Starday, 14 Lamashan, 4733
The adventurers present the head of Malfeshnekor to the bound Nualia. Lea and Zavian urge her to abandon her following of Lamashtu, now that all that she has worked for has turned to ruin. Nualia, however, simply demands that they stop talking.
The party investigates the last unexplored section of the Thistletop dungeon, where a monster is said to lurk. This area is a cave that opens out onto the cliff overlooking the sea. Zavian spies something moving along the roof and warns the others.
A tentamort emerges, attacking first Zavian and then Astrid with its tentacles. It breaks its stinger against Astrid’s armor and she brings it down.
Investigating the area, the adventurers find the bodies of several goblins and look some valuables from a dead goblin hero. Amelia recalls that tentamorts lay eggs in the bodies of their victims, so Marcus burns the bodies.
Marcus then uses his floating disk spell to retrieve the enormous gold helmet from the chamber below. They manage to guide the disk through the Nettlewood and back to the cart, which Duli has been watching over, along with the horses. The dwarf says that she saw several fleeing goblins, who steering clear of her. The night before, something large and fearful flew overhead, spooking the horses.
An autumn storm has rolled in and the adventurers are forced to trudge back to Sandpoint in a cold drizzle. Along the way, Shalelu compliments Astrid on her goblin-killing skills and asks after her Isandari sword. It turns out that Shalelu rescued a wounded and delirious Isandari elf a few months ago and took him back to Sandpoint. The elf doesn’t match the description of Astrid’s brother, but it is a lead to follow up on.
Back in town, the party is greeted by Sheriff Belor and the Magnimarian Lieutenant Belvar. Though disappointed that the goblins appear to have been routed, Belvar pledges to launch reprisal raids against the remaining tribes with the platoon he brought up from the city.
Belor explains that their trip back to Sandpoint had been delayed when they were diverted to hunt down bandits. Belor believes that the increased bandit activity near Magnimar is due to a rumored highwayman’s guild called the “Rushlight Society,” though Belvar dismisses it as an urban legend.
Belor takes Nualia into custody, and Zavian reminds him of the arrangement with Tsuto about how she is to be treated.
Marcus pays Duli for her service, with a hefty bonus, and asks to extend her contract. He then returns to the home of Das Korvut, who has been into the drink again to deal with his nightmares.
At the Rusty Dragon, the rest of the party interrupts a story by Ser Jasper Korvaski. After the grimy adventurers have cleaned up with a hot bath, Lea shares some stories of the fight with Malfeshnekor and catches up with Ameiko.
Sunday, 15 Lamashan, 4733
The next day, Malfeshnekor’s head is mounted on a pike over the Sandpoint gates.
Astrid goes to speak with Father Zantus, who explains that the wounded elf, Dace, was traumatized by his experience. After tending to the man’s wounds, Zantus sent him to Erin Habe’s sanitarium in the countryside to recover.
Marcus and Lea visit with Brodert Quink to discuss the Thassilonians. Quink suspects that the ruins in Thistletop were connected to the Runelord of Greed, who practiced transmutation magic. Quink also explained that the medallion they recovered bears the Sihedron rune, the seven-pointed star representing the seven schools of rune magic that was the chief sigil of Thassilon.
The sage also inspects the giant helmet and estimates that it was intended for someone who would be a “giant among giants.” The helmet is marked with the rune of greed. After taking some sketches and rubbings, Marcus ultimately sells the helmet to Titus Scarnetti, head of one of the Four Families.
In between his crafting projects, Marcus is also visited by Shayliss, who is eager to continue their liaisons. However, she insists that they be discrete, so as not to incur her father’s wrath.
Amelia entertains the regulars at the Rusty Dragon with three songs she has composed about the Thistletop fight: a jaunty tune about Astrid’s skill at killing goblins, a song about the death of Ripnugget, and a ballad about the defeat of Malfeshnekor.
Flush with gold after their raid on Thistletop, the adventurers spend a fair bit of time shopping for new gear. Zavian also takes time to commune with Abadar on the appropriate date to schedule the upcoming Market Door festival. Lea spends more time with Ameiko, sharing stories of adventure.
The quiet times come to an end, however, in the early dawn hours of 23 Lamashan, when a distraught Shayliss turns up, pounding on Marcus’ door.
Moonday, 23 Lamashan, 4733
She stammers out that her sister Katrine is dead, as is her sister’s boyfriend Banny Harker, and her father Ven has been arrested. Marcus assures her that the adventurers will get to the bottom of this and leaves her in the care of Ameiko while the party heads out.
They are greeted by Sheriff Belor, who brings them up to speed. Katrine and Banny Harker were murdered in the Sandpoint Sawmill, and the bodies discovered by Harker’s co-worker Ibor Thorn. Harker’s body had been mutilated, with a Sihedron rune carved into his chest. Belor took Katrine’s father Ven into custody, as he is the only one in town with a grudge against Harker, but the sheriff is confident Ven is innocent.
Most troubling, this was not the first murder in the region. Two days before, three known con men from the town of Galduria had been found dead in a barn south of Sandpoint, likewise mutilated and carved with the Sihedron rune. The three crooks had brought along a Varisian thug as a bodyguard. He survived, but had been driven mad, and has been given over to Erin Habe’s sanitarium for treatment.
Belor wants the party’s assistance to discretely investigate the crime, in order to avoid a repeat of the Late Unpleasantness. He also warns that the killer seems to have a connection to one of them. A note was found at the lumber mill pinned to Harker’s body and addressed to Amelia (who was still inside, consoling Shayliss).
Freshly deputized, the party ventured to the lumber mill to inspect the crime scene. The place stinks, as if a dead animal had been left to rot there for days. Lea recognizes it as the odor of a ghast, a powerful form of ghoul. Examining the tracks in the sawdust, Zavian figures out that the barefoot ghast attacked Harker and was interrupted by Katrine, who hit the creature with a hatchet before being shoved into the log splitter. Her mangled remains lie below. Marcus retrieved a strange gold coin from her body.
Harker’s body has been mutilated, with much of the skin stripped from his face and his jaw removed. A Sihedron symbol is carved onto his chest. Some of the wounds on his body were from ghast claws, but most were due to a razor-sharp knife.
The party then went to question Ibor. Under pressure from Lea and Zavian, the sawmill worker says he had left early so that Harker could rendezvous with Shayliss. He discovered the bodies the next morning. Ibor admits that he known that Harker was embezzling money from the sawmill. The mill is owned by Scarnetti family, known for their ruthlessness and rumored connection to the Sczarni mafia. Ibor fears that the Scarnetti’s put out a hit on Ibor for stealing from them.
The Scarnettis are not known for arcane or divine magical abilities, leaving adventurers wondering if they were involved in a crime committed by a ghast.