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Kyle's Journal: ROTRL1 - Burnt OfferingsFollow

#1 Feb 28 2013 at 4:18 AM Rating: Good
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Note: This is the written journal for Kyle O'Halloran, American Wizard, as the character is played through the Pathfinder Adventure Path Rise of the Runelords. If you wish to avoid spoilers for that AP, please go find something else to read. Otherwise, read on, my friends. I will be breaking this up into a thread for each module. This is the first one of the AP.
If you'd like to find out more about Kyle's Past, please go here. If you'd like to learn more about his first meeting with the rest of the party, please go here.

Well, we made it to Sandpoint in one piece, which is good. Once we arrived, we sought quarters in an inn called The Rusty Dragon, which offers rooms half price to those with great adventure stories. Apparently, my tale of my journey through the depths of space to come to Golarion was deemed too far-fetched and cast doubts on any tales we told, so we were stuck paying full price. Sometimes I just get no respect.

I’ve played enough video games to know that when you reach a new town, you never get to continue on your quest immediately. You have to do some stuff for the locals. Raise your reputation meter. That kind of thing. Then, once they get to know you, they’ll be more forthcoming with information you need to continue on your main mission. It’s either that or bribery.

Luckily, The Rusty Dragon has a jobs board of a sort, things for out of work adventurers to help with. I quickly found something I could help with. A local armorsmith’s crew had come down with some sort of illness and would be out for a week or more. Since some of my studies at the Arcanamirium had involved a bit of smithing, I was suited to assist. Aurora found some work guarding a warehouse or something. Basically she patrolled around out front of some building near the wharfs looking menacing.

I’m not sure what Geo, Lenn and Paulie were doing, but we did see them here and there on our day to day business. Not much interesting happened during that first week, but we did keep hearing about some kind of festival. I’ve seen this movie. Out-of-towner gets burned alive at the festival to ensure a good harvest or something. I didn’t tell them why, but I suggested that the five of us go to the festival together. Thankfully, the others agreed.

During the opening ceremonies, we found out more about the temple being dedicated. It seemed to be a multi-denominational type deal. I wonder if the ground would start quaking if I said a few Hail Marys in there. I recognized many of the holy symbols on the banners there. Calais’ goddess was represented, as was Aurora’s god. I also recognized the symbol of the goddess Shelyn, the goddess of that young woman. You know, that one time where my hair fell out.

Like any good festival, there were games of skill and chance, many of them likely rigged. There were also multiple offerings of unhealthy fair food, devoid of any nutritional value. I was one bearded lady eating a deep fried Snickers bar away from feeling like I was back home.

We decided to try our luck at some of the games. For the first, someone had set up a mockup of the creature known as the Sandpoint Devil with an archery target on it. Several of my companions won the big prize, some kind of pie. I managed to lose my grip on the string, loose the arrow wide of the target and hit myself in the arm with the snap of the string. Thankfully, I was wearing my coat, so the only thing that got hurt was my pride. Lenn won a lesser prize, which he traded to Geo for a pie. I amused myself by mentioning that the stone was in fact a type of geode.

Next we found a strength game, the kind where you hit the little board and the weight goes flying up. Hit the bell and win a grand prize. Aurora hit it pretty hard, but not hard enough for the grand prize. She got a tiny toy bunny, instead. I was careful not to let her see me smile at that. She’s pretty tough, but she has a thing for small animals.

I went next. I managed to hit the target, but the **** weight barely moved. Of course, everyone was laughing at me. Even Aurora teased me a bit. One thing you should know about me is that I really don’t like being laughed at unless I intended it to happen. I couldn’t let that stand. As I watched Lenn stroll up for his turn, a thought struck like a bolt from the blue. After glancing at the rules once more, my lips parted in a wicked grin. I’d show them. I’d show them all! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

As I pulled out my spellbook, I heard Lenn take his swing. The weight hit so hard that it dented the bell. I focused on studying what I would need, then returned. “Please go over the rules with me again, good sir,” I said to the man running it.

“It’s simple. Hit the target with the mallet. Ring the bell and win a prize. No other weapons may be substituted.”

It was perfect. I smiled and handed the man a silver. “Just in case I need a couple tries.” He nodded. Taking the mallet in one hand, I cast a spell and immediately grew to twice my size. The mallet grew with me. The man looked like he was going to say something, but I cut him off. “There’s nothing in the rules that says I can’t enlarge myself first.” He thought for a moment, unable to figure out any way out of it, and just nodded.

I gave it my mightiest swing… and whiffed it. Enraged, I swung again, missing once more. I was letting my anger get the best of me. I had to use it, not let it use me. I focused my anger into a white hot ball in the pit of my stomach and carefully aimed my shot. The weight rocketed up, bending the dented bell even further. Funny thing is, I don’t even remember what my prize had been. I just remember strutting away past an exasperated crowd of onlookers. Aurora just shook her head and chuckled at me as I winked at her.

We moved on to a bean bag toss game run by a man who had a hatred of goblins that I could really get behind. The bean bags were fashioned into the shape of little goblins and the holes you had to toss them into were painted to look like a fireplace. Children aimed for the closest hole, women for the one in the middle and men for the one furthest away. Aurora gave it a shot, but didn’t manage to sink all three goblins despite not needing to hit the farthest hole. Lenn didn’t fare too well either.

I think my stunt over at the strength game infected my companions with a streak of competitiveness, because I saw Geo take a swig of one of his alchemical concoctions before taking his shots. Then it was Paulie’s turn. He started out as normal, but missed a throw by a bit. He then walked away.

When he returned, he was walking on his knees, having gone so far as to put them in his shoes. His legs were tucked behind him. I immediately realized what he was doing. He was going to try to pass as a kid to get to aim at the closest target. I knew that even if he managed to fool the man running the game, there was no way he would fool the crowd around us. I had to do something to distract them or we were going to get run out of town on a rail. I pulled my violin from my magical bag and began playing “Devil Went Down to Isger”.

The crowd loved the sudden impromptu performance. All eyes were on me, which meant I couldn’t watch what Paulie was doing. Once I finished, however, I spotted him with a small bag of venison jerky, the prize for the game, so I assume that he actually pulled it off. I claimed a piece of jerky as my due for keeping the crowd from spotting what he was doing.

The jerky was a bit salty, so I headed over to get something to drink. Several of the others followed me, but Lenn went off to play another game after Geo cautioned him not to start any fights. The mead wasn’t very good, but the glass was large.

After our refreshment, we went looking for Lenn. Finding him wasn’t hard since he towered over everyone in the crowd. He was at some kind of catapult game similar to those where you toss a baseball at some bottles. The look on his face told us that he hadn’t won. Aurora and Paulie won. Can’t remember if Geo did or not, because I was lost in thought.

I felt bad for the big guy. He looked like he really wanted to win. So, Paulie and I went and convinced the proprietor to help us rig a game in exchange for a full gold piece. While we were talking to him, I saw Aurora give her prize, a toy catapult, to a child nearby. D’awww. Yes, I saw that, you big softie. Now stop reading my journal, Aurora.
It took a bit of surreptitious magic, but Lenn won. He seemed happy enough.

After a bit, the mayor once again took the stage. Innkeepers and restauranteurs brought forth offerings of various foods free of charge for all festival goers to enjoy. I rather liked the curried salmon provided by Ameiko Kaijutsu of The Rusty Dragon, though I could tell quite a few people were sweating with the spiciness of the dish. Silly gringos…says the man who gets a second degree sunburn if he walks out in the afternoon sun unprotected for more than an hour.

Of course, no festival is complete without a random attack by goblins, complete with random dog killing, song singing and other mayhem. I didn’t see the first one to rush through the crowd, but I heard the singing. I had once foolishly believed that if I could speak their language, I’d be able to talk my way out of fights with them. So I learned it. Dumbass.

Spotting the most likely location the little **** had run off to, I gave Aurora my ‘I’m about to do something reckless’ look and shouted after the goblin in his own tongue. “Your mother was a horse and your father was a dog!” I cried.

The **** thing peeked out from under a cart and looked around. “Who said that?” it asked. I pointed at Lenn, hoping it was stupid enough to allow itself to get within arms reach of the big guy. I also hoped it wouldn’t realize that I pointed because I knew what it was saying.

Two of the goblins charged us, while one climbed up on the carriage he had been hiding under. While the others focused on those nearest us, I cast a spell and unleashed an ear-piercing scream of “HELLO DETROIT! ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?!” on the goblin on top of the cart. Apparently I failed at my casting, because the **** thing just grinned and – I swear I’m not making this up – began headbanging.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lenn stab the ever-living **** out of a goblin with his short sword. He had left his massive axe back in his room at the inn due to Geo’s worry that things could only go wrong if the big guy carried it at the fair, which was probably the right decision, though I really wish he’d had it for the goblins.
I saw several arrows fly at the goblin on the carriage, but he managed to evade each and every shot, grinning all the while. I rushed forward and cast another spell, unleashing a cone of colors that clashed worse than anything you’ve ever seen outside of the nineteen seventies. Apparently the goblin couldn’t take it and crumpled, unconscious.

When I turned, the second goblin on the ground had fallen. Geo gave Lenn an alley oop and the big man grabbed the unconscious man on the cart. Paulie stabbed it and we moved on with the killing. Several more goblins were being led by some kind of war singer. They were setting a fire, almost killing one of their own. We took out several of them, including the singer, but one managed to escape.

I took a few moments to summon a horse to serve Aurora in Starbrite’s place, since we likely didn’t have time to get to where he was stabled. Not without sacrificing innocent civilians by wasting our time, at least. After she had mounted, I heard a scream. It was the type of scream you hear only from men who are dealing with things that are truly terrifying. I’ve let out a scream or two like that in my day. Usually involved finding a spider in the bathtub.

We rushed to the man’s aid. Geo got ahead of the man’s path, which took him next to the carriage we had fought the goblin on, and grabbed him, redirecting his path like a planet sling-shotting an asteroid. The man did a one-eighty around Geo and slammed right into the cart, knocking him senseless.

Chasing the man was a goblin riding what looked like a combination between a dog and that one urban legend where the tourists in Mexico bring back some kind of mutant rat thinking it’s a chihuahua. He was followed by several other goblins.

Geo, Lenn and I went around the front of the carriage, Paulie found a clear line to fire from and Aurora flanked the bastards by riding around the back of the carriage. We made short work of these goblins as well, though that thing, which I can only charitably call a dog, managed to escape.

We could hear the sounds of the city guard routing the goblin threat, so we tended to the injured man. He seemed grateful for the rescue. As an old hat at running screaming from goblins, I could sympathize. At least, I could sympathize until he started hitting on Aurora.

She looked uncomfortable as the man, who introduced himself as Aldern Foxglove, made eyes at her and began commenting on her beauty. Now, she’s my knight and protector, not my girlfriend – not that I would mind altering that situation – but I got **** off at his presumption.

For all Aurora’s knightly training, she never had any real female role models. Her mother had died when she was really young. She was raised by a mostly neglectful father and several instructors. Don’t get me wrong, she’s comfortable enough dealing with men when it’s in a non-romantic manner. She’s always been just one of the guys in most situations, violently disabusing most people of notions otherwise swiftly and without mercy. So she struggles when in situations where someone expresses attraction to her and she can’t just punch them into leaving her alone.

I’m more or less an exception to this rule, since if I make a comment of that kind of nature, I tend to take it so over the top that she always laughs. I tried stopping once, but that didn’t last two days before she told me that she preferred the joking. I’m pretty used to not being taken seriously.

So it was that I felt the need to intervene. I could tell from the man’s dress that he was a noble of some kind, so I figured that he wouldn’t likely take anyone seriously if they weren’t also a noble. I removed my gauntlet of face punching to reveal my signet ring, then I placed my hand on his shoulder and leaned in to give him advice. “Friend,” I whispered, “for your own safety, I suggest you look elsewhere for the company of a beautiful woman. This one is more likely to dismember you for your comments than reward you with the old blush and giggle.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder to return the gesture and thanked me for the advice. He then apologized to Aurora and thanked all of us again for our aid. He told us to visit him at The Rusty Dragon later and he would reward us properly.

Ameiko Kaijutsu, proprietor of the inn, stopped by to thank us for our aid in defending the city. She offered us a couple weeks’ free lodging to thank us. The lecherous Foxglove thankfully followed after her when she left. I can’t blame him, because DAYUM. Still, not as pretty as Aurora, and I’m not just saying that because she’s probably reading my journal again right now. You keep that up and one of these days you’re going to open it to an ode to your sexy, **** butt. I’ll probably write it in iambic pentameter, though I’m not sure how easy it will be to adapt “Baby Got Back” into iambic. I’ll still give it the old college try.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off topic. With our assistance of the town during the goblin attack, we might have earned enough of the town’s trust to begin getting answers about some of the nearby ruins and any giant activity in the area. With any luck, I’ll be home within a couple months.

Considering the fact that my luck is usually bad, what’s more likely to happen is that this goblin attack was merely the beginning. I’m sure we’ll end up facing some kind of cosmic horror before I find my way home.

It’s either that or more pugwampis.
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Someone on another forum wrote:
Wow, you've got an awesome writing style.! I really dig the narrator's back story, humor, sarcasm, and the plethora of pop culture references. Altogether a refreshingly different RotR journal (not that I don't like the more traditional ones, mind you).

#2 Mar 26 2013 at 2:18 AM Rating: Good
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Hanging out with Aldern, Ameiko’s family troubles and missing out on a horny girl
In the week since the goblin attack, we’ve become local celebrities. That has certainly helped us in acquiring information about the local area since people seem more willing to talk to us now. I guess that once a man has put his **** on the line to help with the local goblin problem, you’re less worried about the fact that he’s an outsider. Works for me. I enjoy killing goblins.

Aurora had decided that, after the goblin attack, she needed to keep near me even while in town. She didn’t feel it was safe for me, since the goblins could return at any moment and I have a history of problems with goblins. Pugwampis too, but she didn’t think they’d show up in the middle of town. So it was that I went about my business with an armed bodyguard everywhere I went. Wasn’t good for making money, since she could have found more security work, but since Ameiko Kaijutsu had offered us free lodging at the inn, it evened out.

We took some time to visit a local sage, a man by the name of Brodert Quink. He’s been researching the area, so Aurora and I figured that he might have some knowledge about any local Thassilonian ruins. He was rather helpful, giving us a map of ruins he knows about in the area. When we get a chance, we’ll have to check that out. He also had an interesting theory that the local lighthouse had been some kind of war machine that spewed fire over a mile away. Sounds like a laser tower to me. I made a mental note to look into that later as well.

It seems Geo and Lenn had a similar idea, because we ran into them while meeting with Brodert. He didn’t have much knowledge of local giants, so their search continues. After a bit of discussion, we’ve all decided to stick together a bit.

A runner from Belor Hemlock, the local sheriff, found us and told us that the sheriff wanted to speak with us. I made the obvious “I swear, she told me she was eighteen.” joke, but no one really got it.

When we reached the sheriff’s office, we greeted him. Well, actually, we greeted the dwarven man who had been introduced at the festival as Belor Hemlock. Turns out that wasn’t actually him. Seems they have a bit of fun at the expense of newcomers by introducing the wrong man at festivals.

The real Belor Hemlock is actually a human. Appears to be a Shoanti. Can’t really tell whether his skin is black or a dark shade of brown that would be more indicative of a person from India back home. Didn’t stop me from making the mental joke “A black sheriff? Hey, it worked in Blazing Saddles.” I did, however, refrain from calling him Achoo.

Well, it seems that someone had broken into the burial vault of some local saint, a man by the name of Ezakien Tobyn if it matters, during the goblin raid and Belor wanted our help investigating. Well, I’ve seen CSI a few times, so I figured I knew more than the locals. My suspicions were confirmed when I asked if they had dusted for fingerprints and taken DNA samples. Naturally, they had not. Now, I just needed a black light.

Outside the vault, we found footprints. Most of them were goblin footprints, but there was a set of larger indentations, about the right size for a human, though I guess it could have been a hobgoblin. We opened the vault and naturally, we found skeletons within.

I don’t mean piles of bones. I mean actual animated skeletons. It was a quick and more or less one sided fight. I don’t think anyone even got hurt. Watching that skeleton flail at Aurora pathetically was kind of amusing.

Inside the crypt, we found some discarded clothing. At first I thought it was just from some horny teenagers doing what teenagers do best, but further inspection revealed that it was a Robe of Bones. Naturally, all the patches had been torn off already. It’s likely that’s where the skeletons had come from. Probably for the best that they were all missing, since I don’t think any of us could control any undead we used the robe to summon anyway. Lenn turned the robe into a hat. A turban, to be more precise.

The bones of the saint were missing. As far as we could tell, none of the skeletons we’d just destroyed had been the reanimated saint. That was a bit disturbing. I’m not sure I want to know why goblins would want the bones. Probably to eat em, but the presence of another creature suggests it might be more than that.

On our way back, we decided to go check in with Aldern Foxglove. He had promised us some kind of reward for saving him. For the record, let me just state that I really dislike Aldern Foxglove. He’s like that kid in school that you save from a bully, leading to him following you around and telling everyone how awesome his new friend is. Then, he starts using your cred to up his own. @#%^ that. But still, I like rewards.

In what seems to be becoming a pattern, someone else came to us for help. A woman, whose name was Amele, I think, came with her children in tow. Apparently her son had been complaining that goblin was living in his closet. (Evil, evil monkey!) Now her husband had gone in after the dog that had been dragged into a hole in the closet by something and she was terrified for his safety.

In the child’s room, we found the remains of a dog and a critically injured Alerghast, the husband. Paulie, who had seemed awfully bored the entire time, cast a quick healing spell on the man. I then decided to see if I could get the goblin to come out so we could deal with it.

Speaking goblin and doing my best goblin impersonation, I shouted, “Brother! You can come out now! We’ve taken the house! Quickly! They were hiding fireworks! We have to get them back to the chief!” The part about the fireworks was a stroke of genius on my part, fueled by research into their kind. If you’re going to hate something, it’s best to understand it. Hell, I can tell you the chemical formula for black widow venom if you’re ever curious.

A voice called back. “Really? We’ve taken the house?!”

“Yes! Now come help us with the fireworks!”

We heard a sound in the closet and I motioned for someone to go deal with it. Lenn walked over and pulled open the door. The goblin tried to disappear through a hole in the floor. Lenn splattered it with his axe.

The man was still injured, so I gave Geo my surgery kit and had him tend to the man’s remaining wounds. Once that was done, we called in the woman. She was relieved. Lenn tried to console the kid over the loss of his dog. His words, and I quote.

“When I was young my dog died. We ate him.”

Aurora looked horrified. She had lost a beloved dog around that age too. Geo had Lenn take the dog outside, where we gave it a proper dog burial. Well, okay, so we were missing the cardboard box. But you know what I mean.

We headed to the inn to see Aldern Foxglove. As much as I dislike him, Aurora seems to dislike him even more. She asked to be excused to go check on Starbrite, figuring that I’d be safe enough if I stuck with Lenn and Geo. I told her that she didn’t need me to excuse her, but that I understood.

That pompous idiot was waiting for us at the inn. He had this grand idea to go boar hunting. Since I can’t really put sarcasm into my words on paper, go back to the last sentence and read it in a tone dripping with sarcasm. Anyway, I wanted that reward and had never been boar hunting, so I was fine with going along. Well, okay, I had some reservations after he said we’d be hunting boar in the Tickwood.

Since I’m pretty sure it didn’t get its name from a boisterous idiot superhero in form **** blue spandex, my skin crawled at the thought of ticks crawling all over me. When I raised my objections, Aldern assured me that the ticks the woods were name for were the size of small dogs or even larger.

You know, that shouldn’t have made me feel better. Yet somehow, it did. I mean, I can see those coming and throw globs of acid at them. The little ones I might not even notice. I think I’ve been on this world too long, for something like that to make me feel better. Ten years ago, if you had told me that, I would have been horrified.

I went and told Aurora about the hunt. I also told her that she was free to skip it if she really didn’t want to be near that guy, but she shook her head. “I’ll be fine,” she said. “He might not, but I will be.”

I started practicing my lie in my head for the possibility that Aurora might kill the guy. “I swear,” I said under my breath, practicing my most truthful face. “Swarm of giant ticks came out of nowhere while we were focused on taking down the boar. We turned around and he was dead. Oh, you want to know about the slashing wound? Umm…dire lycanthropic ticks. They were Indians who turn into wolves. Beware the wolfen, for he will cut you with his razor.” Oh god. We were going to jail if she killed him.

We headed out. Aldern rode a horse almost as pompous as him. As we traveled, he started asking me questions. “Tell me more about killing goblins. Any tips?”

I drew my dagger. “It’s simple, really. The pointy end goes in the goblin.” He kept asking me other questions. I kept finding ways to say “The pointy end goes in the goblin.” while waving my dagger. Eventually he went to bug Geo. I winked at Aurora. She stifled a giggle. Booyah.

We eventually found a boar trail, which we followed to a nesting site, or maybe it was a lair. I’m not sure what you’d call it. Anyway, whatever it was, the boar wasn’t there. We readied ourselves, knowing that these things are territorial and would show up soon. Lenn peed on the nest. I’m not sure if he was doing it to draw out the boar or just had to go and wasn’t thinking of it.

When the boar came, it was as large as Paulie’s yak. It charged Lenn, who was closest, and missed with its tusk. I cast a spell to enfeeble it a bit. Aurora told Geo to clear a path. The alchemist did so, then fired at the boar with his bow. Lenn struck the boar with a solid strike from his axe.
Aurora and Starbrite charged at the boar. As a battlecry, she shouted, “Come at me, Boar!” I **** near laughed myself silly. Apparently some of the things I’ve told her about home are starting to rub off on her.

Just as Aurora swung her blade, Starbrite decided to bite the foe. This shifted his stance just enough that Aurora’s attack missed. The bite drew blood, though. So that was cool. Also, kind of comical now that I think about it.

**** at how much Lenn had hurt it, the boar gored him. I could have sworn I saw part of his lung sticking out of his chest, but surely I was imagining things. A second strike from Lenn ended it.

We returned to the inn and asked Ameiko to cook the thing up for us. As big as it was, we were also happy to share it with the other patrons. I mean, it’s only fair since we’re not paying for lodging. After our Innkeep disappeared into the kitchen with the prize, Aldern began telling anyone who would listen tall tales about how he had slain the boar with the help of the goblin slaying heroes. Truthfully, he hadn’t even fired a shot. It was pretty pathetic. But I decided against exposing his lies. If it makes him feel better, then so be it. I just wanna get paid, yo.

After a bit, an older man looking to be of Tian descent stormed into the inn. He demanded to speak to his daughter. Lenn took a liking to the man. He walked over and began shouting back at the man, seeming to think it was a game. To anyone else, it would have looked like the big guy was trying to intimidate the man, but I’ve been around him long enough to suspect that he really was just behaving like an over-excited rottweiler.

The man took offense at Lenn’s approach and began disparaging us as a whole. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but it was to the effect of us being vagrants and shiftless. Aurora took offense. After all, she was the daughter of a noble house, even if that house had been more or less demolished thanks to her father’s debts. And I was the scion of another noble house. What I’m saying is that we had some measure of respectability beyond just killing goblins.

While it didn’t really bother me, Aurora was another matter. She shouted against him something to the effect of “How dare you speak of us in that manner. Take back your words or I will force you to take them back.” The man just sneered and tempted fate by repeating what he had said. Well, crap.

I commanded Aurora to stay her blade, as I was pretty sure Ameiko wouldn’t want someone killing her father. Well, I wasn’t absolutely certain that he was her father, but it’s not exactly like the place was swarming with Tian. I rushed into the kitchen and warned Ameiko of the impending violence.

Ameiko came out and confirmed my suspicions, then she and the old man began arguing in a language I recognized as Minkaian, having encountered it once or twice before in Absalom. I made a mental note to have Chadwick send me a Taldan/Minkaian dictionary next time I contacted him. In the meantime, I went ahead and quietly cast a spell to allow me to understand what they were saying. Seems he was leaving town and demanding that she go with him. She refused.

The old man then shouted in Taldan. “You’re dead to me, just like your mother!” Ameiko struck him with the ladle she was still carrying, sloshing broth all over his head.

Lenn licked the old man and said, “You taste delicious.” The old man fled.

After a moment of stunned silence, Ameiko said “Well, I guess I have to go wash this ladle. Jackass isn’t on the menu tonight.” The patrons chuckled at her joke and she went back to the kitchen. My eyes darted to Aurora, who seemed to now have a great respect for this woman. I can’t blame her. Ameiko’s life sounds to have been almost as harsh as Aurora’s, though Aurora never got to stand up to her father. Even more amazing considering the young Tian-min woman appeared to only be around eighteen or nineteen.

I considered buying that ladle from Ameiko as a gift for Aurora, but decided that would probably be in bad taste. The rest of the night was fairly boring, and I think everyone was glad when Aldern went back to trying to capture everyone’s attention with his tall tales. Aurora and I sat in a corner playing cards, hoping he’d leave us alone. While playing, I overheard some other patrons discussing rumors that Ameiko’s father may have killed her mother. I filed it away for future reference.

That night, I had a strange dream. Well, it was a memory of a movie I watched long ago. V for Vendetta, in case you’re wondering. Detective Finch was talking to his friend(partner?) Dominic.

“The problem is, he knows us better than we know ourselves. That's why I went to Larkhill, last night,” Finch said.

“But that's outside quarantine,” Dominic replied.

“I had to see it. There wasn't much left. But when I was there it was strange. I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It's like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we're all part of it, and all trapped by it.”

“So do you know what's gonna happen?”

“No, it was a feeling. But I can guess. With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty. And then Sutler will be forced to do the only thing he knows how to do. At which point, all V needs to do is keep his word. And then...”

I saw all the images that go along with that scene, but mostly it was the dominoes that I recall. I awoke and sat up in bed. I wondered. Were events moving inexorably towards some end? Was that end planned by a single entity? Something was beginning to smell rotten. Things weren’t adding up. Or maybe they were, in a strange and scary way.

Too many coincidences. This “Late Unpleasantness” that no one would talk to us about. The goblin attack, which was apparently a cover for stealing the bones of a saint. Ameiko’s fight with her father. None of it added up for me. I was missing details. I suddenly found myself recalling Yeats.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

No. Things couldn’t be that bad around here. “Remember, remember, the fifth of November,” I said softly, with a bit of a sense of irony. Across the room, I heard Aurora stir. By the dim light coming in through the window, I could see her sit up in her bed. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Just thinking aloud. Go back to sleep.”

I laid back down as well and thought for a bit longer. Perhaps I was just being paranoid. I was seeing phantoms where there were none. Yeah, that had to be it. I closed my eyes and slept once more.

The next morning, we were called in to speak with a woman by the name of Shalelu Andosana, a good looking blond elf with the eyes of a hunter. Apparently she was renowned around here as a goblin slayer. Belor wanted her to get us up to speed on the local goblin situation.

First of all, the goblins were acting more organized than usual. So far, that had only resulted in the attack on Sandpoint and the destruction of a farm or maybe two. But it did not bode well for the future. Usually, the five goblin tribes keep each other in check through territorial violence. The fact that they were working together, even on a rudimentary level, suggested that someone was likely organizing them. I could see dominoes begin stacking in my head.

Second, the most likely suspect in the organizing of the goblins was one of the well known goblin heroes. They had names like Big Gugmut, Vorka, Ripnugget and Rendwattle Gutwad. Gods I hope that it’s simply one of them pulling the strings. It would be simple enough to kill enough goblins to demoralize those that remain into submission. I asked Shalelu what would happen if we managed to kill some of the heroes. She said that it would likely demoralize the tribes. Well, that was going to be plan A. I couldn’t do my research if the town was under goblin danger, so let’s deal with this in the fastest manner possible.

Third, apparently the goblins knew of us. We’d made an impression. Crap.

Sheriff Belor said that he was going to take some of his men and head to Magnimar with the hope that they would be able to get further assistance. Hell, that would be even better. With enough troops, we could wipe out the threat to the area once and for all. I mean, I’m normally not all about genocide, but these are goblins we’re talking about. We’ll call that Plan Zero. The ultimate plan, but it hinges on us getting further resources.

I suggested that whatever we do, we should start preparing for the possibility of another goblin attack. I asked if they had any resources we could use to start quietly crafting armor for the townsfolk and perhaps some alchemical weapons, like liquid ice. There wasn’t much, but I was able to secure enough to make some leather gear for at least a few people. With no further questions, we set off to begin secretly preparing the town.

Later that morning, as I was working, a young woman approached me. She was somewhere between “July twelfth on a three hundred sixty five day bikini calendar” and “pin up girl on the side of a World War Two plane” on the attractiveness scale. And she looked distressed. She even had that lower lip quiver thing going. Naturally I was going to help her.

She introduced herself as Shayliss Vinder. I recognized the last name as being the same as that of the owner of the general store, Ven Vinder. She told me that the cellar of the general store had a bit of a rat problem. Giant rats. I immediately began thinking of Princess Bride.
She also told me that her father didn’t believe her. Well that just wouldn’t stand. I told her that I would gather my friends and we would handle the rat problem immediately. She then told me that it needed to be taken care of before her father got back, as he wouldn’t allow anyone in the cellar to deal with it.

That was no problem. Aurora was nearby and we could get her and be on our way in half a minute. Shayliss insisted that we go alone, giving me some kind of pouty look. That’s when gears in my head started turning. There was no rat problem. Either she wanted me alone for certain things that happen between men and women when they’re alone, or she wanted me alone so she could kill me for some nefarious purpose. Could she be behind the goblin attacks? Was it her footprints at the vault?

I began weighing odds. I mean, what were the odds that she was the mastermind behind everything, quietly setting up all the dominoes? Then again, I had just had that dream. What if it had been a prophetic warning? Could I really take that chance?

And if I did, and things turned out benign, what would Aurora think if she found out? I mean, I have feelings for her, but I have no idea how she feels about me. For all I know, I’ve already been friend zoned. Could I really turn down a sure thing in hopes of something better down the line when there was already so much uncertainty?

In the end, I could. The combined worry about my potential murder and upsetting Aurora was enough that I couldn’t take the risk. Even if it had been almost a year since the last time I spent any time naked with a woman.

So I continued to play dumb. I insisted that we get Aurora as it would be the only way to be sure that we would come to no harm dealing with the rats. Shayliss stormed off, infuriated. Hopefully she’ll just laugh at how stupid I was later instead of holding a grudge.

I began looking into Shayliss, curious about what her reputation around town said about what her intentions had been. It seems that her older sister had quite the reputation. I believe the expression is “the town bicycle”. It also seems that Shayliss was working on a reputation of her own. Even more brazen than her sister, though perhaps a bit more discreet. Likely because she knew that if her father caught her, then that would be the end of her fun.

Well, crap. I had missed out. Dammit. I mean, it’s been almost a year, and she was smoking hot. And before you start thinking that I had to worry about disease, you have to remember that a reasonably decent cleric would have no trouble dealing with the issue with a bit of magic. Worst case scenario, I’d make a side trip to Magnimar and pay somewhere between one hundred and two hundred gold as a donation to a church, and boom, free and clear.

The only real worry I had left was that somehow her father would find out. Like I’ve ever let that stop me before. My exploits were legendary back in Absalom. Especially that time with the daughter of the Chelish ambassador.

All the noble families had been invited to a costume ball at the embassy. Ours was no different. It was like the masquerade balls you see in a lot of movies about old France and such. Fancy clothes and elaborate masks covering one’s eyes. Of course, I went with the full intention of seducing some lovely young woman. Chadwick and I made a game of it. See who would leave with the most beautiful woman.

I danced with several young ladies before finally settling on the one I would focus my attention on. At that point, I didn’t know who she was. I didn’t really realize it until we snuck off upstairs. I carefully barred the door and we got to doing what we had snuck away to do.

No sooner had we finished than I heard a banging at the door. The girl’s father was shouting through the door, demanding that we open it. I quickly pulled on my pants and boots, then looked out the window. We were on the fourth floor. Well, let’s not say I came unprepared. I put on my coat, shirt and mask and heard the door begin to splinter. I grabbed the girl for one more passionate kiss and flung open the window.

What happens next would have been epic, had it worked. I threw out a couple flasks of impact foam, just in case it didn’t work, then pulled out a spider sac, a type of fungus filled with an adhesive that hardens quickly when exposed to air.

Just as the door exploded open, I leapt out the window and spun in mid air, aiming the spider sac at the wall I was fleeing. I may have also been humming the Spiderman theme as I fired the spider sac at the wall of the building I had just left. Can you blame me?

The stream of glue didn’t quite reach the wall in time for me to slow my fall, so I landed on the impact foam at near full force. I heard a sickening crunch as the ulna in my left arm snapped. The pain was almost unbearable. I lay on the ground for a full few seconds just gasping in agony.

Of course, the young woman I had just deflowered had a room facing the outer patio, which was visible from the ballroom through the great doors that opened onto a veranda adjacent to the patio. So most of the guests inside saw me fall.

I got to my feet after hearing the ambassador shouting at me from the girl’s window. I bowed with a flourish to the astonished onlookers. When I looked back up, the ambassador was gone and the girl, covering herself with a sheet for modesty was looking out. I blew her a kiss, stole a nearby horse and rode out into the city. I quickly splinted my broken arm and hid the splint with a change of clothing and bit of magic, then snuck back into the party before the guards could realize who was missing. I nearly passed out several times that night from the pain, but was fine after a visit to a discreet healer I knew the next morning. Within a week, the tale had become legendary.

But what really cemented the legend was how I went back two days later while the ambassador was gone and spent the entire afternoon with the girl. Once again I had to flee the scene, but this time I was more prepared and escaped unscathed. I wouldn’t suggest trying to glide off the roof of an embassy while being chased by guards, but dammit it makes for an epic sight. Too bad I had to return that Portable Hole I’d used to carry it with me to Chadwick after that.

What I’m saying is that dammit, I had missed out on a fine piece of ass, since there wasn’t anything that should have stopped me other than my lack of surety about how Aurora feels.

Anyway, after Shayliss left and I told the others about the encounter, leaving off how disappointed I was, we were approached by the maid from the Rusty Dragon, a hafling woman by the name of Bethana Corwin. She looked upset. All I could think about was that medical textbook in with my gear. The one with all the anatomical drawings and illustrations of various diseases. To the untrained eye, it would look like smut.

“That book isn’t what it looks like. It’s a medical text, I swear.”

She just looked at me funny. “What you read on your own time is your business. That’s not why I’m here. I haven’t seen Ameiko since last night, and I’m really worried about her. She’s not answering any knocks at her door. When I peeked in, she wasn’t there. That’s not like her. Please help me find her.”

We went back to the inn and checked Ameiko’s room for clues. We found a note written in Minkaian. I was about to cast a spell to allow me to read it when Bethana began translating it for us. The note was from Ameiko’s half brother, Tsuto. We had heard the rumors about the family, so we knew a bit about him.

His note asked Ameiko to meet him at the Glassworks. It said he had proof that her father had killed their mother. She was supposed to meet him late last night. The fact that she hadn’t returned by now was indeed truly worrying. We had to go to the Glassworks and see if we could find out why she hadn’t returned. I suddenly began seeing dominoes getting set up again.

Crap.
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Someone on another forum wrote:
Wow, you've got an awesome writing style.! I really dig the narrator's back story, humor, sarcasm, and the plethora of pop culture references. Altogether a refreshingly different RotR journal (not that I don't like the more traditional ones, mind you).

#3 Apr 12 2013 at 1:50 AM Rating: Good
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Rescuing Ameiko and exploring some ruins.
I am the third of six children in my family, three girls and three boys. Not the adopted one here on Golarion, the one I was born into back home on Earth. Mom and dad are Irish Catholics, so they don’t believe in birth control, which is complicated by the fact that they’re smitten with each other still, even after so many years of marriage. I’d probably have quite a few more siblings, but a bit of a cancer problem ended their ability to reproduce.

I get along well enough with my sisters, though my eldest sister disapproves of many of the decisions I’ve made in my life. My younger brother and I have always fought a bit. I think I always tormented him to take out my frustrations with my older brother. If I can ever make it home, I think I’m going to make sure I apologize to him for that.

My eldest brother, Michael junior, however, is a piece of work. He once beat me so severely it put me in the hospital. And he became a local hero for it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We never got along. I don’t know what it is, but somehow I always seemed to rub him the wrong way. Mom tells me that I used to look up to him, but as far back as I can remember, I’ve always seen him as something to avoid, rather than someone to look up to.

He has always been stronger than me. Which isn’t saying much, but still, he’s at least as strong as Aurora, if not stronger, which is saying something. I doubt he would stand a chance arm wrestling Lenn, though.

In high school, he was on the football team. He was even captain his senior year. He was immensely popular. My older sister, Katie, was a cheerleader and big in school government. She was also immensely popular. She was also a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, which is why I kept getting into martial arts, since I wanted to be a badass like her. I was bookish, a gamer and always getting into fights, mostly because I couldn’t stand seeing someone get bullied. Probably because I’d put up with it so much at home.

This wasn’t to say I was unpopular. I’ve always been a bit of a natural charmer and made friends easily. But in the shadow of those two, I certainly felt a bit unpopular.
Have you ever heard of the baseball analogy for sex? You know, how the bases all correspond to certain acts? Well, at some point, I got it into my head that each base was a guideline for each successive date. Yeah, I know. Looking back I can see how dumb I was being, but at the time it made sense.

I also assumed that those guidelines were followed by everyone. So if a girl didn’t go as far as was expected, I assumed she wasn’t really interested in me. Don’t get me wrong, I never pressured a girl to go further than she was ready. I just didn’t want to waste time on girls who I thought weren’t interested. So I broke up with them. Yeah, I know, I was an asshole. I broke a lot of hearts my freshman year.

One girl I dated also happened to be the younger sister of one of my brother’s teammates. I broke up with her after our third date. The fact that we got that far tells a much older, wiser me that she really was interested in me, but a young me with a screwed up notion couldn’t see that. I hear she cried for a week after that. Seems excessive, but as a teenager, that kind of thing felt like the end of the world.

I deserved a beating, but the one I got was excessive.

I was walking home from school on the Monday after that weekend where I broke up with her. I was supposed to be driven home by Mike, but he didn’t want to give me a ride, and I didn’t want to get one from him. Mom and dad still thought I was getting rides from him, but I only did so on days where I absolutely had to. It was late April, so it was nice out anyway. I always took the same path, so it wasn’t hard for Mike to find me. Oh, as a note, he hates being called Mike, which is why I do it.

I was cutting through an old abandoned construction site when he pulled up, tires screeching. I think it was going to be a store or something, but they only got as far about knee high on some brick work when they stopped for reasons I never looked into.

He told me I was going to apologize to the girl and beg her to take me back because my actions had made him look bad to his teammate. I told him to shove it up his ass. Then he hit me. Bam, right in the face. I swung back and connected a hit to his chin. He bit his lip. The pain and sight of his own blood drove him into a rage.

The next part is a bit blurry, but I remember being knocked to the ground, tripping over that half constructed wall. Then he was on top of me. He just kept hitting me. At some point, I blacked out. When he couldn’t get me to wake up, he called 911. The paramedics took me to the hospital, which is where I woke up to hear the story he had told them.

Apparently, as far as everyone knew, I had taken off without waiting for him, and on my walk home had mouthed off to some gang bangers. When he got to his car and I wasn’t waiting for him, he came looking for me. He arrived to find them kicking me while I was on the ground. He said he jumped out of his car and starting hitting the closest banger. They fled after a short fight with him. That’s when he called 911.

The police detective asked me about it. I had several broken ribs, a fractured collarbone and a concussion, so I wasn’t exactly coherent. And I didn’t really remember what had happened. Not at the time. Since I had been in a number of fights that year and my brother had an outstanding record, his story had the ring of truth to it.

It was only a few months later that I really started remembering what had happened. I was determined to tell everyone what had happened, but I told Katie first. She didn’t seem surprised. She didn’t believe Mike’s story. She went and spoke to him about it. He favored his ribs for a week and skipped football practice for a few days. She also told me that she was disappointed in how I had behaved as well, then explained to me what I had done wrong.

I felt pretty ashamed, since her opinion of me mattered to me. I didn’t end up telling anyone else about what Mike had done, but I wrote it down and hid it, hoping someone would find it if anything happened to me. I just couldn’t see there being any good coming out of telling. If I had remembered it right away I probably would have said something, but now it could only serve to hurt mom and dad. Maybe I should have told, but I was a confused teenager and Katie had already made sure Mike had gotten his lumps for it.

I kinda withdrew socially for a couple years. I didn’t date. I rarely went out unless required to by school or family obligations. I just played video games and watched anime. I probably would have stayed that way if my younger sister Molly hadn’t found my invitation to a Halloween party at the local rec center. I had thrown it away, but missed the trash can. She told our parents about it and they insisted I go.

I met a girl at the party. It was a pretty classic meeting. We dressed up as characters from the same anime. We had even both taken artistic license with the outfits, both going for black instead of the colors the characters actually wore, though mine was because I already had a coat that would work and didn’t want to spend any of my summer job money on a red one. We hit it off and dated for most of senior year, until her brother skipped his econ class at the community college and came home early to find us well on our way towards complete and total disrobement one afternoon after school. I fled out a window while he grabbed a shotgun, her parents forbid her from seeing me and that was that.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. I brought up my brother because it’s relevant here. You see, even as screwed up as my relationship with my brother was, it’s nothing compared to Ameiko Kaijutsu and her brother Tsuto. For instance, my brother may have put me in the hospital, but at least he never tried setting off a plot to destroy our hometown. At least, not as far as I know.

We found that note where Tsuto had wanted Ameiko to come meet him at the family glassworks and immediately I began getting a bad feeling. We rushed over right away. It was early evening when we finally arrived.

The place looked at once deserted and active. There was smoke coming from the chimney, so the furnace was still going, but there was no one to be seen. We tried the doors, which proved to be locked tight. It was an impressive structure. It had to be, since it was how the Kaijutsus had become local nobles, by offering a major service to the area. I wonder if they’d give me land and a local title if I opened a Chuck E Cheese. There’s a serious dearth of pizza in the area. Hell, I could even hire an actual ratfolk to be the mascot.

Finding no way to get in and because Geo couldn’t find his thieves’ tools, we decided to climb the building and look down through the skylights to see if we could see anything inside that would give us a justification for smashing in the door. Lenn scrambled up the side and lowered a rope. He was pulling me up when Aldern showed up.
That man is starting to get on my nerves.

He had apparently followed us to give us that reward he promised. I tried telling him that the roof of the glassworks was the best place to get a moon tan, but he didn’t seem to believe me, so we told him the truth, that we were worried about Ameiko. Lenn invited him to join us. He declined and ran off, once again forgetting to give us that reward. Dammit.

We peered down through one of the domed skylights onto the main manufacturing floor. We could see the light of the open furnace, but not much else. Well, not much else aside from several mutilated bodies. Figuring that whomever had done this might still be in the building, we opted to go in hot.

I tied a rope to a vent. Aurora, Paulie and Geo shattered the skylight and Lenn fast-roped down into the room. Once inside, he spotted goblins hiding in the shadows. God dammit I hate goblins. Aurora tried to climb down, but ended up falling almost fifteen feet. Two of the goblins tried to grab at her while Lenn dealt with others.

Paulie and Geo launched arrows at the goblins attacking Aurora and I laid out a patch of magical grease in the path of more goblins who were rushing across the room. This turned out to be hilarious. The rushing goblins slipped and slid around, bumping into each other and falling prone. They started getting mad at each other and began fighting amongst themselves.

This allowed my companions ample time to dispatch the group that had started closer. They then advanced on the others and brought them down swiftly, but not before the final goblin realized who we were.

Once the fighting was over, I was the only one left on the roof. I tossed down the rope and jumped down into Aurora’s arms. I gave her a wink and she quickly set me down, averting her gaze. I thought I saw her blush.

We inspected the bodies and found that the goblins were making some kind of strange artistic “upgrades” to the bodies by attaching molten colored glass to them. The most well complete one belonged to Lonjiku Kaijutsu. “Well, I guess you can say…” I said as I put on a pair of glasses, “…his **** is glass.” Everyone groaned. Guess my humor isn’t appreciated.

With Lonjiku dead, I realized that Ameiko would now be in charge of the glassworks. I’d heard that she wasn’t too keen on the idea and just wanted to run her inn. Well, it could be worse. She could have found out that she was the last of some far away royal line and have to travel across the world to ascend her throne. Thank God nothing like that would ever happen to the poor girl.

We searched the rest of the building, and found evidence all over that there were goblins about. It was kinda like reading the last chapter of the book before going back and reading through the rest. We also found stairs heading down, so down we went.

Inside what appeared to be some sort of storage room, we found Ameiko. She was tied up and looked to have been beaten severely. Paulie attended to her wounds and she awoke. We told her what we had found and she confirmed for us that Tsuto was working with the goblins. She told us that he had wanted her to join him in his plan to destroy the town, but that when she refused he had struck her and had the goblins tie her up. She had sustained most of her injuries during that.

We heard a noise from one of the nearby rooms, so we rushed over to find a very drunk man had fallen out of his chair. Aurora lunged at his bow but missed. He struck Lenn, stunning him as Geo entered the small room. I tried enfeebling him with a spell, but missed.

Lenn came out of his induced stupor and struck the man with his axe. Several times. Probably two or three times more than necessary. Getting a good look at the body, I concluded that it had to be Tsuto. I mean, how many other half elven Tian-Min are running around Sandpoint?

We took what we could from his corpse and found a journal. In it were multiple naughty drawings of what appeared to be a demonic woman. He identified her by name as Nuallia. We recognized the name as being that of the adopted daughter of the local saint whose bones were recently stolen.

The journal detailed how Tsuto and Nuallia were working with the goblins at Thistletop to prepare to attack Sandpoint. They were planning to bring a force much larger than the one that had attacked earlier, around two hundred when the earlier attack had only used around thirty. Nuallia was also working to rid herself of her Aasimar side and becoming demonic in the process. Lamashtu, an evil goddess of the highest caliber, was also somehow involved.

Someone was going to have to go deal with Nuallia as well, not to mention the leaders of the goblins at Thistletop. I got the feeling that someone was going to be us. But that would have to wait. The journal also mentioned a quasit living in the catacombs under Sandpoint that was also a threat. We had found a tunnel leading further under the glassworks, so we decided to investigate that further before we headed up. We sent Ameiko back to town and ventured further.

As we headed into the tunnels, we ran into a creature called a sinspawn. I had read about them in my studies of ancient Thassilon, so I recognized it pretty quickly. It may have been a powerful foot soldier at the height of Thassilon, but the Thassilonians had apparently never met a man like Lenn. He cleaved the thing in twain with a single blow. Maybe they were better in large numbers.

We explored further. Geo went on ahead to stealthily scout for us. Have I ever mentioned that his skin can change color like a chameleon? I probably haven’t because this was the first time I’ve ever seen him do it. I think he may have been drinking his own chemicals. He better be careful. He’s gonna end up with a huge tumor or a tentacle or something like that.

He returned from scouting ahead and told us that he had found the quasit. I enchanted everyone’s weapons with my magic wand and we rushed in. I wish I could properly describe how the fight went, but it happened so quickly that I can’t really do it justice. To give you an idea, let’s go with a metaphor. It was like trying to swat a bee that’s buzzing around your head. Only you’re allergic. And the bee can summon fire elementals. And it can turn invisible. Also, it can cause a magical fear to manifest in you, though I’m proud to say I managed to resist that fear. So did Lenn. He swatted it. Paulie summoned an eagle to try to deal with it, and it did some damage, but the wounds healed up faster than the eagle could do damage.

During the fight, the quasit dropped some blood into a well in the middle of the room. Once the sinspawn rose from it, I immediately recognized it as a Thassilonian Runewell. Geo tried to destroy it, but I knew we would have to drain its power first. That could wait til after the fight.

Once the fight was over, I had the others prepare to down some sinspawn and kept dropping blood in the well. Two arrows, an axe and a sword blow felled several sinspawn in succession. Then the well stopped glowing, meaning it was deactivated and safe for us to return later to properly destroy.

We continued on and encountered a red marble statue of a rather hot woman with a very angry face. She was holding a tome with a sihedron emblazoned on the front. The sihedron is a seven pointed star and a symbol of ancient Thassilon. She was also holding a well made polearm of some kind, which we immediately stole. We decided to come back later and take the statue as well, since we were sure some kind of collector would pay a decent amount for it.

We continued on and encountered more sinspawn. I attempted to take one out with direct application of a spell intended for entertainment purposes only. **** fireworks did nothing. Looked cool doing it, though.

We continued on to find a torture chamber. Looked a bit archaic and out of date. Hell, they didn’t even have a car battery and jumper cables. What kind of proper torturer doesn’t have a car battery and jumper cables? Oh, right, one on Golarion. Well, they also didn’t have a Spanish Donkey, so my criticism stands.

What they did have were deformed skeletons. Lots of those. Having learned our lesson back at the dwarven ruins, we smashed those pre-emptively.

Our fears of undead were proved correct as we continued on, finding a number of zombies trapped in pits ahead. As we were checking those out, we were attacked by a large deformed goblin. When I say large, I mean he was almost man sized. And when I say deformed, I mean “more than Quasimodo”. He attacked by vomiting up a bunch of stomach acid. I tried to retaliate in kind by conjuring a bolt of acid of my own.

Anyone who has ever fired a gun at a shooting range knows what I mean when I say the following. It was the perfect shot. It hit smack between his eyes. The force of it made his head snap back. For a moment, I thought he was dead. Then he just looks at me with a grin and continues fighting. I don’t remember who killed it. I was too busy being upset that I had wasted my perfect shot on something that was immune to acid.

After he was dead, I took out my frustration by turning the zombies into acidic zombie soup before we continued on. Aurora tells me that while I was doing that, Geo took a blood sample from the goblin. I’m not sure I want to know what he has planned for that.

We pressed onward and found stairs leading down. They had been covered by rubble. Further down the hall, we found a freaky spherical room with strange gravity effects and lightning coursing across the wall, forming into Thassilonian runes. Inside, we found a few items of interest, including some kind of bestiary written in what I think was Abyssal. We then headed back and searched a room we had bypassed earlier.

Inside we found a Vargouille. If you’ve never seen one, it’s a head with bat wings. They can turn people into one of them by kissing them lingeringly. Maybe even with a little tongue. I don’t know. It let out a shriek and paralyzed several of us. I don’t recall what happened next, but it was killed pretty quickly. My money’s on Lenn swatting it, since Lenn is really good at that.

Beyond the Vargouille was some more stairs, which led up to a chamber. From the chamber, we could see light filtering in through cracks. We couldn’t find a way out through it, so we gathered up some wood and set a fire. Once we made our way out, we looked for the smoke. Seems the chamber was directly under an alley between Tower Street and Junker’s Way. Might have been how they planned to surprise everyone.

Ameiko safe and the immediate threat ended, we headed back to our rooms. Before we went to our beds, Aurora told me that she had heard I had been propositioned by a lovely young woman but had turned her down. She told me that she hoped that I hadn’t done so on her account. I let her know that had been part of it, but that I had also been feeling a bit paranoid. Didn’t explain my dominoes dream to her, but she understood.

She told me that she wished that she could be what I wanted, but that she was afraid that might never happen. She wanted me to not let her hold me back in case it never did. It hurt, but I understood. She has too much baggage with the opposite **** for her to feel comfortable dating me. I could live with just being friends. Who knows? She might change her mind one day, but if not, she was right. I couldn’t keep myself off the market indefinitely. It’s not who I am. I made a resolution to look up Shayliss or perhaps one of the other lovely young ladies of the village after we had dealt with the threat from Thistletop.

We spent the next several days preparing. I paid several wizards from town to teach me some spells and then spent the rest of my time crafting things to help us later. I began by making a magical pearl to allow me to recall some of my lesser spells. I think I’m gonna make an entire strand of them. They’ll be like my prayerbeads. Then I made a magical cloak for Aurora, to protect her from many various effects. Also to keep her warm. She’s kinda tiny, so she gets cold. And winter is coming.

God I hope that I didn’t just turn this into Game of Thrones with that line.

When I needed a break from crafting, we went with Father Zantus to boil the **** out of the Runewell. That is how you make holy water, right? You take regular water and boil the **** out of it? I dunno. Anyway, Runewell destroyed, we took some time to remove the statue. It now sits in my room at the inn. I think it watches me sleep. Gives me the heeby jeebies.

Today’s the day we do something about Thistletop. I’m not sure why we’re going personally, but I get the feeling it has to be us. I woke up several hours before dawn. I climbed up on to the inn’s roof to look at the stars and work on this journal by conjured magical light. I’ve been contemplating the lyrics to an old Mighty Mighty Bosstones song.

Have you ever had the odds stacked up so high
You need a strength most don't possess?
Or has it ever come down to do or die?
You've got to rise above the rest. No?

I worry about whether I can. I mean, what if this was why I was brought to this world? What if my presence cascaded into a domino effect all its own, bringing Aurora, then Geo, Lenn and Paulie here? Maybe we’re the ones supposed to take care of this. Is this in God’s plan?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making the same mistake Samantha did. She was broken by this same question. I don’t have quite the inflated sense of my value to the cosmos that she does. So while I suspect that I have a purpose for being here, I don’t have any delusions that it has to have been all that great. Maybe whatever it was has already happened, but to me was so small that I didn’t notice it. If we fail, we fail. I’ll feel bad about it, but it’s not like it’ll cause an existential crisis. But it’d be nice if we succeed. A lot of folks are counting on us. We may not be able to do much, but at least we can try. This Nuallia is a bully. I hate bullies. You can thank my older brother for that.

It makes me wonder if I’ve never had to, but I’d better knock on wood. 'Cause I'm sure it isn't good. And I'm glad I haven't yet.

That's the impression that I get.
____________________________
Someone on another forum wrote:
Wow, you've got an awesome writing style.! I really dig the narrator's back story, humor, sarcasm, and the plethora of pop culture references. Altogether a refreshingly different RotR journal (not that I don't like the more traditional ones, mind you).

#4 Apr 30 2013 at 2:05 AM Rating: Good
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The assault on Thistletop, part I:
We decided to hire a boat to get us to Thistletop. A path through the woods would have been more stealthy, but also more likely to be watched against. Also, this way I didn’t have to walk all the way there. This does leave me with some time to think a bit as the crew does the driving, or whatever it is you call it on a boat.

As we travel towards the goblin stronghold, I find myself wondering. If this were a production on television or a major motion picture, what kind of music would be playing right now? Would it be filled with an upswell of hope as we move on to what feels like the climax for this chapter of our story, or would there be grim determination with a bit of melancholy foreshadowing the grim fate that awaits us?

Or maybe there would be no music. Maybe it would just be Ron Perlman’s voice narrating “1000 Ways to Die 2: Golarion Boogaloo”. That’s a depressing thought.

And suppose something happens, where it looks like we’re going to die but I somehow manage to pull out a major reversal of fortune. What music would start playing then? I mean, what’s my Theme Music Power Up sound like? Does it kick off with a riff of an electric guitar and open into a heavy metal theme song? Does a singer belt out an anime theme? Maybe it’s the Eighteen Twelve Overture?

Or perhaps it’s Gangnam Style. Jesus tapdancing Christ, wouldn’t that just take the cake?

On a related note, I will not now, nor ever, confirm nor deny that there’s a video on Youtube of me dancing to that wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

Despite the fact that I can’t see a **** thing through the fog, they tell me that we’re almost there. Will write more later.
~
It’s later, and it has been an interesting infiltration. Since we decided to come during the early morning, hoping the fog would cover our entrance and the daylight would leave the semi-nocturnal goblins somnambulant, it’s now mid-morning. The fog has dissipated and our strategy seems to have paid off.

Yeah, I could have written sluggish in that last paragraph, but how am I supposed to remember words if I don’t use them once in a while?

Anyway, we landed on the beach and then swam over to a cave that looked like a possible back way into the goblin stronghold. Well, I say swam, but really Lenn, Aurora and Geo swam over and then dragged Paulie and me through the water on a rope. Look, I know how to swim, but that’s in a nice placid swimming pool, not the crashing waves and churning waters of the ocean. So I just kinda dead weighted it and got dragged over. Then I helped Aurora back into her armor and we entered the cave.

In hindsight, maybe the ocean route wasn’t our best idea.

I spotted something swimming in a deep pool in the cavern. I wasn’t entirely certain, but it looked like a bunyip, which I only knew about from reading. Imagine a seal mated with a shark and you’d have a fairly good idea of what this thing looked like. I remembered reading that these things were both predatory and territorial, so I attacked immediately, flinging a bit of acid at it. Naturally, I missed.

Then the **** thing let out a howl the likes of which you’ve never heard. I felt the effects upon me and immediately recognized it as fueled by unnatural power. Of course I was terrified. So were my companions. We ran around like idiots for a good thirty or so seconds, the creature lunging at whatever was closest at the time. Eventually managed to wrestle our fear to the ground and turned on the bunyip. It went down rather quickly once we were no longer panicking. I really need to get my friends a copy of the Hitchhiker’s guide.

After killing the thing, we looked carefully in the pool for any signs of another lurking within. What we spotted was something glinting in the light. Naturally we sent our strongest swimmer, Lenn, to investigate the twenty foot deep water. He found bones and some coins, so we decided to pull everything out using Aurora’s net and sift through it for any valuables. Hey, don’t look at me like that. Those people didn’t need them anymore.

If you want to be mad, you should focus on the fact that I was looking for bunyip pups and totally planned to club them if we found any. Corpse robbing really doesn’t compare to shark-seal clubbing, right?

While we looted, we noticed a hole in the ceiling above with a bit of light filtering down. There was a bit of a climb to get there, but it would likely be easy for Lenn. Again I would likely play the role of the dead weight at the end of a rope. Hey, I was tired from all that crafting I’d been doing the last couple days. As we surveyed the hole, a goblin was flung down it, screaming the whole way. He belly flopped and several of my companions had their bows in hand. I’m not entirely certain whose arrow it was hit the goblin hard enough to make it explode, but I want that person on my team at the next archery contest.

I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the goblin had been killed on his hard impact with the water.

Paulie startled me by making a passable imitation of the bunyip’s howl, then I heard the goblins up above scurry off. We waited a few minutes before sending Lenn up to the hole.

Up top, we found ourselves in a large bramble thicket. There were several paths leading off, so we sent Geo to scout ahead. He did that weird thing where his skin(and clothes!) goes chameleon mode and snuck off down a tunnel in the general direction we wanted to travel.

Speaking of Geo, there’s something I’ve forgotten to mention. He has a tentacle now, just growing right out of his forearm. No, I have no idea how it happened. All I know is I don’t think I’m going to be eating anything he cooks ever again.

When Geo returned, he reported that he found another goblin, who held in his hand a sword made of fire. I asked some questions about the properties of the sword and was able to deduce that it was druidic magic. He also told us that there were a number of goblin dogs tied up nearby. I wasn’t about to risk fighting the druid with his backup, at least not without a choke point, so I devised a plan.

Everyone took up positions flanking the bramble tunnel, then Paulie stood by the hole and made his bunyip sound again. I did my best goblin impersonation and shouted for help down the tunnel, saying that the “water beast is climbing up out of the hole! Help!”

We listened intently to the sound of the druid. He whistled for his pet, though I can’t recall the name he called it. He didn’t sound like he believed us. I hadn’t really expected him to. The bunyip climbing up out of the hole wasn’t the lie I was really telling. The lie I wanted him to believe was that it was goblins lying, not intruders.

That lie he bought. He strode out of the tunnel and was brought down by a blinding flurry of blows from either side. His pet, which I identified as a fire-pelt cougar, tried to protect him. We brought it down too. The nearby goblin dogs didn’t seem to find the sounds of fighting to be out of the ordinary and ignored us.

We sent Geo down another path and he found some goblins resting, apparently having recently killed one of their companions. We had heard the scuffle from down below, but hadn’t made out what they had been arguing about. When he returned and told us about it, we decided not to leave any enemies living behind us.

I called out to the goblins. “The druid fell down the hole and is getting eaten by the water beast! Quick! We have to get his shineys before the beast eats them!” Paulie made another bunyip sound and we heard the goblins rushing towards us.

As they came out of the tunnel, they ran straight into the trap we’d set. The first goblin slipped on some grease, landing face first on a couple caltrops. Then his companions ran gleefully on top of him, grinding him to death on the spiky caltrops. Several of them fell on the grease as well, though not on any caltrops. My companions smashed, slashed and shot goblins until only two remained. One of them tripped the other and made a break for it, and was long gone before anyone could catch him, but since he was running away from the path to the keep, we didn’t worry about it much. We just finished off the last living goblin.

We looted the corpses then threw them to the tied up goblin dogs, who ate them gleefully and ignored us as we passed. I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the first time someone fed them goblin corspes.

I set up a patch of caltrops on the path behind us as we approached the old rope bridge leading out to Thistletop proper. The bridge looked moderately unsafe. Lenn and Geo opted to go first. Geo inspected the other side and decided that the goblins had likely tied it poorly on purpose, likely to use as a trap. He fixed it and the rest of us crossed.

This seems like as good a time as any to bring this up. At some point, Paulie decided he was going to start self-narrating his inner monologue. He sounded like some kind of film noir detective. Who the **** does that? Don’t look at me like that. Mine’s on paper. His was verbal. Whole different thing there.

The structure proper seemed to be made of wood scavenged from crashed ships. Some of the boards even had the ships’ nameplates still attached. And there was nary a goblin to be seen. So we snuck right in the front door.

Inside, we immediately had Geo begin scouting once more. He returned after a few minutes to tell us that he had discovered a goblin larder that had been broken into already and that the goblins in one of the watchtowers were the culprits. It seems that they had eaten too much and were now in the goblin equivalent of a Thanksgiving Day Coma. We decided to take advantage of it and kill them in their sleep.

Do you remember that scene from Lord of the Rings where the Ringwraiths surround the beds the hobbits are supposed to be asleep in and stab them all at once? It was kinda like that, only we don’t buy our armor at Villains ‘R Us. Also, it’s dramatic when someone tries to kill a hobbit. When it’s a goblin, no one cares.

Geo scouted further ahead. He entered a courtyard where some goblin dogs were frolicking. One of them spotted some of his motion and decided to investigate. Geo alerted us to the about to ensue combat and we rushed down the hall to help him. Didn’t take us long to dispatch the dogs, though my flinging of acid was once again fairly useless.

In the courtyard, we found a door boarded up. Inspection of the area revealed hoof prints. Looked like they came from a horse, but we couldn’t be sure. We decided to carefully open the door and see what was inside.

The first thing we spotted was a couple dead goblins. Beyond them, we spotted an emaciated and injured horse. I mean, it was horrible. Animal Cops horrible. If TV crews from Animal Planet showed up right now, there would be a lot of goblins getting arrested soon. We would have to settle for killing them.

It looked a bit wary about us. Aurora pulled some spare feed out of her bag and attempted to coax the poor thing out to us. Let me tell you something. I’ve seen Disney princesses who weren’t as good with animals as Aurora. The **** thing may have been wary about the rest of us, but it seemed to immediately trust her.

While Aurora fed it, the creature allowed Paulie to approach and tend to its wounds. Even with magical healing, the poor thing still looked pretty exhausted and in need of a lot of rest and good food. We sat with it for a bit, Aurora talking to it and making sure it ate slowly so as not to make itself sick, while Geo explored ahead.

He returned a few minutes later with word that he’d discovered a goblin latrine and some stairs leading down into the complex. He said that he suspected that there was more to the latrine than meets the eye and said he was going to go investigate. Paulie went with him. I told them to have fun with that. Meanwhile, we investigated another closet nearby. It was filled with caged rabbits. At Aurora’s insistence, we let them go. I was a little worried that Lenn might pick one up and start petting it, but he seemed distracted.

After a few minutes, Geo and Paulie called out to us. They had found a treasure chest in a hidden room behind the latrine. After setting off a trap and only avoiding injury thanks to his armor, Geo asked me to come burn off the lock with some acid.

Now, I wasn’t interested in searching through a smelly goblin latrine when I didn’t think anything was there. The treasure chest changed things. It was now worth enduring the stench. So I went and we quickly cracked it open.

Inside was a metric @#%^ton of copper coins. There was also a smaller amount of silver, gold and even a couple platinum coins. We took a bit to sort out the treasure and took everything but the copper. I was going to suggest that we offer Aurora the blue silk gown we found inside, but it kinda smelled bad, so I held my tongue.

I cleaned the stench from us with a bit of magic, then we set up more caltrops at the top of the stairs. We then headed back inside the building, leaving the horse, whose bridle had the name Shadowmist on it, to rest.

Geo headed up the next watchtower. One of the goblins spotted the opening of the trap door, so he rushed back down to us. I pulled out a scroll and placed another patch of grease at the base of the stairs and we quickly dispatched the goblins before they raised an alarm. Once again, I failed horribly at inflicting any damage upon the foes.

Up in the watchtower, we discovered that the goblins had been playing a card game with forty three random cards they had collected. I suspected it was the card game equivalent of Calvinball that they were playing.

We backtracked and one of the doors we passed led to more stairs descending into the compound. The other door opened into a barracks where a number of goblins lay sleeping. We surrounded and stabbed them again, but the narrow quarters meant a couple of them managed to wake before the deed was complete. I rushed in with my dagger and helped bring down the last one as it tried to scurry under a bed. Of course, I nearly faceplanted in the process, but I wasn’t trying to look cool, just trying to keep it from screaming.

That left us with two options, we head into a foyer that looked to lead to a large room, or we skulk down a hall near the second watchtower. We opted for skulking, as it was working for us so far. Geo snuck ahead. A few minutes later, he came rushing back. “There’s a large room ahead where some goblins appear to be entertaining one of their more important members, who is sitting on the back of a huge lizard. I think one of them saw the door open. Don’t think he saw me, but they’re likely to investigate.”

Thinking quickly, I realized that I had to give them a reason to have seen something. A reason that wouldn’t make them send up an alarm. Something they thought that they could deal with themselves.

I channeled my will into my ring and used it to cast a spell to alter my shape, assuming the form of one of the goblins we’d killed out in the thicket. Based on my knowledge of engineering and architecture, I realize that the large room he was describing was likely the one the foyer led to as well. I motioned for Aurora to set up for an ambush outside the door to the foyer and asked Lenn and Geo to prepare to one at this end of the hallway as well. Then I rushed down the hall.

Geo had opened a door leading to a horrifying butcher’s room of some sort next to the door to the large room. I quickly grabbed what I think was a haunch of horse meat and then peered into the large room. I did my best to look like I was trying not to be seen while at the same time actually trying to be seen.

It worked like a charm. The large goblin on the lizard, probably Ripnugget, chief of this tribe, shouted at me. “Stupid Birdcruncher! You steal our food and you become food! That’s the rule!” I screamed in my best impression of a goblin, which was easy since I had all the physical makeup of one, dropped the meat and ran down the hallway.

Most of the goblins who were on foot followed me at full speed. With Lenn and Geo guarding that end, it was kinda like that scene from Fargo. The one with the woodchipper. You know what I’m talking about.

Ripnugget had gone out the other entrance, where Aurora and Paulie were waiting. He was trying to cut off my escape and wasn’t expecting real resistance there. I didn’t see the beginning of that fight, but Aurora and Paulie managed to bring down the chief’s mount fairly quickly.

The warchanter ran back into the large room from the hallway. I thought he might be trying to escape, so I shouted for Lenn and Geo to follow him. Meanwhile, I rushed into the room where Aurora and Paulie were fighting a cornered Ripnugget.

Wanting to save most of my magic for our confrontation with Nuallia and not wanting to accidentally douse a friend with acid, I opted to help by distracting the goblin chief while he was fighting desperately. I decided to opt for intimidation. “Ripnugget!” I shouted. “We have taken your shineys from the hidden chest! Next we take your home! Then, we take your women! When we’re done, the Thistletop goblins will be no more!”

I could see the effect upon him immediately. He wasn’t expecting my words and they certainly had an effect. Distracted and off-balance, Aurora and Paulie finished it off quickly. In the room behind me, I heard the warchanter’s song stop as Lenn and Geo cut off its escape.

We investigated the remaining surface rooms. Despite finding a desk, no books were inside. I wasn’t holding out much hope considering it was a goblin stronghold, but it would have been nice.

Paulie tended to peoples wounds while I used my magic to clean the gore off of them. We were both tending to Aurora when the strangest thing happened. He tried using his wand to cure her, but he seemed to be struggling a bit. I’m pretty sure one cast even failed completely.

I’ve seen failures like that. Back at the Arcanamirium they taught us about spell resistance, that it took extra effort to overcome. But I’ve cast dozens of spells on Aurora and never noticed her resisting my magic. It’s a bit of a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a sexy, **** butt. Weirdest of all, I don’t think Aurora even noticed it.

We decided to take an hour to rest up after that last major fight and get a bite to eat. We’ve returned to the courtyard with Shadowmist and are taking some time to eat some lunch before heading deeper into the compound. After wolfing down my lunch, I decided to write all this down while it was fresh in my mind. Aurora is brushing down Shadowmist and the others are chatting.

Our hour is almost up and it’s about time to go find and kill Nuallia. Wish us luck.
____________________________
Someone on another forum wrote:
Wow, you've got an awesome writing style.! I really dig the narrator's back story, humor, sarcasm, and the plethora of pop culture references. Altogether a refreshingly different RotR journal (not that I don't like the more traditional ones, mind you).

#5 May 07 2013 at 3:32 AM Rating: Good
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The Assault on Thistletop and the end of chapter 1.
We took the stairs down from the courtyard where Shadowmist was resting. Once down in the lower level, we sent Geo to investigate. He returned a few moments later telling us that he had located a woman doing some kind of research. My Tropersense tingled. This sounded like a mad scientist to me. At the very least, I suspected that letting her live would come back to haunt us. “Thanoptis was believed responsible for planting a makeshift device that detonated at a research center, killing five visiting asari military officers along with four civilians. The attack seriously wounded a dozen more and caused significant damage to the facility.” That kind of thing.

I immediately voted that we sneak in and kill her. Geo suggested that she might not be involved or be involved against her will, suggesting we subdue her. Lenn agreed with Geo, as did Aurora. Paulie immediately agreed with my assessment that we should kill her and be done with it. With a three to two vote we set out to subdue her.
I’m not saying this is going to bite us in the **** later, but it’s going to bite us in the **** later. Okay, I guess that’s exactly what I’m saying.

Geo rushed up behind her and grabbed at her. It happened quickly and was a bit of a blur, but when it was over, her cat, which I suspected was her familiar since she tried casting a spell, was bleeding out and she was tied up. Then we began questioning her.

She wasn’t cooperative at first, so I decided to go with a threat. “Listen, whoever you are, I was outvoted on our action here. I wanted to kill you before you could raise the alarm. So here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to make it worth our while to keep you alive by telling us everything you can about this facility and the research you’re doing. You’re also going to keep me distracted from thinking about how much better it would be for us to just kill you by telling me where your spellbook is. And if you make too loud of a noise doing any of this, the big guy is going to chop you in half.”

She remained mostly uncooperative, but told me that her spellbook was in the pile of books she was researching. So I started sifting through them to find it. Meanwhile, my companions probed her for information about the facility, which she gave reluctantly. I don’t recall most of what they asked her, being more interested in finding that spellbook, but I do recall one thing.

“What brings you here?” I heard Geo ask.

“What brings you here?” the woman, whose name was Lyrie Akenja, asked in return.

You know, that’s a **** good question. Why exactly were we here? I mean, I know why Aurora was there. She wants to help people. Despite her wrathful streak, Aurora is generally a good person. That one I understand. The town was in danger and the knight in shining armor wanted to rush to their aid.

Lenn and Geo, I similarly understand. They were in their village’s militia. Protecting their home was their job until Lenn got kicked out of the village for bar fights and such. Hell, Lenn’s brain injury happened while defending his people. Even if I can’t see him being that type of person now, some part of him has to still want to protect people.

Paulie, as always, remains a mystery to me. I wish I had some kind of insight into the thoughts and motivations that drive this strange cat-man, but I understand him about as well as I understand your average Goth. Not the East Germanic people who played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire, the kids who dress in black and talk about how the “whole world is darkness” or something equally asinine. The other kind of Goth was the topic of my tenth grade English research paper. Fifteen pages at one-and-a-half line spacing with a cool graphic on the front cover. Boo-yah. Anyway, I’m getting off subject.

That just leaves me. What the **** am I doing here? Why am I risking my life to take out a threat to a town I’ve barely been in a few weeks? Why am I not insisting that it’s the local lords’ job to provide the soldiers they need to protect them? I guess the most logical reason is that I need the town as a safe base of operations while I study the local ruins, but that’s only enough for me to use what little clout I have to make the local nobles listen to me.

I guess it could be simply because Aurora wants to. I’ve done stupider things for girls. Well, maybe not for girls who have already shot me down, but you know what I mean. But even then, I can’t quite buy that this is the whole reason. Perhaps it’s because I’ve matured. Perhaps I’ve simply taken to heart John Donne’s famous poem.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Before you start thinking I’m cultured, I only looked it up after it was referenced on the Walking Dead game. And just about everywhere else, really. Mostly the game, though. But anyway, I’m not sure that’s my motivation either. I mean, after all, as the song says, “I’m not inclined to resign to maturity.”

Perhaps my motivation is much simpler. Heroes get laid. I can buy that. Yeah, let’s go with that but pretend it’s really one of the others.

Embrace the deception. Learn how to bend.
Your worst inhibition’s gonna psych you out in the end.

Err…maybe not the best reference. Kinda ominous, really.

Once we had all the info we were going to get out of her, Geo put Lyrie in a sleeper hold with his tentacle – eww, by the way – and we set about taking her things. Hey, I never said we were very good at being heroes. Back home, we have a term for adventurers. “Roving bands of murder-hobos.” And here I am **** that we haven’t quite lived up to the “murder” part of that name.

We even stripped her of her fancy silk gown. That felt a little weird to me, but it looked valuable and again I was outvoted. This time Aurora was the one to vote with me. Outvoted or no, Aurora insisted we leave the room while she took care of it, for modesty’s sake. She then put some travel clothes on the woman.

She called us back in and we bound and gagged the woman once again, this time using one of my spare ropes since Paulie had some kind of strange sentimental attachment to his, and continued on. Ragtag bunch of misfits doesn’t begin to describe the strangeness that is our party.

Geo scouted ahead again and returned with information that he had found some ornate doors leading to some kind of chapel or something, more than likely, as well as several hallways. We opted to head down one of the hallways. Geo once again scouted ahead. He returned a few moments later and said it was too dark to see within. Since Paulie had better night vision, he went along with Geo to investigate. I also gave him a light-enchanted coin in case he needed it.

My companions had found a lair of some kind, with a bunch of dead goblins. Their skin was like leather and their insides looked to have been liquefied and sucked out. Yeah, this wasn’t going to be fun. Still, whatever lived there was not at home, so we looted the goblin corpses. Yep, murder-hobos.

Geo looked further down the tunnel and found the creature from the lair. From the description, Aurora suspected it was a tentamort, an ambush predator with a nasty poison. We opted to verify it by using the wand of illusion taken from the goblin warchanter. Sure enough, it struck at the goblin and we began attacking it. A sundered prey grabbing tentacle and several arrows later, the creature lay dead at our feet. Geo harvested the stinger and venom sac in case we found a use for it later.

We continued exploring, and Geo located what looked like a goblin harem. Inside was a bugbear, who we suspected was the goblin hero Bruthazmus. Luckily, he wasn’t wearing his armor and didn’t spot Geo peeking through the door, nor did any of the goblin females. I got a good description of the room and we prepared an ambush.

Lenn and Geo waited on either side of the door, and I used the wand to conjure the image of one of the Birdcruncher goblins I had seen earlier in the thicket. Geo pushed open the door and the illusion I controlled strutted into the harem grinning ear to ear like he owned the place. After a moment, I had him turn in the direction where Geo said Bruthazmus was, then his expression became one of horror, which was followed by bolting.

Bruthazmus, flail in hand, gave chase. He seemed a little startled to find Lenn and Geo waiting for him, but seemed excited by the idea of combat as he figured it out. We made quick work of him and the fleeing goblin females – hey, they might have raised the alarm – and then once again looted his corpse. We took his necklace of elf ears and, remembering that he and the elven ranger Shalelu had a history of animosity, took his head to give to her as a trophy.

I figure she might give us a reward, but if not, I’ll play up Geo’s heroism in taking down her hated foe. Why not play up my own role, you ask? Well, she looks like the kind who is only into serious relationships, and I’m not really up for that at the moment, at least not with someone new. If I can help a friend hook up with a hot elven chick I’m not interested in, I take it as my sacred duty as a man to do so. Wingman code, yo.

<Scribbled in the margins you see words in a different handwriting. “Sometimes I worry about you.”>
<A reply is written in the author’s handwriting. “Then maybe you should change your mind about dating me and use hot, kinky **** to convince me to be a better person.”>
<”Pig.”>
<”Bootylicious.”>
<The conversation in the margins degenerates from there.>

Near the harem, Geo located a goblin nursery. Yeah, there were babies in there. And yeah, we had just killed their mothers. Aurora looked stricken. Geo looked uncomfortable. Lenn looked like he was thinking about hookers. Paulie looked like he was about to say “I’m Batman.” Or maybe it’s “Catman”. I dunno.

We took a vote. It was two to two between killing the little monsters and taking them to safety. I abstained, wracked with moral guilt. “Do we put the Joker in Arkham ‘revolving door’ Asylum or do we knife the clown and keep him from hurting anyone else?” I asked, not realizing I’d said it out loud until someone asked what I was talking about. I told them not to worry about it.

I mean, these were babies. Logically, I knew that goblins desensitized their children to violence by caging them and subjecting them to horrible torture from a young age, so they were probably already feral little monsters, but they were still sentient beings. Could I really kill children, even goblin children, and still look my family in the face when I got home?

As the tiebreaking vote, I made a decision. “We leave them in the cages for now. If during our search we find another goblin, we take him prisoner and bully him into taking the babies to the relative safety of a nearby goblin tribe. If we don’t find one, we take them to a nearby tribe ourselves. While there, we’ll threaten them with annihilation if they harm anyone from Sandpoint ever again.”

“You do realize the goblins will likely just eat the babies, right?” someone asked me.

“That’s a possibility, but it was a possibility here as well. We can’t worry if goblin children die in the normal course of goblin society. However, I can’t be a party to us taking their lives. Now let’s continue on.”

For the record, in a perfect world, the clown gets knifed the second time he escapes from Arkham.

Geo scouted down another hallway, returning a few moments later to let us know that there were a number of bedrooms ahead and that someone was in one of them. He described a man that sounded like some kind of warrior. Ambush had worked for us thus far, so we prepared another.

Aurora waited in the room across the hallway while Lenn and Geo flanked either side of the door. Paulie waited at the far end of the hall, in case the man got past us, while I was a bit behind Lenn. Geo knocked at the door and I called out in Goblin. “Bugbear want see you!”

“Go away!” the man shouted.

“Bugbear say it urgent.”

He didn’t make a sound, so Geo kept knocking. Over and over and over, until at last the man inside could take it no longer. “FINE! I’m coming!” he shouted. He walked out into the hallway, sword in hand, and was surprised to find himself surrounded by humans rather than goblins. “Son of a – !” he shouted, as my companions struck at him. I just smiled at him and said hello in the most sincere manner I could.

He was impressive, to take such an onslaught from my three companions. After a moment, he shouted out his unconditional surrender. Aurora commanded him to drop his weapon, which he did, immediately, all the while **** that he wasn’t getting paid enough for this.

Now, as much as I didn’t trust that Lyrie was an innocent here, this man seemed to be exactly what he appeared. He was a mercenary. He was there for the coin, not the ideals. I saw no reason to kill him. We offered him his life in exchange for any information he could give us about Nualia, her goals and this dungeon.

Unlike Lyrie, he was immediately forthcoming. He told us everything he could. The information he gave us prepared us for what lay before us. Since he had been true to his word, we were true to ours. I mean, we still restrained him with the promise that we would return for him later since we couldn’t risk him coming after us while we were engaged with another foe, but I felt that once we were finished here, we would certainly honor our word and free him. Geo knocked him out for good measure and it still gives me the creeps when he grabs someone with that tentacle.

Wanting to do well by the mercenary since one never knows when one may need a good mercenary, I asked that we refrain from robbing him. We took his weapon and put it out of his reach in another room and left even the coins in his purse. All we took was a healing potion, since that might come in handy later.

Speaking of Lyrie, it seems that our mercenary, Orik, has a thing for her. Perhaps keeping her alive at least meant we could safely spare him. I dunno.

We gave the all clear signal to Paulie and he arrived a few moments later. “Bad news,” he told us. “One of the goblin women wasn’t as dead as we thought. While I was busy watching for the escape of our friend here, she snuck past me and killed all the caged children. By the time I had realized what was going on, it was too late. I did manage to finish her off before she could sound an alarm, though.”

Yeah, it sounded kinda suspicious, but I could detect no deception in Paulie’s words. Well, at least that solves one problem, albeit in a horrific kind of way.

We went into the prison Orik had told us about. The cages were empty, but I did not much care for the implications of some of the torture devices lying around. Further search found a room with even more horrors within.

The prison connects to the main chapel, so we continued heading that way. Orik had warned us that some of Nualia’s hounds were within, cautioning us to be careful, so we had Geo see if he could tell anything about them.

Naturally, they spotted him trying to look at them.

It was only quick reflexes that allowed Geo to get the door closed. He was able to warn us that two hounds lay inside, but before he could say much else, a terrifying howl reverberated through the dungeon. I could feel unmitigated dread within my chest, but I managed to swallow my fear. I saw Lenn, Geo and Paulie do the same.

Aurora, however, bolted. Before I could react, she was gone. Vamoosed. Skedaddled. Hit the old dusty trail.

I didn’t have time to follow her as the hounds quickly tore through the closed door and we had a fight on our hands. It really didn’t take long to down them, but it was a fair bit more difficult than it should have been thanks to Aurora’s flight from the room.

As soon as the second hound had been vanquished, I went looking for Aurora. You know, it was kind of nice to be going to her rescue for a change. It’s usually the other way around, and that has a serious effect on a man’s pride.

I found her coming from the hallway where the bedrooms lay. She had apparently fled to a defensible location. That’s actually pretty impressive. I probably would have made it all the way to Shadowmist before the fear had worn off.

Her face was stricken. “I’m sorry. My shame knows no bounds.”

I looked at her and kept my face completely devoid of expression. “Yeah. You suck.” She gave me a look of horror and I couldn’t maintain my composure any longer. A grin filled my face. “So I guess that makes it ‘Kyle One, Aurora Seven’.” She seemed confused by that. “It was beyond your control. There was a supernatural element to the fear. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, it gives me an excuse to add a sketch of your cute **** as you were running away to my journal.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“It will be the finest drawing of a cute **** you’ve ever seen. More loving attention put into it than even Bayonetta. A thousand artists could spend a thousand years and none would come close to matching the glory that will be this drawing of your ass.”

“You better not,” she said, smiling in spite of herself. My goal had been achieved. I’m still gonna draw it, though.

<The rest of the page appears to have been left blank intentionally, though someone else has written in the space. “Don’t you dare!”>
<”That’s okay, I don’t think this half page was going to do it justice anyway.”>
<”Good.”>
<”I think I’m going to buy a full sized canvas and render it as an oil painting. One day when I get home, I’ll hang it between my Witch Hunter Robin and Cecily Campbell wall scrolls.”>
<”I’m going to have to hurt you.”>
<A large inkblot obscures the rest of the page. It appears to have been made intentionally..>

We searched the cathedral for valuables because murder-hobos, that’s why. By the altar was a statue of Lamashtu holding a pair of glowing kukris. We smashed the altar and took the kukris. Unfortunately, they weren’t magically enchanted to do anything but glow, severely limiting their usefulness. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. It was like the old days when I used to spam Trade Chat selling Minor Beastslayer to noobs on the steps of the Stormwind bank, except now I was stuck on the non-profitable end of the equation.

Once we had finished looting the chapel, we headed back to the room where we had left Lyrie. She was still unconscious and sitting in that corner we had propped her up in, so we headed down the stairs to the lower level. Just past the stairs was a doorway, and beyond that was a hall with another of those hounds at the end. We opted to shoot at it and try bringing it towards us. Lenn got bored with that plan, however, and rushed at the beast after our second volley of arrows.

He hit a pressure plate in the hallway, setting off a trap. He narrowly avoided being trapped between some portcullises(portculli?) and killed the dog in a single blow. He then turned back to see the trap. Geo called out to him. “Hey, can you smash the portcullis?”

I swear to God that I’m not making up Lenn’s response here. “Is that part of the neck?”

The look on Geo’s face was priceless. I wish I’d had my cell phone camera with me at the time. “Um…no. The iron bars. Smash the iron bars.”

“Why didn’t you just say so in the first place?” Lenn began making quite a ruckus as he struck the bars. Meanwhile, Geo began work on disabling the trap from our end. A few moments later, it was Geo’s efforts that paid off first, and the trap reset. Geo then disabled the floor plate.

Lenn, annoyed by the trap, started stomping on the broken floor plate. Apparently he stomped too hard, since the floor gave way and he fell into a pit. He quickly climbed out, then we reset the trapdoor and made our way down the hall.

Exploring the door to the north, we found Nualia waiting. I’m still not sure how it happened, but we managed to end up with her holding us in a hallway with no way for us to reach her, aside from Aurora who spearheaded our effort. It took a few tries, but we managed to work together to push Nualia back in the chamber she had come from. From there, we surrounded her, I blinded her with some magic that looked straight out of Twilight, and we brought down our foe.

Strewn about the room were her notes and journals. I gathered them up while my companions took her gear. Skimming through them, I realized that she was trying to free some kind of creature within, so we decided to press further on and try slaying this beast. First, however, I took time to melt her corpse with acid. We didn’t want that thing going all ghoul on us at a critical moment.

Continuing further, we found an art piece that appeared to have been made of coins set into the wall. It was pretty enough, but we weren’t able to pry out any of the coins. We did, however, locate some coin slots. Having practically lived on vended food for a while, I knew what those meant.

We grabbed a couple coins, opting for gold like the ones the piece was made of, and pushed them into the slots. It was probably too much to hope it would dispense some Code Red, so I was happy enough that it revealed a secret passage.

Within were three rooms. The first contained some kind of apocalyptic log, a scene that played out over and over. A man was sitting upon a throne giving orders to scurrying workers. I wasn’t able to make out much, but the word Alaznist stuck out to me. I had heard that word before, but for the life of me couldn’t recall what it meant.

The next room seemed like an operating room or something of the sort. Geo took a number of surgeon’s tools and what appeared to be the key to the third door, which we had already inspected but couldn’t open.

Using the key, Geo quietly opened the door to find a Barghest. Knowing a bit about them, I knew that magic weapons would bypass their tough skin. I pulled out my wand of temporary weapon enchantment that I carried in case of ghosts and enchanted my companions weapons, with Aurora opting to use Nualia’s **** sword since it was already enchanted. Then they rushed in and began fighting the creature.

The details of the fight are a bit of a blur. Here’s what I remember. Aurora took a mighty blow early on, then fell back to drink a few healing potions. Lenn took a hit, then I used magic to enlarge him to fight the beast on even playing field. The beast cast a spell I couldn’t see since I wasn’t in the room and everyone had trouble hitting him.

Then things kinda went tits up on us. Lenn took a might blow and crumpled. I rushed in and tried stunning the creature with a blinding blast of scintillating color, only to find that standing in fire doesn’t much help one concentrate well enough to cast. Paulie healed Lenn and we began trying to retreat, only to have Lenn knocked down again, this time at death’s door. Aurora blocked the way long enough for me to enlarge Geo and Geo to pull Lenn from the room. Then she took another hit and was forced to fall back. Paulie closed the door and we locked it behind us.

We healed up and decided we had to fight the beast on our terms, not his. We set up an ambush in the hallway and I refreshed everyone’s enchantments, then we flung open the door again. The beast was nowhere to be seen. Suspecting invisibility, I used a scroll we had taken off of Lyrie to reveal him to me. He seemed to be hiding in the corner. I struck him with an open sack of powdered chalk and Paulie shot at him. We both bolted back down the hall.

Strangely, he didn’t come after us. Cautiously, I got closer and used Lyrie’s wand to fire a bolt of force at him. He didn’t move. I fired another and he teleported away. Since I knew the spell he used wouldn’t let him travel far, I looked around the room and spotted him in the other corner. I fired bolt after bolt and within moments he was dead. All in all, pretty anticlimactic. We put some arrows in his corpse to be sure and began inspecting the room to figure out why he hadn’t given chase.

Turns out some kind of magical forcefield attuned to him only was preventing him from leaving. I probably would have noticed that if I had taken more time to inspect the door before we charged in. D’oh!

We searched the room and found a nifty magical ring that projected a sihedron wall of force like a shield, which we told Geo to take. Then we took all the magical, everburning candles and took off.

While we had looted the room, Lenn had spent his time cleaving up the corpse to work out frustrations. It wasn’t a pretty sight, so we closed the doors behind us.

Exploring further, we found a room with numerous sarcophagi in it. After our near death encounter with the beast, we were cautious in our searching, taking our time to be sure that nothing was going to attack us. Naturally, something did. But that didn’t happen for several moments. In the meantime, a couple sarcophagi were pried open and their inhabitants shattered so they couldn’t rise to attack us.

In one of the coffins we opened, it appeared that the occupant had tried to claw his way out. While standing before that one, Geo told us that he felt a breeze. Remembering playing Illusion of Gaia on my dorm mate’s SNES, I called out, “Sweet! Secret passage!” I don’t think anyone else knew why I said it, but at least no one looked at me funny.

Meanwhile, Lenn began attacking the statue in the center of the room. It depicted the same man we had seen in the repeating image. He managed to break off the statue’s arm in quick order, proving that this one wasn’t going to rise up and attack us. Or at least it would be disarmed. Yeah, you can groan now.

During their searches, I began deciphering the ancient Thassilonian runes on the walls. I didn’t get very far before the Shadows attacked. Who knows what fear lurks in the hearts of men? Me. Goddammit I don’t like ghosts.

They sapped a fair amount of strength from Aurora and Lenn before we downed them, but we were victorious. I finished deciphering the runes, revealing that his building had actually been a giant statue and the occupants of the crypt were the architects that had built it. They had been buried alive, ostensibly willingly, though the scratches on the inside of that coffin proved at least one had a change of heart a bit too late.

The statue had been dedicated to Karzoug, the Runelord whose images we kept seeing everywhere around here.

The secret passage led to a treasure room. The wall had collapsed a bit, opening a passage to the sea. At the bottom of the churning pool, we spotted a large helmet. By large I mean it was about five feet wide. Well, there was some evidence of giants to keep Lenn and Geo interested. And it was made of gold, which interested all of us.

Worried about the possibility of another attack by shadows while we tried retrieving the helm, we went back and opened the other sarcophagi. Sure enough, the shadows had only come from the ones where the occupants had tried to escape.

While Lenn and Geo looked into that, I studied a relief on a wall near the water. It depicted something I had once read about, the lost city of Xin’Shalast, though I didn’t quite realize that until I returned back to town to read my notes.

After studying the relief, I began trying to devise a way to close off the tunnel to the water so we could have a much less dangerous pool to swim in and get the helmet out. Of course, looking down in the water, I was really surprised to see the helmet move. It turned to face us and suddenly I saw why.

“We’ve encountered some kind of cave demon. Crab. Battle!” I cried out. “Oliolioliooooo!” Then I fired a bolt of force with the wand I had decided I wasn’t giving back to Lyrie when we were done. The crab scuttled over towards us and we began perhaps the most epic fight of the day. The **** thing hit me, completely destroying the energy shield I had created around myself with the Sihedron Medallion I had taken off of Nualia. We struggled mightily with the beast and eventually emerged victorious. But at what cost?

The crab had torn my coat. *sniff*

We rested for a bit, then used broken pieces of sarcophagi lids to clog the hole to the sea. We then fished out the helmet and a fair amount of money at the bottom of the pool before eating some extra large crab legs for dinner.

I probably don’t need to tell you that a giant helmet made of gold is heavy as all get out. With Lenn and Aurora’s strength sapped, we worked together to get it all the way up to the courtyard where Shadowmist was. After releasing the mercenary and the wizard, both of whom were grateful we had kept our word to let them go, we took a number of precautions aimed at security, then we set up camp in that courtyard and rested for the night.

The next several days saw us scavenging things from the goblin stronghold to make a cart. If it had been a bit better constructed, it would have been a piece of crap. Still it got our treasure back to Sandpoint. All in all, with construction and constantly needing to stop for repairs, we managed to get there after about six days. During the trip, I used magic to mend my coat. I really like this coat.

Interestingly enough, as we constructed the cart, we saw dawn’s rays on the island. Turns out the whole island is the head of the statue. It was kinda cool, really.

Back in town, we were greeted with looks of shock and surprise. Apparently they didn’t think we’d make it back. Geo presented Bruthazmus’ head to Shalelu, much to her surprise. I immediately began telling her the story of how Geo had heroically slain the beast. Geo almost ruined it by telling her that it had been Lenn who had actually killed the bugbear, but Paulie seemed to catch on to what I was doing, mostly thanks to the look I shot him, and filled in that while Lenn had dealt the killing blow, it was Geo’s amazing skills at anatomy that had taken our foe down with a slice to its Achilles Tendon. Well, he used a more descriptive phrase for the tendon, not knowing who Achilles was, but you get the idea.

On the trip home, I had taken the time to read through Nualia’s journals. Reading them, I thought my heart would break. Because of her otherworldly beauty due to her aasimar heritage, other children had tormented her. She had dealt with adults constantly assaulting her to take hair, which they thought could cure rashes and other minor ailments. Through it all her adopted father, the “saint”, had been aloof. To him, she was an obligation to be fulfilled, not a child to be loved and nurtured. And that’s before things took a turn for the worse and she was abandoned by her lover and birthed a fiend. No wonder she had turned evil. I can only think of one person who grew up so alone and didn’t come out of it a monster.

In front of the crowd, I desperately wanted to tell everyone off for their treatment of her. But I held my tongue. I knew Belor Hemlock wanted to keep the true scope of this a secret to prevent a panic. So instead, I asked him to gather together the town’s leadership so I could deliver a secret report to them on the true cause of the recent incident. I told him to include anyone he was comfortable with knowing of Nualia’s involvement.

So it was that I found myself waiting in the lobby of the mayor’s office while Sherriff Hemlock briefed Ameiko Kaijutsu, Mayor Kendra Deverin, Shalelu and a representative for the ill Ethram Valdemar on everything he already knew. The other noble in town, Titus Scarnetti, had been conspicuously not invited. I chose not to worry about it, since I knew he and Mayor Deverin didn’t much care for each other.

In the lobby, I got a bit of the pre-speech jitters. I had given my clothing a temporary magical dye job to red, since it was the color of dominance and I would be heard today. But I felt anything but dominant. I sat on a chair with my head between my knees repeating over and over, “I’m a big brave dog. I’m a big brave dog.” Aurora tried to comfort me, unaware of what exactly I had planned.

I had left Geo, Lenn and Paulie out of this, not wanting to have them involved if there were repercussions, but I needed Aurora with me if things got really bad.

After a few minutes, the clerk told me to go in. Composing myself, I smiled at the clerk and Aurora, reassuring them that everything would be alright. Then I grabbed Nualia’s journals and marched into the office, doing my best to project confidence as I strode in like I owned the place.

I started out my speech softly, building to a crescendo as I spoke. “I hold in my hands the collected journals of Nualia Tobyn. When I started reading them, I was expecting to find the ravings of a madwoman bent on slaughter. And it’s true, the latter parts of the journals do indeed read that way. But what I wasn’t expecting was what else I found in these pages.

“You see, Nualia was once a normal girl. An aasimar child raised by a local priest. Everything about that beginning should have led to the conclusion of a young woman, perhaps a pillar of the community, beloved by all. Yet somewhere between there and here, something went wrong. Somehow, something changed the foregone conclusion.

“Perhaps it was the Runewell of Wrath we found beneath the streets of this town? Certainly, I believe that it played a part. It would be naïve to think otherwise. Yet it would likewise be naïve to think that this was the only factor. Surely a full half the town would be under similar effect if it were that strong. No, that can’t be it alone.

“Some of you surely know of the fiend that was birthed from her womb. For those that do not, I suspect you are surely thinking that corruption came about because she had chosen to worship Lamashtu. No. That came later. I suspect it was proximity to an altar of Lamashtu we found near the runewell. She certainly seems to have been unaware of the child’s mutation until after the birth.

“So, what is it that was the catalyst for Nualia’s descent into madness? The journals give a clue. The earliest journals are the heartbreaking words of a child, desperate for acceptance. It seems that her celestial beauty set her apart from others. I’ve seen it in many societies. Where one is different, they are shunned by the people around them. It doesn’t matter that her differences were positive. They were differences, and that was enough. Hell, the fact that they were positive may have made it worse! There are pages where you can still see the tear stains in the ink where she writes about yet another person tormenting her because of her beauty. The girl had to have been no more than ten years old at the time of writing those words.

“Even her adopted father seemed to treat her as more of an obligation, rather than giving her the love and nurturing she deserved. That’s ludicrous. It’s a rare child who, growing up all alone like that, chooses to rise above it all and do better by the world than the world has done by her. Nualia lacked that strength.” Aurora seemed to catch the reference to her life, my expression of admiration for the fact that she had been dealt a similarly messed up childhood and had instead come out the stronger for it. I saw a small smile on her face out of the corner of my eye.

“So yes, Nualia Tobyn was a monster. But the people of this town made her that way. You can’t treat a child like a monster and be surprised when she becomes one.” My voice had reached the peak of its booming baritone, almost seeming to reverberate off the walls. I lowered my voice to finish the speech.

“You’ve been given a second chance. Whether by the grace of a god or goddess or even by sheer blind luck, we were able to foil her plot to cast down a society that had wronged her. You can do right by her by making sure every child in this town feels accepted and loved. It is up to you to embrace that chance.

“The Divine help those that help themselves. Don’t waste this opportunity to do better.

“They may not give you another one.”

The room was filled with stunned silence. All eyes were on me. Even the clerk had returned, drawn in by my booming voice. I glared at each and every one of them. Then I dropped the journals onto the mayor’s desk, spun on my heel and marched right out of the office, Aurora following close behind.

After leaving, Aurora thanked me for saying all of that and I asked her to give me some time to brood for a bit. She nodded and left, then I went down to visit an apothecary who I had heard might have a supply of bachelor’s snuff, a type of contraceptive, because dammit I needed to get laid.

You know, I never did resolve what song would end up being my theme music. I have a feeling I’ll have time. This feels like it’s going to be an epic trilogy, the story of my companions and Sandpoint. So I’ll have time. For now, since this feels like the end of the first book, let me instead leave you with the end credits theme for this part of the story. Please bear with me, since I’m composing it on the spot and it’s not likely to be very good. And if you’re not from earth and don’t know the tune, don’t worry. I’ll enclose a copy of some sheet music in the back of the journal. So for now, goodnight and Godspeed.












Magic Roads(To the tune of Country Roads, Take Me Home)
I came to Golarion, by way of deep space.
Travelling on the back of, a cowardly Shantak.
Now I’m a wizard. Cast more than Gandalf.
With great companions, save towns and kittens.

One man’s a giant, as big as Hagrid.
His best friend mixes potions and has a tentacle.
There’s also a cat guy, I think he might be crazy.
And a lady knight with her noble steed.

Magic Roads, take me home
To the place I belove.
Arizona, my desert home, yeah.
Take me home, magic roads.

Haven’t seen my family. Been at least ten years.
No Doritos tacos. No Colonel’s chicken.
Make things taste like cola with a bit of magic
Though it’s still not quite the same.

Magic Roads, take me home
To the place I belong.
Arizona, my desert home, yeah.
Take me home, magic roads.

I search for meaning in the early hours as I lay awake.
The thought of family brings teardrops to my eyes.
Searching through these ruins looking for a way home.
When I get there I hope I can make you proud of me. So proud of me.

Magic Roads, take me home
To the place I belong.
Arizona, my desert home, yeah.
Take me home, magic roads.

Arizona, my desert home, yeah.
Take me home, magic roads.

Take me home, magic roads.
Take me home… magic roads.




End: Chapter 1: Burnt Offerings
____________________________
Someone on another forum wrote:
Wow, you've got an awesome writing style.! I really dig the narrator's back story, humor, sarcasm, and the plethora of pop culture references. Altogether a refreshingly different RotR journal (not that I don't like the more traditional ones, mind you).

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