Over the Crown of the World

1: New friends and old flames
The Brinewall Legacy

It is the end of summer, and the leaves are just beginning to turn from green to a variety of yellows, oranges and reds around Sandpoint. It has been several years since the town was plagued by Goblins (and worse), but there is a growing murmur amongst the townsfolk as fireworks explode above the nearby Brinestump marsh with increasing frequency, as many worry that Goblins may be again on the loose and looking for trouble.

At the Rusty Dragon, Ameiko Kaijitsu is reunited with old friends Shalelu Andosana & Sandru Vhiski. They are not alone, however, and introductions are soon made between the assortment of siblings, students, employees and old friends. On her end, Ameiko introduces her younger half-brother Rook, a young Alchemist from Magnamar. Sandru in turn introduces his flirty step-sister Kaitlinn and his rather mysterious guardsman, the linen-wrapped “Traveler.” Shalelu has also brought her half-sister, the contrary and belligerent Antenn, and her student, Aerik. They also find themselves joined by Inquisitor Craster Sorn, a local boy who took off many years ago to take up Calestra’s service up in Riddleport, and has clearly grown into a well-built adventurer. Kaitlinn embarrasses him by reminding them all of how he used to follow Shalelu around like a lost puppy, back in the day (Shalelu, for her part, seems not to notice the jibe, while Sandru gently slaps the back of her head for being a brat). As the three old friends head off to catch up, they leave the younger collection of recently acquainted (or re-acquainted, in some cases) friends and relations to their own devices. While Antenn leaves the company for more entertaining trouble to get into, the rest get to talking about the recent rumors of increased Goblin troubles (including caravan raids and the bounty Sheriff Hemlock has placed on their ears), and recent sightings of the Sandpoint Devil.

After some discussion they agree something should clearly be done about those Goblins down in Brinestump Marsh, and perhaps they’re the ones to do it. After some last minute shopping, they follow Ayrik, who recalls several paths into the marsh Shalelu showed him over the years. Settling on the New Fish Path, they head off to check in with the self-appointed “Warden” of Brinestump Marsh, Walthus Proudstump, a halfling hermit known to live out at the far end of the marsh, just on the edge of Sog’s Bay. But half-way there they are ambushed by a half-dozen Goblins while crossing a bridge…

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2: Goblin Stomp!
The Brinewall Legacy

Having butchered the Goblins at the bridge, they head back to town triumphant! They show off the ears of their enemies proudly at the Rusty Dragon and regal their first victory to Aemiko, Shalelu, Koya & Sandru. Ameko gives them free drinks, while Koyo gathers them around and heals their injuries with a prayer to Desna. Shalelu gives them a sock in the arm and tells them they’ve done good. After swinging by the Sheriff to turn in their grizzly trophies for their reward, they do a bit of shopping about Sandpoint before settling in for a early nights rest.

Up at dawn the next day, they are again off. Joined by Koyo’s old friend from the Cinderlands, a Shoanti Druid by the name of Lefyr, they again head out along the New Fish Road to go speak with Warden Proudstump. After sorting out a Giant Leach that thought Craster might have made a good meal, they reach the Warden’s ramshackle shack and call out to the halfling. Proudstump seems reluctant to deal with them, as he hobbles to the door and tells them to go away. As a reputed hermit, this comes as no surprise, so they only stick around long enough to ask for information about the Goblins (to which he waves vaguely in a south-easterly direction, and warns they’d best hurry, as he knows the Goblins are planning an attack soon), before turning back.

Despite Aeryk offering to lead them through the Marsh with a “short-cut,” they instead stick to tried and true paths, heading out of the Marsh to stumble along the Old Fish Road for a bit, before finally finding Licktoad Village. Sneaking in, it quickly becomes apparent the settlement has seen better days, and while the scouts spot a lone Goblin peaking out of one of the huts, the village otherwise seems deserted. As the party reforms and heads within the village walls, they find a charnel pit filled with a dozen burnt goblin corpses. They finally find three Goblins hiding in one of the huts, who immediately attack, though their terror is very evident, especially when Traveler breaks his silence to reveal their ravings seem to imply they think the Sandpoint heroes are dead men attacking. The others fall swiftly, but the last figures out the party is made up of the living, and begins shouting it aloud, inciting another 9 Goblins to pour out of several other huts, eager to spread some “Longshank blood.” The battle does not go in their favor.

After a bloody fight the Sandpoint adventurers manage to slay almost all of them (though two manage to escape into the marsh), the last few while they were banging on their chief’s door as they died, begging him to let them in, before they were blown to bits by another of Rook’s bombs…

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3: We be Goblins...
The Brinewall Legacy

As Rook, Aeryk, Lefyr & Craster step over the dead bodies of the Goblins that had so recently died on the Chieftain’s doorstep, they notice two of their own number have disappeared. One, the linen-wrapped Traveler, had just run off after a fleeing Goblin off into the swamp, while Kaitlinn has simply… vanished…

Still, they waist no time worrying about it, instead focusing on breaking in to get at the Chieftain. While the others futilely beat on the door (to the roars of Goblin laughter and taunts), Aeryk slips around to discover a ladder and secret door leading in the back way. Soon the front team gives up on trying to break the doors down – once they realize they can just use a knife to leaver the bar off it’s hook through the crack between the doors – and get fireworks in the face for their trouble. Aeryk gets somewhat delayed in coming up behind them as he enters a hidden room with no apparent exits. The battle begins roughly when Rook tosses in a bomb that softens up the half-dozen Goblins, only to find a bomb tossed back in return – one of their enemy is also an Alchemist! Though one slips behind their ranks to give them a little trouble, what proves most dangerous are the indiscriminate explosives being bandied about by Rook’s rival, backed up by Chief Gutwad’s deadly aim! Before everyone knows quite what hit them, three of the Goblins, along with Craster & Lefyr, are down. Realizing their peril, both the Goblin grenader & his ally behind the lines run for their lives, leaving their Chief to a long and bitter fight for survival against Rook & Aeryk. The battle proves bloody and bitter, as the Chief chases them around the ruins of his village, with neither seeming to draw an edge over the other…

…until Kaitlinn steps out from her hiding spot and drives a dagger through the Chief’s head!

Victorious, but for the most part badly hurt, the party places the most wounded in the arguable safety of the Chief’s hut, before setting about collecting their grim trophies (such as the Chief’s head and over a dozen Goblin ears) and seeing what else the Goblin’s might have horded away. Searching the village, Aeryk, Rook & Kaitlinn note that the Goblins must have already fought off another band of invaders, and whomever they were, they’d carried off something heavy from the camp. Aeryk finally figures out the cloven hoof-prints he’s been finding are pig-tracks, and that it too had run off into the swamp. On the Chief himself they find excellent gear, but all too small for them to properly use, but the treasury hidden in a back room (along with what they sift out of a nearby burnt down hut) make up for it. Besides loose coin and fireworks, they find a crude map in the ruined hut of Snorg the Scribbler, that indicates where more fireworks can be found to the west.

After resting an healing for a day, the band limps back up out of the swamp to Sandpoint, where they march in proudly to give Sheriff Hemlock their grizzly Goblin trophies and receive their reward. Cash in hand they stumble back to the Rusty Dragon to celebrate and tell Ameiko, Shalelu, Sandru & Koya all about it. Shalelu is pleased enough she buys them all a round of drinks, while Ameiko – after getting a detailed account from Aeryk – composes a song on the spot and performs for the tavern-goers in short order. There is a sour note later in the afternoon when Kaitlinn, hoping to get a rise out of Sandru, starts talking smack about his brother, and how she hopes he doesn’t turn out like him. To her surprise not only does she upset Sandru, but Aemiko as well, who tells her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, before running after Sandru to calm him down as he storms off. Her gift to Koya (a new scarf) buys off a scolding, and generosity soon seems to abound in the company as several chip in to help Aeryk buy a new bow.

Re-equipped and refreshed the Licktoad vanquishers reassemble the next morning, having decided they like the taste of glory and what it can bring, and set out again to see what other chances for fame and fortune the Brinestump Marsh might give up!

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4:...You be food!
We be Goblins!

Leaving Rook behind in town, the four (Crastor, Kaitlinn, Lefyr & Aeryk) head south again into Brinestump Marsh in search of more glory & gold (& accolades from their friends).

Arriving at the empty Licktoad village, Aeryk persuades the others in helping him burn it to the ground to discurrage any survivors from returning to rebuild their tribe. Once it is well and truly burning, the gang turns and heads west along the river, following Scribbleface’s map to the “Boom” (which they have come to conclude must be a hidden Goblin fireworks depot).

Near Sogg’s Bay they find a strange beached ship, decorated with paper lanterns & goblin skulls, which Aeryk & Crastor identify from stories Shalelu told them as the lair of Vorka the Canibal Goblin. Showing no fear, they stride in. Soon they are confronted with a half-starved mongrel dog that, after attempts to befriend it fail, they put out of its’ misery. Heading into the main cabin first (rather than investigating more barking further up in the multilayered ship), they run smack into none other than Vorka & her man-sized toad. Though they manage to take down her pet, she summons a swarm of rats & between rats and the toad’s biting both Crastor & Lefyr fall. The next minute or so is filled with fight and flight and they race around the ship in pursuit of (and being pursued by) Vorka, finally ending in a high-wire battle amongst the ship’s rigging as Vorka exchanges fire for Kaitlinn & Aeryk’s knives and arrows. A final, well-placed shot drops Vorka from the crows nest, and the notorious goblin falls to her death on the deck bellow.

Checking on their companions they find Lefyr barely alive, but Crastor has sadly passed on. Camping out in the ship for the night, they scrounge a nice amount of loot, including a large number of fireworks. More interestingly they find the name of the ship (the Kaijitsu’s Star) & an ornate fan with a crude map of Brinestump Marsh, showing the route to another ship, as well as a mysterious cave with a skull symbol.

The following morning they limp back with a somewhat recovered Lefyr, their dead companion, and a chest-full of loot. Sandpoint, Craster’s hometown, is saddened by the loss of their wandering son, and it is decided that his funeral will be held the following Sunday. The survivors tell their story to Ameiko & Shalelu (which does much to repair the growing rift between Ameiko & Kaitlinn). They try to give Shalelu Vorka’s head, but Shalelu’s love for killing doesn’t seem to extend to collecting goblin trophies, so she passes on the “gift” to Sheriff Hemlock to put on a spike at the town gate next to the head of the Licktoad chief. Ameiko seems far more intrigued about the ship, and after giving the gang a “finder’s fee,” tells them to keep exploring the Brinestump Marsh’s mysteries while she and Shalelu set about an expedition to her family’s lost bit of history.

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5: Swamp Witchery
The Brinewall Legacy

The following day proves exceptionally chilly, so everyone stays in at the Dragon to rest, recuperate and socialize. Kaitlinn & Rook are introduced to new faces Rogar (a Dwarven Caravan guard in Sandru’s employ) & Caroline Lofton (a refugee aristocrat from Taldor who saved Aemiko’s life & helped slaughter the Thistletop Goblins with Shalelu back during the time of Troubles). When Caroline draws steel against Rook, Aemiko quickly intercedes, explaining that while Rook may be a dead-ringer for her brother Tsuto, the two are not the same. Tsuto, she is forced to reveal, had been the traitor involved in the Goblin attack years ago, and had murdered her father (and would have killed her as well, had not Caroline intervened). After this sobering revelation, she heads off to play the evening’s entertainment, while Rogar & Caroline get to know Rook & Kaitlinn better. After several rounds of drinking (payed for by Caroline) and games of Darts, they discuss various ventures they might join together on. Though Caroline suggests investigating such mysteries as the Old Light (the ancient ruin at the edge of town) or perhaps helping Shalelu hunt down the Hobgoblin Balthazar (the new leader of the Thistletop Goblins),they end up agreeing to traveling back into the Brinestump the following day to find that second ship the map on the fan alludes to.

But the following day a fierce storm moves in, making it appear they’ll have to scrub their plans for adventure. Shalelu & Ameiko continue to prepare for their own venture to the Kaijitsu Star, as Shalelu believes the storm should pass by mid-afternoon, so the two parties join up at least as far as the swamp, each party going their own way as the storm breaks into small drizzles. Taking the southerly Witches Way, Caroline, Kaitlinn, Rogar & Rook head deep into the swamp, eventually finding the Old Megus’ Shack, home to the notorious Swamp Witch, whom they hope has a boat they can barrow. The Shack seems deserted however, with little evidence that anyone has lived there in months. Leaving the rest to head inside to investigate, Rook waits in supposed safety, only to be ambushed by a pack of Dire Rats. As the gang races to his rescue and kill the pack, he spots a smaller rodent with a human’s face slip past into the hut while all are distracted. The next minute is a race from room to room as the ratling slips from room to room, ambushing them when they’re alone or summoning swarms of yet more rats to bedevil them, nearly killing Rook & badly hurting Rogar (Kaitlinn has quite a scare when it skitters up her dress while she attempted to hide in a closet, but otherwise manages to escape the fight unscathed). Dedicated teamwork from all of them puts the tiny terror down and saves Rook’s life.

Poking around the ruin after the battle, they find the witch’s malformed bones, surmising a failed transmutation is what killed her, and that the ratling must have been her familiar. Amongst the few remaining items of value they find another map, much better in detail than Vorka’s scrawl on the fan, though mostly covering the same elements. Heading down to the water they find Old Megus’ boat, and set off for the other ship, which they now have identified (thank to their new map) as the Kaijitsu’s Blossom.

They find the Blossom much more the wreck than the Star, upturned on it’s side and half-burred in the muck, though much larger than it’s sister vessel. As they move in to investigate they are ambushed by a trio of Skeletons dressed in archaic Tieneze armor & wielding Wakizashi. Making short work of their enemy, they give a thorough, but futile, search, before collecting trophies of their enemies and returning to Sandpoint to report to Ameiko their findings and present her with one of the blades.

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6: The Faceless Horror
The Brinewall Legacy

That night an old friend of Ameiko’s arrives in Sandpoint. Shana Zahil-Tanei, who ran off for a life of fame and adventure about the same time Ameiko did many years ago, has come back having heard rumors of her old home town having had troubles. Ameiko intorduces her to the collection of friends and associates now hanging out at the Rusty Dragon, and all set about another round of drinking while Ameiko plays. After teasing Kaitlinn for having been but a squirt when she left, Shana makes a rather drunken pass at Sandru (after checking with Ameiko as to whether he might be taken), but Sandru doesn’t seem to get the hint.

The following morning, as some are nursing their hangovers, Kaitlinn & Aeryk discuss going back into the swamp to investigate the mysterious cave (marked with a skull on their assorted maps). With Rogar having come down ill, Rook having loudly declared an end to adventuring ("that’s too dangerous for me!), and Caroline having decided to take the day off to see old friends, the two decide to invite Shana along to fill out their little excursion. Shalelu suggests they might want to ask the swamp warden, Walthus Proudstump, about the cave, as he is likely the best authority on the swamp now that Old Magus is gone, so they decide to go with that plan.

Some hours later they find themselves at his shack, having marched along the New Fish Path unmolested. Walthus seems as unhappy to see them as the last time, though this time Aeryk is undeterred and forces his way in. Their reticent host seems to know little of the cave, but assures them it must be full of treasures, and they should go their forthwith. After chatting him up and getting him almost friendly enough to rummage through musty cupboards for tea or stale bread, they give up harassing their unwilling host and turn to leave…

…at which point they are attacked from behind. Aerik is the first to feel his life slipping away as a raspy, wet tongue strips skin from the back of his neck and drains a little blood from him. Spinning around they find Walthus’ features melting away from the small humanoid, revealing a faceless thing with skin like leather and swerly features that open, revealing several lolling tongues. Muttering in a multitude of languages about how it will drink their blood and wear their faces, the thing presses the attack. They fight it with dagger & arrow, sabre and alchemist’s fire, eventually wounding it enough with fireworks to drive it off into the swamp. Aeryk would have given chase, but by then Kaitlinn is barely standing and Shana has collapsed from her injuries. Giving the shack a quick once-over, Aerik finds the corpse of the real Walthus upstairs, murdered in a hidden closet. They board up the house and hunker down to rest for the night. Aeryk grows worried at the sight of three-toed footprints near the shack when he scouts around the next morning, recalling stories of the “Soggy River Monster” he’d heard from Shalelu, a relatively recent creature rumored to lurk in the swamp.

After another full day of rest Aeryk is overjoyed to hear the tentative bird-call of his mentor and responds. Shalelu, Ameiko, Sandru & Koya all come up to the shack and tend to their injuries, having thought the gang might have run into a pickle when they didn’t return. Mostly recovered, the company returns to Sandpoint. Given the damage to their health caused by the Faceless Stalker (correctly identified by Ameiko upon hearing the description of the thing), the three survivors seek healing in Magnimar once they find such magic is beyond the skills of either Koya or the priest up at Sandpoint’s Cathedral. The journey takes them away from Sandpoint for almost a week (causing them to miss Castor’s funeral), but with luck they should make it back just in time for the Swallowtail Festival.

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7: Swallowtail Festival Surprise!
Burnt Offerings

Having gotten back just in time, Kaitlinn, Shara and Aeryk put themselves at Ameiko’s disposal to help the Rusty Dragon prepare for the Swallowtail Festival. The day of the event they take personal charge of the fireworks, setting them nearby for the evening’s festivities while taking in the opening speeches. Once the event gets rolling they enjoy themselves to the fullest, dancing and drinking to abandon, with Aeryk sneakily handing out a few Desnian Candles to naughty looking children or dangerously drunk adults.

As the day finally comes to a close, good father Zantus brings everyone’s attention back to him with a thunderstone, which to everyone’s surprise serves also as a cue for Goblin infiltrators to attack! As the crowd panics and starts running every which way, the gang overhears someone say “oh no, not again!” Aeryk, Kaitlinn & Shara struggle through the crowd, ill-prepared as they are, and manage to take out three of the little monsters, when an explosion tells them the Goblins have found the fireworks! Racing down, they catch five more, one of whom is singing. Though they manage to dispatch them in short order, one manages to fire off a Rocket, but it takes him up with it to explode entertainingly above the town.

After some quick healing from Father Zantus, they move the Cart full of fireworks back to the safty of the Rusty Dragon, where they meet back up with Ameiko, Shaleleu and company. Once properly equipped, the three head back out to help in hunting more Goblins. They find a fierce band of them (one of which is even riding a Goblin Dog) having surrounded a lone robed Tengu that they seem delighted in harassing. Rushing to the queer creature’s defense, they manage to dispatch the Goblins and their rat-dog. The Tengu happily introduces himself as Meuhenlau, and after whistling for it to return to him, his companion axe beak,Mr. Krindle the II.

With the town mostly under control (all the Goblins having fled or been killed), the three along with their new-found friend return to the Rusty Dragon. Shalelu belives they must be Thistletop Goblins, now under control of her old nemesis Balthezar, and wants to give chase and slaughter the lot of them up where they live at the Thistletop Isle. But Ameiko is far more concerned about how they snuck agents in to the city, again. She suspects they used the smuggler’s tunnels under the Kaijitsu Glassworks, just like the last attack four years ago – and suspects her bastard brother Tsuto, murderer of her father, of having a hand in it (again, just like four years ago). The gang volunteer to head down with her to check out the pathway and make sure the Goblin’s aren’t still lurking bellow.

Heading bellow the Glassworks, they head back through hidden halls, eventually finding a cave obviously used as a staging ground, and much further beyond and bellow, a whole nother hidden ruin. After noticing more strange three-toed footprints, just like the Soggy Swamp Monster prints they’d spotted outside the Warden’s Hut, they are ambushed in a nearby cave by a very unusual monster. It nearly kills Aeryk & badly injures Shara before they manage to beat it down. After a little healing from Ameiko, they press on to find in another chamber a beautiful, yet terrible, statue of a woman holding a very artistic Raneseur. Aeryk pries the pole-arm out and hands it to Ameiko as a gift, which seems to delight her. There they pause, giving thought as to which hall they might investigate next. Which hall, they wonder, might lead to Ameiko’s brother, or Goblins, or worse…

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8: The Temple of Wrath
Burnt Offerings

Having found no clues indicating that either her brother, or Goblins, may lurk in the hidden underground complex, Ameiko decides to return to oversee repairs at the Rusty Dragon, and so the rest of the gang return with her. The next morning they try again, this time with Aeryk, Kaitlinn, Rogar & Muhenlau, picking back up where they left off, in the statue room. From there they take the passage to the left of the stairs, which leads them straight to the prison cells, where they encounter – and swiftly dispatch – two more of the horrible three-toed monsters. Continuing on, they puzzle over a torture room and the scriptorium beyond, especially the three cells containing weird skeletons.

Unable to figure out what happened there, they content themselves with taking a mysterious scroll Kaitlinn found. Rather than taking one of the numerous staircases they keep finding, they decide to double back to explore one of the earlier turns they’d skipped past. The shrine they find doesn’t catch their interest, but the cathedral beyond surprises and disturbs them, especially when a small Quazit appears, slitting her wrist over a boiling pool in the freezing room and telling them Lamashtu would see them all dead.

To their consternation, another of the three-toed freaks rises up to attack, swiftly joined by a summoned fire elemental and a fiendish hound while the Quazit herself disappears, harassing them with spells (nearly killing Rogar with one). While the other monsters quickly fall, they find the Quazit herself to be far harder to kill, much less wound. Luckily they find that she is having about as much difficulty killing them, so they flee back to ton as the battle slides into a stalemate.

Back in town they stock up on cold iron arrows and rope, plotting for their next encounter with the little demon bellow…

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9: Tormented Souls
Burnt Offerings

Reequipped with cold iron arrows and other newly bought gear, Aeryk, Rogar and (a slightly delayed) Kaitlinn stop off briefly to touch base at the Rusty Dragon that evening. Once there they find not only Traveler has returned (having taken two weeks to go “visit an old friend about a horse”), but a new face – the 1/2 orc Haji the Summoner – has arrived. Haji, as it turns out, had come to repay Shalelu the favor of saving his life some time before. After bringing the pair up to speed on their mission to do in the Quazit lurking in the labyrinth bellow, the two readily agree to lend a hand. Haji takes a minute to summon his companion, a strange furry bird thing that puts Meuhenlau’s own pet into such a tizzy that the Tengu declines to join the next foray bellow. Ameiko warns them to hurry their search, as she’d really like to brick up the passageway soon.

They retrace their steps bellow the Glassworks to the strange underground ruin, but find the cathedral empty. When Traveler thinks he hears singing coming from the shrine, Aeryk sets off some fireworks to blow up the shrine to Lamashtu – Traveler thinks he sees a goat’s head in the flames, but nothing else appears. Traveler is haunted thereafter by a sense of power pulling him to both the shrine and the higher pool in the Chapel proper.

Continuing to explore while they search for the Quazit, they follow the stairs up from the statue room, soon coming across a well full of clear water, but one of the skulls sitting on it’s edge pops wings and tentacles to attack them. Except for a shriek that paralyzes Rogar briefly, the flying thing proves no match for them, and they push on, only to have to turn around when they find a spiral staircase going up, blocked with rubble.

Working their way back, they eventually follow the stairs leading down from the torture chamber to find a large room, its’ floor filled with wood-flats, each covering a pit with something moaning within. As soon as they arrive they attract the attention of a hideous mutant Goblin, twice the size he should be, with extra limbs growing from his body, three holding weapons (a longsword, a hand axe & a silver dagger). Traveler & Haji’s monster rush up to engage the Goblin, who spits a stream of acidic blood on them before stepping up to engage Traveler directly, nearly killing him before he, Rogar & Kaitlinn manage to drop him.

But as the creature falls, the Quazit makes her appearance, flapping above with her returning knife, to add to Traveler’s injuries. A lucky shot from Kaitlinn, along with some solid shots from the others soon do enough damage to make her be the one to flee this time. Unable to track the injured, invisible Quazit, they decide to take the badly maimed Traveler and get out before the Quazit recovers and comes back to harass them again.

Back at the Rusty Dragon, after selling off the Goblin’s Axe, Ameiko identifies the sword as the magical blade once carried by the notorious Goblin champion Koruvus, a feat that makes Shalelu quite pleased with them. For including Koya in their celebratory rounds of drinking, she tends to Traveler’s injuries with her prayers to Desna. Recovered, they begin planning their next move: continue to fruitlessly hunt the Quazit in the dungeons bellow, join Shalelu in her hunt to finish off her old rival Bruthazmus at Thistletop, or see what that skull at the mysterious cave on the map of Brinestump Marsh represents.

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10: Caves of the Dead
The Brinewall Legacy

The following morning, with everyone absolutely sick of chasing the thrice-damned Quazit in the dungeons bellow town, Kaitlinn persuades Rogar, Shana, Haji and the mysterious Traveler to join her in stomping back out into Brinestump Marsh to investigate the skull-marked cave on their map.

The trip itself proving uneventful, they take the Old Magus’ river boat to the cave, where Traveler & Rogar push through a curtain of nettles that makes them decidedly ill. Within the twisting tunnels they note brackish algae-slick pools, so they decide on taking a smaller side-tunnel, beyond which they encounter a giant spider snacking on a large gecko. The spider, seeing a chance to trade up his meal, charges. After half a minute of confusion, they manage to surround the arachnid and put the beast down. Continuing on they eventually find their way back to the larger tunnel that soon opens up into a larger cavern, around which lie four skeletons, each dressed in the same peculiar Tsienese armor they’d seen the skeletons around the Kijitsu Star wreck had been wearing.

Suspecting undead, Kaitlinn chucks a starknife at one, smashing it’s head to bits. Their concern is confirmed when the other three (plus two more hidden in the brackish water) rise up to attack. The skeletons prove far more dangerous then they expected however, nearly killing both Rogar and Kaitlinn (who nearly drowns in the nearby pool), and ripping all of Haji’s summoned creatures (ponies, dog and worse – his eidolon Owlhound) to pieces before the group manages to shatter them to bits. With two of their number down, they decide to retreat back to Sandpoint for some much-needed healing from Moma Koya.

Recovered, they head back out that afternoon, pausing only to switch Shana out for the ever peculiar Meuhenlau and his axebeak companion Krindle. This time, as they are crossing the bridge to get to the Old Magus’ hut, they are ambushed by another of the weird creatures they’d encountered in the dungeons bellow Sandpoint. Though it succeeds in biting Kaitlinn and sickening her with rage, they dispatch it easily enough and continue back to the caves uneventfully.

This time Traveler takes the time to cut down the nettles and they get inside safely. Heading back to the large cavern first so Kaitlinn can retrieve some daggers she’d lost in the previous fight, they begin exploring lesser tunnels branching off, soon finding a small cave filled with muckish water and an island covered in rock crystals. When Rogar drops a rock tied to a string to measure the water’s depth, he attracts the hungry affections of a giant amoeba, who rises to attempt to absorb his leg, only to be promptly dispatched.

After harvesting the crystals, they travel back again to the main cave, then check out the last tunnel. This one leads to the final cavern, in which they find another skeleton, this one sitting on an ornate Jade & Cherrywood chest, a wakazashi clutched loosely in one hand. As soon as they enter the room it rises, raising its’ blade and seemingly challenging Rogar, but it quickly turns it’s attentions to the Traveler as soon as he proves to be the only one worth fighting. The battle proves anticlimactic however, as Traveler quickly trips the skeleton with his glave and the gang dog-piles on the bone warrior before he can properly get up to fight again.

While the rest of the gang focuses on the chest (and are stymied by the complex lock), Meuhenlau takes trophies from their skeletal adversary, not the least of which being his sword. The gang caries their loot back to town and Kaitlinn drunkenly tries to sing of their adventures to Ameiko (who in turn pityingly appreciates the effort). When the gang proves unable to get the chest open, Meuhenlau suggests a golden key he’d recovered from the skeletal warrior, which does the trick. Within they find an assortment of valuables, arms & armor, fireworks, potions and a few other odd magical items, all of which Ameiko agrees to identify if she gets a cut. That out of the way, she takes the ornate chest for her share, and Meuhenlau in turn takes the wakazashi he’d picked up later, which Ameiko identifies as the Whispering Shrike, a blade once carried by a vassal bodyguard of her grandfathers’. Finding the handle loose reveals a hidden compartment in the pommel containing a note from the self-same grandfather, Rokuro Kaijitsu. Meant for her now-deceased father, Ameiko reads it aloud and all are equally intrigued with hints of a lost legacy of the Kaijitsu family hidden in the vaults of the long ruined Brinewall Castle, far off on Varisia’s norther frontier.

Ameiko is thrilled, immediately asking if anyone else is interested in a road trip! The gang needs no persuading – they had started discussing the same as soon as she’d finished reading the letter. Sandru offers the services of his Caravan, and Moma Koya proves equally eager to get back on the road and wander the countryside. Shalelu and Meuhenlau also are quite willing to come along. As soon as the Caravan is ready and any affairs anyone has to put in order are completed, they will set out north, for Brinewall!

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