Chapter #8: The Stronghold of Mine Enemies.   Posted by The Raconteur.Group: 0
Pisca Neep Freemish
 Gnome Archaeologist, 2356 posts
 The Gnome!
 And Her Imagination
Thu 30 Apr 2015
at 19:31
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
"That's a good idea, Lys."  The gnome stood before the priest of Abadar and held up her arm.  It was the arm that had been bitten by one of Nualia's Demon Dogs.  The puncture marks were still there in her leathers, splashed with gnomish blood.  "In the letter we could add something to the effect that Big Gugmut is a coward and he would never have the courage to face us one to one, even though we're tired, having just fought through unspeakable odds to bring down Nualia."

The gnome's large violet eyes looked up into the priest's face, pleading with him to take away her pain.  Those eyes spoke in the language of the innocent and the helpless.  It was a language in diametric opposition to the language spoken by the gnome's mouth.

"That's a pretty good message, don't you think?  To call out someone who's brave but not so smart?"

"Heal?  Please?  Please," Pisca said, giving the elder hummie a bit more of a hint.  "Thank you."

Active Effects:  Message 40m (On All in party.)

HP 19/30

The Raconteur
 GM, 2071 posts
 Teller of Tales
 Writer of Wrongs
Thu 30 Apr 2015
at 23:31
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies



“Mosswood is located in the center,” Ripnugget replied, again tearing his attention away from the warchanter, who looked slightly annoyed at the continual interruption.  "They’ll be going over the northern bridge.”

He gave Pisca an unsettling smile as she began talking about finding the Mosswoods and killing Big Gugmut.  “Oh, I think you should leave that part to me,” he informed her, standing up as one of his commandos entered the room.  “If you wouldn’t mind allowing me the use of Nualia’s head?”  He held a hand out, waiting.  “The attack will be probably be happening soon.  Big Gugmut is an eager one.  He would no doubt enjoy the glory of sacking Sandpoint himself.  We need to make sure that doesn’t happen.  And I think I can do just that.”  He gave Liseth a reassuring look.  “No need for you to get involved.  I think you’ve accomplished more than enough for one day.”

[Language unknown:  Ul’e cenchi, Ecilna.]”  The commando was apparently not a goblin of many words.

[Language unknown:  Disthose.  N entoan k lllawa ntofan.]”  Ripnugget replied.  The commando executed a sharp salute, turned on his heel, and left.  “I must go.  Gabriel, I trust you will see our visitors out?”  He turned back to Pisca, hand still outstretched.

“I think the esteemed Warchief has a plan to take care of the Gugmut situation.”  Father Gabriel nodded to Pisca, picking at the sleeves of his robe.  “But he needs to be about his business.  Oh,” he made a face as Pisca lifted her blood-smeared arm, “that looks unpleasant.  We'll definitely have to do something about that!  I can't send you off all slashed up!"  He shook his head, as if such a breach of hospitality were a sin of no small import.  "Why don’t you give him the head, and then we can see about getting you all healed up and on your way?”  He clapped his hands together excitedly, as if he had just had a wonderful idea.  "I can even brew you some tea!  For the road!"




This message was last edited by the GM at 00:20, Fri 01 May 2015.

Pisca Neep Freemish
 Gnome Archaeologist, 2357 posts
 The Gnome!
 And Her Imagination
Fri 1 May 2015
at 00:14
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Pisca turned her back on the Goblin King and his outstretched hand.  This was less the slight that it might have seemed, as, in the act of doing so, she also turned to face Kellan Storval, keeper of the Head of Nualia.

"What do you think, Stomper?  It's a nice trophy, but doesn't it strike you as just a little bit ... hummie inappropriate?  Not the kind of thing that you want to be seen riding into town with unless you want to scare the children.  Great for throwing out into the center of the table if you want gasps of horror, but not really something you want to bring to the dinner table."

"Besides, we have some other very nice things to make up for it.  Nothing, unfortunately, that would be good to bring back for Shayliss, though."  Pisca shrugged.  "But, I suppose that's to be expected when you visit an evil sanctum of Lamashtu worship."

"I'm alright with letting the head go if you are," admitted the gnome, looking to the faces of her human friends for their views on the subject.

Active Effects:  Message 40m (On All in party.)

HP 19/30

Liseth Thoradin
 Human Oracle, 2184 posts
 Deluge of Positive Energy
 HP 26/30
Fri 1 May 2015
at 18:20
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Liseth merely nodded when Ripnugget addressed her.  She had thought he was trying to get them to fight his enemies for him like the last time, but she was glad to see that things were different than that.  The goblin chief seemed to have an idea that would deal with Big Gugmut without them getting involved, and that was fine by her.

The last thing the young acolyte needed today was to get involved with a goblin political power struggle!  And if it got rid of...Nualia's head...all the better.

"Just give...it to him Kellan.  Please?  I don't want to ride back with that there."  It gave her shivers; not only was it a person's head, but it was also the head of a powerful and mad worshiper of Lamashtu.  They already had enough ill will from the evil goddess without parading their victory around in such a gruesome manner!  "I don't think that Sandpoint will need it as evidence of what we did here today.  We already have Tsuto's letter, and Mr Orik's testimony.  And a prisoner too."  Liseth paused a moment before saying quietly, "And all of us are still alive too."

"Oh, thank you again Father Gabriel.  Some tea would be very nice.  And maybe some biscuits too...do you have any biscuits?"  On second thought, goblin-baked biscuits might not be the best of ideas, so the exhausted girl changed venues, "And, Father Gabriel, was there a message that you wanted us to bring to Sandpoint for you?  I don't think that anybody knows you are here in Thistletop...and Sir Jasper is Abadar's Paladin, as well as the manager of Sandpoint's Mercantile League.  I'm sure he would be able to help with what you are trying to do here."
The Raconteur
 GM, 2074 posts
 Teller of Tales
 Writer of Wrongs
Fri 1 May 2015
at 21:30
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies



“Sounds good to me,” said Kellan, his voice inflected with something that sounded like relief.  Carrying Nualia’s disembodied skull evidently wasn’t a duty he especially enjoyed.  The guardsman carefully removed the dead woman’s head from the bag in which he had secured it, making a slight face as he walked over to hand it to Ripnugget.  “Here you go.”

“Thank you,” responded Ripnugget as he accepted the prize, as always unusually courteous for a goblin.  Apparently the warchief wasn’t that sensitive about carrying body parts—he let the head dangle at his side as he talked.  “I must go.  In a few hours, I think you’ll find that Sandpoint has little to worry about.”  With that mysterious parting shot, he strode out of the room, accompanied by the warchanter.

“Well, I think everything has gone pretty well, don’t you think?”  He winked at Liseth at the mention of biscuits, then recoiled in horror.  “Oh my goodness, no!  You don’t really want to eat anything a goblin has cooked.  And they’re not much for baking anyhow.  Let me tap Abadar’s power and see what we can do about your wounds, then perhaps we can work on some pastries for you.”  As Father Gabriel bowed his head, a wash of positive energy flowed from him over several bursts, fully rejuvenating the party.  Wounds closed, bruises faded, and spirits lifted.  The power of Abadar, long held in check here at a center of Lamashtu’s power, was returning in full force.

As Father Gabriel engaged with his god, Pisca headed over to check up on the prisoner.  She opened the door in the corner of the room to find a foul-smelling butchery.  And it wasn’t just the smell—the room was a horrifying affront to all the senses.  Haunches of poorly-smoked dog-and-horse-meat hung from hooks along the ceiling or lay heaped upon crates.

In the center of the room lay the unmoving, bound prisoner.  But as Pisca approached, she noticed that the mysterious man no longer seemed to be breathing.  Concerned, she knelt to further examine him, finding that he was, in fact, dead.  The gnome looked around, but at first glance she could see no cause for the man’s death.  He did not suffer any visible wound he had not borne at the time Kellan deposited him with the goblins.




Cato Crispin
 Human Wizard, 1014 posts
 Quarterstaff Expert
Sun 3 May 2015
at 02:09
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Cato's breath stopped as they found the dead mysterious man.  Cato felt ashamed of himself for thinking it, but he couldn't shake the feeling that dying in a dirty abattoir such as this was somehow...fitting for the mysterious stranger.  Cato calmly approached, fingers already moving in a rote pattern the wizard had called on scores of times in the past, not even thinking about what he was doing.  As he vocalized the final components to the spell, he peered into the magical auras, wondering if anything in that sphere could reveal any clues about the stranger's mysterious demise.

Casting Detect Magic
Pisca Neep Freemish
 Gnome Archaeologist, 2359 posts
 The Gnome!
 And Her Imagination
Sun 3 May 2015
at 14:22
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
The gnome placed hands on hips and formed her mouth into a moue of dissatisfaction.  "Well, that's convenient.  Or inconvenient, depending on which way the wind is blowing," she said.

"I didn't think you'd hit him that hard, Lys.  Maybe ... "  Pisca tipped her head to one side, examining the body of the One Eyed Mask from a different angle.  "You know, I've heard of people who can still their bodies to the extent that they appear to be dead.  When, in actuality, they are in a state of hypernation in which they are actually watching you from just the other side of the Ethereal plane."

"I think you had the right idea before with the Princess of Lamashtu, Stomper.  Lets cut this one's head off too."  And Pisca then stepped aside, clearing the way for big poleaxe wielding guard to do the grisly deed.

Active Effects:  Message 40m (On All in party.)

HP 30/30

Liseth Thoradin
 Human Oracle, 2188 posts
 Deluge of Positive Energy
 HP 26/30
Mon 4 May 2015
at 18:24
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
With Father Gabriel's beseeching, all of their remaining wounds were closed by Abadar's power.  It no longer stung or bled, all cuts and scrapes disappeared and bruises receded.  But even with her body mended, Liseth was still spiritually and emotionally exhausted.  Not to mention dirty and covered with gore.

"Thank you, Father Gabriel."  Liseth was fine to see Ripnugget leave, carrying Nualia's head.  What was he going to do with it, though?  The girl turned back to the priest, it was much easier fro her to speak with him anyway.  "I will make sure to honor Abadar for you, the next time I pray."

The situation with the formerly masked mage drew Liseth's attention immediately.  Especially when Pisca mentioned that he looked dead.  He didn't die from her crossbow bolt, did he?  The blonde acolyte paled; what if he had?  What is he had a concussion from the hit and then died and it was her who killed him?!

Heart racing with anxiety, Liseth pulled Kerr with her to examine the body.  "I don't think that he's just pretending Pisca..."  She let go of Kerr to kneel down and examine the body.  "Wait, no...no don't...cut off his head please...let me check him..."

OOC: Heal Skill Check please, to determine cause of death.  I'm assuming that he poisoned himself, since we already know he had and used poison.
Kellan Storval
 Human Fighter, 1071 posts
 Miniboss
Mon 4 May 2015
at 22:32
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Kellan looked let down when they had discovered that their prisoner had died while in the hands of the goblins. In retrospect he really could not think of a way it could have been avoided, after all thr fight with Nualia had been close enough without babysitting a cunning prisoner, yet here he was, dead, along with all that he knew.

Thr guardsman knelt next to the man and wondered how he had come to be in this place, what kind of life he had lived, who his parents were, where he had grown up. But now dead among all this filth it seemed they would never know.

"Yeah, just to be safe I guess" Kellan really did not enjoy this aspect of his job. The feeling through the haft of the weapon, the smell...the disturbing feeling it gave him overall, but the worry over him coming back and doing the same to some innocent was far stronger than these reservations.

That was until Liseth intervened...

"You think he could be alive?" He asked as he looked suspiciously at the body.
The Raconteur
 GM, 2076 posts
 Teller of Tales
 Writer of Wrongs
Tue 5 May 2015
at 05:59
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies



"You're welcome, my dear," Father Gabriel responded to Liseth's thanksgiving.  He wandered over to the room where Pisca was inspecting the masked man's body.  In the distance what sounded like a group of goblin dogs barked and howled.

"Oh, dear!"  He said, making a nervous washing motion with his hands as he observed the discussion over the man's apparent death.  He scratched his balding head.  "I didn't expect that.  That's not good at all, not good at all."

"Oh, I don't think you should decapitate him right here!"  The priest of Abadar looked slightly appalled at the barbarity.  "Or at all!  Is that really necessary?  Everyone deserves a proper burial, don't you think?  Even the evil.  I think how we treat the dead," he gave the group a meaningful, teachable-moment type of look, "says quite a bit about the living."




Liseth Thoradin
 Human Oracle, 2189 posts
 Deluge of Positive Energy
 HP 26/30
Tue 5 May 2015
at 11:48
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Liseth shivered involuntarily in response to the howling of the goblin dogs in the distance.  But instead she concentrated on examining the dead man; looking under his eyelids, checking his skin, opening his mouth...

"Oh..."  That word carried with it equal amounts relief and horror.  Her examination now finished, Liseth stood back up and retreated a few steps from the body.  "Yes, he's dead...he..."  It was a difficult thing for her to imagine someone doing to themselves.  And likely painful too.

"He...poisoned himself.  He must have had a hidden poison the whole time, just for that...he must have woken up and killed himself so that we wouldn't have him as a prisoner..."

So many awful, terrible things.  "I don't...I don't think we need his head Pisca...Kellan.  I'm sure nobody would know who he is.  I think, what's important, is that we have his mask to show someone who might know."

The girl rubbed Kerr's arm anxiously, "Father Gabriel can give him a respectful burial.  Can we go now?  I...I want to go home."

This message had punctuation tweaked by the player at 11:49, Tue 05 May 2015.

Pisca Neep Freemish
 Gnome Archaeologist, 2361 posts
 The Gnome!
 And Her Imagination
Tue 5 May 2015
at 13:46
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
The gnome stalked to the door and cupped her hands to form a megaphone as she shouted to the rambunctious and far distant goblin horde.  "HEY!  KEEP IT DOWN OUT THERE!  YOU'RE SCARING MY FRIEND!"  [Language unknown:  "RI N K.  Wh CAHOU LI!"] she then added in the goblin tongue.

"Alright.  If you say he's dead then he must be dead, Lys.  Though, you know what that means?  It means that we could have broken him, and he knew that we could have broken him.  And he didn't expect rescue any time soon.  That means he was probably working alone in the Sandpoint area.  I don't think we need to worry about any minions or allies of the Golden Seven in the near future.  Though, they'll probably send someone to investigate after a while."

"Probably."

"Even dead men tell tales," Pisca added, though more to herself than to anyone else.  Then, brightening as she turned to Liseth, "Yes, lets go home.  There's still a lot to do."

"Oh, wait!  One more thing.  I must have missed the poison when we searched him the first time around."  The gnome began searching the man's body once again.  "Before we go, I want to find out where he kept it.  That little tidbit of information might be helpful if we run into any of this one's friends in the future."

Perception 31 Taking 20 to find where Mystery Man had his poison hidden.

This message was last edited by the player at 12:31, Wed 06 May 2015.

Cato Crispin
 Human Wizard, 1015 posts
 Quarterstaff Expert
Tue 5 May 2015
at 19:46
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Cato nods.  "Poison certainly makes sense.  Nothing magical about him.  At least, no lingering effects, so he's not feigning death by magical means."
Kellan Storval
 Human Fighter, 1073 posts
 Miniboss
Wed 6 May 2015
at 15:30
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Kellan relaxed at Liseths request, and set thr butt of his weapon back upon the packed soil.

"Yeah, let's get going. I think our work here is done for today"

He turned to Father Gabriel "Father, thanks for your help...hopefully we will see you around Sandpoint some time"

And with that he looked around as if trying to trace their steps back towards the entrance. In the chaos of the assault he had not exactly been pay in attention to those kind of details, but wandered in tha general direction.
The Raconteur
 GM, 2078 posts
 Teller of Tales
 Writer of Wrongs
Thu 7 May 2015
at 06:01
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies



Thistletop was silent as a tomb.

After bidding their farewells to Father Gabriel, and receiving five canteens for the road--filled with some very nice-tasting tea--the group made their way out of the throne room, down the hallway in which they’d fought with Ripnugget and his minions, and out into the entry hall.  Blood still stained the floor, although the goblins they’d killed had been moved somewhere else.  The alarm bell stood unattended, a silent sentry watching as intruders filed by.

As the five weary heroes left the goblin fortress, they found it to be sometime in the evening, although how late in the evening it was impossible to say.  The crash of waves against Thistletop’s cliffs was oddly relaxing, and the twinkle of the starlit sky and the crescent moon cast a soft glow on the group as they enjoyed the fresh sea breeze even despite its chill.

“Hey Kellan, shouldn’t you activate your crystal?”  Kerr suggested as he helped Liseth with a cloak to ward against the cold.  “To signal Shalelu?  Not sure where she is but it might take her a bit to get the horses prepped and meet us outside the Nettlemaze.”

Kellan, who had almost forgotten about the crystal in his possession, shamefacedly produced the glowing shard and pronounced the Elvish activation word.  It immediately went dark, and the group felt confident that Shalelu’s sibling shard was now glowing, alerting her to the fact that they were ready for extraction.  If anyone minded leaving Thistletop and its environs as quickly as possible, they kept those reservations to themselves.

The human members of the group bent down as they re-entered the Nettlemaze.  Any concerns about the firepelt they’d so successfully avoided on their way in were quickly put to rest; it seemed to be gone.  And the Nettlemaze itself seemed curiously empty of goblins; the group did not see a single one as they made their way back to the entry of the maze, finally pushing aside the nettle door and standing to their full height once again in the well-trodden path through the Nettlewood.

After what seemed like only minutes Shalelu Andosana appeared, leading the horses.  She looked serious and seemed little inclined to engage in conversation or other pleasantries, but rather intent on spiriting the group away from Thistletop and any remaining dangers it might present.  Once again the ranger thoroughly confused everyone in the party as she led them quietly down various Nettlewood paths, zigging this way and that until the group found itself on the eaves of the forest.

Once they had left the Nettlewood Shalelu, still enforcing silence, guided the group less than a mile to what seemed to have been her bivouac as she waited for their return.  She had made a small camp in a depression between three hillocks that shielded the space between them from view almost perfectly.  There was just enough room to comfortably tether the horses and lay six bedrolls around a small fire whose glow was invisible until any would-be observer was right on top of it.

The elf set about rekindling the fire, quietly directing each member of the group to their bedroll.  Finally, when everyone was organized and seated around the fire, she broke the silence.

“What happened in there?”  She said, as if the curiosity were not killing her.  “Less than an hour before you signaled a large group of goblin-dog riders, led by what looked like Ripnugget himself, came tearing out of the woods and headed towards Sandpoint.  I feared,” she sighed, throwing another piece of wood on the fire.  “I feared you were lost, and that Sandpoint would soon follow.  I was just preparing to head back that way, perhaps to warn them, when I received your signal.”  She gave them an inscrutable look.  “Perhaps you can understand exactly how shocking that was.  I was greatly relieved, but also confused, and somewhat suspicious.  I thought perhaps a goblin had wrested both the crystal and its word of activation from your possession.”

“Fortunately that does not seem to be the case,” said the elf, giving Kellan a glance.  “But very little about what has happened makes sense.  Please, explain it to me.”




This message was last edited by the GM at 18:51, Thu 07 May 2015.

Pisca Neep Freemish
 Gnome Archaeologist, 2364 posts
 The Gnome!
 And Her Imagination
Thu 7 May 2015
at 13:55
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Pisca stood by the fire warming her hands.  Her small white palms with fingers splayed glowed a rosy red-orange.

"We won, Shalelu," she said in a rather off-hand manner.  "We had a head.  Nualia's head.  But we gave it up to Ripnugget.  I think he took it to cow the Mosswoods with.  I mean, that's what I was going to do.  So ... I think those goblin riders you saw were off to attack the Mosswoods.  Tribe on tribe regional blah-blah war.  Nice to see the gobbies back to normal."

"The only difference is that Ripnugget seems to have converted to Abadar.  Don't know how sincere he is in that.  There's a priest at Thistletop now.  Father Gabriel.  Lysa probably knows more about that.  She has faith.  Me ... "  The gnome shook her head.  "I just can't see gobbies changing that way."

"Oh, and Stomper killed Bruthazmus.  Didn't you, Stomper?  Heh.  Caught him with his bugbear pants down."

The gnome tipped her face up to the night sky.  Her large violet eyes caught the light of the first few evening stars.  It was a big, wide world filled with so many interesting things.  They'd done so much today.  So much in the past few days.  And there was so much more out there to discover.

It was a good time to be alive.  It was good time to be a gnome.
Kellan Storval
 Human Fighter, 1075 posts
 Miniboss
Thu 7 May 2015
at 17:12
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Kellan dropped his pack near the fire with stiff, jerky movements and a wince. His body have just received the most brutal workout of his life, and he had felt the effects begin to creep into his limbs as they made their trek out through the Nettle maze. By the time they grew near to camp he felt like he could barely walk.

The young guardsman was still mostly numb with shock, he needed sleep, and could not really think properly before he indulged in a much needed rest. He did toy with the idea of taking off his armor, but decided to leave it on just in case. Besides, he could probably sleep on a bed of nails he was so tired.

With a groan he laid out is bedroll then collapsed onto it, letting out a long sigh of relief as he felt the weight of his armor even out and his joints relax. Everything was tight, and it hurt to even move.

"We all killed him" he replied from where he lay with his eyes closed as if it hurt to talk "Team effort...I was just up front when it happened" he raised an arm and pointed towards his pack "Took his bow for you Shalelu, figured you might want it" he let his arm drop across his chest "Won't be botherin anybody now..." he chuckled and ran his hands over his face "Bigger than I'd thought he'd be...huge...hate'ta have had to fight him in the open"

He was silent for a few minutes, unable to sleep due to the pulsing of his limbs from the sheer exertion "Still can't believe we actually did it"
Cato Crispin
 Human Wizard, 1018 posts
 Quarterstaff Expert
Thu 7 May 2015
at 20:40
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Cato nodded along with Kellan's statement.  "No, I can't believe we did.  I can't believe that we ended up making a...I guess a truce with Ripnugget and the goblins.  And convinced some of Nualia's helpers to flee without a fight.  It seems that's the danger of hiring thugs.  They might value their own skin more than your gold."

Cato looks back towards Thistletop.  "There's still danger, there.  Nualia was there for a reason.  I worry that whatever drew her there may affect Ripnugget, the goblins, even Father Gabriel, perhaps.  And as bad as goblins are, goblins motivated and organized by a strong leader can be even worse."

Cato shrugged his shoulders, then laid back, reveling in the feeling of relaxing, his mind a weary mess after the day.  "But we took care of Nualia, anyway."
Liseth Thoradin
 Human Oracle, 2192 posts
 Deluge of Positive Energy
 HP 26/30
Fri 8 May 2015
at 00:30
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
It was dark out.  Liseth didn't want to even attempt to guess at how many hours had passed since Shalelu Andosana had left them outside the Nettlemaze.  What was important now was that the day was finally over.

The longest day that she could ever remember having.  It started early, earlier even than when she normally woke up.  And it was so exhausting; Liseth had been pushed to her limits so often in the last few days she couldn't imagine that she had anything left to give.  Her back was sore from carrying her knapsack everywhere, all of her limbs ached from so much exertion, so much walking and attempts at running.  She had a headache, she was dirty, her clothes were sweaty and torn and stained.

This was supposed to be a joyous time.  They had managed to succeed!  But the young acolyte was so worn out she couldn't enjoy it.

At Ms Andosana's fire Liseth sat silently on her bedroll; pressing against Kerr as she held his arm with hers and watched the flames flicker.  She listened as the others spoke and conversed, but didn't offer anything up until the talking had paused.

"Father Gabriel is a...strange man.  For one of Abadar's priests."  Nothing but her mouth moved as the slight girl answered Pisca.  "But he's honest.  I think he really believes that Abadar sent him as a missionary to Thistletop, and I haven't seen any reason to question him."  She yawned tiredly, "I still want to tell Sir Jaspar about him though.  It seems strange that he wouldn't already know about Father Gabriel inside Thistletop.

Another yawn, and she started to absently rub Kerr's arm, "And you did defeat Bruthazmus, Kellan.  I was...just trying to hide from him where he couldn't see me, and Pisca and Cato and Kerr were busy trying to keep us from getting ambushed while you fought him."

"I don't know what to think about Ripnugget, Ms Andosana.  I don't think that I trust him."  She recalled the goblin commandos being sent at them in the darkness the moment Ripnugget got tired of negotiating.  "But I do trust Father Gabriel..."  Liseth was talking slower and slower as she continued.  "And, Ripnugget seems to listen to Father Gabriel...and that's what's imp...ortant..."

The blonde teen's eyes had closed and she quieted down again; breathing steadily softening as she leaned heavily against Kerr...
The Raconteur
 GM, 2081 posts
 Teller of Tales
 Writer of Wrongs
Mon 11 May 2015
at 03:03
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies



Shalelu sat back and pondered the torrent of information the group had just delivered to her.  After a few moments where the only noise was the crackling of the fire and Liseth’s deep breathing, the elf broke the silence.  “That’s very good news,” She said, acknowledging the group’s victory with a surprising amount of aplomb.  “And if you’re right then that may very well be what Ripnugget is up to.”  She paused.  ‘But then again, can you be sure he’s not stealing a march on you to lead a combined goblin force in an attack on Sandpoint?”

“If you trust this priest of Abadar.”  She held out one thin, long-fingered hand, “and you trust his influence over Ripnugget,” at this, she held out the other, “then perhaps things truly are taking a turn for the better.”  She looked at each of her outstretched hands, then back at the party.  “But that’s taking a lot on trust, is it not?  Do you really think you can put your faith in this priest of Abadar?  And that Ripnugget is following him, rather than using him for his own purposes?”  She raised a tapered eyebrow.  “Best to be sure.”

She moved on to a topic with a more-personal interest.  “You are sure you killed Bruthazmus?  Killed him?  You’re certain he was dead?”  For the first time, the elven woman’s voice took on a tremor indicating some sort of emotional investment.  She reached out to take the bugbear’s bow, holding in wonderingly.  “Yes,” she said, her voice seeming to come from far away, “he’s difficult to fight in the open.  Killed him?”  She said again, as if the bow in her hand weren’t enough proof of the act.  “I . . . that was well done.  The crimes that bugbear has committed.”  She shook her head.  “Well, he’s paying for them now, in whatever foul afterlife the gods have condemned him to.”

“You turned some of Nualia’s henchmen?”  Shalelu nodded at Cato.  “Many times those who follow out of money, fear, or deception are easily turned.“  She gestured back towards Thistletop.  “Earlier I saw a large human leaving the Nettlewood.  Then a half-elf and a human woman, just shortly before I got your signal.  Your doing, I suppose.”

Shalelu gave Cato a serious look.  “You think something drew Nualia there?  What sort of thing?  And what makes you think this?”  She sat up, concern clearly written on her fine features.  “A being of power?  Please, tell me.”




Pisca Neep Freemish
 Gnome Archaeologist, 2367 posts
 The Gnome!
 And Her Imagination
Mon 11 May 2015
at 16:53
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
The sounds of soft regular breathing turned the gnome's head from the stars.  A smile made dimples at the sides of Pisca's mouth as she watched her human friend drift into an exhausted slumber.  Humans, when lost and vulnerable, were almost as cute as gnomes.

"Couldn't hurt to hurry home tomorrow, Shalelu," Pisca said, her tones lowered so as not to disturb Liseth newly fallen into slumber.  "Even if Ripnugget went to stop the Mosswoods as we suspect, there's no guarantee he'll be successful."

"And I don't know about whether he or she or it drew Noo Noo Girl the Left Hand of Lamashtu to Thistletop or not, but from everything that we heard and saw and read, she was pretty bent on releasing this Malefshnekor thing.  Tsuto wrote about him.  I think that was the first time we came across the name, wasn't it?"  This question Pisca had addressed to Cato.  "I got the impression that she thought doing so would bring her some sort of power.  Or maybe a thirty-foot tall goblin champion.  Or something."

"That's from a goblin painting that we saw.  Thought was probably Malefshnekor," the gnome explained in a somewhat less than helpful manner.
Cato Crispin
 Human Wizard, 1020 posts
 Quarterstaff Expert
Mon 11 May 2015
at 18:40
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Cato nodded.  "I'm fairly certain a millenia-old barghest named Malneshfekor is imprisoned somewhere in the depths of Thistletop."  Cato tilted his head, tapping his fingers on his chin.  "Brodert thinks Thistletop might be connected to the Old Light; it might have actually been a part of it at one point, which means it dates back thousands of years, easily old enough to have been associated with a being like that.  Most scholars have long thought that Malneshfekor was defeated by agents of the Runelord Karzough, but maybe he's instead been trapped inside Thistletop since the Old Light was destroyed."  Cato shrugged.  "I suppose there's no way to prove that unless we find the beast wherever he lurks inside Thistletop.  Certainly, Nualia was able to contact him, and she was receiving instructions from that little Quasit we fought in the catacombs under Sandpoint...which also dated to a similar era."
Kellan Storval
 Human Fighter, 1076 posts
 Miniboss
Mon 11 May 2015
at 19:23
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Kellan remained silent as the others voiced their suspicions. They were all excellent ideas, and far more well informed than any suppositions he could have contributed himself, but for the most part he was so mentally and physically exhausted that he was having trouble staying awake and focused on the situation to begin with.

"I don't think Ripnugget would be that stupid...he saw us walk out of that place with a few scratches, and it was by a devils luck alone that he escaped our first fight. Between what we did to Nualia and the pile of corpses we left on his threshhold, anybody with a reputation as a tactical genius has to realize that antagonizing Sandpoint any further is not going to end well"

He yawned

"Still, better safe than sorry...a little rest then we can hustle back to Sandpoint"
Liseth Thoradin
 Human Oracle, 2194 posts
 Deluge of Positive Energy
 HP 26/30
Mon 11 May 2015
at 20:39
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies
Kerr!  As she slept, Liseth's mind processed all of the information from the last several days.  The last day in particular.  The terror, the horror, the disgust, the danger.  The accomplishments.  Liseth would not have been able to do anything at all had her freinds not been there to help her.  Had Kerr not been there to protect her and comfort her when she was afraid.

Her mind flashed images of th times when she was so nearly killed.  Ambushed by goblins, by undead.  Monster demon skulls.  Mauled by devil dogs after being pulled, nearly helpless to the floor.  It was a miracle she was alright; that they all were still healthy.

In her restless dreams, it was only becuase of her hero that she was still safe.  Liseth's divinely appointed protector.  Cognitively she knew that her friends were equally responsible; but in the young acolyte's slumbering mind, whenever she was in danger, Kerr would appear and keep her safe.

"Kerr..."  Liseth mumbled, nearly unintelligably as she shifted fitfully in her sleep.  She was exhausted, scared, and vulnerable; but as long as she was near him, Liseth knew that she was safe.
The Raconteur
 GM, 2082 posts
 Teller of Tales
 Writer of Wrongs
Tue 12 May 2015
at 04:02
Re: Chapter #8:  The Stronghold of Mine Enemies



“Interesting.  Disturbing, but interesting.”  Shalelu Andosana pondered the significance of this new information.  “A barghest?  That is a power this region has not dealt with for ages, if ever.  But if you’re right, this ‘Malfeshnekor’ has been trapped in Thistletop for millennia, and has had more than a few years to work on the goblins, with no apparent success.  Now that you’ve destroyed Nualia,” she gave an approving dip of her head, “it seems like the plans of whatever might lurk in Thistletop have been destroyed with her.”

“So yes, Pisca, I think we should return to Sandpoint as soon as you five have gotten some well-earned rest.  But we would do well to keep an eye on Thistletop.  Anything with which the Runelords had involvement tends to corrupt those associated with it.  And the idea that Nualia was communicating with this being?  Well,” she shook her head, “if she can do it, so can others.”

The elf crouched near the fire, using some sort of substance she retrieved from a concealed pouch to extinguish it without creating smoke.  “I recommend you get to your bedrolls and get some sleep.  We will need to be up early on the morrow, and after we arise we will be moving with great haste.  I need you to be prepared for whatever we find at Sandpoint.  I hope we will find the town undisturbed, but it is in a precarious situation even should Ripnugget truly be riding to attack his fellow goblins.”

Kerr and Liseth had already fallen asleep wrapped in each other’s arms, so the elf did what she could to spread their bedrolls over them.  “I’ll watch through the night,” she assured those who remained awake, “I have had all the rest I need waiting for you.”  The night sounds of insects filled the air, their loud affirmation of life an implicit challenge to all those who would bring death and destruction.

As Kellan drifted off he felt a light touch on his shoulder.  Rolling over, he saw Shalelu kneeling near him, smiling.  “You did well, Kellan,” she murmured.  “And what I could not.  All the years I’d hunted Bruthazmus, and you bearded him in his lair.  That was well done.”  She patted his shoulder.  “I could not be prouder of you, my student.  You have great things ahead of you.”  She affirmed with quiet confidence.  “Great things.”

With that, the elf slipped from the camp to ensure that it was not being watched by unfriendly eyes, and soon the only sounds were of the insects and the deep breathing of the five tired warriors who had fought so hard and risked so much for Sandpoint.

CONTINUED IN CHAPTER #9:  RETURN TO SANDPOINT