Rise of the Runelords

The Golden Bolt

The Skinsaw Murders, Part 10

Starday, 18 Neth, 4733

The Rune Wardens regroup at the Kaijitsu Villa, where Zavian brings them up to speed on his efforts to track Xanesha. They dispatch Ash to keep watch on the Jester and Cask Inn where she is staying, while they grab a quick lunch at a place called The Hungry Wench.

Though Marcus and Zavian are weary from the morning’s fight, the adventurers decide to confront the monster now before she has a chance to flee the city. They march down to the Jester and Cask, where they note it only has one entrance.

Stepping inside, they introduce themselves to the owner as deputies searching for a suspect. Lea also keeps her eyes out for the halfling Elirie, who hired her attempted kidnappers here.

Zavian questions the owner about the guest in the attached tower and learns that she has rented the tower for several years under the name Madame X. She is absent for long periods of time, but will periodically return with a gentleman caller. Madame X is in the tower at this moment. The owner also tells them that there are two access points to the tower, one on the ground floor and one upstairs.

Lea finally spies a halfling woman in a shadowy corner. The paladin confronts her and confirms that she is the Elirie that hired the bounty hunters who tried to kidnap Lea. Elirie says that her client simply wanted to meet with Lea or Amelia. The halfling claims to be acting as a simple broker on behalf of a client, whose identity she can’t disclose without hurting her reputation.

Lea senses that Elirie is no disinterested freelancer and is loyally trying to protect whoever she is working for. The paladin asks why Elirie would be involved in actions against her, since her family are known to be friends to the small folk. The halfling woman denounces Korvosa as a “bully” and notes that Lea is marching around like she owns the place with an earthbreaker on her shoulder. Elirie claims that she is unarmed, like a civilized person, and raises her hands.

As she does so, she swigs a potion bottle hidden in her left hand. Lea makes no move to interrupt her as the halfling turns invisible. Her footsteps patter up the side of the wall to the ceiling, where her giant gecko was waiting amid the rafters. With its invisible rider, the lizard charges across the roof to the stairwell and up to the second floor.

All hell breaks loose at this point. The Rune Wardens are fearful that Elirie will warn Xanesha, while the rest of the tavern panics as if this were a police raid. Astrid notes that one woman at the bar doesn’t panic with the rest, but doesn’t have time to press the case. Lea and Marcus run up after the stairs chasing the gecko, while Amelia, Zavian, and the vivicar go to the ground floor entrance to the tower.

Upstairs, Lea and Marcus realize that the invisible halfling and her gecko have burst out a window onto the roof across the alley. Her escape is interrupted, however, by the arrival of a red haired woman it a wide-brimmed hat with a scarf wrapped around her face. She dispels Elirie’s invisibility and trips her gecko with a twirl of her whip before tipping her hat at Lea.

Down below, Zavian unlocks the tower door and enters only to be fired on by an archer perched on the stairs, a plain faced human man. He retreats up the stairs as Amelia and the vivicar advance.

Upstairs, the red haired woman tips her hat at Lea and the paladin nods back before moving up to try battering down the upstairs door. Ultimately it is Astrid who hacks through it. The archer turns to fire on her before retreating into the shadows.

The party presses on into the tower from the second floor entry and up from below. Zavian is attacked by Tsuto, who emerges from the shadows. The half-elf monk then retreats upstairs, where Xanesha guards the entry with her spear. Meanwhile, Amelia is ambushed on the staircase by the unperturbed woman from the tavern. Like the archer, she is a faceless stalker.

Zavian leads the way up to the top floor of the tower. He confronts Tsuto, mocking him for the fact that Nualia ignored the half-elf’s escape attempt to stick with the aasimar cleric instead. Tsuto accuses Zavian of betraying their agreement in order to poison Nualia against him.

Lea, meanwhile, focuses her fury on Xanesha, hammering her with a blazing earthbreaker. The snakewoman weathers the devastating blows and then charges forward to shove Lea off the tower balcony, which creaks worryingly under her tremendous weight. The paladin manages to seize hold of the balcony railing.

Amelia emerges from below, surveys the scene, and shivs the wounded Xanesha in the back with her rapier. The monstress topples forward and the balcony collapses under the weight. Amelia casts feather fall on Lea, so that the paladin drifts gently to the ground.

Upstairs, Zavian paralyzes Tsuto with hold person. He sentences the half-elf to death and commands the Nualia vivicar to drive the golden bolt into the man’s heart. But the construct refuses to obey, and Zavian is forced to take the bolt from her and kill Tsuto himself.

As the half-elf’s body crumples to the floor, the adventurers remember that Zavian had promised Tsuto’s father Justice Ironbriar that they would spare the kid. Zavian realizes he may have gone too far.

Searching Xanesha’s body, the adventurers discover that, like Nualia, she wore a Sihedron medallion around her neck. Amelia won’t touch the thing, so Zavian claims it as his own.

The adventurers return to the Kaijitsu villa to break the news to Ameiko, who is saddened that her brother was killed. She tells Zavian that he’s not welcome in her home. Marcus follows Zavian out. The cleric heads to the Hells, the prison beneath the Pediment Building, to deliver the golden bolt to Justice Ironbriar. Zavian promises to continue his investigation of the Rushlight Society and defend Magnimar’s interests.

The party then returns to Captain Acacia Urania to report on the defeat of Xanesha, the leader of the Skinsaw murder cult. Acacia commends them on their efforts and lets them know that the Lord-Mayor is also grateful for their work. he has invited them to a feast in two days time at his palace in Defiant’s Garden. The captain also asks them to turn in their badges now that the investigation is over.

The adventurers haven’t traveled far from the Arvensoar before they are approached by Captain Kasadei of the Magnimarian Guard. She explains that the Star Killer affair had overshadowed another string of murders in the Underbridge. Someone has been murdering followers of Sarenrae while they perform a ritual dawnwalk, stabbing them from behind and cutting out their hearts. The victims never saw the killer, but they did glimpse a symbol on the dagger: a curved white feather dipping into a pool of blood. Zavian and Lea recognize that as the unholy symbol of Shax, the demon lord of lies and murder.

Kasadei says that Guard has a plan to lure the killer into an ambush, but they need someone to play bait. Zavian volunteers to assist, since he should be able to disguise himself as a Sarenrite priest, but he will need time to prepare.

Zavian also informs Lea of Justice Ironbriar’s suspicions that Korvosa is supporting the bandit guild known as the Rushlight Society. Lea insists that her father couldn’t be involved.

Marcus works with Zavian to find a buyer for his aberrant armor. They learn that a wealthy dwarf named Kunarv is interested in collecting planar artifacts. Kunarv’s townhouse is decorated with all manor of strange arms, armor, and artwork bearing unmistakable marks of the plane of fire, the plane of shadow, and more, yet Marcus notes that none seem to be touched by the Far Realm.

Kurnarv, dressed in flowing red robes with a gold medallion hanging down onto his bare chest, is intrigued by the armor, but cautious. Marcus works to sell him on it. Finally, the dwarf lays a hand on it and is taken hold with a desire to possess it. He immediately agrees to Marcus’ price of 8,000gp and sends his earth elemental to fetch the payment. The elemental melds into the stone floor and emerges moments later, disgorging a chest from which Kunarv retrieves the gold. The adventurers promise to see him if they come across any other planar finds.

That evening, Lea, Ameiko, Astrid, Amelia, and Shalelu dress in their finest gowns and head out to the Triodea to see The Inconstant Nymph. The actress Mira got them box seats with a great view of the theater.

The play is apparently one that has been performed regularly at the Triodea for many years, and some have come to view it as a hackneyed old chestnut, while others insist it’s a classic. The story is set in the Verduran Forest on the border between Taldor and Andoren. It involves an elaborate love triangle featuring this nymph, Pareia, who is being wooed by a Taldane prince, a dwarven warlord, and a young merchant’s son. The nymph can’t make up her mind between their offers, as the tensions between the suitors ramp up dramatically over the course of the play.

The lead male role is played by Kassiel, the resident bard, while Mira plays the nymph. There are substantial song and dance elements, which both leads perform admirably. The sets are magnificent and the costumes exquisite. There is a really convincing illusion of a centaur at one point. There are also some rather dated jokes about halfling servants, which irks Lea.

During intermission, Lea slowly realizes that the couple in the booth next door, and old noblewoman and her son, are members of the exiled Leroung family from Korvosa. The Leroungs are giving her some side eye, but seem surprised to see her there.

Lea also spots a halfling skulking in the scaffolding above the audience, who seems to be positioning herself to snipe at the box seats. It is Elirie, the kidnappers’ employer. When Lea informs Ameiko, the latter gets up onto the railing and calls out the halfling, telling her to stop threatening her girlfriend.

After a visit from the theater staff, the play resumes. But as it building towards a climactic point, Lea spots Elirie again. This time the halfling is creeping up behind Lady Leroung with a dagger in her hand, moving as if in a daze. Lea vaults across into the Leroung’s box, but isn’t able to stop Elirie before she cuts the old woman with her dagger. Then Lea and Shalelu wrestle the halfling to the ground.

The interruption brings the play to a halt, and Mira makes her way up to the box seats. Lady Leroung reveals that Elirie is a trusted servant and assumes that someone bewitched the halfling into attacking her. Lea wants to keep Elirie prisoner until the guards show up, but Lady Leroung is insisting that isn’t necessary.

Lea observes Mira as she suggests that Lady Leroung go home and leave Elirie to the guards. The actress dips her head at Lea, in just the same fashion as the redhead on the roof did hours ago.

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