Pathfinder - Legacy of Fire

Kay'Enn's Journal - 08-06-4709
The Sultan's Claw

As quickly as possible, I took stock of the situation. Nini and Ding ran towards the nearest cart, where several burly soldier types were trying to drag it away from the flames. Vash and Khalid headed towards the fire to try and douse it, using water and sand. I ran as quickly as possible to an older man on the far side of the camp, who seemed to be trying to help two prone individuals with obvious charring and burn marks on their clothes. He appeared not to be using magical spells to heal them, so I offered my services to help with dressing their wounds and stabilising them. He was grateful for the help, and so I knelt to look at their wounds. One was badly burnt and bleeding, and she needed immediate attention. I called to Khalid, who was busy dousing flames with dirt scooped from the ground, as I knew he was in possession of an alchemical substance that was used for staunching bloodflow.

He directed me to the backpacks on the back of his riding dog, and in a pocket on the side, I found a vial of sticky dark unguent that seemed to be what I was looking for. Using bandages from the open healers kit in front of me, I spread the thick sticky oily substance on them and bound her wounds and was delighted to see her breathing ease and her pulse slow to something more normal. The old man turned to me with gratitude in his eyes, but there was no time to waste on gratitude – leaving him to move his patients to safety, I ran to the wagon that contained the water butt, grabbed a pail and started to help douse the flames on the tent.

Meanwhile, Nini summoned a pony to help drag a burning cart away from the main fire, and once that was achieved, she unhitched the pony and headed off on its back to help round up the animals. Vash was summoning water from thin air and raining it down on the burning branches of the Sultan’s Claw, trying to prevent further spread of the flames. Nini spoke with a camel and guided it towards me, and shouted in elven for me to hitch it to the water cart so that we could move the water closer to the fire. Of course, she hadn’t counted on the camel being utterly uncooperative! Noting my struggles, she headed my way to help hitch the pony to the water cart, while I returned to my flame-dousing duties.

Vash was struggling to keep the spread of fire through the branches under control, but then I suggested we douse the path ahead of the flames to contain it, and soon this had become the method that everyone was using, and we quickly had the fire contained, if not extinguished.

At this point, the fire-fighting was disrupted briefly as Nini reversed the cart into those individuals who were transporting buckets of water – fortunately without causing any injuries, although we all had to leap aside to avoid being crushed, and several buckets worth of water were wasted as they fell to the ground. I clipped the gnome round the ear for her stupidity, but the look she gave me suggested that she would not be dissuaded from such foolishness in the future!

Animal-herding was apparently being coordinated by Ding, who had taken to exhibiting his frustration by using magical powers to variably colour the animals who were not doing what he wanted – a blue and orange-spotted pig squealed as it ran past me, and I am sure I caught sight of a similarly unnatural-looking chicken somewhere in the melee…

In the chaos of the fire-fighting, Khalid managed to lose control of his imp, which was last seen dancing in the flames and mocking him mercilessly. Khalid looked so angry at his loss, that I decided to hold my peace where reminding him of the foolishness of taking an imp as a “pet” was concerned. Secretly though, I was gratified that my original evaluation of the situation had been correct.

Suddenly there was some loud shouting and I noticed that the gnomes had disappeared – Almah shouted from her tent for Garavel, and I was overcome by a sense of dread as I spotted two small forms running to an adjacent tent. What troubles were they causing now?!

I enquired of Almah, who was most unimpressed and suggested I make sure they behaved themselves. Garavel looked like he was receiving a far worse chastising than I, so I made myself scarce. As I left the tent, there was a shout from the adjacent tent, at which I saw two red-clad guards. They had obviously discovered the gnomes upto no good. Sure enough the little pests ran out from under the tent and leapt into a nearby caravan. I chased them and arrived at the door just in time to see them both quaffing a potion each from the caravan contents. A long argument ensued as I tried to explain to the gnomes that their behaviour was unacceptable. Apart from some gibbering and gesturing from Nini, they seemed contrite enough (or as much as I could expect), so I (foolishly) let them leave, with nothing more than another clip around the ear. It was as I climbed down from the wagon that I saw the result of Nini’s gesturing – my boots were a bright pink colour, which despite my attempts to remove it, seemed to ingrain the leather to its very core.

To say that I was unimpressed would be an extreme understatement and so I went in search of the little pests, only to come across a gathering, consisting of Almah, Garavel, Khalid and the older man who I had helped with healing, who was introduced as Zastoran. The latter was explaining how he could not heal the injured individuals as the potions he had prepared had been stolen. I explained that it was the gnomes’ fault, and Almah was most unimpressed…to the point where I thought she might be considering them harm. I drew her attention to what they had done to my boots, and despite the mockery of a couple of guards, I felt it defused any aggression that might have been imminent.

At this point a lanky, scruffy ill-kempt individual arrived in camp. Garavel introduced him as Dashki, Khalid asked him where he’d been while we were fighting the fire, and he said he had been out “hunting”. Garavel said he was Almah’s guide and gnoll expert, which calls into question why I am needed – truly the situation felt as if it were progressing from bad to worse! Nini claimed she’d seen him lurking around the tents earlier while we were fighting the fire, and while I was grumpy with her, I had no reason to disbelieve her. I decided that Dashki’s suspicious behaviour should be investigated as soon as possible…

The ashes of the fire having cooled enough for investigation, the charred remains of a body was discovered in the ruins of the caravan. Almah was obviously upset by the discovery and left for the solitude of her tent. Garavel informed me that it was Eloais and he had been Almah’s seer. Ding came to pay his respects, and I checked the body for signs of foul-play. He seemed like he had died from breathing smoke, and from the number of candles remaining inside, the fire may have started accidentally. However, the door of the caravan was locked from the outside, and inspection of the ground showed the tracks of a creature, whose feet resembled a large chicken. I was sure I had seen them before, but in my consternation, the name of the creature escaped me.

I called for a second opinion from Dashki, since he was supposed to be some sort of expert (and it was a good chance for me to test his skills), but Garavel called myself, Khalid & Vash to a meeting with her before Dashki responded to my call. However, this was not before I had noticed him on the far side of the camp, engaged in some sort of conversation with Nini. She seemed to be offering him some small edible items, which he took with some concern, but upon eating them, his behaviour towards Nini seemed to lighten. He cast me a glance when called that suggested that these feelings did not extend to me…

Of course, Ding jumped at the chance to offer his services as Almah’s new oracle, but fortunately we had a short time alone with Almah before he arrived as he had to fetch his fortune telling deck first, during which she informed us that we really needed to keep “our gnomes” under control.

During this chat, Garavel left the tent and we heard him talking to someone round the back of the structure. He returned and said that the gnomes wanted to see me – with trepidation I rejoined the little folk outside, and Nini confessed she wanted to return my boots to their former colour. I acceded and was initially grateful when my armour and boots returned to a more drab shade, but then was horrified to see the patina grow shiny and glossy in the extreme. Nini seemed most amused, and commented on how much better my armour looked now that it was super-shiny and clean, but I certainly wasn’t as amused as she and her brother! Only my deference to our employer allowed me to stay my hand and prevented further chastisement of the gnome siblings on my part.

Despite my having left them to their giggles, the gnomes continued to be frustrating in their interruption – Nini especially claimed to know the cause of Eloais’ death, suggesting it was due to “Pugwaffles” – and in the end, Almah, seeming to assume that I was in some way responsible for their actions and disappointed when I denied such a thing, offered me no less than a small fortune in gold if I would take responsibility for their behaviour. Hard though it was for me to agree, the sum involved was definitely far more than I could have hoped to net from this contract, and so I agreed. I am, however, certain that no amount of monetary recompense is going to be worth the stress and peril that the gnomes will bring to me!

Almah also requested that we investigate the death of Eloais and while the gnomes’ constant suggestions of pugwaffle involvement seemed far-fetched, it reminded me that I had indeed heard of a creature called a pugwampi which are well known to gnolls as being irritating creatures, full of spite and malice, and certainly capable of causing the sort of havoc we had experienced in camp. Almah was dubious and informed us that we should forget the nonsense about pugwampis, and look to those in camp as the source of the trouble. Having promised Almah that we would investigate the issue further, I left her tent with Garavel and took the opportunity to ask him of his own feelings towards Eloais. He reacted without emotion as I had come to expect, but had certainly shown a slight reaction when Almah had described Eloais as her “best friend and most trusted advisor”. I suspect that Garavel harbours feelings for Almah that he will not, or can not express. He did express his mistrust of Dashki, but said he would support all lines of investigation and we should certainly pursue the possibility that the fire was started by pugwampis.

I returned to the remains of Eloais’ caravan to search for more evidence of the tracks I had found earlier. As I suspected, there were many such tracks not far from the camp, and leading off into the darkness. These were accompanied by the tracks of a hoofed animal, possibly a goat. My assumption proved correct as I met with the camel herder, Hadrod and his wife Hadrah. Hadrod was near inconsolable at the loss of his favourite goat Rhombard, and I was at a loss as to how to ease his suffering as he berated me for not helping them round up the animals earlier. Before I could help myself, I had offered to help locate his lost animal in addition to the other tasks that had already been thrust upon me that night!

Not wishing the trail to go cold, and fearing that the longer I waited, the more chance there would be that the goat would be found dead, I left word of my intentions with Hadrah, and set off into the night following the trail of the pugwampis, if indeed that is what they are…

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Adventure Summary XVIII
FALLEN CHILD OF SARENRAE

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Date

xx/xx/4709

Events

Having left the Tannery where the Harpy Undrella had set up camp, the heroes returned to the mill where the Peryton had kept its nest. There, after Vash used his magic to see if there was any treasure that the beast was keeping in its lair, the heroes found a well-crafted magical longsword and a intricately etched ring. After identifying the ring and sword, the heroes quickly departed to deal with the giant Mamba.

The approach was stealthful, and with the cover of the storm still at their advantage, the heroes became a little brazen with their plan. First, Nin and Kay’enn climbed to the top of the building in order to see if there was a better way inside. The soon found a gaping hole in the roof of the building. Khalid, floundering with the reducing ambient light as night was falling, asked for a torch to be lit. In the rain, lighting it became difficult, as so he asked Nini to cast a light spell upon it. Khalid through the torch to the Gnome who did not quite understand what was being asked. The gnome cast the spell, lighting the torch with an iridescent glow, and then promptly took the torch to Kay’enn who was finding it difficult to see inside the darkened building.

Vash and Khallid took up positions flanking the doorway and Ding came quick up behind. Filleped remained with Ding and begun relating a story of his adventuring days which aimed to inspire his new found friends.

Kay’enn in the meantime took the torch and through it into the building, its form clattering down into the main hall. Kay’enn was surprised to see what appeared to be dilapidated cages lining the walls, and what must have once been an auction house with a platform, chairs, tables, and other now destroyed furnishings. Kay’’enn also noticed large scales on the floor about the size of a plate. This was to be no ordinary snake, and it was clear why the Gnolls kept their distance from this area.

As Kay’enn gave directions from the roof, Vash peeered inside, but could still see nothing of what waited for them within. The boy Khalid however grew impatient and with weapon at hand, strode into the building. As the child moved inside, the huge reptile struck from its hiding position in the roof. It struck with natural precision and great power, cutting the child down in one swift bite. Vash was next inside along with his leopard companion, his axe finding it mark on the creatures hide. However, the creatures hide was obviously going to be a lot harder to breach as the snake dropped Khallid, and focused its attention on the half-Gnoll.

Meanwhile Nini moved next to Peran’ya in order to magically prepare her friend for combat. As Nini approached Paran’ya’s position, she could hear Ding yelling up at her, telling her that he wished to come up. With that, Ding begun to climb, and Nini went to help.

Kay’enn however heard the attack, and moved into a position better suiting to attacking the creature from range, by dropping down into the building with the use of his feather fall ring. The creature was massive, and it took but a moment for Kay’enn to see his fallen friend. Kay’enn’s arrow struck true, and the creature hissed in pain. A moment later, the creature struck out at Vash, crippling him in the assault. Kay’enn again fired at the beast, while Zuum Zuum, continued his attack.

Ding finally reached the roof with the help of Nini and they watched the battle from above. Piran’ya moved below and begun attacking the creature as well. It was not long before the creature was subdued, its body coiling down from the rafters where it was hiding and crumpling on the ground below. Zuum Zuum pulled his master away from the snake and stood over Vash’s body, licking his wounds in an attempt to save him. Filleped moved inside and offered assistance. Nini and Ding also moved inside and assisted with their friend’s recovery.

As the evening progressed, the heroes made camp, deciding to hide here for the evening. It was Vash who decided that the building was safe from the prying eyes of the gnolls as they were less likely to come there considering the fear they had for the snake. The night went quickly, and by dawn the storm had passed.

The heroes prepared, healed what wounds they could with Vash’s and Khalid’s wands. The decided that before making their way up into the main part of Kelmarane, that they would check out the other buildings near to where they found Filleped. As they prepared, a slight showed came across the mountains. One by one, the heroes made their way across the open roadway. It was at this time that Khalid realised that he required other items from where they were staying. Unfortunately, during one of the crossings, he was seen by the demonic form of the Schir which had been stalking them throughout the evening.

The demon struck with the ferocity its kind was well known for. The charge was swift, and young Khalid stood little chance against the beast. Its horn hit hard against the child’s flesh and left a gaping wound in his side. The others were too far away to be affective, and so began making their way towards Khalid. The creature struck again, this time with its Halberd, its blade dripping with the beast’s foul spittle.

Vash, Kay’enn, Piran’ya and Zuum Zuum quickly engaged the creature in melee; however their actions were for naught as the beasts weapon again struck at Khalid, its blade slicing open the young boy’s belly. The beast gave a roar in victory as it spun to face off against its next targets.

Khalid’s body fell to the ground, the gaping wound bleeding profusely. As the creature looked down upon its kill, the green disease ridden spittle dripping from its mouth, its attention for a brief moment was taken by the young warrior’s weapon, the ancient sling-glove. As the weapon fell to the ground it immediately turned to dust, its form blowing away in the wind like sand on a distant dune. For an instant, things were a certain way, and then somehow they changed. What magic warped the weave the creature thought, as it struck out again, its blade clearly slicing into Piran’ya’s hide. Kay’enn, seeing his fallen comrade became enraged, and in conjunction with his friend Vash, laid the creature to waste. Vash, however had the final blow, his great axe dismissing any thought the creature may have had for victory as the blade cut through the creature’s neck, severing its head from its demonic body.

The heroes quickly grabbed the creature and that of their friend Khalid, his now lifeless form crumpled on the ground, and made their way back to the building where they had felled the Mamba. Vash and Kay’enn tried in vain, but alas their friend had gone. Nini and Ding went to recover their friend’s weapon, and found that it had vanished. As Vash and Kay’enn heard this news, they could not recall what weapon the boy used. All that they knew was that it was the same weapon as that which Vardishal had been depicted using in the monastery. However the two also knew for certain, that the knowledge of what weapon the Templar had used had been lost in time. This was the second time Vash had experienced this effect, and was unsure what was occurring. It certainly required further study.

Vash and Kay’enn decided it was time to leave, however they decided that they alone would return to Undrella with the Mamba’s head in order to claim their bounty. Vash also decided that he would take the remains of the demon and hide it close to Undrella’s home; obviously hoping to frame the creature for what he assumed was a set-up with the Mamba.

Whilst travelling back to the tannery, Kay’enn and Vash examined the buildings which abutted the first rise. There they found a well-kept manor with what appeared to be the remains of boating equipment. The building was locked and the two decided it required further examination when they next returned to Kelmarane.

Vash dumped the demon’s body as Kay’enn knocked on the Harpy’s door. Undrella answered welcoming the the two back. As agreed, Kay’enn dumped the snakes head on the floor and in turn the Harpy provided Kay’enn and Vash with two keys which she claimed allowed access to one of the side doors into the Battlemarket and the other to the cells which were contained in one of the upper levels of the structure. The two bid the Harpy good day but not before she warned them that although there were a number of smugglers and merchants in the battlemarket, she was aware that they held no loyalty to Kardswann, and that if they threatened the snugglers, they would be more likely to stand back than assist Kardswann. The heroes thanked the Harpy for the information and left.

Kay’enn and Vash returned to the others and made plans that at nightfall they would leave and return with Khalids body to the monastery. During the day, the heroes observed a number of bands of Gnolls heading into Kelmarane along with a small number of merchants moving up towards the battle market.

At nightfall, the heroes stealthfully exited Kelmarane and returned to the monastery. Upon arrival, the heroes presented Khalid’s body to a distraught Almah and an emotionless Garavel. After being briefed as to what had occurred, Almah agreed to a request from both Kay’enn and Vash to conduct a funeral in the way befitting a warrior or Sarenrae as Khalid would have wished. Zastoran was also present and appeared distraught at the loss of his new student. Zastoran assisted Kay’enn and Vash with the preparations, whilst Ding, and Nini prepared a funeral pyre for their fallen friend.

Meanwhile, as the party prepared, news came from one of the guards on lookout. The Gnolls were readying for their assault on the Monastery…

Character Recollections

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Vash's Notes: Out of the Frying Pan
I met a new friend

5th Saranith 4709

We continued travelling through the desert, tracking one of the gnomes but the heat is taking its toll. We came accross a beastial creature in the midst of cocooning Nini. Kre and I raced to fight it but its attacks were brutal. I fell into unconsciouslness and awoke within a cocoon of my own. I started hacking my way out with a caltrop (note to self find dagger in backpack).

Khalid arrived and helped cut me out. The rest of us then escaped into the darkness but my poor friend Kre’Vakka was consumed by the foul Ankheg and we haven’t had time to mourn her. We then rested for nine hours and I regretably had to use my mothers wand to heal up everyone. Afterwards we headed to the Mesa where Nini encountered some small devils who claimed this was a special area. We’ve come here hoping to find a way out of this valley. Time is running short as there is supposedly only 24 hours to escape.

We secured a taunting devil threatening it with torture if it wouldn’t help our escape. The mischievous Imp has led us to a huge crystal flower appearing to bloom in the desert. A fiendish statue is trapped within and guarded by a monstrous scorpion. After a brief fight in which I was stung with a burning fire which left me weakened the creature was destroyed, the statue shattered and the curse lifted. Against my better judgement we informed the Dragon of its release and made a hasty retreat back to camp where it appears only moments had passed since our day long trek.

After a small service for Kre’Vakka during which Kay showed his true friendship by heaping praises upon my faithfull companion. Kre you will be sorely missed. I informed Garavel of my intention to commune with Gozreh in the wastes for a day. He agreed that the caravan could delay its travel so the injured could lick their wounds. During my meditations an inquisitive cheetah approached. He looked half starved and had the remains of a collar around his neck. We eyed each other for a time and I offered him food and water which he drank as though his thirst would never be slaked. After conferring with him in his native tongue I found out his name was Xuum Xum and he was raised in captivity as a hunting cat. Although still only young his former owner was killed in a misguided attempt to tame nature, the fool. With an offer of friendship Xuum agreed to travel with me and share our burdens together. He could never replace Kre but in time I hope we can rely upon each other.

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Kay'Enn's Journal - 05-06-4709
Hot, hot, hot...

I had forgotten how draining the midday heat can be when you leave the elevation of the hills and mountains. At least Vash could produce sufficient water to keep us hydrated while we track the gnome’s footprints.

After several hours, I detected a series of gnomish footprints joining the others from a different direction. Inspection of same suggested to me that they were created at different times, and the more recent clearly showed drag marks suggestive of a large serpentine creature. Our spirits lifted when we realised that we were possibly going to be soon reunited with both gnomish siblings.

It was then that we heard a howl from ahead through the heat haze, in the direction that the gnomish footprints led. Picking up our pace, we quickly came upon a disturbing scene.

Ahead of us was a large creature – an insectoid monster called an Ankheg – whose nest was clearly visible in the sand. There were two large eggs still visible, and one damaged, it’s contents spilt. It was looming over the body of Nini, wrapping her in silk from it’s abdomen. I also spotted the bound and cocooned body of Ding.

I loosed an arrow art the creature, while Vash and Kre’vakka moved to attack it. It was a powerful foe though, and Kre’vakka was soon unconscious, as was Vash. I continued to fight bravely, but my foe was stronger, and it grasped me in it’s powerful jaws, spraying me with its burning saliva, and the darkness took me…

I woke an indeterminate time later (although the light was fading, so it must have been a few hours at least), to see the concerned face of Vash & Khalid leaning over me. Having determined that I was still greviously wounded, I tasted the sweet essence of a liquid being forced between my parched lips. My body felt rejuvenated, at least sufficiently enough to take stock of the situation and decide to leave the place in which we found ourselves. Vash was mourning the loss of Kre’vakka, of whom there was no sign.

There was a column of smoke in the distance, and we slowly made our way towards it. Nini explained that the smoke was from a fire she had lit just before she met the imps. Enquiring what had happened, she explained that before she had rediscovered Ding, she had come across a Mesa with a spinning “thing” on the top, surrounded by flying creatures. She had lit a fire, and one of the creatures had flown down towards her and she had recognised it as a little devil, or imp. It had warned her off, saying the “thing” was precious and for their master, and that she should leave. It also warned her that she had only 24 hours to leave this place, or she would be stuck here for ever. She argued with it for a while, but had eventually left, and had found her way back to the Ankheg lair and had fallen victim to the same fate as that which her brother had suffered.

Khalid explained that he had been separated from us and had wandered, lost, until ahead of him, from the very ground had arisen three undead abominations – skeletal warriors who pursued him and Sheba, trying to attack them with their scimitars. He claimed that after a pitched battle, he fell under their blades, but awoke to find Sheba licking his face and his enemies gone.

After an hour or so, I found us a relatively safe place to rest, and Vash and I attempted to heal everyone’s wounds with varied success. The gnomes wanted to immediately head off and take on the imps, but with the onset of darkness, Vash and I felt it was more sensible to wait until first light.

After a proper rest, and with the break of dawn, Vash healed us all using his wand, and feeling rejuvenated, we set off towards the mesa.

As we approached, an invisible imp decided to pester us, but Khalid hurled a bag of fine powder in the air, which outlined it long enough to become visible. We all leapt upon it, and pinned it to the floor. Thus began a long discussion with the creature, which seemed to involve a lot of slapping from Khalid, and confusion by me, as I can only assume that it had commanded my mind to help it escape.

Khalid and Ding both seemed to know more than they were letting on, and while discussing this, Nini summoned a pony and she and Ding rode off towards the mesa. We were all somewhat amused to watch the pony disappear a minute later, and while Ding landed quite lightly, Nini face-planted into the ground and ended up with a mouthful of dirt. I hope it taught her a lesson, but somehow I doubt it…

At the foot of the mesa, Nini summoned Pira’nya and it climbed rapidly upwards with her clinging to its back. The rest of us clambered to the top, the imp complaining all the time.

As we crested the ridgeline, an amazing sight met our eyes – a huge flower, on a trunk that climbed like a tree into the sky, shimmering with light with a giant crystalline skeletal creature in the centre. The downside was the giant scorpion that emerged to protect it. “Ahhh…the master’s champion…” said the imp, as we prepared for battle.

Vash began the assault, but soon fell to the venomous blows of the foul beast. The eidolon soon followed – it’s powerful form dispelled by a rain of blows from the scorpion. At this point, Nini summoned an eagle, and sent it flying to the flower to collect the petals of same, which Ding started to distribute amongst us when opportunity arose. I was unsure as to the significance of this – another example of Ding knowing more than she let on – doubtless something to do with the Pathfinder Society member with whom she was conversing in Solku. We persisted in our attack and eventually overpowered the creature, but not before we had taken some degree of wounds from the combat. In the end, it was Khalid’s skill with thrown oil flasks that saw us through – the ongoing fire damage eventually killing the scorpion.

The same fire caught light to the base of the flower, and soon the entire blossom was alight. I created a rope sling and was lowering Vash down the cliff face to safety when I heard a horrible cracking sound from behind me. Looking up, I saw the flower toppling over and falling in our direction! I stopped lowering Vash, and instead leapt backwards, doing my bets to let out the rope as I did so, so as to prevent Vash from plummeting downwards. The flower crashed to the floor nearby, fortunately missing me and Vash, and the crystal creature smashed into a thousand shards. Ding and Khalid collected some of these, while I continued to lower our unconscious friend to safety.

It was only then that we noticed that the magical haze that had enveloped us until then was now dispersed, and we could see clearly the sites that previously had been obscured from view – there was the dragon, perched on his rocky outcrop, and there was a camp of gnolls, who, a-spying the dragon, started to rapidly pack and leave!

Despite the imp’s insistence that we should let him go, Khalid decided to keep the little fellow as a “pet”. I am unsure as to the wisdom of such a course of action and will be discussing it further with Khalid in the hope of changing his mind in the matter. We then headed to the dragon, to let him know that he was free to leave – despite our last, less than satisfactory encounter with him, I felt it was wise to part on reasonable terms with such a powerful being. He seemed confused but delighted that we had removed the curse that had locked him in time for so long and flew off to the distant mountains, leaving his cave unprotected, which of course meant that the gnomes immediately decided to re-enter and take stuff, as is their wont! Again, I advised against this course of action, but Khalid suggested that the dragon would not be back, and if he did, we would be long gone by then. I consider this to be a short-sighted approach, but could not dissuade them.

When we left the valley and headed back to camp, we were met by Garavel, who was interested to know what had happened, as he said we disappeared from view on entering the valley. Only recently did we reappear, some distance from where we had entered, and that there was a dragon which flew off towards the distant mountains! Apparently we had only been gone for a matter of minutes – certainly much less than the 24 hours that had appeared to pass from our point of view.

Once we had rested a short while, he announced that we must head on, to The Sultan’s Claw, where we would be meeting our employer, Almah, and joining the rest of the caravan.

It was a three day journey to the designated meeting place of The Sultan’s Claw – a place known to myself and Vash – a large tree with branches that resemble in their near-leafless state, a large taloned hand. During that relatively uneventful time, Vash summoned a new companion – a cheetah who he introduced to me as Xuum Xum.

On cresting the final rise we could see a caravan of perhaps half a dozen wagons, clustered around the Claw. There was a pen with camels, and other animals (goats and suchlike) were wandering the campsite while people ran about in confusion trying to put out a fire which had broken out in one of the caravan wagons!

As we hurried to the campsite, the wagon in question appeared to be brightly coloured and emblazoned with moons & stars. A gust of wind blew smoke and the charred remains of a pack of Harrow cards into the sky, one of which flew straight at Ding and caught on his chest – it was the Cyclone, a card which portends war, destruction and arson. The coincidence was not lost on us all, as the flames licked higher, and caught light of The Sultan’s Claw itself!

From a large tent in the centre of the camp emerged a beautiful woman, who could only be our new employer, Almah. She shouted at the guards to douse the fire, and then turning to us, made a snide remark to Garavel and told the rest of us to “find some way to help!”.

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Vash's Notes: Twisted Dream
Do Dragons Really Fear Spiders?

5th Saranith 4709

We headed into the mirage and discovered a valley with an immense Brass Dragon who we found telling stories to the guileless gnomes and Khalid. He claimed he was afraid of spiders and had been chased out of his lair by them (something I can scarcely believe to look at the size of him). Throwing any caution to the winds Khalid foolishly volunteered all our help to exterminate the pests. Determined to make good on my blood bond, Kre and I hurriedly followed our companions. We managed to exterminate a swarm of spiders but not before the curious gnome Ding had been bitten a number of times and fell to the ground. At my instruction Kre’vakka quickly grabbed the pathetic dead weight and took him outside. In his delirious state the silly gnome thought he was commanding my friend, gnomes are so strange.

We searched a room full of Dragon Scales, they stank and crumbled when touched. Khalid took some, suggesting they might have some value as alchemical components, a trade i’m not familiar with. Kay’enn found a secret door which led to a trophy room containing two giant spiders. Kre and I killed one quickly but the other bit Kay’enn injecting him with poison. Piraanya killed the other soon after. Khalid and I searched the room while both gnomes stole a crystal ball from a cabinet and are now playing with it, Gozreh help us. They think I haven’t noticed their thievery and I’m sure the Dragon outside will want his due too.

Further into the lair another swarm was soon defeated and then as we were exiting, the mother of all spiders was lurking in the dragons great hall. After much battle and severe wounds to Nini’s Piraanya we emerged triumphant. Unfortunately the dragon saw straight through the gnomes feeble attempts at lying and demanded its treasure back. It then rose to its full height, took on a menacing aspect, roared at us and we decided discretion was the answer and fled. Unfortunately in different directions. We were split briefly but I soon met up with Kay and we returned to the mound to watch the dragon from a distance. As the sky darkened we started following one of the gnomes obvious trail hoping to catch them before they get themselves and most likely us into more trouble or killed. It has all been an unpleasant dream, the sooner put behind me the better.

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Kay'Enn's Journal - 05-06-4709
A Dragon, Spiders and pant-soiling fear!

Approaching the rest of the party, with weapons sheathed, we found the dragon to be telling a story to the gnomes and Khalid. The former (especially Ding) seemed most engrossed, to the point where soon they were comfortably gathered right up against the dragon’s talons.

After a while, I began to determine that the dragon was slightly unhinged…He claimed he had been here for 900 years and couldn’t not leave – every time he tried, he ended up back where he started.

We enquired as to the spider webs in the caves behind him, and he reacted quite strongly stating his hatred of arachnids and how they had overrun his lair. Khalid offered that we cleared his lair of the 8-legged menace. He agreed with delight, although demanded a story. Khalid obliged with his life story, after which we entered the cave mouth.

Using a combination of torches and flasks of oil, we burnt out the entrance passages, removing all the webs and spiders, revealing two doors. Khalid and Vash approached the one at the end of the passage, while typically, the gnomes went to the other. I stuck with the gnomes, in the hope that I could prevent them from making any gross errors of judgement. Before I could stop them, they had knocked loudly on the door. Before we could react, a swarm of spiders had surged from under the door, and Ding squealed with pain & collapsed under the onslaught. I tried to grab him on the run, but my hands slipped from his coat, and I had to stop and hoist him onto my shoulders. Pira’nya tried to tail slap the swarm, but had no success, and before I could move back, the swarm had engulfed me too! Their bites were excruciating, but I concentrated on keeping Ding as high as possible above them. Vash sent his leopard past me at a run, and I held Ding out at arms length so that he could be grabbed in the big cat’s mouth as she passed. Khalid sent the dog running after her too, and he and Vash did their best to use oil to repel the swarm. Unfortunately, that resulted in me being drenched in oil too, so retreat seemed the most sensible option!

The swarm was soon consumed with fire, and the party regrouped to distribute torches. Ding was healed by Vash, and more prepared for trouble, we headed back into the cave.

Nini lit a large fire at the end of the corridor – I am unsure exactly why, but she seemed to take great delight in it! We then headed through the other door, and into a room whose smell defied description. The floor was covered in rotting dragon scales, which crumbled to the touch. Vash discovered a well-concealed door on the far side of the room, and Ding opened it to reveal a narrow corridor leading into the rock. Vash proceeded down it but returned to say that there was a dead end after 40 feet or so. I could not believe that this would be the case, so I headed down the corridor to check. After a careful search, I discovered a small and well-concealed catch high up on the wall of the corridor, which when triggered, opened a door at the end of the corridor. This led into a web-filled room, the walls of which were lined with 4 large display cases with thick glass fronts. These seemed to be filled with a variety of exotic items – shrunken heads, statues, animal bones and all manner of other strangeitudes! I was marvelling at this collection when Vash cried out, and from above us dropped two large spiders. The eidolon struck at one but missed, but my sword was more true, biting deeply into the flesh of the other spider. Unfortunately not strongly enough, as the creature survived my attack, and launched one of its own. It’s poison made me feel weakened, and fortunately before it could press home its attack, the eidolon struck swiftly past me to crush both it and its companion, leaving us free to investigate the room (and me to nurse my wounds!)

The gnomes declared the display cases to be strongly magical and Ding opened one. Despite the objections of Vash and myself, Ding and Nini decided to pilfer the contents of interest to her and pushing them into her backpack. They quickly retreated to the centre of the room where they sat poring over a crystal ball that she had taken, claiming she saw a vision of fire and a red dragon coming to take us. Nini claimed a vision of chocolate trading. I felt that the item’s value seemed dubious, at least in the hands of such fickle and childish creatures…

After a brief respite, we headed out of the far door and followed the corridor for quite a way before we realised that the gnomes were missing. Heading back, we found them where we’d left them – they had armfuls of combustible materials and claimed they needed them to build another fire. We allowed them to build the fire as a way of getting them to come with us, but of course, the previously empty corridor now proved to be teeming with spiders. Khalid sent a well-aimed flask of alchemist fire into their midst, immolating them, and we approached the door at the end of the corridor without delay.

Khalid and Vash opened the door to reveal a large room with a dais covered by rotting furniture, and draped in spider webs. Vash spotted a huge spider on the ceiling, and Khalid sent another flask of fire at it. I slipped past my companions into and across the room, to take up station on the dais, drawing and notching an arrow to my bow as I went. Whirling around, I loosed my arrow on the spider and saw it strike home. The spider dropped from the ceiling and charged the eidolon.

Larger than the other spiders we had seen so far, we engaged into a fevered battle against the creature. The eidolon took damage and seemed to be considerably weakened by the blow, although the physical damage caused magically appeared on Nini‘s body and she retreated to join me on the dais. My arrows continued to strike the creature, but it was strong and fought bravely. But numbers were on our side and eventually, leaving us breathless and wounded, it lay impaled on Vash’s spear.

Ding claimed she’d found a huge treasure room with limitless gold, but Nini pointed out to him that it wasn’t real, but illusory. Needless to say, Ding was deeply disappointed.

The rest is a blur…one moment, the gnomes were (foolishly) arguing with the dragon over his ungrateful reaction to our having become wounded during our efforts to clear his lair, the next I heard the dragon raise his voice, and found myself blindly running in terror from him. He flew after me and swooped down on me, causing me (I’m embarrassed to say) to lose control of my bowels, and demanded the shrunken gnoll head that I had stolen from his lair. I didn’t know what he was talking about, since the only shrunken head I had was the one that Ding had given to me in the lair…and then realisation hit me. I sheepishly returned the head with my apologies and he released me, telling me to run, and as I did so, thanking me for clearing out his lair.

After a while I calmed my nerves and found myself alone. I walked for some time, and met with Vash, who joined me in the search for our companions.

We saw a shimmering in the distance and on approaching it, we found ourselves at the mound where we had met the dragon. Sure enough, there he was, examining something closely and paying us no heed.

Deciding that our diplomacy skills were limited, and that the dragon probably wouldn’t be inclined to listen to us anyway, we started to track our companions, in the hope of reuniting the party.

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Vash's Notes: A Fateful Meeting
The Enemy of My Enemy

2nd Saranith 4709

Its been a long time since I last came in, at least three months. I’d been tracking a hunting pack of Gnolls through the bad lands for days when fate and Gozreh intervened. Always pitting nature and nurture together he’d sent a test for me. When they set upon a group of unprepared wanderers I had to act quickly. Sending Kre round to the flank followed by myself worked just like our hunting, bringing one hated Gnoll down almost immediately. After a brief fight I caught sight of Kay’Enn Telva who seemed to be guiding these fools through the bad lands with dubious success. I saw him at Fort Longjaw when last I was trading herbs with the humans. He’s an odd jackal that one, sometimes when he looks at me I think if it weren’t for our entwined past he would gut me without a second thought. The curse of my heritage doesn’t let me sit easy with even one I would call friend.

After the battle he introduced me to his employer, a dour suspicious man called Garavel and then his wayward charges. A brother and sister pair of gnomes Nini and Ding. I’ve no idea which is which and I wager will be more trouble than they’re worth. Their young whelp companion Khalid Shihab al Hashim (Eternal Flame the Destroyer of Evil), a human child full of fire and just itching to get himself killed.

The death of their Camel herder Puli during the battle has cast a pall over the camp with Garavel delivering a dry overlong speech to mark the occasion. I helped around the camp with my poultices where I could but many were reluctant to be treated by a halfbreed. In the early morning the camp was struck and Garavel offered me and Kre a position in his caravan replacing Puli, tending the livestock with promises of heading to far off Kelmarane, a place I hadn’t seen in a long time.

We travelled before dawn as is the custom in Katapesh and as the sun poked over the mountains the shifting sights of a mirage up ahead grabbed the short attentions of the gnomes. Kay and myself with Khalid in tow set off after them determined to let nurture win again. If it weren’t for this blood bond nature would out.

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Kay'Enn's Journal - 02-06-4709
Solku and beyond

I met my employer today – and not before time. A man named Garavel who seems a straightforward sort, almost emotionless in his businesslike manner. Solku is an ugly place, seething with humanity from all directions. If (as they say) it aspires to be the Katapesh of the West, I have little desire to see Katapesh itself!

No small confusion caused when a camel-herder named Puli presented himself as the party guide. Soon determined to be a bit of overzealous self-promotion on his part.

Our group consists of myself, a human child Khalid Shihab al Hashim (Eternal Flame the Destroyer of Evil) who seems old beyond his years, and two gnomes, Nini and Ding who are apparently brother and sister recently reunited. It made me happy to see the love that they share for one another, but sad in memory of my family, lost to Gnolls, and my pack-brother, Vash, who I have not seen in many months.

That said, I don’t know how I am going to lead this bunch of ragtag city folk through the wilds. They know NOTHING about the ways of the mountains or hills. Watched them tromp right past a Kereitha bush today – laden with fruit it was…their trail rations and ample water supplied make them blind to the boon of the land. I was not so arrogant or blind and feasted well on the energy that the berries supplied. Still, Giana bade me lead them, and the Fort will gain prestige and respect through my success.

Puli told an entertaining fable about the origin of of the gods on our first night’s camp. The gnomes whittered through the whole thing, but Khalid seemed engrossed.

Our second day led us from the hills to the plains, and I will admit I found the flat and open nature of them to be somewhat disturbing.

On the third day we started to return to the hills northeast of Fort Longjaw, and my mood lightened with familiar surrounds. We broke camp at an oasis, where Nini and Khalid continued to play their childish games – I concentrated on keeping watch and did my best to ignore their gentle jibes. The growl of Khalid’s dog, Sheba, led my notice to a group of Gnolls, their skulking forms moving in on our camp.

I drew my bow and let loose with an arrow, while Nini‘s summoned serpentine companion tore through their ranks in an impressive way. The combat was swift, and soon we had vanquished all 6 gnolls – from the shadows stepped my brother Vash, his leopard companion Kre’vakka ever by his side. He had tracked these gnolls for several days, only approaching them when he realised they intended hurt against a travelling party.

Puli had fallen in the battle, his chest pierced by a gnoll spear, and despite our ministrations, he passed to the bosom of his god. After a brief ceremony where Garavel recounted Puli’s favourite tale, we committed his body to the ground, and retired for the night to rest, doing our best to ignore the teenage moaning of Khalid who claimed to be dying. I was concerned by Garavel’s lack of emotion at the service for his friend, and noticed an engraved metal bolt in his neck under his cowl…its meaning is unclear to me, but I intend to find out its relevance.

The following day the temperature quickly increased to far higher than the previous days. Looking down from where we camped, there was a valley of dunes spread out below us covered in flowers and greenery. Our view was distorted, as if in a mirage. Suspicious of such lush growth in such an otherwise barren area, Khalid, Vash and I went to investigate. Unfortunately, the gnomes had already headed off at a run, squealing in delight at the abundance of bright blooms, and were well ahead of us, and catching them up seemed to soon become Khalid’s sole purpose.

By the bottom of the valley, we noticed 4 areas that looked different to the rest of the valley. The gnomes headed straight for the closest one, but I found the passage of time and distance most strange. What seemed to be no more than a half mile took us over 2 hours to traverse! Eventually we arrived at a butte which rose steeply from the surrounding plane. Vash and I drew alongside Khalid and the gnomes just in time to hear a deep exhalation from behind the rocks.

It was with awe that we then watched a large, metallic, serpentine head rise from around one end of the butte…“Hmmmmm…New adventurers”, it intoned deeply, “how lovely…you’ll have so much to talk about…”

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Book 1 - Chapter 24
Harbringer of Doom

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Date

xx/xx/4709

Events

The heroes, now prepared, make their way into the dungeon crypt below the Temple of Sarenrae in Kelmarane to face an evil hell bent on destroying them and the world of Golarion. Little do the heroes know that this is just the first step in a much larger plan to bring Katapesh to its knees under the sway of the Carrion King himself…

Character Recollections

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Book 1 - Chapter 23
Madness Within

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Date

xx/xx/4709

Events

Story coming soon…

Character Recollections

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