GM Harrow’s Curse of the Crimson Throne - AE

Game Master GM Harrow

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"Aye, miss." The man complies, stealing fearful glances at Shrike and the unconscious form of his companion.

"Er, the money isn't here, y'see. But- but if you want to take it I won't stand in yer way!" Something seems to occur to him, and he shivers. "Or are you here for revenge? I didn't want to do it, I swear, never liked it, not me - but the others, Parns and Malder mostly, and Baldrago just went wit' it..."

He trails off his nervous babble, swallowing audibly.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Audria's eyes widen as the man mentions revenge. Her eyes flash with the colors of the rainbow as she remembers what Dal had told her and the others. She listens to him as she binds the man's hands behind his back. I think Lania/Shirke has some manacles for this.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21

"So, why might we want revenge," she asks, her eyes narrow as she starts questioning the man. She feels a roiling knot in her belly as she takes a look at the man. He seems far too worried if the only thing he had to worry about is someone coming to payback a beating. There's also the way he kept looking over at Shrike. She pushes down the sick feeling as tucks the sap in her belt and puts both hands on her halberd.

"I think my companions and I," she says gesturing to Shrike, Dal, and Pip, "would very much like to know what all you and your friends have been up to, Mister Karallo. From the way you keep looking at her, I think you may already know of Shrike. Unlike me, she's more, ah, practical about these things. So, unless you'd like for her to start asking you questions, I suggest that you answer mine as fully and truthfully as you can. I'm not about to let you run free, but I can ask for leniency for you if you're willing to cooperate with us."

She lifts the abalone holy symbol out from under her armor and lets it rest on her chest. She gives the man a moment to take it in before speaking again.

"I'd very much like to believe that you are a repentant man, Mister Karallo, but I am not so naive as to trust that you are. Now, please, tell us everything that the five of you have been up to since leaving the Guard."


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Karallo squeezes his eyes shut, grimacing; he has clearly said too much, but he's outnumbered and outmatched and doesn't know how to dig himself out of this. He licks his lips nervously.

"Malder said someone from the temple came by," he mutters, more to himself. "Oh, why did I let myself get dragged into this... Miss, you have to believe me, I didn't want to do the butchering! Yes, we were roughing up some people what other people paid us to, but it was Parns' idea to cut them up! I swear!" Now that the dam is broken, the torrent of words rushes out.

"Venrik doesn't know about it. It was his idea to leave the guard and set up shop here. He got money for it, he wouldn't say from where or whom. But most of it is going on buying the animals and on his booze, and that's not why I left the guard! I wanted to make something of meself, make some proper money afore I retire. Verik said, come with me, we'll be heroes, we'll be rich. Only- yes, most people here like us, on account of the free meat, but we're not rich, so Parns and Malder came up with the scheme of getting paid to get rid of people. Parns worked as a butcher afore he joined the guard, said he could make it so no-one knows the cuts aren't beef or pork."

He gasps for air, his fearful gaze darting from Audria to Shrike to his fallen comrade.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Audria's own horror grows as Karallo confesses. This is something far beyond the pale. Even Gaedren Lamm wouldn't have--

"You killed people, butchered them, and fed them to those coming here looking for something to help them in a city that just went mad," she says quietly, her voice cold and flat with fury that she'd never felt, never thought she could feel. "How many," she asks, her eyes iridescent and ablaze with incandescent rage.

Damn Verik Vancaskerkin! Damn him and this lot of miserable murderers and degenerates! Her hands shake as they wring the haft of her weapon.


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Female

Abella’s eyes pop but she does not erupt in any outburst of emotion. She leans her sword against her shoulder as she paces in front of the captive. ”Cannibalism, eh? Morally repugnant of course, we are absolutely incensed and appalled, etcetera etcetera etcetera. You know, some of the Nidalese nobles enjoy that practice in their Zon-Kuthon worship. Those Nidalese nobles are very careful in the preparation and degree of ingestion because they know the effects, which were first well-documented by Urgathoans. Now see, what you probably did not understand, you little band of thieves and murderers you, is that cannibalistic practice on this scale will inevitably cause very specific diseases of the brain. Diseases that people will recognize the effects. Diseases that will easily be traced back to this particular shop.”

She stops pacing, leans down, and cups the fellow’s chin. She wipes off a tear with her finger. ”So you are not just evil, but stupid.” She idly flicks the tear away.


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CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7
Audria wrote:
"On your knees, hands behind your back," Audria demands coldly.
GM Harrow wrote:
"Aye, miss." The man complies, stealing fearful glances at Shrike and the unconscious form of his companion.

Shrike wastes no time in binding the man's hands behind his back as securely as she can make the knots. Shrike has silk rope, but did not buy manacles, Audria. They're expensive. 35 gp for one common set with a simple lock.

GM Harrow wrote:
"Oh, why did I let myself get dragged into this... Miss, you have to believe me, I didn't want to do the butchering! Yes, we were roughing up some people what other people paid us to, but it was Parns' idea to cut them up! I swear!"

Though the shrike mask stays pointed at the nervous man she is binding, Karallo, Shrike's body subtly jerks as her eyes dart to the 'beef' on the butchering table in horrified surmise. GM, can she tell if the meat on the table is actually beef or not? Feel free to roll any relevant check for her.

But her hands are steady, and the binding does not end when his wrists are done. She lashes his ankles together, leaving only enough slack that he could stand and hobble but not run. Then she runs the rope up through his bound arms to tie him to one of the heavy table legs as well, before snipping his bonds off from the main body of the rope. While the conscious man continues his rambling confession, she moves to the unconscious man and binds him as well, in the same way but to the opposite table leg.

GM Harrow wrote:
"Verik doesn't know about it. It was his idea to leave the guard and set up shop here. He got money for it, he wouldn't say from where or whom. But most of it is going on buying the animals and on his booze, and that's not why I left the guard! I wanted to make something of meself, make some proper money afore I retire. Verik said, come with me, we'll be heroes, we'll be rich. Only- yes, most people here like us, on account of the free meat, but we're not rich, so Parns and Malder came up with the scheme of getting paid to get rid of people. Parns worked as a butcher afore he joined the guard, said he could make it so no-one knows the cuts aren't beef or pork."

"Sarqin." Shrike's croak is flat and harsh as sandpaper. It does not show her horror, only contempt. This is worse than she thought. But it does fit with what they know. There is a moneyed backer of this whole scheme of free meat. They still don't know who or why. This Karallo claims not to either. The Cow Hammers themselves are not rich and wanted to be, so they cooked up this side lay of murder and cannibal-butchery to keep more of the money — without the knowledge of their leader or the backer. Stupid, because it ensured they would be caught sooner rather than later.

Elven:
Cannibal (lit. ogre.)

She stands, towering over the kneeling and bound man as Audria and even Abella also condemn him, in what she suspects is the most damning comparison Abella is capable of making. Her hand is on Thorn without her intending it, holding it tightly enough that she can feel her heart's beat there. Steady and slow.

It does not matter now what Kroft wanted. She did not know of this. It does not matter that Karallo has surrendered, been bound, is begging for their mercy. That he claims not to have been the source of the idea. By his own admission he participated in the beatings, murders, and butchery.

These men are in every sense predators on her people. There is no meet fate for them but death. It is her responsibility to ensure it if no one else will. There are so many Lamms left in this city.

But for some reason she hesitates. She looks at Audria without moving her head. The girl is shaking with rage, but if she gives in to it now, will she later wrongly call it an injustice and a failing in herself? Should she prevent that, if she can?

"No distractions." Shrike's whisper is no less harsh than her croak. She points one finger at the ceiling to remind the others that there are still three hostiles in the building. The longer they linger interrogating or discussing this, the more likely it is they are taken off-guard. It is possible if not likely that the ones above have noticed that the sound of butchering has stopped early. Her head with the odd bird mask and its wickedly sharp black beak twists in an abrupt motion toward the cringing Karallo. "Be silent. Or I will silence you."


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Oops, I thought you had some on you for some reason. Sorry about that.

Audria takes in a deep breath at Shrike's reminder that there are still dangerous men about. She closes her eyes and lets sighs. The fires of her fury are banked when she opens her eyes again, the holy light in her eyes dimmed to flickering embers.

"Gag him," she tells Shrike before moving as quietly and quickly as she can to the other doors and listening at them for any hints about what may be going on beyond them.

I'm assuming that I can't take 10 here, since there's a very real chance of failure and alerting the other men. If that's not the case, then I'll take ten for a total of 16 on the Stealth Check.
Stealth: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7 Well, if I was going to botch one of those...


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Audria wrote:
"You killed people, butchered them, and fed them to those coming here looking for something to help them in a city that just went mad," she says quietly, her voice cold and flat with fury.

Karralo winces at the recitation of his crimes back at him. Clearly, when put like that, the full weight of what he has done hits him. He looks away, ashamed. "Six. What we took off them is in the holding pen, buried under the water trough." He gets a little wild-eyed at the mention of Zon-Kuthon and Urgathoa, opening his mouth as if to argue or defend himself, when Shrike tells him to be silent.

Shrike Heal: 1d20 ⇒ 16

Her glance at the half-butchered cuts relieves a momentary anxiety; the meet is definitely beef, and nothing else.

Audria doesn't hear much as she presses her ear to the other doors, just the creaks of the building settling. The leftmost door is wider, with the smell of mud and manure beyond it - likely the holding pen that Karralo mentioned. The middle door yields an indistinct buzz that might be voices, while the rightmost door has a gap above it where the metal rail passes through into the room beyond.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Six, they had killed six people. Audria's not sure what makes her more sick, that these monsters had killed that many in such a short amount of time or that there were that many people wanting to see others hurt or dead that they got the jobs that quickly. The rage and duty they'd been given keeps her from giving into the desire to curl and weep, she can only hope that it'll see her though this whole mess.

Hearing nothing at two of the doors and what sounds like conversations at the third, Audria thinks that they are still in the clear, but the nagging doubt that'd been with her since the failed attempt at getting the deserters to agree to come back to the Guard eats at her, and she turns to Talanaliel after backing away from the doors.

"Tally, would you go see what's going on upstairs? I'd like to have a little warning if someone comes down here," she tells the thrush.


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Talanaliel flies outside to look in the windows again. The two other ex-guards, Malder and Baldrago, are still playing cards upstairs. In the other room, the man who can only be Verik has fallen asleep with his head on the desk, next to a mostly empty bottle of liquor.


"I will," Talanaliel says, but she hesitates.

"Will you be alright," she asks Audria. The young paladin nods glumly. Talanaliel can feel the jagged wound this experience has ripped open in her psyche, but she can also feel the determination to not give into the pain and grief, at least not yet.

"Be careful," the little thrush whispers before flying off, feeling the you too, Audria sends her way as she passes through the door and up towards the windows.

Stealth: 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (15) + 20 = 35
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Looks like I got ninja'd when I posted Tally's bit and rolls. :P

While Talanaliel keeps watch on the ex-guards turned deserters and murderers, Audria moves to the door with the cutout for the rail. As she approaches, she shares her companion's relief when Talanaliel sees things remain unchanged upstairs. She takes in a deep breath and braces herself for what she might find in this room. She listens again, not wanting to take chances on missing something that might alert the monsters upstairs as to what's going on downstairs. Once she's confident that she isn't about bring Malder, Parns, or Verik on their heads, she opens the door and looks around inside.

Stealth (Taking 10): 10 + 6 = 16
Perception (Before opening the door): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Perception (After opening the door): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13

Because she's going to check the door to the pens too:

Stealth (Taking 10): 10 + 6 = 16
Perception (Before opening the door): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5 Oh joy. Does doubt kick in?
Perception (After opening the door): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5


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The first door that Audria opens leads into the meat locker. The air is stale and smelling of day-old meat and blood. Straw litters the floor, stained with drips of blood. Meat hooks - now empty - are affixed to the walls and ceiling on metal rods. To the north is a low blood-stained table and two barrels of salt. The iron rail comes into to the room through the narrow gap over the door and runs along the ceiling for five feet before ending at a vertical pole running into the floor.

The second door leads into the holding area, with two stinking animal pens taking up most of the space. Each pen is ringed by a wooden fence with a wide gate set in it and inside is a long water trough and heaps of filthy hay. The floor here is hard-packed earth, but Audria does not see any signs of where the deserters buried their ill-gotten loot, like Karralo mentioned. Needs moar Perception.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

I figured, but Audria was more worried about potential ambushers or what other horrors may be hiding in those places.

Audria is relieved that she finds nothing noteworthy beyond either door. It takes her a long moment to regain her composure after realizing how much she'd been dreading and expecting something more heinous to be hiding in here. She turns to the others and points to Shrike before pointing to the last door and holding up one finger. She then points to herself and holds up two fingers while pointing at the door. Then she holds up a finger to pursed lips. From what she can feel through her link with Talanaliel, they still have the element of surprise on those upstairs. If the could keep that, then hopefully they could finish this without anyone getting hurt worse than a bump on the head.


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CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7

While Audria investigates the three doors out of this room besides the one they entered by, Shrike makes and applies a makeshift gag for first the unconscious man, then the conscious one, out of more rope and two of her clean blade-wiping rags.

She thinks about who they are expecting to find upstairs. The thin and sallow man who has been open in his confessions was called Karallo by his compatriot. The stout wheezing one Audria described as Malder must be one of the two upstairs playing cards. His companion in that pastime must be the tall man with the pronounced unibrow and flat nose Audria also described, and will be either Parns or Baldrago. That means the broad-shouldered man with long sideburns who was wielding the cleaver, now unconscious, is the last of the four. From the fact that he was the one butchering this beef — which she is relieved to see on a second glance is truly beef, as far as she can tell — he might be Parns, onetime professional butcher and supposed architect of this evil. But she can't be certain.

If she has the chance to decide, she will target the wheezing Malder first. If he has some kind of chronic condition, he may be easier to take down. Thus resolved, Shrike watches as Audria sketches the outline of a plan after clearing the other two doors of danger, and gestures everyone over to the middle door Audria indicated. She turns the nearest lights down or off if she can before opening it and proceeding through first. Once more, she has the sap out in one hand, and keeps her progress as quiet as she can with slow caution.

Move to the middle door, wait for everyone to gather, open the middle door. Taking 10 on Stealth for 22 or 24 depending on if it is normal or dim light in here, or if necessary here is a roll:

Stealth roll if neeeded:
Stealth, night: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 10 + 2 = 24 And possibly +2 if the light is dim or extinguishable. Just in case it comes up later, you usually can take 10 on any skill checks that A) don't say you generally can't, and B) aren't happening in combat or while you are distracted. Even if there are penalties for failure, it's usually okay to take 10. It's taking 20 that is generally not permitted if there are penalties for failure.


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Seeing the sap in Shrike's hand, Audria pulls hers from where she'd tucked it into her belt while shifting her halberd to her left hand. After Shrike goes through the door, Audria follows as quietly as she can.

Stealth(Taking 10): 10 + 6 = 16

Roll if needed:

Stealth: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20


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The middle door leads into a hallway, a flight of stairs against the left wall leading to the upper level. There is no light here, save for the faint flickers coming from the top of the stairs. Dim light.

The voices are clearly audible now, the two men seemingly unaware of intruders.

"... with a priest once. Cleric of Calistria, this blonde half-elf." A deep voice spins an unlikely story, by the answering snort of disbelief. "No, really! He was from Cheliax, coming to slum it in the provinces, he said. I was off shift and a bit drunk, so I said why not." Silence descends for a time.

"And? Was he any good?" The wheezing voice of Malder ends the pause. A low chuckle answers him. "That's a secret. Clerical confidentiality, y' know." Malder snorts again. "You're full of shit, Baldrago. Raise you." Coins clink.

2d20 ⇒ (10, 6) = 16


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Moved Audria up the stairs on the map. She's waiting on Shrike to lead.


CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7

Shrike creeps up the dimly-lit stairs directly across the room from the door. As the voices grow louder and more intelligible, she stays silent and slow. Her face feels cold beneath the mask. These men are gambling and chatting without a care in the world while their victims simmer in some unsuspecting hungry family's stew pot. In fact they have far more than the six victims that Karallo admitted to under Audria's questions. Everyone who ate the meat is their victim too. She doesn't know how certain or how fast the diseases Abella mentioned are, but she does not doubt they are real.

She surges the final few feet up the stairs and snaps the sap out at the man facing away from it in the closer chair.
Sap v. Mohawk: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17 Vs. flat-footed, I hope.
Damage, sap, nonlethal, Hidden Strike: 1d6 + 2 + 2d8 ⇒ (4) + 2 + (6, 8) = 20 Whoa.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Audria follows in Shrike's shadow, and rushes around her to get at the other man. She can feel Talanaliel's anxiety spiking through their link, but she pushes it away. If Verik wakes, then he wakes. They have to deal with the current threat now.

Sap(Power Attack) v. The other guy: 1d20 + 6 - 1 ⇒ (19) + 6 - 1 = 24
Nonleathal Damage: 1d6 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 3 + 2 = 6


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The force of Shrike's blow smashes Baldrago's face into the table, spattering the cards with blood from his broken nose. Audria manages a glancing blow to Malder's right ear.

Abella, Dal and Pip can also take an action or move.


M NG Human (Chelaxian) Witch (Alley Witch) 3 | HP: 21/21 | AC: 13, T: 12, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +4, R: +3, W: +4 | Init: +4 | Perc: +8 Sense Mot: +3[ut] | Speed 30ft | Active conditions: N/A | Harrow Points: 1

Dal struggled to stay focused as the revelation kept creeping its way back into the front of his mind.

”Feeding these people their own neighbors,” Dal kept thinking. “Monsters.”

HATRED

The emotion pulsed from Pockets into Dal, threatening to override his own emotions. Every time he had a dark thought about the men, the feeling stoked the fires until Dal had to focus on nothing but pushing the thought away.

“Cut it out! Dal hissed at his familiar. “We have to focus on the task at hand.”

Still, he moved along in a bit of a daze, following the others up a set of stairs.

Stealth Just in Case:

Stealth: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13

If I can have some grace and can have Dal have been on autopilot to bottom of the stairs before my turn, Dal will move into the room. Marked as 1. If not, just moving to the stairs. Marked as 2


Female

Sounds like only one move, yes?

Abella strides up the stairs, sap in hand. Single move up the stairs

Sorry for not more, pretty exhausted


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Abella Stealth: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Pip stealth: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (19) + 12 = 31

Fortunately, so engrossed are the two men in their card game and stories that they do not hear any of the five who are more or less quietly creeping up the stairs. Once the blows start landing though they are quick to react, jumping to their feet and reaching for their weapons.

Initiative rolls:
Abella initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
Audria Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Dal initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19
Pip initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Shrike initiative: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Baldrago: 1d20 ⇒ 19
Malder: 1d20 ⇒ 19

Initiative order, bold may act: Shrike, Dal, Baldrago and Malder, everyone else.

Statuses: Baldrago -20 HP, Malder -6 HP.


CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7

Despite herself, Shrike is mildly impressed that the unibrowed, deeper-voiced ex-Guard Baldrago is still conscious after the twin impacts of sap and then table. He reaches for his weapon with a trained warrior's swift instincts and ability to fight through the pain of a broken nose. This does not stop her from choosing her moment and lashing out again with merciless precision as he is jumping to his feet. She aims to knock the fight out of him for good this time — or at least the wind.

Sap v. Baldrago: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25 Still vs. flat-footed I hope, since he hasn't acted in combat yet, which would give lesser hidden strike to the damage.
Damage, sap, nonlethal, lesser hidden strike: 1d6 + 2 + 2d4 ⇒ (3) + 2 + (3, 2) = 10

Only if this drops Baldrago:
Shrike lopes around the blood-spattered table and chair in several swift strides to cut off Malder's retreat and keep his attention divided between her and Audria. Move to just south of Malder, so that Audria can 5-foot step to have flanking with Shrike on her turn if she wants.


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M NG Human (Chelaxian) Witch (Alley Witch) 3 | HP: 21/21 | AC: 13, T: 12, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +4, R: +3, W: +4 | Init: +4 | Perc: +8 Sense Mot: +3[ut] | Speed 30ft | Active conditions: N/A | Harrow Points: 1

Thank you, GM!

Dal turned his gaze on the man facing Audria Malder and uttered a single word.

“HALT.”

He felt the spell immediately try to take hold of the man’s will.

Standard Action: Casting Command DC 15 Will Save


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Will save: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (14) - 1 = 13

The second sap blow does it; Baldrago slides sideways from the chair and collapses on the floor. Malder is held in place by Dalmano's magic, his eyes wide and the veins at his temples standing out as he tries to fight it.

"Verik! Get.. out... here!" he manages through gritted teeth.

Verik perception DC 10: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (11) - 1 = 10
Initiative Verik: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21

Apparently Malder's shout was enough to wake their drunken commander, as a clatter is heard from the other side of the door before it is jerked open by a bleary-eyed man who stares in momentary confusion at the scene before him.

Abella, Audria and Pip are up! Verik will slot between Shrike and Dal in initiative order next turn.


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Attack (Sap, Flank, Power Attack) vs. Malder: 1d20 + 6 + 2 - 1 ⇒ (5) + 6 + 2 - 1 = 12 I'm hoping this hits his flatfooted.
Damage: 1d6 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 3 + 2 = 9

Audria tries to take advantage of the opportunity that Shrike sets up and tries to knock Malder out cold so they could focus on Verik. Whether it is nerves, self-doubt, or just the raw edge of her burning rage at this man is hard to tell, but she's definitely not up to her usual form.


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Malder manages to twist out of the way of the incoming hit from Audria and the sap strikes the table, scattering the cards and copper coins. Even flatfooted, his AC is higher than that.

As it's getting pretty crowded in the small room, Abella and Pip elect to use their magic rather than close in with weapons they might not wield very effectively. Pip tries to recreate the earlier success by casting a dazing spell at Verik.

Veril Will vs. Daze: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12 Verik is dazed for 1 round.

Abella comes up next to Audria, shaking her head. "Tsk. If you're going to hit them, put your whole body behind the blow. From the hips, not from the arm. At least, that's what Cainabeth says."

Guidance on Audria.

With Pip's magic rooting him to the spot and clouding his mind, Verik can do little but stare at his hideout being invaded. "Who are you?"

Shrike and Dal are up!


CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7

Shrike's head jerks back ever so slightly from the sight of the stout man's bulging veins as he strains against Dal's uncanny magic to no avail. The shrike mask snaps toward the Vancaskerkin when he opens the door, only to be stopped in his tracks by yet more mental tampering from Pippip. Frogmakers. Useful, but terrifying. Probably didn't need much for this one though. He's bosky.

GM Harrow wrote:
With Pip's magic rooting him to the spot and clouding his mind, Verik can do little but stare at his hideout being invaded. "Who are you?"

"Dog catchers." The croak has rarely sounded grimmer. "Yours got loose."

Shrike slams the sap into Malder's sternum.
Sap v. Malder, flanking: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 6 + 2 = 16 Flanking with Audria would grant lesser hidden strike damage if this hits.
Damage, sap, nonlethal, lesser hidden strike: 1d6 + 2 + 2d4 ⇒ (4) + 2 + (3, 3) = 12


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M NG Human (Chelaxian) Witch (Alley Witch) 3 | HP: 21/21 | AC: 13, T: 12, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +4, R: +3, W: +4 | Init: +4 | Perc: +8 Sense Mot: +3[ut] | Speed 30ft | Active conditions: N/A | Harrow Points: 1

Dal pulled a small iron rod from his sleeve and focused his attention on the dazed Verik. He drew a sigil in the air around the piece of metal then rapped the iron on his closed fist before speaking a command.

“Ne quoquam exsurgatis!”

Infernal:
“Do not move!”

Standard Action: Casting Hold Person DC 16 Will Save or paralyzed for 2 rounds


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Verik Will save: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6

Dal's magic grips Verik, freezing the former guard sergeant in place to witness helplessly the scene before him.

Malder takes another hit, but he seems a sturdy fellow despite his less than ideal pulmonary health. Shaking off Pip's spell, he screams in fury. "Witches! Damnable witches and sneaks! I'll slit you open and hang you by your entrails!"

He lunges at Shrike with a knife, scoring a shallow cut on her arm. He cackles in triumph, only to be brought up short by a coughing fit.

Malder vs. Shrike: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20 Damage: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3

Audria, Abella and Pip are up. Malder is -18 HP. Verik is paralyzed for 2 rounds.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Attack (Mwk. Halberd, Power Attack, Non-lethal, Flanking): 1d20 + 7 + 2 - 2 - 4 ⇒ (16) + 7 + 2 - 2 - 4 = 19
Damage (Non-lethal): 1d10 + 4 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 4 + 3 = 12 I think that drops him.

Audria's eyes flash with iridescent light as Malder makes his threat. The young paladin drops the sap and grabs her halberd with both hands. No, he isn't going to get the chance to land another blow on Shrike, not if she can help it. The haft of the weapon snaps up and slams into the back of his skull with a sharp crack.

"I suggest you surrender. Field Marshal Kroft wanted you alive," she snarls at Verik, raw fury blazing in her eyes.


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Malder's short-lived satisfaction is replaced by surprise, then unconsciousness. He crumples to the ground from Audria's well-aimed blow. Meanwhile, Verik remains frozen, unable to speak or even nod in assent as Dal's spell forbids him any action at all save breathing.


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Are we still in turn order?


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If anyone wants to do anything other than talk to Verik, yes. Otherwise, no.

If no one attacks Verik..

"T-the Field Marshal...? What's going on? Who are you?"

Verik Vancaskerkin holds his hands away from his body in a non-aggressive stance. The confusion is still plain on his stubbled face as his eyes dart between Shrike, Audria, Dal, the two ex-guards on the floor, Pip and Abella.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

I did want to move up next to him. Audria's willing, if only just barely, to talk first, so unless someone else has an idea.

Audria walks towards Verik, pausing for a moment to put a hand over the wound Malder managed to give Shrike before he was knocked out.

"Eternal Rose, please, let me mend this wound and heal this hurt," the young woman prays as a soft halo of multicolored light surrounds her holy symbol and her hand. When she lifts her hand and continues towards Verik, the wound from Malder's knife is gone.

Lay on Hands: 1d6 ⇒ 5

"I am Audria Lumina, Priestess in the service of Shelyn. Field Marshal Kroft asked us to come get you and the men and bring you back to her. Imagine my horror when we learned that not only were you deserters and thugs, but that you have butchered your victims and gave them away to people looking for something to eat. You turned who knows how many people in cannibals, Mister Vancaskerkin," she says her voice once again flat and cold. Her calm demeanor is belied by her eyes, though, they still shine with iridescent light as the anger that has built up over the course of going through this place.

"Do you have anything you'd like to tell us before we take you and your men back to the Citadel," she asks as she looks up at him with those fury-filled eyes.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25


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Verik opens his mouth, closes it. Opens it again.

"Y- I- What? Are you with those animal rights druids? The ones making a ruckus on the docks and throwing the fish back into the river?"

He seems genuinely bewildered and confused.


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Audria drops her halberd and grabs Verik by the front of his clothes and yanks his face down to be eye level with hers.

"YOUR MEN BEAT AND KILLED PEOPLE FOR MONEY," she roars in his face as the leash on her temper snaps. "THEN BUTCHERED AND FEED THEM TO THE PEOPLE COMING HERE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO EAT TO HIDE WHAT THEY DID!" Her face is twisted in a snarl as her eyes burn with holy fire. Tears stream down her face, but she doesn't notice as she glares at the man, searing his soul.


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Female

Abella rests her sap on her shoulder. ”Did you not even realize your little buddies have been carving up and selling sapient beings? Humans, halflings, dwarves, people named Charlie, and the like. You decided to go into the meat business without being able to spot the difference between ground chuck and ground Chuck?”


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CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7

Shrike stares at Audria in surprise as she first takes down Malder with a powerful blow, then walks forward and soothes the sting of the shallow cut he left, healing it by just a touch in a nimbus of rainbow light. Did I know she could do that? Did she? Just full of surprises tonight. The girl's coming into her own.

"Thanks." She nods. "Good hit."

Before Dal's spell wears off, Shrike slips past both her and the man in the doorway. He seems genuinely confused, but if he's acting, he must not be allowed to escape. In the ringing silence after Audria and Abella are done speaking, she adds, a flat croak, "Go on. Say 'I didn't know.' Say it."

She has not put away the sap. The black eyes of the bird mask bore into Vancaskerkin with a focus that almost makes it seem she would like to tear into him with the hooked beak if he lies.
Intimidate, Renown: 1d20 + 7 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 7 + 4 = 12 No! Her lucky streak breaks! Well, hopefully it still adds to the team effort.


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Verik recoils from Audria's fury. Up close, he smells like someone who has been doing a lot of drinking, and for whom washing hasn't exactly been a priority. He'd be handsome if he cleaned up a little, but right now his eyes are sunken and bloodshot, and days-old stubble is threatening to turn into a full-fledged beard.

He does his fish on land impression again, eyes darting between Audria, Abella and his two companions lying on the floor. He stares at the latter as if trying to read the truth in their unconscious forms.

"They what...? Are you sure? W-why would they do such a thing?" His eyes flick to Shrike's mask. "If it's true... I- I didn't know. But you will need to show me proof."


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M NG Human (Chelaxian) Witch (Alley Witch) 3 | HP: 21/21 | AC: 13, T: 12, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +4, R: +3, W: +4 | Init: +4 | Perc: +8 Sense Mot: +3[ut] | Speed 30ft | Active conditions: N/A | Harrow Points: 1

Pockets arched his back and his pupils narrowed to a slit. But it was not fear or surprise Dal felt coming from the feline. It was…

Pride

Dal took a few steps forward, careful to avoid the unconscious man on the floor. “Karallo already confessed to everything. And, fortunately for you, he claimed that you were ignorant of the…” Dal paused as if the words had lodged themselves in his throat. “He claims that Parns and Malder came up with the idea to make extra coin while you weren’t paying attention.”

Dal kept his eyes on the blubbering man but addressed Shrike and Audria, “Karallo also mentioned that they held onto the victims belongings, right? How’s about we make sure these two aren’t going anywhere then make our way back downstairs?”


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Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

Audria almost loses complete control, and for a brief moment she struggles not to slug Verik in the jaw. The overwhelming alarm and worry she feels from Talanaliel as the bird watches through the window cuts through her burning anger and fury like ice-cold water. She takes in a deep breath and closes her eyes. It is hard, but she pulls back from the brink and when her eyes open again, the fire is gone, and her eyes are blue once more, though dull as if clouded. She lets Verik go and steps back as she sniffs.

"Under the water trough, right," Audria asks, her voice thin and brittle.

She looks around for rope that can be used to bind the men's wrists and ankles starting with Verik's if she does find some. Talanaliel comes flying up into the room as the young paladin works in silence. Those watching Audria see her trembling whenever she holds still. Something is very clearly eating away at her, though it seems that the incandescent rage she was in the grips of has passed.


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With his fellows knocked out and the stunning revelations from Audria and Dal, whatever fight was there to begin with seems to have gone out of Verik Vancaskerkin. He allows his hands to be bound, moving as if in a daze, frowning and muttering to himself.

"Was it just about the money for them? No, I know them. Malder always had a mean streak, though... Oh, what have you done, you idiots?"

With Baldrago and Malder secured as well, the group makes their way back downstairs. A bit of digging under the water trough in the northern pen unearths the stash that Karallo had mentioned. Several bags contain a veritable treasure of sails, shields and assorted jewelry, including a mithral ring set with tiny slivers of obsidian.

Perceptions: 5d20 ⇒ (8, 14, 13, 5, 13) = 53

Dal:
While the people are examining the stash, Pockets begins a leisurely circuit of the slaughtering area. The familiar stops abruptly near the metal grate set into the floor.

Human

The grate lies above a flooded passageway - a disused section of the sewers, by the smell. The stains around the grate indicate that this is where blood and entrails are disposed of after the animals are killed. Wedged in a crack between two stones just above the waterline is a human finger, swollen with decay.

Loot: 450 gp, 740 sp in coins. 800 gp of miscellaneous jewelry. The mithral ring is worth 500 gp.


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

After showing Verik the gold and the jewelry, Audria ties the sack up tight. She looks to the three unconscious men now lying on the floor and sighs.

"We need a wagon to get those-- those monsters back to the Citadel," she says before turning Dal. "Do you think you could help me find one," she asks him.


M NG Human (Chelaxian) Witch (Alley Witch) 3 | HP: 21/21 | AC: 13, T: 12, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 12 | F: +4, R: +3, W: +4 | Init: +4 | Perc: +8 Sense Mot: +3[ut] | Speed 30ft | Active conditions: N/A | Harrow Points: 1

Dal nodded absentmindedly to Audria, “Yeah, yeah I can help with that."

“What did you find?” Dal thought as he knelt down by Pockets. Using a bit of cloth from his spell component pouch, Dal reached through the grate.

“Gods, it smells terrible…almost…like…” Dal pulled the decaying finger from its hiding place, “...rotting corpses.”

He stood and turned to face the group. “Hey, Verik. Found more proof!” Dal tossed the finger to the man.


Female Human Paladin (Chosen One) 3 HP: 32/32 NL: 0 | AC: 18/12/16 CMD: 18/16| F: +4 R: +4 W: +3 | Init: +2, Per: + 5 | Smite: 1/1, LoH (1d6): 2/2 Arrows: 20, Harrow Points: 5
Talanaliel:
HP: 16/16| AC: 17/16/15 CMD: 6/4 SR: 7| F: +1 R: +4 W: +7 | Init: +2, Per: +11 (Lowlight) | ToG: 1/1

"Thank-- uh, where are you going," Audria asks as she follows Dal to the grate. She watches him as he looks at Pockets and then down at the grate.

GM, would you be so kind as to put Audria by the right grate? I'm seeing two of them on the bottom floor.


Talanaliel nestles tight against Audria's neck as she watches what's going on. The stench is almost unbearable for the little songbird.

"Is this going to take long," she asks.


CG F Half-Elf Vigilante (Double Scion) 3 | HP 26/26 | AC 18 (T 14 FF 14) | CMD 18 | Fort +2 (+7 v. poison) Ref +6 Will +4 (+6 v. enchantment, +5 v. compulsions) | Init +10 | Perc. +5/+7 (dim light/darkness) | Conditions: antitoxin 1 hr| Harrow Points: 7

When they get back downstairs, the first thing Shrike does is lead Verik over to Karallo and take the gag out of Karallo's mouth. "You. Tell him the truth."

She then bodily drags the now-secured and unconscious Baldrago and Malder downstairs as well, dropping them none-too-gently next to the similarly unconscious Parns.

After the group has poked under the water trough and uncovered the stash, the amount of blood money the four-person gang has already amassed from only six kills visibly rocks her back on her heels. Even adding in their fees, they must have fully looted the victims' homes too, and already fenced the heavier goods than the jewelry — silver, paintings, art, fine clothes or tools. Easy for the neighbors to lay any blame on the riots and random looting, and thus for the crimes to go unnoticed in the general chaos.

They were well on their way to being rich men made so under mysterious circumstances after all. It's lucky they also happened to annoy the boss robin by deserting, or some of them at least could have retired for real and gotten away with this. Though that Malder and Parns would have kept hurting people because they liked it, I think.

Cocking her head to the side, she stands over them and considers the latter two with hawklike intensity. It would be so simple to break their necks. Finding a proper place to put them might be harder, but the chains holding the faded sign up outside the front of the shop have potential when combined with the empty meat-hooks currently hanging on their track in the next room.

The little lark wouldn't like it. You saw how she reacted to Lamm's crew. Anyway, the penalty for murder is execution. This can all be someone else's mess. Just got to make sure the robins actually do it when it's their own. Imagining Malaniethar's disapproving stare in response to this cowardice is almost a physical weight on her shoulders, but she ignores the phantom.

Shrike is roused from her long, silent stare at Parns and Malder by Audria's request and Dal's distraction. She turns her head to observe the flight path of the rotting finger without comment, then back to Audria. "There's a wagon outside." She does not say the obvious: while officially for moving animals' bodies, it was probably how they got their dead victims back here without anyone noticing in the first place. I'm actually unsure if it's a true wagon, or a cart. On the map it looks more like a cart. That would actually be better for us because a wagon would need some kind of animal to pull it.

The mask turns to Verik. "Who paid for this? What's their game?"

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