The original Rise of the Runelords adventure path from Paizo, which our GM adapted from 3.5/OGL to the PFRPG system, started in September, 2010 and ran until Karzoug was defeated exactly five years later in September, 2015.
In the sleepy coastal town of Sandpoint, evil is brewing. An attack by crazed goblins during the annual Swallowtail Festival quickly turns into something more ominous as the shadows of a dark past come back to haunt the town—and perhaps all of Varisia. Can the heroes stop the awakening of a legendary runelord and keep him from reclaiming his lost kingdom of greed?
Cast of Characters
- Avia, female human Paladin of Sarenrae, played by Cassandra
- Derelden, male human Monk (deceased), played by Chris
- Kanelbene, halfling Cleric of Desna, played by Mike
- Kyras, male human Ranger (retired), played by Mike
- Nolin, male human Fighter, played by John
- Olithar, male human Cleric of Sarenrae (deceased), played by Leonard
- Rarallo, male elf Wizard (retired), played by Chris
- Rigel, female human Rogue, played by Beth
- Sabin, male half-orc Eldritch Knight, played by Darren
- Sedjwick, male human Bard, played by Kevin
- Takkad, male human Cleric, played by Leonard
- Trask, male human Sorceror, played by Rick
Toilday, Lamashan 28
There was a pointed but quick discussion among the party. I expressed my concern about being able to return from another plane, but Takkad or Kane said they had Plane Shift. That took me to the side of entering – this is what we’d been working towards and now it was time to meet the real Karzoug.
Takkad cast True Seeing on himself to see if there were any unseen issues on the other side of the portal. Nothing could be seen from this side, but we weren’t sure if True Seeing would work across a gate. He did report he could see misty, ghostly walls that seemed to be moving, or swarming. There were 16 evenly spaced columns of fire which lit the “room” up and, for all we knew, also kept it warm. There was a giant – no, huge – purple gem in the center of the room surrounded by bands of gold. (Rigel’s mouth dropped as she gaped at it.) Kane cast Spell Turning on himself while Avia brought forth a magic circle. Nolin quaffed a potion of Fly while Sedgewick buffed up his charisma with Eagle’s Splendor. Sabin cast haste.
Takkad suggested we not all bunch together as if waiting for a fireball. I bristled a bit, but he was right.
We were nearly ready. I cast telepathic bond among myself and most of the group (everyone but Sabin, Sedgewick, and Kane) so that they could communicate silently with each other on the other side. Takkad cast Holy Aura which would grant us some amazing enhancements for a short time. Rigel, of course, went invisible and Kane finally stepped through. “Status lost,” reported Takkad – so that’s one thing that wouldn’t work across planes (no big surprise, really.) Avia activated her boots, and Nolin also stepped through. Sabin and Sedgewick quickly followed. Then I entered.
There was an immediate, distracting sensation as I entered, but it faded quickly. And if I’ve learned anything in my adventures, it’s to think in three dimensions. Since nothing appeared to be threatening us on the ground, I immediately looked up upon entering and saw an ugly bipedal creature floating there with – was it gems? – embedded in his skin, that I figured must be Karzoug. Telepathically, one of my companions confirmed it, so I shrugged and did what was expected of me. I threw a fireball at him while my friends were not near him. He shrugged it off, but I think both he and my friends would have been disappointed had I not. It’s not like I wasted it, because I communicated through the link that it failed because of his spell resistance. Besides, if needed, I had 32 more fireballs I could cast (although, sadly, not all at once.)
Takkad entered after me, glanced at Karzoug, and communicated that “what we see is what we get”. He was not an image, he was not an illusion – he was the real deal. Then Karzoug announced, “Let’s finish this” or something like that and … four fireballs flew from his hand and exploded in a mostly overlapping fashion. My natural fire resistance helped some, and I was able to dodge a bit, leaving me only modestly injured, but he seemed to suddenly change position in an awkward and almost impossible fashion, like he teleported to the same spot but not precisely the same spot. But an instant after seeing this, I was able to guess he’d used a spell I was aware of but had never seen: Time Stop. He’d just given himself the opportunity to do more in an instant than we could do in half a minute. This would likely not be good. I knew, though, that the spell could not be used to specifically attack a person, but he’d have a chance to heal himself, buff himself, and perhaps toss out some area effect spells.
And sure enough, a yellow fog immediately dropped to the ground and began to spread out. It was cloudkill – we were strong enough it wouldn’t likely kill us but it would force us to move because, well, it was still a fog and blocked the sight for everyone on the ground (except maybe for Takkad, but he was already in the air). Avia entered and moved up to engage Karzoug, while Nolin straight off did a charge, doing some real damage to Karzoug and, I think, catching him by surprise.
For my next trick, I stepped a distance out of the cloudkill and cast Greater Dispel at Karzoug, and discovered that he’d also set up a Spell Turning. It came back to me, and fortunately, I was unable to dispel any of the spells on myself (primarily Holy Aura and Haste). I grinned, because Greater Dispel was high enough level that it would have used up a lot of the spell turning, and the next spell anybody cast at him would likely have at least some partial effect. I wasn’t doing any damage, but I was slowly stripping down his magical protections and that’s just as useful.
Sabin quietly moved up behind Karzoug. Karzoug was now flanked.
Takkad channeled energy to help most of the people affected by the cloud and the fireballs. But Karzoug’s glaive threw yet another fireball – you read that right; his glaive was an intelligent artifact and capable of aiding in his defense, and it damaged not only Takkad but also Avia and Nolin. Karzoug also clawed feebily at Nolin, whose protective rune of Greed ironically sent at least as much if not more cold damage back to Karzoug. Karzoug, incensed, sent a quickened lightning spell at Nolin, dinging him up noticeably.
A greater air elemental appeared alongside Karzoug and smacked him, and I saw Kane grin.
And then our trio of fighters laid low the mighty Rune Lord of Greed. First Avia, and then Nolin got 4 hasted attacks on him and cut him up badly. A contingency spell sprung into effect, making him gaseous, but Nolin simply smiled and his magical axe inflicted even more damage upon the gaseous form.
He regained solid form and fell to the floor below with a surprisingly-pleasing thud.
With his death, there was a tremendous flood of blindingly (literally; Sedgewick was blinded by it) white light as the mass of souls which had been trapped in (or formed the basis of?) the walls surrounding this small alternate plane were all released at once. The massive release of positive energy immediately healed everyone (although Sedgewick remained blinded) and we found ourselves at the base of the tower we had ascended the previous day. The remnants of the runewell were freezing in the harsh cold. And the corporeal remains of a Rune Lord.
Because it’s a habit we’ve developed, we removed his head.
Kane healed Sedgewick, and we began to look at things remaining on Karzoug’s body.
There were about 20 ioun gems that had been embedded in his body, but every last one of them was now shattered.
 Glaive, intelligent, neutral evil and transmutational. It possessed a keen intellect, and was able to flame and dance. It possessed dark vision and could speak via telepathy. Once a day it could cast major image. Three times a day it could cure moderate wounds on its wielder. It could cast fairy fire, and it had fireball as a dedicated power. Its “life purpose” was to defeat spellcasters. And it. Would. Not. Shut. Up.
 Rod of greater quicken. 3/day up to level 9.
 wand of blood money 
 wand of dispel magic 
 wand of stoneskin 
 belt of great strength +6
 boots of dexterity +6
 sihedron tome. Can hold an infinite number of spells, and a spellcaster could prepare spells as +6 intelligence.
 Robes of Xin Shalast – +6 AC, SR 24, aids casting by casting as +1 caster level. 2 pockets are handy haversacks and wearer is comfortable at all elevations.
 ring of protection +5
 ring of freedom of movement
 amulet of Greed. Just pretty now – it was attuned to the runewell in Karzoug’s special plane, and granted the wearer +5 AC, removed the need for food or water, fly ability, and the ability to heal rapidly from wounds.
 ruby inscribed with rune of wrath ~1100gp
 1500 gp of ruby dust
 10000gp of powdered gemstones
 Talons of Lun. Ornately worked gloves with fine gold filigree. +3 attack bonus (1d4 x2), crit does x3, will save at DC20 or victim goes permanently insane. (save for 1 rd of confusion instead). Wearer is immune to insanity and confusion, but WI -2 due to constant voices in head.
We decided to permanently destroy the runewell to permanently disable the amulet. Nolin, Sabin, and Avia used it for target practice and soon it was rubble (and ice). We decided the glaive must be destroyed (somehow) and Karzoug must be destroyed (somehow) so that he cannot be resurrected by a misguided soul. Various ideas were tossed about on how to do that; the most sane seemed to involve a bag of holding and portable hole.
The cracked runewell gem is still likely to be very valuable, even with a huge fracture. So we will take it with us:
 large cracked purple gem
Given what is here, that we haven’t even picked up, we will be as wealthy as we want. But we also have some larger issues to consider.
1) This is also an archaelogical treasure. How much should be preserved, and left for scholars?
2) This city already has residents. While we need to figure out a suitable way to let them know Karzoug is dead, we also have to consider what group (or person) might try to seize control of the city, especially in consideration of possible visitors seeking 1)?
3) Thinking of 1) and 2) intersecting … what level of responsibility do we want to take on regarding visitors’ safety, given that few people can find the city without us telling them?
For a group that started by battling goblins in Sandpoint, we’ve come a long way. There is a lot of talk about people’s plans – many border on “retiring”. On the one hand, you could say I’ve been lucky to make it this far. On the other hand, I’m still a young adult. I feel I’ve got more in me yet.
I think I’ll check with Father and see how the store is doing. Maybe we can feed some of our artifacts through both Derell in Sandpoint and my father in Korvosa. But I also want to hear what the rest are doing. If there’s another interesting journey to be had, I might be up for that.
== Toilday, Lamashan 28, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; afternoon ==
With True Seeing cast I looked through the portal and saw a vast cylindrical chamber more than a hundred yards in diameter. The walls were fog-like, but I could see faces moving about the surface, pushing up against it to reveal their gaunt features, as if the fog were an elastic membrane holding in a horde of souls, each trying to escape.
Sixteen columns of eerie fire were evenly spaced about the chamber, fully illuminating the space with their sickly glow.
An intricate pattern of channels was carved into the floor, which led to disturbing speculations to its purpose.
In the dead center of the room was a giant diamond shaped pool. Suspended above that by a large metal ring was an enormous bluish purple gem, girdled by a gold band with the rune of greed engraved upon it.
We had no plan, but it was obvious we were going enter. I called out a few recommended tactics:
“Wait until I cast a protective spell on us all before moving in. And do not gather on the other side: spread out as much as possible. If you can fly or move through the air, get off the ground and increase the distance between each of us.”
Karzoug. We knew he was in there, waiting for us, and I wanted to provide as much protection as possible for us all, and so I cast Holy Aura. My other suggestion was just common sense: there was no need in making ourselves easy targets for every area effect spell he might know.
Others cast their own spells and Nolin quaffed a potion. Sabin hasted many of us, and Trask linked some via a telepathic bond.
Kane stepped through first.
Immediately I lost track of him via the Status spell, but we already guessed that the portal led to another plane, and so this came as no surprise. We watched through the shimmering field as he stepped to the left and out of view.
Nolin then stepped through and flew upward.
Sabin followed, with Sedjewick close behind, and they moved straight in.
Trask passed through and over to the left, and we could see him look up as he began to move his hands.
I activated my boots and flew in and straight up. I was greeted immediately by a warning from Nolin, “Karzoug is directly above you — see if it is just an image.”
“Oh, it’s definitely him,” I replied.
He was about twenty feet above me, glaring down at us. Gems were embedded in his skin, and he wore a magnificent cloak. In his right hand was a flaming glave. He had long and deadly looking finger nails that looked like claws.
I could tell from the smell of baked dust that Trask must have launched a fireball at Karzoug, but the runelord appeared unfazed.
Karzoug barked, “Enough of this!” and pointed a finger in our direction. Four sparks flew out and around the room before each exploded as a fireball.
Karzoug then did… something. It was confusing to watch. He was floating there in one pose after casting his Meteor Storm spell, and then instantly he was standing slightly off to one side with a totally different posture.
But on the floor something more obvious had changed: a thick cloud of heavy yellow vapor spread out along the floor, engulfing my companions. I could tell some of them were poisoned, and realized that somehow Karzoug had managed to cast Cloud Kill without us noticing him do it.
Rigel entered at that moment — I could not see her, but she popped back into presence of my Status spell. She seemed totally unaffected by the cloud.
Avia came through and I sent her a quick update via the telepathic channel. She looked up and flew straight toward Karzoug. Nolin charged and cut into the runelord, claiming the first real blood of the battle. I flew over to provide healing support, and planned to maybe give Karzoug a few surprises of my own.
And then Sabin moved up behind Karzoug.
Down on the floor Sedjewick ran out from the poisonous cloud and over to the fountain. He still managed to sing a song of courage, despite the occasional cough or sputter.
Trask tried to use Greater Dispel Magic (one of my personal favorite tactics), but it rebounded back onto himself. Mercifully it did not cancel his magical protections.
Karzoug’s flaming glave then lept from his hand and launched a fireball at Avia, Nolin and I.
Karzoug clawed at Nolin, but the latter’s Rune of Wrath inflicted cold damage in return.
“Eat quickened lightening bolts!” Karzoug quipped as he zapped Nolin with arcs of electricity.
A giant air elemental appeared beside us and bashed Karzoug. I could hear Kane snicker below.
Avia closed the distance and landed a series of incredibly heavy blows, followed immediately by savage attack from Nolin.
A momentary look of pain and confusion crossed Karzoug’s face before he transformed into a cloud of gas.
Sabin wasted no time in slicing through the cloud with his ax, and Karzoug transformed back into his normal form. But now he was just a corpse.
There was a blindingly bright flash of white light, and the souls I had seen in the walls whipped around into a massive whirlwind which encompassed the entire chamber.
When the light faded we found ourselves at the base of the center of the spire. The pool, Karzoug’s runewell, had also been transported here, although it was quickly freezing over, and Karzoug’s body was there too.
His glave tried lamely to continue the fight, even after we told it to stand down or face destruction. It blustered on in the way the insane and egotistical usually do before dropping to the ground.
Wait, what? That was it?
We quickly gathered around Karzoug’s body, and Sabin removed his head — detached head and body were then placed in separate bags of holding.
Oddly enough all of the injuries we had suffered within the cylindrical chamber had been healed. But Sedjewick had been struck blind by the great flash of light. Kane quickly sured him of that malady, and we looked over what we had stripped from Karzoug’s body.
 Runelord’s flaming glave. +2 keen flaming glave with dancing and a neutral evil intellect; it possessed dark vision; could hear, read and speak languages; was telepathic; once a day could create a major image; three times a day it could cast Cure Moderate Wounds upon its wielder; it could cast Faery Fire; and it had Fireball as a dedicated power
 rod of greater quicken: 3 times a day up to level 9 spells
 wand of Blood Money (33 charges)
 wand of Dispel Magic (24 charges)
 +6 belt of giant strength
 +6 boots of dexterity
 Sihedron Tome: a leather bound volume with a sihedron star on the cover. Rumored to have been crafted by a mage dragon during the reign of emperor Xin, this book could hold an infinite number of spells, and could prepare spells as if the caster’s intelligence was +6. It contains all of the spell’s Karzoug knew
 Robes of Xin Shalast. +6 AC; SR 24; spells cast as if caster were at +2 levels; 2 pockets that acted as handy haversacks; immunity to the occlusion field and the effects of high altitudes, including the death zone
 +5 ring of protection
 ring of Freedom of Movement
 Amulet of Greed. Attuned to the runewell such that while in the runewell (where Karzoug was confined) it granted: +5 AC, no need for food or water; fly at will; heal rapidly from wounds
 ruby inscribed with the rune of wrath (for use with Sign of Wrath)
 1,500gp of ruby dust
 10,000gp of gem stone dust
 Talons of Leung: fine gloves with embroidered gold filigree: grants +3 on attack and damage for natural claw attacks (1D4 damage); 3X critical; DC 20 will save on critical or target is insane, otherwise target is only confused; wearer is immune to confusion and insanity; -2 to wisdom as alien voices run through the wearer’s mind
It took Sedjewick’s Legend and Lore ability to identify the glave and the the gloves, but even he was unable to understand the amulet. For that I pulled out the Quill and asked the Peacock spirit.
It was clear that the glave, along the Karzoug’s ex-champion’s sword, would be destroyed. None of us had any desire to allow the continued existence of intelligent evil weapons that took control of those who handled them.
The amulet caused more debate. Some wanted it destroyed and others thought it was now a harmless relic. I was among the latter, and argued that it could do no good (or harm) unless the wearer were inside the runewell. Specifically, “that runewell,” as I pointed to the pool of frozen water before us.
Why not just destroy the runewell itself? It no longer radiated power, and so Nolin, Sabin and Avia hewed it to rubble with their adamantine weapons.
The huge blue-purple gem had been teleported here along with the runewell, but now it was cracked. No matter: it was still valuable, and so we dismounted it from its elaborate set up and took it.
 cracked, huge, blue-purple runewell gem
We spared the metal ring in which it was mounted, thinking we may be able to sell it and the gem stone for a better price than either one alone.
And speaking of prices… we were going to be ridiculously rich. The items we had with us alone were enough to ensure that, but we had left large amounts of incredibly valuable treasure in the spire.
Nolin, Sabin and Kane returned to the spire to ensure all was secure, and when they returned we began to make plans.
It will take quite some time and effort to remove all of the valuables from the spire. We will use our library as a staging area, where we can classify the treasure, divide magical items among ourselves, and then sell the rest… or keep it until we need more cash.
We have come up with a plan for totally destroying the two weapons, plus Karzoug’s remains (no sense risking resurrection) that involves a bag of holding and a portable hole.
We need to alert the remaining inhabitants of Xin Shalast that their leader — in fact all of their leaders — are slain, and they that there is no point in remaining.
Little doubt only lamia and rune giants are all that is left, and it will take physical proof that Karzoug and his aides are all dead. We have all of the bodies, and so this should not present a problem, although we will not allow direct contact with Karzoug’s body (not even a single hair). Perhaps a wall of force can be used to keep them from it.
Nolin wants to topple part of the spire to act as proof. This is not a bad idea, but I fear attempting to do so may cause the entire structure to fall, and we should make sure anything we want has already been removed before trying.
I think we should remove Karzoug’s face from Mhar Massif, which should be straight forward, given enough Earthquake and Stone Shape spells.
Personally I do not care if the lamia and rune giants remain in Xin Shalast, so long as they remain off the plateau and leave us in peace.
While we discussed these short term goals, we also began thinking toward the future.
We will inform our allies in Magnimar and Sandpoint of what has occurred, but will refrain from providing the location of Xin Shalast itself.
For scholars (and the Pathfinder Society) we will reveal the location of Runeforge, and how they can access it, and will provide my maps and notes for their usage. We can sell them some of the Runelord relics we have collected as well.
Most of us want to pay a visit to Sandpoint, where this entire adventure began more than a year before, and relax for a short while before moving on.
But what does “moving on” imply?
Kane and Rigel speak of returning to Fort Rannick (oh yes, another of our acquisitions) to beef up its security and bring commerce and stability to the region.
I cannot see myself settling down, and already I am looking over the maps Sabin and I found in Fort Rannick, showing other the location of other places that may need our aid, or pique our interests. But for those quests I will need to start a new journal, for this one has but a few blank pages remaining.
“So Sabin, let’s talk about Viperwall.”
Moonday, 27 Lamashan (still)
We were still facing, potentially, six more cloud giants. This room was highly defensible and the walls of force and fire helped break the opposing group into nice digestible chunks. (Odd turn of phrase considering the blade barrier we had going next door.)
Avia, as we’ve come to expect, headed up to find a cloud giant largely by touch. One swung at her, revealing itself, and she responded in kind. She took some damage, but not as much as she gave.
Kane dispelled the fog cloud and put an end to that sort of adventure. The giants might still be flying but they were no longer invisible. (Rigel silently went invisible and we were all pretty sure we knew what she was trying to do.) For my part, I picked out a cloud giant and threw three scorching rays at him.
Now with visible targets, Avia went to town on the giant nearest her. Giant blood dribbled down to the floor below. Nolin technically got the killing blow on Avia’s target, but was staggering a bit himself. Takkad set him up with a powerful heal spell and he looked MUCH re-energized. I took advantage of all this to get a mage sword started on one of the giants. While I am unlikely to draw as much blood as the fighters, every little bit helps! Sedgewick tried a bit of tomfoolery by mimicking a giant’s voice and calling out, “It’s all clear in here now”. But since we weren’t exactly invisible and some others could see clearly into our room, it evoked derision more than anything.
As Avia continued her bloody attack, I tried another scorching ray. Only one of the three got through this time. But Sedgewick started an image of another blade barrier around a small group of them, and that did cause them to pause. There was ample evidence around them that one did not mess with a blade barrier, and it gave them pause.
Sabin told them to drop their weapons and surrender to their betters. They seemed inclined to do the first, but then the second seemed to reinforce their backbones. Then we invoked the desires of the Champion of Greed and gestured towards Nolin, who revealed his rune. This cowed the giants, and they left weaponless to go to the city.
We retrieved two more sihedron rings from the corpses, but left the huge morningstars and armor we’d never be able to adequately lift or wear. We inspected the arch and markings in this room and determined that Karzoug was pretty full of himself, and that the archway led to Karzoug’s personal lab and harem. Certainly something to check out in the end – the ladies would no doubt be thankful – but we need to seal the deal first and put down Karzoug.
About this time we heard a voice say in Thassilonian, “The champion ordered WHAT?” There was a mumbled reply and then an order to go get Khalib.
We looked at each other. It seems we were not yet done making this place safe for us. A door was pushed open and a glyph of warding that Kane had established blew up in a giant’s face. Takkad looked at the giant, which was one we’d sent off earlier, and dressed him down for not obeying the Champion of Greed. This caused a few things to transpire.
Rigel went invisible.
I cast greater invisibility on myself to better attack anonymously, because it was pretty obvious this was not going to be a diplomatic mission.
Sabin cast heroism on himself.
Avia and Nolin positioned themselves optimally.
The look on the giant’s face told us all we wanted to know. He was not here of his own volition. Another giant shoved past him and a voice from behind compelled them: “Go on, go kill them!”
Takkad bluffed once more — “You dare defy the champion of Greed? What will Karzoug do to you?” They paused but then came in followed by a rune giant right behind them. Behind them, through the doorway a human came as well.
Avia provided a flurry of blows on one of the cloud giants. Sabin cast haste on all. Nolin ganged up on Avia’s giant and made it bleed worse. But one of the giants attacked Takkad, who is not normally front-line material. Another attacked Avia, Nolin, and Sabin, while Sedgewick began a song of courage even as he attempted to dominate a cloud giant.
Rigel saw her opportunity and got a sneak attack in on Avia’s giant, killing it. Avia simply aimed her sword at another giant and began systematically dismantling it. I got a mage sword going against the rune giant, and got some satisfying cuts into it. Sabin tried a feeblemind on Khalid, but it failed. It did, however, invoke a response of magic missile back at him – contingency spell, I suspect, that fired whenever he was attacked – and then tried to disintegrate him. But his weapon absorbed the spell harmlessly, frustrating Khalib greatly. The rune giant was a powerful foe, hammering hard on Nolin, Avia, and poor Takkad.
But then Rigel got a sneak attack on the rune giant, and Avia inflicted some serious wounds as well. I hit him and Khalib with chain lightning (Khalib looked like he might have ducked) and Sabin and Nolin also attacked him. All of us at once was a lot for the rune giant to take, but both he and Khalib still had some fight left in them.
Strangely, though, Khalib didn’t have much. He had the disadvantage of being a magic user, and perhaps more importantly NOT being giant. He threw some more magic missiles at Sabin, but attacks by first Avia and then Sabin sent his soul to Karzoug.
It was Avia who finally dealt the killing blow to the rune giant, and my mage sword continued to beat on other giants. The clerics kept a steady stream of channels and cure critical, mass going and although we did at times get close to death, never did we knock at death’s door.
Khalib’s corpse granted us
 Staff of size alteration (10 charges)
 Amulet of natural armor +2
 sihedron ring
 robes (like arch magi, but +4 IN rather than resist)
 gold ivory statue of himself
 spellbook of all known spells but for enchantment and illusion
 container of gem dust (~5000gp)
We held a quick strategic discussion. Although it seemed we were wearing down Karzoug and that he might be low on magic, the same was true of us. Our healers were nearing the end of what they could do to help us, and as tempting as it might be to strike at Karzoug while he was weakened, the same penalty would apply to us and we rely too much on the constant healing available to us. The decision was made to stop for the night and rest, to recover spells.
We set up the usual rope trick, with the usual guard duty, and began to rest.
Toilday, Lamashan 28
We awoke rested, refreshed, and restocked on our spells.
No doubt, so did Karzoug.
We began exploring. We quickly found a room with a 20 ft gold statue of Karzoug, with a smokeless fire. There was a green lens about 2.5′ across over the brazier, in an iron frame. It was decidedly magic with a transmutation aura.
This all looked interesting but we thought we probably ought to be able to inspect this without interruption .. which meant a bit more exploration yet to ensure we were alone. We found a series of small cells, less prisoner cells than simply meager accommodations, perhaps something similar to what a monk may use. We found what we think may have been Khalib’s “room” and noted there were books in there that might be of interest. But about this time, another rune giant challenged us.
“What are you doing here?”
“I am the champion of Greed.” replied Nolin.
And apparently that’s all it takes to start a fight with a rune giant. No pleasantries about one’s mother or heritage, hygiene or appearance. Just, boom.
With a bit of a sigh, I cast haste on all. Another rune giant appeared, and seemed to smirk as he announced, “I got this.” I’ve heard that before. Looking around, I didn’t see Rigel – no doubt invisible by now. Sabin made many images of himself and Nolin challenged the first rune giant. Kane shrewdly cast create water and thus created an ice patch right where the 2nd rune giant was about to step, and he slid gracefully into the blade barrier Takkad had just created. Such teamwork.
I magic missiled the first even as the second hit the ice and went into a skid. The bigger they are … Takkad cast prayer on us all, and Sabin moved to hit the second rune giant. Meanwhile, Nolin and Avia were beating hard on the first one.
My trusty mage sword came out against the second rune giant, but missed. Sabin and, of all people, Kane and Rigel became the objects of his wrath. Rigel tried hard to sneak attack the rune giant but just couldn’t quite make it work., The fighters kept beating on the rune giants, though, and finally my mage sword took down the last one with a final triumphant swing.
We collected [1691, 1692] sihedron rings, but left the rest of the giant-sized paraphenalia where it had landed. We studied Khalib’s diaries and discovered an important fact. Karzoug was trapped on another plane he’d created to survive the fall of his kingdom. To return, though, needed power – power he was collecting through souls sent his way by Mokmurian and his agents. But if he didn’t get enough power that way, he’d be trapped there.
He was nearly there, but not quite yet.
Takkad suddenly got that look in his eye which proclaims, “I’m about to be impulsive and illogical” and strode down to the room with the green lens and shot at it with is crossbow. The bolt bounced off. But when he asked for Sabin’s help, Sabin obliged by striking with his adamantine axe and a strange thing happened.
There was a wavering in the air, and beyond appeared a chamber that looked easily 200′ in depth, across white walls, looking like a shaft. At the bottom there appeared to be water.
I am apprehensive about this. Some in the group want to enter, but how do we get back? If Karzoug can’t get out, how will we? If we enter to destroy Karzoug, are we also consigning ourselves to the same eternal fate?
== Moonday, Lamashan 27, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; afternoon ==
The nearby giants were hiding up in the clouds near the ceiling, and so Avia flew up and bumped into one. It punched her in surprise, and she sliced it open.
Kane then dispelled the fog cloud and we could see the three storm giants hovering on their side of the room (one now bleeding messily onto the floor below).
We knew additional cloud giants were nearby, but fear of the blade barrier room appeared to be enough (for now) to hold them at bay.
Sabin and Nolin both flew up to join Avia and began the systematic battle of attrition with the giants, which is a good strategy for us because typically we have healing support and our foes do not.
And indeed I was quite busy keeping our three fighters well enough to stand toe to toe with three very large giants wielding ludicrously huge morningstars.
Sedjewick thought to trick the cloud giants into remaining where they were by calling out “All clear!” imitating one of the storm giants.
“All clear where? I see one standing right there.”
Unfortunately several of us were quite visible from the other room.
“It’ll be clear in a minute — I am just swatting some flies,” one of the storm giants called in answer.
As usual with giants, they cannot for the life of them imagine that they could ever be defeated by anyone smaller than themselves. This worked to our advantage, because they never fled even when it was clear they were having their asses handed to them.
In short order the three storm giants were dead.
Sedjewick then placed an image of a blade barrier surrounding the four cloud giants. All three blanched at this, and one soiled himself.
Sabin yelled out, “Drop your weapons and surrender to your betters and we will let you live!” They dropped their weapons.
I glared at them and said, “Now leave this place and go to the city.”
They seemed reluctant to do so until I gestured toward Nolin and said, “The Champion of Greed wills it!”
Nolin stepped forward and said, “Indeed I do, but first, where is Karzoug?”
“Oh, you are now the champion of greed. We didn’t know the old one had been replaced. I’m sorry, sir, but we do not know where Karzoug is, but his apprentice is in the giant cells.”
And with that the foursome left, with many a bowing and fumbling about.
Two of the dead were wearing sihedron rings (which we took) plus magical armor and various weapons (which we did not).
 sihedron ring
 sihedron ring
We stripped the giant corpses and piled the armor before the doors, and then turned our attention to the room.
Furs were piled about on the floor (some scorched by various fire effects, and most sodden from all of the fog and mist), a pair of double doors was in the far wall, and to our right was an arch.
It was a golden arch marked with thousands of runes, and beyond that a large alcove. Mostly the runes made boasts about Karzoug, but some were about transmutation magic, and one set said, “All who pass this arch are his.”
Well that certainly put a damper on any thoughts on passing through to the alcove.
Sedjewick stared at the archway with that look he sometimes gets, and said that it was a portal to Karzoug’s private chambers.
Interesting, and something to think about…
== Moonday, Lamashan 27, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; evening ==
The sound of heavy foot steps pulled us away from the arch, and someone was yelling (and clearly annoyed), “What do you mean the champion ordered you to the city? Why did she…”
We heard a giant mumbling something, followed by…
“He? What do you mean, ‘he’? Never mind — you go get Khalib. We need the Ceoptra, but she is unavailable.”
This was followed by more shouting and a great deal of thumping about and slamming of doors.
“Where was this imposter?”
“He wasn’t an imposter: he had the rune!”
And with that the door was pushed open and a giant was met with a blast from a Glyph of Warding, courtesy of Kane.
Oh dear, it was one of the giants we had sent on his way earlier. I stared at him angrily and said, “How dare you disobey the champion of Greed?”
He looked sheepishly about and clearly did not want to enter, but was shoved aside by another giant.
Behind them someone ordered, “Go on, kill them!”
I replied, “You dare attack the champion of Greed? Think of what Karzoug will do to you!”
They paused, clearly conflicted, but the fear of whoever was behind them now overcame their fear of whatever Karzoug might or might not do to them later.
In came the giants, and a rune giant close behind. Behind them, through the doorway Sabin could see a human stalking toward us, most likely Khalib, and Sabin attempted Feeblemind on him.
Meanwhile the giants engaged our fighters, and we fell into our usual hack, slash and heal routine, but with an eye out for the human. The rune giant made the fighting more difficult, but it also afforded Trask a chance to use Chain Lightening to zap it (to no affect) and Khalib behind (to good affect, if his cry of pain was any indication).
One of the giants fell by the time Khalib entered to face us, but if he thought to stay safely away from melee and hit us with ranged spells, Avia cleared up that misconception, as she ran over and cut into him deeply with her sword.
Trask fireballed two giants, and Sabin lunged at Khalib, slaying him.
We continued to hack away at the giants, with spells and weapons, until at last they were all killed.
Khalib, while seemingly a pushover, had quite a few interesting possessions.
 staff of size alteration and magic weapon (10 charges)
 amulet of +2 natural armor
 sihedron ring
 robes (like arch magi, but +4 INT rather than resists)
 gold ivory statue of himself
 speel book of all known spells (except enchantment and illusion)
 container full of gem dust
By now we were tired and low on spells, and so we returned to the small room where we hid from the hound, and then using Rope Trick we set up camp.
== Toilday, Lamashan 28, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; morning ==
Nothing had changed when we left our Rope Trick refuge in the morning and made our way through the throne room into the main entry hall (a new area for us, but devoid of anything interesting). We then passed through another set of double doors into the arch room, which had been the scene of our yesterday’s battles.
We once again looked at the portal beneath the archway and then passed through the double doors to our left.
These led to a vast chamber which occupied nearly half of this level of the spire. The outer wall and several interior hallways with many doors arced around to the southeast.
Right before us was a huge golden pagoda-style structure. A gigantic twenty foot tall gold statue of Karzoug stood to the south, facing away from the entrance towards a brazier burning with a smokeless fire.
The statue held a large iron frame, and set in the frame was a large green crystal, sparling and glittering in the light of the brazier.
The crystal was blindingly magical.
Within the pagoda, against the far wall, a pair of statues stood guard over a ten foot long sarcophagus.
We decided to save this promising bit of architecture until after we explored the more mundane area to the south.
The arching hallways with many doors were cells for the inhabitants and servants who lived in the spire. Each was relatively small (for giants) and spartan. A handful showed signs of recent occupation, but most were empty, for which we were thankful. Had the spire been fully occupied we might not have survived this long.
Halfway along the center row of cells we found something more interesting: a large triangular room with more elaborate furnishings than the others, plus a bookshelf filled with interesting tomes.
Sedjewick and I scanned the book titles and found a long series that made up the diary of Khalib. We leafed through the more recent entries and discovered that he had been Karzoug’s right hand man, but there had been a falling out of sorts.
It was Khalib who was to have awakened Karzoug from his stasis after the fall of the ancient kingdoms, but Khalib’s own apprentices had turned on him, trapping him in a long sleep of his own.
Mokmurian had recently discovered Xin Shalast, and was fumbling around the spire looking for loot knowledge when he encountered the same projections of Karzoug that had menaced us. Karzoug quickly took control of Mokmurian, and so it was he, and not Khalib, who set the in motion the revival of Karzoug.
Karzoug does not tolerate failure, and so he left Khalib in his prison of sleep until we began to cause problems for him and he needed all the allies at his disposal.
Khalib was none to happy to discover all of this after he awoke, and his resentment and bitterness had been boiling over ever since.
We were interrupted from our research by a loud, “Whoa, who is this?”
A pair of giants had stumbled upon us.
The other said, “I got this” and moved around the cells to try and flank us, and so I put up a Blade Barrier behind to make his approach a little more interesting.
Meanwhile Nolin stepped forward and demanded to know why the giants were disturbing the champion of greed. The giant insisted that, “You and your lot belong back in your own area!”
Trask blasted the giant with a set of Magic Missiles and yelled, “He said back off!”
The other giant was now running towards us from behind, and so Kane created a patch of ice before the blade barrier, causing the giant to slip directly into the wall of whirling blades.
Sedjewick goaded, “So you really got this?”
“Yes, I do,” the giant retorted angrily, as Rigel deftly stabbed it with her rapier.
I cast Prayer and Kane gave the rear giant a bit of bad luck, which was further embellished by Sabin hacking into it viciously.
Nolin and Avia set themselves against the other giant, who was dealing as much damage as he took.
As usual this became an extremely uneven exchange because Kane and I kept our fighters healthy while the giants eventually succumbed to their ever deepening wounds.
Each giant wore a ring.
 sihedron ring
 sihedron ring
We returned to the pagoda and prepared for the worse while Nolin and Sabin lifted the lid from the sarcophagus. It was empty. In fact the whole pagoda was empty.
Puzzled, we returned to perusing Khalib’s diary to see if it contained anything helpful. It did indeed!
Karzoug had created a plain on which he could hide during the fall of his kingdomm, and he had taken his runewell with him. The green gem served as a nexus between other plains and Karzoug’s plain of refuge, and it focused the souls of those who died while bearing the mark of greed into the runewell. This in turn increased Karzoug’s power. It seems that Karzoug’s refuge also served as his prison while he lacked sufficient power to escape.
Mokmurian had been used to find and mark as many victims as he could to feed the runewell, and now Karzoug was nearly powerful enough to escape.
I now know what needs to be done.
== Toilday, Lamashan 28, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; morning ==
I took aim at the green crystal with my domineering crossbow and hit it, but the bolt bounced harmlessly off.
I turned to Sabin and said, “We need to destroy the gem.”
Sabin strode forward and smote it with his domineering adamantine ax, and something unexpected happened.
Rather than shatter, or deflect the blow, the space before the green gem puckered and warped as a portal opened up. Beyond was a vast space, easily a couple hundred feet across, with smoky white walls and a well of water.
Clearly this portal leads to Karzoug. I am sure of it: the gem acts as a nexus to his plain, and we must enter it to face Karzoug and finish what we started so long ago.
We have taken a few moments to prepare and form a basic plan, and I have finished casting True Seeing and am about to peer through the void to see what lies in wait.
We made good progress today. As expected everything is trying to kill us and there are a lot of them. Luckily we have slaughtered a lot of Karzougs guards, at least we hope we have. After getting my normal 2 hours of sleep I feel refreshed and I am able to do more. Today while the other slept I was able to learn the new spell “spell turning”. I had my GreatAxe ready to grab just in case. We have to wait until morning for Kane and Takkad to get spells again so I have some time.
This is likely the day we actually meet Karzoug. This is going to be very tough and a little bad luck could spell the end of all of us. I have prepared myself for the toughest battle of my life. He knows that we are coming and I have a feeling that he has been watching us to determine a strategy to get the upper hand, at least that is what I would do. With the knowledge that he may have been spying on us since we defeated “Carl Breakbones” it doesn’t seem like we have many secrets from Karzoug. Since runeforge I have been studying all of the high level spells that he might possess searching for ways to minimize the effectiveness of his spells. For the most part I simply can’t guard against them and he likely knows other spells that I have never heard of before. This all comes down to how do you defeat a historically powerful wizard? Physically get in his face and hit him with weapons. Stop him from casting spells.
I am betting that he is prepared for spells that attack him so I will instead focus on spells for personal buffs, a couple of hastes for the party and different spells to breakdown possible barrier or create them. I have a couple of just in case combat spells that I don’t expect to use. If it we me I would try to debuff the party, buff myself, and place barriers to control the situation.
We have found a lot of interesting places, the legendary xin-shalast, runeforge, and the library. I find it funny that the place with all of the books is somewhere that Sedjwick can’t get into without help. Ok if he knew the location of the complex and which direction to dig he could get back into the area with the library but it is going to take awhile. I had orignally just planned to add another 10 ft of thickness to the stone wall Takkad put up but then I thought it should be a little bit thicker. But then a passwall still made the wall useless and that was just not right. It turned into being something interesting to do after spending the day enchanting weapons and armor. Everybody wanted either a weapon or armor enchant so I continued to build on my wall, which took over a month to complete. We weren’t adventuring and I wasn’t getting into trouble, that should have been a clue that something was up. No one goes down past the reduce person field so I don’t think anyone knows about it, besides I made the library more secure so they should be happy. Trask and I routinely teleport people in and out of that place all the time so this does not effect our ability to use the library.
If I die and the rest of you are reading this you should know that it was indeed me that did it.
== Moonday, Lamashan 27, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; late morning ==
We left the gateway device to crackle and sputter on its own, and passed by the image of Karzough, which was still in the antechamber glaring at us. He made some snarky comment about how we had done him a favor by killing off the workers from within, but obviously his goon force of followers could have easily done the same long before now if that was his desire.
I guess Karzough likes his grapes sour.
In the hallway we paused to discuss our next move: the small door directly ahead looked appealing, as did the the larger doors we passed on the way from the throne room.
A moment later our course was decided for us as an unearthly howl echoed out from Karzough’s direction. Sedjewick said, “That’s a large extra-planar hound of some sort, and it sounds really pissed off!”
We ran to the door ahead and quickly stepped inside the oddly shaped room beyond. We were obviously on the outer rim of the spire, as was evident by the curving wall and window looking out to Mhar Massif. Other than a handful of discarded items the room was empty.
More howls came from the hallway, along with the shouts and clatter of alarm and combat.
Wait, combat? Why would Karzough’s forces want to fight something he summoned to chase after us? Unless…
The sounds and yelling moved off to the left and so we peeked out the door to see a sticky black vapor clinging near the floor and a lot of blood.
We could hear a group of harridans fighting something in the throne room, and so we took the opportunity to pass through the nearby set of double doors.
Karzough was there in another square antechamber, and he looked seriously unhappy.
“What did you fools release into my realm?”
Ah, so he did not summon whatever it was… but then where did it come from? Was the gateway device now randomly pulling in creatures from other planes?
We had intended to ignore these images of Karzough, but Trask couldn’t resist and quipped, “Have you met your new champion?” as he pointed at Nolin.
It took Karzough less than a second to realize that the Rune of Greed was on the cheek of the same person who also boasted the Rune of Wrath, and his face turned a very bright red as he ranted, “Why… what? This is an outrage! You, you are not worthy to bear the symbol of Greed!”
To which Nolin calmly replied, “I’m collecting all seven.”
That was too much for Karzough, who cast Baleful Polymorph on Nolin, but he simply shrugged it off. It was encouraging to see him waste a spell for which we had Rune-forged weapons to counter.
Large rooms on either side looked like barracks for the harridans, who had clearly left in a hurry. A door at the opposite side led to a hallway and an empty lab, plus a lot of interconnected and unused storage rooms.
While Sabin and I searched these rooms, Sedjewick had occupied Karzough by asking about how the runelords managed to overthrow the emperor, and Trask had crept over to the throne room and saw the scattered remains of ten harridans. The double doors from this room, which were closed when we left, were open.
We left Karzough to reminisce over old times on his own while we moved through the throne room.
We saw the hound at the same moment it saw us, and it came bounding in toward us. I cast Prayer, Sedjewick sang, and Kane exclaimed something not polite as his attempt to Banish the creature failed.
Trask used his own form of banishment by hitting it with a fireball, and we all attacked it using whatever means we could. It had already been wounded by its encounter with Karzough’s minions, and so we were able to slay it quickly.
Sabin cut its head off, which Nolin then took and tossed into the room where Karzough was waiting, and said, “I am going to send you the bill for this.”
== Moonday, Lamashan 27, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; mid day ==
Presently we opened the small door on the north side of the throne room and entered a small room with a set of double doors at the far end. Beyond these doors was a huge chamber with massive furs (from mammoths) organized in mounds upon the floor. A golden arch was on an adjacent wall at the far side of the room, but of more immediate interest were the eight storm giants that stood at attention, with either piles of large rocks at their sides or large bows in their hands.
Trask put up a Wall of Force, dividing the room in two and isolating the two nearest giants from their allies.
A giant shot me with an oversized arrow, which hurt a lot, but the wall of force protected us from the giants shooting at us from the far side.
Sabin created Black Tentacles on the far side to try and ensnare some giants, but they were simply too large and strong for this tactic to work.
One of the nearby giants bellowed, “I have had enough of this nonsense, die!” as he charged Nolin. Once again we all took a hand at combat (even me) while Kane kept an eye and ear open to the throne room to prevent us from being flanked.
Nolin, Avia and Sabin traded mighty blows with our two giants, while Kane and I made sure all of us were in good health. The giants had no such support.
A giant on the far side banged heavily on a pair of double doors and yelled, “Assist, assist!”
Trask set a wall of flame against that wall, making it unpleasantly hot for anyone to come through that way.
Sedjewick sang a song of discord, and some of the giants on the far side began to fight one another with good results.
Avia killed the first giant and Sabin quickly followed suit with the second when Kane announced that cloud giants were in the throne room. I sealed off that doorway with a Wall of Stone.
We found each of our giants wore a ring with a star on it, which were similar in nature to our sihedron rings.
 +3 deflection bonus, +3 resistance, endure elements, change the appearance of armor
 another star ring
They also wore magic plate mail, but it was large and heavy, and we left them for later.
By now the cloud giants had broken through the wall of stone, and so I placed a circular Blade Barrier in the adjacent room in such a way that anyone trying to get at us had to pass through it twice. Trask added to the challenge with another wall of flame.
One giant tried to pass the gauntlet, but emerged as a fine spray of charred giant flesh.
Another two bravely entered the blade barrier room, but seemed reluctant to push through to the other side until a loud voice shouted, “You are the Wardens of Wind, go forward!”
One of them “went forward” and was turned into warm liquid goo, after which the other giant wet himself and then whimpered with fright and indecision. It eventually worked up enough courage to charge at us, and might have made it too had Nolin not been there to great it with his great sword.
A third managed to get into the side room, and prepared itself to charge past the second set of barriers.
Meanwhile, the storm giants on the far side of the room had managed to kill one another off in a nonsensical frenzy of violence that transcended the original effect of Sedjewick’s song. One storm giant remained, and he flashed us a large (mostly) toothless grin.
Having been denied easy access to us via the throne room, the remaining cloud giants burst through the wall of flame into the main room, but the wall of force stood between them and us.
I lobbed a couple of fireballs (via a necklace we had collected some time before) at the giants, and Trask created a Mage’s Sword and began to hack at them as well.
I created a cloud of mist around the giants (not a great choice, given that these were cloud giants), who returned the favor by floating up and casting a fog bank around us around us.
Trask used a staff to blow the mists away and then killed the remaining storm giant with his magical sword.
The remaining cloud giant behind us finally charged through the blade barrier and wall of flame, but Sabin had braced a spear in its path, and it impaled itself and perished.
We still have a handful of cloud giants on the other side of the wall of force, floating above and in the mists, but I am taking a quick moment to update my journal with these events.
Moonday, 27 Lamashan (still)
Catching my breath. We’ve a quick break between things attempting to kill us. Perhaps the fact that we’re still alive will annoy Karzoug.
He certainly annoys me.
Fearing that there might be an explosion soon, we left the “projection room” while it still seemed to be producing some sort of weak image but seemed mostly disabled. We went a ways down the hall and paused in what seemed like a defensible spot.
Sabin wanted to memorize a spell so we were going to wait 20 min while he did that. But it was less than a minute before we heard a loud and other-worldly type howl.
Sedgewick looked startled, and said it reminded him of an obscure legend about a very large hound .. a beast from beyond time.
Since that didn’t sound friendly at all, we quickly went into a room to our south, on the theory that whatever it was would have to either break down the door or fight through the doorway, which would limit exposure to our fighters while the healers and magic users did their thing. We had arranged ourselves when …
From behind the door there were shouts from the left. A howl from the right, continuing up to and then past the door. There were sounds of battle from the left now, perhaps in the throne room. We carefully exited our hidey hole, and much to my surprise the party chose to explore the rooms we’d just passed instead of checking out the fight in the room practically next door. Really? Seemed a little risky to me.
We found what appeared to be the guard’s living area, or at least staging area. Opening another door we found .. Karzoug! Again! But at least this time he was less smug.
“What did you release into my realm?”
Now, witty banter is my strong suit and had it not been for the fact that we were discussing something that apparently could worry Karzoug, I’d have been all over this. But we’d also discussed earlier that these apparitions seemed designed to make us burn spells more than anything, and we’d decided to largely ignore them. But I couldn’t resist just one reply.
“We’re not worried. We have the champion of Greed to defend us,” and I pointed at Nolin, who whipped off his bandana to display the Rune of Greed. I thought the Karzoug image was going to explode into little Greedy parts. “This is an outrage!” said Karzoug, visibly upset.
“I’m collecting all seven,” said Nolin.
And then we went to leave, except that Angry Karzoug tried to polymorph Nolin. Which failed, because of his Runeforge-enhanced weapon. Nolin raised his eyebrows and I thought he was going to say something droll, but he just let the spell failure speak for itself.
Takkad kept looking in rooms that did not contain a hideous hound, and most people joined him. Sedgewick said he was going to see if Karzoug would give him any interesting information, and went back to chat with him. And they call me headstrong.
We were slowly searching the (fortunately) empty rooms but I was getting impatient. The Horrible Hound could be stalking us for all we know. There were no sounds anymore from the Throne Room and finally I announced I was going to go check it out because, well, SOMEBODY should.
So using my stealth, I approached the room and looked in. There were 10 harridan bodies there (I think; they were not whole so it was a bit difficult to tell in a glance) and nothing else in the room. Unless it was invisible, it had moved on. And defeated 10 harridans in short order, I thought as I returned to the group.
Sedgewick returned about the same time, looking satisfied so I guess he must have learned stuff from Karzoug. The group as a whole went to view the carnage in the Throne Room. Or perhaps I should call it the Thrown Room, because it looked more like a puppy had tossed ten dolls around like toys, after chewing each of them to a frayed mess.
And, uh, then it came back. It entered the room thru the door to the northeast, and saw us at the same time we saw it. It bounded towards us like a happy puppy, if a happy puppy were slavering, ugly, and insane.
It looked shadowy so I threw a fireball at it before it got too close. Looked unhappy, so probably a good choice. (Although to be honest, I’m not sure it brought a happy face with it to this plane.) Kane attempted to banish it and Takkad started praying even as Sedgewick urged us on with a song of courage. I managed to haste everyone before we resumed the usual fight positions, and the battle was on.
But the battle was not long. The harridans had apparently taken their toll, and it took Nolin, Avia, and Sabin only seconds to dispatch it. Nolin took its head into the room with Karzoug, pausing only long enough to say, “I’ll send you a bill for this later.”
We left before Karzoug could muster up a retort.
We returned to the Thrown Room and decided to examine the room to the north. This has proven to be a questionable decision. Inside the room were some very large giants with some large piles of rocks and very large bows, paired with very large arrows. Eight of them.
I divided the enemy with a wall of force, per usual, leaving two on the side nearest us and six on the other. Then I hasted folks, another pretty standard action. I managed to fireball the two close ones, before the fighters closed. They hammered hard on our fighters, but our healers kept them healthy. One of the distant giants banged on a door and yelled for help, so I put up a wall of flame against that wall, facing the door. And another wall of flame that burned the butts of a couple of those other ones. Then Sedgewick changed from a song of courage to a song of dischord, which caused some of the giants on the other side of the wall to disagree with each other. Physically. Violently.
This proved surprisingly effective. Avia, and then Sabin killed the two close giants and then we watched in amazement as the others just beat each other up. Even those not affected by the song were forced to defend themselves against the ones who were, because they didn’t simply fight each other. They hit anything near them that they disagreed with.
While this was going on, Kane announced storm giants were coming from the Thrown Room. Apparently they’d figured out the fire thing and decided to circle around back. Takkad created a wall of stone to block them temporarily, but we expected that storm giants would likely be able to hack at the stone and eventually remove it.
As they came close to doing this, he put in a circular blade barrier, positioned such that to reach the door leading to our room, they’d need to cross the barrier twice. For good measure, I added another wall of fire too. The results were remarkably effective.
The first who tried came through as a chopped, burnt, corpse-like shape. Dead. Two more entered the blade barrier circle, but after experiencing it once were reluctant to complete the journey and close with us. One was challenged to go through and also emerged dead.
The remaining cloud giants abandoned their effort to attack us through the blade barrier, and circled back around to the door on the north end of the storm giant room. There was only one weakened, injured “champion” storm giant left to rendezvous with the fresh cloud giants. I responded with a mage sword to add to the battle. It turns out there was at least one mage among them, so we traded minor spells: they made fog, and I cast fly on myself and used a staff to create a wind to blow it away.
This battle is sorely depleting our magic. While we have depleted Karzoug’s as well, we may both yet get a chance to recharge.
== Moonday, Lamashan 27, 4708; Spires of Xin Shalast; late morning ==
Having faced down the image of Karzoug and survived to write about it, we moved to the stone door in the far side of the chamber. Kane touched it and it slid open.
Beyond was a large hall with two rows of columns stretching to a massive throne at the far side.
While the hall was huge, it was the decor that took my breath away. Glittering in a brilliant gold light were gems and silver inlay lining the wall. Set in a checkerboard pattern of stone was a path of bright red rubies leading to the throne.
The throne itself was giant sized and made of onyx and set with gems and precious metals. Exotic furs were draped about it.
Standing on the dais of the throne was a very large female human (not a giant). She was dressed in full plate and carried a large gold scimitar. And, quite naturally, the rune of greed was tattooed upon her left cheek.
“You dare to desecrate this chamber? I am the wielder of Chellon, come and face me!”
We then noticed a pair of tattooed fire giants that were rushing towards us, and so we backed further into the ante chamber to make them come to us one at a time.
Rigel shot an arrow at one, and I cast Destruction on the other. Sabin hit the nearest one, who in reprisal hit Avia.
The woman ran towards us, but suddenly bounced off an invisible Force Wall, which Trask had strategically placed between her and us.
“No!”, She screamed, “I am the Champion of Greed!”
Standing framed by the doorway Nolin pulled up his head band, revealing the rune of rath emblazoned there, and replied, “And I am the Champion of Wrath!”
Usually when one says someone turns red with rage there is a good bit of metaphor in the phrase. Not so here. The woman hissed like a huge snake, “Alasnist!”, and throwing herself at the wall found it was only ten feet high. She began to climb over it.
Meanwhile the rest of us continued our attacks on the two giants, and between the physical and magical onslaught, both perished just as the woman charged Nolin.
She was blinded by rage, and failed to consider that we were many while she was one, and we were obviously healing our wounds during combat, while she was not.
“You of all people,” she sputtered at Nolin, “dare to be here!”
She died rather quickly, and while it was a group effort, it was Nolin who landed the killing blow, and the Rune of Greed transferred from the woman’s face to Nolin’s left cheek. Mercifully it and the Rune of Wrath appeared to coexist on the same person without ill effect.
Later Sedjewick determined that the Rune of Greed granted its bearer complete immunity to mind effecting magic, plus a considerable (+32) resistance to transmutation spells. Unfortunately it also made Nolin vulnerable to domineering weapons, such as those we wielded.
We then turned our attention to her material possessions. Sedjewick was already staring at her golden scimitar, and looking up at us said, “Do you know what this is?”
 Chellan. One of the legendary artifacts of the time of the Runelords, and one of the seven weapons of the Runelord champions — the Sword of Greed. Although made of gold, it had the hardness of adamantine. Legend says it can turn its victims into gem (rather than stone).
It defied all of our attempts to discern any details about itself.
Her other possessions included:
 5 potions of Cure Serious Wounds (Nolin used 1, so now 4)
 2 potions of Fly (Nolin)
 potion of haste (Takkad)
 +5 large full golden plate
 +5 large steel shield
 periapt of health
 +4 belt of giant strength (Kane)
 minor cloak of displacement
 ring of Freedom of Movement
 sihedron ring
 scarab of protection — +20 spell resistance, absorbs negative energy or death [10 charges] (Avia)
The giants carried rather mundane gear, which we left for later.
 2 giant great swords
 2 plate mail
The throne room had a large set of double doors along the same wall from which we entered and a small door to the north. A hallway led south along a circular wall, which we assumed was the outside circular wall of the spire.
We pulled Rigel away from the throne, where she had been sitting in sort of a daze and chanting “Mine, mine, mine!” over and over to herself, and followed the corridor south.
We passed another set of double doors to our left (the east) and leaving them for latered followed the curve and arrived in a straight hallway heading north. A small door was to the south, and another door at the end of a dog leg to the east.
Sabin opened the door and there was Karzoug.
“Oh, Sabin, nice of you to drop in, have you not died yet? You are wasting my time as well as my minions.”
Sabin passed an ax through the image and Trask attempted to dispel it, but failed, and so after returning his taunts, we simply closed the door and waited a few minutes.
The door was opened, and there was Karzoug’s image, as annoying as ever.
We saw a pair of double doors to the south of his room, and so we hurriedly passed through (mostly) ignoring his parting comment of, “Have a nice death.”
We closed the double doors behind us and saw… something strange. A long hall was lined with boxes of blinking lights and thick wires connecting them all and leading to the back of the room. There an alcove held moving image of Xin Shalast, but not the ruinous city of today, but the fully populated and glorious city of ten thousand years ago.
The air smelled like thunderstorms.
Vaguely humanoid creatures in dirty leather robes walked from machine to machine, tending the mysterious equipment.
Kane said in a low voice, tinged with malice, “These are extra planars, they do not belong here.”
I thought this must be a temporal portal that Karzoug intended to use to bring his armies and followers forward to when he would arise, and shared my suspicions with my companions.
As we moved further in, one of the creatures came forward and, in Thassilonian said, “You must not interfere.” It held out its hand, and we noticed that the dozen or so creatures were all armed with knives.
Sabin asked, “Why are you here?”
“We mind the machine. The machine servers its purpose. You are not giant. You are not Runelord. You should not be here.”
We tried to find out the purpose of the machine, but all it said was, “We serve a higher purpose, and you shall not interfere.”
And with that a number of other creatures looked up at us with ill intent clearly on their minds.
I created a blade barrier between the bulk of the creatures and us, and we set about destroying the equipment and severing the cables.
Our work was rewarded by various minor explosions, and what appeared to be a lessening in clarity of the image at the far end of the room.
The creatures called out in alarm, and worked frantically at the equipment on their side of the barrier. The image cleared.
We continued our sabotage, but now some of the creatures launched themselves at us, crying out, “Leave that alone, it is beyond you!”
We killed them and continued to hack away at the machinery, either enduring the explosive damage or using ranged weapons and avoiding it.
Popping and crackling sounds came from the image as once again it became less distinct.
More of the creatures ceased their work and attacked us, but having to pass through the blade barrier seriously injured them, making them easy to fend off and kill.
Fewer workers resulted in further degradation of the image, and despite the explosions and attack of the creatures, we relentlessly attacked the machinery.
I summoned a water elemental near the device projecting the image and ordered it to destroy the equipment. The creatures attacked it, but it took a few of them with it before returning to its home plane.
More creatures passed through the barrier, and Kane channeled against evil outsiders, causing many of them to drop dead.
More damage, more explosions, more cries of dismay from the few surviving creatures, and then a persistent mechanical whine from the machinery.
One of the handful of remaining humanoids called out, “Remember the reward on the other side. Go! To the death!” They charged through the barrier.
And die they did.
Now there was no image of Xin Shalast — just a gray swirl of static.
We tried a few attacks against the device that had projected the image, but it seemed immune to our efforts.
Nolin and Sabin are worried that the thing might destroy itself in an enormous explosion, killing us all, and perhaps they are right.
We should leave.
At any rate, Karzoug will not be able to use the device as it is now even if it does not explode.