The Freeport Chronicles

Ode to Romica

Farewell good friend

While in the company of the orcs, the companions provide their leadership with an update on progress – contact has been made and access to the prison provided. Sharing the details of the vision, the prisoners must be removed over the next two days or so. This lines up well with the orcs plans; despite diminished numbers, they have been directed to lead an attack on the prison two days hence. Seeking to gain advantage from their situation, the companions attempt to strike a deal to assist the orcs in breaking out their imprisoned brethren in return for help leading the residents of Everstand out before the city falls. The leadership present is open to the arrangement, and will try to influence the orc chief but cannot speak on his behalf.

The companions return to the catacombs and manage to skirt the zombies without incident. Before re-entering the area beneath the Hope District, they decide it best to provide the discussed evidence to Hercluf’s men. The solid iron door is slightly ajar, the pitons have been removed as promised. Several guards are arrayed on the opposite side. The evidence – Sylix’s journal and Parry Ledue – are provided to the guards, who seem relieved at the exchange. Further, Kurt Bangalore is entrusted to their care for safeguarding. When asked about the way into the Charity District, the leader of the entourage motions his men on. Out of earshot, he advises the Keep will not betray their true leader, but the dagger at their belts will provide a sufficient introduction to her when the time comes. In the mean time, he and his compatriots will protect the evidence with their lives until provided to Hercluf. With that, the guards exit the vicinity in close formation.

With little time before curfew, Lando and Maydrane make for the Temple of Gorum. On the way, an out of breath Brother Tef hails them. He brings word from his lover Briggs, there is a bounty on Lando’s head. Darius Pritchard and his band of rangers are on their trail. Briggs will attempt to run interference, but he warns the gnome and centaur to be wary. Lando thanks him for the information and sends him home.

Walking the streets, Maydrane feels that they are being tailed by an agent. They duck behind a door to allow Lando time to cast invisibility so they can make a quick escape. Although they elude the tail, they believe they have little time this night. They will need to be extra careful going forward.

Lando and Maydrane enter the Temple of Gorum shortly before it closes for the evening. The premises are empty of worshipers this late at night, with only the cleaning staff and several junior clergy in the building. Lando and Maydrane advise one of the staff they were here earlier in the day and have decided to come back to receive Our Lord in Iron’s blessing. This provides them some time to gain access to the office of Ilidia Vassum, the Head Priest. A quick rifle through her belongings does not provide anything of note.

The voice of Darius Pritchard can be heard from outside, directing his rangers to search the temple. Before they come inside, Wall Lieutenant Briggs intervenes, pulling rank on Pritchard to attend to a separate incident. This provides Lando and Maydrane sufficient time to prepare for a confrontation; Lando casts invisibility while Maydrane readies a charge. A group of rangers, without Pritchard, enter the building and fan out. Maydrane sprints at full speed at the leader of the band guarding the door in hopes of spearing the unsuspecting fool on her halberd, while closing off a potential exit for the other rangers. Lando holds on for dear life.

The recently acquired keys open the portcullis, providing access to the chamber beyond. The massive room features a raised dais with a large sarcophagi, assumed to hold the remains of Gauntwood’s father, the prior ruler of Everstand. Four antechambers lead off from the main area to either side, each alcove filled with ornate armor and other ancestral treasures. At the far end of the room, a larger antechamber houses a more austere tomb.

The companions investigate the room at the end of the chamber first. The reason for its slightly larger bearing is clear, it houses two sarcophagi, one each for the two wives – Kelly and Darryn – of the former ruler. From their limited knowledge, the companions recall that the wives were paladins and known as defenders of the weak. Having come from humble beginnings, they were universally loved by the citizens of Everstand. Their tomb is filled with various family records, hundreds of funeral notes from the common gentry, as well as thousands of copper coins. Unsure of where to begin, Anton drops a gold coin into the tomb. A cascading light circles the chamber, building in brilliance. The companions are filled with positive emotions as the light suffuses them. The silhouette of one tome remains glowing as the light fades, drawing the attention of Anton.

The halfling picks up the large book and leafs through its delicate pages. The tome is a royal journal of sorts, and provides an intimate journey of Gauntwood’s upbringing through the eyes of his mothers. Gauntwood was not a good child, drawing the ire of his mothers on many occasions. Much regret is evident, not only in the choices of Gauntwood, but also their failure as parents. Near the end of Gauntwood’s fathers reign, Palomina is first mentioned. After the succession, both Kelly and Darryn become ill at the same time. Thinking it odd that their health would deteriorate simultaneously, the mothers enlists the assistance of the Pathfinder Society. A gnomish couple was dispatched with the official directive to assist in cataloguing Everstand’s archives; however, their ulterior motive was to investigate the mothers’ illness and a possible link to Palomina.

While this occurs, Magus Mike and Freight explore the other alcoves. The jewel encrusted ceremonial weapons and ancestral armor prove too much of a temptation; as the gear is gently placed within their bag of holding, a trap is activated – the portcullis slams shut as gallons of water stream into the now enclosed burial chamber.

The companions regroup at the sarcophagus of Gauntwood’s father. Romica detects a lever in the sarcophagus that will trigger the doorway, however, it will need to be held open manually. Before the companions can brainstorm ideas, several undead creatures surface from the water and engage the group. Similar to the prior inquisitors that were fought, these guards have crowns of purple flame that sit atop featureless faces of stretched skin. They attack the group without emotion.

With well executed strikes complemented with several channel energy pulses, the companions manage to overcome the undead guardians. However, the battle has managed to exact its toll as the water level is beginning to near the top of the room. Unable to come up with a better plan, Romica activates the lever, allowing the other companions to exit the chamber as it fills. The last glimpse of the hairy dwarf reveals a crooked tooth grin only a mother could love. The portal closes again with the sound of finality.

As the companions walk aimlessly from the door, thoughts elsewhere, Romica is visited by the shades of Gauntwood’s mothers. The ghostly paladins show the dwarf a vision of two gnomes, along with a unidentified person, jumping through a portal, fire crackling in the distance. With his dying breath, Romica relays the vision to Lando. The gnome stumbles as he receives the message. A tear each for Romica and those in the message carve the contours of the gnome’s cheeks before disappearing into the wisps of his unruly beard.

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