Rise of the Runelords: Arbiters of Change

Chapter the Fourth

As Chronicled by Thomas of Sartor

Initially, the tunnel carved into the stone beyond the broken walls of the Glassworks’s basement were rough, but as we continued warily forward, the tunnel became smoother and better hewn. I followed my companions into the dark passageway guided by a torch generously lit by Tarek. I believe it was after the fourth of fifth turn that I realized just where this tunnel may have come from. For a time there was a thieves guild that operated in the underbelly of the town, the Sczarni family. Rumor had it they used hidden tunnels to get into and out of every business in Sandpoint. Of course the tunnels had never been found, but no one had heard from the thieves guild in several years. And here we were standing in just such a tunnel that had been walled up.

I didn’t put too much thought into the reason why the tunnel would have been walled off without alerting the authorities and instead focused on the shadows in front of us. Eventually the walls and floors ceased to be carved stone and became stonework, ancient stonework. I wasn’t sure of the age, but comparatively, the stonework was much, much older than the passageway we had just walked down, possibly even by as much as a thousand years.

My thought process was distracted however as up ahead Tarek and Olaf both drew their blades and braced themselves from attacks from an unseen foe. There was a clash of steel on steel and then I heard a scream. It was unearthly, like the wailing of the damned and my blood ran cold. I knew that sound even if I had never heard it. It was the cry of the Sin Spawn. I rushed forward to the room where Olaf and Tarek were engaged in battle with the creatures to confirm my suspicion (though I had secretly been hoping I was wrong). I was right.

Tarek and Olaf with the assistance of Hamdar made short work of the two sin spawn. Upon inspecting the room we found nothing of value; even the corpses dissolved into an ectoplasmic goop. We cautiously continued further into the buried stone structure. Several hallways split off from the one we were in and there were two shut doors. We elected to avoid the doors, as well as the stairway leading up down one hallway and instead focused on the last two rooms at the end of the hallway.

In the first room was a statue of a woman. It was carefully crafted from red marble and the woman carried a book and a Ranseur of exquisite creation. After racking my brain for every possible deity and with the help of Tarek we confirmed that this wasn’t a goddess of any kind, but I couldn’t come up with anyone in the past worthy of a statue. That was until I saw the symbol on the book. It was a septagram, a seven pointed star. Given the age of the stonework around us it must be Thassilonian in origin.

The Thassilonians had a system of magic found on the seven virtues, however a group of people called “Runelords” discovered that the seven “sins” were even more powerful at fueling their magicks. The Runelords rose up and overthrew or destroyed the Thassilonian empire, obliterating every trace of it, or so I’ve read. If anything remained it would have been built by those enslaved by the Runelords… which means the statue in front of us was one of the Runelords and given the sin spawn we’ve seen as well as the coloration and weapon held… The icon before was was Alaznist, the Runelord of Wrath.

We moved quickly on, but not before I “liberated” the ranseur – studying it would be worth its weight in treasure, but I figure I could get about 400g from the right buyer when we were done with it.

In the next room we found two more Sin Spawn who fell the same way as the first as well as two bodies that were nearly as old as the bones scattered around the catacomb we found ourselves in. They were clad in leather armor and carried short swords and they bore signet rings. Engraved on the rings was the emblem of the Sczarni thieves guild which meant that whatever moved in down here had brought these sin spawn with them and wiped out the previous occupants.

We moved deeper into the catacombs unsure as to what we would find up ahead and at this point we were determined to get out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately Koruvus had other plans. We weren’t expecting the goblin down here, but it only reaffirmed the tunnel’s connection to the goblins and told us we were headed the right way. The only thing was… he was… twisted. This is definitely not what a goblin is supposed to look like, and it appeared that whatever power was at work was “blessing” those that worked with it. Nualia would have much to answer when we found her.

Koruvus, despite his gruesome appearance, went down hard and while we caught our breath we examined the room we encountered the goblin “hero”. It was filled with pits at the bottom of which were festering undead. This just kept getting better and better. We left the room quickly – we didn’t have the resources to deal with the necrotic, so we opted to just get out and go. Eventually the hallway that lead away from the undead holding tanks reached a dead end. Well, it ended in a door and to the left was a small archway that contained a spiral staircase leading downward.

We conferred briefly before deciding that we should check the door just in case. Upon opening it we found a completely spherical room and within it was floating several objects. Magical writing lined the walls and a strange energy crackled about – apparently the source of the levitation effect. Within was a book, a scroll, a wand, a dead Raven with maggots, and a bottle of wine. Tarek leaped into the room before we could stop him and he spent a few seconds bouncing around the room before we could get a rope to him to help him stabilize.

It took a bit, but eventually we managed to gather everything up save for the raven. The book turned out to be “The Book of the Mother”, a holy text on Lamashtu and the scroll contained the spell Burning hands. The wine was just that, wine, and the wand will prove useful as it contained the spell Shocking Grasp. We shut the door and after adjusting everything we prepared to descend down the steps when Hamdar had a thought.

The Raven had maggots. Every other dead thing had been dead for some time. The skeletons in the catacombs had been dead for millenia, and even had a preservation auro on the room. The thieves we had found in the catacombs and even in the chamber of Koruvus had been dead for years. But maggots have a gestation period of only a few days… Which meant that the raven was only recently dead, which also probably means that whatever used that room, did in the past week.

We looked at each other and decided to give this floor one more go over. We didn’t want to expose our flank to attack and if the person responsible had also created the undead, well, all the more reason to make sure we clear out this level of the structure before heading deeper.

We headed back and uncovered an experimentation room which contained corpses similar in composition to Koruvus’s final form, but in varying stages of development. Beyond that there was nothing of note until we encountered the corpse of one of the thieves with its head missing. The head looked like it simply left the shoulders and we were all stumped, that was, until a chill ran down my spine. I remembered reading stories of a species of vampire or spirit that would attack you and if you died as a result, your head would leave your body and become another one of those vampire. A vargouille. We looked up the staircase where we found the body towards a door and we all visibly paused.

Eventually we gathered our wits and pushed forward. Sometimes I hate being right. Within we found two Vargouille that proved to be our toughest challenge yet. Their gaze could petrify us with fear and their kiss could have killed us at any moment. Thankfully Olaf, Hamdar and Tarek were able to take them out, I’m not sure what I would have done were I alone.

Beyond the door we found a small pool of water that appeared to contain fresh pure water. I’ve read too many stories so I opted not to drink it, but Olaf felt it was safe. I wasn’t so sure and at the time I was getting an itchy feeling like we hadn’t seen the worst of it yet.

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