpoint, and saw their fortunes as minor nobles in a frontier town rise. It wasn’t until Rokuro turned 60 in 4687 that he finally allowed himself to believe that the Five Storms had given up on chasing him. With most of his business concerns now focused in Magnimar and the recently founded town of Sandpoint, he decided to return to Brinewall and recover the Amatatsu Seal. He also brought his son Lonjiku with him, finally ready to reveal to him the family legacy. As father and son arrived in Brinewall, a series of powerful storm hit the Varisian coast. Rokuro loaded his extended family, servants, and all his belongings onto three ships, but the storms prevented their immediate return to Magnimar.

Stranded in Brinewall for days, Rokuro agonized on how best to reveal the family legacy to his son, and this hesitation soon stretched Lonjiku’s patience beyond its limits. Long frustrated at his father’s silence regarding his ancestry, Lonjiku took matters into his own hands and opened the warding box containing the Amatatsu Seal—and in so doing, exposed the seal to magical observation. Horrified that this act might have alerted the Five Storms and that oni agents would soon come to Brinewall to finish things off, Rokuro ordered his bodyguard Tsutamu to organize the return to Magnimar with his family and belongings, then to prepare for a new relocation farther south. Once he could be sure that the Five Storms had not noticed the opening of the seal’s case, Rokuro would follow later.

As the three ships sailed south into the storms, Rokuro returned the Amatatsu Seal to its warding box in the secure and hidden vaults below Brinewall and alerted Brinewall’s commander, a man named Andril Kortun, that dangerous foes might soon strike. But Rokuro never learned of the loss of his ships in the storms off Varisia’s Lost Coast, or of his despondent wife’s suicide not long after, for the Five Storms struck far more quickly than even he had anticipated. The Five Storms had lost track of the Amatatsus in Kalsgard many years before, but they left a small group of oni and ninja there to keep an eye out for any sign of the missing family.

When Five Storm seers back in Minkai noticed the Amatatsu Seal’s brief flash of power, they sent orders to the Kalsgard group, now known as the Frozen Shadows, to mobilize and investigate. The Frozen Shadows swept into Brinewall, using the storms still pounding the town to great advantage. They devastated the town, setting its buildings on fire, and by the time the castle’s troops were organized to launch a counterattack, the Frozen Shadows were already inside the castle walls. They murdered the entire population of Brinewall in less than an hour, so quickly that they didn’t discover the hidden vault that held the Amatatsu Seal.

Rokuro was killed in the battle, but learning that he had sent his family and belongings into the storms to Magnimar, the Frozen Shadows moved farther south in pursuit, leaving Brinewall empty. But while the Frozen Shadows were numerous enough to overrun Brinewall, they could not do the same to the much larger city of Magnimar. Instead, they infiltrated Magnimar in disguise and learned that Rokuro’s wife had committed suicide upon learning of the loss of her husband’s three ships at sea. Assuming that the Amatatsu Seal was on board when the ships sank, the Frozen Shadows returned to Kalsgard with news that the family had finally been wiped out. The Five Storms could finally begin the last stages of their plot to seize control of Minkai.

But here, through the whims of fate, the Five Storms made a critical error. For not all of the Kaijitsus perished in the storms—Lonjiku Kaijitsu survived after spending several weeks adrift in the Varisian Gulf, and eventually returned to Sandpoint to rebuild his family. Lonjiku was killed by his bastard son Tsuto, who was brought to justice soon after by the heroes of Sandpoint. The legacy of the Amatatsu family, and the final obstacle for the Five Storms now lies in Lonjiku’s two remaining children: Ameiko and Mira.

View
Reunion

It had been a long series of days but at last, the entire caravan was reunited and a joyous supper was had following a long day cleaning out the halls of Ravenscraeg. The snow had ceased, giving the caravan a clear, starry evening.

Mira and Ameiko wished a good night to all, and asked for privacy in order to commune with Suishen and learn more of their ancestry.

Zack escorted Koya back to the fortune teller’s wagon and after briefly speaking with Koya, set out to find a clearing where he could, for once, peaceably behold the majesty of a star filled night sky.

Tayllon approached Liam asking for advice as to how to best present Shalelu with the bracers the group recovered from the Ogre Mage. After giving him advice, wishing him luck, and seeing him off, Liam headed to rest only to find Sandru waving him over to the fortune teller wagon.

It seems this night would be a long night for all.

View
Fog on the Rimeflow

The sounds of battle finally silenced with fall of the last of Asvig’s drunken warriors. The party stood amidst the chaos, having fought a long grueling battle and having drained a majority of their daily allotment of spells and powers. Koya and Zack set to work seeing which of the warriors were dying or dead. Asvig was certainly slain and the woman by his side was grievously injured, but not bleeding out.

Tayllon, Liam, and Mira began thoroughly scouring the farm, hoping that there would be a secret cellar or hidden crawlspace where they would find Ulf Gormundur, the guide that would help show the caravan the way over the crown of the world, and Suishen, the Amatatsu family blade. Although the three were able to find Asvig’s treasury, neither Suishen nor Ulf were anywhere on the farm. Once they had accounted for everything in the treasury and off the warriors, Koya and Zack had finished tending to the drunken warriors. The survivors, though stable, were still unconscious.

Though Asvig had been killed in the throes of combat, the red-haired spellcaster by his side was alive, albeit incapacitated. The party decided that she would likely be the best source of information. Having tied up the drunken warriors, as well as the woman, Mira cast a cure spell upon her hoping it would be enough to bring her back to consciousness. The woman awoke, gave the party a look of disdain and haughtily cast her head aside, eyes closed, refusing to answer the party’s initial queries.

Frustrated from having been the brunt of the woman’s magics, Tayllon attempted to scare her into talking before the rest of the party could think of what to do with her. Caught unaware, they attempted to follow in kind and assist in the intimidation, but the red-haired woman remained defiant and silent.

Liam shook his head and told Tayllon to stand aside. He asked the party to follow his lead as he would try to coax information out of the woman. Thinking back, the party had fought many vicious foes, but one in particular stood out to Liam as it was the creature that had assaulted him right before he met the rest of the party. Liam took the form of a sinspawn, and upon threats of feeding upon her the unbridled pride in her stubborn soul, broke the woman down into acquiescence.

She revealed herself as Helva, wife of Asvig Longthews. When asked about Ulf, Helva stated that Ulf had been assaulted and knocked out upon his arrival at the farm. Ulf was then taken from the farm by cloaked strangers, though she knew not where, nor by whom. When asked about the Tian sword, Helva confirmed that Asvig had indeed had some of his men aid him in raiding and stealing the sword from Fynn Snaevald. She knew not where the sword, nor Ulf was.

It was also revealed, though obvious by now, that Asvig had ordered the initial assault on the caravan by way of the Aril’s Hammer. It seemed that Asvig was a quite a regular patron with the Rimerunners Guild and had frequent dealings with them. Finally, when asked why Asvig and his men were celebrating this night, Helva revealed that it was an Ulfen funeral feast for Asvig’s own ring-giver, a jarl by the name of Snorri Stone-Eye. Snorri was set to be burned in Ulfen tradition, by way of funeral ship, shortly after dawn. The problem with this news was that Helva revealed that Asvig had stated Ulf would soon be joining Snorri. This was worrying, as the party had assaulted the farm early in the morning, and that sunrise was only a few hours away. Hoping they could get to the funeral ship and get Ulf and possibly Suishen off before being burned to ashes, the party hurriedly headed towards the launch point of the funeral ship, Spear-shaker’s point, a peninsula roughly fifteen minutes from Kalsgard’s western gate.

Tayllon stayed behind as the party hurried towards Kalsgard. Not feeling particularly gracious about tasting the brunt of Helva’s magic, knowing she was evil thanks to Zack’s divine powers, and having outlived her usefulness, Tayllon quickly and mercifully killed Helva. After all, if left alive, she could have tipped off others or perhaps suffered an even worse fate such as the first warriors that had assaulted the caravan.

The party staggered into Kalsgard an hour later. It was still dark out and sunrise was still a little over an hour off. They stopped first at the caravan unsurprisingly finding no one awake. Shalelu, Ameiko, Kelda, and Spivey were not with the rest of the caravan, so presumably they were still at Fynn Snaevald’s estate. Koya, though willing to continue further, but stated she needed to pray to Desna first, and if she was still needed, would be with the caravan until the rest of the party brought Ameiko and Fynn up to speed.

The party arrived at Fynn’s estate shortly afterward, finding only Kelda awake as a night guard, and Spivey performing her morning prayers to Desna. They quickly roused Ameiko and Fynn and brought them up to speed. The party asked Fynn and Kelda about Snorri Stone-Eye and learned he was nicknamed “The Mad Reaver.” The Mad Reaver attained fame in Kalsgard for leading many successful Ulfen raids on the people of the “soft lands” south of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. On one of his most recent raids, Snorri Stone-Eye had contracted a mysterious illness and his decline and death came rather swiftly.

With only a little less then an hour until sunrise, the party hurriedly left Fynn’s estate but unexpectedly was greeted by Uksahkka at the gates of the estate. Uksahkka wanted to hear of what the party had found upon visiting Asvig’s farm, but the party was in a hurry so they elected to catch her up to speed as they headed for the western gate. After relaying what had happened and what they had learned and feared would happen, Uksahkka stopped the party and let them know they needed not to proceed to the funeral ship with haste, as a thick fog was going to roll in within the hour, and linger throughout most of the day, delaying the Ulfen burial, as revelers would not be able to spot the burning funeral ship amidst the dense fog. When asked of how she could be so certain that fog was coming, Uksahkka stated that her people, the Varki, have had a particularly strong affinity with nature. Her aunt was a highly regarded type of Varki shaman called a “wind-whisperer” and that some of her aunt’s gift had been passed down through the bloodline to her.

Sure enough, as the light of sunrise began trying to peek over the horizon, an overcast sky slowly lit and Rimeflow River disappeared into the morning fog. The party was relieved they would have a chance to rest before sneaking aboard the funeral ship. Uksahkka stated she would be able to spend the day procuring quick, small boats that the party could use to row up to the funeral ship. Uksahkka bid farewell to the party, telling them to meet up with her mid afternoon nearby Spear-shaker’s point.

There was now a plan set in motion. However, it would be impossible to board the ship unnoticed before it was launched, fog or not. Snorri Stone-Eye, after all, was a famed and revered Ulfen raider and there would be many warriors serving as honor guard at his funeral, not to mention spectators and well-wishers. After returning to the caravan, they spent a little time discussing things further but knew they needed some reconnaissance. Fortunately, Shalelu had stopped in bringing with her a morning catch to use for breakfast. Shalelu told the party she would scope out Spear-shaker’s point while also continuing to see what she could find out about the large raven. Sandru offered his assistance in “finding some way” to sell off some of the things the party had procured off Asvig’s men. Finally, the party could rest after a long, arduous night.

The party awoke early in the afternoon, and found Ameiko cooking a lunch for them. Ameiko stated that Shalelu reported back quickly after they had gone to sleep. At the funeral site, there were at least three dozen honor guards. While the party had faced more warriors the night before, they were of a lesser lord, and inebriated. Also, this would be in a very public place, and it would likely be frowned upon to see outlanders effectively raiding the burial ship of one of Kalsgard’s most revered raiders. As a safe measure, to ensure that the ship would not burn before they got to it and confident in that they could easily get Ulf and Suishen off before anyone ashore would notice, they decided to raid the ship shortly before sunset, when the rescheduled launch would be.

Seeing as how nothing they have tried to accomplish has been easy, the party decided that the best course of action was to get as much help as possible, in the off chance they did need to flee from a small army of angry Ulfen warriors. Shalelu was nowhere to found. Ameiko needed to stay out of sight. Sandru was conducting business. Spivey, is rather… noticeable. The party decided then to take Koya and Kelda with them. Koya suggested learning more about Snorri Stone-Eye, so the party spent a bit of time learning what they could from the Ulfen locals. In addition to what Kelda and Fynn had told the party, they learned that the Rimerunners Guild had financed many of Snorri’s southern raids and took a cut of the raids’ profits. Apparently, Snorri had also sold off or bequeathed many of his assets before his demise. Most of this is believed to have gone to the Rimerunners Guild.

The continuing connection with the Rimerunners Guild was troubling to the party. Of the party, only Tayllon had any interaction with them, as he had gone with Sandru in an attempt to carefully investigate the Aril’s Hammer under guise of legitimate business concerns. Tayllon recalls it was a quite boring experience and that even if they were involved in some way to the caravan’s troubles, they are still, at the core, a merchant’s guild. They pondered this as they met up with Uksahkka a few hours before the launch. A problem then arose. Uksahkka only expected four of them and had thus procured only two kayaks. Each kayak could hold two passengers, but one was modified to accommodate a third, but would need at least one strong rower to maintain its speed and mobility. Uksahkka gave kayaking lessons then left the party to try and quickly procure another kayak for Koya and Kelda. They were beginning to cut it close.

Unfortunately, it was not until sunset before Uksahkka returned with the third kayak. Before departing, Uksahkka gave the party a finely carved clay token of a songbird telling them to present it to the priest in the shrine of Shelyn in the Fire Quarter, as that was her safe house. Though a majority of the fog had cleared out, enough remained to provide ample cover for approach by kayak. As they readied the kayaks, suddenly, from out of the water, an enormous crab, bigger then anything the party had ever seen burst out of the water smashing its claw into one of the kayaks. The party was happy that the creature didn’t strike them first, but were still staring down at the biggest crab they had ever seen. Through uncanny insight, Mira recognized the creature as a shark-eating crab, just as it grabbed her with one of its pincers.

Zack, Tayllon, and Kelda waded into the shallows to face the beast head on, but its thick chitin proved to be quite a substantial form of natural armoring. The shark-eating crab maintained its vice like grip on Mira and had grabbed Kelda as well. Standing back, Koya called upon Desna to revitalize her allies while Liam drew a wand and unleashed jets of scorching fire unto the enormous crab. In the throes of battle, on a stroke of luck, Kelda wriggled free of the crab’s grip and managed to strike a successful blow. Seeing the ease by which he was hitting the shark-eating crab with scorching rays, Liam decided to preserve his wand and took a gamble that had failed every time he had tried it before. Liam called to the stars themselves to rain down on the crab, and from above it, a rain of minute meteors struck the crab piercing easily through the creature’s thick shell. After a second rain of meteors and more successful blows from the warriors, the shark-eating crab threw Mira aside and retreated back into the waters of the Rimeflow. Turns out it wasn’t such an easy meal after all.

After a quick mending spell to fix the damaged kayak, the party looked up to see a flame lit amidst the fog. That was not a good sign, the ship had already been lit and was adrift the Rimeflow. There wasn’t much time. The party quickly paddled up to the funeral ship and boarded. Perhaps this was better as the cover from the dissipating fog and the distance from the shore would aid greatly in keeping their activity covert from the mourners and honor guards ashore. With a silent image ready, the pyre around Snorri’s wrapped body was extinguished and an illusion of a fire was created by Liam. Knowing they would need smoke, Liam cast a prestidigitation spell and maintained the illusion that the pyre was still lit. The rest of the party called to the wrapped figure, hoping it was Ulf. However, after cutting the wraps off, a wooden mannequin was revealed. Something was wrong here. Maybe Ulf and Suishen were thrown amidst Snorri’s burial possessions in the hold below.

Moving quickly, the party readied to jump into the dark hold below. Mira tossed a rock with a light spell below to provide illumination while Zack was first to jump below. As he landed in the deck below, he saw that the fog had penetrated inside the hold, which struck him as odd as there were no windows into the hold. Before he could relay the oddity to the others, from the fog, a seaweed covered, decayed arm reached out and smashed into Zack. The enormous blow took him by surprise and he felt his own lifeforce being sucked from him. However, his will and determination pushed himself backup to face the new threat. Zack relayed that something had attacked him to those above. Kelda jumped down next and moved into the fog, right by the attacker. She was blindsided by a blow from the creature and turned swinging her longsword into the fog. Tayllon joined the fray swinging at the outline in the fog, but only connecting with his starknife. Koya called to Desna to heal Zack and Kelda while Mira dropped behind Zack and healed him as well. Mira easily recognized the “fog” as an obscuring mist spell as a seaweed covered greataxe burst out of it cutting deeply into Zack, this time, draining away some of his life force. Koya and Zack called upon Desna’s aid to defeat the foe, Koya empowering herself and her allies and Zack striking at the shrouded creature with holy fervor. Mira continued to heal Zack while Kelda and Tayllon swung their blades into the mist. In righteous fury, Zack delivered the final blow and the mist dissipated.

Before them was a rotting corpse covered in seaweed and with an eyepatch. Despite the deterioration, Kelda immediately recognized the undead abomination as Snorri Stone-Eye, who, according to Mira, had been transformed into a draugr captain. The party began quickly searching the hold for Ulf or Suishen while Mira cast a detect magic spell hoping the sword would quickly register. It didn’t. The only thing magical she found was a smooth grey stone lodged in Snorri’s eye socket beneath the eyepatch. As Zack was searching, he was oddly captivated by a winged helm in Ulfen style. Zack wasn’t sure why he was so drawn to the helm and knew that taking from Snorri, who was wrongfully turned into undead and a respected Ulfen warrior was wrong. Still, he consulted his Phylactery of Faithfulness and was relieved to learn that taken the helm was the right thing to do.

Having not found Ulf nor Suishen, the party realized that given Snorri’s condition, this was obviously a trap someone had set for them. They began heading out, once again Zack heading out first. Zack poked his head out of the hold to be greeted by Koya, who was concerned about Zack’s well being. Before he could answer, or even step out of the hold. Four vials of alchemist’s fire had smashed into different sections of the deck. Frantically, Zack looked around and upward for what had dropped them but saw nothing that could have thrown them. Instead, out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of party’s kayaks, which had been moored to the funeral ship, drifting freely away from the now burning funeral ship.

View
Caravan Tales IV: Shalelu Andosana

Shalelu is still relatively young at 130 years of age, but she can remember when the Lost Coast was truly lost, when only goblin lairs and Thassilonian ruins could be found along its length. Yet for much of her life, Shalelu’s visits to southern Varisia were not nearly as common.

Born and raised in the small elven village of Crying Leaf, Shalelu is an only child whose father was slain not long after she was born by a particularly brutal bugbear assassin, exposing Shalelu to far more goblinoid cruelty than most elves her age dream of in their worst nightmares. It took Shalelu’s mother Seanthia nearly a hundred years to find a new love, and when she did, she chose a human mercenary, scandalizing much of Crying Leaf. As shocking as the choice may have been, Shalelu saw how happy this man Jakardos made her mother, and she loved him as a father for that kindness.

Seanthia and Jakardos met when Crying Leaf was being assaulted by ettercaps led by a green dragon by the name of Verchazmia. Jakardos had been adventuring in the nearby Meirani Forest and he and his party came to the aid of the elves of Crying Leaf. The elves and Jakardos’ adventuring companions succeeded in slaying Verchazmia. Unfortunately, Jakardos was grievously wounded and his companions gave their lives for the elven village. Seanthia, a Priestess of Desna, nursed Jakardos back to health, and the two fell in love. While Jakardos would have undoubtedly stayed in Crying Leaf for the rest of his life, Verchazmia was resurrected and Seanthia died during Verchazmia’s second assault on Cryinf Leaf. Thanks to Jakardos, the elves were once more successful in both defending their village and slaying Verchazmia. Jakardos then left without saying goodbye, shattering Shalelu’s opinion of him. The loss of her mother and stepfather sent Shalelu into a terrible depression, and she left Crying Leaf to seek out a new home.

Shalelu came to Sandpoint, where she found a burgeoning human village that was growing rapidly into a town, but that was plagued by goblins. Shalelu took Sandpoint under her wing, and for many years she protected it from goblins, bugbears, ghouls, and worse. In that time, she helped train some of Sandpoint’s militia and helped farmers and locals fend for themselves in Sandpoint’s hinterlands. She trained a young Tayllon in how to be a survivalist, finding Tayllon to be an excellent student who shared a troubled past with human and elf parents much like her own. She also trained Jorum as a survivalist as well, long before he became one of Sandpoint’s saviors. The three of them looked out for Sandpoint’s citizens by regularly patrolling different parts of the hinerlands.

Shalelu met an adolescent Ameiko when Ameiko had first run away from Sandpoint, helping the young Tian safely get to Magnimar. When Shalelu heard Ameiko had opened up a tavern in Sandpoint, Shalelu ended up being Ameiko’s first customer and the first person, other then Ameiko, to stand up to Ameiko’s overbearing late father Lonjiku. The two have been best friends ever since.

When Tayllon brought Shalelu news that Sandpoint had been hit by swift and sudden goblin attacks, she knew she had to return and asked Tayllon to find Jorum and deliver the news to Jorum as well. She arrived after Ameiko had been rescued by Sandpoint’s heroes. Shalelu looked after Ameiko until she recovered, setting out shortly after to find out what she could about the sudden goblin attacks. Though the goblins had grown more aggressive, they seemingly just as much retreated back to their holes shortly afterward. With Sandpoint safe, Shalelu sought out the heroes in order to properly thank them for rescuing her best friend.

After meeting up with the heroes of Sandpoint, of whom Jorum had joined, she accompanied them to central Varisia to aid with an ogre problem at one of Magnimar’s furthest territories. As fate would have it, Shalelu helped save her stepfather from the ogres, but they had a tenuous relationship as they both aided Sandpoint’s heroes in making the final assault on the ogres. In the ensuing battle, Shalelu was grievously injured. She was left under Jakardos’ care and after being nursed back to health, she reconciled with Jakardos, who finally helped her come to terms with the violent attack that killed her mother. After reconnecting with her stepfather, she felt homesick for the first time in decades and realized she needed to see Crying Leaf once more. She trusted the hinterlands to Jorum and Tayllon and set out for home.

When Shalelu returned to Crying Leaf, she found that the village was under assault by drow. The drow had allied with a green dragon and fearing Verchazmia’s resurrection once more, helped organize the other elves in an assault against the green dragon and drow. When Shalelu finally faced the green dragon, she learned it was not Verchazmia, but rather, her son Razorhorn. Shalelu succeeded in slaying Razorhorn and effectively put to rest the last of her past demons. Once the drow were driven out, Shalelu paid respects to her mother.

Having been taught to revere Desna since childhood, Shalelu soon realized her homesickness was not for Sandpoint, nor for Crying Leaf, but rather for the very journey itself. No matter where she went, she knew she could help in some way. She then remembered Ameiko and decided to return to Sandpoint once more. Upon her return, she learned that the town had been ravaged by stone giants, and that Jorum and the heroes had defeated most of the invaders, then set off to chase them down and rescue the townsfolk who were captured during the stone giant raid. Vulnerable once more, Shalelu helped look out after Sandpoint while it rebuilt, and patrolled the hinterlands once more.

Having a fairly deep connection with Ameiko, Shalelu could sense that Ameiko was bottled up, despite being free of her family’s troubles. Shalelu urged Ameiko to take a long trip soon and when Mira and the others found the shipwrecks and lost bits of her family’s legacy, Shalelu was the first to volunteer to help Ameiko find more about her family past, regardless of how far they needed to go.

View
Caravan Tales III: Ameiko Kaijitsu

Ameiko was born in 4689 AR to Lonjiku and Atsuii Kaijitsu. Although she’s not Atsuii’s or Lonjiku’s first child, she was the first legitimate child from that marriage. Ameiko had a lonely childhood. Her father strictly controlled who she could keep as friends, and filled her days with lessons in music, diplomacy, magic, and academic subjects. He kept a close eye on her, but Ameiko still managed to sneak into town to play with friends, explore old buildings, and visit her half-elven half-brother Tsuto at Sandpoint’s Turandarok Academy every chance she could.

When she was 13, Ameiko tried to reconcile the bad blood between her brother and father, but the attempt backfired. Tsuto struck her in a fit of rage, and Ameiko was so betrayed and distraught by this that she ran away from home to Magnimar for several months. When she learned of her mother’s death in a fall from the cliffs near her house, though, Ameiko returned home to Sandpoint. She found life at home more unpleasant than ever, but when another family argument broke out at her mother’s funeral and Tsuto left town, Ameiko resigned herself to staying in Sandpoint to care for her father.

Ameiko left home for the second time at age 16 after life in the house alone with her father and the help grew too depressing to bear. She joined an adventuring group, and became particularly good friends with the group’s priest of Shelyn, a handsome young Varisian man named Alder Vhiski. But in 4706, the group was captured by a degenerate family of backwoods cannibals living in an old mine in the southern Fogscar Mountains. The group was within a hair’s breadth of being eaten, abused, and worse by the degenerates, but Alder led a heroic attempt to escape. The resulting flight from the mine was nightmarish, as members of the group were picked off one by one by the pursuing cannibals, who were led by a spry druid who favored snakes as his pets. As the group neared the exit, only Ameiko, Alder, and Sandru remained alive. Alder used the last of his healing energies to revive Sandru. As the three prepared to scramble into a rickety rowboat that would take them to safety, Ameiko was attacked by the druid’s animal companion, a viper of prodigious size. Bitten twice, Ameiko would have died had Alder not pulled her to safety, and in so doing Alder was himself bitten. Already weakened from the fight, the snake’s venom killed him. The last Ameiko saw of Alder, before too succumbing to the poison, he was being torn apart by the degenerates. With Sandru’s help, the two survivors eventually made it back to Sandpoint, but they never spoke of what they had endured in that old mine. Some months later, Ameiko got a tattoo of a snake on her left arm and shoulder as a sort of memorial to Alder, then cashed in most of her earnings from her adventures and purchased an old tavern in downtown Sandpoint called the Rusty Dragon. Since then, she’s run the Rusty Dragon as a place for adventurers to gather and relax.

Although very outwardly upbeat and cheerful, the last few years have been hard on Ameiko. She had close call during the aftermath of a series of violent goblin attacks on Sandpoint. Her half-brother and father died during these events, and she had come close to death but was saved by Sandpoint’s heroes.

Prior to the stone giant attacks, she was happy to see old friends trickle in and out of Sandpoint, some of which, she had not seen in many years. This included Jorum, one of her childhood friends who eventually became better known as one of Sandpoint’s saviors, Shalelu, a protector of Sandpoint and Ameiko’s best friend, Sandru, the older brother she wished she always had, and lastly Tayllon, Shalelu’s protégé. The five of them share an understanding and bond, having all risen past personal tragedies to become the people they are today

Following the death of her stepbrother and father, Ameiko was the sole remaining Kaijitsu in Sandpoint. She was the last of one of the town’s founding families and effectively a noble though she’s never really cared for the aristocracy. While she has a lot of friends and admirers in town, Ameiko has never accepted anyone as anything more than a friend, diplomatically avoiding personal questions and proposals of romance, much to the frustration of several eager suitors in Sandpoint. She’s a talented singer and samisen player, and if she wanted, Ameiko could have led a comfortable life in Sandpoint, but her heart always had an urge to explore, and she always loved hearing stories of adventures and daring deeds.

And then, one day, the doors of the Rusty Dragon swung open, and a half-Tian woman entered saying she was Ameiko’s younger sister Mira. Transitioning into an older sister was new for Ameiko, leading her to often turn to Shalelu and Sandru for guidance, who served as better older siblings then her stepbrother ever did. Mira was quite clumsy at first, annoying Ameiko, but that was remedied thanks to Sandru, who suggested Mira be taught by his Aunt Koya.

As with the others, the journey has assuredly rekindled Ameiko’s adventuring spirit. After the recounting of the events at Brinewall, Ameiko realizes that Mira was meant to be an adventurer. Since Ameiko’s recovery from the events at Brinewall, she performs for the caravan nearly every night, happily assisted by Spivey.

View
Caravan Tales II: Sandru Vhiski

The Vhiski family has been involved with the Sczarni for as many generations as anyone cares to look back upon. Not every Vhiski throws in with the gang, but enough do that when one comes along who has no interest in the Sczarni life, it’s difficult for him to prove his disinterest in crime to outsiders. Sandru’s early childhood schools were back alleys and waterfront taverns, and training in the art of the con, dirty fighting, sabotage, and picking locks replaced lessons in numbers, arts, and literature. From an early age, though, Sandru’s sense of fairness and compassion hampered his advancement in the ranks of the Sczarni, and the mockery and derision his hesitance earned him
only strengthened his convictions.

When a violent storm struck the Varisian coast in 4687 AR, Sandru’s parents were among those slain by the floods and winds that tore the Lost Coast apart. Sandru and his brothers Alder and Jubrayl emerged from that catastrophic event as orphans. Yet while tragic, this event was ironically just the thing to save Sandru from a life of crime. While Jubrayl was old enough at that point to strike out on his own (and thus fell in completely with the family’s criminal traditions), Sandru was still a young child of 7 and his younger brother Alder barely 2. His care fell to Koya Mvashti, a family friend and practically an aunt to the young Sandru.

Under Koya’s guidance and support, Sandru and Alder managed to avoid falling in with the Sczarni. This was, for the most part, due to the frequent travels Sandru, Alder, and a few other of Koya’s orphaned children took with Koya throughout the Varisian lowlands far enough away from Sandpoint, Jubrayl and the Sczarni.

After Sandru grew of age, he sought employment as a caravan guard. After he lost his job, he returned to Sandpoint and reconnected with Alder, who had become a Priest of Shelyn and a talented painter. Sandru and Alder joined up with a group of adventurers eager to explore western Varisia. As fate would have it, Ameiko Kaijitsu was also in the group.

Sandru, Alder and Ameiko hit it off at became close friends. Sandru acted as an older brother to both Alder and Ameiko, hoping he could protect and guide them as Koya had done for him. The trio’s brief adventuring career was quite successful, but ended in tragedy. In their final foray, they were captured by a group of backwoods cannibals. Sandru did his best to protect Alder and Ameiko, but was one of the first to fall. Alder and Ameiko protected him from death, but Ameiko was injured soon afterward. To ensure Sandru and Ameiko would survive, Alder paid the ultimate price.

For many years after Alder rescued Ameiko and lost his life to the cannibals, Sandru couldn’t stand to be around the young Tian—she reminded him of lost opportunities and lost family. So while Ameiko invested her adventuring spoils in Sandpoint, Sandru invested his in the road, starting up his own caravan business with a few other orphans who had been under Koya, including Zack. For the next several years, Sandru’s life was the road. The years on the road greatly helped Sandru recover from the bad times. He began visiting Sandpoint and Ameiko more often, and began taking Koya with him on his caravan expeditions.

Though his business was fairly successful, he was just another caravan with a bare reputation at best. He’s lost many a job simply by way of the reputation behind his family’s name. Even before the present journey, he had seriously considered moving beyond the borders of Varisia where the infamy of the Scarzani would not be known to the local populace. Still, he retains his Varisian heritage as a point of pride. Whenever Koya is not telling her own stories, Sandru is telling his. He often recounts Varisian history, dance, traditions, scarves, fortune-telling, horses and wagons, landmarks and legends. Also, though effectively retired, he regularly practices elegant, but heavy handed swashbucker sword-forms with the same scimitar from his adventuring days.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.