Dragon Age: Rise of the Runelords

The great Stair (Bral)

The journey was long but urgency pushed us and we made good time. We came across signs of giant activity on the plains and even a few of their lesser kin but it seems the river towns had not suffered as Sandpoint did. Perhaps the entire attack was merely a pretext to get the Scaranti stones?

We took a river barge north and found the river to be ominously silent but peaceful. The northern folk having been long weary of living in the shadows of the giants. The town of Ravenmore was our last stop before turning our backs on the lands of men and approaching the Storval Stairs.

We reached the stair two days later and were shocked to see the ruins of a city carved into the hill side. The city, long abandoned, was still impressive in scale, statues soaring hundreds of feet into the air and a buildings carved into the side of the mountain. Hard to believe that mere humans could achieve such feats. The stairs themselves were no less impressive – clearly a major highway to whatever lay over the mountains; we have seen nothing to compare to it outside of Magnimar and the great stretches of the Irespan – perhaps in ages past the two were connected. We decided to ere on the side of caution and observe the dead city for a day before proceeding into the land of giants, and a good thing too. Garret and Iyano spotted patrols of stone giants and a look out stationed high above the ruined city.

In the darkness, under the cover of Beldal’s magical silence we crept onward and upward, past the lookout and between patrols, we made it to the top of the great stair. What fate holds for us now is up to the gods…..

The Prisoner

The giant startled awake, gasping in pain and surrounded by infernal dwarves. They asked questions, so many questions, but he would not betray his people. “He will certainly kill you all, run rough over your tiny homes with the army he has called. The fortunate few will become his slaves. You beat us today, but you won’t beat us when there are a hundred or a thousand of the true people marching together. Lord Mokmurian will make it happen."

His eyes were drawn to a dwarf that was less harsh than the rest. THIS was the type of dwarf one could talk to, would want to talk to. Suddenly, he couldn’t imagine why he wasn’t telling this dwarf, his friend, anything he wanted to know.

“Why were you in Sandpoint?”

““Teraktinus—he was the leader of our scouting party. He convinced us that you’d be easy pickings and we’d all get rich. He obviously underestimated you, and he paid for his mistake. He mentioned having a special mission from Lord Mokmurian to gather a stone from some ruins, but didn’t tell me why. Didn’t tell any of us. My people’s elders have ways of prying secrets from the stones—perhaps that stone knew something that Lord Mokmurian needed to learn?”

“Tell me about Mokmurian.”

“I have only heard him speak from afar, and have only heard from others of the power of his magic. He is the rarest of us all, a child of the stones who has mastered the magic of the Ancient Lords. They say he can turn the living into immobile stone and can turn his own flesh into granite armor. I’ve even heard he can cause the very stones of the world to reject
those who stand upon them and cast them into the sky. And I’m sure he can do much more than that.”

“Where is he based?”

“Mokmurian has claimed a place taboo to my people: the Valley of the Black Tower in the Iron Peaks. He calls his fortress Jorgenfist, after the name of the fortress that guards the entrance to the afterlife. Our elders found the name blasphemous, but Mokmurian is powerful enough not to fear blasphemy. Jorgenfist lies within the Valley of the Black Tower in the center of the Iron Peaks. It overlooks the waters of the Muschkal River, but can also be approached by heading due east from the Storval Stairs.”

“Are there many dragons like the one we slew in Sandpoint?”

“No more dragons, no, but he has at least seven tribes of my brothers under his command, with each tribe numbering in the dozens. The number of lesser kin he’s conscripted—ogres, hill giants, ettins, trolls—is not insignificant either. He also enjoys the support of several lamias—degenerate followers of the Mother of Monsters, those! I am not sure when he is going to attack, but he sent several scouting parties, of which my band was but one, into the lowlands to gather intelligence. He does this to prepare for his coming attack. His fury will come soon. Perhaps even by month’s end.”

After answering questions, the giant’s new friend opted to let him go. He happily turned and limped north, returning to his tribe. His happiness was short-lived as he felt a sharp pain and then knew no more.

A town saved? (Samdar)

Samdar stared at the blood on his hands.

It was a strange color, more of an orange then a true red.

He knelt at the pew, his thoughts in a turmoil. He knew he should feel exultant at at their recent victories. A town saved, giants defeated and a dragon slain, would be cause for warrior to feel proud. But that did not bring back the slain townfolk, or heal the wounds from the wicked creatures had caused, and the ease in which they chased down and dispatched the giants who raided some nobleman’s manner was testament to their martial might and the prenatural tracking skills of his boon companions… and yet.

Samdar stared at the blood on his hands.

His thoughts would not dwell on their victories, and instead kept flashing back to the confrontation with his fellow dwarves. How he had to interpose himself between them and their helpless foe. How he tried to explain the injustice of slaying one rendered helpless. His thoughts flashed back to the flash of pain as Garret’s bolt peirced his chest.

At their incredulity to his willingness to face death to stay true to his principles and holy vows and their transparent attempts to distract him from his duty.

How in the heat of that moment, the helpless creature quietly died behind him.

Samdar stared at the blood on his hands… And quietly wept in the empty church.

Blurrry morning and a double dose of giant (Beldal)
Bears? Who brings bears to a x-bow fight?

Following a long night of proper worship of the Brewmaster, Garret spied foul giants attacking the city. After raising the alarm, we went forth to repel the invaders! Dispatching the foul beasts not long after Bral arrived, good of him to finally join us it was, we hear the sounds of battle joined on the far side of the city. Luckily, Dwarves are natural sprinters and we managed to repel the second wave of giants on a bridge infested with giant bears AND stone giants. Garrett showed everyone how it was done by precise crossbow bolts to the face and eyes of the giants and their beasts. Having laid them low with axe, sword, and bolt, we turned our attention back to the city proper.

And therein, we found the dragon. gulp The real fight for Sandypoint is about to begin!

Stoned giants and a journey "home" (Bral)

Tracking the things was easy, even without Garret. You even seen the kind of mess a bunch of drunken stone giants make? A trail even a gorgon could follow! We came across them in their revelries and put flight to them before running into Garret and one of the new dwaven garrison of Fort Ranik. Apparently Garret had come south looking for us as we moved north looking for him. Must have come across the same trail…. Giants don’t tend to be discreet.

From there it was easy to explain to Garret that Magnimar considers us pariah and Sandpoint needs us back. The suplies we had were sent on to help provision the fort and we found passage south along the Yondabakari and then cut across plains north of the Mushfern on horseback to get to Sandpoint. Other than some unusually large boars the trip was speedy and uneventful.

We were welcomed back to Sandpoint with open arms, nice for a change, and told of their problem. It would seem the Giants are threatening a larger area of Varisia then we thought, having been spotted to the north of Sandpoint , albeit in the distance. We spent a merry night re-acquainting ourselves with the town – well Bral did – the rest of the party was trying to ascertain exactly “what” was seen in the distance when Garret was able to confirm the reports with a firsthand sighting. Quickly sobering up, we made our plans to head out at first light.

Mountian top and fall of the first giant (Bral)

Hook Mountain – the very name is reminiscent of the horrors that dwell there. Through guile and spell craft the orgryns who roamed the lower halls of the mountain complex were put down. Into a giant hole they were plunged and then purged from this life with fire. To the upper caverns we found the master of the mountain; a stone giant and his minions. Although hard fought, in the end our enemy capitulated and yielded to us. From our prisoner we found that this was only the beginning of a massive incursion from the giants beyond the boarder. Fortunately or frighteningly the giants we faced were but the dregs of the force sent here to create floods and foul weather ahead of the main force. The body of the ranger left to recover, which we found with a trio of hags, who quickly withdrew when they saw their giant masters had been defeated.

With direr warnings we look to return to Magnimar. There we can give them warning of the dangers to come and collect our reward for liberating fort Ranik and saving not only the remaining black arrows but also the nearby towns.

A night at the Inn (Beldal) - [out of chronological order ]
Ogrekin and the barn of webs

Everyone was already gathered in the inn by the time the red bearded dwarf sauntered in for supper. He pretended not to see them and shuffled over to the seat he knew was waiting for him next to the hearth. His full beard hiding a broad grin as he spied the pitchers of ale sitting on the slightly raised table in the corner of the room. Presenting a sturdy mug of pure mithril inlaid with the symbols of the Brewmaster, he spit into the mug, wiped it out and with practiced ease filled it to the brim. Draining the mug in one long swallow, he wiped his mustache with the back of his hand and belched proudly. “Now where was I?”

“You had just slain the cowardly ogre waiting for you in the hall and the twisted ogrelings in the dining hall with the horrible face!” a young child blurted out in excitement.

“Aye! The ground floor had been cleared of the foul beasts! We ascended to the upper levels of the twisted and filthy house. By this time, we were wary of traps laid by these cunning beastmen and we found another at the upper levels as well! As we cleared the floor, we are beset upon by rats the size of wolves!” At that, the sound of scurrying and squeaking comes from beneath the floor. Many of the children, ladies, and quite a few of the men jump at the sound eyeing the floor woefully. “But fear not! The beasts were no match for Dwarven steel! Bral, the Mighty quickly dispatched them and set into the creature which was their master. With the aid of The Silken Lady, Zai, and the deadly bolts of Garret the Marksman the monster was defeated!” The sound of clashing steel is followed by the smooth clinking sound of a weighted scarf and finally the sharp, clear sound of a crossbow firing with a long gurgle of pain. As the crowd cheered, the dwarf poured himself another mug of ale and looked onto the crowd with a dour expression. Wondering what the expression meant, people quieted down quickly.

“Now, it was time to enter……the basement!” The crowd gasped and children pulled themselves closer. “While ye fine people may fear to venture into the earth, the cool, dark is home for the dwarves. We were ready. Proud as we were, we were not prepared for the filth which awaited us there. Putrid piles of rotting flesh and gore on monstrous tables and scenes so horrible, I cannot begin to describe them to ye! Then, we entered the moss pit of despair..(the quiet inn great room seems to fill with the distant sound of water dripping in the distance)..Bral the Mighty and Garret the Marksman went to explore and a creature pulled itself from the muddy pits buried under layers of muck! (a great squelching sound rings out across the room) A towering nightmare of moss, tentacles lined by thorny tentacles dripping with foul ichors, and a great gaping maw ringed with similar thorns. (a low moan-growl washes over the crowd) It lashed out and its venomous touch caused the The Marksman’s very muscles to freeze tight! The Mighty Bral pulled his companion to safety as we lay into the beast! The Silken Lady tore at it with her blades (more clinking silken tones); the wee Conjurer Iyan released streaming bolts of power (crackling energy sounds streaming from one side of the room to the other); his otherworldly beast tore at it with gnashing jaws and talons like short daggers (vicious snarling and ripping sounds); and with a prayer to the Brewmaster, I charged in to stab at the beast! (the mug begins to glow with a soft light) We fought bravely, but the beast seemed to be recovering quickly from our mighty blows!! Bral drew Garrett to the safety of a side room while we drew the monster away down the great hall. Drawing a fell item of power from her flowing skirts, the Silken Lady threw a bauble of fire onto the creature! (Turning quickly to point at the fire as a bright point of light emanates from the flames just as a low booming sound comes from the same fire) And how the beast cried! It was enraged! It attempted to draw me into its wicked maw! I fought and struggled, singing to the gods for aid in my hour of need! The Conjurer surely is the reason I live and breath before ye this day! Iyan drew on his eldritch might and made me slick as a greased pig at a fair, just as he sent his beast to ram me from the very jaws of death! The noble beast taking my place before sudden doom! The Conjurer released more arcane might as we pressed our advantage. It enveloped the Silken Lady and meself in its tentacles, the thorns digging into my flesh! By the grace of the Brewmaster’s frothy grace, we were able to lay low the great beast and claim the day!” People on the edge of their seats suddenly realizing they are gripping the table relax a moment.

“But there was more! Surely ye have not forgotten about the Barn of Webs! We had not yet found the rangers we sought, and we entered the Barn, wary of even more traps. (the sound of a creaky wooden door opening very slowly) Inside, we find more foul ogrekin and we fell upon them with righteous fury! I barely had time to raise me mug to strike by the time the Marksman’s bolts whizzed by me piercing the foul things in their vital organs! Bral laid low the last of them and we looked with grim faces at what foul beast might lay behind that wall covered in webs. (Turning to face the wall of the inn behind him an pointing at it as chittering sounds begin behind the wall.) Garrett checked the area for traps and clued as Bral tested his dwarven gut against the foul brew the ogrekin were making in their sill. He found it not to his liking. (sounds of retching and gagging echo from Beldal’s empty mug. ) Filthy stuff, he learned the cost of his blasphemous drink! Garrett came to tell us that there were red dragon tracks along the loft!”

“I knew it were a dragon! All the best stories have dragons!” cried someone from the audience.

NAY! They were FEEDING this thing dragons!” Beldal replied and waited with a long, dramatic pause as the disbelief and curiosity washed over the crowd, using the time to refill his mug. “The wise dwarves thought it best to draw on our vaunted wisdom and consider our next course of action in dealing with a dragon eater. The brave Zai and Iyan, unconcerned with their safety walked along the catwalks into certain DOOM! Knowing that there was naught where an elf and halfling would dare go but a dwarf not we rushed after them. Just in time too, as Zai was under attack by an enormous creature! Gorgospider! The vile ogrekin had been mixing gorgons with spiders and making new horrors! Suffering from its potent venom the lady was falling! Calling on the power of the Brewmaster, I pulled her out of the way and took her place in the face of this great beast! (chittering sounds get louder) The Marksman and Conjurer let loose bolts of deadly accuracy and arcane might at the monster! Both of them felt the piercing sting of its venom. Petunia, the faithful creature from another world, was enraged at her master’s pain and leapt onto the monster’s back tearing and clawing at it!” (snarling and ripping sounds mix with the chittering sounds)

“Meanwhile, seeing that the very men we sought were chained here as food for the foul monster, I called on the grace of the Brewmaster and defiantly walked in to save the men. Protected by the power of his Frothy Grace, I freed the men from their bonds! But foul magics! The Silken Lady had fallen! The foul monster must have developed fangs it could throw, b/c she was pierced and bleeding! Again, calling on the power of the Brewmaster, I found the divine strength to pull all three men and the fallen Silken Lady to safety!”

“The combined might of the Conjurer and the Marksman was too much for Gorgospider and it fell in a smoldering heap! (A sound of rapid fire crossbow bolts and the whizzing energy bolts, followed by an insectoid crunch) Bral the Mighty was attempting to build a fire to burn the foul creature just as we emerged. We nursed the men back to health and brought them here to the good people of this village! Home, warm, safe, and these wicked ogrekin will trouble yer people NO MORE! So swears the Grey Wardens!!!” Beldal finishes as he holds up his, once more empty, glowing mug.

The room erupts in cheering and clapping. People begin to dig through their coin purses. “Nay! Keep yer hard earned money! Ye are good people who live on the earth. Yer attention and time this evening is the payment I will accept! The people of the fort may yet need yer strength, yer blood, and yer arms yet! But that is for another night. Tonight, we drink!!!” And with that, Beldal tosses a small bag of coins onto the bar. “ALE for all of me friends here!!” The crowd cheers and whistles. Just as Bral and Garret walk in.

“Aye! I am magnificent aren’t I!?!” a grin which was probably intended to be cheerful, but only appears leering and fiendish on his scarred face, “Now, where is the ale and food!?!? I could eat a horse’s ass I am so hungry!” Beldal tosses another small bag on the bar.

“Here, lads!” as they approach, in lower tones, “The barkeep probably thinks we just did him a favor. Let’s show him we didnae!” followed by a wink.

Raising the Sluices (Beldal)
Into the swamp

Aye, the foul water troll was slain, but still we had yet to figure out how to save the people of this valley. We searched high and low, but these humans are daft builders! Where are the bloody knobs and levers?!!? After a lively search, we found the room containing the hellspawn. Foul magics were afoot and the beast Evaxiel was trapped in some magic contraption draining his life energies to power the sluices. We searched and searched, but only the beast knew the method to work the magic of the fell device. The beast was summoned and trapped by a mage with a servant named “Carzug.”

It was a test of my faith to determine what to do with this beast. It was hellspawn and thus, deserved to be destroyed, but he was also a trapped beast and freedom is the way of the Brewmaster. I was about to free him, when Garrett and Ian used the other circle to open the sluices. The red beast was destroyed instantly, after I had made my peace with freeing it. But the people were saved.

In the ensuing celebrations a wee pixie named Yap came to tell us of a lost woman in the swamps. Following a night of celebrations, we think Garrett may have “befriended” the pixie. We travelled to the south and found that the wild lands had become haunted by fell spirits and lost souls. There were images of the past telling of a dark and troubled past for this valley, but now we know that the lady’s soul is lost to grief. It is only right that we set her free from this grief.

We head to Hook Mountain to retrieve her lover’s remains. Perhaps, the Brewmaster has put this freedom in my path to make amends for the loss of the red-spawn. The giants will know the wrath of the Brewmaster and her soul shall know peace.

This, I swear.

The dam of the Dammed (Bral)

As we came to the foot of the great dam it seems our luck had not changed. Smoke from fires could be seen drifted into the rain soaked day. The steep stair that climbs to the top of the dam is lined with skulls – some only days old.

Several ogryn were atop the dam, seeking shelter from the storm on the lee side of the central building. The rain provided us cover and they did not see our approach. We made short work of them in the wet and closing darkness.

Inside, we were out of the rain but it was no less moist. Thick green mold and ropy vines were omnipresent and filled some of the smaller rooms completely. We found out why the giant kin chose to shelter outside when we were set upon by trolls. Foul things that should not be found in this climate, fierce fighters and an uncanny ability to withstand injury. By then end only we stood, although once again bloody and bruised. Having taken the top of the dam it was time to decent into the darkness of the great structure and face what horrors awaited us.

As we got deeper the temperature dropped and we came across an algae cover pool that had a faint luminescence. As eerie felling itched at the back of our necks and the blooded grey wardens shared a knowing look: daemon spawn. Garret looked from one of us to the next “what?” he asked as the water broke and something unexpected burst forth.

It was no daemon but was some kind of aquatic troll – larger and more cunning then its fellows. The smell alone would have felled lesser men. Iyan was pulled into the pool and Bral went in to save the Halfling – both made it out of the pool as little more than corpses. That was when the beast made a mistake and was lured out of the pool as it tried to feast on the flesh of Iyan’s summoned hellcat. Quickly the remaining wardens and the ranger filled the creature with arrow and bolt. Between the hail of death from one side and the furry of a cornered feline defending her master the troll was put down. It tried to slither off to the depths of its pool but Zia would not let it go so easily.

We decide to wait here and proceed with more caution – from here on in it is likely to get dangerous.

The darkness in the water (Bral)

After clearing the fort, a rain soaked journey back to town was turned to an anxiety filled head long rush to get back before the overflowing river washed it away. Too late we found that the rising water and incessant rain were not what we should have feared. The darkness preying upon that accursed town has left us feeling as if the world is now spoilt and we will forever fear the unknown. Having seen it we cannot forget but cannot accept that such …. Monstrosities can exist in this world. I will say no more but feel as if some of the joy of this world has been torn from my heart never to be replaced.

Our boat has left, or was lost, and we have no way out of here.

We got out those we could and made for the fort. The high ground may be the only escape from the rising waters and …. Other dangers. With luck the ogre will not have returned yet and we can find some measure of peace there. The journey there was more treacherous then before but we lost no one – I do not know if that was a mercy or cruelty for those that must live with what they now know.

The flood seems to be more then the unnatural clouds that continue to wash away everything around us in an unholy deluge. The great dam is cracked. It would seem it was built by the same architect who build castle Greyskull but not built to last. If it gives way completely the entire valley will be washed away as will everything in its path until it the wall of water pushes Magnimar back into the sea. We have heard there are sluices that can be opened; this will still likely flood the area but will be less destructive then a great tidal wave ripping through the land. We set out at dawn tomorrow to find this ancient mechanism and open the sluices. Hopefully the giants who inhabit the other side of the dam have sot shelter from the rain far from here.


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