A Rise of the Runelords campaign journal that became two books

Rise of the Runelords

65. Epilogue: Loose ends of our past

Two weeks after the defeat of Karzoug and the destruction of the Pinnacle of Avarice
Magnimar, Varisia

The spire shook and collapsed, just like the mystical plane that had been Karzoug’s hideout and prison both. From the crumbling realm of the defeated runelord, we made our narrow, last second escape by teleportation to Magnimar and the safety of Kaijitsu manor.

We were worn-out and tired to the point of exhaustion. We didn’t really understand what had happened, but above all we were happy and relieved to be alive. We shook each others hands, clapped shoulders, shared hugs. Alice was all right, and there was no trace of the deadly wound Karzoug’s magic had inflicted upon her. Dûath was whole – as if he had never been struck down by a bolt of energy. My brother’s weird seizure had passed the second he had stumbled back through the portal.

Varisia was saved, and only we knew about it. Pettier people would’ve regretted the fact but I didn’t. And neither did any of the others, as we all had our own ends we cared about. Harsk and Alice were simply content the threat of evil had been thwarted. Alfred had had his share of close battles and fabulous riches. Saffron had found her book. I, my brother.

The same evening we gathered at the Quick Fox inn to celebrate our success. I felt there was a palpable sense of joy in the air, but also hint of sadness. Deep down everyone was aware that our time together was coming to an end. To me the fact that our roads would now part was something I had known to expect, but I still was surprised to find myself somewhat wistful. But that night we didn’t discuss the future, but our time together, the experiences we shared and the people lost. We toasted to Vidarok and Ilori, and to Faroth. We toasted to the Black Arrows who had been betrayed by their own, and the heroic defenders of Sandpoint who had boldly risen to the occasion at our side. We toasted to Conna the stone giant shaman, who had talked Mokmurian’s giant army into laying down their arms after we had slain their commander. We toasted to Iesha Foxglove who had helped us, unintentionally, defeat his murderous husband beyond her grave. And to many others, alive or dead. Ale and wine flowed. A feast was consumed. There was a lot of singing and dancing. People joined in, not really fathoming the reason for the celebration even though we told them, but our mood was contagious. And the drinks were free, Harsk and Alfred made sure of it.

I’m keenly aware just how badly my body handles alcohol, but I still drank, vainly hoping my newly gained elemental powers would help me resist its damnable effect. The next morning my only solace was the fact that my brother handles alcohol only marginally better than I, and he had shared many, many more toasts with Alfred and Harsk than I had. I lie, of course. Despite the throbbing pain in my head and the urge to vomit I was calm and content. The physical suffering was inconsequential next to the feeling of emptiness and despair I had endured for years. But like the hangover would be in a few hours, I knew it was a thing of the past.

Sprawled across the big bed I realized I had nowhere to go that morning. Through the bedroom window I watched birds fly to and from the safety of oak branches that had begun to bud their first leaves. The birds had arrived from their overwinter trip somewhere warmer, heralding the arrival of spring, and a new beginning. For me, this was a fresh start as well. Karzoug was defeated. I knew where my brother was. I could take my belongings and head anywhere. For the first time in a long, long time (ever?), I didn’t know what I was going to do. Not all the books of my past were closed, but none felt important enough to warrant a closer reading, except maybe one. My mind was drawn to Nirmanthas and to Aurora, and I wondered how she was faring. Had she found someone other? Had her father managed to talk her into a marriage with a nobleman? Had her words about my brother being an uncle been true? Was there somewhere a daughter or a son I could call mine?

My mind began to wander and I soon found the newly attained calmness broken by restless thoughts like hammer striking glass. Unease, it seemed, was my normal state of mind.

A few days later we returned once, as a group, to Xin-Shalast, at the head of a small envoy from the Pathfinder Society, who paid us majestically for showing the way and escorting them to whatever remained of Karzoug’s spire. The tower, or the Pinnacle of Avarice as the old scripts later told me, had fallen completely and decimated a number of other buildings at the peak of Mhar-Massif. Among the ruins were untold riches, and we salvaged some, but only a handful of what I imagined Karzoug had stored for his return. Karzoug’s runewell at least was deep beneath hundreds of tons of rubble.

The giants had fled the city over the mountains, but we spotted an old blue dragon flying around its high-rises, roaring its anger. And gods knew what other abominations still lurked in its shadows. Xin-Shalast still had secrets left, but guarded them closely, and the Society wanted to explore them despite the risks. I took their platinum with Belon and bode them farewell to their deaths.

After the short trip, the group began to dissolve one by one as people started in their own paths.

Saffron was the first to leave us. She took the massive tome she had found in the Pinnacle with her, said her brief goodbyes and left unceremoniously. She didn’t promise to come back, nor to meet us again. But she did promise us, just before she disappeared in a sphere of teleportation, that Chellan would never re-emerge, and told us she’d go back to her books and her hunt for knowledge.

Alfred’s decision surprised me the most. The old thrill-seeker had had enough of adventuring and returned to Sandpoint to put down roots for the second time. He did own half of Ameiko’s Rusty Dragon, and his love of parties and good times finally overcame his love of battle. A few days after Saffron left, the sellsword departed to the sleepy fishing town to become an innkeeper. I imagine his stories would sell a lot of beer and places to stay for the night in the coming years. I told the sellsword to say my regards to Ameiko and look after the town in general. While dragons and giants would not be assaulting its walls, it would need its guardians.

Alice was the third to leave. She didn’t say goodbye to us only, but also to her old friend Garnet Alexandros, her once-patron. I don’t know in what terms they parted, but I can’t imagine the swindler princess being too happy about losing her associate. But Alice had grown to be her own woman, and whereas Alfred had seen enough, Alice’s eyes were just opening. She told us she would continue the fight against evil around Golarion and strive to stop threats like Karzoug wherever they lurked. Thanks to the experience she had gained with us and Garnet, and enabled by her wealth, she was already planning to establish a covert organisation to support her endeavours. Of all the others I felt there was a real possibility I’d actually meet her again someday.

Harsk remained in Magnimar for a few months. He visited Sandpoint regularly to manage his chapel/church and see the orphans, and to take care of his brewery business. In the brewery he quickly began to transfer all decision-making power to his partner Gaven Deverin – with a demand that beer should be always sold to Alfred and the Rusty Dragon at a reasonable price. The god-touched stayed at the Cathedral of Iomedae and spent his available time writing a book of his experiences, framing it as a collection of stories how to battle and contain demonic forces and calling it the “Study on Demonic Beings under the Rule of Thassilonian Runelords”. His project gained him quick widespread fame around south-western Varisia, and he held seminars and speeches to interested people from Magnimar, Galduria and Korvosa. Even I participated in one seminar before I left Magnimar. When I asked what he’d do after he finished his work, his response did not surprise me one bit. He had only one destination: the war against the abyssal hordes in Worldwound, alongside his brothers and sisters of faith. I told him to watch his back and stay alive.

**

I don’t admit to seeing dreams nor nightmares, but I woke up to a harrowing feeling on the day I departed Magnimar with my brother. Beside my bed, on the floor, Dûath was still napping peacefully, but I had come to a gut-wrenching realization.

I’ve freed myself, and I’ve freed my brother. But there’s still one slave left without his freedom.

I am not one to dawdle. Making my decision on the spot, I woke up my brother to tell him what I was going to do, packed my bag and left early with the panther towards Ordellia at the western reaches of Magnimar. There, I rented the services of a riverboat and its crew and we sailed a dozen or so miles upstream Yondabakari river, deep into the Musfens.

“Here’s a good place”, I signaled the boat’s captain, who dexterously took the little sailboat closer to the riverbank and an opening in the thick swamp foliage I had indicated.
“Wait here, I’ll be back in less than half an hour”, I told him when I leaped off the boat and onto solid if wet ground. My panther followed me, easily jumping farther than I, now unhindered by the mithral chains I had armored him with earlier.

He growled in satisfaction after a long time in the city, an environment ill-suited to a magnificent beast like him, and a lump grew to the back of my throat. I willed myself to continue. So we went, half a mile or so into the dense jungle that was the Mushfens swamplands, him leading the way, me the anxious follower.
At one point, I just had to overcome myself and stop lest I miss my return voyage.

“We’re far enough, friend”, I began to tell my loyal, trusting animal companion, and Dûath turned to regard me with its green-yellow cat’s eyes. “And we’ve come far enough together.” He tilted his head to the side in uncertainty. I wasn’t commanding him, so what was I doing? I watched the ring of protection I had given him dangle from a thin leather collar. May it protect you in the future.

“Life by my side is dangerous, and I can’t see how it can become any safer. I’ve lost enough of my few friends already, and when I saw you perish at the hands of Karzoug, I cursed myself. For my bluster. For my lack of sense. For taking you into combat where you had no place to be. It was never your fight, little one, but you almost paid the ultimate price for it.”
“I thought I had saved you when I found you in that cage in Magnimar, but I was wrong. As with slaves, your ownership merely exchanged hands. But I’m saving you now.”

I swallowed.
“Go on, and live a life of freedom in the wild.. find a nice firepelt girl and have a lot of strong cubs. If you come by Shalelu, roar my greetings to her. And watch out for Saffron.. she might still turn you into a kitten.” At that point talking was becoming a struggle, so I just waved him off, willing him to go. He didn’t.
Aut vahaiya!” I fought back the tears and screamed him to go, far away, in Elven.
I cannot take responsibility of you, as it never belonged to me.

Finally, after a long moment I spent holding my breath, the black furred big cat turned its gaze away from mine and with a determined leap, vanished into the green. He was free, at last, in a place he belonged, where he could choose his own way.

When I boarded the riverboat,  I heard a panther’s calling echoing over the constant chirping and row of the swamp. It was full of life, and it was informing the inhabitants of the jungle that a new prince had arrived. Despite the regret that comes with saying yet another final farewell, pride filled my heart. I knew I had made the right call.

Goodbye, I whispered as my boat gently started its return to Magnimar. I would remember him.

**

I was back in the city later that day.

“So, how was it”, I asked Belon who leaned back in a comfortable chair, a pipe full of slowly burning koda leaves between his lips. He sucked some of the smoke, and puffed it out, relaxing a bit in the process.
“This pipe?” asked my brother, mischievously. I too was leaning back in my own chair but without a pipe or any other device designed to relax, expand the mind and or provide mildly hallucinogenic mental effects.
“No, fool”, I snorted. “The whores.”
“I was just with one girl. And it still works”, Belon clarified and beamed proudly to the ceiling, inhaling the wisps of smoke hanging around him. During my halfday trip to the Mushfens, he had strolled to Lowcleft in Lower Magnimar, the district frequented by Alfred, and found a suitable bordello to try out something that had worried him. Given that everything beneath his neck was golden, it was only reasonable to make sure his downstairs functioned properly.

“So you’re not going to ask the wizards to undo the magic Karzoug cast upon your flesh?” I asked, guessing his answer.
He seemed to consider the options, but was quick to respond. “No”, he said, the wide smile still across mouth. “To be honest, it might prove useful to have armor on your skin”, added Belon, suddenly serious. He was not a vain man and I could understand the reasoning. But unlike me, Belon didn’t worry about attention. And walking around with a golden hide did get you attention, even though there were clothes or pieces of armor covering it.
“I know what you’re thinking”, he said.

I raised my brow.

“You’re thinking my skin gets us noticed”, he began and put up a finger to silence my retort. “But, brother, I’m not the only one standing out like a sore thumb. In case you haven’t noticed, you’ve changed. You radiate an.. unique aura. It must be due to the elemental powers coursing in your veins. People stop and stare, wondering what is it exactly that is strange about you, and give you way. Or it’s the awful death’s head mask you’re wearing half the time”, he added and chuckled.

He was right about people staring and wondering, of course. No longer could I pass through mobs of city dwellers like a faceless man, hidden by my cloak and hood. The conclusion added to my unease, even though I’d been more or less aware about the problem for the past months. Even now I knew a man was watching me instead of focusing on getting high.
“This could become a problem for us”, I told him, referring to the fact I was still a wanted man.
“Only Pharasma knows”, shrugged Belon and tasted the pipe.

We were in a small tavern in Naos, the richer part of Magnimar, that was known for not serving drinks or foods but only teas and coffee and various herbs intended for smoking. I’d tried by never found smoking leaves particularly refreshing nor relaxing, but they, particularly koda leaves, were a habit of my somewhat more laid-back brother. I preferred to keep my head clear, even though it meant keeping it tidy for unpleasant thoughts to roam in. The small red-walled venue was really just a lounge. It was furnished mainly with low, comfortably cushioned chairs arranged into a few groups, enough maybe only twenty customers, and was filled with an aromatic haze and had an atmosphere serene almost to the point of ridiculousness. Half-naked young men and women carried around tiny cups full of steaming coffee on wooden platters and served them to lounging customers, some of whom were talking lazily, while others were half-dozed and halfway out of this reality, carried away by low, rhythmic drumbeats, strange deep droning from a wind instrument I could not recognize, sweet, tender flute play and crystal-clear, soft chimes of triangles. The band was at the center of the lounge area but they could not have been more out of sight, so minimal was their performance.

I had tried the black hot drink after my brother’s encouragement and found the taste revolting. But the air of the place was a welcome change to the usual loud and drunken mucking around in sailors’ inns. I even liked the soothing ambient music.

Belon snapped me back from my thoughts. “So, I’ve learned that my snake still bites, but how about you, brother? Have you had anyone particular during these years?”
“There’s been a few”, I blurted the truth, to which he smiled. I realized we hadn’t talked about such matters during the past weeks at all, so it was a time as good as any to tell him about Aurora, the woman who almost had made me give up his search. “And there was one I wanted to talk you about.”
My brother put aside his pipe and patiently waited for me to continue.
“Her name is Aurora, and she is a nobleman’s daughter, a Count’s if you can believe, from Nirmanthas..”
I told him about her, and ended where I had seen her last and with the words she had spoken when I had run. For a moment, he said nothing.
“I am an uncle?” He finally managed. The pipe had found its way back into his mouth.
“Things happen, brother, and she might have been wrong about it.”
“But still.. this does not worry you? It’s.. just like with our father.”

The comparison was apt, and painfully so. The little our mother had told us of our father was that he had arrived to the village alone, armed but wounded and harried by a horrible summer storm, seeking shelter after being separated by his warband during an ambush. Our grandparents and our mother had welcomed him in and helped him recover. Coincidentally, a brief romance had flared between our mother and father. My romance had been longer, but the resemblance was there.

“She’s hard to forget. I’ve thought about her often, more so now that I’ve found you and have had the time to think about other things.”
Other things“, Belon repeated my words, mocking me. “You are such a bastard”, he added, grinning.
“I lack the natural charisma and social wit of yours to handle or enunciate these matters gracefully, brother”, I hissed between my teeth, irritated.
“This helps with that”, he laughed and offered the pipe, which I refused. “But really, Cael, you intend to leave it at that? Another bastard in the world who does not know his or her father?”

I rubbed my eyes. “I am not husband material. I don’t have a castle, lands and subjects.”
“Didn’t you just say she doesn’t care one bit about such things?”
“But her father does. And I think he wants to kill me too. It is.. not realistic.” My shoulders sagged, and my mood darkened. Even thinking about her and a possible child made me feel hopeless. I wanted so badly to go, immediately. To know what had happened. To see her again. I tried to push the stupid feelings away.
But my brother wasn’t letting me. “You’re afraid.”
“Just.. just give it a rest, will you?”

An awkward silence fell.

“Well what next then, brother?” He suddenly asked, acting more serious again, only to revert to easy humor a second later. “I heard there’s an old white dragon on the loose that just destroyed a dwarf village up north.”
I shrugged, ignoring the playful suggestion about Freezemaw who we had driven away from its hideout. The idea however had some real merit. “We start a company with the gold we have, for bounty hunting, or mercenary work.”
“So, more killing and throwing ourselves into harm’s way?” He asked me.
“That’s what we excel at, dear brother”, I muttered darkly and sighed.
“How about the loose ends of our past?”
I replied with a question of my own. “Which ones do you think need tying?” And don’t talk about Aurora, I pleaded without the words.

**

It was just past sundown when we left the coffee and herbs house and strolled back to Kaijitsu manor. We were the only ones living there with all but Harsk gone from the city, and the cleric had a spacious cell at the Cathedral. When we reached the solid wood gate at the edge of the property, I noticed something unusual.
“The lock has been broken”, I commented in a low voice and immediately my hands went to the pommels of my gladii while I hugged the ten feet high rough stonewall that circled the small estate. I cursed that I had left my bow inside. Belon did not comment but hurried to the other side of the gate and carefully peered in.
“No movement”, he informed me. “Any idea what’s going on?”
“Criminals, or bounty hunters. An unlucky coincidence or our past just came in by breaking and entering.”
While I always wore my enchanted breastplate made of mithral, Belon was not wearing his armor but simple leather breeches and tunic complemented by his magical cloak. However he carried his adamantine greatsword sheathed across his back. It was shorter than a typical greatsword, and with a wider blade, more akin to a falchion, but that was beyond the point. Important was that I knew it was deadly in his hands.
“Let’s see which one it is”, he whispered and pushed through the open gate doors.

Untended if still low bushes sided a pathway that led from the gate to the front veranda, but the front yard was otherwise empty. There were no lights inside, and the main entrance was closed. Silence save the orchestra of crickets welcomed us. The starry sky and rising crescent moon gave us the light we needed to see.
“Maybe we’re late?” I offered, my fingers still ready to pull out my blades.

“At least they didn’t find our valuables, since the stone of alarm isn’t ringing”, Belon added.

“Unless they magically silenced it”, I noted laconically. He snorted.

That was the moment our foes chose to reveal themselves. We were maybe fifteen strides away from the front doors when they slammed open and a group of armed men (and two women) poured out, forming a rough circle around us with organized efficiency but without engaging us. At fast count I observed twelve people with bad intentions, staring us down fifteen feet away to every direction.
“Oh my, a trap”, my brother commented aloud and took a step backwards to my right, but I heard the smile in his voice. He wasn’t afraid and planning an escape. He was giving me space to maneuver. Just like at the arena back in Canorate, I remembered our endless days training with gladiators, always outnumbered, back to back. But numbers didn’t always tell the truth, rather, steel and skill did.

“So, the failed killer finally comes home”, a rumbling voice called out from the front doors and a massive man stepped out into view, wearing heavy armor and a twisted grin. Thirteen bad guys then, I corrected myself.

“I am surprised House Horryn still has the gold and fools to spare for my hunt”, I spat back at the colossus in full plate. He kept grinning confidently. Around us, the bounty hunters and mercenaries all stayed put. They had leather armor, chain mail, axes, swords, rapiers. The usual. I had to be thankful the heirs of late Eximedes Horryn didn’t have the ancient connections or wealth to sic a pack of adult dragons at my tail.

“Oh, it has, boy. It has not forgotten what you did, and never will. But he didn’t tell me you had a sibling”, snarled the leader of the group. “I wonder if he pays extra when we deliver his head as well.”
“You’re not going to ask us to surrender”, my brother inquired, and I could tell he had turned his back to me to face the foes behind us.
“I don’t think you are planning to”, the leader told us. He was right.
I was already growing tired of the exchange but asked anyway. “Which one of the family is paying you? One of the sons?

The response almost pulled my feet from underneath me.

“Eximedes Horryn, stupid boy! He once more walks and breathes, yet the whole House still wants your head for what you did!”
The Master, alive? After all this time? I had no further witty comments to offer.  I was too shocked to speak or act, but nothing hindered our foes. To the both sides of the leader, mercenaries had their weapons raised. The other had a shortbow aimed at Belon and the other, something altogether different, at me. I had seen the weapon, or something similar, once before during my travels. It was a staff made of brass and wood, one half bored hollow to two fingers’ width and kept pointed at one’s foes, the other a stock to be held against one’s shoulder. An alchemical weapon that shot solid iron bullets faster than the eye could follow. A musket, I recalled the firearm’s name, and with my mind’s eye saw how the bullet had pierced steel like paper.

I had never been threatened by a firearm, I realized as I stared into its round, yawning muzzle.
“Time to work for our gold, boys”, the leader told his subordinates and waved his gauntleted hand. The shooter’s finger on the side of the musket twitched. I stood, unmoving, perplexed, my mind rolling in circles like a puppy after its tail. How the nine hells could he be back among the living? He had steered clear of magic, always, the paranoid fool.

I had one thing to think about when the musket boomed and flashed and sent certain death my way.
My shroud. My fucking shroud.
Like a ghost I became incorporeal as I willed my strange undershirt to activate.
I heard a wet thud as directly behind me somebody’s head exploded like a ripe melon after being hit by a warhammer.
I unsheathed my gladii and stepped forward, towards the closest foe. I wasn’t really thinking, only acting now. My magical boots shone once, and the world around me slowed down.
Returning to normal form I slashed open the throat of my first kill of the night. His death replaced my doubt and confusion with determination and anger to take care of the problems closer at hand first before worrying about other things.
“You little bitch”, I snarled, feeling the familiar rage superheating inside me, giving me even more strength and quickness, making me even more deadlier. My fear, however, remained silent.
“You think you can kill me and my brother?” I pivoted around and took a sidestep, parrying the axeblade of the second foe, aimed at my back. He was all too ponderous. He didn’t know who he was facing. The leader was shouting something, commands maybe.
“I’ve slain dozens of giants!” The axe-man’s breastplate did nothing to turn aside my enchanted blades and I gutted him. Seeing them covered in black only fueled my fury. The mark of wrath blazed on my brow. “Thirteen men? NOTHING!”
Two more mercenaries came at me, both with longswords and wooden shields. “Dragons fall where I go!” I roared as I easily avoided the first thrust, and the second, before stabbing four times past parries and shields and killing them both without any qualms.
I killed the Runelord of Greed, you little cocksucker!” My eyesight had the hue of red and I knew flames danced from my eyes. I wasn’t really angry at them. I wasn’t even talking to them specifically. I was mad because something that did not have the right to live apparently did, and the fact offended me to the point of rage.

Only the leader and his bowman and musketman remained before me. The bowman had an arrow ready and he let it loose in panic. I let it happen and the arrowhead grazed my shoulder. The musketman was in the middle of frantic reloading. I knew it would take some time to apply the gunpowder and a new bullet into the weapon. All too much time.
“You think to threaten me with your little mercenary play group and your toys?” I hissed and slashed once with the blade made of adamantium. The a good half of the musket’s metallic barrel came loose and clanked to the wooden veranda before rolling away.

The bowman ran. The musketman tried as well, only to die gurgling, blood spilling through his fingers as I cut his neck and throat with the cold iron blade. The full plated giant of a man was courageous, I give him that. Despite everything, he still tried his luck. He lasted for five heartbeats. He was no Alfred.

Having reached the steps to the veranda, only then I turned to see what had happened with the other half of the bounty hunter troop.

Belon was gripping his bloodied sword by both hands and had his feet apart, knees bent in a readied defensive stance. Rivets of red had been splashed across his form but none was his own. Around him, seven bodies laid in different states of ruin. Apparently the bowman had slipped from my grasp but not my brother’s. At Belon’s feet was a single arrow, its head blunted by impact into something harder than iron. Saved by the touch of the runelord, I harrumphed as I felt my anger cool down and the mark of wrath returning to invisibility.

“You asked about the loose ends of our past”, I said finally and noticed my shoulder was bleeding. He said nothing but I could see him examining the dead and weighing the truth they presented. The path they showed us.

“This is one we must tie if we ever want to live without having to sit with our backs against walls.”

When I had been ensuring an ancient evil would not return, a ghost of our past had risen from the grave. We had to put it down for good. Eximedes Horryn would pay, a second time, for what he had done to us and our family. But this time, the judgment would not stop with him. The entire House would burn and fall.

**

So it was decided. Neither of us are ones to dawdle so we left on the same night, packing our belongings and wealth before heading out to the Cathedral. Even though it was late, Harsk was still up, writing in the candlelight. I said my goodbyes to the god-touched, and mentioned him about a number of bodies at the manor he might want to take care of discreetly.

My brother and I reached the Dockways just before midnight, and to our luck, one merchant ship was running late and just about to depart despite the hour.

Its quartermaster was hurrying the loading of the last of the cargo when we arrived to the jetty.
“Taking any last minute passengers with light baggage”, I called at the busy woman. She looked up from her documents absentmindedly and saw two men, fully armored, armed to the teeth, packs on their back, a triple-locked wood and iron trunk between them.
“Didn’t plan to take on passengers”, she replied, dry as parchment, utterly unfazed about our appearances.

“Oh come on”, said Belon with a grin, “It is our birthday. Be a sweetling.” I raised my brow considerably, but realized he was right. It was the 21st of Gozran, our 26th birthday. What a day it had been.

“Don’t care. But sure, we’ll take your coin”, she shrugged, not giving a damn. Good enough for me, I thought.
“Where are you going?” I asked, relieved.
“East, to Korvosa.”

I smiled. “Good, that’s exactly where we are headed as well.”

THE END

** ** **

Dear Reader,

You’ve reached the end of the story of our campaign, and I want to thank you for reading it. With 65 chapters and over 324 000 words, this journal is really a book (for reference, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is around 300 000 words long, and it’s a tome!), so if you’ve gone through it all, I am very honoured and grateful. I hope you’ve enjoyed the story, and if you’re a GM or a player and gaming your own Rise of the Runelords campaign, I hope this journal serves as a source of inspiration.

And if you’re just reading it for the story, I have a surprise in store. The story of Alpharius and Macharius, or Cael and Belon as their true names are, will continue. I’m planning to write a novel, and I want to share with you a preview excerpt, the first chapter of the new novel.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comments are most welcome. Do the characters merit a full, independent novel? Please share your opinion in the comments section.

Preview of VENGEANCE: ROAD TO DAMNATION