Protectors of Sandpoint

The Musings of Ragnar
Ragnar's Journal

So in the end glorious death in battle was not to be our fates, though it nearly was so. The half-orc saved us all in a fit of self-sacrificing rage the likes of which I have never seen, plummeting over the side of the very tower with the serpentine witch lamia in his clutches. By the gods, it was a battle the dwarven heroes of old would have been stunned to witness. I am proud to call Snake my comrade and brother in arms. I shall have to more carefully evaluate half-orcs in the future. Perhaps their orcish side does not always dominate their thoughts and actions.

And this horn that summoned dwarven berserkers – I haven’t seen such magic before, and so I must thank Torag, god of dwarves for his aid. And to Cayden I also now owe a tribute, though he is a god whom I have paid some small respects to in the past, not taking him for a serious being. It appears he may have actually aided or communed with Snake. And to Sarenrae, the sun goddess, I have seen the boons she has granted through Entekku and aided us. What do the gods seek – do they truly wish to help us eradicate evil from the cruel world? It does seem to be the case, else why would they have aided us and saved our lives, unless it be merely for their amusement? Deep thoughts for dwarf. I prefer to keep things simpler – axe, ale, gold, and adventure have been my life, and likely will continue to be. But then this business protecting Sandpoint and Magnimar have been above and beyond the life of mere adventure. Let us hope that a small dose of sober responsibility now and then doesn’t suck the zest out of life! Ahh, but there’s no boredom or duty that a good fight won’t cure!

And so with the lamia gone, what now for Magnimar? Does the realization that a terrible creature of evil lurked within the city and required the near sacrifice of outsiders to destroy it mean anything to the people? I would think more so than their Mayor. Yet I sense Magnimar will go on unchanged. Such is the way of men. It takes a greater calamity to make them change. Then again, some would say the same of dwarves or elves, I suppose. And yet men surprise me again – the Mayor, though clearly suffering many of the common flaws of men, was far more generous and beneficent than I expected. And he has given me the duty to enforce the law of Magnimar in the regions close to Sandpoint. This seems good and bad. I like the easy, good natured, uncomplicated ways of Sandpoint. Magnimar has too much decadence and thirst for power in it, too many stifling and questionable laws. Still this authority may help us protect and serve Sandpoint, which has become like a second home to me. Ha! We shall see what happens. Will Ragnar the dwarf become a respectable famous protector of the realm, or perhaps the mantle of authority will not suit him and he’ll return to the simple life of a wandering mercenary, thirty for gold and excitement. Or perhaps there is a way to do both. We shall see what fate brings – I raise a toast to life and it’s surprises!

Eloam Log

As I reflect upon today’s battle it is apparent that our lack of preparation nearly lead to our deaths. My own magics seemed all but useless. Had I known what we were going up against, I could have focused my attention on aiding my friends, or instead increasing the potency of my own magics to overcome her defenses against magic.

Having seen those creatures in the mirror, I should have made the effort to find out more about them. Were they servants of the Runelords? What are they doing now. What magics will work best against them, what will not. Since this one has a sister, I need to find out.

Also, We suspected that we would end up in the clock-tower. Surely, there are plans and drawings of this building around somewhere. We should have taken the time to look. A wand or even a couple potions of spider climb would have been extremely helpful.

Our recent success has lead me to become complaisant. I must guard against this in the future…

One Goal Down...
the Scarecrow and its master are no more.

Underbridge is a little safer now, thanks to my new colleagues. We set a trap for the Scarecrow, we me as bait, and we were able to track it back to its lair in the Clock Tower. There we fought and killed it; its slaying days have come to an end. But the creature had a master, which needed to die as well. After fighting more guardians, in the form of phantasmal stalkers, the real battle began on the roof of the clock tower with a horrific lamia demon. While I can say I was of little help in this fight, thanks to the cursed Skinsaw mask, it was none other than Snake himself who saw to the creature’s demise, following the bravest, craziest stunt I’d ever witnessed. Whatever comes of my half-orc compatriot, he has well-earned a lifetime of respect now.

With the Scarecrow and its master dead, the next question is: what next??


Snake's New Name
Snake's entry

Snake give Snake new name in rest of world…………Snake…. Death From Above

(Drops the Mic and rolls)

Eloams Random Thoughts

Trust is an odd thing . I was prepared for anything going to talk to the Society. All the debate about what to tel.l them, what to hide. Ready to confront them about sending a trained killer after me.

All that and in the end such a simple conversation. It seems we share both common fears and goals. Still, they are way to easy to talk to. The one is probably a bard. Makes me wonder if I succumbed to a honeyed tongue. Its not every day you give away an army of demons.

Still, it feels right…

Magnimar - Grand City of Men
Ragnar's Journal

And here we are in Magnimar again – not exactly a monument to the society of men. Fair to middling construction, though there are some impressive works of old here. If only the people reflected those qualities more. Last time we trekked through this place, it was skinsaw cultists and slavers that made it such a joy. A true bit of devilry, that was.

And now there is new devilry – some giantish scarecrow of all things. Madness is yet another form. What do the gods think, I wonder. Let’s hope Enteku’s visions lead us down the right path. If it weren’t for the fact that Magnimar’s trade is important to Sandpoint, and Enteku’s visions seem apocalyptic if not addressed, I’d not set foot in this place more than I have to. We shall see what comes of this. But if there is evil here, and we can destroy it, well then I’ll lean into my axe work with pleasure.

Back to Magnimar
Eloams thoughts

It looks like we’ll be heading back to Magnimar. I can’t help feeling that we’re missing something important in the runes. Like at Thissletop, where we dealt with most of the dangers in the area, and left it to another group to claim the rewards. Of course, these caves seem endless, so I might always feel that way. Still it makes me wonder what was found at Thissletop.

With mixed feelings, I anticipate meeting with the Society again. It will be interesting to see how they react to news of our recent escapades. Should I confront them about sending an
Valana after me? How widely will what word of what we tell them spread? How many will find out about the gold well and die?

And They Call It A Mine...
Ragnar's Journal

This place has no end. And here I thought it would be good to see the deep dark again. By my beard, it would have been magnificent.had the dwarves been left alone to finish their work. But now it’s filled with evil things. No matter how many are slain, more seem to come, as if called by some terrible nameless curse or power. It would take many a dwarf to clear these caves and tunnels out, though our small doughty group has done well, despite coming close to death several times now.

The dwarves who died here fill my heart with admiration and respect. True dwarves, all! They didn’t shrink from the sight of evil, they even seem to have sought out the dragon and succeeded in killing it. What a battle it must have been! And the quality of their forged steel – I have seen nothing to match it yet, save perhaps my own trusted axe.

I now ponder whether or not to notify the dwarves of Janderhoff of this place, but if I do, they must be warned of the great evil residing here.

A History Lesson
Eloams Log

Slowly , he closed the tome. Taking care not to damage the ancient pages. The book told of the age of Xin, who ruled in peace, using the power of virtue…

In virtue there was Order. In vice there was Order as well. Now neither virtue nor vice prevail and we have chaos…

One Journey Ends Even As Another Begins
A Prequel

Vlana said goodbye to her sensei before the public viewing in the hydrangea garden, beside the Shrine of Kameido in the center of Kasai. Before he was viewed by the people of the city, most of which he never knew or interacted with, his body was wrapped in rich, colorful silks he never wore in life, surrounded by symbolic offerings of red rice, known as Sekihan and bunches of flowers known as Lo’elhi, both symbols of the Red Wolf, Okami, and laid in state within the Shrine. He was known by few and respected by many, as well as feared by many more that neither knew nor understood his ways, nor the ways of his dojo. But as a Shadow Master, and a well-respected teacher, a public fire ceremony to mark his passing was obligatory, even in a city where Those Who Dwell in the Shadows are not spoken of except with hushed tones.

She had been his final student, and had spent the last ten years of her life learning everything she could from the old man, even though he was always quick to point out that he was giving her nothing; rather, he merely ‘changed the flow of her energy’, as if altering a brook, allowing that which was in herself to emerge naturally. “Everything exists within”, he’d say, “There is nothing outside of yourself that can make you faster, stronger, smarter, or richer; seek nothing outside of yourself, but encourage the tree that grows within, and let the roots and branches reach where they will”. His wisdom had been particularly difficult for Vlana to grasp, herself just a vagabond Varisian child-thief from Magnimar, fleeing gang persecution in the Shadow Spire. In many ways, Vlana took to the physical demands and hardships of training far easier that her Master’s inscrutable, sometimes even obscure, doctrines. In time, however, she found clarity in his words and accepted the fact that whatever difficulty she encountered as a youth when she first came to Minkai originated from her own mind.

Making sure no one else was in the Shrine, or could see her from outside, Vlana stepped out of the darkness behind the Queen of Heaven statue, and then stood before the dais that held his body. She selected a cloying stick of lavender incense, lit it on fire from one of the ceremonial torches, bowed before his silk-wrapped form and said the traditional Five Blessings; then, she placed the smoldering incense stick into the dragon-shaped copper offering vessel beside his body: hers was the first stick of what should be many. After 24 hours, the body, all the offerings, the incense, prayer notes, flowers, and his final belongings, all would go up in smoke in his final pyre, and thereby allow the smoke of his soul to travel to heaven. Vlana herself did not necessarily believe that is what actually happened, but in this case she chose to honor the traditions of Minkai, even when her sensai rarely did.

Vlana had not only been Konji Hasamiku’s final student, she was also his secret. By choosing to align with the losing side in the previous Shadow Wars that flared up for control of the Jade Throne, Hasamiku had been allowed to gracefully ‘retire’, rather than be killed, on the conditions that he disband his dojo, accept no further students, and never left the city of Kasai. The first and last conditions he complied with willingly; circumstance forced his compliance for the second condition, as families no longer sent promising students to him for teaching the ways of the Okami Clan. But a gaijen, an outsider from Avistan: when the opportunity came for Hasamiku to break both tradition and rule he leaped at the chance.

“Traditions”, he’d said, “are the shackles of knowledge: the tree grows towards the sky, not because of tradition but because that is where it is meant to grow. The Wolf does not obey fences.”

Both of them, if discovered, could have been killed for teaching an outsider the art of ninjitsu, if not by the Governor or by order of the Jade Regent, then at the very least by representatives of the many other clans and dojos who keep their arts secreted away from foreign barbarians. But the Okami, he’d explained, went their own way. The lion, the tiger, and leopard: all strong and fearsome predators; yet, they were known to kill the weak and sickly, the old, the newborn, and the defenseless. It was the wolf, and the wolf alone, he reminded her, who followed the beast herds for miles as they migrated, observing its members, and selected the strongest of the herd to hunt and kill – for the strongest member provides the best meat.

Always full of obscure wisdom, Vlana had been surprised a week ago when he’d summoned her from her training and sat her down, both cross-legged on the floor of his illegal, impromptu dojo, to speak to her in rather plain terms.

“I have spoken with the Shinigami, those who serve the Goddess known in your lands as Pharasma. My end draws near. I am no longer a young man, and this is as it should be, even though it pains me that I have not been able to finish this final task I assigned myself.”

“Sensi, she’d started, concerned from his words – but he held up a hand to stop her.

“Everything is as it should be; all things which begin also have ends, and therein lies the balance of the universe. However, I do have one final task which I would ask of you, to repay all that I have taught you these past years.”

“Of course, Sensi, what shall I do for you?”

“The Fates had decided that before my final smoke reaches Heaven there will be a shipment of opium, the poppy’s cruel kiss, which will leave the harbor aboard a merchant vessel named the Sun Crane. It, and the merchant’s agent accompanying the shipment, is bound for Muliwan – and thence, via The Path of Aganhei, the poison is set to spread itself across Avistan, from whence you came. Be on that vessel, and somehow stop that shipment from reaching its destination. From there you may continue back to your home lands, if that is what you wish, but do not allow that shipment to survive”.

Vlana nodded her head; she had been thinking about returning to Magnimar for some time now but did not feel she was ready to do what she wanted to do – now, because of her teacher’s imminent death, she would be doing so ready or not. She had seen what became of men who chased the dragon in opium dens in the city, and she knew there were gang in Magnimar would pay good coin to sell the drug in the streets. She decided then that she would stop the shipment of opium, as asked, or die trying.

“And the agent accompanying the shipment?” she asked.

“A considerably harder task to deal with; that is all I know. If you can destroy the shipment without bearing the wrath of the agent, that way lies success. The other paths are shrouded in darkness and hold no certainty. You are not yet the instrument I wanted to return to the world, but…you are no toothless cub either. The Shinigami could not allow me the luxury of seeing the final outcome, but I place all of my faith and trust in you, my Darkest Flower and I know you will do your best – and that is all anyone may ask of another.”

He hadn’t called her his pet name more than a handful of times in the years she’d spent training with Konji Hasamiku; hearing it now she felt the finality of his words, and could sense the truth in what he said. She could not say that she loved the old man, for his ways were very demanding and difficult, and her life in Minkai had not been easy – but she respected her teacher very much, and was much saddened to hear that his passing would come so soon.

“I thank you, Master, for all that you have done for me; I will do as you ask or die trying. I promise.”

“Well”, he returned with a rare smile, “try not to die, if you can. But always remember this: keep to the shadows, in all things. Let yourself not be known, for what your friends know so too may your enemies. But if you must be seen, let them see the image that you would have them see, not what truly is. Knowledge is advantage; illusion is a weapon. Seem the beautiful flower, but be the venomous viper beneath it. I can tell you nothing more – go and practice some more, and soon enough the time for you to act will come. Fair Journey.”

She stood and bowed deeply before her Sensi: “Fair Return”. Then she had walked out and returned to her work. That had been the last she’d spoken to him. Now she was on her own, truly, for the first time, but far better prepared, thanks to him, than she had been as a youngster when she first crossed the Crown of the World.

Before half the offertory incense stick had burned, Vlana melted into the shadows, confident in her steps along the new path of her life.


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