From the shadows of the upper broken floors, javelins fell around the party. Dashing for cover and crouching in the low fog, the heroes suffered no serious injuries. Maggie, Ragnok and Ito raced up the spiral stair to face the attackers, a gang of faceless stalkers. Mal sank an electric arrow into one shadowy foe above unknowingly earning her the attention of their their fey allies – a trio of wil-o’-wisps swarmed the ranger.
Upstairs Maggie battled two stalkers, while Ito and Ragnok faced another pair. More foes on the upper level launched javelins at the heroes below.
Mal suffered countless arching shocks nearly dropping her to the foggy floor, while Kayleb healed her at every turn.
Ragnok and Ito cut down their enemies. Ragnok then moved to help Maggie, while Ito rose to the next level, finding another pair of stalkers, one more massive with ornate pulsing sigils covering its body and a glowing wooden amulet.
Mal tried to flee with Lilith covering her. The leopard chomped one wisp only to have it vanish and teleport back to Malcanthet. Cornered and frustrated, Mall watched the other wisps quickly surround her. When Lilith closed to protect her master, she narrowly leapt aside as caustic green slime fell from the ceiling above. Albi identified the threat and excitedly started muttering about “specimens”.
Finishing off their foes, Maggie and Ragnok joined Ito on the upper floor. They engaged the minion, allowing Ito to close with the boss. After receiving a grievous slash from Ito’s blade, the stalker boss wrapped its tree-like arms around the tiefling monk. While squeezing him, tiny barbs and suckers pierced Ito’s skin draining his blood. The grapple, however, did not prevent Ito from a flurried attack against the stalker. Suffering numerous weeping gashes, the creature attempted to hoist Ito over the ledge, but like a mountain, the tiefling did not budge. As Ragnok and Maggie felled their foe, Ito drove his temple sword through the stalker’s chest and kick shoved him off broken ledge.
Suddenly and with great relief, the wisps winked away from Mal and the others.
Maggie and Ito found an iron ladder ascending toward an overhead trapdoor. Ito heard a female voice chanting above and yelled “Spellcaster above! Move!”
Maggie rushed up, flung open the portal, and stared at a pair of sneering devil hulks covered in spines and barbs. She yelled down, “a pair of devils,” and jumped up. Ragnok followed and the tiefling pair pressed one devil. After a sound thrashing the monster fell and reverted to Thorlass(!), the faceless stalker also known as Verne, Ironbriar’s traitorous secretary. The pair had no time to celebrate though.
From the cloak of invisibility emerged Xanesha, an ogre-sized snake woman with a long black mane and a golden mask. Her eyes glowed lambent green and Ragnok felt his muscles stiffen. He shook off the effect as the lamia matriarch slithered forward. Maggie sprang forward slashing her scaled flank. Xanesha battered back the rogue and unleashed a deadly flurry of attacks upon Ragnok – the first impaled his shoulder, the second pierced his chest collapsing his lung, and as he fell, a third crushing stab shattered his spine and silenced the red warrior.
Meanwhile, Ito enter the fray and engaged the remaining devil. Despite several strikes neither combatant suffered any major strikes.
With tears blinding her eyes, Maggie raked at the lamia with her blades but failed to penetrate her iron-like scales. Another series of barbed spear slashes and stabs left Maggie on the floor bleeding and clutching her belly.
Malcanthet arrived winded from the stair climb, steadied her bow, and fired on the devil. After several true strikes, it remained unharmed and she deduced it to be an illusion. Ito cursed and closed on Xanesha. She stabbed his thigh with her great spear and the weapon made a keening wail that submerged the heroes in magical despair. She hissed an ancient Thassilonian chant and Ito felt his will crumble. He absently wandered over to the trapdoor, closed it, and moved his massive frame atop it.
Below Kayleb and Albi came panting up to trapdoor stair and looked to each other in confusion. Albi exclaimed, “I got just the thing,” and gulped a potion. A gout of dragonfire bellowed from his mouth blackening the trapdoor.
With a groan the wooden hatch tore loose and Ito tumbled onto the floor below. Kayleb healed the tiefling as he recovered his wits.
Above, Malcanthet hid amidst the darkened light apparatus (And with great skill, began sniping Xanesha, who could not pinpoint the source of the stinging attacks and retreated behind the apparatus -ed.) until she was able to push Maggie’s unconscious form to the trap door (with extreme bravery and complete disregard for her personal safety, broke from cover and dragged the bloody and unconscious body of Maggie to safety and allowed the healing magics of Kayleb to save her life -ed.). Ito rejoined the fight, while Kayleb healed Maggie. Ito closed suffering a wicked skewer while Mal buried several crackling arrows into the lamia. Maggie gulped some healing potions and moved to flank the monster. She leapt onto its tail and raked her serrated blades into its flesh. Xanesha hissed and tried to pull free. A venom-coated claw flashed by Maggie who rolled under the attack and slashed her foe once again.
Distracted by the tenacious rogue, she swung back to Ito to see his battering ram-like fist closing with her face. The bones crunched sickeningly. Her barbed spear clattered to the ground and her tail twitched. Then, the amulet at her neck flared blue and she vanished!
The heroes recovered from the brutal combat and silently mourned Ragnok’s fall. They solemnly collected his body and returned through the complex.
They found a vine and silk-laden nest on the upper level of the lighthouse interior. Within the vines, Albi found numerous carelessly scattered letters from Ironbriar and a long scroll bearing an extensive list of names and professions, many of which have been crossed out. The list bore the heading “Sihedron Sacrifices.” Some of the names were folks from Sandpoint, but the majority lived in Magnimar – all were merchants, moneylenders, gamblers, adventures, and thieves.
Ito and Maggie recognized some prominent names on the list including Lord Titus Scarnetti of Sandpoint and Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras. Other parchment scraps held extensive notes on the Lord-Mayor’s habits.
In the Fenlight understructure laid the torn body of Xanesha, near her broken flesh golem. Even dead a lamia matriarch is a fearsome sight. That didn’t stop Maggie and Kayleb from filching her magical vest, amulet, mask and a heavy pouch of gems and coins.
At the floating dock below waited Barthus. Seeming unimpressed, he shrugged. “You want me to row you back now?”