Legends of Thassilon

The Matriarch of Murder

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. Will o  wispMal 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.

Lamia matriarchFrom 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?”

Session Summary

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Fenlight Lair

After slogging out of the Hells, the heroes tried to catnap in Ironbriar’s manor. The servants had fled, and after only an hour’s rest the place was surrounded by town guards. Maggie, Mal, and Albi raced out the back and over the fence. Ito and Ragnok slipped without notice onto the balcony and tried to drop on a pair of guards. The guards evaded and counterattacked. Ito suffered several humiliating blade slaps before the tiefling brothers split and ran. Meanwhile, Kayleb hid inside and over several hours, he learned that the party’s description was being circulated. The guards also mused aloud about Ironbriar kidnapping or worse by the “devil-spawn bent on ruining Maginimar’s beacon of justice.”

Once the party reunited, they laid low in the Shadow’s slums and sought Barthus, the half-orc ferryman named in Ironbriar’s journal. The dour half-orc agreed to transport the party to Ironbriar’s coastal destination for an exorbitant rate.

That night, a cold wind churned the gray waters of Maginmar Bay. The heroes boarded a large rowboat and Barthus plowed through the chop for three hours. In the distance Maggie spied the dimly lit windows of a Magnimaran ruin, the Fenlight. She recalled stories of the marble lighthouse built on an ancient stone monolith emerging from the ocean along the Mushfen coast. The impressive lighthouse darkened after several lightkeepers and their families vanished and the site was abandoned.

ScarecrowBarthus rowed up to a small floating dock and the adventurers disembarked. At the top of a rusty ladder they peered into a huge dark cavern with giant-sized stone stairs and tons of fallen rubble. Maggie stepped in only a few yards when a hulking form emerged from the shadows. An ogre-sized golem, a crude amalgam of human, horse, and cow body parts with a pumpkin-sized head, a glassy eye, and coarsely sewn lips, closed with a reaving 10-foot scythe.

Malcanthet buried several lightning arrows into its mismatched hide which seemed only to amuse the monster. As it closed with the party, Maggie tried to slip in behind only to suffer a massive slash from the scythe. Seeing his friend nearly cleaved with single blow, Albi cried to Mal, “No electricity! It heals it!”, and lobbed a fiery bomb. The blast charred the golem’s skin slowing it’s movements. Ragnok and Ito began delivering punishing blows to the weakened golem. Kayleb cast a flame strike further hobbling the foe. The hideous guardian pulled away toward a wall-mounted metal plate provoking addition slashes. It pounded the plate triggering a burst of lighting that jolted most of the adventurers and reinvigorated the golem. The man-cow made a muffled growl and slashed again but failed to harm anyone. Several more strikes landed before Kayleb cast another fire spell dropping the massive foe.

Kayleb and Albi started healing the injured when a noisy lift began descending from the ceiling. Within moments, a band of faceless stalkers were raining javelins upon the party. Malcanthet retaliated with lightning arrows. Just before the lift reached the ground, Ito slid under it. With a legendary feat of strength, he upended the lift and four riders. Several toppled out. The heroes cornered them and quickly laid them low.

Searching the fallen, the party recovered the large magical scythe and a coveted cloak of elvenkind.

The adventureres climbed onto the lift and ascended the 80-foot expanse. Leaving the cold stone cavern below, the lift rose into an oppressively muggy jungle. Leaves and vines, plate-sized flowers, and patches of luminescent fungus covered the inner walls of the lighthouse proper. The ceilings above were largely collapsed with only shelves of upper floors remaining. In the center of the room rusted a metal spiral stair which stretched to an intact ceiling 60 feet above. Several rope-and-plank bridges radiated from the stair to the broken upper floors. A few faintly glowing pale orbs bobbed around the greenery.

And then several shadowy humanoids above launched a hail of javelins upon the heroes.

Session Summary

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Depths of Hell

Water zombieThe heroes defeated the Norgorber cultists despite the treacherous ambush. Malcanthet was compelled to fling her lightning bow into the darkness earning the cult her undying enmity. Fortunately for them (and her) she found it on a lower catwalk.

The party continued their descent into the Hells until they found Ironbriar’s hideout at the base. A brackish pool surrounded a raised sacrificial platform with a large Sidhedron rune.

From the cover of invisibility, his voice echoed, “So, is this what you hoped to find? Here I am, at your mercy and with no means of escape, the evidence of my crimes laid out before you. Come and judge me if you would!”

The party was again ambushed by cultists from above and powerful walking dead emerging from the black water below. Ironbriar then joined the fray with several near misses from his vile divine powered war razor. Ragnok battled the cultists while Mal, Maggie, Albi and Ito wore down Ironbriar’s defenses. Kayleb provided distraction, allowing Maggie to deliver the killing blow.

On Ironbriar’s corpse, the party forund a wand, a magical war razor, a mithril shirt, and a journal with a sophisticated cipher. Albi and Kayleb worked to decode the text, while the others searched the base of Hell.

April 28, 2012

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Justices' Fall

Justice Kernwell morphed into a bulky faceless stalker as Mal let a pair of crackling arrows fly. The other heroes jumped into action pressing the alien monster. Ironbriar magically vanished andRagnok attacked his last position but misjudged, burying his sword in the wall. In the hallway, Ito pounded on Justice Chaddov from behind. Babau demonThis justice was also not as he appeared, becoming an acid slime covered babau demon. He viciously turned on Ito and nearly dropped the massive tiefling.

Maggie used her serrated sabers to fell Kernwell atop the meeting room table. After she quaffed Albi’s elixir of magical sight, she darted after the escaping Ironbriar. The rest of the party focused on the demon Chaddov. The monster proved hard to injure and deadly effective at causing injury. Albi suffered grievously while delivering healing draughts and even Mal shuddered from claw attacks when the demon turned on her. Once Ragnok yanked his heavy blade from the masonry, he joined the battle and the demon fell in a pile of brimstoney ash.

Ironbriar fled into the study and through a hidden passage behind a bookshelf. He dropped into a black chute, laughing evilly as he escaped. Maggie chased after him. At the base, she found a dark stone room with a long passageway complete with receding footfalls.

She rushed after him but triggered a deadfall trap, dropping a ton of debris into the passage. She narrowly dove away from harm. Shaking off the dust, she decided to wait for the rest of the party to catch up.

Everyone plummeted down the chute and entered the passage. They climbed the debris pile and advanced underground toward the Pediment Building. The passage led to an abandoned antechamber like the one the party entered leading into the prison block when they visited Lyrie. They found a elevator shaft and no other means of egress so they climbed down the rusty chains.

Skinsaw cultistThe shaft opened into a huge cylindrical prison with central grated platforms every 40 feet and catwalk spokes radiating to a descending spiral catwalk around the periphery. Apparently abandoned, the heroes began the eery descent.

Maggie and Ito recalled legends of a prison riot in the Hells. The story was that all the guards were murdered and to prevent the prisoners form escaping into the city, the Council ordered the only entrance bricked over. No one had ever gone back in.

About one hundred feet down, the heroes were ambushed. Men disguised as corpses rose from the cell floor and loosed several crossbow bolts. Maggie and Ragnok closed and Mal fired several electrical arrows. Up close, the foes wore ragged leather masks with a single bulbous lens where eyes should be. They dropped their crossbows for war razors and dispassionately said in unison, “Blood for the Father.” Another band of foes, including Ironbriar, revealed themselves from the opposite side of the circular chamber and unleashed more bolts. The heroes were trapped.

Session Summary

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Against the Law

Despite the exhaustion of being awake nearly a day and a half, the adventures outlined a plan to investigate 3 Sugar Row. Kayleb disguised the tieflings to look human and Albi to appear as a clerk (cleric?). People started sleeping in shifts. Maggie’s rest, however, was interrupted by a rapidly developing fever. She awoke with a blackened hand and redness creeping up her arm. Kayleb diagnosed a magical fungal affliction (Vorel’s blight!). Maggie along with Kayleb and Malcanthet sleepily trudged across town to Pharasma’s temple for healing. Kayleb magically healed several petitioners in line causing a stir, but ultimately Maggie was treated and the heroes returned to Foxglove’s townhouse for some much needed rest.

After dark, the group headed out for the address written in Foxglove’s ledger. They found an unassuming duplex near the Justice Court. Maggie and Kayleb snuck to the back alley entrance, while Malcanthet and Ito watched the front door. A short time later Verne, Ironbriar’s secretary, arrived and entered the home. Then, Albi and Ragnok approached the front door. Albi knocked and met a kindly, gray-haired woman. He explained that he was Foxglove’s new bookeeper and noted that a routine weekly payment had not been met recently. The woman offered to have “the Master” contact him about business matters during more appropriate hours tomorrow. Albi scuttled off.

Meanwhile, Maggie and Kayleb assumed the worst and picked the lock on the back door. Slipping inside, the tiefling found an empty office but nothing of import. They both returned to Foxglove’s townhouse and found the rest of the party waiting.

After discussing several options, the heroes decided to return to Verne’s place and question him directly. Maggie again slipped into the alley entrance and ushered the others inside. Several tiptoed past the kitchen where the matron worked happily and then upstairs. The house was otherwise empty. In the bedroom, Albi found a slender case beneath the bed containing a purse of 100 gold and a curious letter. The contents filched, the party retreated into the night.

The next morning, the party left en masse intent on finding Verne. When leaving the house, Malcanthet caught a glimpse of an unassuming women in a clothier across the street. She appeared to be watching the party. Mal darted across the street and into the store, but the woman rushed to the back. Mal pursued and found a changing area and noted a swinging window. She peered into the neighboring stall and found the suspicious woman within. She began making a scene so Mal left with only a threat.

The party watched the store but never saw the woman leave. Kayleb, however, had his familiar, Mordaki, tail the woman. The trail led to a fine estate neighboring the Pediment Building. Mordaki waited yowling at a gate that read, “Home of the Chief Justice of Magnimar.” Kayleb detected a powerful magical ward on the gate and walls, so all except Maggie retreated to the townhouse. The tiefling rogue stealthily climbed into the boughs of a nearby oak and watched the mansion.

Nearing the townhouse, the heroes found the place crawling with city watch. They headed to a nearby tavern, while Kayleb went to gather information. With his childlike innocence, he schmoozed a guard who offered that the guards were looking for dangerous people staying at the house who had left and that the house was being prepared for auction tomorrow. Advised to run along, Kayleb did so.

At dusk, Maggie saw Ironbriar return by carriage to his home with two liveried guards. She returned to the party and reported her findings.

Early next morning Maggie and Albi returned to Ironbriar’s manse. She quaffed the gnome’s invisibility elixir and vanished. She waited near the gate until Ironbriar approached and muttered the passphrase. She waited for him to depart by carriage and returned to the party triumphant.

Now with a way in, the adventurers decided to explore Ironbriar’s home while he was away. Using the passphrase, they slipped into the yard unhindered. Up a flight of stairs Maggie popped open the lock. Within the mansion, they found a bedroom containing a frightened butler. Intimidated by the tieflings and Mal’s crackling bow, he described Ironbriar’s daily routine. After clearing Ironbriar’s study of magical trappings, they laid in wait for him to approach his gallery. Ito waited in the bedroom to sneak up from behind. The heroes had to wait only until nightfall.

Outside the door, the party heard the butler say, “…and I shall fetch platters for your associates as well.”

The gallery door opened and Ironbriar entered flanked by Justices Kernwell and Chaddov. Chaddov looked livid and Kernwell startled. Ironbriar just smiled at Mal and said, “Ah yes, the woman that accompanied Miss Kaijitsu. And some new friends. While I am obviously delighted to see you, it is more normal to make an appointment and attend my chambers at the Court during working hours.”

Albi boldly stood forward and piped, “We have something you should hear.” He started reading the incriminating letter found in Verne’s bedroom. No sooner than he spoke the name Thorlass, Kernwell unexpectedly leapt at the gnome transforming into a faceless stalker!

Session Summary

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Familiar Faces

Another damp, dreary day along the Lost Cost. The adventures returned to Sandpoint with tales of Foxglove’s corrupton and his family’s haunted mansion. Pastor Zantus confirmed that Aldern became a ghast and that Vorel’s blight on the mansion could be exorcised with the proper rituals. Sheriff Hemlock noteed that similar murders have occurred in Magnimar and agreed that Foxglove’s townhouse was a reasonable next site to investigate.

The heroes left immediately for Magnimar and rode through the night. By midday, they reached Foxglove’s neighborhood. Maggie, Malcanthet and Albi approached the front while Ito and Kayleb snuck through the lush posterior courtyard.

Maggie used the iron key and the front door opened. She crunched a notice on the floor that indicated the property would be auctioned in 3 days, singed by Chief Justice Ironbriar. Inside, Maggie heard voices upstairs.

Meanwhile, in the back, Ito and Kayleb snuck beyond a gardner and climbed a trellised sunroom. Once in position, Kayleb cast a dazing spell and Ito leapt upon him. The teifling’s pummeling fists met unusually resistant skin and the “gardner” tried to push his way through the back door. Ito lashed out again dropping the foe, but another human, crashing through the foliage, joined the melee.

Faceless stalker copyInside, the sound of retreating footfalls encouraged Mal and Maggie up the stairs. At the top, they saw Aldern Foxglove! “Who are you people? What are you doing in my house?” he demanded. Mal began cursing him as he backed away calling for the town guards. The heroes move up after him and Maggie engaged with cries of “you’re still a shitty boyfriend!” Aldern’s features morphed to that of a woody humanoid with whorling skin, recognized by Mal to be a faceless stalker.

Outside, the humanoid facing the heroes likewise revealed itself. Ito, Kayleb and the creature traded blows, but Ito delivered felling strikes until the stalker was down. The pair rushed inside.

Upstairs, a stalker appearing to be Iesha Foxglove joined the fray. Maggie was grabbed by some massive wooden claws that leeched her fortitude but she managed to slip away quickly. She retaliated with rending sword strikes. Malcanthet blasted a lightning storm of arrows into the creatures. Albi lobbed a bomb but the stalker dodged; the resulting blast blew out a front window. After several tense strikes and counterstrikes the creatures died in oozing puddles of milky blood.

The group reunited and started searching the place. Upstairs, Maggie found a lion-headed ornament with a keyhole deep in its maw. Using her other key, she opened a compartment that contained a purse with 200 platinum, several papers and a ledger.

The papers were the deed to Foxglove Manor. The land and house were owned by Vorel Foxglove, but clearly financed by a group called the Brothers of the Seven. In addition, after 100 years the ownership of the manor “and all lands within one mile around and below” were to lapse to the Brothers – the deed was dated 80 years ago.

In the ledger, Aldern’s expenditures and income are recorded. most of it was pretty mundane, but towards the end there were several entries labelled “Iesha’s trip to Absalom”, indicating that Aldern payed 200 gp a week. These payments are made to a certain “B7” at an address in Magnimar – 3 Sugar Row.

Meanwhile, wary of attention from the watch, Kayleb disguised Malcanthet as Lady Foxglove. And just in time. A pair of guardsmen approached the front door and asked about the broken window. Malchanthet charmingly described the accident and thanked the guards for their vigilance. They withdrew smiling for her favor.

Alone again the heroes began to discuss their next steps…

Session Summary

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Legacy of the Liche

Surrounding the ghostly revenant of Iesha Foxglove, the adventurers debated freeing her from her self-loathing. Ito suspected the ghost would attack her hated husband, Aldern, but not without striking Malcanthet first. They decided to leave her.

The group entered the basement and stepped into a kitchen littered with rat spore. While looking around, a wave of diseased rats poured form the walls. They swarmed Theraga, Maggie, and Ragnok. All suffered bites but the heroes’ whirling blades quickly dispersed the vermin. In a locked cupboard, Maggie found the rest of the Foxglove family’s silverware.Rat swarm

After clearing the wine cellar, pantry and servant’s quarters, they found a thick metal door with no obvious way to open it. Maggie discovered it to be magically sealed but possibly defeated with brute force. Ito and Ragnok bent their crowbar before creating a ram from the kitchen table. After several thunderous crashes, the iron door bent inward enough to pass.

Within, they found a magical workshop with a blanket of dust and mold over numerous jars and glassware. Three birdcages contained the bones of rats. A bank of stained glass windows facing the ocean pictured four mystical beasts, recognized by Kayleb to be associated with the ritual of lichedom.

Kayleb’s vision tilted and was replaced with a stained glass hallucination of Vorel Foxglove researching and gathering components, preparing the ingredients, building a phylactery and the culminating ritual. Just has it was being completed, Vorel’s wife, Kasandra, appeared and with shameful rage blasted the phylactery with a lightning bolt. Kayleb shook the vision off without any ill effect.

The next room contained an excavated ancient stairwell. While staring into the darkness, the foul stink of rotten meat wafted up on a cold breeze. To Theraga the floor still appeared intact. She saw Aldern digging determinedly repeating, “For you,” with every swing. She somehow knew he was speaking about Malcanthet. As the last flags broke open, the reaching claws of a horde of shrieking ghouls surged forth. Overwhelmed, she suffered terribly as they clawed and bit her flesh. She dropped to the floor exhausted as the vision faded. The others stood by awestruck as wounds opened on her writhing body. And then it was suddenly over and she recovered her wits.

The terrible scene steeled the party’s resolve to deal with the source of evil. They descended the spiral stairs. The walls were carved with unfamiliar runes, clearly very, very old. The stairs opened into a fungus-covered limestone cavern with multiple corridors. Maggie started down one and found several pickaxes, including one that looked valuable. She advanced…into a thick, patch of yellow mold. The spore cloud enveloped her and Kayleb, but both managed to escape without harm.

Down another corridor, they heard the eery breathing sounds of an underground pool. En route, a band of ghouls rushed from a bone-heaped chamber. The first pallid undead jumped Maggie and Ito, but the heroes delivered much more damage than they took. With only one ghoul standing, Ragnok struck his massive sword against a hanging stalactite and the blade clattered into the nearby pit. The last ghoul was slain by the others.

The pit was actually an enormous chamber with a domed roof and a slippery spiral downward path ending in a pool of sloshing, foamy seawater fifty feet below. At the far side was a stone door. The party carefully made their way down the path, recovering Ragnok’s greatsword.

Maggie scanned the door and pushed it open. Within she found a large table covered with a foul setting indeed. Platters, plates and crystal contained rotten meat, writhing with maggots, and congealed blood. One wall was covered with a seven foot tall black tumescent fungus patch with a broken puzzlebox at its foot. The stench was overwhelming and came from the room’s other inhabitants.

Skinsaw man 2 copyPacing the floor was a figure dressed in the horribly-stained silken finery of a Magnimaran noble. The creature had discolored, slimy flesh, twisted claws and a snaggle-toothed, dog-like snout of a ghast. Its weeping red eyes narrowed and a snaky, blood-red tongue swept over its rotted lips. When Malcanthet entered behind Maggie, the ghoul growled, “You have finally come to me! My love, now you may join the Pack. Let us consummate our…hunger!”

It charged Mal as a pair of undead hunting dogs emerged from beneath the table and attacked the others. Mal suffered a war razor slash, but she slipped behind the front line fighters. Ito dropped one of the gravehounds, but even as it cruppled under his deadly fists, the hound chomped the tiefling’s thigh.

Unable to reach Malcanthet, the ghast raged. Maggie, Theraga, and Ragnok battered the foe, until he fell was a shriek of agony, “Please, no more. I surrender! It was him, not me!”

“It was who?” several of the group said at once.

“The Skinsaw Man. He killed all those people, not me, not his poor lordship. He terrifies me! He comes here sometimes and I’m so scared! Please don’t let him get me! I only came here to get what she wanted.” His voice was strange, wheedling and squeaky, not the gruff tones he used on seeing Malcanthet.

“Xanesha. Ironbriar introduced us. He knew my grandfather. He built this place. He is this place.” Foxglove titters. “He wanted to be a lich, but it didn’t work. Instead, this mansion houses his undying soul. I didn’t understand when I came here. But he whispered, and so it all happened. But no, I was talking about Xanesha!” He seems anxious to change the subject. “She wanted me to collect some fungus.” He waves at the odd patch of fungus by the wall. “All that is left of dear old Vorel. It’s quite deadly – she wanted it for a poison. But, but, it infected me. She sent me back to find them – the greedy ones. No, not me, him. Yes, him, the Skinsaw Man. Not me. Not his lordship.”

Malcanthet, incensed that there might be another women, demanded, “Who is Xanesha!”

“Xanesha is with Ironbriar. Here it’s only little me, and the Skinsaw Man. I don’t know where he is, but he comes and goes and does Xanesha’s bidding. He kills for her, all those she marked out. Wait! What’s that? I can hear him! He’s coming, he’s coming!” Foxglove slumped to the floor, held his head in his hands and started moaning.

“He’s here,” growled Foxglove, his voice deepening. He stood up straight and snarled. “The Skinsaw Man kills for the Lord of Murder – you shall be his next sacrifice.” He flicked open his war razor and resumed the battle. Still unable to reach Malcanthet, he slashed and clawed those nearby. Theraga suffered one claw strike and felt her muscles stiffen. Paralyzed she watched as the others rained damage on the Skinsaw Man. Albi rushed into melee but slipped on the bloody floor, cracked his head and fell unconscious. Nearly defeated, the ghast sneered and slashed his razor across Theraga’s throat. The spray of blood arced across the room, as Ito closed and crushed the ghast’s chest. Both Theraga and the Skinsaw Man fell to the floor.

Kayleb rushed to Theraga as others stood stunned. Kayleb shook his head and said, “Her soul has already left her body. There is nothing I can do.”

Somberly, the party collected Foxglove’s loot and Theraga’s body. Maggie and Albi found a wand amongst the fungus and Maggie dug into the growth to pull it free. Albi determined it to be a wand of lightning. He shot several bolts into the fungus, which smoked with a whining screech. Kayleb suggested that more powerful divine magic might by able to permanently exorcise the evil.

Once outside, the adventurers tried to light the mansion on fire. Despite several torches and even Albi’s bomb, the flames licked the walls only briefly before becoming wet smoke. Frustrated and saddened, they group trudged back through the cold rain toward Sandpoint.

Session Summary

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Misgivings

After returning to Sandpoint, the adventurers learned of another murder – this time at Scarnetti’s sawmill. While investigating the scene of Banny Harker and Katrine Vender’s grisly demise, the team discovered that the attacker was undead and using an ancient Thassilonian ritual for unknown reasons. Banny appeared to be the target, whereas Katrine appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Next, the party went to the abandoned barn south of town where the first murders occurred. After Maggie magically spoke to a pack of wolves, she learned that a sliver knife with an embossed foxglove was overlooked by the Sheriff’s men.

The next morning, the adventurers went to Sandpoint’s cathedral to interview the lone survivor of the barn murders. Within they found Grayst Sevilla in the throws of ghoul fever. He ranted about his hunger and returning to his master. The party agreed to let him escape and lead them to his creator.

Lost coastGrayst caused brief pandemonium in town as he raced through on all fours, but the adventurers prevented any townsfolk injuries. Grayst rushed through the surrounding woods fueled by inhuman endurance. Kayleb and Albi were left behind, but they returned to town for Kayleb’s pony and continued the chase.

Grayst led the group to a ramshackle mansion along the Lost Coast, Foxglove manor. Grayst broke through a window and entered the house. Maggie picked the lock expertly, and the party entered the fungus shrouded halls. The entrance foyer contained numerous tattered and rotting animal trophies, including a large manticore.

The next room was a decaying parlor with a sagging grand piano. Grayst was still lingering in the room and was quickly dispatched. Afterward, Malcanthet was overcome with hallucination of dancing with Foxglove’s wife, Iesha. Iesha’s face bloated as though being strangled by unseen hands. Mal shook away the disturbing vision without ill effect. She advocated for leaving and trying to burn the haunted mansion down.

The group decided to continue investigating. An adjacent washroom contained a basin with a large, disease-ridden rat. Mal ended its suffering with a crackling arrow. Albi and Kayleb showed up and joined the exploration.

The next room was a formal dining room with a huge stained-glass bay window overlooking the coast. Albi identified the disturbing images as components of necromantic spells. Kayleb’s cat, Mordaki, whispered in the witch’s mind, “Parts of dark spells yes, but a more ominous recipe these make. Within the cauldron brews the draught of eternal unlife of a liche.”

A small sitting room near the back of the manor showed queer footfalls in the dust and Maggie reported a worried woman’s voice who spake, “Lorey my sweet. What does your father do down there so late in the night?”

The last room on this floor was a mouldering library. Albi cried at the loss of so many books. The others noticed a brilliant red and gold Varisian scarf and a heavy stone bookend on the ground. The scarf shuddered and flew around Malcanthet’s face. She had another hallucination of Aldern Foxglove storming in on Iesha and cursing her unfaithfulness. Aldern brained the young man seated in the nearby chair and grabbed Iesha’s throat. She wrapped the scarf around his eyes and nearly escaped but his grip was too strong. The vision ended as the scarf fell lifelessly to the ground. Maggie scooped it up, recognizing its value, and Mal again encouraged the group to leave this haunted place.

The heroes decided to continue investigating until they found the source of the evil that permeated the manor. Returning to the entrance hall, Albi found an especially thick patch of fungus. While collecting samples, he suddenly heard a zap behind him. Turning, he saw Kassandra level a wand at him as a lighting bolt surged into him. Albi’s perspective spun and he realized she was attacking the fungus and that he was the fungus. As the vision cleared, the room smelled of ozone and Albi’s ears and whiskers smoked from a painfully real lighting burns. Kayleb magically healed the worst of Albi’s injuries.

Next, they headed upstairs. The first room was a child’s bedroom. This time Ragnok suffered a vision from the eyes of Lorey, a Chelish girl. She (he?) saw her frantic mother whose face was covered with a growing blight. Ragnok was then convinced that it was his face afflicted and began clawing furrows in his own flesh. The vision receded but left Ragnok terribly injured.

Maggie declared the upstairs washroom unstable and prone to collapse. The room was otherwise avoided.

Iesha portraitThe master bedroom was completely destroyed. The bed was torn apart, walls gouged, tapestries shredded, and furniture sundered. The one exception was a fine portrait of Iesha turned backward against the wall. Once turned, Ito was overcome with a suicidal compulsion; he saw himself as Aldern Foxglove, having just murdered Iesha, his wife, in a fit of jealousy and almost plunged a dagger (actually a broken dowel) into his chest. As his vision cleared Aldern (Ito?) tossed the weapon aside and decided to turn to the Brothers of the Seven for help.

Next, the adventurers found a relatively well preserved study. Shelves were lined with books on travel and various cultures (particularly Shoanti tribes), and rolls of maps filled a barrel. A decorative scroll case contained two magical scrolls, and a valuable painting of a auroch bullfight, titled “Throwdown in Swynetown”, hung on one wall. Hanging from the ceiling was a magical pullcord with a preserved simian head at the base. The heroes chose to leave it alone…much to Maggie’s dismay.

The last room on this floor was the gallery of Foxglove’s family. The room was thick with mildew and mold. The portraits helped clarify the people in the hallucinations. Vorel Foxglove, Aldern’s grandfather, was the patriarch. The portraits of his wife and daughter, Kassandra and Lorey, hung nearby. Aldern’s mother and father are pictured (but did not feature in the visions). Aldern and Iesha are also pictured. While investigating the room, it grows warm and moist, just before each of the portraits suddenly transforms to show the cause of subject’s death. Aldern’s portrait becomes a gray-green skinned cadaver with an elongated jaw and sharp canine teeth. Kassandra and Lorey died of a patchy rash and Iesha from strangulation. Vorel’s portrait becomes encrusted with mold and fungus before exploding in a blast of spores that envelop everyone. There are no obvious immediate ill effects.

The heroes recover from the scene and continue exploring upward to the attic. Most rooms are storerooms with generous water damage and even some gaps in the sagging roof. The last room is locked with a heavy padlock. Maggie hears crying within and picks the lock.

Revenant iesha (This is a deviation from our session. I want to replay the events of this room somewhat.) Inside, the room reeked of putrescence, worse than any other room. Numerous tables, chairs and other furniture were covered with dusty, white sheets. The only uncovered furniture was a tall dressing mirror, its back toward the door. As the adventurers entered, they saw the source of the sobbing. A ghostly version of Iesha sat staring into the mirror, tears rolling down her face with wet drips on the floor that vanished after seconds. Behind her laid a human-sized corpse wrapped in a sheet brown-stained sheet.

Iesha moaned, “I loved him. No. I love him. Why do I still love him? Why didn’t I see him for the monster he is? How could he do this to me. Why was I so stupid? So stupid. I hate myself…I hate you. I hate you. I hate you,” she said to her reflection.

When Malcanthet entered the room, Iesha glanced her direction and flashed with rage, “You! You are the one he loves now. You are the one he loves more than me. This is your fault. I hate you whore!” She seems to turn inward again, “No. It’s my fault – not yours. I hate him. He did this to me. No. I let him do this to me. It’s my fault. I hate myself. I hate myself.”

Malcanthet protested, “What do you mean my fault? I didn’t know he was married. When I found out, I came to your house in Magnimar to know the truth and you were there just days ago. When did this happen to you? When?”

Iesha’s sobs subsided, “Free me from this prison. Destroy the mirror. And I will have my revenge. Aldern will be destroyed!”

Session Summary

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Interlude: Magnimaran Justice

On a bleak autumn day, the party traveled to Magnimar with the returning soldiers, the prisoner Lyrie, and Ameiko Kaijitsu. The trip through the outlying farmlands and high moors was uneventful. The party stayed at a wayfarer’s inn called The Verdant Knoll.

MagnimarThe next day passed similarly and by nightfall the party arrived at Magnimar. Maggie told tales of fiendish creatures living in the Irespan, the cyclopean broken bridge that that reaches from Magnimar’s heart out into the gulf. She also told of the downtrodden and lawless that continue to live in its shadow.

The group marched through the wealthier upper city until they reached the Pediment Building. A guard collected the prisoner and she was led into the prison, known as the Hells. The soldiers departed as the adventurers received a summons for the next morning to meet the Chief Justice presiding over the case.

The heroes then took Ragnok to Pharasma’s temple in lowtown. They delivered Pastor Zantus’ coffer unopened and left Ragnok overnight.
The next morning Ragnok was sitting on the steps waiting for his friends, apparently completely recovered.

The party returned to the Pediment Building and entered the upper Justice Court. A beadle led them to Chief Justice Ironbriar’s office. They were transferred to Verne, Ironbriar’s nasal, irksome assistant. The newly restored Ragnok was so vexed that he nearly throttled the man. Not a moment too soon, Ironbriar called for the adventurers.

During the audience, the group learned about the judicial process and the fact that Ameiko’s brother’s role and any necessary reparation would also be determined at the upcoming trial. He recommended a lawyer who Maggie later revealed to be an old duffer and a poor choice.

Outside the Pediment Building, the party briefly chatted with a crying woman who disclosed that her husband had been jailed for theft but was now missing. Maggie learned that neither Ironbriar nor the prison guards would listen to her complaint. Malcanthet harshly pronounced the punishment appropriate for the crime and the women fled sobbing.

Over the next few days, the party visited the Hells to question Lyrie but found her magically stupefied. They also secured a talented lawyer for Ameiko. The remainder of the time was spent shopping and looking around Magnimar (including a jaunt by Malcanthet and Maggie to Lord Forxglove’s townhouse and a brief introduction to his beautiful, young wife).

The day of the trial arrived. Chief Justice Ironbriar and Justices Kernwell and Chaddov presided. Lyrie and Tsuto were charged with conspiracy, murder, treason, high treason and cultic activity. Both Lyrie and Ameiko’s lawyer pled not guilty. The lawyer made a sound case that Tsuto had a harsh upbringing at the hands of his father and fell in with a powerfully corrupt Nualia and was mentally unstable. Lyrie argued that she was duped and that once she realized Nualia was evil, she was powerless to escape. She even accused the adventurers of releasing Nualia’s bodyguard, Orik, thus allowing her to be the scapegoat.

As the galley erupted with noise, Ironbriar leaned forward, “The witnesses are not on trial. Today. They have been cross-examined and we will not allow this court to become a Varisian Traveler’s show. As we have no more questions for you: Please. Step. Down.”

The questions concluded and after a brief deliberation, the justices returned. Ironbriar said, “Lyrie Akenja, your testimony has clearly painted you as a dissolute individual bent of personal gratification and personal enrichment with little thought to the consequences of your actions. As a result, you fell in with this Nualia, an individual bent on undermining the city of Magnimar and its holdings, and showed little qualm at her activities and, indeed, were found to be defending her when confronted by the forces of good, as represented by Master Komondon and his associates. Your contradictory evidence undermines your testimony that you were uninvolved in the atrocities perpetrated by Nualia, and in any case your failure to prevent them is telling. We, the Presiding Panel, therefore find you guilty of the charges put before you. You are hereby sentenced to by hung upon the cross at dawn tomorrow until your soul vacates your mortal shell. May Pharasma judge you kindly.”

After Lyrie was removed sobbing incoherently, Ironbriar continued with the verdict.

“Ameiko Kaijitsu, it is clear from today’s testimony that your brother has had a life full of suffering. This may well have had an impact upon his ability to discern whether the company he kept was appropriate that a young noble and patriot of Magnimar. I am satisfied that Nualia was the prime mover in the plot against Sandpoint.”

“Notwithstanding, this plot led to the deaths of several individuals in Sandpoint. I am not satisfied that his state of mind was so disturbed as to be unable to determine whether his actions were right or wrong. While we find him not guilty of the majority of the charges against him, we still find him guilty of conspiracy to destroy a holding of Magnimar.”

“As such, he was responsible for damage to the town of Sandpoint and even its possible destruction. Therefore, all of the Kaijitsu property and improvements will be confiscated by the city of Magnimar to be distributed to the nobles of Sandpoint minus court fees and fines. Sentence is to be carried out immediately.”

Ameiko gasped and cried out, but Ironbriar had her removed from the courtroom. The trial quickly adjourned and party found her stunned in the hall.

Moments later, Sandpoint guardswoman Crispin unexpectedly showed up. She explained that there have been three gruesome murders in Sandpoint and the Sheriff wants the party’s help. She described three dead transients torn apart with a seven-pointed star carved in their chests. A forth was alive but insane.

Ameiko remained in Magnimar to conclude her business, while the party secured horses and rode hard back to Sandpoint.

Session Summary

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Malfeshnekor's Den

Drakken, Kynaan, and Maggie, standing in the darkened doorway, saw Nualia, unbelievably alive, advance toward them. This time, however, a sickening wave of evil radiated from her. Battered, the heroes retreated from her furious screams to regroup and rest.

Once outside they found Malcanthet who had followed the group from Sandpoint for mysterious reasons known only to her. She simply offered to join the fight.

The night passed restlessly. The evil awoken under Thistletop had a long reach. Ragnok’s exhausted form lurched from the ground and he spoke with a deep, resonant voice unlike his own. His features became more demonic and then receded suddenly. He returned to his stuporous snoring.

The next morning, fog thick on the Lost Coast, Maggie encouraged her companions to “just go take a look.” Despite considerable dissent, her plan to “hit that bitch with a stick” inspired courage, even from the gnomish advocate for returning home for tea and crumpets. She led the group back into the island’s ancient core and straight to the chamber where Nualia was last seen.

Just outside the door, Maggie heard diabolic arcane casting sounds coming from within. As the tiefling rogue crept forward, Albi sneezed and gulped. Nualia welcomed, “I had hoped your would return.” Maggie raced into the room to meet her foe, brandishing a dagger in one hand and a tree limb in the other.

The oval-shaped chamber was ringed with a recessed pit of glowing embers but was otherwise empty. Maggie stopped and turned back to say as much when Nualia suddenly appeared and, with a massive claw, gouged Maggie. Nualia’s inhuman strength staggered Maggie and she was completely surprised when Nualia bit here neck and tore a hunk of flesh free.

Kynaan and Drakken rushed into the room while Nualia swept Maggie off her feet and thrust her toward the open pit. Despite the flailing rogue in her grasp, Nualia easily evaded Kynaan’s slashes and stiff-armed Drakken when he attempted to join the grapple. Maggie slipped free at the last moment and Nualia lept free of the melee.

As Maggie slumped to the ground, unconscious, the beautiful aasimar bargained with the party’s wordsmith, Bandaro. A bit of Maggie’s shed blood, a holy item of Sarenrae and a prybar was all she asked in exchange for treasure beyond their ken. The ranged fighters answered with extreme prejudice.

MalfeshnekorAlbi lobbed in several bombs as Malcanthet launched arrows from her magical bow. As the conflagration cleared, Nualia stepped from the flames with her skin dripping off like hot wax. Revealed was a hulking mangy haired demon with a goblinoid face and enormous claws and fangs. The monster growled more arcane words and a wash of sorrow sapped Albi and Mal. Emboldened by their sadness, the goblin-demon rent and tore at the other fighters. Drakken managed to find a healing potion and pour it into the hemorrhaging Maggie.

Savage blows were exchanged for seemingly forever, leaving Drakken unconscious and Maggie and Bandaro barely standing. The creature was severely wounded but the heroes could not battle on. Being closed to the ground and rife with arcane knowledge, Albi noted a magical circle inlaid in the floor and yelled, “Fall back! The demon may not pass beyond the line.” The party retreated as the creature howled in pained rage.

The monster did not follow.

The heroes used most of Kynaan’s healing wand’s power and recovered as much as possible. Then the heroes returned to finish the monster for good.

Upon entering, the demon was invisible. After several minutes, it appeared again behind Maggie. It grabbed her and threatened to throw her in the fiery pit if the items demanded were not delivered. Drakken laughed.

“Do it. Who cares? She’s a tiefling.”

Enraged, the demon shoved Maggie into the pit, but sure enough, she suffered naught from the embers burning below. As she climbed out, Malcanthet’s rain of arrows and Bandaro’s dancing slashes harried the monster. Maggie emerged and charged toward the monster’s back. Armed with Malcanthet’s magical rapier, she drove the slender blade into its black heart. The monster wailed and fell to the ground dead.

Ring of force shieldAfter catching their breath, the heroes explored the summoning chamber and found a drawer beneath a scrying pool. Within was a ornate silver coffer with a magical ring.

The party collected their wounded and their mage prisoner and started back toward Sandpoint, exhausted but victorious.

Session Summary

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