Rise of the Runelords

City of Secrets

The Skinsaw Murders, Part 7

Sunday, 12 Neth, 4733

Having captured some of the bandits who ambushed them, the party questions the leader of this gang, which call themselves the “Wrecking Maggots.” Lea demands to know how he knew her her. The bandit leader says that he’d been warned off attacking a Iomedaean paladin with violet eyes and a penchant for dressing in black.

He explains that there’s a whole information network that bandits rely on for tips on which caravans to hit and which to avoid. That was also where they got the tip to chain up the dryad tree. He isn’t able to name names, but says the best info can be found at the Blue Bunyip tavern. Zavian and Marcus recognize it as the one the party found a deed for in Foxglove Manor.

After forcing the Wrecking Maggots to tell the poor merchant they waylaid where they dumped his cheaper items, the bandits are chained up and marched down towards Magnimar. The party meets a patrol of Magnimarian guards led by Captain Kassadei, who go off to hunt down the bandits who escaped. The guards tell them to take the prisoners to the Arvensoar.

The adventurers arrive at the Free City of Magnimar around midday, impressed with its splendor. They drop the bandits off at the great fortress tower of the Arvensoar and offer their assistance in dealing with the “Star Killer.” An appointment with the Watch Captain is set for later in the day. Marcus sells the bandits’ armor to pay for the waylaid merchants’ losses, while Zavian equips the Nualia vivicar with the bandit leader’s masterwork bastard sword.

Zavian then leads the party to one of the nicer restaurants in the Naos District, the Ruby Arrow, for lunch. They manage to find a table at the busy but refined restaurant and settle in to a fine meal. Marcus covers Duli’s tab.

Midway through lunch, however, the manager informs Zavian that he must leave the restaurant because he is on the list of unwanted customers. Zavian departs, saying that he had been acting charitably in visiting a Leonte establishment. Marcus, Duli, and Astrid leave with him, while Lea, Amelia, Ameiko, and Shalelu remain.

Zavian takes his group down to the Lowcleft District to visit his family’s restaurant, the King and Axe, whose sign features a smiling monarch being beheaded. The place is rowdier, with a lively band, dancing girls, and a clientele ranging from working class folks to bohemian types. Zavian is attended to by a busty barmaid named Iriel, who quickly clears out his favorite booth. While the others order the simpler fare available, Zavian asks for Iriel to retrieve his expensive wine from its hiding place.

At the Ruby Arrow, Lea and Ameiko make small talk and discuss their plans for the rest of the day. Ameiko is going to investigate the Kaijitsu villa, which her father left vacant for a number of years, and begin making inquiries about hiring new glassworkers. Ameiko admits that she isn’t eager to take on the responsibilities of being “Lady Kaijitsu,” but not doing so would tip the balance of power among the Four Families of Sandpoint towards the hated House Scarnetti. She’s not about to let that happen. Shalelu, meanwhile, is discomfited by the city environment, but she has business there and plans to stick by Ameiko’s side to ensure the bard doesn’t get into any more trouble.

Back at the King and Axe, Zavian finally goes to check in with his father Avos, who is hard at work in the kitchen. Avos is overjoyed to see his lad and summons his wife Rina so that they can catch up. The two Desante parents are impressed at Zavian’s accomplishments with the vivicarum spell and suggest that if the whole Abadar thing doesn’t work out, he could turn to the Golemworks.

Rina also asks about the Nualia girl he mentioned, noting that the two aasimars seem to have a lot in common. Zavian awkwardly agrees and shows off the Nualia vivicar. He also asks if they have any clue as to why he was kicked out of the Ruby Arrow. Avos says that Arikon Leonte still has hard feelings after the marriage proposal between Zavian and Jula fell through. Zavian also suspects that Arikon might still have sour grapes about the land deal the two families disputed. The cleric introduces his parents to his friends and secures rooms for the party that night.

After lunch, the Rune Wardens reunite at the Arvensoar, where they meet with Captain Acacia Urania. Lea relays that they dealt with a similar killer in Sandpoint and believe there is a connection with the “Star Killer.” Sheriff Belor had praised the Rune Wardens highly, so Captain Acacia is willing to deputize them for a week to investigate the killings. The City Watch is stretched thin by the bandit raids and the military tensions with Korvosa, so she needs all the help she can get. The adventurers also offer to help with the bandit problem, since they have a tip that information is being traded at the Blue Bunyip.

Captain Acacia reminds them that as deputies, they represent the City of Magnimar and must take care to faithfully uphold the city’s laws. While Zavian, with his knowledge of the law, can advise the party, the Captain suggests that they consult Justice Ironbriar and the Justice Court for more complex cases. Lea recalls that Ironbriar sent the mercenary Viorian Dekanti to escort Tsuto Kaijitsu down to stand trial and asks if the half-elf arrived safely. Acacia admits she had not heard of his arrival, which she finds disconcerting. The captain promises to check the records.

After receiving their badges as deputy constables, the Rune Wardens split up to take care of business in town. Marcus tracks down the dwarven smith, Urin, who forged the masterwork bastard sword they recovered from the leader of the Wrecking Maggots. The half-elf chats with Urin about dwarven smithing techniques and where to find the best metalworkers in the city.

Lea pays a visit to the Temple of Iomedae, where she updates Chaplain Tira Ronnova on the events in Sandpoint and her request that Ser Chammady of Korvosa come to cleanse the Foxglove manor. The chaplain is impressed with what Lea has accomplished and believes its clear the goddess has plans in store for her.

After that, Lea visits with Ameiko and Shalelu at the Kaijitsu villa, which has fallen in disrepair after years of neglect. Lea brings them up to speed on events, and worries about the fact that the guard captain had recognized her as a Korvosan. Ameiko suggests going shopping later to get her a whole new look. After helping them clean up the place a bit, Lea bunks down on the floor with Ameiko while Shalelu trances on the roof.

The rest of the Rune Wardens take advantage of the free rooms at the King and Axe, although the rowdiness of the common room does make it a little hard to sleep.

Moonday, 13 Neth, 4733

The next morning, the Rune Wardens reassemble at the Kaijitsu manor and take breakfast. Ameiko explains that her business in Magnimar is going well so far. She’s not excited to be “Lady Kaijitsu,” but she won’t walk away from her responsibilities because that will tip the balance of power towards the Scarnetti family.

While Ameiko and Shalelu go off to continue their errands, the adventurers proceed to investigate the Foxglove townhouse in the Naos District. The windows on the bottom floor of the townhouse are boarded over. Marcus casts spiderclimb on himself and ascends to the third floor balcony. Inside, he finds the master bedroom with a bed covered in a thin film of dust, suggesting it hadn’t been used in weeks. He casts invisibility on himself and continues investigating.

Down below, Lea knocks on the front door. A serving man asks them what their business is at Lord Foxglove’s home, they tell him that Aldern is dead. He insists that this is not the case and heads upstairs to fetch Lord and Lady Foxglove.

Upstairs, Marcus finds a trapdoor in the bedroom, and pries it open. Down below, he sees the seemingly very much alive Aldern and Iesha Foxglove standing in a room, staring blankly. The servant enters and summons them to meet their old friends below. The couple suddenly brighten and dead downstairs. Once they are gone, Marcus drops down into what appears to be a study of some kind.

Below, the party is shocked to see the two Foxgloves alive. The nobles invite them to a homemade breakfast. When questioned, Aldern says that after the boar hunt, he returned to Magnimar to wait for Iesha to return from her trip to Absalom. The adventurers offer more probing questions to try to suss out what is going on.

Finally, Amelia simply accuses them of being impostors. She hurls a blast of glitterdust at them, blinding Iesha. Aldern draws his sword and rushes towards her, but Astrid and Zavian bar the way.

The servant, meanwhile, rushes towards Lea and seizes hold of her with fearsome strength. Her spiked armor pierces the man’s flesh, but the wounds heal almor immediately. The servant leans in and his face warps, his lips stretching into a sharpened proboscis that jabs into her and begins draining her blood. “Aldern” seizes hold of Zavian and does the same.

The blinded “Iesha” runs into the wall and falls over.

Lea recognizes the monsters as blood-drinking shapeshifters called faceless stalkers. The adventurers counterattack, but the creatures prove resilient to attacks from swords. While tangled up with the “servant,” Lea has trouble using her earthbreaker and struggles to break free.

Marcus, meanwhile, rushes down to perch at the height of the staircase and unleashes burning hands. The scorched and blinded “Iesha” rushes up the stairs, pushing past his ranseur. Downstairs, Lea frees herself and brings down one of the attackers, while Zavian and Astrid kill another of the monsters.

“Iesha” rushes over to the front window on the second floor and deftly lands on the ground. This provokes a startled squawk from Ash: “What the hell is that!”

This prompts Astrid to burst outside and hurl her double-bladed sword Echo at the monster, cutting it in half.

The adventurers proceed to scour the house. Using a key they recovered from the Foxglove manor, they are able to access a hidden cache of platinum coins that also contains the deed to the manor house. The deed reveals that the “Brothers of the Seven” funded 1/3 of the cost of the manor, with the Seven Sawmill as collateral. A ledger, meanwhile, shows that starting several months ago, Aldern began paying large sums of money to “B7” to pay for “Iesha’s trip to Absalom.” Peering closer, they find another cache behind the first one, which has Korvosan platinum coins and another deed to the Blue Bunyip, this one with somewhat different details.

The Rune Wardens turn the crime scene over to the City Watch, who explain that faceless stalkers will occasionally slink out of the Mushfens to infiltrate the city. But it’s rare for them to strike in the Naos District.

The party’s next stop is to investigate the Blue Bunyip, a single story stone building with a thatch roof. Despite being located in the Naos district, there’s a seedy air to the tavern. They learn that the bar is allegedly owned by a dwarf named Brodi. Learning that the dwarf will be coming by for lunch, the Rune Wardens decide to hang around to meet him. Except for Lea, who decides to return to the Kaijitsu Manor.

At the tavern, Zavian and Amelia ask around. Amelia learns that Brodi owns several properties around the city, and travels from one to the other, holding court. The Blue Bunyip is frequented by adventurers and other, shadier types. It’s likely a front of some kind. Brodi’s owned the place for a couple years. Zavian also learns about the Seven’s Sawmill, that it is located on Kyver’s Isle, a major industrial area of the city in the Ordellia District. Amelia also asks about a good seamstress and is directed to the Bazaar of Sails.

When Brodi finally makes an entrance, accompanied by three Varisian bodyguards, the adventurers realize the dwarf shares some family resemblance to Duli. Amelia blurts this out, which immediately puts Brodi on edge. Marcus explains that he is employing Duli as a guard.

The party confronts Brodi about the tavern deed, which he insists is a fake. He also points out that deeds aren’t bearer bonds, and points out that the document they have states that Aldern foxglove is the tavern owner. Brodi brushes off claims about his tavern being a meeting place for bandits, saying that he doesn’t eavesdrop on his clientele. They eventually head down to the Hall of Lords to settle the dispute over the deed with the city clerks. On the way, Marcus has Ash fly off to ask Duli about her brother. The raven reports back that she said he was a “bad seed” and the party shouldn’t trust him.

At the Hall of Lords, the clerk confirms that the party’s deeds are fakes. Brodi tells them that they are all banned from the Blue Bunyip—with one exception. He recognizes Amelia and tells her that she is welcome. Zavian begins examining the two fake deeds, noting that there are differences between them and begins to suspect they might contain coded messages.

Meanwhile, Lea makes her way towards the Kaijitsu villa with a spring in her step. However, she soon realizes that she is being trailed by a trio of men. She leads them into a dead end alleyway and confronts them. They use bolas and halberds to knock her on her feet and soon she is grappling with them on the muddy ground while they try to club her into unconsciousness.

A door in the alleyway opens and a beautiful, well-dressed red haired woman steps out and immediately begins shrieking for the guards while throwing mud at the attackers. Lea gets to her feet and bashes two of them into unconsciousness. Hefting her earthbreaker, she glares at the third man.

“Don’t make me chase you,” she says.

He looks down at his companions on the ground, then says “I’m going to make you chase me.”

Lea pursues him through the city and spies a shortcut that lets her get cut off his escape. After tackling him, she halls him back to the alley where the guards are taking the others into custody. The kidnapper explains that they were bounty hunters hired to capture either her or Amelia. They were employed by a halfing named Elirie down at the Jester and Cask by the docks.

Lea thanks the red-haired woman for intervening. She introduces herself as Mira Ortani, an actress from the distant land of Brevoy. She invites Lea to come see her show at the Triodea, The Inconstant Nymph. She also warns the paladin to be wary traveling the streets from here on out.

A little worse for wear, Lea arrives at the Kaijitsu villa, which Ameiko is still getting into order.

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