Rise of the Runelords

In The Hook's Shadow 05
In Which Our Heroes Unpollute a Stream

The party loots the woman they defeated in the last chapter. Kizzy detects magic on the woman’s breast and promptly strips her to find a tattoo of a Sihedron rune. Since this is of no use to the party, she respectfully recovers the body. The party divvies up the rest of the spoils. They also find a scroll reading “Those who have agreed to grant their greed to the master’s need.” A dozen names are beneath, including that of the Black Arrow who abandoned us earlier, although the Black Arrows don’t recognize the rest of the names.

Tasslehoff soon hears the rest of the ogres retreating, which leaves the Black Arrows to reclaim Fort Rannick. Shalelu agrees to stay on and help the Black Arrows rebuild, and the Arrows mention a number of other small issues they wouldn’t mind entrusting to the party. After Fox spends the night playing sketchy card games with the soldiers, even though they have nothing of value to wager, the party awakens to a raging downpour.

Araemita decides to spend the day helping the soldiers, not wanting to brave the storm, but Tass, Fox, and Kizzy set out in search of the source of what is polluting the local water supply. As they climb the mountain, the party finds a combination of excretion from some sort of creature and what Fox recognizes as alchemical refuse.

Climbing further, Tasslehoff catches a glimpse of a figure in the rain, and the party tracks it to a cave. Kizzy shouts into the cave, politely requesting that whoever is inside stop polluting the stream, and gets a face full of fire for her troubles.

Kizzy: THAT WAS NOT A PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE!

The party makes short work of the hag and find the source of the pollution, a table from which her alchemical resources are sliding. They clean up, loot the area, and return to rest for the night.

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In The Hook's Shadow 04
In Which Our Heroes Encounter Playful Ogres

The party approaches Fort Rannick with Shalelu and two other members of the Black Arrows. They find that the entrance has been bashed in but hastily jammed back into place. Surprisingly, Tasslehoff is strong enough to wrench it open. The party enters the hall to find it caked in gore: bloody, bits of armor, flesh, and bone. Kizzy fights down her gag reflex and the party continues on, determined to find the perpetrators of this disaster and reclaim the fort for the Black Arrows.

As the party continues, they find a lot of doors (like a surprising amount of them), mostly hiding ransacked rooms containing nothing of interest. However, along the way they do locate a number of the ogres who have perpetrated this destruction: two arguing over who gets to wear a hollowed out horsehead (which Fox promptly tries on for size), one whom Araemita realizes is writing a poem by painting on the walls with a severed head, and one in the infirmary, who doesn’t have time to do anything strange before Kizzy and Tasslehoff wipe it out. The Black Arrows assure the party that there are jail cells in the basement, but nothing that should take an inordinate amount of time to deal with. However, upon their arrival, the party finds a woman standing in a room rather at odds with the rest of the fort, covered in pillows, silks, and carpets.

Fox wonders if this is the sister “the escaped lamia wrote a letter to”, and as she rambles on about the fort belonging to her, Kizzy attempts to cast hold person. However, the woman senses Kizzy’s intent and sends her to sleep. After a long battle, the party finally routs the woman, cutting off her retreat and obliterating her before she has a chance to answer any questions.

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In The Hook's Shadow 02/03
In which our party discovers gore, and lots of it

So first, here is a direct transcription of my notes from session 02:

The party sets off for Fort Rannick and crosses a bridge. Araemita hears a large cat meowing off a path to the west. The party goes and sees what’s happening. Shalelu notices a fire pelt mountain lion. Kizzy approaches and senses something unusual, so she tries to free the mountain lion. Araemita hears barking in the distance. Tasslehoff comes to help Kizzy with the lion while Shalelu hides nearby. The cat licks Tasslehoff in gratitude for its freedom, grabs his clothing, and starts dragging him down a nearby path. Araemita heals it. Dogs run around corner. Araemita drops a dog. Ogre owner runs away. He has deformed hand. We follow cat. Russell leaves and goes kitchen. Come farm house. 21 Archers? Two ogres. Watching us deformed hand deformed head. Ogres all dead. We finds nice spear, “nice belt” (p 132), ratty blanket w crest/patches insignia of Black Arrows bloo (rangers from Ft Rannick), 2 potions cure serious, mundane leather, +1 ogre hook, ring of protection +1. Oh horrifying sculptures. Windchimes of human bone. Boarded up windows.

So make of that what you will, and on to session 3.

The party decides to enter the creepy house. They find themselves in what is clearly an utterly disgusting butcher chamber full of gore, dismembered body parts, and blood. Kizzy takes one look and nopes out of the house and into the field, where she kneels to pray for the deliverance of any who have entered this horrible place. The rest of the party, not so easily dissuaded, ventures further into the house, even though Araemita is sickened by the stench. Trapspringer finds… some of the many traps scattered throughout, possibly losing some trust fromFox, who he invites to go first. The house is scattered with human bones and items made from human flesh — we are clearly dealing with the Deliverance of ogrekin.

A pair of “child” ogrekin attack the party, drawing Kizzy’s attention. The party defeats them without her, but Fox knocks out a window so Kizzy can — reluctantly — join them without passing through the chamber of horror. The party hears the ogrekins’ “mom” calling from down the hall and proceeds in that direction, stumbling across a room full of ogrekin female infant bones along the way.

Ogre Mom is gross and surrounded by death, but the party makes short work of her, with Tasslehoff dealing a massive killing blow. They decide to keep searching the house, and upstairs, Fox gets himself poisoned by opening a chest. Fortunately, Kizzy is able to heal him up. The party collects the few scattered belongings and heads into the basement, where they discover another ogrekin and his… donkey rats. Whatever those are. Anyway, they die, and the party pauses to regroup before continuing on.

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In the Hook's Shadow 01
In which there are meetings and partings

As the party returns to the mayor to report on their adventures, Kizzy becomes quite angry, remembering the reference to him in the letter they found. She angrily confronts him and demands the party strip him of his clothing in search of the Sihedron rune. The mayor is understandably unhappy about this, but Kizzy manages to sweet talk him into letting things go. He invites the party to a feast and rewards them each with 6 000 gold, then asks them for another favor. It turns out that the soldiers stationed at Fort Rannick have not checked in for a long time — even for them. He offers another reward if the party is willing to check in on them. The party agrees — except for Pam, who decides that she needs to remain, commit to her training, and care for North. Kizzy is particularly dismayed by this turn of events, but as everyone bids Pam and North goodbye, the goblin manages a few garbled words of farewell to her.

The mayor mentions that a ranger named Shalelu is heading the same direction as them, and would be willing to accompany the party on their task. They accept gratefully, and after some shopping, they set off.

A week on horseback brings the party to Turtleback Ferry, where Skull River opens to Claybottom Lake. No one responds favorably to the inquiries after the guard at Fort Rannick, which is a half day’s journey away, and in spite of Kizzy’s objections, the party decides to rest the night.Fox settles in to gamble. He finds no shortage of willing partners, as the barge Paradise’s sinking has left the town’s inhabitants remarkably short of entertainment. He also finds a not-too-attractive companion for the night.

Meanwhile, Shalelu, Kizzy, Araemita, and Tasslehoff have set off in search of further information, Araemita cheerfully swigging from a bottle of whiskey. They learn that some local fishermen have recently been eaten by Pinkeye the Gar, that the Paradise’s sinking is a relief to some (who do not approve of its owner, the “strumpet Lucretia”), and that one man’s uncle seems to bear a strange star shaped tattoo. In fact, the man informs them, many townsfolk have the strange tattoos, but they keep them well hidden — an easy task with the fall weather.

The party also learns of strange lights across the lake in the Shimmerglens — almost as if people holding lanterns were dancing over there, not all the time, but often with the dawn. Thoroughly perplexed, the party retires for the night with intentions of heading to Fort Rannick in the morning.

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The Skinsaw Murders 10
In Which our Heroes Don't Defeat a Lamia

The party makes yet another attempt to venture up the stairs of the clock tower, but immediately a bell comes crashing down, damaging Kizzy, Araemita, Pam, and Fox, and sending Araemita tumbling once more to the ground.

Araemita examines the bell on the ground and realizes that the rope was cut through, not frayed. The party continues on with Tasslehoff in the lead, scouting the way. They reach the top of the stairs and enter the belltower, where three faceless stalkers wait. The party defeats them and claims their masterwork longswords, then continues along the staircase, which winds up and out to the next floor. Once there, they find another rookery and the messages they sent earlier, including a certain crumpled up drawing.

On the top floor, they emerge through a large, demonic looking angel statue and find themselves facing a nest of silk sheets and chests. A demon arises from the nest, but Kizzy and Araemita realize it doesn’t look like any demon they’ve ever seen — more like someone’s idea of a demon.

Something stabs Tasslehoff in the back, revealing itself to be a lamia. Kizzy identifies the demon as an illusion and the party focuses its energy on the lamia. Once they wear it down, it calls them names and takes off, promising to return. The party chases it to the ocean but can’t track it down. Returning to the tower, they find a pile of loot as well as a scrap of parchment reading:

My sister,

I trust your little band of murderers is doing well gathering the greedy soul for our Lord’s rise. Has Magnimar proven to be as sinful as you had hoped? It may interest you to know that my plan to nurture greed here in this backwater has blossomed — the quality of greed in a soul is so much more refined when it is given the proper care. Are you still simply carving the Sihedron on them as they expire? How crude! My method of marking is so much more elegant. In any event, I’m sure that your plans for harvesting greed where and when you can find it “in the wild” are progressing well enough — I just hope that your raw, ungroomed, and likely inferior victims don’t interact poorly when mixed with the purity of my own subjects. If you tire of your little project there, know that you’re always welcome to come to Turtelback Ferry and serve as my assistant, little sister! Fort Rannick should be in our control by the time your receive this letter, in any event, so there’ll be plenty of room for you if you wish to take me up on my generous offer.

Oh! Before I forget! Have you managed to harvest that lord-mayor yet? By all accounts, he might just be the crea, of the crop in Mangimar — his soul might even rival several from my hand-grown harvest!

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The Skinsaw Murders 09

First an important aside… Pen And Pencil

Last-Time On “Rise of the Runelords Z”

  • Judge Ironbriar was found to be leading a cult in the sawmill (or lumbermill if you prefer – they both mean the same thing) and what’s his dingus (as he was referred to by fox) as questioned and tied up while the party explored (only to soon fall unconcious)
  • Exploring the place the gang found another sihedron medallion, and in the upper areas a office/bedroom like area where the room’s walls were covered in dried out faces that had been stretched out and tacked to the wall (ew). Also the sheets on the bed in here were scratchy.
  • Above this room, through a trap door was a rookery (rook means raven – see! INSERT LINK) where-in there were found three ravens in a wood and metal cage. Alongside the cage they found a stack of blank papers and a quill for sending messages with the birds.

And now for the continuation…

  • As Pam began to lecture North about how it was important to not eat the ravens, the gang tried to decide what to do next. At first they thought they could trick or ensorcell Ironbriar into writing a note for them so that it would lead their quarry to the lumbermill (or sawmill), only to find Ironbriar quite dead.
  • The next idea was to try to ask the ravens where they were trained to be sent, but again no one had any way to cast speak with animals and getting a scroll cost money and time.
  • Then they thought, what if we follow the ravens to their destination, but they wondered what if it’s really far or the raven goes really fast? As a security measure they could forge a note and give them to the ravens, just in case – which at that point the remembered they’d found a journal.
  • Examining the journal they found it to be written in elvish, draconic, and infernal using a cypher. Using Comprehend Languages Kizzy deduced she could read it in a couple of days if she focused, but for now the only word she could make out was “Mistress”.
  • Despite this, it was enough to use as a reference for forging notes, and thus the following note was forged: “Need to meet. Lumbermill. In 2 Nights.” (it is important to note that no raves were licked as part of this process)
  • Mita released the bird, featherfell out the window, and joined the party on horseback as they followed the raven to a massive clock tower in Magnimar near a bridge called the Irespan. This tower is known locally as The Shadow Clock and looks horribly in disrepair – so much so that it is quite common for people to place bets on how many people it will kill when it falls (Fox’s current bet is 15). The tower rose far into the sky (9 floors?) and as it’s base had a massive girth of 75ft.
  • Inquiring with passers by about the tower, they found some drunk (or high) teenagers (or 20 somethings… damn those millennials… wait aren’t I a millennial? what’s the cut off for a millennial.. oh right back to to the info they gave us) said that they saw some weird creature living there – one thought it was a giant snake, the other thought it was a hulking man thing (not a penis).
  • With information gathered, they returned to the rookery and sent the second raven, only to have it go to the EXACT SAME PLACE, causing Pam to defeatedly exclaim “Fuck”, and Fox to run back to the rookery and sent a dick he doodled earlier on with the final raven.
  • Any indication of subterfuge was gone at this point, so Fox and Tas snuck into the the main floor to find the internals in a similar state of ruin, piles of plaster could be found heaped on the floor, and 6 offices with collapsed ceilings all had entrances on this floor. Woodenstairs spiraled upwards towards a 4 brass bells hanging far above. Despite all this ruin several sets of medium size and one large misshapen set of footprints could be easily made out on the floor.
  • Having seen no signs of danger Fox and Tas returned to get the party, setting marching order and heading upwards… only to have Fox promptly stabbed in the back with something scythe-y. Turning to see thier adversary a large flesh golem had come out of hiding on the main floor. Fox promptly shot it in the face for near massive (47) damage, followed by Pam trying to bluff it with one of the sihedron medallions (did not work), and Tas trying to jump off the stairs only to get hit by the scythe and faceplant onto the ground below.
  • After a few more shots from fox (and Mita finding out that magic does shit-all to golems) the golem began to run, and shot it again, shot it TO DEATH.
  • On the creature the gang found a cloak of elvenkind (Fox took this), and they also retrieved the scythe, which was magical but unidentifiable at the moment.
  • Off to the side, in one of the piles of debris, Mita found a leather sack containing gold, silver, a mirror, and a ring
  • And then we faded to black cause we was tireds
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The Skinsaw Murders 08

Everyone enters another room, where Pam’s diplomatic skills promptly get us attacked, the workers in the mill pulling down masks similar to those worn by the other workers. One of the workers screams for the boss, and an elf shows up to help, wearing a seven pointed amulet. The party manages to win, and the elf introduces himself as Justice Ironbriar. He was being controlled by a creature named Xanesha. He offers to show the party her hideout, and also reluctantly agrees to send the goblin to a swanky boarding school. Upon finding a closet full of people’s belongings, the party realizes that Ironbriar was already leading a not-so-innocent cult before Xanesha took over his mind, and Fox and Pam wonder if it wouldn’t be better to let an “accident” befall him. As they discuss, the spell he used to buff his constitution wears off, and he falls unconscious. The party continues to explore, finding a journal coded by a cipher that Kizzy may be able to help with. It has ravens on the cover, and the party then finds a trapdoor leading into a room that also has three ravens.

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The Skinsaw Murders 07
In which our heroes kill another Foxglove

As our heroes arrive at the inn, they find the innkeeper somewhat reluctant to admit North, although he at last relents when Pam agrees to pay double and be responsible for any damages. The party eats and retires for the night.

In the morning, they find a ranger seated in the inn, eating breakfast. The man introduces himself as Kwik. While the two groups breakfast, North slashes at the table, eventually carving a very familiar looking seven pointed star. Kwik notices and mention that he’s seen the symbol around town, on an elven man wearing an amulet. Since North seems intrigued by the symbol, Pam begins wearing the amulet around her neck.

At this point Kizzy approaches the barkeeper with the dual intentions of paying for the damage caused by North and asking if the star is familiar. However, Pam becomes angry, prompting Kizzy to storm out, Araemita on her tail. In the meantime, the party asks Kwik to accompany them as they seek out Foxglove’s townhouse.

The building is three stories tall and looks as though it’s been boarded up recently. The front door is unboarded but locked, so Tasslehoff picks the lock and admits the party to a dust-free interior. A voice calls from upstairs, demanding to know who’s there. A woman comes downstairs and introduces herself as Iesha Foxglove, Aldern’s wife. Concerned that Araemita is being less than tactless, Kizzy pushes her way forward — sidestepping Pam’s attempt to grab her with a none-too-friendly glare — and gently breaks the news of Foxglove’s death.

Iesha reacts in shock, insisting that her husband is very much alive — at which point the man himself makes an entrance. Confused, the party engages in some conversation with the duo until suddenly Foxglove’s face shifts and he attacks Kizzy. During the combat, when the Foxgloves fall unconscious they transform into monstrous creatures.

After making short work of the “Foxgloves,” Pam and Kizzy argue about whether Kizzy should be telling the TRUTH! (smiling nod) or the TRUTH (frowning shake head). Eventually Kizzy agrees not to mention North’s role in any problems, even if she will not agree to subterfuge in other areas.

The party searches the house. They find two bronze statues of roaring lionheads. Araemita notices a keyhole in the back of one, and Fox pulls out the Lion Key. The lion statues slide aside to reveal a small recess, where the party finds a box of platinum and a deed giving Foxglove Manor to Vorel Foxglove and his descendants for 100 years, after which ownership will revert to the secondary financiers, the Brotherhood of the Seven. The party notes that about fifteen years remain on this contract. They also find a thin ledger. Most of it contains mundane information, but near the end they find an entry about Iesha’s trip to Absalom, denoting that Foxglove was paying someone referred to only as “B7” 200 gold, to be dropped at the Seven’s Sawmill every Oath Day.

Recognizing the name of the sawmill, the party decides to check it out. Kwik has heard of the Brotherhood of Seven, being local. He believes the elf with the amulet may be one of their leaders.

The party arrives at the mill and finds it suspiciously quiet for mid-day on a working day, if normal looking. Kizzy attempts to question passersby, but none of them are willing to offer any information on the mill. Tasslehoff picks the lock on the front door and they find themselves in a large area that looks like it may be a home for ogres. Finding nothing in particular on the ground floor, the party decides to head upstairs. As Fox flounders amidst some ropes, the party finds a group of people running an active sawmill.

Everyone starts blabbing at once, with Pam and Araemita mangling Kizzy’s attempts at diplomacy. The workers begin spreading out around the room as they argue with the party, trying to direct them out of their workspace. Pam notices them grabbing weapons and demands to know why, and the group promptly attacks. Once they are defeated, the party finds that they were wearing armor beneath their work clothes, and that they have creepy evil masks which Kizzy identifies and instantly demands they get rid of. Pam throws them into the sawmill, and Kizzy breathes a little easier as they turn their attention to the rest of the mill.

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The Skinsaw Murders 06
In which our heroes are repulsed

The party finds themselves facing down a grotesquely deformed Aldern Foxglove, who declares his love for Araemita — and promptly attacks, shouting that “the Hurter is coming.” He turns out to be too fast for even Tasslehoff to dodge, but once Kizzy blasts him with light, he drops to his knees, pleading with them not to let the Hurter come. In spite of the fact that his smell sickens Kizzy, Fox, and Araemita, the party attempts to reason with him.

All at once, Kizzy finds herself compelled to eat a piece of the mold growing on the walls. Foxglove tells them that the same thing happened to him, that the mold is part of his uncle’s remains, and that the Hurter is the darkness inside him. He reveals that his uncle’s singular goal was to turn himself into a lich, but his wife Kasanda interrupted the ritual. She tried to flee but was consumed by disease, infecting both the children and servants in her haste.

Foxglove rambles on, clearly confused and frightened, telling the party that “things were okay until the bad men” — the people who helped his uncle build the family home. At this moment Araemita sees some rather risque sketches of herself on Foxglove’s desk, alongside her hairbrush and a wand she’d discarded. She takes everything back and Pam argues — loudly — in favour of killing Foxglove.

Foxglove interrupts the argument to warn them that the “bad men” are coming, refusing to say their names. Araemita shows him the Sihedron Rune, and Foxglove panics, shouting “The Brothers of the Seven! No! He comes! RUN!” Snatching a mask, he lunges for Araemita and attacks her… with his tongue.

Ew.

Eventually the party defeats him and Pam quickly disposes of his remains (after, of course, Fox searches the body). They find some keys and a letter addressed to Foxglove, reading:

Aldern,

You have served us quite well. The delivery you harvested from the caverns far exceeds what I had hoped for. You may consider your debt to the Brothers paid in full. Yet I still have need of you, and when you awaken from your death, you should find your mind clear and able to understand the task more than in the state you lie as I write this.

You shall remember the workings of the Sihedron ritual, I trust. You seemed quite lucid at the time, but if you find after your rebirth that you have forgotten, return to your townhouse in Magnimar. My agents shall contact you there soon — no need for you to bother the Brothers further. I will provide the list of proper victims for the Sihedron ritual in two days’ time. Commit that list to memory and then destroy it before you begin your work. The ones I have selected must be marked before they die; otherwise they do my master no good and the greed in their souls will go to waste.

If others get in your way, though, you may do with them as you please. Eat them, savage them, or turn them into pawns — it matters not to me.

-Xanesha, Mistress of the Seven

They also find a rather disturbing portrait, a formerly fine painting altered by smears of flesh and blood to resemble Araemita. They decide to leave this behind. Pam is in favor of setting the place on fire, but Kizzy is pretty sure they won’t be able to destroy the mold without the aid of a more accomplished cleric. The party then tries to incinerate the entire house, only to find that it won’t burn.

Upon their return to town, Fox goes shopping while Araemita and Tasslehoff return to the inn. Kizzy and Pam visit the temple, where the sister hopes that they plan to take North away with them. While Pam bonds with her goblin charge, Kizzy meets with Phhakuk, paying him 160 gold to remove the illness she got when she ingested dead uncle. He suggests they contact his cousin Grhhakuk in Magnimar to deal with the rest of the Foxglove Estate, and everyone retires for some much needed rest.

In the morning, the party meets with Hemlok, giving him a somewhat confused account of the events that have transpired. Although he is baffled at first, he is charmed by Kizzy and finds the rest of the party quite heroic, eventually offering them a substantial reward. Once Kizzy convinces Pam to reluctantly return the farm to its rightful owner, the party collects North and heads toward Magnimar.

As they stop for a diaper change, they meet Ghhakuk, give him a rundown of the situation, and resume their trek towards the city, where they find a friendly inn to pass the night.

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Return to the House of Nope
In which our heroes meet little green ghouls

Rested, and over Pam’s loud objections, the party returns to Foxglove Manor. They return to the cellar they explored before, finding themselves in a disused kitchen.Tasslehoff notices a rat scurrying beneath a door, but otherwise things seem calm — until the party opens a nearby door and a swarm of rats attacks. Pam flees in terror and Kizzy levitates off the ground, leaving the party — primarily Araemita — to incinerate the swarm.

Behind the door, they find a hall ending in a locked iron door, which Tasslehoff can’t pick but which can’t stand up to Fox, who shoots the lock open. The party finds themselves in a ruined arcane workshop. Two stained glass windows depict different versions of the same man. In one, he is drinking green fluid; in the other, his body is decaying and transforming into smoke. Tasslehoff does notice subtle movements in the second window, as if the man is sneering. He has a sudden vision of the man turning himself into a lich.

Kizzy detects the presence of undead to the west, so the party carefully ventures in that direction. As Araemita rounds the corner, she hears digging and mining. She hurries forward to find Aldern Foxglove frantically chopping at the floor. As he digs he rasps, “FORYOUFORYOU.”

Suddenly, the floor gives way, and ghoulish hands seize Foxglove, dragging him down. Before Araemita can react, the vision disappears. Fox joins her to find a set of stairs leading down into a rank smelling pit. He promptly and enthusiastically suggests they go elsewhere, but Kizzy and Araemita convince him that onward is best.

The party descends into darkness. They reach a room with three tunnels, the southwest of which seemes the newest. Kizzy thinks the undead are to the northwest, so Pam urges them north, eager to get this place over and done with. There they encounter many ghouls.

After destroying the ghouls, the party finds themselves in a VERTIGINOUS room. It is glisteningly moistly. You’re welcome.

There’s a door about halfway down the cavernous drop to the sea, so Araemita plunges boldly ahead, loses her footing, and falls. Fortunately, Fox is able to spring to her rescue. The party finds themselves facing four goblin ghasts. After a gruelling battle involving some paralysis, they defeat them and pick them the lock to the door.

The overwhelming stench of rotting flesh assails them. A horrific looking man sits at a desk. Clearly he was once a nobleman, but now little remains of the man he was. His eyes widen in both fear and delight as he springs to his feet. “You! You’ve come to me! I knew my letters would sway your heart, my love. Let us consummate our hunger.”

LITTLE GREEN GHOULS, BUDDY!

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