The PCs: Fumbus, Kyra, Merisiel, Seoni, and Valeros
Note: I had chosen Prakhavu to be the murder prior to running this adventure.
Sebnet Sanserkoht met the PCs and gave them their briefing. I attempted to talk fast to roleplay the excitable gnome, although this was no very practical for mission briefings, so I ended up having to repeat myself.
Before heading to the scene of the crime, the PCs decided to go shopping first, so I had someone direct them Ladhlia. Ladhilia attempted to interest Merisiel in a variety of trinkets, but the PCs were specifically looking for something useful against golems, so Ladhilia naturally tried to sell them some Quantium Adamantine Blanch. The balked at the 15 gp price and decided to come back later. They then headed to the scene of the crime.
A. THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
The party conversed briefly with the guards before heading inside. Fumbus chatted one up and commented on what nice armor he had while tugging on his coat, annoying the poor man. He also noted that he had a Qunatium admantine blanch and used Thievery to pickpocket it.
This combat probably lasted longer than it should have for a couple things. First, the PCs initially tried to calm down/reason with the flesh golem, thinking it was perhaps a bodyguard of Kefanes that the Nexian guard captured by mistake (inspired in part by us having played Trial of the Beast about 1-2 years ago). I made it clear that was not the case by having it cry out "Kill Kefanes!" as it make berserk slam attacks, but they still wasted a full round or two on such tactics. During this time they focused heavily on the adamantine shards, thinking that if they removed them it would calm the flesh golem down. I had to make some spot rulings. Kyra cast Mending on the shards. I had the flesh golem make a Fortitude save against her Spell DC, which he critically succeeded at, so I said this did not damage but the shards merged into a single spike. Merisiel then used Pickpocket and Thievery to remove the spike, which I said she could treat as an adamantine dagger. This would be moot as she also took the adamantine sword offered by the guard (I rolled randomly to see if this was the same guard that Fumbus had robbed, but it was the guard that still had his adamntine blanch) and used that weapon instead.
Second, Kyra rolled a natural 1 on her Recall Knowledge about flesh golems, so I told her that they were immune to fire; this would limit her effectiveness and severely cripple Seoni's in this fight.
Seoni blasted the flesh golem with a ray of frost, which slowed the golem and was her only contribution to the fight. They were further afraid fire might interfere with that effect so they did not experiment. Eventually, thanks to Fumbus's acid bombs, Valeros's +1 longsword, and Merisiel armed with a adamantine-blanched longsword, and some lucky criticals from Fumbus's dog slicer, the eventually felled the golem.
The learned that prier to their encounter, the golem had suffered three sets of wounds; fire damage from the fireball trap, the adamantine shards (although the could not identify the trap), and fragments of sand and stone. They also found the supplies from Ladhila, promting a return visit.
OUT OF THE BLUE
After making their Diplomacy check and returning the supplies to her, Ladhlia told her what she knew about Kefanes and introduced the PCs to the two suspects, the Mwangi transmuter Ngasi and Vuldrani conjurer Prakhavu. The PCs immediately suspected Ngasi due to her association with the fleshforges (thinking that was connected to the flesh golem). Ladhlia also gave them a second adamantine weapon blanch for returning her supplies.
This "encounter" was short and sweat. Rather than a straightforward combat or skill check, this presented the PCs with a rather unique dilemma--how to retrieve the the body from what was clearly a "monster" beyond their power level. However, Seoni solved this problem with three castings of Telekinetic Manuever to disarm the golem. An investigation of Kefanes's body revealed similar sand and stone wounds as on the flesh golem. They also found a letter offering to buy the Collected Directives written by someone with a native language of Mwangi, which would implicated Ngasi (I had decided beforehand to have this letter actually be from Ngasi instead of Prakhavu and not falsified evidence as I reasoned she could have made legit offer to purchase the book separately from Prakhavu's more nefarious means of obtaining the tome.
B. UNSUBTLE WARNING
Making their way back to Nexus House for dinner, they party were ambushed by the ifrit Keeamah and three (increased from two for five players) fire elementals. The elementals did some damage, were quickly dispatched in not small part from Seoni's Rays of Frost and Fumbus's liquid ice bombs. Keeamah had failed to land a single Strike from her crossbow (despite using Favored Aim) and surrendered once the fire elementals were bested in part due to a successful Intimidate check from the PCs. She offered to reveal her employer in exchange for the party letting her go free, which they accepted. She revealed that she had been hired by Prakhavu. The PCs pressed her on how much she was paid, which I improvised was more magic crossbow. Merisiel then demanded she turn over her crossbow as well. Keeamah objected stating that wasn't part of their deal and tried to slip away. Merisiel then attacked, and the party came to her aid when Keeamah responding with a casting of burning hands. As her HP were swiftly disappearing, Keeamah shouted "Here, take it" and threw her crossbow at Merisiel's face (she hit and dealt 1d6+2 damage, which was enough to knock Merisiel out after the fire elementals and burning hands). The party let her escape as they teneded to Merisiel instead.
The party regrouped with Sebnet and compared notes. Sebnet obtained invitations to the Merchant's League Soiree where they could confront Prakhavu.
MERCHANT'S LEAGUE SOIREE
The party started by mingling and learning some more information about Prakhavu, which garnered the attention of Ngasi. She granted them a Scroll of Hypnotic Pattern and pointed out its usefulness against conjurers. (Seoni would neglect to use this scroll in the fight to come). The PCs learned that Prakhavu and an apprentice were seen headed to the garden, and went to confront him there.
C1. A BRUSH WITH HISTORY
This encounter was omitted due to time.
C2. SHOWDOWN IN THE GARDEN
The PCs arrived to find Prakhavu ready for them, having already summoned an Animated Statue (buffed with Augment Summoning) in addition to casting his buff spells. As I had 5 PCs, he was jointed by two additional (non-augmented) Animated Statues in addition to his apprentice. The PCs noted the water elementals in the fountain, but they would not factor into the final encounter.
Kyra attempted to Intimidate Prakhavu into surrendering and rolled a natural 20. I had the apprentice turn to Prakhavu in question, only to have Prakhavu rebuke him while hurtling insults at the PCs.
As the PCs began to enter the room, and Prakhavu cast Stinking Cloud on them while directing the augmented Animated Statue to attack. His apprentice used his scroll to cast Web to entangle them within the stinking cloud while the other two Animated Statues also moved in to attacked. Merisiel used her magic crossbow to shoot at Prakhavu while Fumbus, Valeros, and Kyra engaged the statues in melee. Seoni was stuck in the stinking cloud/web and could not assist until she freed herself.
Merisiel's attack drew Prakhavu's attention and he blasted her with heightened Acid Arrow. Fumbus then began lobbing Acid and Alchemist's Fire boms at Prakhavu and his apprentice. Prakhavu blasted all save Fumbus with a Fireball (and destroyed the Web) while the apprentice moved away from Prakhavu (after being rebuked for standing next to him while the alchemist lobbed bombs at them) and cast Flaming Sphere on Fumbus (Fumbus critically succeeded on his save). The statues downed first Merisiel than Valerous, and Kyra began burning through her channels to Heal them and keep them fighting. Merisiel went after Prakhavu with her rapier and was downed a second time by a barrage of magical missiles. Freed from the Web, Seoni began supporting the PCs against the statues. Valeros and Kyra had managed to break the one statue's armor leaving it more vulnerable to attacks. Fumbus evaded the apprentice's Flaming Sphere a second time (another critical success!) and struck the man with his dogslicer, sending the man fleeing for his life.
A barrage of magical missiles followed by splash damage from Fumbus was enough to down Merisiel a second time while the statues would fell Valeros twice more as Kyra repeated revived him with Heal spells (as well as using one on herself to remain standing). One of the animated statues fell (the one with the broken armor), but the other two (including the augmented one) remained. Merisiel used a hero point to revive herself to 1 HP and she retrieved and attacked once more with her rapier. Valeros and Fumbus also closed for melee with Prakhavu, who fell to their combined assault. The conjured animated statue vanished. At this point, Sebnet and a half-dozen guards arrived (with the apprentice whom they captured en route) to help clean up the remaining animated statue and recover the Collected Directives.