Jade Regent

Across The Ice

What had begun months before as a goblin hunt through the swamps outside of Sandpoint and become a quest for the forgotten history of the Kaijitsu family in the bowels of a ruined castle had led the company to the northern reaches of the Inner Sea. Their investigations into the ruins of Brinewall, however, had stirred the notice of powerful forces from a world away who wanted the Kaijitsu secret to stay dead. Through the land of the Linnorm Kings in the city of Kalsgaard they were hunted by a cult of assassins but found an unexpected ally in their former comrade Kotoro. With the ninja’s help they confronted the Frozen Shadow cult in their own lair, where Kotoro gave his life to protect his friends from Kimandatsu, the oni leader who fled the scene to report back to her masters. There in the bowells of Kimandatsu’s monastery they found the intelligent blade Suishen, an ancient katana said to hold the spirit of the first of the Kaijitsu lineage and symbol of the Kaijitsu family line. It was Suishen who finally answered Ameiko and Shinja’s questions about their family and why they were being hunted from the far side of the world. He told them of treachery and betrayal, of a once trusted adviser in jade green armor striking down his sworn liege in cold blood and then seizing power for his oni masters.

The sisters heard what the sword had to say and came to a decision. Rather than being hunted for the rest of their lives for who they had been born to they would make the journey to their homeland and claim their family legacy. Despite the long journey across the frozen tundra that they faced, they were not traveling alone. Rowan the Greenwitch, who could feel a sick wrongness and a desperate plea from across the pole, and who’s eyes never left the older Kaijitsu sister. Garub, the goblin who started a fledgling revolution of literacy among some of his kind and now sought the formula to unlocking their intellectual potential. Montresse, who had so long pursed vengeance for his family and now finally had a name to pursue, the Oni of the Five Storms. And Larken, the halfling knight with a message from his lost master to follow his path across the crown of the world. Others had joined their cause along the way. Sandru and Shaleylu, old friends and adventuring companions of Ameiko, though they still refused to speak of what had brought them back to Sandpoint. Spivey, the diminuitive fae cleric, eager to see more of the world outside of her shrine. Kelda Oxgutter, the Ulfen raider who could usually be found by following the trail of bar brawls in her wake. Rolf Gormunde, the northern ranger and guide who was the only one could lead the caravan across the High Ice in the midst of the storm season. And Skygni, the Winter Wolf rescued from the cells of Kimandatsu’s lair who, despite his malevolent nature, had been convinced to aid in the crossing as a native of the frozen tundra.

It had been nearly a month since they had set out from Kalsgaard into the tundra, and it had been difficult going from the first icy step. Biting, howling winds found every gap in the wagons and the temperature dropped lower by the day. Garub had been spending most of his days producing potions and salves to take the edge off of the severity of the elements, but warmth was still a fleeting memory at this point. At times the trail they followed would vanish into the snow drifts and the caravan would sit and wait as Rolf disapeared into the white to find the path, seemingly heedless of the extreme conditions. Other times Skygni showed them hidden ways and passages known to his kind that even Rolf admitted, though it was clear he was loathe to, that he would not have found on his own. Twice they had had to fight off raids from frost giants who had hoped to find the caravan easy pickings, and once an Arctic Chimera who’s territory they had accidentaly stumbled into. The horses struggled to manage the harsh cold, so Rolf arranged a trade with one of the few native Erutaki tribes they had come across to exchange them for a team of elk who were a bit slower, but more stuited to the ice. Ameiko spent most of her time with Suishen, often accompanied by her sister, learning all that they could of their family history in the land of Minkai. As the temperature grew colder tempers flared hotter. Cold-warped wheels and brittle hardware had Sandru in a foul mood most days, Rolf and Skygni could not be within sight of each other without snarls from both, and all longed for when they could escape the constant chill that still managed to creep through even the heaviest of coats and the strongest of Garub’s potions.

But for all of that there was beauty out amidst the snow and ice. As sunlight broke across the mountains the vast white expanses would sparkle and glitter as if made of diamond and glass. At night the skies would explode in swaths of color as the Northern Lights arched and swirled from horizon to horizon. Sandru would pull the wagons into a tight circle to block the worst of the wind and Garub would take what wood they had scavenged and a few odds and ends from his own supplies to light a fire as hot as he could manage (which always seemed to be hotter than such meager supplies should have been able to produce). The company would huddle around what warmth it offered as Ameiko, accompanied by Rowan when she could wheedle him into it, would sing songs and tell stories. And if anyone noticed that none of her stories touched on her own travels, well they were grateful enough for the distraction not to comment on it. They were their own little world, a single glowing ember alone amidst the vast darkness of the tundra.

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The City of Kalsgard

The group set off quickly once they knew that by opening the Warding Box they had become targets. Rowan’s communion with the kami of the Ametatsu Seal gave them a lead in the northern city of Kalsgard, a family sword by the name of Suishen that had been sold sixty years ago. After restocking the caravan in Riddleport they made their way up the Varisian coast.

It was while camped off the road one night that the caravan was attacked by a mob of goblins, one of whom seemed to have a strange focus on their halfling alchemist. By the end of the fight the goblins had been driven off and Garub’s cover remained intact for the most part. However not everyone was completely satisfied by his explanations.

The caravan made camp in the Bone Quarter of the massive trade city and the adventurers went into the main city with two goals in mind. One, to find the sword Suishen and learn what it could teach them about the history of the Ametatsu family. And two, to find a guide who could lead them across the Crown of the World, the frozen tundra that stood in their way if they were to follow the legends back to their source in the far off kingdom of Minkai. Exploring the city they quickly encountered an unexpected familiar face. Kotoro, the enigmatic ninja who had fought with them in the swamps of Brinestump, had apparently been in Kalsgard for the past month and half waging a personal war with the mysterious Frozen Shadow criminal organization. With his help, they found that the sword had been stolen from its purchaser, probably by local sword for hire Asfig Longthews, the same man whose seal was on the arm rings of the marauders who had attacked them on the road. Fynn Snaevald, owner of Suishen, made them a deal. Find the man who took his property and killed his men and they could have the sword. Further research revealed that Longthews owned a small farm property just a little ways out of the city. All was not easy with the adventurers, though, as more and more evidence pointed to the conclusion that they were being hunted by the Frozen Shadow, and the Shadow’s agents were drawing nearer…

A raid on Longthews’ farm, which ended in the group burning it to the ground, led them on a hunt through the city. Fighting off assassins on a flaming funeral ship, confronting a massive earth elemental at the foot of Shelyn’s shrine, and finally a midnight break in of the Rimerunner’s Guild headquarters all led the group to one final destination. Paperwork taken from the Guildhall safe indicated that the Rimerunners themselves were far from the legitimate trade guild they appeared to be, instead being a front for the nefarious Frozen Shadow criminal organization that had been haunting their every move through the city. Only one thing remained to find both the lost sword and their abducted potential guide: to take the fight to the Frozen Shadow.

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The Brinewall Legacy

It was late fall in the city of Sandpoint when five adventurers met at The Rusty Dragon tavern to discuss an expedition into the Brinestump Marsh. Larken Root, a halfling caravan guard traveling the trade routes of Varisia. Shinja Kaijutsu, the younger daughter of a local wealthy industrial family who has a unique companion. Rowan Greenwitch, a reclusive conjurer. Kotoro, a dock worker from the north. And Peepo, a Halfling apprentice at the local bookbinder’s shop.

Their hostess Ameiko Kaijitsu, the proprietor of The Rusty Dragon and older sister to Shinja, introduced the group to Sheriff Hemlock who told them of the increasing Goblin attacks on the trade caravans in the area. It seemed that they had managed to get their hands on a stockpile of fireworks somewhere which had instilled in them an almost suicidal bravery to stage raids on a scale that hadn’t been seen since Sandpoint had nearly been overrun five years before. The Goblins needed to be thinned out before more citizens of Sandpoint were hurt and traders from other nearby cities decided that Sandpoint just wasn’t worth the trip anymore. Hemlock offered the group a bounty for each Goblin they could slay, and a bonus for the head of Chief Gutwad, the leader of the Licktoad Tribe.

It was a slimy, uncomfortable trek out into Brinestump but with the help of local Halfling guide Walthus Proudstump they found their way to Licktoad Village. It was not the scene they expected. The gates had been beaten down and half of the buildings battered and broken. Goblin bodies scattered the area along with skeletons that Peepo declared reeked of necromantic energy. It wasn’t until Rowan tried looking in one of the few huts still standing that Goblins came swarming out at the adventurers, tentatively at first and then with their trademark reckless abandon once word got around that it was “just a bunch o’ humies”. After hacking their way through the mob of Goblins they confronted and slew Chief Gutwad.

It was while going through the plunder piled up in Gutwad’s thronehut that the group found a map that caught their eye, scrawled on the back of a delicate folding fan. It gave a hint as to where the Goblins may have gotten their hands on the fireworks and seemed to be worth investigating. So farther into the swamp they delved until they found the wreck of a trade ship mired in the mud. It was with surprise and confusion that Shinja discovered that this ship had her own name, Kaijutsu, painted on to the side. They sought out answers in a nearby cave where they were confronted by skeletons in strange armor. The most powerful of the skeletons stood guard over an ornate chest but what caught the adventurer’s attention even more was a letter hidden in the hilt of the skeleton’s sword.

The letter was from Shinja’s grandfather to her father, and told of a desperate flight from the colony of Brinewall before some expected calamity. Back in Sandpoint Shinja spoke with her sister Ameiko, and the two propositioned the group to accompany them on a journey north to find the fate of Brinewall and what their family’s connection to it was. All agreed but Kotoro, who declared that he had questions of his own that he needed to answer back in his home city of Kalsgaard. With two of Ameiko’s closest friends, Sandru Vhiski and Shalelu Andosana, the group set off north in Sandru’s caravan.

As the caravan rolled into the colony of Brinewall Ameiko was struck down, seemingly possessed by a spirit that kept trying, but failing, to communicate. With Ameiko trapped in a coma Sandru and Shalelu stayed with her while the rest continued on to explore the colony. In the town’s cemetery they met the first of two unexpected creatures, a small fae named Spivey. She directed them to the lighthouse where they met the second unexpected, and to one familiar, person. Vidrigal Montresse, one time companion to Larken’s mentor Sir Leo, had come to Brinewall pursing the demon Kikonu, a member of the criminal organization The Frozen Shadow.

With Montresse in tow they made their way into the castle through a tunnel in the basement. The evidence they found in bloodstained floors and haunted stairwells told of a brutal surprise attack on the castle with no sign of survivors. Now it was overrun with monsters led by the capricious and rather insane Kikonu. They found aid in the tower library where they met the mute Harpy Zaiobe, devotee of Pazuzu and one-time lover of Kikonu who offered to lure the demon into a trap for the adventurers. The trap sprung, a fight ensued across the battlements of the castle. Kikonu seemed most interested, however, in Shinja’s presence, declaring that she had “given the Frozen Shadow exactly what they wanted”. Despite his taunting Kikonu soon fell from the sky…which is when Zaiobe gleefully turned on the group and attacked them herself.

After defeating their momentary ally the five made their way down the stairwell, whose restless spirits had been quieted with Kikonu’s death, into the vaults below the castle. There they encountered the wraith of Rokuro Kaijutsu who had given his life to protect the Ametatsu Seal. Upon recognizing his granddaughter Shinja he charged her and her sister Ameiko to take the Seal back to Minkai and claim the throne that was their birthright before the Oni of the Five Storms found the sisters and killed them to ensure their hold on the throne. By opening the warding box the Ametatsu Seal granted a series of visions to the adventurers showing them both what had been and what could be.

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