Pathfinder 1E JollyDoc's Way Of The Wicked


In current game time, our crew has started Book 5. They are currently 16th level, and there have been many changes, as will be seen soon in the story hour. The end of Tears of the Blessed opened up many new doors for our "heroes."

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10 Abadius, 4718 - Dannister Down

"Come no further, serpents! Her judgement cometh, and that right soon!"
The Ninth Knot stood just outside a chamber in the catacombs that was not unoccupied, as all of the other ossuaries had been. Instead, three priests of Iomedae and a half-dozen holy warriors were hold up inside. They seemed to know exactly whom they were up against, but that fact did not give them pause.
"For Asmodeus!" Lemmy cried, and charged into the room blasting.
"Since when did he become so pious?" Dakota asked Roger.
"Since it gave him an excuse to kill indiscriminately," the half-orc grinned.
The others followed behind Lemmy, the die having already been cast. A warrior lay dead on the floor before the dwarf already, and the others were closing in on him. He formed his rock and metallic shards into the form of a massive hammer and hurled it at the foremost one, dropping him in his tracks. Roger and Grumblejack each took out another one, leaving just two of the warriors still standing. At that moment the priests simultaneously unleashed prayers of pure holy power to smite their enemies. The blast struck Grumblejack temporarily blind, but before the clerics had a chance to celebrate their small victory, Kat appeared out of the shadows from behind them and slit the throat of the nearest. As another one turned towards her, she thrust her dagger between his ribs and he fell with a wet gurgle. The last priest was hurled into the wall behind him as Lemmy blasted him from point-blank range. The remaining holy warriors were quickly dealt with by Roger and Grumblejack after he'd regained most of his sight.

The only thing in the chamber, which was apparently what the priests had been guarding, was a small shrine to Iomedae upon which had been inscribed three aphorisms:
“Give not into greed for it rots the soul and withers the vine. Amongst the humble shall ye find the worthy. ”
“Despair ye mighty! For by your power and arrogance have ye fallen into darkness. Not amongst the lords of the earth but amongst the servants shall ye find the worthy. ”
“Beware thy enemy for he stalks you like a wicked serpent ready to consume ye with fire. The worthy knows his foe – his ways and tongues. Amongst those unafraid to speak the enemy's name shall ye find the worthy. ”
Dakota shook her head and scoffed before loosening her belt and urinating upon the shrine.


The next room was adorned with countless intricately carved figures bowing before the glory of Iomedae. On the southern wall were the great lords of the earth, kings and dukes, knights and warriors. On the northern wall were the peasants – a farmer, a smith, a merchant, a fishermen and a shepherd. On the eastern wall bowed the priests in all their regalia from humble friars all the way up to the great Cardinals, princes of the church. They all bowed in obeisance before a great Iomedaen sunburst. Centered in the eastern wall just below the sunburst was a small niche, upon which lay a silver and sapphire holy symbol.

"There is magic here," Kelvin warned, sniffing the air. "Necromancy."
Kat nodded absently, and then went about examining the walls, staying clear of the niche and holy symbol.
"There's also this," she announced triumphantly as she reached out to press a small stud hidden in the image of one of the peasants. It clicked, and then a section of wall slid aside to reveal a hidden passage.
"Well done," Roger smiled, clapping her on the back as he reached out to grab the holy symbol.
'No, wait!" Kat cried. "I haven't had a chance to check it...!"
Too late. No sooner had the half-orc's hand closed around the pendant than a flash of black fire raced up his arm and coursed through his body. He jittered and jerk for several moments before he could release the holy symbol, his hand smoking and charred.
"Idiot," Kat cursed under her breath. "Why don't you stick to gutting things with that pig-sticker of yours and leave the scouting to your betters?"
Roger hissed painfully between clenched teeth until Dorian tended his wounds, then nodded grudgingly.
"Lesson learned," he muttered.
"Somehow I doubt that," Kat snorted.


The hidden passage led to yet another shrine, one dedicated to a martyr named Saint Angelo the Wise. Saint Angelo was a cardinal of the Iomedaen faith and also a powerful spellcaster. In his time (which was more than a hundred and fifty years ago) he led a campaign to destroy every devil on the isle of Talingarde. He almost succeeded. In the shrine was kept a tally of his accomplishments. The number of devils he slew was truly terrifying. In Saint Angelo's lifetime he slew one hundred and eight devils ranging from the smallest imp to his greatest victory against a pit fiend known only as Hekkazar. He even fought alongside the also sainted Cynthia-Celeste (who established the abbey in Farholde). This shrine had an inscription in celestial that the Knot found interesting: “Saint Angelo travelled the world extinguishing the fires of hell. In his time he captured many tools of the wicked. Most he destroyed but a few he could not unmake and so he saw them safely put aside. Behind the Angels in Iron they are forever kept safe. ”

A hallway beyond the shrine ran past another ossuary, as well as an empty chamber which held a mural of a great king ordering the building of shrines and temples to Iomedae. At his command knights, architects, masons, stone cutters and laborers worked tirelessly to glorify the Shining Lady. Above the king was an inscription:
“Attend my servants! Who is a greater lord than I?”
"More puzzles and traps," Kat sighed as she examined the mural.
After a moment she tapped the letter 'e' in 'servant' and then nodded in satisfaction.
"Disarmed," she announced.
"Tasks and tests set before the new clergy, no doubt," Dorian said. "Only the worthy would be able to advance past them."
"Or just the damned clever," Kat grinned.

They crossed through another ossuary, one apparently reserved for priests who had, at least once in their lives, returned the dead to life. Kat wanted to search it, but Dorian reminded her about the ghostly paladins and told her they couldn't waste time on such nonsense. Kat reluctantly agreed. The corridor they'd been following abruptly ended at a chamber that appeared to be largely empty and featureless. What few adornments to be seen showed priests of Iomedae studying and engaged in scholarly pursuits. From an archway on the far side came the sound of soft chanting.
"Come to us, O martyrs, in this our darkest hour."
It repeated again and again. Cautiously, Dakota approached the arch. As she drew closer, she saw an inscription written in Celestial above the lintel.
"Who is thy enemy? Who is the lord of the nine? Know him as he knows himself or be consumed with fire."
Before she could really consider the meaning of the scripture, her eyes were drawn to the room beyond. It appeared to be some sort of private library. Stacked everywhere were books and records. Further, upon one of the tables sat a glass coffin and inside was the incorruptible corpse of Saint Macarius himself. Yet that was not what had gotten Dak's attention. Instead it was the large man that knelt in prayer before the casket. He looked as if he would stand well-over ten feet in height. He wore silver breast plate, and a large shield lay close at hand. A gleaming sword hung from his belt. He turned his bearded face towards Dakota, and his eyes glowed like golden fire. The symbol of Iomedae that hung from around his neck burned like the sun in miniature. He rose slowly to his feet, and as he did so, Dakota's heart quailed. She took an involuntary step backwards, her hand going to her mouth at the frightful aspect of Lord Abbott Earnan MacCathlain that stood before her.

"Stand back, girlie," Lemmy growled, shouldering Dakota aside. "If yer too afraid to look at the big, bad sun-priest, then let a dwarf show ya how it's done!"
Grinning through his beard he hurled a barrage of earth and stone at MacCathlain, but no sooner had the debris left his hands than three ghost martyrs emerged from the walls and lunged for him and Dakota, as well as Dorian, who'd come up from behind. The ghosts' touch pierced the armor of the three as if it were made of paper, withering the flesh beneath. A moment later the Lord Abbott's booming voice called out in prayer, and a wall of whirling blades appeared amidst the trio, ripping and slashing into them.

Kat leaped at one of the ghosts, knowing that her attacks would be largely ineffective, but still hoping to distract its attention away from her siblings. Her gambit worked as the spirit turned to engage her, allowing Dakota and Timeon to put several ghost-salted arrows into its back. A moment later, Roger, Grumblejack and Lemmy had joined her, helping her to keep the ghosts at bay. Dorian took the opportunity to stagger away from the fight, weakened as he was by the combined assault of the ghosts and the blade barrier. That was was exactly the moment that MacCathlain unleashed a holy-powered prayer upon all of the companions, smiting them where they stood. As they were blasted aside by the spell, Dorian struck one wall...hard. He crumpled to the floor and lay still.

The first of the ghost martyrs went down under the archers' assault, and then Roger dispatched a second one. The last one managed to grab Lemmy once more before Timeon put an arrow through its eye, sending it back to Iomedae. The Knot turned as one towards the Lord Abbott, just as he called down a column of holy fire upon them, catching Dakota and Roger's cohort, Al in the brunt of the blast.
"Help Dorian!" Dakota shouted, slapping the little dwarf hard on the back.
Al nodded and started across the room as Dakota returned fire at MacCathlain, putting an arrow into his shoulder. Al reached Dorian and knelt beside the unconscious priest.
"He's still alive!" Al shouted triumphantly.
"Something I intend to remedy immediately," MacCathlain growled.
He spoke another prayer, and a second flamestrike descended upon both Al and Dorian. When the flames abated, nothing remained of the two but smoking ash.

Dakota opened her mouth to scream Dorian's name, but then an icicle the size of a longsword sprouted from her chest. It instantly vanished again, but the damage had been done. Blood flowed freely. She glanced up at MacCathlain to see cold mist still rising from his outstretched hand.

For her part, Kat took a more practical approach. Though Dorian's death was shocking, if the rest of them didn't want to join him they were going to have to do something about that damnable priest. She crept stealthily through the gloom of the chamber, clinging to the shadows as if they were a second skin. She reached the Lord Abbott just as he began casting another prayer. Before he could complete the incantation, she drove her dagger into into his back. He bellowed in pain and turned his glowing eyes upon her. When Kat met his gaze, her bowels turned to jelly and she turned and fled back into the gloom.

Timeon knelt next to Dakota, and when MacCathlain turned his attention to Kat, the young squire let fly his arrow. It struck the priest in the neck. He reeled for a moment before regaining his balance, but by that time Roger had reached him. The big half-orc thrust his sword upwards, smiting the Lord Abbott with the power of Asmodeus. MacCathain doubled over, bleeding heavily. He knew his time was just about done. He turned his fearsome mien upon Roger and, just for a moment, the anti-paladin quailed. He stepped back, but then three arrows fired from behind him and took MacCathlain through the heart. He groaned and sagged to his knees, shrinking as he died. Roger looked behind him, prepared to thank Timeon for his timely intervention, only to see Dakota sitting propped up on the squire, but with her bow still in her hands.


Grumblejack hefted Dorian's still-smoldering remains over his shoulder. There was nothing else for it. He had been their only priest, and neither the anti-paladins nor the inquisitor could raise the dead. No, Dorian had been a friend to Grumblejack and so the ogre took it upon himself to carry him on to the conclusion of their mission.

The bones that the Lord Abbott had been standing watch over were indeed those of Saint Macarius. When Dakota first grabbed them triumphantly from their sarcophagus, she shrieked and dropped them a moment later, her hand smoking and scorched. Katarina solved the problem by carefully raking the holy artifacts into an extra-dimensional bag of holding using the blade of her dagger. Among the books in MacCathlain's private library was a tome that revealed the secret of the three sacred flames of the Vale. Any petitioner who could complete the three-fold test of the fires would become a divine spellcaster of Iomedae. Thus, by extinguishing the flames, the Knot would be able to deprive the Iomedaens of a fresh supply of priests. There was also a journal written by Saint Angelo amid the stacks, which detailed the building of some sort of vault. There was a cryptic message at the end of the excerpt: "The vault is sealed with the names of the first, the teacher, the founder and the maker."

The vault itself was not difficult to find, as it lay just beyond the library. The huge door was covered in celestial script that read, "By the four names, cursed be he who unleashes what is bound within."
That was not the most obvious conundrum, however. The problem was with the pair of imposing metal statues of angels which stood before the door and animated to life when the Knot approached. Immediately each of them breathed out a cloud of toxic green gas from their mouth holes. Dakota inhaled the mist and began choking and gagging, a terrible weakness suffusing her body. As the golems loomed over her, her companions sprang to her defense. The mithral guardians struck with the force of battering rams, but the combined might of the Nessian Knot was more than a match for them. They beat back the golems until they lay in gleaming, mithral pieces.

"This seems easy enough," Kelvin said, reading the inscription on the door. "I assume the first refers to the original occupant of this vale, which was the phoenix. So, Suchandra. The teacher was the angel who mentored Saint Macarius, Ara Mathra. The founder was old Macarius himself, and the maker is Saint Angelo, the one who created the vault."
No sooner had he spoken the final name than the vault door swung ponderously open.

The large vault was filled with various items taken from Asmodean temples and holy sites across Talingarde. The religious paraphernalia included holy symbols, sacred athame, robes, and helms, and included many wonderfully wicked items of infernal workmanship. Three items in particular drew the attention of the Knot. The first was an ornate chalice decorated with numerous bloodstones.
"Ah, this must be what the vampire prince wanted so badly," Kelvin smiled, lifting the cup.
The second item was a full length mirror made of bone and obsidian. When Kelvin peered into it, he saw two skeletal-looking fiends peering back out at him...bone devils! Upon closer inspection he saw that they actually seemed to be sleeping...or dead. Though intriguing, he had no time to determine the purpose of the mirror. He had Grumblejack tuck it into a holding bag for further study once they'd completed their work in the Vale. The final item was a blade of black iron engraved with infernal glyphs. It had not hilt, but its tang was wrapped in leather so that it might still be wielded. Roger felt strangely drawn to the sword, and when he wrapped his hand around it he heard a sinister voice whisper inside his head.
"Remake me," Helbrand said.


10 Abadius, 4718 - 8 Pharast, 4718 - Dies The Fire

The Nessian Knot, minus Dorian, returned to the upper level of the cathedral and to the massive wall of flames that sealed off the Holiest of Holies. Katarina, since she was fleetest of foot, took the thigh bone of Saint Angelo and approached the fire. While she was still twenty feet away the heat began to singe her hair and redden her skin. The closer she came, the more intense the heat became. Just before she felt like she might undergo spontaneous combustion, she reached the wall and touched the bone to the fire. Instantly the wall vanished.

Beyond the wall lay a great, star-shaped chamber. A final bonfire burned in its center, and before it stood a beautiful gold-skinned angel, a golden morningstar gripped in one hand. He rose to his full height as the Nessians entered the chamber, but he did not speak. A single tear fell from his right eye and rolled down his cheek. He did not cry for those who had fallen in battle against the villains and their horde. Those valiant martyrs had already left the world and beyond this veil of tears they dwelt now forever in paradise. He wept for those who still suffered at the hands of evil. He wept for those deluded into following the way of the wicked. Behind him, the five stained glass windows which surrounded the room suddenly rippled with movement as the knights and saints portrayed within them abruptly stepped out of their frames and onto the floor to flank the mighty Ara Mathra.

"Well now it's a party!" Lemmy laughed.
Kelvin didn't echo the dwarf's mirth. He knew that the angel was not a foe to be trifled with. He had to be put down quickly and decisively. The wizard cast a spell, and the entirety of the chamber was filled with a storm of sleet and freezing, icy rain. Ara Mathra casually raised one hand and the storm vanished just as quickly as it had appeared.
"I've got this," Grumblejack hissed between clenched teeth.
Before Kelvin could warn him, the big ogre lumbered into the room, but no sooner had he crossed the threshold than he doubled over in agony, his body wracked with spasms.
"There is a forbiddance upon the room," Kelvin said. "We can pass, but we will pay a price."
Grumblejack took a clumsy swing at one of the glass golems before retreating back to his comrades, still shaking and twitching. Katarina darted in, clenching her jaw against the terrible pain. She headed for the shadows, but Ara Mathra tracked her every movement. She cursed silently. Ignoring her for the moment, however, Ara Mathra instead raised one clenched fist above his head. Golden light gathered around it and he hurled it towards the door, where it exploded amidst Lemmy, Roger and Grumblejack, knocking them from their feet. Lemmy quickly rolled back to his and sent a stony blast towards one of the glass golems that was closing in on them. Grumblejack stood up as well and charged back into the room, bellowing as he passed through the forbiddance, but then swinging his sword through the golem with such force that the creature shattered into a thousand pieces. Roger followed close on Grumblejack's heels, wincing as he leaped across the forbiddance. As the other stained glass constructs closed rapidly towards him, Kat stepped out of the darkness and slashed at one of them. Roger turned to meet that one just as it swung its oddly flattened sword at him. When the glass blade struck him, it cut deep into his flesh and the wound began to bleed profusely. Roger grimaced and cursed as he backed away, but before the golem could press its attack, Kat appeared again, hacking and stabbing with her dagger like a dervish. The golem fell into shards beneath her assault.

Kelvin wasn't about to enter that room. Furthermore, he knew that his spells would be largely useless against the magic resistant golems. Still, there were a few tricks up his sleeves. He spoke the words to a spell which transformed one of his patented fireballs into a ball of exploding ice. When he hurled it amidst the golems, it slowed their movements considerably. He followed this up with a glitterdust charm, releasing a cloud of sparkling debris into the air around the golems and blinding one of them from the sudden burst of light. But then Ara Mathra spoke, and the Word that he uttered carried such power that it struck Lemmy, Roger and Katarina blind, deafening the younger Dannister as well. Lemmy didn't seem bothered by his sudden loss of vision. His link to all things of the earth allowed him to sense the tremors beneath his feet produced by the heavy steps of the glass golems. He pinpointed the nearest one and released a blast in that direction, smiling in satisfaction at the sound of breaking glass. Roger and Grumblejack were not overly troubled either. Both warriors were trained to fight without benefit of all their senses. As they heard the remaining golems moving around them, they both struck out reflexively. Though the creatures managed to score one or two glancing blows, the ogre and anti-paladin were more than a match for them and soon had them both in pieces.

Gradually Lemmy's vision returned, and he saw Ara Mathra hovering in the air above him and his comrades.
"There ye are!" Lemmy laughed. "Right were I want ye!"
He loosed his rock storm, only to see most of the debris bounce harmlessly off the angel's golden hide. Ara Mathra paid him no heed. Instead he turned towards Grumblejack and, just as the ogre was rubbing his eyes clear, struck him with his morningstar. Grumblejack grunted and staggered backwards, but with a snort of resolution, he lunged forward again, slashing at the angel. Roger joined him a moment later, and between the two of them they forced Ara Mathra to give ground. The angel spoke another holy word, but that time Grumblejack's fiendish heritage protected him from the prayer.
"In the name of Father Asmodeus," the ogre bellowed, drawing himself up to his full height, "I smite you!"
He brought his sword down with both hands upon Ara Mathra, and the angel collapsed to one knee beneath the withering blow. Roger heard the impact and rushed forward, swinging his sword blindly but still managing to land telling blows. Ara Mathra swung his morningstar again, taking Grumblejack full in the belly, but as he started to regain his feet, Lemmy loomed behind him. This time the dwarf changed his rocks and stones to shards of razor-sharp metal and sent them whirring at the angel. Ara Mathra collapsed to the floor, golden blood pouring from him. As the light finally left his eyes and he breathed his last, he spoke once more.
"It will be the son who brings your doom."


As Grumblejack extinguished the last of the three sacred flames, Kelvin knelt next to Ara Mathra's body with the chalice of Aurelius Vestromo. He allowed the angel's golden blood to fill the cup almost to the brim before covering it and tucking it into his robes.
"What are you going to do with that?" Tardaesha asked as she came up behind him.
"Prince Gaius might have mentioned," Kelvin explained, "that if we should happen to come upon any angelic blood, he would make it worth our while."
Tardaesha smiled at the prospect.
"Never let an opportunity pass you by," she said, clapping her brother on the shoulder.
When Kelvin had finished, he pointed one finger at Ara Mathra's corpse and uttered a short spell. A ray of green light sprang from his fingertip, and when it struck the angel's body it turned it instantly into a pile of shimmering dust.
"No coming back for you," Kelvin smiled.

The Knot made its way out of the Cathedral, back through the gardens and ultimately returned to Sanctum. There they found Tiadora waiting for them, standing before two dozen red-eyed, black-feathered, horned hippogriffs.
"It seems our lord has smiled upon you," she said.
"He finds the souls of giants sweet," Roger grinned back at her.
"Well done, my lords," Tiadora replied. "I am pleased and the Cardinal is pleased. He sends his regards."
She pulled a small pouch from her skirts and emptied into Roger's hand a king's ransom in sapphires.
"Alas, that there is still more that needs doing to complete Asmodeus' will," she continued. "With the coming of spring, the Fire-Axe moves his horde against the city of Daveryn. Your army, what remains of it, is needed there. You are needed there. Our master, Cardinal Thorn instructs you to depart this place and find passage to Daveryn to rendezvous with the army of Sakkarot Fire-Axe. You may even help personally with the sack of the city if you wish. Once Daveryn is ashes we will speak again.”
"We lost one of ours," Katarina interrupted. "What about Dorian? Can you or Cardinal Thorn return him to us?"
Tiadora smiled grimly.
"I fear not, dearest," she said. "Your brother signed the Pact of Thorns, as did you all, save for the ogre. By doing so you consigned your souls to Hell upon your death. Dorian is now in the hands of our lord. You should be happy for him. Now, if there's nothing else...,"
She vanished.
Katarina looked around at her siblings and comrades.
"This deal is getting worse all the time," she said miserably. "Dory is gone! Forever!"
Grumblejack bowed his head.
"We can bury him here," he said. "Seems right. Let him rest in victory over the damned Iomedaens."
"He's right," Tardaesha laughed. "Dorian would love the irony! We'll lay him to rest in the Cathedral of Iomedae Made Manifest itself, and consecrate it anew in Asmodeus' name!"
And that is exactly what they did.


It was still six weeks until the spring thaws would allow the remaining forces of the Nessian Knot to leave the Vale of Valtaerna and join up with the Fireaxe in Daveryn. The rank and file bugbears did not mind the respite, as Sanctum and the Vale still had many diversions to offer. The Dannisters, Roger and Grumblejack, after laying Dorian to rest, spent the first few days shoring up defensive lines to insure that no one escaped the Vale to spread word of their deeds there before they were ready. Afterwards, Kelvin spent some time studying the Stygian Mirror they had recovered from the vault of Saint Angelo, and discovered that the bone devils bound within it were called Skaerabus and Skraeth. They could only be freed by breaking the mirror, which Kelvin promised to do if they would agree to serve him as personal advisors for the next one-hundred years. What was one century to such immortal creatures? They agreed and Kelvin had the contract devil Dessiter draw up an ironclad pact.

After the first week, when all seemed settled in the Vale, the Nessian Knot, using Kelvin's teleportation magic, returned to Ghastenhall and the tomb of Prince Gaius Vestromo. He had already received word of their victory from his spawn, and he was anxious to take possession of his family chalice. When Kelvin offered it to him filled with the living blood of Ara Mathra the vampire lord did something that was both terrible and strangely beguiling....he smiled.
"You have fulfilled your part of the bargain and more," he said as he drank deeply from the cup, his face flushed and suffused with newfound vigor. "Therefore I will now offer you my greatest I have not given freely in over a century. If you ask it of me I will grant each of you the boon of immortality."
The companions glanced at one another, not entirely sure what it was the undead prince was offering.
"You mean spend the rest of our lives as one of them skulking, blood-sucking boot-lickers you got running around here?" Lemmy asked.
"Ahem," Kelvin interrupted. "What my friend means is are you offering us the "opportunity" to become your spawn?"
"Not at all," Gaius laughed. "I respect you far too much for that. No, what I offer is the true path to eternal life. I will make you my equals, as I see potential in you. With a lifetime of lifetimes, we could accomplish many great things together."
"I'm in," Tardaesha said without hesitation.
"Well I'll be damned if I'm going to let you live forever and have all the fun without me," Dakota chimed in.
"Not me!" Lemmy bellowed. "I ain't gonna be no blood-sucker, and I don't even know how I feel about being around blood-suckers in general!"
"Duly noted," Tardaesha winked at him.
"I think that I too will remain mortal....for now," Roger said cryptically.
Dakota looked at her sisters incredulously.
"Are you two serious?" she blurted. "You are actually considering becoming vampires? Undead? Why??"
"Why not, is the question you should be asking yourself," Tardaesha replied. "We have started down a path that may well take more than one lifetime to see to fruition. Father always had aspirations for our family. This way the Dannister name will be assured of carrying on for all eternity."
"Yeah, especially since I'm pregnant!" Dakota laughed.
It seemed impossible for Katarina's mouth to open any wider, yet her chin almost hit the floor.
"Oh come now!" Dakota grinned. "Surely you didn't think I was keeping Timeon around just for his skills with a bow? Although he is a straight shooter!"
Tardaesha guffawed, Lemmy right along with her. Roger just shook his head.
"Now, now," Dakota chided the big half-orc. "You had your chance, but you blew it. Now I'm a one-man least until Timmy dies of old age. We plan on getting married to make it all official before we leave for Daveryn. Can't have a Dannister scion being a bastard."
"Unbelievable!" Katarina threw up her hands. "Just when I think I've seen everything from you and Tardaesha, you come up with some new atrocity. Fine. Whatever. I'm still not becoming a vampire. Kelvin, can you talk some sense into them?"
She turned to her brother only to find him deep in thought.
"You know," he said after a moment, "I've always dreamed of having an infinite amount of time to continue my research into the nature of magic. This could be the answer."
"I give up," Kat said as she turned towards the door. "The three of you can live happily ever after as far as I'm concerned. Just don't even think about putting coffins anywhere near where I'm sleeping."

Prince Gaius offered to make the transition a gradual one, over a course of weeks, as it could be an uncomfortable process. The three Dannisters declined. They were eager to embrace the gift and so, on the next full moon, Dakota, Tardaesha and Kelvin Dannister died. The following evening, as Katarina, Lemmy, Grumblejack and Roger stood vigil around their graves in the Ghastenhall cemetery, the rose again. Each of them reveled in their new forms and wasted no time experimenting with turning to mist or into bats or wolves. They cut themselves only to watch the wounds instantly heal, and they summoned the creatures of the night to them. Then, finally, they went out into the darkness to hunt the streets of Ghastenhall for their first meals. Their living companions watched them go with mixed emotions. Assuredly they had become much more powerful, and they would need that power in the coming days if they were to see Thorn's plans come to fruition, but Katarina and the others could not help but wonder at what cost such a victory might be achieved.


Woah - three vampires! I've one in my party (a replacement character) and the domination ability is brutal. Mind you, there's also a dread necromancer with six million HD of undead so there's that. Say - how come the PCs can die and become vampires, but not be raised? Seems odd. I haven't had a death yet, so I'm interested in how to work that all out.
My guys finished book two last night. They used their third "wish" to have Vetra-Kali serve Asmodeus faithfully for 666 weeks! I'm not sure what to do with that one yet :-D


Woah - three vampires! I've one in my party (a replacement character) and the domination ability is brutal. Mind you, there's also a dread necromancer with six million HD of undead so there's that. Say - how come the PCs can die and become vampires, but not be raised? Seems odd. I haven't had a death yet, so I'm interested in how to work that all out.
My guys finished book two last night. They used their third "wish" to have Vetra-Kali serve Asmodeus faithfully for 666 weeks! I'm not sure what to do with that one yet :-D

The party dynamic just changed epically! We are about mid-way trough The Devil My Only Master, so they have been vamps for awhile, and it has been very entertaining. Challenging for me as well. What do you throw at PC's who are immune to mind-affects and most things that require FORT saves??
As for their deaths, I played as though since they were already afflicted with vampirism prior to thei deaths, Asmodeus would be pleased to have them return and continue wreaking havoc in his name.

Nice wording on that wish! My guys are just learning that they are going to regret not having put greater restrictions on Vetra-Kali!!


First Post
Nice Update JollyDoc!

My guys are just learning that they are going to regret not having put greater restrictions on Vetra-Kali!!

Good luck with that, did you forget that we are vampires?... plus Vetra-Kali would never hurt a pregnant Vampire would it? Just Joking... ;)

I will say that it has been awesome playing an evil story in addition to getting to play a vampire (which i have never had the opportunity to do).



They stood together in the tavern Lemmy had "liberated" in Sanctum. Lemmy, GrumbleJack, Roger, and Kat each raised a cup and toasted. Normally Kat was not invited to these get-togethers. The dwarf had no great love for, and did not hide his dislike of the Danister's, especially since three of them had voluntarily become vampires, but killing a phoenix together tended to make for strange bedfellows.
Grumblejack's deep voice rumbled,"To the death of a mighty enemy and a mightier friend and teacher."
Up went the cups of Triple L, aka Lemmy's Ludicrous Lemonade. The dwarf was always trying new names for his rotgut. First it burned, then came tart sweet flavor and finally the warmth. Kat still felt out of place as old war stories were swapped with embellishment among the others. Laughter rang out as more drink was consumed, and before long random bugbears began to wander in to investigate the noise. Within the hour one group of bugbears was playing music, while another brought in food, and soon the party was in full swing. Eventually Kat began using sleight of hand to limit her drinks. A buzz was all well and good but she lived or died by her senses, and she would not have them dulled.
Soon Grumblejack drunkenly declared another toast, "To Dorian, whose wisdom and faith made him the strongest of us all!!"
Giggling at the drunken ogre, Kat replied, "Dory did always keep us grounded".
From somewhere in the crowd a bugbear snorted derisively, "Dory sounds like the name of a weak..."
He did not finish the statement as Kat's dagger plunged into his throat. Tears and the fury of Hell in her eyes, Kat screamed, "His name was Dorian to all of you! None of you forget his sacrifice!"
A meaty hand fell on her shoulder, and turning she saw Lemmy. Slurring his speech, he proclaimed loudly, "Of all them damn Dannisters other than this one, I hated him least! Now you!" He drained his cup and pointed to the nearest bugbear. "Throw that corpse out of my bar and everyone get another drink." When he turned back, Kat was gone.
Out on the streets Kat walked alone with her thoughts. It had been too much. She could still feel the heat from Lemmy's hand. Dory used to do that. It never failed to comfort her, and he would tease her saying, "Well Kat, do I give you milk and scratch your belly next?" She would never protest because he, more than any other, reminded her of their father. As the tears streamed down her face and the sniffles echoed in the darkness memories began to take her once more....
The Tavern had not been in the best side of town. It was where the dock workers and day laborers came to drink, find a whore and, when needed, consult a barrister. When Dapper entered the bar with his assistant the music and conversations stopped. His preferred seat was quickly emptied and a cup of his favorite wine was brought to him. Only once he'd casually waved his hand did the tavern go back to its normal merriment.
Tardesha's job was to schmooze with the Lords and Ladies of the court, but Dapper Dorian was a man of the people. The very bar he sat in had been saved from being shut down due to a loop hole he had found. If you needed things done, you came to Dapper Dory. Between his legal skill and the Dannisters' deep pockets and connections, nothing was impossible. The best part was that most cases were pro bono, something a low payed dock worker was happy to reimburse with favors such as forgetting to load a certain crate.
It was like any other night until two guardsman came in and, without preamble, walked up to the bar.
"Jerome your liquor license is expired and we are bringing you in," one of them proclaimed to the bartender.
Jerome sputtered, "That's not true! I just renewed it!"
"Our records and the warrant I'm carrying say different," the constable replied.
Jerome glanced at Dorian, who nodded slightly.
"Well you're in luck," the bartender said. "My legal representative just happens to be here this evening, so you can take this matter up with him."
The constable turned to look where the Jerome was pointing and ran right into Kat. Sneering and shoving past her, he sauntered over to Dorian's table and cleared his throat.
"We have all the needed paperwork, as you can see, Sir," he said to Dorian. "No need to make this harder for the good man. You should give him wise council..."
The "or else" hung in the air unsaid. He began to fumble around in a heavy silk purse, and a few tense minutes passed as he patted himself all over. Dorian simply continued to drink the wine Kat had returned with. Finally he spoke.
"It seems Lady Jillian has given you nothing but a bunch of lies and a death wish. Look around you."
Every eye in the tavern was cut their way, filled with menace and the promise of violence. The constable paled as Dorian continued.
"I like this tavern and under Talingard law section 5.6, accusations not backed by warrant can be reported with a minimum of 3 witnesses. I'm sure I have more than enough. You return to your employer and inform her to use another plot of land to build her shop. Also, spread the word to anyone else willing to take her coin how little value it actually has. In addition, I'm certain every one of the patrons in this establishment could use a drink. We would not want a group of angry dock workers with access to valuable cargo that could mysteriously disappear angry at you, would we?"
The constable blanched and quickly took the heavy silk purse that should have held the legal documents he had brought with him, and placed it on the bar muttering, "Drinks are on me," and then hastily left. Kat handed him a binder as he passed, the stolen papers now inside. The laughter throughout the bar went unnoticed by Dorian as he resumed reading. He laid a gentle hand absently on his sister's head.
"Nice pick," he said after a few moments, "and before you ask how I knew, her maid came in last month, crying and saying that Lady Jillian was trying to take her cousin's inheritance, citing some crazy made up debt they shared. I merely filed the correct papers to have the funds frozen, charged her the full amount and then seized it as my payment two weeks later, after which I returned it to her in full. And to answer your next unspoken question, yes, the maid was VERY grateful. She informed me of this play last week."
When all the drinks had been poured, one man stood and raised his glass. " To Dapper!" The chant filled the tavern.
Kat suddently realized she had come full circle and was once again standing outside the Tavern. As she went back inside, the tears for her fallen brother finally came. The room fell silent as she picked up a full glass and raised it.
"To Dapper Dorian Dannister!"
The once-holy city shook with the chanting of his name.


Of Dragons and Princesses - 8 Pharast, 4718 - 9 Pharast, 4718

Six weeks later, once the snows had thawed enough to make the route into the Vale of Valtaerna passable, the Nessian Knot marched out at the head of the remains of their rag-tag army. The bugbear commander Shagoroth Night-mane looked appreciatively at the carnage they were leaving behind and chuckled.
"I don't think we're getting invited back."
They made their way north through the pass, and then turned southeast for Daveryn.

Once clear of the mountains, the Knot took their leave of their troops, trusting their bugbear commanders to get them the rest of the way safely. The newly-turned vampires were not enthusiastic about the idea of several days travel overland, hiding by daylight, their vulnerable coffins exposed to potential threats. Instead, Kelvin gathered everyone close to him as the moon rose high in the night sky and teleported them all instantaneously outside the walls of Daveryn, a city of sixty-thousand, the jewel of Talingarde's western coast. They arrived expecting to find a city under siege. Instead they found it in ruins. It seemed that the Fire-Axe had gotten restless and decided to make his assault without reinforcements. He was apparently successful. Everywhere bugbears camped, having built great bonfires from wrecked homes and shops. Ogres, trolls, goblins and even giants moved amongst the detritus and debris searching for loot and survivors.

Their arrival did not go unnoticed, and it was not long before a bugbear runner came for them, telling them that the Fire-Axe requested their presence. They were led inside the city walls to where the bugbear leader had set up his headquarters in the City Hall. The Fire-Axe struck an impressive figure when they were brought into his presence. He was no longer clad in ill-fitting stolen knight's armor. Instead, he wore a black suit of infernal armor, a gift for sacking the city from Thorn. He truly looked the part of a dread bugbear tyrant of the north. The city hall itself was crowded with bugbear lords, ogre chieftains, hill giant thugs, scampering goblins and even a frost giant jarl that stood uneasily beside the Fire-Axe. All of them stopped and stared at the companions as they enter the hall. The Fire-Axe rose.
"My lords," he said in a booming voice, "welcome to Daveryn! With your skill at throwing open gates, I had hoped to have your aid. But it seems this city could not wait to fall beneath my killers' blades. ”
That earned a clamorous yell from the assembled throng.
"Come," Sakkarot said, "We have matters to attend to.”

The companions followed the Fire-Axe out of the main hall to a private chamber. The mayor's chambers, where once the future well-being of Daveryn was plotted, had become the Fire-Axe's war room. The accommodations were much more spacious than the cramped Westkirk castle and much more civilized than the war camp north of the Watch Wall. The Fire-Axe sent away his lieutenants and underlings to be alone with the Knot.
“Are you here on a mission?” he asked without preamble once they were alone.
“I have one for you if you are not, and if you're interested. The Duke of Daveryn has escaped me. It's possible he's just gone. He may have had some magical means of leaving the city, so it may be a fool's errand. But I suspect not. Duke Martin famously hated wizards. I suspect he's holed up in the city somewhere, but so far my killers have failed to find him. I would love to have him dragged before me in chains. It would be good for morale. Other than that, enjoy the city. I care not what you do to this place. I'll be rid of it soon enough. There are pockets of resistance here and there, I'm told. You are welcome to deal with those however you see fit. Or you can simply loot the ruins. I'll warn you though, my killers are thorough. If you want the best treasure, you'll have to find places they can't get. Ah, look at me. Lecturing you like you were whelps. You know all of this.”
He took a long deep drink of wine and suddenly turned more melancholy.
“Truth told," he continued, "that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about. This city was so easily taken because the Duke was an idiot and it was lightly defended. The baron of Westkirk revealed a secret entrance from the sea caves to the palace. Anyone with any sense would have collapsed it as soon as my army drew near, but Duke Martin imagined he could escape through it if things got bad. I have captured a hollow city. Most of the army was missing. They mass in the south under the king's banner. I know it. An army marches towards me led by King Markadian himself. It is an army I cannot hope to defeat on the open field. Do you know anything of this?”
"We have heard rumors to that effect," Kelvin said, "but we saw no sign of them personally."
"What is Thorn's plan to deal with the king's forces?" Sakkarot asked. "He must have one! Yet whenever I speak to the devil-harlot Tiadora all I get are sneers and japes. Do you know Thorn's mind? What does he intend?”
"Alas," Kelvin sighed, "he has been no more forthcoming with us than yourself."
“I was supposed to be victorious against the armies of Talingarde," the Fire-Axe growled. "I was supposed to crush them! That was always the plan! I was only to lose to… ”
The bugbear chieftain paused, cutting his eyes uncertainly at the members of the 9th.
"As I mentioned," Kelvin began, choosing his words cautiously, "Cardinal Thorn has not been very forthcoming with us either. We are given an assignment, and we carry it out, not knowing what waits for us next. At least with you, it seems, he has perhaps revealed a broader picture...?"
Sakkarot paused, collecting his thoughts.
“When Thorn found me," he began, "I was dying, poisoned and weak. I had been outcast from my tribe and branded across my chest with a giant slash from a shaman's obsidian blade – the mark of the defeated and the banished. I was cast out into the ice to die alone and unmourned. Thorn took me in, healed me. He drew the poison from my wound. And with his magic, the scar of the outcast was remade into the Asmodean star. He marked my flesh and my soul – I was then and forever bound to the Cardinal and to the Lord of Hell. Do not think me a victim. Willingly I gave myself to his service. What did I have to lose? All that remained of my old life was death and disgrace. Thorn set me upon another path. The Cardinal said that if I would but serve him, he would give me all I wished for. He has been true to his word. He has made me mighty amongst my people. He has erased the dishonor of banishment and given me a new name. He has bestowed me with mighty gifts. I am most famous for my axe, true enough, but even more than that, he gave me this.”
He reached up and removed an iron circlet that had blended into his black fur.

“This crown of iron – it makes me wise and wary. I am able to speak to my people with authority. It makes me truly worthy of being a king.”
He replaced it and it again faded from view.
“But there was always a price. In time, I will face an army not of Talireans but of those under the banner of Asmodeus. And when I face that army, I will lead my force to utter destruction and defeat. All those who chant my name and honor me now, I will betray. My killers have become like my children and upon the altar of war, I will sacrifice them for the glory of Asmodeus the most high. Then I will go to the Throne of Iron far in the north. I will serve there for the rest of my life at the side of Thorn. My time of glory will be over. Then begins my time of service to pay for what I have been given.”
He took another deep drink, emptying the wine bottle.
“I enjoy every day of my dominion. I savor every moment of my prize.”
He smashed the wine bottle against the far wall.
“But I know it will not last."


After their meeting with the Fire-Axe, the Nessian Knot was left to their own devices. Katarina began wandering amongst the encamped troops, searching for any rumors that might lead to information about the Duke's whereabouts. She overheard two bugbears talking about a "damn wizard" that was still hold up in his tower in the artisans district of Bandelthyn.
"Anyone gets near the place gets fried," one of them grumbled.
Kat recalled Sakkarot saying something about the Duke hating wizards, so that seemed as good a place to start as any.

She had no trouble finding the tower once she reached Bandelthyn. It was one of the few buildings still intact in the district. She made her way cautiously up to its door, certain she would trigger some arcane trap at any moment, but was pleasantly surprised to find the portal not only trap-free, but also unlocked. Blending seemlessly into the shadows, she quietly opened the door and crept inside. The lower floor was typical of what she expected to find in a wizard's lair: jumbles of books, scrolls and parchments overflowing various tables and desks. A single spiral staircase wound up to the second floor, where Kat could see the flickering of lamp light. Stealthy as a breeze, she moved upwards until she came to a combination work room/bedroom. An old man sat with his back to her at a desk, furiously scribbling with quill and ink. He hummed softly to himself and seemed to have no clue that he was being watched. Kat settled down to wait and observe. He would have to sleep sooner or later.


While Kat was away on her secret mission, Kelvin, Lemmy, Roger and Grumblejack ventured to the noble district of Duward in search of records that might divulge any bolt holes where the Duke might be holed up. On the way, they encountered a group of bugbears camped outside a small tower.
"What is this place?" Kelvin asked one of the bugbears.
The creature turned on him with a snarl, prepared to eat the pathetic human who dared speak to him. When he saw the hulking winged ogre standing behind the wizard, however, his jaw dropped open and he took several steps back.
"S..s....sable Tower," he stammered. "S'posed to be where the Dukess jooles is hidden. We seen'em! Sittin' out just as plain as you like, but they's trapped. Five of our brothers already tried to take'em. Got fried."

Kelvin nodded and thanked the guard for the information. Then he and his companions simply strode into the tower, to the disbelief and consternation of the surrounding humanoids. Inside and upstairs they found an open room, at the center of which was a locked glass case. Inside where the crown, scepter and ceremonial robe of Daveryn on display in all their bejeweled splendor. It would seem, at first glance, that all one had to do was walk across the room and smash the glass case. Of course, the five blasted bugbear corpses laying around it demonstrated that would be a singularly bad idea. Kelvin concentrated for a moment and then pointed towards a brilliant sapphire held in a golden cage hanging from the ceiling.
"The magic's coming from there," he said. "Give me a moment."
He focused again and spoke the words to an incantation of dispelling. The light and energy around the gem immediately vanished.
"There," Kelvin said. "It's only temporary, but should be long enough."
Roger walked over to the case and smashed it open with his sword, then picked up the treasures and stuffed them in a sack.

When the companions came back out of the tower, one particularly large bugbear strode up to them.
"What you find?" he asked.
"Nothing," Kelvin shrugged. "It was all an illusion meant to lure in thieves. Nothing more to see."
With that, he turned and walked away, leaving the bewildered bugbears to stare after him, wondering what had just happened.


'Were are they??' Kat wondered to herself for the tenth time in as many minutes.
Kelvin had contacted her via a sending spell, checking up on her as he was wont to do, but this time she didn't mind it. Especially after she had heard the old wizard speaking some strange tongue to what appeared to be thin air, after which someone, or something had replied in the same language. Kat hadn't seen anyone else enter nor leave the tower. She had told Kelvin about her particular predicament and he had told her they were on their way. That had been ten minutes ago. She remained crouched in the shadows, trying to stay out of line of sight of the upper windows of the tower. She heard voices and footsteps behind her...loud ones. She cursed her bumbling friends and relatives, who couldn't be low-key if their lives depended on it.

"Who's down there?"
The voice had come from the upper tower.
"Leave now or face the wrath of Polydorus!"
Kelvin smirked and glanced around at the others.
"Really, Kat?" he asked his little sister. "This is what you called us for?"
Before Kat could snap back a retort, a whistling sound came from the tower, getting louder and closer rapidly.
"Incoming!" Lemmy bellowed.
An explosion of fire detonated in the midst of the companions, scattering them like leaves in the wind. Kat managed to roll with the brunt of the blast and came quickly to her feet, just in time to see Grumblejack, still struggling to recover from the explosion, get knocked back to the ground from some unseen blow. She grimaced in confusion, and then Lemmy cried out. His head snapped backwards and blood flew out of his nose and mouth but there was no attacker to be seen. He began crawling towards the door of the tower, but then two more blows landed, driving him back down. Kat wasn't sure what was happening, but she knew she didn't like being out in the open like a sitting duck. Sticking to the shadows, she made a break for the tower door, pushed her way inside and crept quickly up the stairs.

Grumblejack drew his massive greatsword and begin flailing wildly around him as he struggled to his feet. Nearby, Roger stood up and drew upon his small repertoire of prayers to allow him to see the unseen. Immediately he saw several humanoid figures surrounding his friends. They floated several inches off the ground and moved with the grace of clouds on a breeze. Just as he was about to shout a warning to the others, a bolt of lightning struck from the top of the tower and sent every muscle in his body into spasmodic writhing. One of the invisible stalkers flew at him while he was defenseless and slammed him to the ground again. Another clubbed Grumblejack in the back of his skull, while a third hammered into Lemmy one last time before the dwarf managed to drag himself into the tower and slam the door behind him.

Katarina reached the top of the tower stairs just as the wizard turned away from the window. To Kat's shocked surprise, Polydorus stared directly at her. She flicked a dagger his way, but the old man was spry for his age and he ducked aside as the blade flew past him to stick in the wall behind. Kat prepared to charge him before he could use his magic against her, but that's when the entire upper floor of the tower erupted in an inferno. Kat leaped backwards and tumbled down the stairs, leaving her only mildly singed. When she looked back up, she saw only smoke billowing from the second floor. She didn't see how anyone could have survived that. Kelvin's handiwork, more than likely.

Grumblejack finally managed to connect with something solid in his random sword swings, and when he did so it was spectacular. He heard an inhuman wail rise up and then vanish on the wind.
"You got one!" Roger called, giving him a thumbs-up.
The anti-paladin then turned to his own foe and drove his sword through where he felt its heart should have been. He was rewarded to see it dissolve into nothingness as its shriek joined that of its brother. He turned around just as Grumblejack went down again, a pair of the stalkers raining blow after blow on his head. Then Roger was struck again from behind as well. He whirled, hand outstretched, and channeled unholy power into the creature behind him. It erupted into black flames that burned it instantly to ash. At that moment, Katarina leaped from the upper window of the still-smoking tower and landed nimbly near Grumblejack, plunging two daggers into the back of one of the stalkers as she did. It vanished, as did another one when Kelvin loosed another fireball, this time in the midst of both friends and foes, though the flames only touched their opponents.
"Only two left!" Roger shouted to Grumblejack.
"Make that one!" Grumblejack growled back as he thrust his sword behind him and impaled another Stalker through sheer luck.
Roger turned to face the last one, but then the tower door creaked open and Lemmy, still on his belly, sent a blast of metal shards tearing into the stalker, ripping it to shreds.


Despite Kelvin's explosive intervention, much of the wizard's books and journals remained intact. Likely the old man had warded them against just such an eventuality, given the volatile nature of magic in general. Among his writings, Kat discovered a diary in which Polydorus revealed that, unlike every other remaining resident in Daveryn, he was not trapped. He was waiting. As the horde of the Fire-Axe approached, he promised that if Duke Martin could get to his tower in Bandelthyn, the wizard would teleport the lord to safety. The duke had scoffed at his offer.
“They will never take this city in a hundred years!” Duke Martin had boasted.
Daveryn fell in less than two days. Still, Polydorus intended to honor his promise. He hoped that by saving the duke he could change the way wizards were viewed throughout all of the kingdom of Talingarde.

There was also a strange letter written on a scrap of untanned skin, with jagged writing as if it had been etched by a claw:
To Polydorus, Seer of Daveryn, Unwinged but wise:

Behold, I the Stormborn King need your counsel. I have taken Chargammon's whelp, the black dragon Jeratheon Knightsbane. He foolishly tried to lay claim to my dominion and by talon and thunderbolt did we humble this night hunter. My heart speaks to slay this monster and see his evil forever removed from both earth and sky. Still, I worry this would bring the wrath of his sire.

So I send to you. What say the stars? Will the death of Jeratheon invite disaster or will it bring only justice and relief? I await your word.

I remain the Lord of All Eagles and the Stormborn King

Kelvin was not sure what to make of the letter, but they also discovered a book written by Polydorus entitled Dragons of Talingarde, which detailed the five greatest dragons of the land:
Antharia Regina – a silver elder wyrm from the north not seen in a century; mother of Argossarian; presumed dead. She could take human form and loved to move amongst mortals.

Eiramanthus the Traveller – an ancient copper dragon famed for his planar travels. It mentioned his three beloved consorts who would die to defend him: Setia Swims-the- Sea-of-Stars; Sakura Yoshimune of the Toshigami; and Shakti Shobhana the Redeemed.

Chargammon the Black – a black dragon elder wyrm. “The vilest serpent in a nest of vipers;” It gave the location of his lair. This beast had spawned more than twenty- seven young, many of which still troubled the world. Amongst them:

Jeratheon Knightsbane – an adult black dragon and hunter of men. He dwelt in the swamps of the Caer Bryr.

Nythoggr, Striker-in-the-Dark – An ancient cairn linnorm of the Savage North of whom little was known.

"Mysteries for another day," Kelvin sighed, tucking the book into his robes.
He, for one, had no intention of hunting down any more dragons any time soon.

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