Kern lets the other town guard know your investigations are done, they will begin the process of clean up and removal of the remains. You all quickly leave, glad to leave the stench and gruesome scene behind. It's is a short walk to the cathedral where you are welcomed in, as always, and ushered into a side chamber to wait for the head priest.
Father Zantus smiles warmly when he enters, a new acolyte with him carries a tray containing a picture of sun brewed tea and an assortment of fruits and cheeses. She offers it to each of you before leaving it on a side table and exiting. Zantus takes a seat, "Ah friends, it is good to see you this morning. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"
You have seen the image of the 7-Pointed in a few strange places.
The party found the image in the catacombs under Sandpoint that you got to by going through the Glassworks. A red marble statue of a strikingly beautiful but, at the same time, monstrously enraged human woman had the star image inscribed on a book she was holding. It also was found inscribed on three doors in a study behind each was a cell with a deformed skeleton. The image was also found inscribed on a silver disc medallion that Nualia was wearing that Belril now has. You also know that it is inscribed on a door under Thistletop.
Wren moves out with her and begins the important task of examining and protecting the magical wards deep underneath the surface. A month after moving out to the fort, she finally figures out the truth. Behind a sealed door in the lowest level of the complex, a powerful brashest is imprisoned. The magical bindings prevent it from leaving the room, but if she ever opens the door it shrieks and howls attempting to satisfy it supernatural hunger. How the creature came to be there and for what purpose Wren can not discern, but she knows it has been an extremely long time. Perhaps even as long ago as the ancient Thassilon Empire. Confident the magical bindings that hold the outsider, Wren still checks them daily. In the first weeks of occupying the complex the members of the Watch complained of unnatural dreams, but once Wren and Father Zantus cleared out all the icons and religious effects of Lamashtu the issues ceased.
This door has the image on it, plus Nualia's notes on Thasillon contain it as well as Tsuto's Journal pages. It is an image you all have seen quite a bit and you are pretty confident it is connected to the ancient empire that existed thousands of years ago.
Over the course of the adventure the group discovered some writings that included:
Thassilon consisted of seven individual domains, each of which was ruled by one of the seven runelords. Under distinct and exploitive law, each domain embodied its ruler’s favored virtues of rule. Each runelord had a capitol city that shared the name of his domain, but was prefaced by the word “Xin”—ancient Thassilonian for “imperial” and “throne of,” after the first emperor. Thus, the capitol of Shalast was called Xin-Shalast.
Bakrakhan, the domain of wrath, shared its eastern border with Shalast, and the two domains were locked in an enduring war until Bakrakhan was destroyed and sunk under the sea during the cataclysm that precipitated Thassilon’s fall. Bakrakhan was a place of many warring tribes who all served the runelord but hated each other. They raided Shalast constantly, stealing gold and mithral ore from caravans, plundering small settlements, and loosing their rage on anyone who dared oppose them. Bakrakhan’s thick forests were said to be home to hundreds of tribes of sinspawn and humanoids, with goblins, gnolls, and bugbears chief among them. Enslaved forest giants were common in Bakrakhan.
Cyrusian, the domain of pride, was traditionally the most powerful domain and de facto capitol of the empire. Its great river connections and centralized location allowed it to exert power over trade routes and communications, and its cities were larger and more numerous than the outlying provinces: names like Corveilles, Xin-Cyrusian, and Justnoque are remembered, though Torandey is the only great Cyrusian city still inhabited. At the same time, its rune giants and enslaved dragons built more and greater monuments to Cyrusian glory than any other domain. The dragons that flew through Cyrusian’s skies were signs both of its power (for many were tamed) and its boundless arrogance, as many dragons were allowed to pillage outlying lands as they pleased in reward for work well done.
Edasseril, the domain of striving ambition and envy, was rich in timber, precious gems, and iron, as well as in enslaved giants, powerful horses, bison like aurochs, and large herds of sheep. In other respects, it was less blessed: wild elves raided from the forests, as did ettercaps and ettins. The marshy river city of Xin-Edasseril suffered frequent plagues, despite the best efforts of the priests of Desna, and in modern times has been gutted for stone to build the city of Melesa nearby, on higher ground.
Eurythnia, the domain of fertility and lust, was largely built on its sea-going traffic and trade with distant lands, counting on spices and brothels to fill its coffers. Lust for exotic lovers also brought the slave trade to Eurythnia, making it the only domain to import slaves, especially elves, from over the sea. Its people were often disturbed by ghosts and will o’wisps along the shores, where ships frequently wrecked and sailors drowned. Raids from sahaugin were also a regular danger for the coastal domain, though in the years of the empire, enslaved ocean giants guarded Eurythnia’s shipping from piracy.
Gastash was the domain of abundance and gluttony, but was largely a peaceful and plentiful home for its citizens. The land was fertile and blessed with good harvests, which were in turn sold to the less agriculturally rich domains. Peace and satiety were Gastash’s advantages, but even so, things were often difficult. Anhkheg infestations were common, bulettes ate many farmers and servants of the runelord, and bandits from other kingdoms were frequent visitors. The lands of Old Gastash remain fertile, including the region around the modern city- state of Korvosa and its holdings.
Haruka, the domain of rest and sloth, in the imperial south, was slow, indolent, and cunning. Its vicious priesthoods of the Peacock Spirit and Lissalaa both fought pitched battles about their faiths and heresies, one of the few topics that moved the populace to action. Most of the Harukans worked as slavers, selling flesh from their markets or enjoying the abuse of their property. It was widely considered a cruel and often hypocritical domain, lazy by nature. The main enemies to peace in Haruka (other than the riots), were the wild gnoll tribes, frog-like humanoids called boggards, and the free hill giants who frequently sided with rebel slaves in the hills against their masters. Stories claim a council of metallic dragons razed the city of Xin-Haruka to the ground, though this is surely exaggeration.
Shalast was the domain of wealth and greed, and an ancient home of the giants of the Storval Plateau and of the monasteries of the Peacock Spirit. As the second largest domain, after Cyrusian, Shalast collected wealth from its gold, mithral, and copper mines, but it was never enough. Runelord Karzoug always wanted more, and the capitol of Xin-Shalast was said to be paved with gold; though in fact, most of the gold went into the treasury and the alchemical furnaces of the capital and never returned.
Shalast was known for wild ogres and forest giants, as well as enslaved stone giants and exotic dwarven artificers. Its treasures were sometimes carried on powerful mammoth-drawn caravans. Normal people survived largely as miners, smiths, and traders, providing further wealth. Many abandoned mines still litter the Storval Plateau; the mountain passes of Shalast still contain monasteries and ruins now abandoned to the wilderness.
Although the great and wise First King Xin forged the realm that would become Thassilon, the division of his empire and the cruel decadence of his governers, the runelords, are the only memories that remain of this once-great land. Each of these megalomania- cal rulers reshaped their fraction of the empire as they willed, scarring the land with monuments to their glory and shapes of their boundless corruption.
The symbols of the runelords were as pervasive as their graven images. As each ruler became associated with a particular virtue of rule, so too did their images imply mastery of a certain school of arcana and one of seven weapons of rule. Although arcanists first and foremost, each ruler was regularly depicted bearing an imperious looking ceremonial pole arm, which once marked him as a guardian of the Thassilonian empire and defender of Xin himself. Although these symbols became meaningless in the face of the runelords’ varied depravities, each ruler retained his traditional, scepter-like weapon as a public reminder of his connection to the Celestial Age and as a physical embodiment of his mastered magic.
Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath, was a powerful, blood-cloaked wizard and raging arcane knight. Her magic-, drug-, and mutation- enraged legions carried her thunderbolt-lance blazon and terrorized the neighboring lands of Shalast. Known for her charisma (some would say her ability to terrify her followers), she ruled Bakrakhan and seemed close to forcing a humiliating peace treaty on Karzoug when the world shook and her entire kingdom sank below the waves. Stories occasionally tell of coins of Bakrakhan being drawn up in fishing nets. Alaznist was said to wield an ancient ransuer of charred adamantine—impaled with the skull of the first Runelord of Wrath—as her weapon of rule.
Belimarius, the Runelord of Envy and the Queen of Edasseril, was a bitter and poisonous politician, consumed by her magic to always see her peers as scheming and flourishing beyond her reach. As a result, she stewed and plotted against all of them with intrigues, poison, and assassins. It’s unclear how her kingdom functioned; almost all records of it are clearly written to show only a completely false paradise of perfect rulership, perfect harmony, and perfect arcane skill. According to the official accounts, nothing ever went wrong in Edasseril. The other runelords seem to have avoided discussing her. She was a heavyset woman who looked to be the eldest of the runelords and always carried a wand of ebony and a speaking mirror—an antique even in those ancient times—with which she often consorted. Her halberd- like weapon of rule was said to be capable of stealing memories but was rarely used in battle by the paranoid queen.
Karzoug, Runelord of Greed, was a wizard known for his calculating mind and utter mercilessness. Rumored to be either half-vampire or descended from draconic stock, absolute greed powered his every action. Certainly Karzoug was covetous and deeply corrupt—famed for ordering the immolation of an entire city for its tax collectors’ shorting of a few silvers—but that was the reward granted him by the runes for his power and dedication to magic. He long fought the silent war of assassins, mage-poison, and demon-fetches against Alaznist, the queen of Bakrakhan. In the end, something sank her kingdom below the waves, even as the Thassilonian empire fell. Karzoug was enough of a master of the arcane that many suspect his hand in triggering the murder of an entire kingdom. His weapon of rule was a burning glaive, studded with priceless meteoric gemstones.
Krune, Runelord of Sloth and Lord of Haruka, was the least active of the Runelords, as his reward for rulership was apathy and pleasant indolence. Krune is remembered as a mild runelord, unconcerned with war, and yet powerful when attacked. He was the chief priest of the rune-goddess Lissala, and his mastery of the runes was complete. His weapon was a rod marked with all the secret runes of the priesthood and his flesh was said to be inscribed with the symbols of a hundred secret spells. This might explain his survival over time—few runelords wished to confront the one of their number who could potentially turn their runic powers against them. He enjoyed the defense of his weapon of rule, a dragon tooth longspear capable of moving and attacking of its own volition.
Sorshen was the Runelord of Lust and Lady of Eurythnia. She always wore red and white garments of the richest and most enticing design and carried a slim, lewdly-shaped staff made entirely of mithral. In battle, she was said to wield a double- headed guisarme, marked with masculine and feminine ends and said to be capable of summoning two seductive guardians. Her skill at magic was said to be matched only by her beguiling voice. With song, glance, and touch, she seduced and betrayed all of the other runelords over the years. Although they knew she was treacherous, they trusted her time and again, as her propositions always seemed eminently reasonable (though they invariably gave her the advantage in every future dealing). In her private life, stories agree that Runelord Sorshen was a whore, rutting with anything that took her fancy. Accusations of rape, perversion, and violent outbursts might have been exaggerated by her enemies, but if so she was remarkably consistent in her outrages. The one person’s privacy she took seriously was her own; the servants who worked in her private palace were all blinded and most were mute, communicating through fawning touches.
Xanderghul, the Satrap of Cyrusian and Runelord of Pride, was the devoted keeper of the Peacock Throne and a master of the body, mind, and spirit. The only one of the runelords to follow the Peacock Spirit, he claimed that his lands were the ancient capital of the empire and he was first among equals. The amazing thing is that he was probably right. His features were said to be severe and imperious, marking him as a descendant of kings. He prided himself on single-handedly holding the empire together, and thus created his realm to be a paradise for the nation’s most elite and affluent citizens, guarded over by legions of enslaved angels. Among the runelords, he took great pride in avoiding political squabbling and warmongering, seeing himself and his kingdom as above such things and saving his angelic armies for truly great causes. A master of diplomacy and the arts, he carried a feathered staff of lignum vitae. In wartimes, though, he displayed incredible prowess with his godscepter, a polearm like a lucerne hammer said to have been created by Xin himself. In many respects, he was the closest runelord to those of the Celestial Age, though his arrogance grew greater every year.
Zutha, the Lord of Gluttony, hungered for myriad exotic vices, but none more so than pure life energy. As ruler of Gastash, he controlled fertile lands and rich seas. His body, however, required constant renewal befitting his unique, undead state. Still capable of experiencing all the sensations of life, it was said the morbidly obese runelord never supped on the same meal twice and imported exotic foods and meal-slaves from across the world. Despite his disconcerting nature, he was a clever merchant, often described as “more deadly with a pen than with a pike”—his favored weapon was a set of magical rings and ioun stones, whose resonances he had mastered in some way that no other wizard understood, preferring these even to his scythe-like weapon of rule. Zutha’s domain sold supplies and foodstuffs to every side in every war; those who crossed him soon found their copper, tin, wool, oil, wheat, rye, and other supplies running thin.
Sophy and Eponine found these under Thistletop. I figure you all have had the opportunity to read them, Sophy took them at the time I believe, but she may have even left them for you when she left town. The star is likely the crest or symbol of these Runelords and their seven nations.
Nuri is only casually acquainted with the local priest and is a little stiff and formal in a private interview. "Father, are you aware ... well, I assume you're aware of the deaths at the lumber mill? We've found evidence that the killer was some sort of undead, or used an undead creature as the murder weapon. We were hoping that you might be able to help us figure out what kind of creature may be on the loose and how to deal with it. Have you any sort of library here that we could consult? Or maybe there might be someone in Sandpoint you've had suspicions of dabbling in necromancy?"
The look of stunned disbelief on Father Zantu's face could not be faked, it seems he was not aware yet that something had happened. "Deaths at the mill, who? An undead killer....Chopper, it couldn't be. Murder in Sandpoint again, this is tragic." The initial shock fades as the priest takes a deep breath, recognizing the importance of this visit and Nuri's inquiry. "Of course we have some scrolls and books in our catalogue, Sophy was good at keeping the books well organized. There is even an index to help you search. As for anyone in town dealing in the dark arts, I am not aware of any such person. The folks here tend to worship Desna mostly, but as you see our chapel here has shrines to Abadar, Sarenrae, Shelyn, Gozreh, and Erastil as well. There are general good people here in town. About this undead creature, what do you know about it?"
"I'm sorry, Father," Nuri apologizes. "I thought someone would have informed you. One of the victims was a worker at the mill; the other was a local woman. Her father is at the garrison; he's very upset. The sheriff really should have summoned you for him. The wounds on the man were made by a clawed hand and left behind the stench of undeath, and prints of bare feet were found. There seemed to have been ... intelligent cruelty involved in the man's death, more than a mindless undead could have employed, unless it was being directed by someone."
Father Zantus answers, "I will head over to the garrison and offer my assistance as soon as we are done here. As for your monster problem, I recall some of you dispatched a bunch of zombies when you found those catacombs under town do you think it could be more of those...or those wicked jawed spawned creatures? Claws could mean animated skeletons or zombies. Maybe a ghoul.....or maybe, did you say a strong stench of death? That could mean the creature is a Ghast, a nastier, bigger cousin of the Ghoul. "
"A ghast," she muses. "It's intelligent. Does it spawn? The man it killed, is there any danger of him rising again? If you don't mind, Father, I'll have a look at this library. If there's a ghast in Sandpoint, we should know its habits and weaknesses before it kills again."
Knowledge (religion) to know any general information about ghasts 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12 A library might let anyone make an untrained Knowledge check after 1d4 hours of research; we'll need more than Nuri's 'expertise' with that roll.
Wren decides to accompany Nuri to the library. She had scanned a few of the volumes before, but she had a hard time sitting still long enough to really tear through much reading before remembering something that just had to get done then.
Wren fills Nuri in on the details of what she recalled about the 7 pointed star. Thanks to Joanna and DM for giving us all a refresher course on that. "Clearly it has some significance to whomever bound that demonic creature under Thistletop. That's some powerful magic."
Actually Nuri's roll hits the DC right on the nose
Ghast are larger ghouls that haunt graveyards and eat corpses. Legends hold that the first ghouls were either cannibalistic humans whose unnatural hunger dragged them back from death or humans who in life fed on the rotting remains of their kin and died (and were reborn) from the foul disease—the true source of these undead scavengers is unclear. The ghouls favorite food is rotting bodies and they often bury their victims for a while to improve their taste, they eat fresh kills if they are hungry enough.
Like a ghoul the bite of a ghast can cause the victim to contract Ghoul Fever, a disease that causes the infected to rise again as a ghoul should they die while infected. The claws of a ghoul can cause paralysis and ghast's paralysis even affects elves. Ghasts roam in packs of their own kind or lead groups of common ghouls. The stink of death and corruption surrounding these creatures is overwhelming.
Nuri sighs, the tome she was reading from the cathedral's library confirming her own suspicions about the murder victim. "Ghasts spawn by a bite, like a vampire. We only saw claw marks, but to be safe, we should assume that this Harker was infected when he died and could rise as a ghoul at any moment. His body is a danger to the town until it's destroyed."
"Ghasts survive on the flesh of the dead. That it killed twice and left the bodies behind indicates that this is about more than hunger. We have to assume that it's attempting to reproduce, to start an epidemic. Ghasts like to travel in packs; it could be recruiting. If we can't stop it before it starts, Sandpoint may have to be quarantined to keep it from spreading."
"These Runelords, were any of them necromancers? Didn't you say you found zombies beneath the town?"
Victor attempts to ask his own question when Father Zantus responds to Nuri's question, but she is far too quick to respond. Realizing he has no shot of getting a word in edgewise, he just rolls his eyes and remains quiet. As the conversation goes back and forth, it's several moments later that he eventually realizes Nuri is now talking to them. "Hm? Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize we were here." Victor clears his throat under a mocking grin and continues quickly. "SO... um, YES, yes some kind of zombie creature. Well, not really a zombie creature; it was more like a creature that this tiny, little demon bug thing could create by dropping its blood within this pool. But they did remind you of zombies. And I know nothing about any Runelords. I don't even know what that is."
Just to remind those who were under the Glasswokrs. The leader was a Quasit and she was able to make the spawn creatures from a magical pool. She also was in league with a mutated goblin, Koruvus. During one of your fights with her she did escape the main room and return with a herd of zombies that you had to fight your way through. I figure Victor is being vague on purpose, but just incase i thought I would remind everyone.
Actually, he was explaining it as best as he could to be honest. *I* totally forgot what kind of creature it was. I actually thought it was a small demon like creature. And the zombies I TOTALLY do not remember. My mind is a terrible thing that's gone to waste. :P
Victor nods. "I agree. That last thing we need is to deal with such creatures above the ground."
Actually, he was explaining it as best as he could to be honest. *I* totally forgot what kind of creature it was. I actually thought it was a small demon like creature. And the zombies I TOTALLY do not remember. My mind is a terrible thing that's gone to waste. :P
And it's been a long time in RL since we did those encounters. They were before Thistletop...the catacombs were ruled by the quasit, a tiny winged demon. She had the spawn creatures she made from her blood in the magic well, some zombies she "ruled over" and the mutated goblin that served her after it drank some rancid water from an alter to Lamashtu whom she was a priestesses of. There was also a vargoullie living under there that I believe you all killed as well. Here is a LINK to that part of the thread if you want to refresh you memory. Though its not important.
I apologize I remembered wrong, you found her zombie followers in their chambers. In my Table Top group when I ran this way back it played out different. She had gone invisible and got out the door, before they shut it. They spent a ton of time searching for her, then experimenting with the pools. When they opened to door to leave the zombies were marching down the hall to get them and they had to fight their way out. It was a cool fight, I just misremember and thought you were the group that did that.
Before we go see Scarnetti, we should swing by the sheriff's office to make sure the preparations get started to dispose of the deceased. If we are going to handwave that, then I'd be ready to go see Titus.
To let the sheriff know the new developments is just a hand wave. Do you want to investigate the other bodies while visiting the Sheriff or just let him know about the danger of the ghoul? It is getting close to noon and you are pretty sure that you can find Titus eating lunch soon at the White Deer (General Knowledge for those of you who have been in town awhile). If we hand wave you will be sure to find Titus, if we stop and role-play investigating the other corpses then there is a possibility Titus won't be at lunch anymore.
Here is a list of thing I think you agree need to be investigated, anything you want to add/remove from this list?
Examine the crime scene at Mill: done
Interrogate Ibor Thorn: done
Examine mutilated bodies from murder south of town:
Interrogate Grayst Sevilla at the Saintly Haven of Respit:
Interrogate Vin Vender: done
Research Seven Pointed Star: done
Research Undead: done
Interrogate Titus Scarnetti:
"We should probably check the bodies from the other murder the sheriff mentioned," Nuri advises. "If they show signs of being killed by a ghast as well, they'll need to be cremated too. Also, this deranged man they found at the scene with the note to Eponine -- Grayst Sevilla -- could be suffering from ghoul fever himself. He needs to be examined before it's too late." Nuri's focus is obviously more on containing a possible outbreak than unraveling the motivations of the murderer(s).
"We could split up, Nuri, with some of us investigating the other corpses, and the others could talk to this Sevilla. I'd rather check the bodies first, before speaking with the Sheriff, as I'd like to be able to tell him if this is an undead epidemic, or just a random murder."
"I should be able to tell if the other men were killed by the same ghast," Nuri says. "One can't mistake that stench, once one's smelled it. Why don't I go to the garrison to examine the bodies and explain the danger to the sheriff while the rest of you question Mr. Scarnetti? When you're done, you can come by the garrison to pick me up, and we'll all go to this sanitarium together. If it is ghoul fever he's suffering from, he could succumb to it at any time; we need to be prepared for a fight."
Victor nods. "That will work. Let us hurry; if that man has the ability to turn into a ghoul at any time, we have not the time to waste. Titus usually eats at the White Deer at this time - maybe we can catch him." With that, Victor turns and leaves, heading straight for the inn.
To save time I am going to post two spoilers one for Nuri and one for Victor, not for secrecy, but as a way to help me keep it straight. As each of you post just let me know which of the two you go with.
Inside is a small, naturally cold chamber filled with six stone slabs making it difficult to move about. Canvas tarps cover bodies on three of the slabs. The smell of death is in the air, but not any thicker than one would expect with three dead bodies that are two days old...the horrifying stench that filled the air at the mill is not present. Nuri pulls back one of the coverings and examines the body. The attacker did a number on the victims face, the jaw is ripped away as is much of the skin making the person unrecognizable. Claw marks matching those found on Banny Harker indicate that the same ghast probably killed this man too. A seven pointed star has been carved not his chest as well, but it is clear to Nuri that star wound was inflicted by a sharp bade, not the claws. Looking closely she can see some unusual marks at the points that mark the beginning of each incision that makes up one of the stars lines. They are curious and remind Nuri of puncture wounds that indicate the star cut is defiantly part of a sacrifice ritual. All three bodies are in a similar state.
Nuri Heal Check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30
Image of Titus Reminder: Titus gave every character from the last adventure a cash reward as a thank you gift.
Wren heads along with Victor, as smelling that awful undead stench was the last thing she ever wanted to do again, "How are we going to approach Titus? His family is powerful around this place. It'd make sense to do the questioning in a nonconfrontational a manner as possible."
Victor continues dead ahead as Wren speaks. "Good idea, Ms. Wren. The last thing we need is the Scarnetti's after us."
Victor smiles at the man as he approaches. "Good day to you, Mr. Scarnetti. Mind if I sit?" Victor will sit if offered. If not, he continues on while standing. Leaning in slightly, Victor keeps his voice low so as not to draw attention. "Mr. Scarnetti, you and your family are quite prominent here in Sandpoint, and we really could use your help, sir. There's been several murders here of late, and we were wondering if you could use your prestige to bring about any information that may help us find the culprit responsible for such vile deeds. We would be most grateful."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19