Charnal Crown

Book Signing Tour Lastwall/Amans Leg
Whoa No, William & Mary Won't Do Now

So peep this: we checked out the Countess’s abbey and made some informal plans for retribution on the part of my Varisian brothers, and then we headed back to town. Things were going well in preparation when we received word that the bureaucrat douche was looking for us. We made our way to the castle(?) and attended a meeting with him and a surprise visit from The Judge, and things turned out to be working in our favor for a change:

  • Bureaucrat gets demoted – he actively prevented us from getting assistance from other members by spreading the word that we were not trustworthy, but he also drastically expanded the Order’s membership. Kind of a wash in the Judge’s eyes; positively seditious in the judgement of our merry band of murderers. Luckily, stewardship of the Eye’s Caliphas branch is given to the Librarian.
  • We get a bunch of scryguards!!! No more watching us while we pee!!!
  • We also planted the idea that the Sons of the Sun could be a useful stick, especially if a member of the Eye were sitting at the head of their organization and giving them the right kind of motivation.

With the good news out of the way, the Judge puts on her sad face and gives us the bad news: Apparently some Count is dead or missing thanks to a mass Zombie invasion in Gorcha Pass, and (no surprise here) we are the only ones that can do anything about it. The Church of Pharasma apparently are going to help us on our way with a teleportation ceremony or prayer or something… whatevs. Goodbyes are given, and we prep for the trip before heading to the Church for the main event.

Annnnnnnnnd, then a big hand grabs us and drops us off at different places. Apparently, everyone got dropped near Amaans. Not ol’ Archie, though. I dunno where the hell I was, but there was a sweet witch gate, so I hopped in that bad boy. Nice ride if you can overcome the unhelpful spirits within. I popped out and found myself face to face with a band of my greatest admirers, although they seemed a little religious if I’m being honest. I guess it just speaks to the universality of my message and appeal.

Turns out my new friends are headed for Lastwall. Even though the trip sounded scenic, I decided after a long day of book signing that I needed to get back to my friends before they got lonely, so that night I teleported myself pretty close to Amaans, and life was good once more as I rejoined our intrepid party.

[The rest of the party learned about what happened in Amaans with the raid and whatnot when the Count was taken, but since I wasn’t there, I did a bad job of note taking here. Maybe Paul will fill it in. Sorry, mates.]

Since I had pretty good luck with the first Witch Gate, I proposed that we should take it again to try to cut out some transit time. It didn’t really work in our favor (we ended up in the middle of dead central first, then at the location where I originally met up with my admirers), but it was kind of a wash when compared with how long it would have taken by traditional means to get to the church, so meh.

When we pop out of the Witch Gate (round 2) we run into more Paladins of Iomede. They’re transporting some demon that they’d captured, and we camp with them for the night as it seems that they hadn’t had great luck. I sent a message ahead to my admirers that this band could use the help, fulfilling my good deed for the month, and then we set out on our way, arriving (nearly) at our destination without anything of note occurring.

The Ballad of Nice & Easy

The smell of feces entering drawers was palpable as the full extent of the Whispering Way’s deception was realized by the Caliphas chapter of the Eye. I chuckled a little.

Knowing that they were relatively worthless, the Eye directed us to try to find Quinley Basdel, some investigator extraordinaire with a deep love of secrecy. We followed a lead to the town’s castle, but we were unable to bribe our way inside to meet with Basdel, so the group decided to split for the evening: Harry went to the hotel for some sleep, Big Brother went to the temple, while Otto and I skulked around the castle like the couple of sneaky bastards we are and searched for alternate entrances (the powerful wards meant that our usual approach of creating a door was out, not to mention the hordes of guards inside). Mid-skulk, we are interrupted by the ghost of Caliphas past which tries to murder us indiscriminately. Being discriminating types, we respectfully decline and make our way to the temple, where we proceed to show some of the female acolytes a form of moderately exciting entertainment that requires little in the way of outside materials before getting some sleep.

The next day, we get a lunch invitation via delivery to Harry to meet with Quinley. Lunch is pretty good, and Quinley also invites us to meet with his boss, another secretive guy that is looking into the Varisian murders about town. We accept graciously.

After lunch, we do some shopping, and Otto buys some bullet molds that will create holy symbol bearing loads so that we aren’t ghost-smacked again, we take a light siesta, and when night falls, we head to the meeting.

Turns out, Quinley’s boss is a vampire named Luvick Siervage and he sets up some more meetings so that we can help him restore balance to the power structure of the city. Luvick thinks that some other Vampire is making a power play; he recommends that we sleep with one eye open. He claims to be old friends with the Professor, and he likes fine wines, so I like him. On the way home, we wipe the streets with some dumbass gang.

The next night, we have a full docket of Vampire meetings.

Visit one is weird. Lady Evgenya Zunaida seems nice at first, but then some asshat in her retinue jumps Otto and they have some sort of duel in the dark, and then after that finishes (poorly for the half-vampire hooligan), she and I dance and then she sort of hires us to keep digging but also threatens us at the same time. She’s about as straightforward as my fourth son’s mother.

Visit two is just unpleasant. Desmond Kote (referred to hereafter as “Dick”) tells us nothing but a bunch of anti human pro vampire babble about a group of racists known as the Sons of the Sun (of a Son of a Sailor). Dick does sport some sweet demon tattoos, though, so he’s okay in my book as long as I don’t actually have to spend time with him. He does set up a meeting for us with some “prisoner” that he’s caught, though, so the visit isn’t a total loss.

The last meeting is with a tailor/vampire, Radvir Giovanni. He gives us a chest of documents from Evgenya’s dead husband’s investigation into the Vampire murders, and they indicate that the Sons of the Sun are behind everything. I make an appointment for a suit, and we leave.

Examination of the documents shows that they were all written by one person, not the many the investigation claimed, and a quick history spell shows that Radvir forged all of them himself.

With all of our vampire meetings down, we head to chat with the prisoner. He apparently is a Nosferatu, and he confesses to doing the murders at the bidding of the Countess of Sarno. Since he’s bound to this plane by them, I don’t hold it against him. The idiots guarding the prisoner think it’s funny to leave us in the cell for a while. It wasn’t, something that ended poorly for one of those blokes when the prisoner got hungry later.

So, we tell ol’ Luvick everything, and he personally leads a raid on Radvir, killing him and a ton of half-vampires that he’s created through some magic potion he got from Adivon Adrissant.

Addy must have taken offense to this, as he unsuccessfully (natch) tries to kill us via teleported bomb.

Still leaving some strings untied, we recruit the Sons of the Sun to be our rabble and head for the Countess’s country estate to set up our Yojimbo play and remind people that Varisian bits don’t smooth out crow’s feet and reverse aging, they cause destruction and adoration of the masses when a certain Varisian’s exploits are released in a serialized format that proves extremely popular with readers of all ages.

Peaches & Cream
Hookers & Blow

After eating as much seafood as we could manage (you see what I did there?) our intrepid band of adventurers headed for Caliphas. Everyone wants my autograph now, even degenerate headless fuckers and the odd werewolf, so these paparazzi were all outside of the carriage trying to get a glimpse of His Archness (Me) and generally making a racket, so we planted those bitches in the ground. BAM. That Tyrant guy just seems to have left his toys all over the place. Bums never picking up after themselves. Bunch of god damn savages to the very last one. [Editors note: the group got to see the effects of the Raven’s Beak first hand and picked up a medallion only issued to major powers in the The Whispering Way and Adivon Adrissant sent a letter to Erbik urging him to leave off his quest at the risk of his family and friends]

So we arrive in Caliphas, head to the recommended inn (sort of, guy was a fucking racist asshat), make contact with the Palantine Eye and get a message that the Count and Judge somehow managed to lose Schloss Caromarc. WTF? They had the beast FFS. THE BEAST. I mean, that guy must be on a constant diet of protein and kickass, and they somehow managed to lose? Maybe the count needs to whip up some more of that sweet pink murder. The note also had some tickets for the theater, and I love the theater.

We got to the show at a fashionably late time (luckily they seat late patrons at this particular venue) and headed to our booth. Since the Palantine Eye think they are some really clandestine cloak and dagger motherfuckers, this was actually the entrance to their secret lair, something made obvious by the Eye logo on the door, just in case they got confused and accidentally wandered into the ladies room or the Whispering Way’s cubby or something (more on that later).

We met the brain trust of the Caliphas branch of the Eye, a librarian, a count, and a bureaucrat. Everyone was cool but the bureaucrat, a typical silver spoon dipshit, complete with pompous ceremonial wear and other trappings. They knew about as much as we would expect at this point (read:nothing) so the whole night was kind of a bust. [Editor’s note: the group quickly realized that although the members of the Palantine Eye are supposed to be equals, Edjureus Modd (the bureaucrat) had managed to put himself in charge although he was quite careful to make sure that the count, who knows nothing about magic or history) was honored for his attendance]

Anyway, with the evening plans completed, we needed some sleep (or something superficially resembling it). Harry goes to the inn, Erbik found God(ess), and Otto and myself found something warm to sleep in around the Varisian side of town [Editor’s note: the scummiest housing available near the docks]. I ran into my royalty stealing friends, and turned that opportunity for bloodshed into my new marketing department. Too many Varisians have died already (over 100 if the stories are straight, which is questionable), and they did a good job of building some solid word of mouth for me in the past. Bygones, eh? Plus, everyone’s worried that the boats won’t come to take my people south (we’re snowbirds, natch) so things in Caliphas suck at the moment if you’re Varisian.

With that circle closed, I could feel good about things and enjoy breakfast.

Turned out that Harry had the most exciting morning, though, as a few dead vampires were found outside of his place, conveniently providing an answer vis a vis what has been stalking the night in Caliphas. Erbik gets called in by the local PD to investigate, but he turns up a solid nothing other than the fact that they were vampires and that they are now quite dead. [Editor’s Note: The local police officers spoke highly of Edjureus Modd as one of the few leaders in the city who care about it. They also seemed extremely upset that the victims were vampires.]

Adavant Adrasant was our only lead at this point, so we gamely took the bait. A daylight visit to the outside verified that he was quite moved out and that every shadow in town was hanging out within earshot of the place, so we opted for an evening visit later on. This gave us a chance to do what all celebrities do during their free time: Shop. People bought stuff. I got a bitchin’ bow named Darlene that I can’t wait to try out. I didn’t so much notice what other people bought; I was too pumped about my purchase.

The evening stakeout was pretty eventful. It evolved from a stakeout to a break-in (snap) and we checked out the mostly empty place. There was already a guy in there, though, and we kicked his ass before he jumped out the window and did some stealthy ninja shit. I saw his ratlike face thanks to history magic, and we kept searching the place.

Our hunch was correct: we found a secret passage to the Whispering Way’s meeting room, and in their room was a backdoor to the Palantine Eye’s impenetrable vault of goodies (apparently they didn’t see on the lease that this was a shared space arrangement? Can’t read the fine print? What good is the bureaucrat?) I browsed the Lich aisle pretty thoroughly and found all of the good stuff before my sport was spoiled by the usual suspects. They seemed pretty miffed that the Way had been up in their base using their lootz. I suspect I will have to replace my sweet finds before long, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Tune in next time: Just like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

Tentacles, Homicide, and the Modern Adventurer
A Treatise on Looting, Genocide, and When to Call It a Day

First, a song for my old friend, No Brows, who seems to have drifted off into an interminable coma.

So, we enter the Undiomede mansion, and standing in the center of the glorious marble center of the house is an altar of hewn stone surrounded by runic pillars. After a moment of talking with the Book, I realize it’s the Altar of the Goat with the Thousand Children, a pretty sweet and sufficiently bad ass evil relic. Just as I’m marveling at the craftsmanship of the altar and pillars, this rude ogre bitch casts a darkness spell and tries to kill us all. She rebuffs my sensual advances, kicks my ass, and beats the hell out of several of our number before the Brother is able to put a Warhammer through her soft, ogre-y skin.

With all immediate threats neutralized, we proceed to snoop around the main floor of the building and discover a vicar with a baby. After incapacitating the vicar, we interrogate him and find that the evil priests had all been here doing their thing not too long ago. Of course, we murder the vicar and loot his body, where Otto finds a sacrificial dagger that he wisely decides to give to me.

A search of the upstairs turns up evidence that the last Undiomede discovered his family’s treacherous heritage and fled with his sister (who was a likely offering to the fishes, ahem, Neighbors), the Grand Vizier’s son (who we bind and force to come along) as well as the Grand Vizier, a man that is more capable than he seemed, as he is able to reflect a bullet into Brother Erbik’s face (this is the beginning of what is not a good day for E, I’m afraid) before he also gets stabbed. Instead of dying, however, he sprouts four tentacles and incapacitates Erbik and Otto before I’m able to drop him through a magic door and the tentacles take off in several directions.

We loot the mansion, natch, and I get a pretty glorious trident and we steal some exotic looking pipes in addition to general odds and ends.

A re-examination of the altar turns up a hidden portal to a basement level of the building. Of course, it has to be down some wet, slippery limestone stairs, 60 feet worth to descend in all, and they terminate in a room decorated only with an aquarium containing Cassius Undiomede and his diary, which I commit to memory and steal for posterity (as well as its sharkskin binding… delightful). The door to the next room reveals… SURPRISE! More dead people. Some of these are dead fish people, though, all of whom exhibit signs of madness. At the edge of the room, we find some pale, crazy woman cradling the husk of a baby. She seems charming in a hot in the sack but might kill you while you sleep kind of way, and her pallor looks like more the result of arcane effects rather than lotion and genes.

The room beyond this one has a marvelous looking box in it, so I move closer with Harry to take a look as the others remain near the door. Unfortunately, the cool box was actually a prison for a space jellyfish that wanted to wat our brains. It almost does so to Harry and Otto, and it does manage to collect the Vizier’s son. I’m able to teleport out of the room and grab Otto while Harry screams nonsense about tentacles performing unnatural activities. The lady seems fine with the jellyfish. She is definitely too nuts for me.

I decide unilaterally to bury the jellyfish and the lady together in the room before collecting our battered party and getting the hell out of a mansion that had much more curb appeal than the interior could live up to. [GM Note: If I had been a cruel GM, I would have sold it to you for far more than it was worth and THEN let you look around inside]

A return to town reveals that the fishes raided the place while we were gone. We decide to take the fight to the fishes, and luckily old man weirdo has a diving bell for us to borrow. We headed to sea shortly thereafter with a crew in a fishing boat that would remain at the surface. We also saw the prisoner that had been out in the bay, and he assured us that we were on the right track. This diving bell thing was rather dank, and Harry kept making weird noises on our descent to the bottom of the lake, especially as this enormous squid passed by us, even grabbing onto the bell at one point. Eventually, we hit the bottom and (thanks to Harry remembering) we signaled the guys in the boat that we were on the bottom.

We took some water-breathing potions, walked to an opening in some cave on the bottom of the lake, and moved through some wire traps before finding a band of fish people with their skulls removed at the top to display their brains. Very unsightly. We slaughtered them efficiently. Exploration revealed some weird riddle-asking monstrosity, which we avoided, and a priest, which I killed with one glorious flaming arrow and an invisibility spell, and his acolytes, which we also killed. Erbik grabbed some nail board club thing and immediately became happy as a clam.

The room beyond contained a lot of brains hooked to wires. We later discovered that the brains were all that remained of the abducted townspeople. The mayor’s brain told us what had happened, and we put them out of their miserable existence as brain jar experiments.

Beyond that room was a weird dome filled with dark plants. This made up the bulk of the underwater domed area. We saw the rider from the Whispering Way strapped to a table by some enormous machine, and we decided to electrocute the machine, at which point a number of the plants started to attack us. We eventually killed the four plants at great cost to our personal health, and after questioning the rider about where to go next, I killed him with the sacrificial dagger, and a tentacle came out of his anus and tried to kill us all. We fed the rider and anus-tentacle to the machine, which we had determined was a sort of wood chipper for bodies, and it began pulsing like some sort of explosive, which it was. After a narrow escape, we ascended to the surface, found the dead massive squid (which the town consumed) and reveled in our glories.

I think that when the time comes, I will come back here to retire. Maybe this town could be renamed New Varisia… Only time will tell.

Stuff That Happened

After my romantic tryst, I met with my compatriots. They said that the mayor hinted that the Undiomedes might still be alive, among other things. But we had a plan for taking care of the rather corrupt temple in town first, so we proceeded with those plans.

I made a door through a wall into the temple, whereupon we ambushed a group of brothers. While we were tying them up, some oversize crab thing appeared and pinched off Erbik’s leg. It was no good. It alerted the other guards somehow, and the lot of them came through the door shortly after the crab appeared. We eventually damaged the crab sufficiently that it ran off, and the other guards were subdued shortly thereafter. Of course, this wasn’t enough, so some priest and another guy come busting in. We kicked their asses, too. Unfortunately, we kicked the priest’s ass too well, and he died. To remedy the situation, I occupied Erbik whilst No Brows fed the dead priest a Necromantic potion and questioned him about who he served (the evil god Dagon). So, we searched the shark head’s room and found some demonic statues, so we grabbed those for evidence and then we found a weird parasitic creature in his bed. We killed that and collected it for evidence.

We searched the rest of the temple and found a hidden room filled with weird frescoes of fish being fish-sluts with ladies (also acting rather promiscuously) that also contained the stupid crab thing (which believed he was invisible) which we killed as well as a lot of runes on the walls, which we destroyed with some well-placed shotgun blasts.

We also saved some insignificant couple that fared far better than the room full of parasite-infected corpses at the other end of the hallway. Erbik also performed last rites on them before we could do cool Necromancy on them.

With all of this evidence in hand, we rounded up the Sheriff (who I turned out to have more in common with than either of us had previously believed) and a posse, and we headed out to the Undiomede Mansion where we gave a stirring speech to properly enthuse the angry mob while we prepared for more treasure snatching and ass kicking of Sharkhead, his brothers in Chthonic evil, and whatever enormous mutant left the footprints all over the damn place.

Welcome to Illmouth
Gagging spot of Ustalav

In spite of poor weather, the group made their way along Lake Encarthan towards Illmouth, which sits in an isolated position on the southeastern edge of Ustalav. Just a couple of miles short of Illmouth, the group spotted a fishing vessel with a single crewmember on board being pushed by the wind towards the shore by the wind. The vessel was obviously too big to be controlled by a single person so the crew member’s efforts were obviously in vain.

Harry and Archie combined their magic to create a large sandspit in front of the vessel and it slid to a halt next to an abandoned wharf. The crewman fell into the icy waters of Lake Encarthan when the ship stopped but was rescued by Brother Erebic and Otto using a rope. Felix was firmly in the grip of some mushrooms and played no major part in the adventure.

The crewman proved to be an eccentric elderly inventor named Horace Croon who had retired recently from the University of Caliphas. The fishing vessel was carrying his latest invention, a mechanical fish of somewhat doubtful integrity (the first clue was the large quantity of water sloshing around inside). Horace explained that he had high hopes of exploring the depths of Lake Encarthan in this device and that he had been fairly successful in exploring a small section of the Lake in an earlier prototype that was not nearly as mobile as the fish.

The fish was secured on a wagon using a winch and the rest of the trip to Illmouth was cordial but very wet as the weather, which had been threatening all day, finally broke. Upon surveying the only possible place to stay at night, everybody in the the group except for Harry chose to stay with Horace at his spacious but stripped down home or under the Archie’s wagon.

Harry had his fair share of challenges that night but emerged from the evening victorious. Archie and Otto spent part of the evening at the only other tavern in town but did not learn anything other than the fact that people in the town don’t like strangers. On the way back to Horace’s house, Otto spotted lightning strike something out in the lake.

Illmouth by day was very quiet but somewhat less depressing than it was by night. Most of the men were mostly gone fishing (a cold and daunting prospect in early November) and most of the women were gathered at the surprisingly well-maintained temple of Gozreh. The rest of the town ranged from very nice but very poorly maintained to nearly falling down. The town sheriff spent some time to get to know the group and asked them to keep their noses clean or suffer the consequence of his sawed-off shotgun.

Harry had discovered the previous night that the inn had only 3 other visitors, two were farmers who left the next morning and one was a traveling salesman from Caliphas. The salesman had not been seen for some days but, since he had paid for his room in advance, his stuff had not been touched yet. Otto secured the key for the room and the group quickly searched it. The room was tidy and well-kept but it was obvious that the bed had not been used in several days and most of the salesman’s possessions were still scattered around the room. Archie went over the catalog of goods the man had been selling and realized that the salesman was selling goods for a factory in Caliphas that had burned down several years ago and had never been replaced. The only other noteworthy thing the group found was a note the man left himself about the Undiomede residence.

Illmouth (formerly Baymouth) had been established by Cassius Undiomede about 200 years ago and had been quite prosperous up until 30 years ago when the family line suddenly failed. The town had still done pretty well until about 2 months ago when fishing suddenly turned very poor.

The group toured the temple and Brother Erebic noticed that the temple celebrated creatures under the sea rather than the power of wind and wave which are the more common themes of Gozreh. The group also noticed that boy children outnumbered girl children by about a 2:1 margin and that the guards were particularly feisty with the party. Outside the Temple, Otto spotted a very large reptile swimming far out in the lake but none of the locals were concerned. They told the group that the creature has never harmed anybody and keeps its distance. But one person noted that he thinks it has been getting bigger lately.

A market assembled in the town square in the mid-afternoon sun (the first sunlight of the day because of dense fog) as the fishing fleet returned to town. The group learned the following things during the market:
- The town sheriff has a love-hate relationship with the temple guards
- Today’s catch was poor and the temple guards took the best of the catch for themselves without paying for it. Nobody complained about their behavior
- A rather pretty half-elf female alchemist (specializing in health remedies) has a house in town and a date with Archie in the evening
- Horace Croon is not well-liked by the townsfolk, who fear his inventions will destroy the town. The black smoke and strange noises coming from his house all day did not make the party any more comfortable with Croon’s behavior
- Archie spotted some rocks out in the water with a rusty iron cross. This is likely what attracted the lightning strike the previous evening
- The group learned of the location of the Undiomede residence in the swamp a little to the north and west of Illmouth

The group decided to pay the Undiomede residence a quick visit before nightfall. Archie didn’t want to miss his date. The residence proved to be a very large three story building in the shape of an “L” with a marble dome serving as the roof at the corner of the “L.” The group found tracks made by a horse, a man on foot, and some sort of large lizard that walked erect. The lizard tracks were by far the most numerous and the most recent.

The group took a quick look in the stable and found, much to their surprise, a live horse in poor health due to lack of food and water for the last few days. They eventually identified the animal as the beast that carried the dark rider that they had chased here from Feldgrau. There was no sign of the rider and the group decided to take the horse and saddlebags. Archie searched the saddlebags and found nothing of interest except for a scrap of paper telling the rider to exchange the Sesage Effigy (a strange artifact stolen from the Leidstadt University a couple of months ago for the Raven’s Beak. Brother Erbek and Harry both cried out because they recognized the Raven’s Beak as a mace that is one of the most powerful artifacts of Pharasma that had vanished early in the reign of the Whispering Tyrant. Evidently the Tyrant had hidden this item in the Baymouth area. Everybody wondered why the Whispering Way wanted to possess such a dangerous artifact at this particular moment.

Archie made it back to Illmouth in time for his date and was most charming but did not find out any thing new. The rest of the group had a completely different experience as they were accosted by the Sheriff who told them that the Mayor wanted to speak with them, now. Mayor Earl Greedle was indeed a sight to cause sore eyes but he proved to be an interesting conversationalist. He fondly remember Brother Erbis from his earlier years as a mercenary and surprised everybody by being a devotee of Pharasma. Further, the Mayor admitted that he did not view himself as a leader of the town, maintaining that there was something wrong with the Temple of Gozreh. He also mentioned that he didn’t trust his own Sheriff, whom he believed would turn in the Mayor if he could achieve his life-long ambition to become a Temple Guard.

The Mayor also told the uncomfortable story of how the Undiomede line ended and hinted that there was a good chance that at least one of the family might still be in Ustalav. Finally the group asked about the rocks and the cross and were told that they were called the Tern Rocks were used to punish evildoers.

The Mayor asked, really begged, the group to investigate the Temple and see what they could find. This put a bit of a monkey wrench in the groups plans as they had intended to revisit the Undiomede residence that night. After considerable discussion, it was decided to tackle the Temple first because it was closer and not likely to be haunted by ghosts. There was some fear that the group would bring down the retaliation of the townsfolk on them if they desecrated the Temple and found no evidence of major wrong-doing.

Scheisse Rolls Downhill...
And We're At The Bottom

Excerpted from Lord Bothwell’s Personal Journal:

_We continued to run after razing the entire church in an attempt to slay the foul beast, but it marched onward unfazed.

With little hope of defeating the monster, we continued to Dr. Crove’s asylum. It was a strange place; inmates were strapped to the walls and floor in what I can only imagine was supposed to be some form of treatment. I tried to speak to several of the wretches, but none were comprehensible.

We eventually found the Doctor’s office, but it was empty, save several necromantic tomes, so we kept poking around until we found a stairway leading to the basement. There, we found a few half-flayed inmates and an astonishingly interesting latrine. It seems that the Doctor has some sort of dark elf infestation, something we uncovered through the use of History magic, but we were unable to turn up the Doctor himself until the dark beast had arrived. Luckily, he knew where the Doctor was; unluckily, it killed the Doctor before we could.

Several grenades and many gunshots later, the vile thing finally expires. We did a thorough looting (natch) and collected our reward (and No-Brows junior). At this point, to nobody’s surprise or sorrow, Endil chose to leave our group. First Lux and then Endil, what is going on? I mean, some of us shower regularly, don’t we? What more could they ask for? Our depleted group finally arrived at the town of Thrushmore, the last stop before we finally arrived at our destination of Illmouth.

We stopped in at a Tavern in this one-stop village, and discovered that its patron, a man named Tillas, was working with the Order and was willing to aid us. Sadly, his operation had been infiltrated, and the stableman in his employ (along with several other assailants) jumped a number of our party. After they had been searched, interrogated, and dispatched (mostly in that order) it was discovered that one carried a personal letter for me, and another carried instructions from the Whispering Way.

Coming to our aid during the fight was a man named Brother Erbik, apparently another paladin sent by the gods to aid us. And so, we march on. Still, I feel conflicted about our direction. I desperately want to aid my countrymen in Caliphas. Perhaps, I still might. I will have to confer with the Book for guidance._

Carrion Hill: More Charming Than It Sounds
But Still Kind of a Cesspool

So if I don’t ever get to collect on my royalties for the publication of my earlier adventures, I think I have enough material for the sequel in addition to a sizable beginning on some sort of travel guide for any poor sap that finds themselves traveling the countryside in Ustalav, a land which in relation to the rest of Golarion resembles nothing so closely as an enormous boil on an otherwise gorgeous strumpet.

Our latest travels brought us to Carrion Hill, roughly the halfway point between Feldgrau and Caliphas.

As soon as we arrived in town, we were singled out by the town guard. I expected just another admirer looking for an autograph, but it turns out that Versex, the Mayor’s Head Clerk, is a member of the Palantine Eye. True to form, they want something from us in return for next to nothing. If the Professor were still alive, I’d kick him square in the balls for getting me mixed up in all of this. Maybe I’ll have to marry his daughter or something. Anyway, the Count and the Judge needed some sort of response about how things went in Feldgrau (like they didn’t already know… as if the rest of this order could even manage to lace their bodices without us), so I wrote a flowery letter back to our crew at the Schloss accurately depicting my epic contributions to the cause with some footnotes about the rest of the party. I included in the letter a request that the Order take a look into the disappearance of many Varisians in Caliphas; there were rumors of the royalty there kidnapping Varisians for some dark purpose, and I think there might be some justice to mete out in the near future for my mistreated countrymen.

With that completed, Otto and I went to get to the important business of ensuring that our bloodlines endure by virtue of a trip to the docks to meet with some saucy Varisian ladies. I think No Brows was looking for more alchemists or something. He took off in the other direction humming a song to himself and licking the cobblestones as he went along, and Endell was going to do something kinky and expensive sounding. I think that Harry was the only one that took advantage of Versex’s offer of free lodging at the local inn.

During the evening, some weird thing came out of the sewers and razed a few homes and killed a few people. Apparently it got everyone’s feathers ruffled, so the mayor hired us to take care of it. No Brows looked a little worse for wear in the morning; apparently there’s a bounty out on every alchemist in town thanks to some noble. If I thought No Brows was killable, I might try to collect on the reward, but I’ve seen rocks that could take less punishment. Plus, his ability to stay drug addled constantly is singularly entertaining. We’ll have to do something about the bounty before we go, methinks.

Digressions aside, we went to check out the closest demolished home as soon as everyone had been rounded up. Apparently they came for Harry bright and early, so he got considerably less sleep than the rest of us rapscallions. The house smelled like a rotting colon, and it was covered in a dark goo that seemed to rust and peel everything. I tried to see what had happened through a History spell, but that didn’t work out so well, so we settled on combing the place for clues. Tracking down the entry point of the goo, we determined that the dark beast had come from under the house somewhere, so we opened the door to the catacombs under the city and walked down. Apparently this place was built above an old half-collapsed crypt for some followers of Aroden, all of whom were still there except for one whose sarcophagus had been defiled. We poked around a little further and discovered some cowering muscle that had barricaded themselves in a side chamber, but they were pretty useless as far as details went, so we had no choice but to keep going deeper into the crypt through some rough cut doorway in the stone wall.

The stairway led to a weird magical chamber lit by luminescent fungi and dominated by an enormous altar flanked by petrified trees. No Brows tried to take a look at the altar, and something tried to eat him, but we pulled him out. Deciding there was strength in numbers, a few of us went up there to investigate, and I found a sweet book which I proceeded to read cover to cover. It was a pretty good read. Me and the book were tight for a little while, and it taught me some good things. In fact, I came to realize that the voices I hear sometime were just my friend the book talking to me, reaching out to let me know how things were going. I fell asleep after I finished reading the book and drinking a delicious beer, and suddenly it was gone. Luckily, I can still hear ol’ Book talking to me, so I think we’ll keep in touch.

One of the things I learned from Book was that the black thing was trying to establish itself by killing the people that summoned it to this plane (the book also told me who did this, and they rudely defaced Book, so he was more than willing to let us know who to grease), so if we killed them first, the beast would be considerably weaker. So, we set about to do some killing. We killed some fat drunk at his midden concrete shop, and then we dredged a church basement for some Priest of Aroden that had sewn his mouth shut, and we killed him, too. He was kind of a dick. While we were killing that guy, the monster thing from ANOTHER PLANE showed up, so we tried to kill it by crushing it when we collapsed the church, but that didn’t really work, so when we got up street-side, we noticed that it was still coming…


Big Pink
It Kinda Burns

So, we were in our safehouse surveying our options for assaulting the tower, and No Brows was tripping balls again. For Desna’s sake, this guy must have an endless supply of magic mushrooms… actually, this could be a better thing than I first realized (NOTE TO SELF: profitize relationship with No Brows, sell that hallucinogenic goodness). We all agreed that our original plan to drop in the acid pouch from the Count was the best plan we had, so we decided to roll with it.

That decided, at dawn (for dramatic purposes, we felt dawn would be a good time to strike) we made our way to the tavern in town where we hoped to make our forward base for the attack. Before we get there, though, we get jumped by the four remaining Demon Wolves including that poseur Duristan. At least one of those Demon Wolves had to be a Varisian in his mortal life because they kneecapped us like old pros, and No Brows and Lux were down like panties off of a Varisian Mistress. Which is to say really quickly. Which is to say that all signs pointed to us being completely dead before we could even deliver our gift to Vrood. Which is to say that I was a little disappointed. Luckily, the tide soon turned as I convinced a couple of them that their armor was burning them alive, No Brows chemical proclivities meant that he had plenty to share with the leader of the pack, Otto stabbed a guy with his rapier, Endell gave Duristan a magically incapacitating handy (and Otto also stabbed him mid-tantric-orgasm), and I stabbed the last wolf in the eyes with my silver dagger. Somehow the wolf that Otto originally had stabbed became enthralled by Endell, so she kept him on as a manservant. It was a little weird, but seemed useful. Otto cut out the leader’s heart, and with that bargaining chip in hand (in sack, actually) we negotiated a deal with the Prince’s Wolves that they would go all in on the assault so long as they got the heart when the business was concluded.

We tried to hole up in the tavern, but it seemed that the Whispering Way had gotten there before we had, as there were some runes and glyphs around the frame of the entry that matched the ones we’d seen at Harrowstone prison, so we decided to head to the Blacksmith’s shop instead, where we rested and healed ourselves after that nearly successful ambush.

With the time around high noon (equally dramatic to dawn, so still suiting our purposes), we’d finally rested and healed ourselves, and so we felt ready to begin the attack on the tower. Harry loaded me up with an invisibility spell, and I flew to the top of the tower. I tossed the guard over the side with a levitation spell, and I landed to insert the nag when some white dead thing popped out and grabbed me. It was decidedly unpleasant. I dropped in the bag and then banished the thing. As the bag did its thing, much screaming followed. I thought that whatever was happening would travel downward, so I stuck around for a few seconds and shot the crossbow that was on the roof before I noticed that a pink tendril was coming out of the trapdoor. I decided to beat a hasty exit from the tower. As I flew away, I could see that the entire place was filled with pink goo. Nothing was coming out which meant good things for the good guys. However, pink tendrils were making their way towards all of us that were skilled in the mystic arts, so we had to make a run for it. The rest of the group mopped up the zombies (especially Lux; seems like the less attractive she becomes, the more ass she can kick), and eventually, Vrood’s smoking husk of a body stumbled out of the front door, and he was promptly shot by Otto.

When the pinking stopped, not much was left of the tower. Everything magical inside had been consumed by the pink cloud, making this a sad day for treasure seekers everywhere. We buried the formerly undead (now re-dead?) bodies and went to see the Mayor to collect on our reward for killing Vrood. The Mayor was able to show us Vrood’s dealings with the rest of the Whispering Way, namely the composition of a letter to the head of the group talking about how we were on the group’s watchlist and that Vrood was working for a man in Caliphas and that he had another associate in Illmouth. Otto handed over the heart to the Prince’s wolves, and then he shot Endell’s manservant wolf in the back. The other wolves seemed to think that was a swell move. I was a little surprised, but seeing that wolf’s guts all over the floor made me glad that Otto never decided to shoot me back in the old days. He seems disinclined to shoot me these days, so it isn’t a huge concern anymore, but knowing that he’ll shoot a man in the back made me respect him a little more: All Varisians know that the only fights worth picking are unfair ones. Maybe all of that Sweet Varisian Lovin’ is having even more of an effect than I had suspected. To celebrate, we all got drunk on the mayor’s reserve of great, then decent, then terrible wines. It was a night to remember if you were capable of remembering it.

With that info about the Whispering Way disclosed, I realized that my ticket to another slum had been punched: To Illmouth we would go. All of the travel guides agree that it’s about as scenic as Lux’s face, and to top it off, the place is generally hostile to visitors. Certainly sounds like tourism is a huge industry, no? At least there are certain to be some Varisians around town, so I’ll seek them out, and as I understand, there are a few large trading towns in between Feldgrau and Illmouth, so we can stock up on supplies between here and there. I suspect we’ll need them.

Feldgrau = Scheisse
A Dump in Every Sense of the Word

I leave behind sweet Varisian love at Ascanor Lodge, and for what? Feldgrau: the worst town ever. I had heard it was something of a slum, but I must have slept through the part where it was mentioned that the entire town had died and been reborn as Zombies. To top things off, the only non-zombie residents of the town are mad cultists of the Whispering Way, unfriendly werewolves, and the occasional spirit (ghost, I mean, although a drink would be much more welcome at the moment). I always try to keep a positive outlook, but this rubbish pile has managed to raise even my ire. I’m starting to wonder what exactly the Palantine Eye is going to contribute to us in return for our tireless service.

Furthermore, it appears that Professor Lorrimer’s spirit has been warped by these cultists prigs, and naturally the cult has holed up in the most fortified part of town. Their tower of terrible (henceforth referred to as “the Leaning Deuce”) is highly enchanted and nigh impervious to most magical and alchemical attacks. While all of the news seems bad, there is at least the upside that of the original population of the town, almost all have already been destroyed in Zombie form due to the werewolves. As for the wolven bastards, there seem to be only three of them, one of whom is the insufferable rake-turned-werewolf Duristan. Otto and Endell ran into the trio while scouting the town. It seems that the bar in town and the blacksmith’s shop are the only tenable buildings in town besides the Leaning Deuce, so we’ve set up shop in some farmhouse that apparently served as a den for Duristan’s band of werewolves(we’re joined by a second, inferior brand of werewolf that have named themselves the Prince’s Wolves that help us when they see fit, which is rarely from what I can tell), but after removing some sort of cursed altar from the house, it’s become habitable at least.

We’ve spent the rest of the last few days trying to figure a way to get into the tower or bring the inhabitants of the tower to us. There are two competing ideas at present:

1. We topple the Leaning Deuce. Either through magic or alchemy, we attempt to turn it on its side, killing the inhabitants and clearing out one of our enemy groups. This could work if we tunnel under the tower and make the ground beneath it disappear, but that plan may be too time consuming.

2. We drop in the acid pouch. The Count seemed quite insistent that we just add water and give it to Vrood, and I’m inclined to do so. This would be more of a trickle down approach whereby I would activate the pouch by dropping it in the top of the tower and let its acidic wonders work as they sink through the tower, forcing the inhabitants to be eaten by acid or escape into a trap/ambush that we set outside of the tower.

Personally I’m in favor of a plan that incorporates a little of both, but we’ll see what happens.

NOTE TO BIOGRAPHERS: In the event that things do not work out for our party, feel free to alter the events I’ve described in order to bolster my reputation and standing among Varisians. Should I not survive, it is important that the world believes in Varisians and sees them as more than thieving gypsies.


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