Rise of the Runelords
Arc One: Burnt Offerings
Less than a week before the Swallowtail Festival was supposed to commence, Vorvashali Voon, the owner of the Feathered Serpent, came to his closest friends, Epherym Herenstadt and Valen Hosk, looking for aid. For the past few weeks, the young wizard has been sleepwalking only to wake up injured, surrounded by dangerous lizardmen and mercenaries, or nearly dead. He felt as if he was being drawn somewhere but unable to make the journey alone and pleaded with his friends to help escort his sleeping form to wherever he is being led. With the help of interested parties, Krushk of the Blacktail Tribe and Lucius Costin of the Sczarni, the group end up escorting Voon to an ancient temple wherein lurked a decietful demon, an undead dragon, and a nearly dead ghaele by the name of Sulianna. Through Voon had perished along the way and the group nearly perished at the hands of dragon, Illvaster, Sulianna was able to help them banish the demon, Koth'Vaul. Using seemingly the last of her power, Sulianna revived Voon and the fallen heroes before vanishing.
A week later, during the festivities of the Swallowtail Festival, Sandpoint was suddenly under attack by a horde of chaos spreading goblins, but were soon routed thanks to the efforts of the local guard and a few brave residents. After being named the "Heroes of Sandpoint", Krushk Blacktail of the Blacktail Lizardmen tribe, Lucius Costin of the Sczarni, and local residents Valen Hosk and Epherym Herenstadt were receiving varying degrees of fame and privilege leading up to the town's sheriff leaving them in charge of Sandpoint's safety while he and several of the guard head to Magnimar to seek further aid in protecting the town's borders against a growing goblin threat.
During their careful watch of the town, the Heroes learned of Rusty Dragon owner Ameiko Kaijitsu going missing after meeting with her half-brother, Tsuto at the Glassworks. Upon arriving, they discovered Lonjiku Kaijitsu and his workers murdered by Tsuto and his goblins. After stopping them, the Heroes discovered a disconcerting plot to burn Sandpoint to the ground as well as dark and twisting catacombs lying beneath the Glassworks. Despite the dangerous denizens lurking deep below, the Heroes managed to overcome them and now set their sights on the goblin stronghold of Thistletop.
The Raid of Thistletop lasted for nearly a day with the Heroes forced to retreat after several near death experiences at the hands of goblins, monsters, the aasmiar, Nualia, and her cohorts. The fortress of goblins was dangerous on its own, but it was the dungeons below that truly tested the Heroes courage and fortitude. Though Krushk Blacktail met his end at the hands of the mad aasimar, her once ally Gideon joined the Heroes in defeating the cleric and clearing out th rest of the ruins. The death of the barghest marked the end of the immediate danger facing the small coastal town of Sandpoint.
Arc Two: The Skinsaw Murders
Though the Heroes enjoyed much revelry and rest, it would be less than a week before they were called to action again. Vorvashali Voon's deranged mother, Vallia, had grown increasingly manic as nightmares of her daughter being trapped somewhere inside Chopper's Isle continued to plague her. Looking to aid his friend and put the ailing woman's nightmares to rest, Epherym Herenstadt gathered his fellow Heroes of Sandpoint and their ally, Gideon, to see what exactly lurked within the supposedly haunted island. Within the ruins below the isle, the group discovered the ghostly remnants of Chopper and Vivian Voon and while they were able to escape with her bones, they were ambushed by a nymph who claimed to be a part of the Red Serpent who still wished to capture Lucius. After a short but tense battle, Gideon and the Heroes managed to escape the powerful fey creature.
A few weeks later, isolated fires suddenly sprang up around Sandpoint. Though the Hosk and Voon families were saved from the hell hound attack, Epherym's mother perished in the fire and his father's body was found torn apart in a secret basement.
Almost two months after the Swallowtail Festival, the Festival of Heroes helps to reinvigorate the residents of Sandpoint and push past the horrors of the past few weeks. Though the very next night Gideon and the Heroes of Sandpoint are gathered by Sheriff Belor Hemlock who has dire news. There is a murderer lurking in their midst.
The group investigates the Sandpoint Sawmill, interrogate key witnesses, and explore the mysterious Habe's Sanitarium. They learn of the Sihedron rune—the seven pointed star carved in all the killer's victims. They discover Erin Habe's and his ally, the necromancer Caizarlu's twisted experiments on their patients and the latter's theory of a growing ghoul threat in Varisia. While Gideon and Valen initially decided to spare the doctor and necromancer, they soon regretted their decision and tried to return with the others looking to end their existence, only to find the Sanitarium burning to the ground. Though Caizarlu tried to flee to Magnimar, the Heroes of Sandpoint and Gideon tracked him down and killed him.
The next day a local farmer, Maester Grump came to Sandpoint with a terrible story involving walking scarecrows eating the livestock and farmers. The group explored the source of these stories, the Hambley farm, and discovered a herd of ghouls led by a creature that was once a man named Rogors Craesby, the once caretaker of the Foxglove Manor. Finding a key on the caretaker's body, they learn that the Foxglove Manor, more commonly known as the Misgivings, may hold the answers they seek.
After a day of rest, the group heads to the decrepit manor amidst a heavy rainstorm. Along the way, they are attacked by a dangerous outsider and worshipper of Pazuzu, the Sandpoint Devil. Though the Heroes and Gideon nearly perished, they managed to escape the twisted horse and take sanctuary within the Foxglove Manor. The sanctuary soon turned deadly as various haunts plagued the heroes, bestowing visions upon Valen and Gideon while Epherym burned and Lucius was nearly strangled to death. While exploring the upper levels of the manor, Gideon suddenly grabbed a large splinter of wood and slit his own throat. Before the Heroes could fully tend to his body, it vanished.
With little other option, the survivors continued to explore the manor in search of answers. They find the sobbing remains of Iesha Foxglove and attempt to free her of her self-imposed prison, wherein she immediately heads for the basement. Following close behind, the Heroes run into Onnix Androsana, the ifrit son of Shalelu who had returned home after being gone for twenty years. After following his mother who seeked to aid the Heroes and then being separated from her by the Sandpoint Devil, Onnix found himself trapped inside the manor alongside the Heroes and decided to aid them in their quest to hunt down the murderer.
In the caverns below the manor, Onnix and the Heroes ran into more undead creatures as they tried to keep up with the undead Iesha Foxglove. She led them directly to Aldern Foxglove, a noble from Magnimar who had transformed into a deadly ghoul. Though a harrowing fight ensued, the Heroes and Onnix managed to defeat both Iesha and Aldern. Exploring the chamber Aldern called home, Epherym learned of Vorel Foxglove's failed attempt to become a lich and the ensuing chaos that spread generations after. It was here they also discovered a note from the "Mistress of the Seven", Xanesha, leading them on the next step on discovering who truly is behind all the murders—the Foxglove Townhouse in Magnimar.
While the group was recovering, they were a part of a meeting with Sandpoint's nobles in which they learned they were still the prime suspects in the murders plaguing the town. Meanwhile, Onnix went to investigate the home of his childhood friend, Hannah, only to discover that she had fallen victim to ghoul fever. After being forced to put her down, Onnix and the others made their final preparations before heading to Magnimar. Near the end of their journey, they were ambushed once again by the Sandpoint Devil but managed to easily put the outsider down this time around.
Once within the relative safety of the City of Monument's walls, the Heroes did some much needed shopping and scoping out of the Foxglove Townhouse. The very next day they investigated the home and were soon attacked by a pair of faceless stalkers. After putting down the aberrations, the group discovered a series of paperwork involving the townhouse, manor, and a ledger. The Heroes and Onnix immediately set to work coming up with a plan involving their next lead, the Seven's Sawmill.
After a long day's rest, Epherym and Valen set off with the bodies of the faceless stalkers to inform Mayor Deverin of the recent developments while Onnix and Lucius remain in Magnimar to continue investigating. In Sandpoint, Epherym finishes his ritual with Erylium shortly after a brutal battle with the quasit while, in Magnimar, Onnix and Lucius receive a house call from Kendra Deverin's uncle. Later that night, Valen is forced to bargain with Titus Scarnetti's hired assassin who has captured both Epherym and Erylium, signing a contract in order to save their lives and the lives of his family. Meanwhile, Lucius and Onnix fight for their lives against a flesh golem that breaks into the Kaijitsu Villa.
Once everyone regroups in Magnimar, they spend several days planning for their infiltration of the Seven's Sawmill. Lucius, using a hat of disguise to appear as Iesha Foxglove, enters the sawmill with Epherym and Erylium invisibly following behind him. Together, they come upon a dark ritual with more than a dozen cultists sacrificing a poor Magnimarian local inscribed with the Sihedron rune. The supposed leader of this gathering approached Lucius and revealed that he knew who the kitsune really was, offering him to join the ranks of the Skinsaw Cult. When Lucius agreed to do this, he was tasked with killing the invisible Epherym who stood right behind him.
Though Lucius continued to try and play the part of a defector, his false attempts to attack Epherym were soon discovered and the kitsune took it upon himself to flee and regroup with Valen and Onnix. Epherym Herenstadt, on the other hand, took it upon himself to stay and fight the majority of the cultists. The battle between the Skinsaw cult and the Heroes of Sandpoint was long and brutal and while the cult leader and his cultists were defeated, Epherym lost his life in the process after having the sihedron rune forcibly carved into his chest.
In the aftermath of the battle, the survivors discovered that the cult leader was one of Magnimar's justices, Balm Ironbrior, and that he was under some sort of charm effect. The survivors were also greeted by a strange, young girl who claimed to have some history with Ironbriar and his mistress, Xanesha. However, when the girl showed interest in taking the recently deceased Epherym's posessions, the group scared her off.
Within Ironbriar's office, they find many historical items of note as well as his personal ledger. Among the faces of his victims that the murderer placed on the wall, Valen recognized the face of Vorvashali Voon. In his searchings, Valen Hosk also discovered a rookery with messenger crows that, upon being released, flew straight for a structure known as the Shadow Clock.
With not much left to learn, Valen, Lucius, Onnix, and the recently blinded Erylium leave the sawmill behind, choosing to leave Ironbriar and his cultists to be discovered by the city's guards.
The survivors barely have time to settle back in the Kaijitsu Villa before Madame Ritta makes a surprise visit, pleading with them not to leave Magnimar until Xanesha has been dealt with. During this discussion, Luly Peditte and her eidolon, Felis, sneak into the villa only to be discovered by its occupants. A vicious battle ensues between she, Valen, and Ritta that is only stopped by Lucius pleading for peace. Though tensions still remain, the group decides to agree to stay and finish what they started while Ritta looks to decipher Justice Ironbriar's ledger. Though Onnix has a disturbing nightmare involving old friends, he awakens eager to finish the business started in Magnimar.
Following the lead given by Luly, the group travels to the Shadow Clock resting in Magnimar's seedy Underbridge. Inside the dilapidated clock tower they face dangers of crumbling stairs, falling bells, and the return of the faceless stalkers. After an incredibly unlucky shot blinded Valen, the six of them split up, Lucius, Lathliss, and Onnix heading back down the stairs to leave while Luly and Felis continued upwards to explore.
What the pair discovered was their old gang leader, Robin, beaten and a prisoner, as well as the Heroes of Sandpoint's old foe, Tsuto Kaijitsu. Meanwhile, at the base of the tower, the others are ambushed by a large snake woman.