Dragon Watch

Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 12
The Shadow Over Illmarsh, Part I

Illmarsh.jpg

The Arcanamirium’s Response and the Landing

Our heroes raced aboard the Titanis to the distant Ustalavan city of Illmarsh, where Orin’s fellow gillmen had disappeared. Through use of the Frozen Heart of Orphys, Orin had come to believe that the skum tribe besieging his hopeful triton allies were protected by a magical barrier whose origins lay within this mysterious town. Now he hoped to determine the exact nature of what protected the vile skum, and with any luck, find what happened to his own people who had traveled there. He had a single clue, a single word sent magically by the gillmen before they disappeared: “Fineas”.

The Titanis plotted a non-direct route, hoping to skirt the border of Numeria, where the Technic League ruled. Daily stops were needed to resupply and rest, and it was on one of these stops that Orin was confronted with an interesting sight. A blue-feathered raven stopped in his path as he returned to the ship from a river bath, clutching a missive in its talons. Retrieving the letter from the recalcitrant bird, Orin opened it eagerly, expecting as he was a note from the Arcanamirium, where he hoped to attend for a semester to hone his wizardry.

The letter was indeed from the Arcanamirium, and Orin was not surprised to learn that he had been accepted. To his chagrin, however, the school’s high demand had placed him on an admission list 5 years hence. Unperturbed, Orin determined to find another way to gain entry, or else learn somewhere else, when his next task was finished.

The Titanis arrived at the outskirts of Illmarsh ten days after they departed Brevoy. It was a simple matter to locate a hiding place among the woods outside the town. Before departing, our heroes discussed their plan of entry and attack. Orin, at first, was fully prepared to enter the town with a bang and a flash, tired as he was by now with surface dwellers who insisted on aiding his enemy. The others, however, talked him down. They had no notion how corrupt the town was, and who was innocent or not, and preferred to take a more subtle approach until they could come to understand the extent of the town’s evil. Orin accepted this plan, albeit begrudgingly.

Disguising themselves as a small troupe of fishmen looking for work, our heroes departed the Titanis and headed for Illmarsh’s gates.​

The Merchant and the Foreman

Illmarsh had no gates, they soon discovered, and only a sign for the town once known was Baytown to greet them – and that in disrepair.

Even disguised as rabble, their unknown faces drew immediate attention from the withdrawn populace. Unaccosted, they made their way into the town and were soon hailed by a merchant eager for their outsider coin. Stepping into his shop, they were promptly introduced to Glishmad Hashilane, the town’s premiere merchant – or so he claimed. Indeed, his shop was filled with items both magical and mundane, though to keep their disguise they feigned little interest in the former. Of note also was Glishmad’s own delivery service, knick knacks and supplies being packaged up and prepared for delivery around the town.

They learned little from Glishmad that they did not already know, but for one piece of information: the mayor of the city was named Beolain Fineas.

After receiving directions from the merchant to the fishing docks, our heroes took their leave.

The docks were in little better shape than the rest of the village, and they were soon directed by other workers to Foreman Larmuk. Larmuk informed them that anyone doing work in the town did that work on behalf of Obadiah & Sons. Fooled by their disguises, Larmuk took our heroes for just tha – prospective employees. After a short interview, he instructed them to appear just before the dawn the next morning, where they would be put to work.

With little else to do for the day, our heroes decided to check into the local inn and get their bearings in a more private place.​

Meet Anthony Arkwright

At the Hoary Fish Inn, the blind innkeeper Cornyllis was more than happy to pass over a few keys for rooms for the rare sight of travelers from out of town. Yet our heroes were surprised to find that they were not alone in the inn. A gentleman had already taken up residence and was aspying them from his reading chair near the inn’s hearth. Taking the more straightforward approach, our heroes approached the man directly, and were introduced to Anthony William Percival Arkwright III, Esq.

To their dismay, Anthony saw through their disguises straight-away but promised to keep their secret a secret. He pressed them for more details about their arrival here, and they answered in vague terms, dubious of Anthony’s motivations. Anthony admitted he was a cleric and a scholar from Absalom, at the Arcanamirium, on sabbatical to study strange cults. Unable to trust this stranger, our heroes took their leave and retired to their room to consider their options. However, their talk with Anthony did reveal one clue: the gillmen had stayed in this very inn during their time in Illmarsh.

Finding the door to their old room locked, Orin use his dimension door spell to carry Thorgur and him into the room. They found the room at odds – it was clean and empty, yet the bed sheets were mis-made. Further investigation yielded more clues: an arcane mark in the chest of drawers, a heavily-used bathtub, and a recently replaced window that appeared to have been torn from the outside-in. The pair returned to the party’s room and shared what they had learned.

It was then time to poke into another room – Anthony’s. Yet Orin quickly discovered that the room was protected by a spell – a spell of forbiddance, which would prevent his teleportation spells as well as harm anyone who attempted to gain entry whose alignment did not match the cleric’s. After a pitiable trick on Hudson, whose chaotic neutral nature saw him suffer harm from the door when Orin tricked him into attempting entry, Orin attempted it himself – and was pleased to find that, although he could not unlock the door, nor was he injured. The cleric and Orin, it seemed, shared their alignment.​

Night Worship

Our heroes entered into palaver with Anthony once more, now closer to believing Anthony’s claims that they shared a purpose. Anthony revealed more of his: that he was on a forced sabbatical when the Arcanamirium came to despise his research into the Black Truth and its adherents. Deciding to help our heroes, Anthony introduced Astrid to the Baytown Library and Archives, and the two set off there to research together. Hudson and Thorgur, in the meantime, decided to head to the tavern, the Old Man and the Sea, to see what local color they could find. Orin stayed in the inn to prepare for what lay ahead – and take a long-needed bath.

In the library, Astrid and Anthony discovered two interesting facts about the town: the mayor, Beolain Fineas, had won an election in a startling upset nearly 12 years past, after which the town council was shortly abolished. Following that, the same year the derelict chapel on the cliffs at the edge of town was torn down and rebuilt into the Seaside Chapel.

While the studious duo pondered their newly gained knowledge, Thorgur and Hudson were meeting with cold stares at the Old Man and the Sea. They found only one man willing to speak with them – a priest named Oreon, who drank unusually heavily in a dank corner of the bar. Oreon revealed that the town was led by the Church of Azlant and worshipped “the gods of Azlant” every night at dusk, but his bitter aspect made him a poor speaking partner. They soon left.

Our heroes reconvened to pool their discoveries just as the town’s evening bells rung. Anthony retired to his chamber, citing concerns about being out at night, but our heroes decided to take this opportunity to see what the townsfolk were really getting up to. They found a great procession heading towards the Seaside Chapel. Orin flew overhead, invisible, while the rest mingled in the crowds.

And they gathered at the foot of the chapel, listening to the orations of the priests as the waves crashed upon the nearby cliffs. And Orin’s heart fell when he heard that familiar refrain echo from the mouth of the lead priest: the admonition to Obey, that great call to worship he would remember all his life – for it was the call of the Aboleth.​

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 11
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Epilogue

Choral_Rogarvia.jpg

Secrets and Lies

Our heroes stood with Choral Rogarvia, returned founder of Brevoy, before the home of Wilcyn Dane, traitor to the Crown of Brevoy and adherent to a dark cult. It was time to confront their enemy and uncover the truth.

Hudson Graves assumed the disguise of a city guard with his magical quickchange cloak. They would feign to be agents working on behalf of King Surtova, investigating rumors of criminal activity. The magus Orin magicked himself to the roof of the building to keep an eye out for any interruptions. The rest prepared themselves to play a role.

Hudson knocked on the door. Their target soon answered, and they were ushered inside. Soon enough, however, their ruse was up – they claimed to be working on behalf of the king, but Dane disbelieved, having evidently intimate knowledge of the king’s payrolls and knew such an inquisition was not on it. But Dane was now at their mercy, unable to escape their interrogations.

The cultist, unafraid of death, was unwilling to speak, revealing only that she was acting on orders of the old lich, Nochen Valmugen. Dane balked at saying anything more, until she learned that her ally, the vampire Alhred, was dead, as was Nochen himself. Yet the final straw came when Choral Rogarvia revealed that the Rogarvians had not vanished at all, and would soon hold the throne again. She confessed to her conspiracy, but her confession held a bitter truth – Poul Orlovsky had conspired to murder King Surtova after all. It was only the cultists who had turned him in, to foster unrest in Brevoy. Dane turned letters over to Astrid, correspondence between Poul and Alhred, proof held against the slight chance Poul’s trial would turn in his favor. Astrid received the news with a heavy heart.

Their interrogations concluded, Choral took Dane into his custody, and left our heroes their evening, to meet with him at dawn when he would reveal himself to King Surtova. Yet before the night concluded, Choral returned to speak with Astrid, and compel her to consider Poul’s fate. Though he was spurned by seditious cultists, Poul was nevertheless a traitor who had plotted regicide against a lawful ruler. By law, his fate should be death, and yet his motives were sympathetic, and his death seemed hollow justice, when it was the desire of Brevoy’s enemies in the first place. Astrid also worried for Poul’s son, and her friend, Isaak, for how should he receive such news?

Later, in his chambers, Orin attempted to reach out with the Frozen Heart of Orphys to ensure that Nochen Valmugen remained dead, as the destruction of his phylactery promised, or else reveal his whereabouts. The heart showed Orin nothing, but before Orin could end the spell, he was overcome with indescribable visions and left with a great sense of unease.

Choral’s Ascension

The next morning, our heroes came to the great gates of the Ruby Fortress, and watched as Choral Rogarvia landed before it, astride the great red dragon Aszrogal. The significance of a red dragon rider was not lost on the guards, and they granted him passage to the throne room. Our heroes followed.

Inside, Choral came at last to face King Surtova. Calling the king to account, Choral quickly determined Surtova’s loyalties – and revealed his true identity using his signet ring, a unique ring only Choral the Conqueror had worn. Surtova, shocked but believing, abdicated the throne before the eyes of those gathered, and anointed Choral as King.

Choral then revealed Brevoy’s enemy, the aboleth, and his intention to wage war against that enemy and avenge the Vanishing. Unity had, at last, come to Brevoy.

The Orlovsky Affair

Yet one difficult matter remained. Astrid found Isaak Orlovsky, who now belatedly realized who Astrid must really be. Enraptured and embarrassed, Isaak quickly promised to keep Astrid’s secret.

At last they came to speak to the fallen lord, Poul Orlovskky. When Astrid revealed that she knew of Poul’s connection to Alhred, Poul dropped the pretenses at innocence. Shattered, Isaak retreated.

In the halls outside Poul’s cell, Astrid turned over the damning letters and inquired what Isaak would do next, should Poul receive the sentence of execution. Hurt by the turn to practical matters, Isaak retreated again, this time from Astrid.

She pursued him, however, and soon found him in his chambers. Realizing her mistake, she slipped an apology through the door. Isaak opened the door. Wordless, they embraced, and the son wept.

The Initiative and the Oath

Though Choral had revealed himself, he had also made himself a target, and Brevoy’s enemies might yet strike out again – and Astrid would be his backup against that plan. He summoned the warrior and her allies to the evening’s feast and celebrations, and afterwards they met in conference with Noleski Surtova.

Noleski revealed his own efforts to uncover the Vanishing and Brevoy’s enemies, and the truth of his “weak” rule. He had felt that a strong leader would soon be a dead one, and a dead king would only throw Brevoy further into disarray. He kept his cards close to his chest, feigning ignorance and immaturity, yet all the while he hunted. Now his enemy was revealed: an aboleth, a terrible and ancient creature of immense and disturbing power and influence. To combat this threat, Brevoy would need allies.

Noleski proposed establishing an initiative within Brevoy, a state-sponsored special operations group who could operate outside the king’s endorsement, taking the fight to their enemies with the explicit purpose of defeating the aboleth. He nominated our heroes for this task, and they accepted.

At this, Orin revealed their next target. The hopeful allies, the triton city beneath Lake Encarthan, were oppressed by a tribe of skum, and that tribe was protected by a ritual whose origin could be traced to the old Ustalavan city of Illmarsh. Already he had sent gillmen scouts to investigate, and soon they would have cause to go themselves.

And indeed Orin was correct, for before the meeting could end, Shalako contacted him through a spell of sending. The gillmen scouts had disappeared in Illmarsh.

Not wanting to waste a single moment, Orin gathered his allies – Astrid taking a brief moment to share an emotional goodbye with Isaak – and they departed aboard the Titanis for Illmarsh.

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 10
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Part VI

Golushking_-_Forge.jpg

The way to the Great Forge at last open to them, our heroes descended into the heart of the Golushkin Mountains. Along the way, they encountered a strange idol to a dark god, the sight of which filled Astrid and Hudson with visions of them at the head of conquering nations, laying waste to enemies – enemies which Hudson felt were entirely innocent.

[This is also the part where Shivaun said, “Enemies have townsfolk too.”]

Pressing on, Orin cast invisibility on Thorgur to allow the dwarf to explore the Great Forge and see what might await them there. And in the forge he found seven dwarves, worshipping at the anvil and forge – but in communion with which god, Thorgur did not know. Their chanting filled his ears, however, and when he relayed this to the party, Orin in particular was disturbed to hear the words once sung by his people in worship of the aboleth, Chevaghol.

Putting together a quick plan, our heroes quickly delved in the Forge and began their assault on the Council of Golka. A bitter struggle ensued, but one by one the corrupt dwarves fell, until at last Orin disposed of the last – a skeletal dwarf – with a well-placed scorching ray.

As the dust from the battle settled, our heroes found Thorgur on the brink of death. And yet as the eldritch chanting faded, and the corruption seeped within the mountain began to fade away, the Sword of On clutched in Thorgur’s hands began to burn with fury. And as the flames overtook his form, Thorgur rose, eyes filled with rage, and he ascended as Orin and Hudson had done before him.

Our heroes destroyed the Great Forge, pushing it into the cooling waters surrounding the altar, then returned to the surface. There they found Grayhaven no longer oppressed by dark clouds. And Astrid held clutched in her hands a letter from the adopted dwarf, Toval Golka, implicating him in the foul cult that stirred within Golushkin. Finding Lord Howlan Garess somewhat recovered, our heroes turned their evidence over to him – and he executed the traitorous dwarf on the spot.

Our heroes soon left Grayhaven, at last shining in the sun, for New Stetven, where Poul Orlovsky awaited trial for supposedly conspiracy to murder King Noleski Surtova.

In New Stetven, Astrid was again reunited with Isaak Orlovsky and – to her surprise – Choral Rogarvia. Choral told Astrid that the throne of Brevoy was in fact hers, as the sole surviving member of the Rogarvian royal family, and that while Choral intended to reveal his identity to King Surtova soon, and claim the throne, he would soon accede it to the young woman.

Astrid was uncertain about this proposal, but agreed to help Choral get to the bottom of the accusations leveled against Poul Orlovsky.

Astrid spoke with the imprisoned noble but learned little. She decided to pursue another lead, and our heroes worked together to spy on Wilcyn Dane, Mistress of Coin in New Stetven and a co-conspirator of the vampire, Alhred.

Their misadventure found them evidence they needed – a black charm like those used by the vampires – but left them in a bind. Their use of magic in their spying had put the palace on alert, and the mess they left in Mrs. Dane’s office would surely arouse suspicion. And so, at Choral’s urging, they came to Mrs. Dane’s home to confront her, before she would have a chance to act….

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 9
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Part V

Void_Beast.jpg

Having found a way back to the surface via a teleportation circle maintained by a hunger of vampires, our heroes decided to return to Grayhaven to rest and consult with their allies.

Having discovered evidence that could clear Poul Orlovsky’s name, Astrid felt it urgent to contact her friend, and Poul’s son, Isaak. Having no other effective means to do so on hand, she borrowed the Frozen Heart of Orphys from Orin and used it to telepathically contact the nobleman’s son. Isaak was both relieved and disturbed by the news and moved up his travel plans to New Stetven, begging Astrid to meet him there as soon as she was able.

Meanwhile, Hudson took a quick trip to the Horse and Badger Inn to hear the latest gossip. There was not much happening in the sullen town of Grayhaven, but an old man ranting about “lights in the sky” – reported in the direction of the Titanis’ landing – caught Hudson’s attention. The man was largely ignored, but Hudson decided to pull a little trick. Catching the man’s ear, he told him he would investigate the source of the lights, which garnered great astonishment and intrigue from the man. And thus Hudson set out for Titanis.

Amber Wallace was happy to be re-united with Hudson, and they spoke at length about their quest to stop the Technic League and their purpose in Brevoy. Hudson resolved to continue aiding Astrid and her allies. Afterwards, they moved the Titanis to a new location under cover of night, to avoid any more prying eyes.

In his private chambers in Lord Garess’ castle, Orin contacted Shalako through the Frozen Heart. They spoke of the gillmen’s continuing efforts to learn about the strange barrier shielding the skum tribe beneath Avalon Bay. After the conversation, Orin’s attention was drawn through the heart again to the skum city. And at last he saw more of what occurred there, as the magic seemed to be fed from somewhere nearby – and overland.

At last the time came for our heroes to resume their quest within Golushkin. Rested and renewed, they returned to the dwarf gates, where already there were signs of new fortifications being laid – this time to protect against anything coming out of the mountain, as well as in. With short greetings and approval, they entered the mountain.

Returning to the vampire’s hideout through the same portal that brought them away from it, our heroes debated their options. They had explored every avenue of interest them except for one, and thus they returned to the Hollow Lanes through the vampires’ hidden tunnel.

The shortcut was well-served, for even as they emerged from the old cemetery, they spotted the kytons regenerated and attempting to free one of their number from being buried alive.

Skirting the lane, our heroes pressed on into a larger, more upper-class district. Yet these noble, expensive homes were just as decrepit and ruined as the lanes.

The beast, a malformed and bizarre dragon, came upon them quickly. Yet Hudson was quick to aim for the beast’s head, keeping it dazed and confused. It overcame his fire at last, but not soon enough to avoid the blows of Astrid. As it lurched forward to engulf the warrior, she struck it directly, pinning it to the ground with her bardiche through its tongue and jaw. Hudson, Thorgur and Orin seized upon the opportunity to deliver a number of mortal wounds to the beast, and with a terrible gasp, it died.

And as it died, its whole body seemed to withdraw in upon itself, shrinking and withering until its flesh and bones were blown away, mere dust in the stale wind, leaving only a dull, mundane rock to mark its existence.

Pocketing the rock, our heroes quickly discovered that as the beast died, a magical, hidden door was revealed from the end of the noble district. A series of stairs led down.

With no other leads, they descended.

Our heroes found themselves in some kind of hideout, long abandoned, but filled with signs of use since the mountain fell. And at the bottom, Thorgur was faced with more dwarven runic script, and something troubling: an invective to Torag, a call for benediction to break a seal so that one of faith might put an end to the blasphemous rituals taking place at the Forge.

Thorgur searched within himself but came up empty. There was little faith left in his heart. Nevertheless, he spoke aloud the words, and a pathway opened both within the chamber and somewhere above, near the surface.

A lift returned our heroes to the Halls of Golka, where they found the mystery of the sealed doorway now solved. It stood open, revealing a long set of stairs. Stairs that would, according to Toval Golka, lead them to the Great Forge at last…

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 8
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Part IV

Golushkin_-_Lanes.jpg

The Black Insignia

Thorgur lights a torch, giving Hudson and himself light in the dark tunnels as Orin disappears with Astrid. They wait, and notice as they do that there is another door in the chamber – this one well-hidden.

Orin and Astrid appear in a narrow, carved tunnel, unnatural in design. Making their way to the end of the tunnel, they find a pile of rocks – the remnants of Orin’s summoned earth elemental – and a wooden door. This one is not locked, and Astrid steps up to peer inside with her magical gloves.

Through the vision, she sees an astutely-dressed halfling, quietly humming to himself as he sweeps the floor of a chamber. Yet it is not all dust and dirt he cleans, but also the remains of dwarven bodies in all states of decay, littering the floor of this chamber. And scattered around the room are crates and piles of bodies, some intact, others less so, and all held to unknown end.

Disturbed by the image, Astrid and Orin withdraw to Hudson and Thorgur. The four convene, and the latter reveal the hidden door. They decide to follow the door, finding it leads to another narrow passageway that travels for nearly half a mile before ending at a sealed door, much like the one Orin and Astrid bypassed before, only this one is marked with two black insignias. Astrid uses her gloves to look past this door as well, but finds only an empty room with a ladder leading to another, unseeable floor.

Having otherwise reached a dead end, our heroes returned to the mines and pursued the last open path, beyond the chamber with the mad dwarven survivor, to see where else the mountain would go.

The Hollow Lanes

They followed the winding corridors down deeper into the mountain until at last emerging in the ruins of a dwarven housing district. The once beautiful dwarven architecture had been reduced to rubble in some calamity, but more disturbingly, corpses had been flayed and hung on display on tall poles throughout the streets.

This atrocity, it seemed, had been conducted by terrible kytons, masochistic devils with a penchant for inflicting pain, both on themselves and others. Three such terrors still lurked in the otherwise-abandoned streets, and our heroes duly charged forth to put an end to their horror.

The battle was brutal and bloody, made worse by the kytons’ seeming inability to suffer any permanent damage. At last Astrid realized what they were and called for her allies to strike with holy or silver weapons – though none were to be had.

Eventually, the creatures suffered enough damage as to be incapacitated for at least several hours, and our heroes moved on.

Following a curve in the road, they came to another odd sight – a cemetery, surprisingly unblemished, but yet marked by a strange cloaked figure conducting some kind of ritual. On gaining his attention, they soon found themselves defending against his attacks – which quickly gave him away as a vampire.

Eventually Orin was able to finally destroy the vampire with a daylight spell, and from its corpse, they recovered a black charm matching the insignia on the doors in the mines. Realizing they had discovered a new way forward, they returned to the mines to confront the strange halfling with their full force.

The Hunger

The halfling’s name was Marvin, and he claimed to be the attendant to a group of adventurers from the Pathfinder Society. Our heroes found this dubious, and when Orin requested an audience with Marvin’s boss, quickly realized Marvin was intending to lead them into a trap.

Orin warned his party with a word, and before Marvin could act, Hudson had incapacitated the halfling with his stun rod. Opening the door to the rest of the hideout, our heroes quickly drew the attention of Marvin’s allies: a pair of elves and their boss, a human monk named Alhred.

Alhred called Orin to account for Marvin’s well-being, and the two bartered for position for several seconds, before our heroes realized a mist had been creeping into the room where they lied in wait. Almost as soon as they realized this, they realized the error – just too late for the mists to coalesce into the forms of four vampires.

Battle ensued, as the vampires attempted to dominate our heroes and turn them against each other. Yet the party resisted the attempts, and put the vampires down. Even Alhred, pressing his attack against Astrid, could not stand against the warrior.

After the battle concluded, our heroes explored the vampires’ lair. They found a disturbing altar, upon which were piled enormous stacks of corpses and bones, much like the scene they had found in the Corpse Farm beneath Fort Ramgate, where they fought the Harvester. Whatever it was, it appeared to be unfinished. And further inside, they explored Alhred’s office, finding a sack of newly minted coins from New Stetven and an unsigned letter addressed to a “Mrs Dane” claiming responsibility for Poul Orlovsky’s imprisonment.

Yet the greatest mystery lay behind the last door.

Return to the Halls of Golka

In a small chamber just off the vampires’ den stood a low, circular platform. Surrounding the platform were three niches carved with the strange insignia our heroes had seen on the doors in the mines. Just as before, they matched the black charm found on the vampire in the cemetery. Yet recovered from the body of Alhred and one of his vampire associates were two more charms, bringing the total to three. Three symbols, three charms.

Orin identified a spell in place on the dias: a form of teleportation circle.

Before testing it out, our heroes decided to get a short rest in the den. Piling the vampire bodies in a heap, they set them aflame, hoping to burn away the vampires’ uncanny immortality. And from Marvin’s own corpse, Orin pilfered a scroll of necromancy that he then used to raise Marvin as a zombie.

Zombie Marvin was set to work cleaning up the mess of the battle, and before long, Orin had a clear hallway in which to sit and keep watch. As for Hudson, Astrid and Thorgur: the vampires’ coffin rooms offered tempting places to rest. The latter two even opted to sleep in the coffins directly.

And so they rested.

And Orin just barely noticed the strange mist threatening to escape. The fire had failed to kill the vampires, and now they attempted to regroup in their mist forms.

A simple daylight spell put an end to them at last.

The next morning, our heroes rose to found Orin ill-rested, and Astrid and Thorgur still weakened from their encounter with the roper the day before. Deciding that caution was the better part of valor, they took a chance. The three charms were set in the symbols, and they stood back to see what happened.

A portal opened in front of there eyes, hovering in the air above the dais. And through it they could see the destination clearly: the vaulted Halls of Golka, the chamber they first came to upon entering Golushkin.

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 7
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Part III

Golushkin_-_Mountainfel.jpg

Our heroes dispatched the purple worm – though not before it made a very good effort at swallowing Thorgur for dinner – then continued down into the depths of the Golushkin Mountains. They made their way into old mines, only to discover them patrolled by terrible creatures – kytons, masochistic chain devils who were hunting down the last remnants of the Golka dwarves who yet survived beneath the mountain. They witnessed one such kyton flay a dwarf alive, but the kytons themselves soon fell to our heroes’ advance.

Further exploration yielded an encounter with dwarven spirits, somehow returned to the Material Plane, and a locked and sealed door leading into a deeper chamber within the mine. Unable to unlock the door, they explored the rest of the mines, and found one last dwarven survivor.

This dwarf woman was ragged, starved, and crazed. She ranted almost incoherently, only finding some semblance of intelligence when Orin removed her fear via arcane power. She confessed to worshiping a being known as the Prophet, and claimed the kytons were the Prophet’s clerics – leaving Astrid to wonder aloud why the dwarves would worship their own murderers. The dwarf had precious little else to reveal, save that the Golka had been dealing with the Prophet directly or indirectly in some way. And once Orin’s spell dissipated, she took her own life.

They returned to the sealed door, and believing the other side safe and clear, decided to explore it further. Orin clasped Astrid’s hand and cast a spell to teleport them past the sealed door The pair shimmered – and disappeared before Hudson and Thorgur.

View
In the Golushkin Mountains

From the journal of Astrid Rogarvia:

We didn’t get very far in the mountain very far before a very large purple wyrm burst from the ground directly in front of Thorgur and I. He was spelled with the ability to fly, and shot straight up. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to react. Although Orin was kind enough to warn me that it might try to swallow me whole, as if I might be able to do anything about the fact.

Orin hasted us, thankfully, and Thorgur immediately plummeted to the ground with a vicious war cry, slamming his hammer into the wyrm’s head. The wyrm retaliated aggressively, much to Thorgur’s dismay, attempting to eat him whole. Again, to his dismay, he was clenched between it’s gaping maw.

I took advantage that it was currently chewing on Thorgur and slashed at it with my weapon, then promptly bounded away back onto the upper ledge. Orin unleashed a deluge of scorching rays, and it exploded with Thorgur in its mouth. Not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

We continued on our way in the tunnel where it narrowed, and found metal rails for mine carts. It should lead us to something worthwhile. Forges need ore that is usually carried in mine carts, right? As we expected, we found a disheveled and destroyed dwarven mine. Old blood was smeared all over the walls, and a message with bits and pieces legible. “Beast”, “Sea”, and “Black truth”. Then we heard a spine-chilling, blood-curdling scream. Someone was somehow still alive and needed help. This place is supposed to be abandoned and we still manage to find some in need of rescuing.

A grotesque half human half machine is found holding a dwarf aloft, and flays him alive with his bare hands. Another abomination with chains entwined all around it is patrolling the corridors. I recall that these are Kytins. I hear the scream and run down the hall and round the corner, coming upon the monstrosity. Startled and completely disgusted, I swing my bardiche at it. It slices clean and true, skewering it. The creature seemed to enjoy it though, and pulled itself closer to me, grinning maniacally. The chained being swung at me, but my new armor proved worthy. I looked into its glowing eyes, and the world around me spun. My limbs turned into flailing metallic structures similar to the monster, and while I can feel my arms, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m succumbing to the darkness of the mountain. I can’t become one of them.

Try as I might, I’m severely debilitated. I miss a shot when the monstrosity moves away from me, and I can only chase after it for a short distance before I can move no more. The chained being looks at me again, and its face morphs into the shocked and pained face of my father – my real father. I could not shake the feeling that that was his face during the Vanishing.

Sensing things were devolving quickly, Orin crushed a brown gem and a large Earth elemental appears in front of me. It immediately slams its fists into the chained creature.
I finally return to my senses a bit, still shaken by my father’s face but my limbs have returned to normal. I notice Thorgur has cornered the half machine creature, and I step forward and plunge my weapon into it. The vile abomination tried to grab onto it once again, and I twisted it and swung up, splitting it in two before it could enjoy the immense pain I inflicted upon it. Thorgur finished off the chain demon by wrapping his mace around its neck and popped off its head like a cork.

I eagerly ran around the corner, wanting to preemptively kill things before they decided to do anymore weird shit. The corridor became pitch black and I had to slow down. The others followed me though. We follow it along, struggling to see in the darkness, except for Thorgur. We come upon a room and the light floods it, revealing boxes and other mining equipment, and a further room. Inside was a floating transparent dwarf. Once it saw us, it shot towards us. I identified them as Einharzhe, previously dead dwarven souls brought back to serve their god they worshipped in their previous life. Not incorporeal or undead, but something else from another plane.

Another one I didn’t know was there appeared around the corner, ready to attack Orin. I stepped forward quickly to protect him, and swiped at the undead creature. It appeared to resist some of my attack, but I’m not capable of doing the type of damage that would be most effective. Giving it my all is the best I could do.

Orin cast a spell on me that gave me some cover, but then still stood behind me because a 5’3 woman is apparently sufficient protection for a man that can cast numerous spells and attack numerous times within six seconds.

If Orin was worried, then I was worried. So I hit it as many times as I could, and cleaved it in two, translucent guts and blood gushing out before disappearing completely. Thorgur was getting hurt pretty badly so I ran over to him and swung at the remaining dwarf. Orin bombarded it with magic missiles. Thorgur exacts retribution and finishes it off.

On the far wall, it had been cut into a door shape. Inscribed in the center of the cut out wall, is a symbol that looks like a spade with a diamond shape on a line inside of it. It is surrounded by three dots. I used my gloves of reconnaissance and could not see anything but I did hear slight scuffing like someone sweeping or scraping their feet. Orin sent the earth elemental through the door, instructing it to come back if it is attacked. It did not came back, so that was a good sign. After inspecting the insignia a bit more, I noticed that it was very deepset, more so than a normal engraving would be. I posited that there could be a uniformly shaped item that is to be inserted like a key. It could be somewhere in the rest of this maze.

With a goal in mind, we ran after Thorgur and found him with a very scared female dwarf next to a corpse. There was a makeshift desk with a journal on it. Much of it is ruined but I can make out the first page, written in dwarven:

The Beast hungers and feasts. We hear its roar. We hear the vast emptiness of the city fade away into its endless night.
We are forgotten, and the shores of the Sightless Sea are hidden from us. Why has our god forsaken us? We reveled in her song, and now we are left forlorn in this mine, hunted by her clerics.
I will cling to the Black Truth, for its power resonates even in these blackened, bloodied mines.

I had a conversation with the dwarven lady, after soothing her with a potion of remove fear, a blanket, and some rations. She told me of the Prophet and her clerics with the mechanical arms – the Kytins. They came from the Sightless Sea, and began chasing the dwarves down and killing them. She still believed and possibly worshipped this Prophet, saying she spoke to them through dreams and would lead them to the Black Truth. The mountain fell and killed most of the dwarves and the clerics, and then the Prophet left them. Probably to return to the Sightless Sea. Orin and I talked and together we pieced together that there’s an Orvian vault that’s rumoured to be larger than even the inner sea, and just one large sea. It’s also to be known the Aboleth’s domain. Either the Prophet is a symbol of the Aboleth, a projection, or someone working for the Aboleth.

When I asked her about the symbol on the door and if it had anything to do with the Black Truth, she went still and suddenly slashed her own throat. She did not question the Prophet’s motives and yet still ran and hid from her clerics. The symbol means something and so Orin and I decided to head back to the door and dimension door through it to see what is there. Hopefully it will give us more information about the entire tale. We will scour this entire level, and if nothing comes of the door, we will search the rest of the place for some sort of key.

Somehow all these dwarves vanished, were killed, and yet others survived for fifteen years only to be killed the moment we arrive. Perhaps our mere presence urged the remaining clerics to cleanse the place of all evidence?

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 6
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Part II

Greyhaven.jpg

Gathered at Skywatch’s wall, our heroes pondered the significance of the dwarven carving. Astrid and Choral recalled the Golka dwarves, who lived in the Golushkin Mountains in House Garess’ territory, and resolved to pay a visit to Grayhaven to meet with the dwarves.

The party returned to Stoneclimb to prepare for a journey to Grayhaven. Coming home, Astrid was again met by Isaak Orlovsky, who invited her to dinner. Thorgur talked Orin and Hudson into dining apart from the pair, and the two groups went their own ways for the evening. At dinner, Astrid shared her tale of her encounter with Vellath the Green – to Isaak’s astonishment – while the young man related his own tales of the fragile government of Andoran and the minor dramas that played out there. After dinner, Isaak told Astrid he intended to travel to New Stetven later that week, and he requested her company. Astrid agreed to let him know, but her own journeys now took her to Grayhaven, and the pair parted, hopeful for a much earlier reunion than the last time.

Our heroes arrived in Grayhaven several days later aboard the Titanis. After parking the ship somewhere out of sight, and leaving Amber on board to guard it, they set out for Grayhaven.

The city was morose and oddly quiet, and its people seemed downtrodden. Catching the attention of an amicable halfling shop owner, they learned that the city had been withdrawn since 4699, when a landslide in the Golushkin Mountains led to the death of dozens of locals, and Howlan’s son disappeared. Further investigation within the nearby tavern led to similar revelations, and the party concluded that some kind of pallor had fallen on the entire city. Even trade was limited, with very few merchants obtaining authorized routes for the past dozen or so years.

After learning that the mountains were inaccessible, our heroes resolved to speak to Howlan Garess in person. Making their way to the castle, our heroes obtained access by proclaiming themselves on official business from House Medvyed. Inside, they met Howlan Garess and his adoptive son and heir apparent, Toval Golka.

Howlan seemed a bitter and withdrawn man. When they told him of their intention to enter the Golushkin Mountains and make contact with the dwarves there, he revealed that the dwarves had disappeared when the mountain collapsed – an event concurrent with the Vanishing in Skywatch – leaving Toval as the only survivor. Toval told his own tale: the clan chief’s son, he was sent as ward to Howlan to solidify ties between the two states, and so he escaped the devastation that destroyed his people.

Convinced they could enter the mountain and perhaps learn something of his son, Howlan granted our heroes explicit permission to enter the mountain and see what they might find. Toval then granted them full access to the city, as well as rooms within the castle, and sent them on their way.

That night, our heroes entered the Golushkin Mountains and began to explore its depths. First they entered the vaulted Halls of Golka, once a center of commerce between humans and dwarves, now little more than a ruin. There they found the dessicated corpse of a dwarven survivor, only years old – when all Golka were thought to have died 15 years ago during the collapse. On the corpse they found a note with disturbing words written in Common:

Extinguish the Forge.
Silence the mad god, lest the world drown beneath the endless tides of the Sightless Sea.

The corpse had collapsed near a strange, domed chamber that appeared totally empty. Orin detected traces of magic within the chamber, and the party found its floor carved with an enormous symbol. Whatever mystery it posed, however, remained unsolved, and the party decided to move on. After poking around the ruins a little longer, they delved deeper.

They found themselves in an enormous – and completely darkened – chamber, where it appeared the entire mountain had fallen apart on the inside. Investigating the remains of a great bridge, they met another dwarf – though this one behaved oddly. Pressed, the dwarf flung himself off the bridge. Thorgur dived to save him, but fumbled and slid off the bridge himself. Orin quickly unleashed a spell to slow their fall, but the strange dwarf resisted. Impacting a platform below, its body was destroyed, and an intellect devourer emerged from its skull! Thorgur’s fall, now slow, was nearly halted as an aberration, a roper, making its home beneath the bridge, attempted to grab Thorgur in its draining tentacles.

The party sprung into action. Astrid, coming to Thorgur’s aid, found herself entangled in the roper’s strands, which Hudson made quick work of with careful, well-aimed shots. Thorgur ended the devourer with his raging flail, and Orin granted the party wings. Soon they had an advantage against the slimey roper, and put it down.

Pressing on, our heroes found a series of platforms, perhaps once connected, but now nothing more than standalone ruins. At the bottom of the vast chamber, Thorgur and Astrid investigated an old blacksmith’s forge. Thorgur, still holding the boon of Orin’s flight, soon detected trembling beneath their feet. He took to the air just in time to avoid the gaping maw of an enormous purple worm!​

View
The Old Gods: Episode 5.2
From the Journal of Astrid Rogarvia

Returning to my homeland was odd. I had been away for two long years and yet at first glance nothing seemed to have changed. Even my chambers were the same.

Soon I was met with an onslaught of new developments: Choral was eating my adoptive family out of house and home. A red dragon took refuge in the mountains in my own backyard. Larissa is now heir to the house instead of our young brother, having grown into a capable and cunning woman. She also knows of my origins, and I haven’t decided how I feel about that. I was raised to keep my identity a secret for my own safety so the more people that know, the more anxious I feel.

Poul Orlovsky is imprisoned under charges of treason, and his eldest son Dmitri is chomping at the bit to go to war against House Surtova.

One of the most surprising things was seeing Isaak once again. I didn’t think I’d ever see him, when he left when I was just fifteen. I remember being proud of him for going out on a diplomatic mission and representing his house. I remember being jealous he got to travel and explore the world. And I remember the feeling of abandonment the day he left.

While I was only five when I lost my family, and don’t remember anything of that day, the dull aching chasm they left was still there. Growing up felt like living in a house that wasn’t home; my adoptive family welcomed me as much as they could but I found it difficult to grow too attached save Gurev. I couldn’t bear to lose another family. I don’t think I realized how attached to my best friend I had gotten until the day he left.

Now he is back, both of us grown, and a mixture of strangers and close companions. Perhaps I am cautious to hold onto him once again only to have him slip through my grasp so soon.

On the other hand, a living embodiment of my family has miraculously returned. With apparent open arms and an open heart. I suppose I am expected to accept him as family, regardless of the Rogarvians past tendencies to just leave me. I’m fearful that once he gets what he wants, I will be cast aside. So for now, I’ll keep a professional distance.

All of these instances including ancient dwarven runes on the walls of Skywatch (I will never escape dwarves, will I?), I feel are foreshadowing a greater event that could be our downfall. I feel we have very little information, and are very unprepared for what may come. Knowledge is key, and I vow to pursue it to ensure that what may come to pass, we survive and endure.

It’s interesting though – my companions are a small ragtag “family” I have made for myself, but I am not alone in my struggles with my feelings. We lean on each other because each of us have lost our family or home or both. We find it difficult to trust others because we all have been burned. I hope that in our adventures we finally find a sense of home and hearth that we all so desperately seek.

-Astrid Rogarvia

View
Season 3: The Other Gods - Episode 5
Under the Mountain Where Dawn Never Came, Part I

Stoneclimb.jpg

Thorgur returned from his sojourn in the Mindspin Mountains in a ball of fire and armed with a giant flaming sword. Orin recognized the weapon of an old ally – the fire giant, Hogon – and learned that the dwarf had spent some time with the giant. Yet word of the old giant came with dire news: the Watchmen were all dead, and even Hogon’s time on Golarion seemed at an end. Orin, having been nominated a Watchman by the activation of the Dragon Watch beneath Kraggodan, was now the last.

The group again whole, the time had come to travel to Brevoy and unravel the mysteries there. Our heroes boarded the Titanis – Thorgur doing so with no objection – and took flight, Hudson taking an altitude that kept them out of sight from anyone below. They arrived near Stoneclimb, home of Gurev Medvyed, Astrid’s adoptive father, nearly a week later, and were met in-flight by the red dragon, Aszrogal, Choral’s friend and mount. The dragon led them to a mountain pass out of sight of the city, where they parked the Titanis where no one might stumble upon it.

Once they entered Stoneclimb, Astrid was met by her adopted father, Gurev Medvyed. He welcomed her and her companions into his home, making provisions for each of them – an opulant bath for Orin, a dwarven bed for Thorgur, a couple’s suite for Hudson and Amber, and Astrid’s own room, just as she left it – and bid them make themselves at home. He admitted to being uncomfortable with Choral’s presence in Stoneclimb, less for the barbarian’s strange existence and more for his rambunctious behavior, but left our heroes to pursue their agenda as they wished.

The party was also introduced to Larissa Medvyed, Astrid’s older (adopted) sister, and now the heir apparent to rule House Medvyed, an unusual move for the houses of Brevoy, who traditionally only gave rule to men. Larissa knew of Astrid’s lineage, but swore to protect her identity as her father had. She excused herself shortly to attend to matters of the estate.

As Gurev departed, he introduced a surprise guest to Astrid: Isaak Orlovsky, her childhood best friend, whom she had not expected to see for several more years while Isaak was assigned to Andoran. Yet she soon learned of the reason for his return: his father, Poul Orlovsky, had been arrested and charged with treason for conspiracy to murder King Noleski Surtova. In the wake of the scandal, his brother, Dmitri Orlovsky, had taken the title of Lord Orlovsky and was rattling the house’s sabers, calling for war against Surtova.

Isaak returned from Andoran, certain his father was innocent but unwilling to take up arms. He convinced his brother to send him to Stoneclimb and New Stetven, to raise support, and Isaak intended to use the time to discover the truth and keep the peace. When he heard that Astrid was returning to Stoneclimb, he delayed his visit, hoping for a new adventure with her: a journey to new Stetven to beg mercy for his father from the king, and speak to his father in the Scarlet Iron and get to the bottom of the scandal.

The hour being late, Isaak soon retired, asking Astrid to summon him when she could.

Astrid came to visit Gurev later in his study and received two gifts: a letter from her parents, and a piece of the puzzle to the Book of Stars in the form of a cipher. This came with a revelation: Gogmurt’s book was originally Astrid’s, carried with her when she came to Stoneclimb as a child.

It had been held for safekeeping by Gurev until, years ago, it disappeared. Gurev related his tale of being confronted by three strangely dressed men who demanded the book. Gurev proclaimed ignorance, and they appeared to believe him and departed as quickly as they arrived. That same night, Gurev found himself in a dream, holding Astrid’s book, and met a strange creature who took it from him. When Gurev woke in the morning, the book was gone. Astrid, deducing that the creature in the dream was none other than Malam, realized what Gogmurt had given her: her parent’s book.

Astrid learned that two more ciphers were needed to decode the book, beyond the one in her letter, but the one that should have been in the book Astrid had as a child, was missing. With little else to go on, she pursued her next lead, and spoke to Choral.

Choral was enthused to see Astrid again and excitedly invited her to return to Skywatch with him, so he could show her something he had found. Uncertain but, perhaps, curious, Astrid agreed, and the party traveled with Choral by horseback over the next several days to the site.

Skywatch was as Astrid always remember: sealed up and locked away – perhaps in time itself, Astrid mused.

Choral took the party on a tour around the grounds, finally uncovering a small boulder to reveal a series of runes. He asked Astrid to translate it, though she could not. Indeed, it was Thorgur who found himself able to easily read what turned out to be ancient dwarven runes, a type of writing rarely seen outside of dwarven culture. With his stonecunning, Thorgur was also able to date them and reported his finding: 15 years old.

To Orin’s question, “Do we know of anything that happened 15 years ago?” Astrid could only answer, “The Vanishing!”​

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.