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Pathfinder Chronicles: Curse of the Crimson Throne
This is for the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting's Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path. This will chronicle each volume in detail from a player perspective. 
Players upon the Stage
- Jul - Raven haired enigma try to break free from her dark destiny.
- Camlo - Quirky troubled scholar.
- Riff - Kept the shark well fed... Soon to be dead.... Now scrambled in the head... :(
- Zenovia Wren- Varisian dancer and Harrow reader turned dark and deadly and none too friendly
Chapter 1: "Edge of Anarchy"
Something Fishy....or Weevils On The Brain
Pop goes the Harrow card. It flew the coop right out of my special book. Sproing! How? How? How could that have gotten there, but there it got. Now ring-a-ding in the dark. Open the door, creeeeak. Booo! Scary door opens and in I went. That infernal card pushing and nudging my mind into the small house. My body followed, can't help it, have to follow. MMMM... weevil bread tastes good in the dark. Not so sure about the ....aaah! That's one big hammer! Can't be, can't be, I can't be a nail. We must hammer the right nails....into their coffins. But not tonight. Who's that? Feet but no body, curtains don't breathe. Another cutpurse, sneaks in through window and runs out of doors. And a pretty gypsy, they all like to dance. Must not dance on the cards. Fate will get torn, the Harrow happen for a reason, and the world tells their tale. Draw the cards! Draw your own card. Sketch your own destiny on a tablet of time. Must use a fine brush, can't be hurried. Juggle the brains and play the game. Off we go, into the dark. I will sing and dance a jig. Can't swim with sharks, let the hammer swim. Can't nail down sharks. Teeth too sharp. Splashing let's go for a dip. They look blue. Let's go back. Back to sleep, I don't much anymore. The hammer sleeps. He groans and grunts, and I'll tell him a long story while he sleeps. Children's tales always end in a crush of bones. Back to the fishery, the wreak of death and fish. In and out, they break doors and slide windows. Up and down. Bad news for children. The hammer has found a nail. The door swings open when the hammer bleeds its splinters. Into the house. Slip and slide with bad doggies. Slit and slash his neck. Was she singing or dancing when she cut? The dog will not get up. It must play dead now. Good dog. Spiders. Little spiders crawl. And bite. The hammer falls, but doesn't sleep. We should go. Never know. Which floor will fall or which ship will sink. The cards know. They draw this picture and I will paint it. Paint by numbers, one two three.
In These Pages I Chronicle Trials And Tribulations of The Web of Darkness Called my Life. Herein I will leave a testament to my life stroke by stoke and blow by blow as I truly recall. --Jul Mortiswind
The year 4708 in the Age of Lost Omens. The first Oathday of Gozran:
Waking to darkness
These cozy dark chains have shackled my true self long enough. My mourning and apathy have cost me many things but most preciously sands from the hourglass. If I allow the shadows to nibble away at me I will soon remain naught but a broken shell. The puppet master who makes me dance merrily will soon find this little marionette has grown claws and will find me climbing their tangled threads to cast them down to the stage for all to see.
Whoah! Staying in this house has began to erode my sanity. My library suddenly seems to have been neatly cataloged and put to right as if I had been visited by an obsessive devilish librarian in the night. I cloaked myself in shadow and stole around the house hunting this deranged obsessive school marm. What right has she to destroy my carefully flung stacks of books. As my stalking progressed through the house and I came back upon my starting point, the study...? Curse my crazed cranium, all the books were back as I left them last night! ...an illusion has been woven? ...a fey was messing me? ...someone has cut my goodies with something nasty? Hmmm... My stash! My feet pounded back up stairs drawn by that dark siren.
Good, the last of my little specimens are swirling in their beckoning vials, nestled in their snug bag. Huh? They seem to have acquired a strange new blanket... A harrow card. Of course. My Varisian godmother has tied my fate to that accursed deck. I should not speak ill of her though, Blind Nell and Devon were the only people to ever treat me well in this world. Now one is dead and the other is missing. The peacock card? Huh? No idea. I need to go back to the theater and get my reading, the Varisian cleaning lady will know.
Tonight will be my last dose, I should go out now while my willpower lasts to find some money and some answers...
Pack of wolves
Sigh What a waste of a day, I don’t know why I even leave the house. (I know, an ironic thing to say, after being imprisoned in it all of my life)
Still no sign of that bitch nursemaid who framed my dad. Still no sign of that string tugging spider Lamm. And (sigh) still no sign of Devon.
Today's ventures have just added up to wild glamers in my house/brain plus this stupid Harrow card. Stupid card! Stupid card? Hmmm.... Stupid card has something taped to the back of it. A note with an address and a claim to give an opportunity to strike at Lamm. We meet at sunset, I must hurry!
I am sure it is a trap but lets lurk around and see... yup, there is a huge goon lurking in front watching the door. This looks like a Varisian fortune teller's place. A convenient bedroom window around back lets me sneak in and check the place out. I find a cozy hiding spot in the shack and camp out.
Inside is a lunatic Chelaxian deep in his cups lounging by a table in the center of the room. He sits babbling nonsense and free verse amid the fragrant incense haze softening the room, only pausing to snack on some bread.
The walls are draped with brocaded tapestries, one showing a black-skulled beast juggling men's hearts, another showing a pair of angels dancing atop a snow-blasted mountain. A third tapestry on the far wall depicts a tall hooded figure shrouded in mist, a flaming sword held in a skeletal hand.
The muscle watching the building comes bowling in at this point, but he spots my hiding place right away. This guy is actually a Shoanti! I have never been so close to one of the noble savages. Wow those are some muscles, he seems really... ummm... powerful. giggle He is grasping a huge Hammer, bigger than I am, but does not seem intent on bashing me with it.
Well... it looks like when he came in he acquired a shadow, but no one else notices. A Varisan, looking dark and deadly but her beauty marred with a look of hardened bitterness. I gave her a wink to know she was not unseen but did not reveal her presence.
Another Varisian sweeps into the room, a Harrow reader teller by the look of her. She introduces herself as Zolara, our host, and tells a story. She claims Lamm stole her prized Harrow deck. When her son retrieved it for Zolara he was killed for the act. Now Zolara said she found out about us and knows we want to find him.
The crazy one introduces himself as Camlo and the Shoanti as Riff. I asked for the stealthy Varisian's name, but I found out instead of a spooky assassin she is just a bigot. All the words coming out of her mouth were trash talk about me just because I was a Chelaxian, nice. She must have a lot of friends.
I wonder what this Zolara's angle is? The bigot lady vouches for her... but that is not saying much. Zolara claims to want to strike at Lamm but instead wants her revenge indirectly through us, not even coming along for the fun...
Heh, she dangles a Lamm in front of us hungry wolves and assumes we will just lunge.
She informs us that he resides at the waterfront and his kids are selling some disgusting concoction called Dock Dumplings. We agree to check it out.
Jigsaw takes US apart
The mystery bigot lady knows the area and draws a quick map for us. The plan is that the two of us will overlook the place from atop the warehouse next door and Riff will swim under the dock. Camlo will stay back until we call him.
We barely start staking out the place when there is a commotion asea. We see our new friend Riff being chewed upon vigorously by a large fish, a Jigsaw shark, based on the illustrations I have seen in my books.
We scurry onto the decrepit dock to see if we can pull him from the water. Did I say decrepit? I meant crumbling! Yelp Somehow I manage to heal Riff in the water hoping he can keep us both alive.
Wow!. He just hoisted me in one arm and swung me on to the dock while climbing up himself with the one arm. Nice!
After this fiasco the light come on in Lamm's place and we decided to retreat. (Except the rude Varisian, she is going to skulk some more in the area) I clinging to the barbarian's arm as he walks with giant strides the tearing through the city streets.
Licking the wounds
I hang back and make sure we are not being followed. All but the Varisan rendezvous back at Zolara's. In the darkened shack Camlo quickly finds his friends; a jug of wine and loaf of bread. Riff finds the bed and marks it as his own with his drying blood.
I sneak back and check on rude girl back at Lamm's place. The rest of the night we observe the darkened buildings to no avail.
As day breaks both return to Zolara's. I do what I can for the barbarian but I don't quite have the healing charm down right. Camlo seems less sane than usual, he is chanting and ranting about his last night's comsumtion. Apparently the bread was riddled with maggots and the wine was stale and old. In the morning light the place seems abandoned and old and not at all as it was last night. I wonder was Zolara actually is behind the glamer, a monster or some villain.
In the daylight we wolves head our own ways to continue the investigation.
Sniffing the trail
The information gathering about Zolara, Lamm and the usual suspects does not go far and proves fruitless. The only item was that the real Zolara has been missing for one week according to one of her clients.
My day's performances do not earn me enough for another hit, sigh
I return home about midday and as usual sleep eludes me, my mind in mid-storm. I use my last dose and darkness claims me...
As we meet for night's venture I hazard a stab at a plan. I figure I can disguise myself sans wig as one of the orphans to scope the place out. That plan does not pan out... and I end up parting company with the pack, especially that venomous Varisian.
They headed to Lamm's place and I followed. The Varisian scouted ahead and then returned to the group and they began to argue a plan. I swallowed my pride and rejoined them. As we continued to discuss our options we spotted a group of Hellknights walking toward us. Riff dives between the warehouses as quick as a hare. Camlo's erratic strides freeze and quickly reverse away from them. Wrong Answer! Grrr... Camlo's skittish form will soon be bloodied, they have nabbed him! I make a quick act that he is my crazy uncle and they buy it and let us go. They tell me they are looking for a rogue Shoanti barbarian. Hmmm... it looks like Lamm has contacts with the Hellknights and thus my dad. Scary.
Epic Bedtime Fairy-tales For Savages... or A Very Long Story for a Captive Audience
- Wander the dreamscape, sleepy sanguine savage
- Find your dog, poisoned bone to throw
- Drop the floor and slide on down
- More teeth to bare, snap, tear
- Flounder and slash, swords swing and stab
- Your aim is true, enough to hew
- Long spattered blood stains the eyes
- Find the answers, but slit the throat
- The fortune-teller, she rolls heads
- Liar dies with the truth,
- Answers sink with no questions to ask
- Blood and vengeance slaughter reason
- Lunatics howl
- The night ends with a scamper
- Sprays of red glory rain and thunder
- Streets awash in chaos and plunder
- Cards play out and burn
- The sky lights and booms
What a catchy tune. I shall sing it to my new fallen friend, softly while he mends. Over and over, I will repeat this verse. All night. His eyes twitch, telling me to sing on. Perhaps it will help him heal.
Camlo's Personal Journal, Day 157
While taking our daily stroll through the city park today, we bumped into my uncle. Oh the times we used to have. But today he led us over the bridge and into a new suburb of town. I followed the large fellow, while the gypsy went off to...well, she was probably street-dancing for petty cash. My companion and I entered the ostentatious lobby of a new hotel that was not here the last time I peered over the skyline. We were welcomed in and shown to a place of honor by the maitre'd. After chatting with a few of the other patrons, I entered into a friendly conversation with one of the most jovial men I have ever conversed with. His name was Ten-Elks or something-or-other. He invited us to join his parade and off we went. Walking through the city streets, marching right beside our new friend, waving at the crowds, it was such a perfect moment. The crowds cheered at us and Ten-Bears, who surprisingly quick on his feet, would spontaneously break into a jig or do a cartwheel. I shall remember this day as rich in laughter and high on elation.
Upon reaching the end of the parade we met with the queen of the parade, who was equally enthused about our participation. She entreated us to go recruit more revellers and off we have marched, smiles from ear to ear, looking for more to join in our happy day.
Oct 03, 2009
CHAPTER Harrow cards: Jul;Snake bite (INT) Camlo: Idiot Riff: Raksasha Zenovia:Vision
3 Harrowed points (INT) INT skill reroll Untrained skill Arcane Wrath +2 save DC +4 caster level check for spell resistance +4 attack rolls
MY Harrow card for the day: THE LIAR (CHR)
Cressida Kroft is sending us to find Vin Carlo in Old Korvosa. He has contacts in Harse. Old Korvosa: Following wild Eyed Crazy Guy with an Axe. Excrebles Theater was burnt to the ground. Eel's End Attacked and Abandoned, signs of fighting. Attacked by the Emperor's men. Pitts Swadle is the emperor. Executioner is gnome bad ass. 11 Silk st. is the Palace Lieutenant Lurin is my disguise. "Joker's have skeletons."?
Oct 17th, 2009
Salvatore Scream. Muse left him after death of King Iodred. He no longer uses the color blue. The God Zoncothon was talking through his work.
- Portrait wearing shadows framed by dolmen. Brilliant blue eyes glow with anger.
- Mountain range over desert of skulls. Nadar tribesman riding tusked camels.
- Man with peeling away skin, underneath arms blue scales are revealed.
Now he no longer uses blue. "The Mantis are watching and are everywhere."
Investigating the house behind the academy we run into the Mantis as the ambush us. Afterward found black jack outfit.
Nearby we run into Amin Gelento from House Endrin. Salvatore met Vincarlo. Amin knew Nelandus. Nelandus showed up at academy bloody and poisoned. After he was nursed back to health. He said Queen murdered Iodred after cutting a deal with the mantis. Vincarlo has connections with Arconens and brough seneshal there. Vincarlo infiltrated palace.
Mystery Lady into spikes, she is looking for Salvatore worships Zonkuthon. She has skulls of talented artists. Vivified Labyrinth
Vimanda was our first contact back in the city. At House Arcona Chimidu the god of the hunt. Carnision tall pleasant man meets us, the Met Glorio. He has seneshal Niando. he does not need the queen. we go to the baths. He has a distaste for Zoncuthon. He has sent Vincarlo and Niando Vivified Labyrinth. Elephant Statue leads there. Levers adjust. 4 sections.
Notes Nov 28
Servants are in fear and are charmed.
Aziz, broke his charm. Cannot go to Treasury or Glorio' room. Whenthey go to his chambers they never return.
He favors ME.
Carneshan is Major Domo of house. He likes me.
Glorio is not the head of all Arcona but is high ranking.
Chimedu is house god but they venerate the whole pantheon. God ofbeasts.
Elephant is a Golem. Guardian of the Labyrinth.
Servant? Osirians Miwangi
Bloodstones are saying on us. Brass Statue of chemedu and ring ofevasion.
In the Labyrinth:
Ledge with cultivated fungus and ever burning torches.
We used to be Jhani, free us.
Second ledge has hidden door to the labyrinth
Third ledge has sea entrance.
Crude carved tunnel. Leads to carving of Tigers on wall. Four tigers,Four levels.
Two tiger headed men beacon us into chamber.
This chamber rotates.
1. Opens wider.
2. Chamber with ornate symbol.
3. Blank wall
2. disable symbol.
Second symbol stuns us all.
Dark Sphinx named Civet.
Glorio is a Rasksasha. Good and piercing, highly magic resistant. Third nipple.
• Someone else is working the rotating parts of dungeon.
• Mural shows us being ripped apart in a jungle setting.
• Alcoves containing spheres: white, green, black and gold.
• Riff and Camlo touch green sphere and disappear.
• Camlos and Riff are in cells with outside a female three fanged headed creature with six arms. (The Beaufic One)
• Find Nealandus.
• Found Undead Mastedons rotating the disks.
• Melia is in chamber with wasps and a wall filled with holes. behind her is a door with bad things. Sarcophagi who screamed. beyond that is well with snakes.
• Found Black Column on six inch raised Diaz.
• Used unseen servant to rotate walls. Returning to where seneschal is held with Vincarlo.
• Red Mantis assassins. From a Citadel. They have their own agenda. They will not Kill a monarch.
We debate confronting Glorio or running away
Melia actually was Viamianda a Raksasha from Arcona. She ambushed us when we were attacked by a gigantic Reef Claw.
Queen is wearing crown of fangs, she is channeling the spirit of a draconic warlord.
Journey into the Cinderlands
What you know of KazavonSeveral hundred years ago, a brutal warlord of Zon-Kuthon named Kazavon conquered much of the Hold of Belkzen. His violent expansion and assaults against the neighboring countries of Ustalav and Lastwall quickly became far more deadly and horrific than petty skirmishes against orcs. From his castle, Scarwall, Kazavon threatened to engulf all who dared rise against him. His tactical brilliance, combined with his savage armies of orcs and barbarians, continuously broke every army Lastwall and Ustalav could throw against him. With none able to withstand his power, it seemed as if his reign of murder and blood would last forever.
What Neolandus told you
• When Neolandus confronted Queen Ileosa about King Eodred II’s death, her response was to send Red Mantis assassins after him—proof enough of guilt to Neolandus. Through a combination of luck and knowledge about the castle’s layout, Neolandus barely managed to escape with his life and went into hiding with his friend Salvator Scream in Old Korvosa.
• After he recovered from the attack but before Salvator handed him over to the Arkonas, Neolandus spent much of his time in Old Korvosa researching the situation by interviewing key people, poring through records in Endrin Academy, and piecing together information and rumors he heard to try to determine what caused Queen Ileosa’s sudden personality change from a petulant spoiled queen to a scheming murderous tyrant. • Neolandus’s suspicions grew, but until Queen Ileosa’s first public appearance after the plague, he tempered his suspicions with hope. He knew that Queen Ileosa had been “borrowing” the treasury key to look through Korvosa’s holdings. Neolandus was also familiar with several old and obscure legends about the chambers below Castle Korvosa— chambers, it was whispered, that were old even when the Shoanti dwelt here, and that used to hide something of great power or evil. There was little more information to go on, but he did uncover mention in some documents from Korvosa’s earliest days of something called Midnight’s Teeth, and that these teeth were believed to be some sort of sacred relic of great import to the Shoanti. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the Shoanti kept these teeth in the chambers inside the pyramid that now serves as Castle Korvosa’s foundation. • Neolandus’s further research uncovered an old legend that chilled his soul. Several hundred years ago, a powerful blue dragon and agent of Zon-Kuthon named Kazavon brought the orcs of Belkzen to their knees and began conquering the neighboring nations of Ustalav and Lastwall, until he was finally defeated and his remains scattered. Some of these remains, according to certain Zon-Kuthonic scriptures, contained fragments of Kazavon’s essence. One of these relics was the Fangs of Kazavon. • By piecing together his evidence, Neolandus suspects that Midnight’s Teeth were none other than the Fangs of Kazavon. The description of the queen’s new crown sounds to Neolandus as if she now wears the Fangs of Kazavon on her brow, the implications of which troubles him greatly. • Neolandus wasn’t able to gather much more information before the Arkonas took him, but he doesn’t suspect there was much more to learn. Hard facts about Midnight’s Teeth were sparse to begin with—Korvosa’s founders didn’t think it important to preserve much in the way of Shoanti culture. Yet there is still some hope. The Shoanti have very strong oral traditions, and if anyone knows the truth behind Midnight’s Teeth, that truth is doubtless hidden among their historians up in the Cinderlands.
Meeting Thousand Bones again and Krojun Eats-What-He-Kills When Krojun arrives at the Kallow Mounds, the Skoan- Quah silently accept Berak’s body and begin preparing it for interment. Krojun has little interest in staying for the ceremony, but before he leaves he notices that the Skoan-Quah have other visitors, simply by noticing that the guest yurt has been prepared and is in use. He quickly seeks out Chief One-Life and demands to know who visits, and when he discovers the visitors are tshamek, he seeks them out, his rage and indignation growing. Thousand Bones is quick to come to your side before Krojun confronts you. He warns that Krojun is a hero to the Sklar-Quah, and that blood spilt here would undermine the already shaky situation between the tribes. When Krojun does arrive, he spends a few moments sizing you up with a sneer before turning to address Chief One-Life: “Why do the Skoan-Quah harbor tshamek trespassers?” As Chief One-Life struggles to find an explanation that won’t further enrage the towering visitor, Thousand Bones nods at the giant’s words as though considering them carefully, but then responds sharply, “Tell me, Krojun, when did the Sklar-Quah become judges of who trespasses on the Kallow Mounds where the ashes of our fathers lie?” “Your words change the question, Thousand Bones,” answers the Shoanti hero with a snort. “These ones bring trouble to the Cinderlands, and you know it. The coming days shall reveal to us all who is right about them.” “Perhaps,” answers Thousand Bones. “But not today, and not here. Would you have word of Berak’s burial tainted by bloodshed get back to your Sun Shaman?” Krojun pauses, the cords in his neck straining, but then he exhales and grins. “You misunderstand me, Thousand Bones. My grief has wounded my words. But see to it that no tshamek defiles our memories here.” His smile broadens as he pulls a thin leather loop from one of his packs. “Certainly, though, guests of the Skoan-Quah must be brave to come this far. You wouldn’t mind if I tested the courage and strength of your guests, would you?”
The Bone Council Fire As night falls, Thousand Bones invites you to join him at the center of the camp. The majority of the other Skoan- Quah retire early to their tents out of respect for the Bone Council Fire—the only people present are yourselves, Thousand Bones, Chief One-Life, and Ash Dancer. During the council, both One-Life and Ash Dancer remain quiet, letting Thousand Bones do all the talking. As Thousand Bones speaks, Ash Dancer sprinkles the fire with a greenish-brown herbal dust from a weathered pouch. A few moments later, the fumes encapsulate anyone who remains by the fire; the effects cause a slight blurring of the vision and a feeling of ease. Thousand Bones’s speech to you is short and direct, as is his way. “You have already done my people a great favor by returning the body of one of our warriors. I sense now you come to me to ask a favor in return, yet know that by doing this favor, you are helping us all. The Skoan-Quah are a peaceful people, yet we are also all but shunned by our kin. Our willingness to mix with tshamek shames many of my brothers and sisters in the other quahs. Only their respect for our tradition of guarding and protecting the dead of all Shoanti keep them from open hostility against us. My words do not reach their ears when I advise against war on Korvosa. They hear tales of the city in flames, of its king dead, of disease ravaging its people, and they see this as the time foretold. A time when the Shoanti can ride down from these burning lands and reclaim greener lands to the south, lands that were once ours. Yet war is not good for us. My brothers do not see that, even crippled, Korvosa remains a powerful enemy. It is best to make your enemies your friends, do you not think? Yet my brothers do not listen to these words. They see weakness, they demand action. “Yet you could not know of the coming war. You come to me with a different favor. Speak of what you wish of me, and perhaps we may find our needs are the same.” Thousand Bones listens to your tale quietly and somberly, answering the following questions when they were posed to him. Tell us about the Shoanti who dwelt by the river before Korvosa was founded. “This was many generations ago, yet it is a wound that has never healed. My brothers among the Skoan-Quah have forgiven, but our numbers are small. We were once a part of the Sklar-Quah, yet our readiness to forgive marked us traitors and we were exiled from that clan. In the generations that passed we grew more at peace with our role here—there is beauty in the Cinderlands, if you know where to look. We have abandoned our memories of lives below the rise in a way the Sklar-Quah have not. Those memories poison them. They do not see that this land is theirs. They only see lands that their ancestors called home. If you seek more wisdom of those times, you must seek out the keepers of words among the Sklar-Quah. You must seek the words of a Sun Shaman.” What can you tell us of Midnight’s Teeth? Thousand Bones’ brow furrows at this question and he appears to be deep in thought for a moment before answering. “The name is not unfamiliar, yet I know little more than that I have heard it mentioned but twice by Sun Shamans of the Sklar-Quah. Always in reference to the past, and to what you now call Korvosa.” Can we simply walk into a Sklar-Quah camp and ask them for aid? “Sadly, no. You are tshamek. Outlanders. Rightful or not, the Sklar-Quah will see you as the children of those who murdered their ancestors and drove them from the green lands. The Sun Clan does not like outsiders at the best of times. And less so now that war against Korvosa is on every brave’s lips.” Tell us more of this talk of war on Korvosa. “It pains my heart. Many will die, Shoanti and tshamek alike, if such a tragedy comes to pass. The Sklar-Quah talk of a great Burn Run from the Storval Rise all the way to the heart of tshamek lands, to Korvosa. The Sklar-Quah’s mood is very dark. This is hard for the Skoan-Quah. We have made paper with Korvosa, agreeing that we will not make war. Yet after the Sklar-Quah raid, the tshamek will come north, led by your new queen. They will kill many Shoanti brothers and sisters, including Skoan-Quah. The winter will be harsh and many giants will be coming south to take advantage of the loss of braves. Can you talk to the Sklar-Quah for us? You’re not tshamek. “Alas, this will not work. They would ask us why we want to know of such things. We would have to tell them. They will not give us secrets to tell tshamek.” Is there any way the Sun Clan will stop treating us as tshamek? “You must understand. The Sklar-Quah are very certain of these things. They may come to respect lone tshamek after many days of seeing them act honorably, but what you ask is for the Sun Shaman to lay bare his quah’s heart. The deepest memories of his clan. These memories are not for tshamek. Not since Skurak the Reborn have the members of the Sklar-Quah unbanished a man and welcomed him into their quah. Skurak? How did he manage it? Thousand Bones smiles enigmatically for a brief instant before going on. “The legend of Skurak is of a great warrior and greater traitor to the Sklar-Quah. He slew his brother, a brave of even greater courage. To the Sklar-Quah, family is purity—crimes against the family are the greatest a man can commit. Although Skurak claimed the death was an accident as he and his brother were hunting, others spoke of murder spawned of jealous rage. Skurak was declared a tshamek by the Sun Shaman and cast out. But before Skurak left he said he would be born again and return to his tribe. This he did. He went to the killing grounds of the great Cindermaw the Clan-Eater. Skurak walked up to the beast carrying only his dagger. Without fear he dove inside the beast and cut his way out. He returned to the clan and declared he had been reborn, and had left his misdeeds behind in the cleansing fire of Cindermaw’s belly. The legend says the Sun Shaman accepted this and Skurak’s time as a tshamek was spoken of no more.” So this is a way for us to earn the Sklar-Quah’s favor? To be eaten by and then escape from Cindermaw? “Perhaps. Yet this route is more complex than you suspect. The Sklar-Quah would never believe the words of tshamek on such a matter, nor would they risk travel to the Feeding Grounds just to see foolish outlanders attempt to recreate legends. I could come with you, if my bones were not so tired, yet I am Skoan-Quah. My words would hold little light with the Sun Shaman, I fear.” Here Thousand Bones grows silent for a moment, and Ash Dancer speaks for the first time. “They could bring a Truthspeaker, Thousand Bones.” What is a Truthspeaker? “There are those among our people who, after living lives without lie and never speaking falsehood, have earned the title of Truthspeaker. It is a rare honor, one that requires many years of chastity, of self-control, of introspection. There are Truthspeakers among the Sklar-Quah, yet that does not help you. Were that the Skoan-Quah had one. Yet The Skoan-Quah and the Sklar-Quah are not the only Shoanti in the Cinderlands. I have heard tell that the Lyrune-Quah, who dwell in the shadow of the Wyvern Mountains far to the northwest, have Truthspeakers among them. If you could perform the ritual of rebirth at the Feeding Grounds of the Quah- Kael in the presence of a Truthspeaker, his words would be all the proof you need to secure an audience with the Sklar-Quah.” Where do we even find the Moon clan? “The Lyrune- Quah are nomads. This time of year, they gather at a place sacred to them, a place called the House of the Moon at the northeasternmost edge of the Wyvern Mountains. Yet I fear that they will distrust you as tshamek as well, unless you bring to them proof of your honesty and need.” What can we bring them to secure their aid? “The Lyrune-Quah are unusual among the Shoanti. They do not seek enlightenment through our ancestors, but from the Song of the Spheres. They are devotees of Desna, and they trust those who worship her. Yet that trust is, alone, not enough to earn the aid of a Truthspeaker to be witness to your heroics against Cindermaw. The faithful of Desna have a tradition of exploring distant and dangerous places as a way to honor their deity, who watches over all who travel. When they reach the goal of their pilgrimage, a priest leaves a found-mark to honor his journey. One of the Lyrune-Quah’s greatest ancestors was a priest of Desna named Tanjah—their legends speak of her pilgrimage into an ancient ruin and her discovery of a potent relic sacred to Desna, a stone globe held deep within a place called the Acropolis of the Thrallkeepers. Those who follow Tanjah’s footsteps and seek her found-mark upon this globe are said to be given the Spherewalker’s Mark, and with this mark, the Lyrune-Quah would welcome into their camp even their most bitter rivals.” What is the Acropolis of the Thrallkeepers? Where is it? “It is a ruin left over from an ancient time, a time when great powers ruled over this land. We speak of these ancient lords only in whispers today, but you may know their mark by the Sihedron, the seven-pointed star. I know not what perils await you within the Acropolis, but its location is not unknown to the Skoan-Quah. When you are ready to leave, I shall send with you four boneslayers to lead you there.” How can we repay you for your help? “By convincing the Sklar-Quah you are friends, that you represent Korvosa, and that war is not in anyone’s best interest. This will save both our peoples needless pain and grief. If you can earn their trust and respect enough to learn from them the secret of what their ancestors watched over before the outlanders drove them away, they will listen to your words and see the wisdom there. This is all I ask, and it benefits you as well.” Once you have asked their questions and are sure of your goals, Thousand Bones tells you that he will not send them into the Cinderlands on your quest alone or unarmed. He calls forth four brave young Skoan-Quah boneslayers, introducing them as Ahalak, Hargev, Nalmid, and Shadfrar. These four are your guides through the Cinderlands, and lead you where you need to go. Further, he presents some gifts: five potions of cure serious wounds, a wand of create water (44 charges), a wand of endure elements (23 charges), and five pots of Shoanti war paint (three red and two silver). If asked about these gifts, Thousand Bones smiles and says, “I had suspected for some time you would need my help. These gifts are nothing to me, but they may be everything to you.”
The Acropolis of the Thrallkeepers sits atop a raised area in the shadows of the Wyvern Mountains. Built originally by an order of Thassilonian wizards known as the Thrallkeepers (a competing order against the Therassic Monks), the acropolis’s true grandeur lies hidden underground. Eager to prove their value and use to Runelord Karzoug, they turned increasingly to the teachings of the rune goddess Lissala, and through those meditations, they sought a method to duplicate the great works of Thassilon’s most powerful conjurers. The acropolis was a place where they could perfect their conjurations and study the strange and horrific monstrosities like scarlet walkers, shining children, and other malignancies from beyond the stars, ever seeking ways to call down larger and more dangerous minions to present to Karzoug. The most arrogant of the order hoped one day to call upon a creature like the Oliphaunt of Jandelay, yet they never quite reached such a level of power before they overstepped their own ability. Following forbidden runes and methods stolen from dubious sources (perhaps from strangely-garbed merchants visiting from Leng), the Thrallkeepers set about the conjuration of a gigantic entity from a distant corner of the universe—a monster referred to as the Arms and Eyes of Forever. They managed to pull it down from these distant unknown places and imprisoned it in the vast summoning chamber below, but the creature was too powerful for the Thrallkeepers to fully control. Not a single Thrallkeeper was rumored to have survived the calamity within the acropolis. The Therassic Monks attempted several times to move in and claim the vacated structure but seemed unable to hold it for long. When Thassilon crumbled, visits to the acropolis ended, and in time, all but one of the once-mighty buildings that stood atop it crumbled.
The Sihedron Rune What you know about Thassilon is that it was a vast empire ruled by powerful wizards. The sheer size of the monuments they left behind testifies to their power, and the unnatural way many of these monuments have resisted erosion and the march of time testifies to their skill at magic. Most sages place the height of the Thassilonian empire at 7,000 to 8,000 years ago, but you think the empire was even older—and suspect it collapsed no sooner than 10,000 years in the past. The rune seems to be one of the most important runes of Thassilon. The star itself is known as the “Sihedron Rune,” and signifies not only the seven virtues of rule (generally agreed among scholars to have been wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger, and rest), but the seven schools of magic recognized by Thassilon (divination magic, was not held in high regard by the ancients). Much of what is understood about Thassilon indicates that its leaders were far from virtuous, and you believe the classic mortal sins (greed, lust, pride, gluttony, envy, wrath, and sloth) rose from corruptions of the Thassilonian virtues of rule. In any event, the Sihedron Rune was certainly a symbol of power, one that may well have stood for and symbolized the empire itself.