Before departing the misgivings, my patient companions allow me to sit and sketch the stained glass windows in the observatory. I believe that the artists’ intentions was to capture the monstrosity of the Harlot Queen, but I only see the tragedy of Arazni.
We emerge into a scene of nightmares.
On every outcrop of stone and tree limb a raven is perched. No cawing, no ruffling of feathers, they sit as still and silent as death itself… These are no ordinary birds. I recognise them immediately as a Carrion Swarm… The abominations that result when ravens feed on ghouls… and there are literally thousands of them.
I don’t mind admitting that it gives me pause. We hold down behind a ruined wall, pray for protection and bolster our defenses.
Then we run.
The undead murders explode into the air and swarm around us but are Gods were watching over us today.
Beating them away with our swords and unleashing power, both the arcane and divine, we destroy them utterly.
We mount up and ride back to Sandpoint, making what’s become a ritual visit to Brother Zantuss; Athene and Mhad both are stricken with a virulent strain of Ghoul Fever, but not beyond his powers to heal. We make plans to consecrate The Misgivings and retire for the evening.
On the morn we go immediately to the Garrison and report our findings to Hemlock; Aldern’s identity as the Skinsaw Man; Vorel’s failed ascension to Lichdom and the resulting tragedy of the Misgivings; the leads in Magnimar, the cage maker, money lender, the Foxglove townhouse and the Seven Brothers; and the ultimate identify of who we believe to be behind all this- *Xaneesha*…
We mount up again and ride out to Magnimar. It’s a long days ride but a site worth the effort.
Located on the coast it must be twice the size of Vigil with a population to match. The centre piece is the ruin of a once enormous bridge that now falls away into the sea. Truly a marvel of its time (or any other) it reminds me of the Thessalonian ruins at Thistlelsop. The people are cosmopolitan, but not so exotic that Wynter doesn’t draw a few odd looks. If she grows any larger I may find such visits to urban centres… complicated.
It’s late and we pay for beds in an inn called The Centaur’s Mane. At supper, the tables around us buzz with conversation, it appears, rather disturbingly that Magnimar is experiencing its own spate of Skinsaw murders and the population is less than pleased with the lack of progress and Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras’ inability to deal with the issue, man they seem to hold in some disdain.
After a less than sound sleep we make a few inquiries and locate the likely vicinity for the Foxglove townhouse, namely The Summit. Athene send her owl to investigate while we attend city records. Speaking to one of the busy clerks it appears that the only way we can avoid a week long wait is to pay some exorbitant ‘administrative charge’. Surely this borders on corruption? I am reluctantly pulling out my coin purse when Athene drags me away.
Apparently she has a plan. Before I can stop her, she has donned the Mask of Disguise, re-entered as a Guardswoman and acquired the records we need. Once we’ve determined what’s going on here we can take the information to the proper authorities.
We head to the Foxglove townhouse. The Summit is indeed home to the upper class of Magnimar, with well kept residences and manicured gardens lining the paved roads.
The gate is open but the front door is not. We try the jade key which bears similarities to the architecture here and it unlocks. Unsurprisingly we are beginning to draw attention. We huddle around Athene as she puts on the mask and transform into Aldern. The resemblance is faultless and a little perturbing.
We walk in and a voice calls out in challenge, Aldern’s voice!
We exchange glances as Aldern and Iesha, as perfect in appearance as Athene enter the room… obviously imposters too! They make an effort to carry on the subterfuge, mock surprise and confusion in their questioning voices… That is until Athene speaks, forgetting that the mask does not disguise her voice. She immediately realises her mistake and makes a laughable attempt at a masculine tone but the game is up on both sides.
We draw steel and they… Transform!
Two amorphous, claylike humanoids stand before us with swords- Faceless Stalkers!
A short melee ensues and despite their great physical strength we overcome them.
The house is abandoned, ransacked of valuables and sheets draped over furniture, but we do find two clues in a hidden cache.
The first is a deed to Foxglove Manor showing that it’s construction was jointly financed with The 7 Brothers and that after 100 years (around 20 years from now) that ownership reverts back to them.
The second item is a ledger showing three months of trips by Iesha to deliver a payment of 200gp to the Seven’s Sawmill in Asalom to a person (or persons) known as B7 (obviously the Brothers Seven). The deliveries were made each Oathday at midnight, if we wish to meet these Brother’s that would be our best opportunity…