Rise of the Runelords (Anniversary Edition)

Game Session #5: Thistletop! (Part II)

Current Year: 4707 AR
Date: 1 Lamashan

Having recovered from the battle with the dozens of goblins on the surface, the heroes began their journey into the lower levels of the hideout. Carefully moving about the stone corridors, the party encountered the bugbear ranger, Bruthazmus! They had heard the name of this goblin hero before, from the elven ranger Shalelu Andosana, and knew of his particular hatred for elves. Stumbling upon his bedchamber, his many consorts interposed themselves between the bugbear and the party, and the giant began to fire arrows at the party members in the front ranks. However, after his “wives” were killed, he engaged the party with his melee weapons, but he was no match for them, and was soon dispatched.

The party continued to press into the depths of Thistletop, and encountered an ebon-skinned wizard, who shrieked at them for killing her beloved, Tsuto! As the fight commenced and as she bought herself time through the use of creating multiple images of herself to delay the party, a familiar voice rang out: TSUTO! The half-elf had escaped his bonds en route to Magnimar, and made his way quickly here, to protect his love, Nualia! But, even with the assistance of the wizard who loved him (but for whom he had no such feelings), the party quickly sent them to their early graves.

As they ventured further, they discovered the human fighter Orik Vancaskerkin, a sellsword and mercenary. The warrior had been helped out of trouble by Nualia and others, and so he felt a sense of duty to repay the debt. However, not long after coming to Thistletop, he realized her terrifying plans and wanted no part of them. Giving the party information he thought might be helpful, Orik fled Thistletop, never to return.

And, as they cotinued to explore, they opened a non-descript door from the passageway and saw an unmistakenly beautiful, white-haired female. Her armor exposed her belly, which bore many scars. Her left arm and hand were no longer that of a humanoid, but of a demon. The party had finally discovered what had happened to Nualia! The party attempt to parley with her, to inquire what she was doing with the remains of her father. The aasimar told the party of her tragic and sordid history – from the constant ridicule of her beauty, to her seduction by a young cad from Magnimar, to the stillbirth of her bastard and monstrous child, to the soothing voice of the mother of monsters. The voice had fueled her rage and her hate, and she took vengeance by murdering her father (she had barricaded him in his room and set the fire that burned down the temple) and then hunting down and murdering her former lover. And, in the whispering voice of Lamashtu, she found purpose.

The party, stunned at the depth of despair and vileness of her story, could not reason with her, and a frantic struggle for survival began. Nualia proved to be quite capable and powerful, and with one stroke, she nearly decapitated Drodin! With great fortitude, the paladin survived, and the heroes managed to dispatch the priestess of Lamashtu and her evil yeth hounds. Exploring her room, they discovered that the priestess wore a strange medallion, adorned with the strange seven-pointed symbol. They took the medallion, with plans to have it examined later, perhaps by the sage of Sandpoint, Bordert Quink.

The party eventually came upon two pillars, and upon further examination, the pillars seemed to be carved in the form of two large stacks of coins. Carefully inspection revealed a slot in each one – after a moments, they placed a coin in each slot, and the pillars gave way to an undiscovered and unexplored area of the fortress. They proceeded to investigate and eventually made their way to a room as hot and smokey as the bowels of the Nine Hells! It was there, in this smoky and acrid-smelling room, that the party finally encountered Nualia’s monster: Malfeshnekor, the greater barghest. Trapped here for all eternity, with an unending hunger, the creature eagerly awaited its freedom, which would have been secured by the completion of Nualia’s ritual. Freedom, however, was not to come. The battle was short-lived.

Binding their wounds, gathering their belongings, and trying to peace together the strange events found here, the party made the two-hour journey back to Sandpoint, where they hoped they could finally enjoy a hero’s rest.

But, one nagging thought continued to plague them: was it mere coincidence that they encountered the servants of Lamashtu on the first day of the month named for her? Coincidences were certainly common enough, but this? This seemed to be so much more.

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arilon

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