Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Session 9 Synopsis

With the immediate threat of Kel being "deported" back home now gone, the party decided that maybe staying in the city for a little while would be the best thing to do for now. So our heroes started to do some personal things for the next few days...

Asphodel started doing some more research in the temples to try and discover more information on her amulet given to her by her mother, being very curious about it since it now has begun exhibiting new and increasing powers as she advances in her own career and power.

Blackwell went back to the private investigator he hired to find out more about his birth mother's fate. The investigator actually gave Blackwell half of his money back because of how quickly he ran into a blockade in his inquiries. What he had found actually scared him into not looking any further for fear of attracting the attention of the ruthless leader of the Grey Wolves - Ethain Marrowslake. What he did find out was that when Marrowslake staged his coupe of the Ghost Wolves, he killed Blackwell's father and a great schism happened, forcing the members of the tribe that were (are) loyal to Blackwell's late father into hiding so they could continue their ancestral tribal teachings of the Ghost Wolves. The investigator could not find anything more about his mother though, and could not find and of the remaining true Ghost Wolves either.

Jobi, Zerak, and Zola spent some of their time recharging the wands that the party has become to rely upon in times of need. Jobi spent more time in the temple of Sarenrea learning about her deity of choice. Zola also went wandering through the city being nosy and looking for any sort of trouble she could get into and "right the wrongs" as she saw them being done. And Kel began her journey as a cleric of Desna, spending quite a bit of time in her deity's temple.

Zerak, meanwhile began talking to not only his cute little poppet but also the severed head he has been keeping in one of his satchels. When the head "spoke" to him and said, "ostrich eggs" he immediately went straight to the main marketplace in the Protector's Enclave and began searching for a vendor who had ostrich eggs for sale. As chance would have it, he did find such a vendor, made an excellent purchase (for the vendor), and was the proud owner of 4 ostrich eggs. But when he asked his severed head about the eggs, it did not say anything on the matter, leaving Zerak a bit perplexed and frustrated.

Also, Blackwell was in the market attempting to negotiate some trade deals with various commodities merchants for his new gypsy compound/enclave/homestead. Asphodel and Zola were also browsing through the marketplace, looking at the available trinkets from the various vendors.

It was at this moment that a piercing scream went through the crowd, and at the far end of the market the crowd began to run away. The heroes and the Mintarn guards, led by Telliann, reached the scene about the same time and discovered that simple commoner had walked by and knifed a guard to death by delivering just one fatal stab wound. The guard did have time to retaliate and skewered his assailant as he went down. Both men were lying dead in pools of blood just moments after the initial attack occurred. Telliann told our heroes that this made the sixth murder in under a week to happen and that her and the guards were at a standstill trying to figure out what was going on. She said that their current theory is that someone is starting to target people loyal to Lord Neverember and that she really needs their help in the investigation. Most party members were not receptive to trying to help since this sort of stuff was not really in their sphere of expertise. But Blackwell expressed a great interest in helping once Telliann mentioned that Lord Neverember himself is taking an interest in this and deduced that some political favor can be gained by helping or even solving why these murders have been taking place. So he presented this to the party and asked for their help in it to benefit his new community, and Zola was the first to step up and agree to help out. The rest of the party soon followed suit, and the 500 gold to each party member that Telliann promised didn't hurt the decision either.

Telliann was visibly happy that the party agreed to help her out and gave them the following background information on all the murders so far:

* Five Days Ago (Murder 1): Hurvast Marx, a laborer, was the first victim. A shopkeeper on his way to prepare for the day’s business discovered Marx’s body five days ago in the Protector’s Enclave shortly before dawn. Marx had several stab wounds, and the guards assumed he was the victim of a mugging gone wrong since they could not find his purse.
* Four Days Ago (Murder 2): Riac “the Knife,” a petty thug and blade for hire, was found face down in a gutter in Blacklake four days ago. He had a cracked skull and a perforated back, and the stink of cheap rotgut lingered in the area. Less than a block away, a dead homeless drifter clutched Riac’s signature dagger in his stomach. At the time, the guards thought the deaths were another instance of the gang violence endemic to the district, so they put little effort into the investigation.
* Three Days Ago (Murder 3): Credar Longstaff’s body was found in a gutted townhouse in the River District shortly after the rest of the Mintarn soldiers in his patrol noticed his absence. His body bore the marks of several weapons, and the guards attributed his death to roving orc pillagers.
* Two Days Ago (Murder 4): Danas Winterpole was a successful halfling merchant and an utspoken supporter of Lord Neverember’s reign. Her staff found her bludgeoned and stabbed in the middle of her locked shop when they opened the building two days ago. The guards quickly cleared her employees of suspicion because the employees were all on good terms with Danas, but that left the guards with no suspects and no leads. At that point, the authorities began to fear that these deaths indicated something far more sinister than a few random murders: They theorized that the deaths might be the work of violent rebel elements.
* Yesterday (Murder 5): Sabel Estwick, a farmer who lived within the city, was the fifth victim. A patrol found her with some valuable trinkets in a Blacklake alleyway; she had multiple stab wounds and a slit throat. It didn't take the guards long to add her name to the list of unsolved murders.
* Today (Murder 6): Turom Cadel, the Mintarn soldier killed in front of the adventurers in the market, appears to be the sixth victim.

And so the party got busy trying to find out what was happening around these murders. The bits and pieces of information they were able to discern was the following:

* The blows were strong and penetrated deeply, but the lack of tearing and secondary damage suggests that the killer did not deliver them in rage.
* No signs of any confrontation or buildup to a conflict exist at any of the scenes—clues indicate a sudden and invariably lethal attack.
* The attacks appear to have been ambushes, but many of the locations in which they took place were public, well lit, or heavily traveled—hardly the spots in which one would choose to carry out a murder.
* No one recalls seeing anyone who stood out during the times of the murders. Some tell of a few instances of people being “out of it” or stumbling a bit from drink, sure, but nothing extraordinary.
* The homeless man who killed Riac “the Knife” had no gang affiliation and no apparent reason for attacking an armed and dangerous ruffian.
* Danas Winterpole’s shop was intact, without a single cracked windowpane, loose shingle, or pick mark on the lock to indicate how someone could have broken into the place.
* The man who killed the guard Turom in front of the adventurers was a local laborer named Andros. Those who knew him cannot believe what happened, swearing that he was a good person and an honest person who could never kill anyone, least of all a guard he didn’t even know.

The party had separated and spread out to look for clues and rumors of what was going on and some met with better success than others. It was Asphodel and Kel who had discovered faint traces of enchantment magic on Dana's two staff members at the shop and also discovered a bloody hammer in the dumpster in the alley behind her shop. That prompted Asphodel to fly out to search for Blackwell to bring him to the crime scene to see if he could sniff out any more clues using his superior sense of smell while in wolf form.

Jobi and Zerak went another way and Jobi tried a different approach to gathering information from people. She donned her old belly dancing outfit and attempted to encourage people in an audience to speak with her about the latest gossip. It was supposed to be a way to get people to relax so they felt like they wanted to talk/flirt with her, but it turned out to be nothing less than a complete disaster. She encountered problems with her dancing almost immediately from an uneven stage floor and probably from being a bit rusty in her performance. That's when things took a turn for the worse. What could only be called an utter lack of grace and extremely bad luck, the series of events that plagued her would fortunately most likely never occur again in her (or possibly anyone else's) lifetime. First, her outfit gets caught on small jagged area of the stage and starts to rip. This causes Jobi to stop and try to release the fabric from the floor, only to result in her stepping onto a rotting floor board. This unbalances her and she is unable to catch herself as she falls off the stage and her outfit decides to stay on the stage. She hits the floor face first and almost gets her horn stuck in a knothole in the wood where her horn pierced the wooden floor. The crowd roared in laughter and hoots of appreciation at the comedic and bawdy display of their now favorite stripper. Alas, for all her efforts she didn't really get any information on the recent string of murders. But she get a lot of men (and some women) wanting to "help her up" from the floor (and received more than a few offers to take her home and "clean her up"), but I digress.

Eventually, everyone gathered at the late Dana Winterpole's shop to further the investigation, with Zola stationed outside making sure that no one was following them or trying to sneak up to ambush them. Blackwell recognized that the last person to use the hammer was in fact one of the present staff members, so Asphodel stepped outside the shop in search of a city guard to report their findings and have the woman arrested. Just as she and Zola began to approach a guard stationed near the center of the square, they noticed that he all of sudden went rigid - like all his muscles tensed up at the same time - and his expression went into a dull, almost unconscious look. They noticed that same phenonomem happen to the ordinary townspeople as well. Then as one, they all drew out whatever weapons they had with them and began advancing on the two adventurers. The rest of the party noticed the same strange sequence of events happen to the two store workers as well.

The battle that ensued had a definite different paradigm to it since all of the assailants appeared to be under some kind of mind control, most were just ordinary townsfolk, and none really deserved to be killed. So our heroes began the battle fighting only to subdue and knockout/restrain the aggressors. Out of the twenty or so, only three guards and three other adventurers posed any real threat against the party, the commoners were either fighting only with their bare hands or needed a really lucky shot to actually cause any wounds. But just by the shear numbers of weapons flying around, a couple of our stalwart companions did get wounded, and Zola got hit the worst, being surrounded on all fronts for some time. Her patience with the situation deteriorated very quickly and she finally "snapped" and used the business end of her great sword on the city guardsman who had been attacking her from the start. She landed a blow of epic proportions and just about disemboweled the poor man, splitting him from his groin to the top of his hips.

Asphodel was also being onset by a guard and the three adventurers who were constantly shoot arrows at her while she was flying and attacking from above. At one point, she also got sick of it all and lashed out with the business end of her weapons, but didn't actually mortally wound anyone. Zerak was using his ray of enfeeblement spell, blunt arrows, and one of the ostrich eggs to incapacitate the enemies. Kel was very effective against one of the adventurers and several towns people as well. And Jobi went after some townsfolk using her quarterstaff - managing to use it correctly and not knocking herself or any other party member out in the process. Meanwhile, Blackwell had been moving around the perimeter of the battle and doing sneak attacks on all the people he could, which greatly reduced the number of conscious attackers very quickly and soon after the battle was over.

Now there was evidence of some mysterious, unseen power manipulating people like marionettes. And for the safety of everyone in Neverwinter, our heroes need to find this elusive puppet master before the situation gets really bad...

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