Rise of the Runelords

Sunny Times in Magnimar

Sessions 8 and 9

Having just defeated the imposter Aldern and Iesha Foxglove, we are armed with the Foxglove Manor Deed and the knowledge that Foxglove paid the Sevens Sawmill every Oath Day for his wife’s trip to Absalom. Wanting to better understand the connection, we decide to pay the Sevens Sawmill a visit. The only diversion from this course comes when we visit the Copper Cornet for Zazz to purchase a new spell from a blonde gnome lady. While we wait, Aella plays with a skunk while Eric and Wallace people-watch outside.

Not too long after that, we arrive at the island in the southern area of Magnimar where the sawmill awaits. It looks to be several stories tall, but we approach and knock. There’s no answer and the door is locked, so we head to the second story door after Munnen confirms from his flight to an upper window that there are people inside.

Our knocking brings a worker, and Wallace attempts a mostly-pathetic bluff about the Deverin family wanting a tour of the premises. The worker isn’t having any of it, telling us that they need to get back to work and shutting the door in our faces. While we puzzle over our next move, we aimlessly tour the city. Unfortunately, we’re not in the best section of town, and Wallace eventually realizes that the person who bumped him stole his wallet. Everyone takes off after the thief, which leads to a dramatic chase. We all figure out quickly that climbing is none of our strong suits, but Zazz manages to catch up to the thief in the middle of one of the streets. Wallace isn’t too far behind, but Zazz makes the first attack on the thief. This prompts other local thieves to gather and defend their friend.

Our first fight of the session is on, and Zazz turns himself invisible before all the thieves can gang up on him. Wallace runs over one of the others in his desire to catch the one who robbed him and winds up getting stabbed by one of the others. Aella arrives on the scene in time to see her friends in trouble and wrecks mayhem. By the time all four of us are in the fight, we manage to cut down the thieves without much trouble. By the end, the only thief left alive is the one that robbed Wallace. We elect to turn her over to the authorities, who seem a bit dismayed at the mess we left behind us.

We continue exploring the city the rest of the day, seeing some of the monuments in town. After darkness falls, we return to the sawmill to try our luck again at gaining entrance. We essentially repeat the same process of Wallace knocking on the door and the workers saying that they are busy. This time, Eric alerts the cleric via a significant tap on the shoulder that these workers are giving off some seriously bad ju-ju, and Wallace demands entrance to the building. The workers step back to allow them entrance, and a most uncomfortable introduction begins as we all step into the sawmill.sawmill.jpg

Before the others can come up with any sort of real plan, Aella pulls out her weapon. This prompts the workers to don creepy masks and war razors. They attack us in one of the most dangerous places we’ve yet fought. We overcome the threat of the workers, seeing a couple of them mutilated by the sawmill equipment when we defeat them. After looting the one body left in one piece, we notice that the two levers down here that we thought might turn off the equipment have completely rusted through.

We head back up to the main floor, and Eric feels justified at this point in taking down the doors when no one responds to our knocking. The main floor seems empty, so we head for the staircase. Rather than stop to explore on any of the levels we climb to, we continue climbing all the way to fourth floor. Here, we finally stop as we see that a ton of cultists await. They are armed and ready for battle, but Zazz begins the fight with a stinking cloud that nauseates many of them.

We battle a few cultists that approach us, but this fight continues to be the Zazz show as he creates a pit in the middle of the room that traps a couple of our enemies. With the room torn up, the other three can simply hold their weapons and wait for an opportunity to attack. For a time, it looks as though we’re going to sleepwalk through this fight, but eventually the pit disappears and we head further into the room to find more bad guys led by an ornately-robed cultist. This guy is clearly the leader of the group, and he casts a spell that confused Zazz. In his confusion, Zazz thinks that Wallace is an enemy and greases his sword. The cleric of Ragathiel continues to feel the love as Aella is confused and attacks him. Eric knows this guy is serious and runs down to engage him in combat.

It looks perilous as half of us are confused and this Ironbriar cultist is doing his best impression of a honey badger in fearlessly tearing us apart. Finally, Aella returns to her normal state of mind and cuts down the last other cultist. It’s down to just us vs. Ironbriar, and Aella and Eric manage to finally knock the cultist out. Aella coup de graces him, finally ending our Sawmill battle. Given a little time to breathe and take a closer look, Wallace realizes he recognizes Ironbriar from somewhere but can’t quite place him. We explore the area a little bit, finding a trap-door leading up and a journal that we believe belongs to Ironbriar but is written in a coded language that is hard to decipher. Before we can go any further, the city guard arrives on the scene and takes in the sheer devastation we’ve left in our wake. They arrest us on charges of slaughter. Our attempts to talk our way out of the situation are useless and we are hauled off to prison.

We all pass horrible nights in jail cells, never able to relax in the nasty conditions. The next morning, we’re fed bowls of thin gruel and then have to wait a few hours longer before finally being led to a meeting room and strapped to chairs. A tense twenty minutes passes before a corpulent blonde man Wallace recognizes sits down. This is Lord Mayor Gorbaris, who introduces himself and asks us to explain ourselves. Wallace attempts to tell the mayor the full story, but is obviously still too tired from the last several hours to be coherent enough. Aella takes the lead, pointing out why we came here, what leads we’ve discovered, and why we killed Ironbriar (who turned out to be one of the Magnimar justices).

At the end of the story, the Mayor offers a choice between life in the prison known as the Hells or completing our investigation and stopping the murders here in Magnimar while operating under probation and reporting in once a day to the guards. None of us really regard this as much of a choice, and decide to continue the investigation.

Our first day is mostly one of recovery, as we clean up at Wallace’s house and shopping for supplies in wake of the loot we collected. Back in possession of Ironbriar’s journal ledger, spellbook_ninokuni_003.jpgZazz locks himself in his room to study and decipher the thing while we decide to investigate one of the recent crime scenes in hopes of finding a new lead.

This crime scene is located in the Docklands, and the body belongs to a merchant selling rather substandard barley. The body bears a holy symbol of Abadar, as well as the carved sihedron rune on his chest. His throat is slit, and we curiously find no sign of a previous struggle. The only other interesting thing about the room is that some of the bags near the body on the shelves bear furrows that look like they were caused by a creature bigger than the average human. The guard on the scene tells us this body belonged to a Mr. Raylos, who was the owner of this merchant establishment. This makes us wonder if there’s a common link among the victims, so we head back to the city guard HQ and receive a copy of the casualty list by asking nicely. Wallace recognizes approximately half the names as belonging to city merchants, and we decide we need to speak with Wallace’s brother and get his thoughts on the list and the Brothers of the Seven.

Wallace is clearly uncomfortable back at his house, not wanting to believe that his brother was in any way involved in what was happening in the city. While the others began a lunch of quail eggs, Wallace spoke privately with Rafford. The talk reveals that the Brothers of the Seven have scattered, none of them remaining in Magnimar. Rafford also confirms that most of the victims were merchants and gamblers.

Deciding we need more information about the victims, we travel to the local temple of Pharasma to attempt to speak with the most recent corpse. We run into a genial fellow named Brother Karsh there who allows us to ask two questions of the dead guy. We ask who killed him, and he replies that it was a “creature unknown in a mask of gold.” His answer to our second question reveals that he doesn’t know anything about the Brothers of the Seven. By now, all three of us are ready to go hit something out of frustration at our inability to hunt down the murderer.

We go back to the Deverin House to speak with Zazz, who is now somehow covered in ink and muttering in various languages. We ask him what he knows about gold masks, but we don’t find out much beyond what we already knew – that this all ties into the god of secrets, Norgorber. Now running desperately low on leads, we decide to research the perfume we smelled at the scene of the last murder. Knowing it is a perfume generally given as a gift to one’s mistress, we poke around for the brand in the Naos district. We identify the scent as “Orem’s Best”, finally acquiescing to Eric’s idea that we ask around in the local brothels. Eric talks to plenty of people, trying to gather gossip on Ironbriar and who he might’ve been sleeping with lately. We learn that he stopped frequenting the whorehouses about two or three weeks before the murders began, and that someone saw him heading into the worst part of town recently in the Underbridge.

Realizing this is odd, we excitedly head for the Magnimar ghetto. The sun doesn’t shine here, and we all look ludicrously out of place. Aella dons her hat of disguise to blend in with the locals and tries to talk with some of them about Ironbriar. Wallace and Eric realize as they walk around that nobody is approaching a creepy clocktower, and we start to head that way. Aella’s conversation with the locals leads to the clocktower as well, and all three of us meet up there. Aella removes her hat and we circle the tower. We find only one set of doors, which Aella slowly opens with a creak. We see footprints in the middle of the first floor, some of which are quite big. Generally creeped out by this place and realizing that further investigation without Zazz is probably a bag idea, we slowly back away and settle for staking the place out.

During that time, Aella notices some of the dirt being displaced on the ground in front of the door, and activates her ability to see the invisible. She catches a fleeting glance of what looks like a large snake before it disappears. Not much else happens during our stakeout, and we head back to the Deverin house. We bring Zazz (who is still covered in ink but now has added a second color) up to speed on our recent investigation, asking him about the large snake-like humanoid. Zazz figures it might be a lamia, but can’t know for certain since he didn’t see it.

We rest up that night before allowing Zazz one more full day of study on the journal. Once that’s finished, all four of us journey back to the Underbridge and make our way to Shadow Clocktower. We don’t immediately perceive of threats, so we head inside the doors. Wallace starts to look into one of the rooms on this floor before he is attacked by a large mass of body parts that Zazz identifies as a flesh gollum. This thing packs a mighty punch, knocking even the mighty Aella back as we attempt to bring it down. Eric’s ability to smite evil comes through for us, as he manages to defeat the monstrosity before it can kill any of us. After some healing and aid from the hound archon Zazz summoned, we start to climb up a rickety staircase spiraling around the building and leading slowly upward. We have to keep some distance between us because the foundation is weak in this building. the-shadow-clock.png

All goes smoothly until we’re about halfway up and someone up top cuts one of the massive bells loose. The bell clatters down and hits Aella and Wallace while taking the floor out from beneath Aella. Our Shoanti friend plummets to the ground below, but thinks quickly under pressure and casts feather-fall on herself to soften her fall. We wait for her to return to us while each of us attempts a dangerous jump across the gaps left in the floor by the bell. Aella makes it across one of the gaps in her path, but comes up short on the second jump. Zazz uses a spell to web her to the wall so that we toss her a rope and haul her up on the right side of the staircase. We continue climbing, our adrenaline pumping from these heights and the fear that more bells may rain down.

We make it up to the top without further incident, but then find ourselves up against what looks like Aella, Zazz, and a hypothetical spawn of Eric and Wallace’s. We recognize quickly that these creatures mean us harm and are similar to the fake Foxgloves from days before. This fight proves difficult, as they get up in Zazz’s face and grapple Aella and Eric. Eventually, we manage to subdue all three monsters. Wallace leads the way up a rickety staircase that actually curves outside of the building. The next flight up reveals nothing but old equipment, but Wallace leads them up one more floor to the roof.

Before Wallace can even think about casting invisibility purge, he is shanked by an invisible snake-like woman who promises that we are to be her next victims. After hitting Wallace, her invisibility goes away and the boss fight is on! We start with buffing, as Aella increases her constitution and Wallace casts bull-strength on Eric. Eric takes the fight to the woman, but her mirror images protect her from taking much of any damage from us. She recognizes that Zazz’s magic could threaten her, and she attempts to remove him from the fight by turning him to stone. He shakes it off at the last second.

We press the momentum and Aella roars in triumph as she records a critical hit… until she realizes it was on a mirror image. We think we’ve gained the upper hand when we knock out her mirror images, but she moves away to threaten Zazz and casts mirror image again. In frustration, all of us maneuver to catch up to her again. When Wallace attempts to sneak around behind her, she lashes out and almost hits him in the heart with her weapon. Only the holy symbol of Ragathiel stops him from dying, but he’s unconscious.

Aella and Eric take out more of the mirror images and manage to inflict some damage on her, while Zazz recognizes that we’re in the fight of our lives and summons a lantern archon that grants Wallace enough temporary hit points to return him to consciousness. The cleric focuses on healing himself while Eric smites and Aella rages. The evil lady smacks Zazz for a big sum of damage, and he casts a spell that turns himself into an air elemental that can fly. He’s able to retreat out of harm’s way, leaving Eric and Aella to continue to hammer and cut her. She hits Eric with enough wisdom drain to turn him into someone similar to LeRoy Jenkins. She also casts mirror image again, officially earning her the title of most infuriating enemy we’ve yet fought. By now, Wallace has healed enough to be to rejoin the fray. The three of them and the lantern archon knock out the remainder of her last mirror images, and we prepare to finally kill this ho-bag once and for all.

Realizing she’s on her last legs, the snake-woman withdraws and leaps off the roof. She casts feather-fall on herself a la Aella, and flees. Zazz attempts to chase her and bring her down using his wand of magic missile, but she’s just too fast and gets away before any of us can finish her off. We are frustrated that she got away, but grateful for the opportunity to heal up before any of us keel over. We loot the treasure chests up here on the roof and find a note among the valuables. The note appears to be from the sister of the nasty woman we just fought, who is writing from Fort Ranick. She speaks of marking her victims “more elegantly” while also commenting on the greed that can be harvested from souls. She concludes by mentioning the mayor as the “cream of the crop” in Magnimar. This fight has left us with more questions and fears that matters could be even worse where this sister is.

We carefully make our way back down to the bottom of the clocktower and head to Baroque’s shrine. He heals Allea’s con damage, while Eric staggers down the street to a Temple of Torag and pays a large sum of gold to have his wisdom replenished. We spend the night at Baroque’s after Wallace explains to his mentor how we came to be in this state. The next day, we return to the mayor and bring him up to speed on our activities. He reads the note we found and confirms that last night was the first night in which there were no murders. He pardons us of our crimes, rewards us with plenty of gold, and invites us to a feast celebrating our victory.

It appears that we have at least temporarily stopped the murders in Magnimar, but none of us are feeling overconfident. Our enemy managed to escape us, and we know we will face her again. We know that more threats await, and while we have some time now to catch our breath and stock up on supplies that can enhance our chances of survival, we are far from safe. Our adventures will continue, but will have to wait until our next session.

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