Mysteries of Golarion
I know not what brought me here, what power or god’s will is behind it: all of them, perhaps, or maybe none. Am I traveling in the light or the darkness, and towards what end? Whatever the destination I feel the journey has begun.
Not two days after arriving and the town is set upon by goblins. This is no coincidence. I do not believe they came for me but I believe that I came for them, them and whatever lies beyond. I fear they are little more than the first tentative clattering of pebbles that hints at the coming landslide.
Truth be told I’ve never seen anyone killed before, not even a goblin. It was horrifying, sickening, and yet thrilling in a way I cannot put into words. I felt an excitement rise in me, a powerful arousal such as I’ve not experienced before. After the battle I was practically vibrating with barely-contained energy. The skilled attention of the trollop Shayliss was a welcome way to let off steam.
Kellus seemed more than a little put out at the attention she lavished upon me, and more so my reciprocation, though every word I speak and action I take seems to aggravate him. We were never really friends as such but he was always kind to me growing up – in his own inimitable fashion – and I take little joy in testing him so, but if he is to walk the path with me, if I am to trust him, I must know that he’ll stay fast. Whatever task the gods see fit to set me upon I must know if he stays of his own choice, not simply to satisfy a tedious command given by an old priest.
I know not what to make of the two Shoanti who fought alongside us in the battle – Roars with Thunder and Mountain’s Fang – but I feel a strange connection to them. They are crude, brusque, and dangerous yet I do not think they would play us false. It helps too that their physical prowess compliment my and Kellus’ magical abilities well, and it never hurts I suppose to have a wall of muscle and iron between oneself and one’s foes. I find the woman’s strength and talent for unrestrained violence quite attractive, a welcome change from the weak but willing wenches of Underbridge, but I think her cousin likely to split my head were I to lay a finger upon her though.
Kellus and my new companions question me constantly about why we have come, what has drawn me here. Would that I had an answer to give. I am often as confused as they, something I have demonstrated more than once by doing a credible impression of a blathering fool. All I can say is that Sandpoint is not the end of my journey, it is the beginning. There is much sadness here, and much darkness. Murder, death, and undeath. Hidden currents and buried secrets. I feel as if I am standing before a fulcrum but I do not yet know which end of the lever to push.
Entry 2: I have seen the dead walk and knew no fear.
I have heard it said that a hero is someone who runs into the the place from which others flee. It seems to me that more rightly describes the actions of a madman, but perhaps the two are not entirely unrelated.
At the behest of the mayor Kellus and I, along with our new Shoanti companions, were asked – or perhaps more rightly tasked – with exploring the desecration of a crypt within the town’s graveyard. Within we found the body of Tobyn missing, but the corpses of several others – infused with some pallid mockery of life – rose up against us. I had read of such abominations and expected to be terrified, but instead I felt naught but curiosity. I regret we could not take one of the things whole and “alive” for further study.
Tomorrow we hunt. More death, more blood. Even as I try to hold the Darkness at bay I can’t help but feed it, and I’m not certain now that is a bad thing. I have always feared it, but it could be a source of great strength. If I cannot imprison it I must learn to harness it. I must be in control.
We hunted this morning as guests of Aldren Foxglove. He seems a fool of a man, but what he lacks in wit he makes up for in generosity as he gifted all four of us with new horses. I confess I am not much of a rider and I found the experience of riding this beast more unnerving than the hunt itself.
We returned to The Rusty Dragon with a great boar, a feast would be had. The owner, Ameiko, has given us all rooms in recognition of our service to the community but it seems only right to give back what we can. Ameiko’s mother died several years ago, plummeting from the cliffs to the east. Something about this story struck false with me and after seeing the brutal and bestial manner in which Ameiko’s own father treated his daughter I am convinced now that man murdered his wife.
Ameiko has done well by us and I shall return her support in kind. I will seek proof of her father’s heinous crime once we have seen off the goblin threat.
Events have been occurring too quickly of late for me to document them properly. Old Master Parcelle would doubtless dress me down for such laxness, but he always had more concern for letters and books than people.
Ameiko was taken, kidnapped by her brother. He was in league with the goblins that attacked Sandpoint, and further to a woman named Nualia. She was a citizen of the town, purportedly a great beauty loved by all, but documents in Tsuto’s possession suggested such was no longer the case.
We followed a tunnel beneath the glassworks and discovered an underground complex devoted to the worship of Lamashtu, the mother of monsters. Therein we bested many villains and beasts, including the three-armed goblin Koruvus. We were stymied by a collapsed staircase adorned with many Thassilonian runis warnings. As of yet our best efforts have been insufficient to bypass this obstacle but we will persist.
Working with the ranger Shalelu we formulated a plan to see off the goblin threat once and for all. Taking the corpse of Koruvus Shalelu set off to sow mistrust among the goblin tribes to shatter their tenuous alliance while my companions and I assaulted the goblin keep at Thistletop.
The goblins and their allies proved a tougher enemy than we’d anticipated and it took us several days to clear the nest completely. Beneath the keep proper we discovered Nualia. She may once have been a great beauty but now she was a monster in a twisted human shell.
In those same ruins we were set upon but shadows, twisted undead monstrosities out of the fetid dreams of a madman. Roars With Thunder was savaged by the creatures, pulling the very lifeforce from his body. Were he to fall he would not simply die but would rise after death as another of their number. I do not know what madness took me – bravado or simply folly – but I attacked the things as a man possessed. Eschewing weapons I struck them with my bare hands, summoning the power of life and healing. The holy power seemed to burn the creatures, to seer away whatever unholy energy granted them their mockery of life.
Something changed inside me that day. I had always thought of myself as a scholar, a man of words spectacularly unsuited to the rigors of arms and combat. Yet in these past few weeks my body has grown strong,. I have faced monsters and beasts both alive and undead and I have come through each encounter better for it, like a blade tempered in flame. I need not cower behind cover while the Shoanti do battle. I am not a simpering wizard, I am a holy warrior
There is little I wish to remember or recount of the events surrounding Aldren Foxglove and his ancestral home. The manor itself is accursed and the creeping foulness of the place corrupted Aldren himself, who fell to the curse of undeath. Suffused with evil and madness, he murdered many locals in a bizarre attempt to seduce Mountain’s Fang.
We destroyed many undead monstrosities in the region and the house itself, which had an unsettling effect on us all. Kellus’ mind was clouded, at one point believing himself to be father to a missing child. I worry that some foul magic has him still refusing to believe that Aldren was the beast we fought and destroyed in the caverns beneath the house. I myself became cruel towards Mountain’s Fang and Roars with Thunder, a shame for which I must make amends.
There are but two positive things I took away from that place. The first are a number of books I was able to rescue, including a large library on Shoanti history and culture. The second is a greater understanding of the spirits that haunt me daily. Seeing how terrible and deadly such haunts can be the minor inconveniences foisted upon me by fate seem almost benevolent.
I worry that the people slain by Aldren in his evil and misguided attempt to woo Mountain’s Fang will weigh heavily upon her mind.
Our triumph at having cleared out the accursed Foxglove Manor and ending the threat posed by the fallen Aldren Foxglove was short lived. We had for some time been growing worried about the ranger Shalelu, whom we had sent to sow dissent and information among the goblin tribes of the area, had not returned and it turned out our apprehension was merited. Two hunters – Yarrow and Terren – had located the site of a battle in the woods where Shalelu had been operating and the evidence suggested she had been taken alive.
With nothing more to go on Kellus and Roar’s with Thunder visited a local academy to locate an enchanted mirror so that we might scry Shalelu’s location and mount a rescue operation. With little to contribute to their endeavor Mountain’s Fang and I decided to finally investigate the ominously-named Chopper’s Isle, a supposedly cursed locale which had fascinated us both since arriving in town.
Mountain’s Fang’s strength and grace were truly astonishing to behold. Even having doffed my armour and clambering up a knotted rope I still required her assistance, not that I was reluctant to accept it of course. Part way up the rise, with nothing between me and the jagged rocks below but for Mountain’s Fang’s grip, I realized I had, without thought, put my life literally in another’s hands. Always in my life had I been guarded, never fully trusting entirely another person, yet I had done so here without a second thought.
The island was much as it seemed, a ruin wrought of Sandpoint’s wrath. There was little to hint at dark deeds that had once been perpetrated here. In a secret alcove, beneath the hut’s burnt and blackened timbers, we discovered a series of carved wooden tablets which we took for further investigation. More importantly I discovered that Mountain’s Fang had been set upon her path by a vision very similar to my own. Whatever awaits I feel my fate and that of this strange and intriguing woman are somehow entwined.
Upon returning to town we met up with Kellus and Roar’s with Thunder and performed the scrying ritual to locate Shalelu. We discovered that she was being held, chained in a dark subterranean space, at the mercy of Orik Vancaskerkin and Lyrie Akenja, two of Nualia’s minions we allowed to live at Thistletop! To attack our allies is to throw our mercy in our faces. Never again will I make the same mistake. Their lives are forfeit.
Guided by Yarrow and Terren we located the site of the ambush. Roar’s with Thunder tracked the ambushers to a nearby ruin. beneath a bat-shaped altar we located a narrow passage leading into the ruined temple.
Descending into the darkness below we were set upon immediately by bugbears. Liri, vindictive shrew, called for Shalelu to be killed at which Mountain’s Fang went running into the unknown to save her. Without a thought I set off after her, weaving through a cluster of bugbears and leaving my other allies to defend themselves. As I rounded the corner I saw to my relief that Mountain’s Fang still stood, fighting her way through bugbears to reach Shalelu where she lay. As I swooped into position defending the ranger, flanking a bugbear with Mountain’s Fang, I realized that I had flown. Somehow a set of wings, no more substantial than a breath, had sprouted from my back and I had flown!
In truth the rest of the battle was a blur, a cacophony of arms and armor, blood and iron, spells and darkness. We slew and were victorious, saving Shalelu’s life and freeing her from her captors, yet through it all my mind seemed almost removed from my body. Wings of inky blackness, of semi-solid shadow, crowned my shoulders like some great and terrible infernal beast. I concentrated, wishing them away, and they vanished, dissipating like smoke on the wind.
I hope my face was did not reflect the terror that was welling up inside me. As long as I can remember I have been fighting the darkness inside. Was this a manifestation of that darkness? Am I losing the battle? If I cannot conquer the darkness perhaps I can learn to harness it, to hone it and wield it where I choose.
I feared my companions would view me as some sort of monster, perhaps even strike me down, but instead I met only the same relief that always accompanied a successful battle. Indeed Mountain’s Fang, whose hatred of aberrations runs deep to the bone, seemed not aghast but awed and gifted me a Shoanti honourific: Shadow Wing. I hope I prove worthy of it.
We returned to town to rest for a few days. I had discovered many secrets of crafting magical items in some of Foxglove’s books and put them to use during the days crafting an amulet for Mountain’s Fang, a boar’s tusk carved in the form of a striking hawk and chased in silver. She seemed quite taken with it.
Whatever their source I have found I am able to manifest the wings at will and through much trial and error, and more than a few bruises, I am able to gauge to within a few seconds how long they will remain. I have taken to the sky in the deepest darkness to practice flying and am growing in skill with each flight. I wonder if I am be able to take carry another?
In a few days we will leave for Magnimar, delivering Tsuto to face Varisian law. The only qualm I have about our task is that he will face iron bars rather than a hempen rope or well-honed axe. Letting this patricidal maniac live a day longer is more mercy than he deserves, and if our recent experiences in the bat temple have taught me anything it is that mercy can be folly. More than that Tsuto is a schemer and I fear he might attempt to play upon Lani’s familial ties to turn him against us. Time will tell.
Before setting out for Magnimar I spoke to Kellus, Mountain’s Fang, and Roars with Thunder about my fears regarding Tsuto and Lani, and with good reason. As expected Tsuto did indeed attempt to turn Lani against us, to corrupt his sense of familial obligation. Lani surprised me by showing not simply resistance but rage at Tsuto’s attempts. I had assumed such familial bonds would stand true against all but it seems the issue is more complicated than I had thought. Whatever the reason, I had misjudged Lani. I spoke to him when we made a short-camp during the day, offering not simply my respect but my friendship.
Since setting out from Sandpoint I had been growing more apprehensive about a conversation I knew I must have with Mountain’s Fang. I feared she was unprepared for the state of some of the Shoanti in Magnimar. With the city fast approaching I could avoid it no longer. She seemed more than a little upset at this revelation but I feel, or at least I hope, that she understood I did it not to insult her culture but rather to spare her the shock of what she might witness.
It was easy enough to find guard captain Kasedai and deliver Tsuto to her custody. I would have preferred had he encountered an “accident” on the road but the captain assures us he will receive “special attention” from the guards. I had wanted to offer the guards a bounty of a gold piece for each tooth they knocked from his head but was forced to leave before I had the opportunity.
With night coming on we decided to wait until the next day before investigating the Foxglove townhouse. Kellus, Roars with Thunder, and Lani chose to seek out an inn but Mountain’s Fang opted instead to seek the hospitality of the Shoanti encamped beyond the city walls. With her permission I accompanied her. No matter what happened that night I was certain it would be most interesting.