Wednesday, July 1, 2009

20. - 22. Lamashan, 4708 AR

Sunday A mystery shrouds this Resting Day. The Varisians and I were having breakfast at the Rusty Dragon Inn, when the halfling barmaid Bethana presented us with an envelope, courtesy of her mistress, Ameiko Kaijitsu. The envelope was addressed to the “heroes of Sandpoint” and had been delivered under the front door during the night. The cover held the deed of a property on Stoot’s Rock, a location on the small island just north of the Old Light, which is also known as Chopper’s Isle. As far as Miro and I could discern, the document carries a legitimate seal. This was confirmed at the Town Hall, where the clerk named the previous owner Jervis Stoot – the man revealed to be responsible for 25 murders during what is now known to be the “Late Unpleasantness” some five years ago. Jervis Stoot, the clerk explained, had been somewhat of an eccentric deeply fascinated by birds and thus unsurprisingly he had made his home on the small island that is a haven for the local birdlife. Stoot had also been an extraordinary wood carver. In fact every deserving building in Sandpoint had once proudly carried one of his bird depictions in a door frame or on a corner. Naturally, even the slightest mark of his carving knives was now erased, the legacy of the murderer called Chopper all that remained of Jervis Stoot. Clearly unsettled by events of the past, the clerk went on to ask whether we wanted to file an official claim for the property. This was agreed upon, and since I was the only one able to provide suitable documentation at the time, the property was filed in my name. To ensure that this will ultimately be to the benefit of us all, appropriate legal documents dividing the ownership equally between the five of us must, of course, be drafted as soon as time permits. Leaving my brother Dega at the inn to recover from his bruises, Miro, Elektra, Alaria and I left to investigate the land that is now legally ours. Broken wooden stairs lead from the Old Light to the island, where a single small two-storey house rises from the ground. The house and its cellar are presently in a sorry state – both wood and stone have been ravaged by fire - though the building seems to be salvageable. Puzzled as to who has presented us with the rights to this infamous place, we searched the premises but to no avail. Eventually, Miro and Alaria therefore went to gather further information in the city, while Elektra and I went to the temple to question Father Zantus. Neither of us learned anything new about the deed or about its possible heirs, however, rumour has it that the soldiers, who carried Tsuto Kaijitsu off to Magnimar to stand trial for his crimes, arrived empty-handed! In the afternoon we dined at the Kaijitsu estate. Mistress Ameiko’s sister has been sent to their aunt’s family in Magnimar to recover, but Ameiko was eager to hear our tales, adding that rewards for our services to Sandpoint were waiting for us back in the city. As for the mystery envelope, Ameiko had nothing to add. Whoever had delivered it through the door of the Rusty Dragon had done so unseen, only the sound of feet leading towards the harbour. Moonday (The Eve of Counts) Everyone has risen early this morning, except Dega who is still recovering. During the next hours we collected our rewards. At the blacksmith’s place we were presented with a beautiful silver-buckled weapon belt and two sheathed weapons, a rapier and a dagger, of Andoran origin. The belt and the sheaths are all decorated with thorns. Both weapons have unusually large basket hilts inlaid with jade stones. This reward was given to Alaria [OOG: masterwork dagger and rapier, +2 to attack rolls and +2 to defence when attempting to disarm due to the basket hilts, this dagger cannot be thrown]. At the jeweller’s, Maver Kesk’s, shop on Cliff Street we received a small red gemstone encased in gold, a weapon crystal, which we decided to give to Dega [OOG: least weapon crystal of fire assault, i.e. +1 fire damage on a successful hit]. At Brodert Quink’s house on Tower Street we received a bunch of books, constituting a research library. After a lot of hard work we – that is everyone except Miro, who buried himself in a book at once - got all the books stored at the inn [OOG: +2 to all Knowledge checks, when using the library]. At Madame Niska Mvashti’s place Elektra was presented with a deck of harrow cards. Also, she received four special magic cards, showing (1) an eagle in flight, (2) a black cat, (3) a spider in its web and (4) glowing eyes in a dark cave [OOG: all cards may be used only once; (1) grants an bonus to Cha for a short while; (2) grants a bonus to Dex for a short while; (3) grants the ability to climb as a spider for a short while; (4) grants the ability to summon a swarm of bats for a short while]. Also, each of us had our fortunes told through the harrow cards – individually and as a group. The words she addressed to me were “to learn to trust your intuition, since at a given time you will summon the wisdom within you to make the right decision”. To all of us she talked about the past, the present and the future: Past: One amongst you, who do not seem of much, has proven himself. Trust your gifts. You have long walked in the dark, but have overcome it. Someone, who has followed your progress and seemed important, does not signify what you think and probably hides something greater. Present: One who seems now unimportant and is counted as blind or badly seeing, will reveal a greater truth at an unexpected time. There are ambiguities. There is great strength, which we will use, if we’re not careful. Strength may be a gift, but must be used with care or it may lead to hurt. Future: Someone, who has been lost in the past, will return after a long time to help you. There is great danger, a risk that one of you will be left amongst fallen friends without hope for the future. Companionship is the key. Finally, at the temple Father Zantus presented me with a small piece of mithril chain mail hanging from nine chains, an Ephod of Authority [OOG: +1 effective channelling level]. In the afternoon we had a meeting with Caravan Desious, a local architect of Mistress Ameiko’s recommendation. Using the Book of Numbers as reference he and I have negotiated and ultimately drafted a 600 gold piece contract to restore the house at Stoot’s Rock. The architect has declared that the repairs will be done in a month. In the evening my friends and I assisted Father Zantus at the temple, celebrating the Eve of Counts. Toilday This morning Sheriff Belor Hemlock has approached us. The sheriff fears that Sandpoint once again faces a serial killer the like of Chopper, and he wants to enlist our help (there is currently a 500 gold piece reward). Three people have already been slain at Cougar Creek a few days ago, while two new victims have just been discovered at the saw mill. On the sheriff’s insistence we hurried over there to examine the scene of the recent murders. The saw mill was surrounded by the sheriff’s men. Inside pools of blood were scattered around, and the lingering stench of rotting flesh was everywhere. The first victim was found hanging from a hook on the wall. It was Harker - one of the proprietors of the saw mill. His jaw had been removed from the mutilated face, while a seven-pointed star had been carved into the chest above a ravenlike tattoo. Harker’s body also carried the unmistakable marks of human-sized claws; close to these wounds the rotting stench was nigh unbearable. Strangest of all, a letter addressed to Elektra had been nailed to his chest! The other victim was Katrina Vinder, sister to Shay and daughter of Ven Vinder, the owner of the general store. Unlike Harker, Katrine had been killed instantly when pushed into the log-splitter, leaving her mangled body parts lying around the mechanism. A great axe smeared with blood signified that Harker had gone down fighting. On the axe blade the stench of rotting flesh was the strongest, enough to make even ME spill my guts onto the floor! Whatever terrible creature had done this, it must carry a strong disease - perhaps some form of leprosy? We searched the mill for further clues, concluding that the murderer must have entered and left via the river, along the pier used for transporting logs. It was Harker’s business partner, Ibor Thorne, who had found the bodies in the morning. Thorne confirmed popular rumours that Harker and Katrine were secret lovers, and that the saw mill was their nightly meeting place. Reluctantly, he also admitted that Harker for some time had been skimming money from the lumber sales, cheating on the mill’s real owners, the Scarnetti clan, one of the founding families of Sandpoint. To the best of his best knowledge, however, the Scarnettis were so far unaware of this. Leaving Ibor Thorne in the hands of the sheriff’s men, it was time to investigate the carcasses of the first three victims slain at Cougar Creek, which was currently in the sheriff’s care.

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