For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Deep within the Crypt of the Everflame, we began anew with wearied adventurers recovering from an arduous clash with giant frogs, waterlogged brine zombies and the electrical discharges of deadly azure fungus; with a modest modicum of healing, Anselme, Emma, Brother Vang and Zantric set forth to clear a path through the zombies reconnoitered in the western chamber while their compatriots prepared themselves in the chamber of rest.
With weapons poised and resolve steeled the four advanced into the burial chamber, Leone close at hand; Emma and Zantric strode headlong into the now-roused zombies and the room was soon thick with the melee. Plague-ridden corpses exploded beneath the scything swipes of great-swords while torsos were hewn, limbs severed and rent and skulls crushed as Brother Vang, Anselme and Leone moved into battle.
In a burst of Iomedae’s power, Brother Vang further shored the reserves of his compatriots—and swiftly enough the undead were laid to final rest. Among the reanimated corpses of bandits, one was discovered to wear the strange iron mask marking one of the Cult of Razmir—yet there was little enough time to ruminate over this, for just as Pandora and Cassandra entered to join their comrades, the doors to the south of the chamber burst open and the immense spider monstrosity lunged forth.
Biting, lashing and battering fiercely the giant juju zombie black widow tore into the adventurers; terrible liquefying poison was pumped into wicked wounds while the barbarian fought to stave off her fear of arachnids in the throes of combat. After suffering vicious wounds, the six managed to drive the monstrous spider back before a final rending blow sent it toppling over backwards into the cursed reflecting pool in the adjoining chamber—ending its terrible unlife.
After seeing to their wounds while Pandora sought to recover venom from the monstrous vermin, the party advanced further into the room formerly barred by the heavy portcullis—wherein Anselme spied the crevasse from which the spider had seemingly sprung; with the quick use of a pole and torch, the young druid cleared free the webbing above—freeing the desiccated remains of another bandit, from which a quality suit of studded leather and fine fur-lined boots were recovered.
Deeper into the crypt the group continued, next coming upon a bridge over an immense drop across which a pair of statues lingered; sensing an obvious trap, Pandora strode ahead before swiftly disabling a broad pressure plate that her fellows may cross in safety. Certain calamity averted, the party proceeded through a pair of wide brass doors to the innermost sanctum of the surface crypt where the sarcophagus of Ekat Kassen could be spied—with the unconscious form of Zerra beside it.
Again Pandora pressed ahead while the others cautiously began to descend the steps and Brother Vang sought guidance from Iomedae; shortly after entering the center of the chamber, however, Pandora was assailed by skeletons and ghouls while the risen form of Ekat’s ancient comrade-in-arms—Asar—issued a wicked decree. All would be slain, added to his army of the dead—and soon Golarion would see that he was now a god!
With a single stroke of his magic falchion, Asar felled Pandora and the combat was begun; Anselme hastened to his friend’s aide only to be bitten and paralyzed by a ghoul—and soon struck down in kind as the drow had been moments prior. While Emma and Zantric advanced slowly down the stairway through the small tide of skeletons, Cassandra began to fling her potent magic about while the party endured arrows from afar; in a freak contrivance of the fabric of magic and reality, the sorceress inexplicably banished one of the ghouls to the elemental plane of fire—seemingly never to be seen again.
Crashing their way through the skeletal host, Zantric and Emma engaged Asar while Leone assailed the archers in the rear; Brother Vang strode forth from the upper level to join his comrades in arms as Asar struck a terrible blow to Zantric, critically wounding the fighter—and while the man barely remained standing, a fateful shot from a skeletal archer finally sent him into collapse. Emma delivered potent blows to the wicked Asar with her flail before the skeletal champion disarmed her—and soon the melee began to shift into the adjoining burial chambers.
Amidst the exchange of countless blows and beneath the flow of Iomedae’s graces dispersed by Brother Vang, the party began at last to gain the upper hand; with many of the undead dispatched and the wounded rallied to their feet once more, soon numbers were on their side. Losing ground, Asar continued to fight fiercely—delivering grievous wounds with each stroke of his edge aglow—before at long last with a furious heart Zantric felled the adversary at last, reaping retribution for his stolen love.
With Asar put to rest once again, the ghostly image of Ekat Kassen materialized to speak with the party assembled; grateful for what they had done, the ancient hero spoke of Asar and a time now far removed—but more troubling, of an amulet comprised of three pieces, of which two had now been taken. This amulet was said to be a key to an ancient city—the very place from which he and his companions had once amassed their vast fortunes before retiring from the life of an adventurer.
Ekat warned that said city was tied to the Whispering Tyrant Tar-Baphon—and that re-opening it could lead to terrible calamity; the only lead the ghostly image could offer however was the third member of their former triumvirate—the elven sorceress Iramine who, given her race, could well still live even after these two hundred years had passed. With much of the coinage discovered among the dead bandits minted in Tamran, the city seemed the next likely destination for our adventurers once affairs in Kassen had been put to rest.
Before his departure, Ekat bequeathed upon Brother Vang his Crusader’s Shield—which the cleric also recognized as the legendary Bulwark of Iomedae, well known among the Knights of Ozem. Other treasures were given to the adventurers before Ekat beseeched them to tend well to Kassen and its people—to return the lit everflame—and to recover the missing amulet pieces that disaster may be averted.
With the lit lantern in hand and the undead threat put presently to rest, the party returned to the surface and began their trudging march back to Kassen’s Hold. Rain made for a dreary journey throughout the first day as the ravine was ascended and the Gray Lake was once more passed; after a night of uneasy slumber and Meryk’s restless dreams, the group continued on along the trail well into the afternoon until peculiar shouting was heard.
“I have no idea why they’re chasing me!” A strange Halfling shouted as he came bounding out from the tree-line; with weapons readied and curiosity poised, the party was then faced with the man’s pursuers—a pack of Krenshars, of which two were a strange breed of ‘Laughing Beast’. Stranger still, the pelts of the beasts appeared to have been spattered with colorful paint—and while Zantric attempted to seize the Halfling, the man squirmed free from his grasp and soon thereafter the party was engaged in combat.
The Laughing Beasts set several members to helpless fits of laughter, while the peeled-back skin of the other krenshars saw to scare and unsettle others among the party; with arrow, blade and magic the pack was nearly wiped out in short order, with one darting off into the wilderness retreating for its life. As debate was had about pursuit of the beast, Zerra announced that the lantern of the everflame was now missing—and the party began a chase after the jinxed Halfling!
Down narrow and blocked paths, up a steep hill, beyond a rickety rope-bridge and a swarm of angry bees the party pursued the Halfling thief; bounding past muddy terrain and ascending slippery rocks, Meryk began to assail the scoundrel with arrows from afar while Pandora managed to break away ahead of the group to gain significant ground on their quarry; it was while faced with the sudden emergence of a Sasquatch that the drow used the distraction to steal back the lantern of the everflame—before another arrow from Meryk knocked the jinxed Halfling unconscious, allowing the party to regroup with their new prisoner and enjoy the sandwiches Brother Vang had prepared.
While the party debated the fate for the jinxed fellow—discovered to be one Hackel Kest—what sounded like the screams of children reached their ears from beyond the tree line nearby and the group quickly moved to investigate. Not far away, the run-down remnants of an old farmhouse were spied—and through a gap in the roof, a young boy and girl huddled terrified as their heads had nearly entirely transformed into those of grotesque vargouilles. The headless body of an adult man lay in the dirt beside the house, while a fiendish melancholic ooze swarm was spotted by the doorway blurbling about in a pile of sadness made manifest.
Anselme hastened with his folding ladder to recover the children, while Meryk decided that knocking the pair unconscious from afar would be the best course of action—delivering an expertly aimed arrow to the girl’s malformed head to the outrage of her brother from above. As Brother Vang, Zantric and Anselme neared the house, a trio of vargouilles flew forth and mayhem soon began to unfold. With a terrible shriek, several were paralyzed while the ooze rolled to engulf Zantric and Brother Vang.
Brother Vang, Cassandra and Anselme received terrible kisses from the vargouilles, their constitutions failing to stave off the horrific otherworldly disease such conveyed; wounds which refused to heal were received from several vicious bites while viscous globules of sticky ooze clung to fighter and cleric alike. Over a frenzied melee, the battered party at last managed to win out over their foes and rescue the diseased children—but were now faced with a terrible disease and a race against the clock.
While daylight temporarily delayed the progression of the vargouille transformation, there was a scant six hours left before sundown—and reaching Kassen’s Hold in that time for aid would prove perilously close. Availing the horse and two ponies tethered to the barn nearby, Brother Vang stripped of his armor and accompanied Anselme, Cassandra and the children in a feverish race to Father Rantal Prast in Kassen. The rest of the party saw to burying the headless man by the ruined farmhouse before following after the trail of their friends.
Once back in town, Father Prasst was able to lift the disease from those afflicted—and while the cost accrued was significant for the necessary expenditures, the party soon discovered that the children were those of a pair of wealthy merchants only recently returned to Kassen for the forthcoming festivities; the grateful couple not only covered all the costs of the removal of said disease—but furnished a reward of a thousand gold to the party in gratitude for the rescue of their children from such a terrible fate.
From there, with the whole of the party returned grave tidings were conveyed to Mayor Uptal and the other remaining elders of Kassen’s Hold. With heavy hearts for those that had been lost, a decidedly somber rendition of the celebratory feast was held, instead to honor those that had bravely saw to the risks of the undead in the crypt and received word from the town’s ancient hero and founder.
Information and recovered articles were given that evening, gaining much prestige with the Pathfinder Society, the Eagle Knights, the Green Faith, Arcanimirium and Mendev Crusaders respectively; a sizable haul of goods was sold among the merchants assembled in Kassen’s Hold for the festivities, while Anselme solicited the local baker to prepare loaves of Cyryx from the wheat he had recovered on the journey home.
A convening of the leaders of Kassen’s Hold wrought a crucial conclusion: with word of slaving orcish bands, the rise of banditry, aggression from Molthune intensifying and now—the disturbance of undead in the crypts—the defense of Kassen’s Hold would be untenable with its present host of protection. It would prove of critical importance, thus, that help be requested from Tamran in the form of a larger garrison and support from the city—and it is of the party that the request for such a journey was made, with a letter of introduction penned by Mayor Uptal to Councilwoman Aromina Yasgon in Tamran.
The party would travel to Tamran by the Black Mist, a river barge run by Captain Walren down the river Tourondel. A journey of six days—three by day, and then three along the coast of Lake Encarthan—the party would then seek out their contact in the capital and beseech the Forest Marshal for aide on Kassen’s behalf. In the meantime, Zantric dispatched Zerra to seek the assistance of the dwarves after the pair shared a night of reunion together.
That night, a terrible storm rolled through the region, uncharacteristic of the season and wrought of significant damage; upon the morning, the party rose and prepared last-minute supplies for the journey ahead—purchasing a rowboat and other utility goods before setting out to meet with Captain Walren. The Captain was found to be a dwarvern man, curiously enough—with a wicked scar across his face and accompaniment in the form of a silent Kellish man named Ewem.
Together the group began their journey down the river as Captain Walren regaled them with talk of his work with the freedom fighters of Nirmathas; for more than thirty years the dwarf had fought against the Molthuni—and of the warring nation the dwarf made no secret of his thorough disdain. With lengthy tales of the ‘goose-stepping’ scoundrels, the dwarf spoke as well of river hags, bandits and of Razmiran ‘faith barges’ on the lake, which would convert others to their religion by point of sword or make them disappear.
Into the second day of travel down the Tourondel, a bridge which spanned it was discovered to have collapsed in the preceding storm; suspecting trouble lurking about the blocked, the party elected to go ashore before allowing Walren to bring the barge and its winch to work at clearing a path. While expecting bandits, hags or other such menaces, instead the party soon discovered the half-crushed ethereal remnants of a tormented conjurer—soon incited to combat after an exchange of words faltered.
Flying about the ghostly conjurer waylaid the party along the shore, loosing a fireball and a stinking cloud and flinging Cassandra into the rough waters with telekinesis; as Anselme and Pandora worked to rescue the sorceress from the waves, Meryk assailed the spirit with magically empowered arrows from afar. An auroch was summoned which trampled about the party on the shore—and after several long moments of harried battle later, the spirit of the conjurer was finally dispersed in a rain of ectoplasm.
Brother Vang sought to put the man to rest, and with a scouring of memory the group recognized him thinly as one Valentin Pennanen, a conjurer of some small repute who specialized in entertaining, predominantly at children’s parties. Having seemingly been struck by misfortune while traversing the bridge during the storm—the party nevertheless recovered Valentin’s remains from beneath the rubble and saw to burying what was left of the man. From his body, a magic ring was recovered alongside a wand—and once the blockage was cleared, the journey on the river barge continued onward down the river.
We left off there for the day’s session after a fair number of encounters including a harrowing boss fight had been accomplished. We had a chase sequence along the way, and the next leg of the journey seems to point towards Tamran—while pursuit of a lead on Iramine has begun in the fringe.
See what Emma thought about this session here!