Return of the Runelords

Reconnaissance
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 8

Toilday, 6 Lamashan, 4743

Having returned to town, the adventurers get their horses stabled and then split up. Tanya the human wizard goes to replenish her collection of scrolls. Gwenllian the human druid goes to hang out with the graveyard keeper Audrahni and compare notes about gardening. Lucia the halfling witch, Emeq the ifrit fighter, and the Udrexa go to the Creekside Tavern to update Horned Fangs leader Jana.

Jana is impressed to discover that the party obliterated the Roadkeepers, a goes to retrieve additional coins to pay them double for their efforts. The adventurers also share their suspicions that the Order of Resplendence was involved in the murder of six Horned Fangs two weeks prior. Jana explains that she had previously clashed with the Order’s leader, Corstela Rostrata, who was offended by the Horned Fangs’ use of a Thassilonian rune as their symbol. Jana offers the party the same 10gp weekly retainer to investigate the Order of Resplendence, so long as they don’t reveal the connection to her.

After meeting with Jana, Emeq suggests that they rest up and patrol the streets that night looking for more of the creatures that Kolton saw. First, though, Lucia travels to the Lady’s Chapel to visit the Pharasmin priest Father Desil Marphan. Finally able to speak about her magic affliction, Lucia explains her predicament and the cleric confirms that she has in fact been cursed. He offer to try to remove it the following day, and asks her to purchase some materials for the ritual. They both express some guilt over her condition, Lucia for getting tangled up with the Roadkeepers and Father Desil for assuming that her ailment was due to dabbling in dark magicks.

The adventurers rest up in the afternoon, save for Tanya who finishes her scroll work and makes an early night of it. The other four party members begin their patrol after dark, starting at the creek and then working their way out from there. When they pass by the circle market, they notice the town clerk Sondra on her way to the tavern. Behind her, two of the hideous creatures they’d encountered before emerge from the two well.

Lucia’s attempt to put the two creatures to sleep has no effect. The adventurers race toward the danger, with Emeq calling out a warning. They aren’t able to close the distance before one of the creatures charges up to Sondra and sinks its teeth in her leg. As before, there is a flare of elemental energy with its bite, in this case a burst of flame. Another one rushes up to Gwen and bites her with a flash of cold energy. Sondra tries to get away from her attacker, but it bites her again, bringing her to the ground where she lies bleeding and unconscious.

Emeq rushes to her defense with rapier in hand, but trips over her body and falls to the ground himself. Udrexa moves up to the creature attacking Gwen and bashes it over the head with her three-section staff. Lucia has her familiar Rita deliver a healing spell to Sondra that wakes the half-elf back up.

The wounded monster withdraws from its fight with Udrexa and retreats back towards the well. The other monster tries to bite Emeq, but he dodges out of the way. Gwen calls down a storm burst that knocks out the wounded creature. Udrexa flanks the other monster and punches it in the back of the head, stunning it. Sondra takes this opportunity to scramble away towards Lucia, trailing blood behind her. Emeq gets up, dusts himself off, and drives his sword through the monster’s cyclopean eye.

Lucia heals Sondra while Udrexa claps mithral manacles onto the unconscious creature by the well. Kolton the vagrant cheers them on from across the circle. Lucia casts light on a stone, which Emeq drops down the well. It falls a fair distance before splashing. Based on the light reflecting off the water, it appears that the well shaft opens up into a larger cavern near the bottom.

Emeq escorts a frightened Sondra back to her house. He feels guilty that she was attacked while going to see him and is extra watchful on the way back. She is shaken by the experience and agrees it is best that she not go out alone after dark. Sondra gives him a peck on the cheek, and looks forward to seeing him tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the others carry the unconscious monster back to Lucia’s hut, where they wake up Tanya to have her interrogate the creature. Speaking in Aklo, she is able to pressure it into sharing information. It is known as a fleshdreg of wrath, and it serves Mozamer, a champion of the Runelord Alaznist. It says that Mozamer is build an army in a lair below Roderic’s Cove in preparation for Alaznist’s pending return.

At Tanya’s prompting, the fleshdreg confirms that there are humans in this army who wear the rune of Wrath. Tanya describes Jana’s appearance and it did recognize her tricorn hat, though it claimed not to know if Jana served Mozamer. Once the party feels satisfied with their information, Udrexa kills the creature and Tanya burns the body. The adventurers are left wondering about what the Horned Fangs might be up to.

Wealday, 7 Lamashan, 4743

The next morning, Tanya visits the boy Kynae Fromperton and gives him the book of Varisian fables that she had retrieved from Mother Nightthrush. She tells him that she may not be able to visit for a while, so she gave him the book to read on his own. Blackberry the halfling baker promises to help the boy read through the stories.

Lucia meanwhile returns to the Lady’s Chapel, having purchased the components for Father Desil. He performs the ritual and removes the curse, but there is no change to Lucia’s advanced age. The priest is confounded by this, as typically when a curse is broken its effects disappear. Lucia is grateful nonetheless, as this has at least given her more time.

At midday, the adventurers gather at the Cove Hall for their meeting with the Port-Governor. Sondra greets them and tells them that the governor is wrapping up her previous appointment.

Militia Captain Julit Freson exits her office and greets the party. He thanks them for dealing with the monsters at the Circle last night and appreciates the note they left on the corpse. He is posting guards at the well every night and would be interested in talking with them further at some other time.

The five adventurers step into the cramped office of Port-Governor Larenza Thort, where every available surface is is piled high with papers and scrolls. The Port-Governor is a middle-aged woman in a decorated tricorn hat. She has heard very positive things about them, particularly from Sondra.

The party tells her about their investigations, how they dismantled the Roadkeepers, and the growing evidence that the Order of Resplendence was involved in the massacre of the six Horned Flames. They keep the eyewitnesses’ identities secret, but they provide Dolland’s incriminating letter from Corstela. Speaking on behalf of the group, Tanya asks for some sort of official blessing for investigating Peacock Manor.

The Port-Governor is not excited to investigate the richest and most well-connected woman in town. She feels that the evidence they have assembled is troubling, but not conclusive enough to authorize a warrant. She does promise to have the town militia look the other way if there is an incident at the manor.

However, she warns that the Order is viewed as a group of harmless eccentrics, many of whom have family in town. If violence against the Order spills out onto the streets or if word gets out that the party is laying siege to Peacock Manor, it could turn public opinion against them unless there is incontrovertible evidence of the Order’s guilt. Essentially, she says that if they take a shot at Corstela, they had best not miss.

The adventurers also ask to view any blueprints or plans on file for Peacock Manor. The Port-Governor recommends they consult with Sondra regarding the records. After their meeting, the half-elf town clerk takes them to a different records room and tracks down the plans for the manor. While Tanya makes a copy of the map, Emeq keeps Sondra company.

The party loops Sondra in on their concerns that there is a cavern under the well. She offers to research the records of the early town founding to see what it has to say about the well and the cellars of nearby buildings. Sondra arranges a date with Emeq that night to discuss her findings.

After they are done at Cove Hall, Emeq goes to visit Audrahni at the Lady’s Chapel. When she learns about the party’s suspicions about Corstela, Audrahni reveals that she had met the Varisian woman a decade ago, before either had moved to Roderic’s Cove. Corstela had approached her seeking some information, but Audrahni had been suspicious and ony gave her surface level details.

Audrahni says that at the time, Corstela believed that Thassilon had been a utopia for the Varisian people, one that she hoped to reclaim. This was before Karzoug’s return and the discovery of the Therassic Library at Jorgenfist revealed the truth about ancient Thassilon. The elf says that Corstela had some strange magic about her, and warns Emeq to be careful. She thanks him for visiting her so often over the past week and awkwardly gives him a hug.

That afternoon, Tanya, Udrexa, Lucia and Gwen go to bed early in order to get up for a late night reconnaissance of Peacock Manor. At the appointed hour, Tanya and Udrexa circle the perimeter while Lucia approaches from the northwest and Gwen from the south. Lucia uses reduce person to slip between the walls of the fence. Gwen, meanwhile, turns into a peafowl to fly over the fence and infiltrate the grounds.

They identify several entrances: double doors at the front and back, a side door on the northeast side, and stairs leading up to second story doors on the northwest and northeast sides. There are also two small detached structures in the shadow of the main manor. To Tanya’s surprise, they don’t see any guards or sentries on patrol. However, several lights remain on inside the building. The curtains on the windows are shut, making it impossible to see inside.

Udrexa stays behind after the other depart, her monk training having left her with the need for only a few hours sleep each day. She watches the manor throughout the night and sees interior lights go on and off. However, there is always at least one light on at all times, particularly on the ground floor.

Meanwhile, Emeq goes to pick up Sondra for their date. Over a pleasant meal, she shares what she has discovered. There is limited information about the creation of the town well, but it is famous for the incredible purity of its water. The buildings around the Circle all have cellars, and there are no surprises in the records. However, the Creekside Tavern has grown famous in recent years for serving chilled drinks at all times of the year, including the wine they are drinking right now. Sondra wonders if there’s a connection there.

Emeq praises her discovery, assuring her that she is now part of the group. Sondra explains how she has lived in Roderic’s Cove all her life, the daughter of a cartographer and a romance novelist. She has been fascinated by stories of far off places but has never had the courage to travel. Now she is starting to wonder if maybe she could, though she’s also still shaken by the fleshdreg attack.

After a pleasant evening, Emeq walks her home and she gives him another kiss on the cheek before heading inside. They agree that another date would be a good idea.

Fireday, 9 Lamashan, 4743

After a bit of a late start, the adventurers head out to the weekly Circle Market for shopping. There is a steady drizzle of rain, which has dampened turnout (among other things). But they are nonetheless able to make purchases. Tanya collects the custom wand she ordered from Enburg Humblebumble and also trades spells from the rude dwarven wizard Rimi Tenison. Lucia find the halfling witch Nyra and trades a few more spells with her, now with greater urgency as Nyra says she won’t be back for a while.

They also run into Audrahni, looking especially uncomfortable in the rain, who is there to buy an umbrella.

With their purchases done, the adventurers prepare for their next move…

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The Vault
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 7

Starday, 3 Lamashan, 4743

In the ruins below the stone house, the five adventurers continue their investigations.

Udrexa scouts out the northern corridor and finds a small chamber with a circle of glowing runes. Unimpressed, she moves on to the next door and listens closely. She hears someone inside what sounds like a large space, rustling around and occasionally muttering in frustration. The rest of the passage has been closed off by a cave-in. Although the collapse looks ancient, Udrexa does note that some of the dust in the area has been disrupted.

She returns to the group and reports her findings. Tanya insists on investigating the circle. She determines that it is a two-way teleporter.

However, no one else wants to investigate it without first going through the double doors and finding out who is frustrated in the next chamber.

The adventurers ready themselves and then Emeq strides in confidently. An angry, red-bearded dwarf challenges him a reaches for a potion. The ifrit rushes up to the dwarf and tries to disarm him, but he’s too fast. Tanya tries to trip him with grease, but he’s sure of his footing. Udrexa moves to flank him, but isn’t able to stun him. Gwenllian hits him with a storm burst.

The dwarf retreats off of the grease, taking some hits on the way, and then drinks a potion of shield. Emeq pursues but can’t get through his shield. Tanya takes the long way around to get into position. Udrexa pursues but can’t harm him. Gwen unleashes another storm burst.

The dwarf, Dolland, tries to drink another potion and is wounded by Emeq. He belches out some fire, which does minimal damage to the ifrit and none to the tiefling. Lucia sics Rita on him and the dwarf freaks out about the bat, worried it’ll get tangled in his beard. Emeq wounds him again and the dwarf surrenders.

Dolland tells them how he was fascinated by Thassilonian relics and connected with Corstella Rostrata and the Order of Resplendence. He was planning to defect to them when he opened the vault and acquired whatever treasures lie within. He has some correspondence with Corstela outlining the deal. He doesn’t know anything about the sword.

The party releases him on the grounds that he leave the area and never returns. Tanya also makes it clear he’ll never discover what’s in that vault.

After the dwarf leaves, Tanya uses the code in Sir Roderic’s map to open the vault door. The room inside has an empty sword stand, an iron chest, and glowing yellow runes on the walls, floor, and ceiling. Everything is covered in a fine layer of ash. Tanya and Lucia aren’t able to recognize the runes, so they fetch Udrexa to investigate. She walks inside and nothing happens, so she mocks the others.

The iron case contains a pair of gauntlets. Tanya, Lucia and Gwen can tell they are powerful artifacts radiating abjuration magic, but they can’t discern how the gauntlets work. Finally, Udrexa puts them on and instantly understands that these are runewarded gauntlets that suppress the magic of intelligent items.

The party then proceeds to investigate the teleportation circle. Tanya and Lucia pass through the circle, but it refuses to let anyone follow them. The two spellcasters find themselves in a small room divided by a wall of force. On the other side of the wall is a miseerable female goblin, Munkle, who has been trapped here for several days and is desperate for food and water. Magic in the room translates the goblin’s speech to Common and vice versa.

Believes she was “eaten” by the horrible writing in the teleport circle she was shoved into by Chief Cheektooth and believes that if she touches the circle of runes in the room it will take her somewhere worse. Unable to persuade the goblin to face her fear, Tanya ultimately tricks her into touching the runes while playing a game of “Tanya Says.” Munkle does not appear in the circle that they used. Lucia suspects that there is a second circle located on the other side of the blocked passage, which might connect with the goblin lair.

Tired from a long day of travel and fighting, the adventurers decide to bed down for the night. Most of the party beds down in the alchemy lab, while Tanya clears out a space in the vault. After about an hour, thought, the vault door automatically closes and she finds herself trapped. After uselessly banging against the vault door, she sits down and pouts. Around midnight, Lucia gets up to do some needlework and checks of the wizard, releasing her from the vault.

Sunday, 4 Lamashan, 4743

The next morning, Lucia drinks Mother Nightthrush’s blood to gain access to her spells while Tanya sleeps in. Starting later in the morning, the party finishes sorting through their loot and decides to investigate the boarded up room in the ruins where an invisible monster was said to be lurking.

After prying the boards off, Udrexa and Emeq fling the doors open. The tiefling uses a potion of fire breath to belch flames into the room, while Emeq draws on his elemental heritage to cast burning hands. An unseen creature roars in pain and the room begins to fill with the smell of roast mushroom. Tanya uses glitterdust to coat much of the room, revealing the phantom fungus monster and also a small, invisible coffer.

The mushroom creature takes a nasty bite out of Emeq and proves surprisingly agile at dodging spells from Gwen and Tanya. Ultimately though, Emeq and Udrexa beat it into submission while Lucia hangs back and heals the party. Udrexa then unlocks the invisible coffer, which holds an impressive haul of magical items and scrolls.

Having thoroughly explored the ruin, the party then debates what to do about the dead Roadkeepers and how best to haul the loot back to town. It’s ultimately decided that Emeq and Udrexa will return to Roderic’s Cove to purchase horses that can pull the wagons. They will also check with their friend Audrahni about the best practices for laying the dead to rest so as to avoid any undead encounters.

On the way back to town, the duo nearly run into a pair of ogres meandering through the forest, seemingly lost. They avoid the ogres and get to the ferry.

Udrexa mentions to Hallen the ferrywoman that they have taken out the Roadkeepers. She’s overjoyed at this turn of events.

In town, they visit Audrahni at the graveyard. She appreciates the care they’ve taken in seeing that dead are given proper burial. She explains that they can either bury the bodies in the field with proper procedures or they could bring them back to town. They decide to do the former, so she gives them instructions and also lends them several shovels from her collection. All of her shovels are named.

Audrahni also tells them that it will take a hallow spell to lay the gearghost Sharlise’s spirit to rest. That’s a powerful spell likely to be beyond them at this time, so they will have to return to the ruins later.

They purchase a trio of horses, light horses for Gwen and Udrexa, and a heavy horse for Emeq.

To get some additional help with the burials, Udrexa recruits Kolton. Learning that there is no violence involved and an opportunity to taste some rare phantom fungus, he is happy to follow “Drexi.”

They also warn the dwarven merchants that the ogres were seeking out a dwarven settlement. The merchants suspect that the ogres are looking for the Iron Peaks, a hundred miles to the west, and are completely lost.

It’s late in the day by the time they return, so they get the horses settled and then enjoy a dinner. Tanya had spent the day writing scrolls.

Moonday, 5 Lamashan, 4743

The following day, Udrexa, Emeq, Gwen, and Kolton set about burying the bodies, with Lucia helping with the perfunctory funeral ceremony.

Toilday, 6 Lamashan, 4743

Finally, the next day the adventurers return to town.

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The Stone House
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 6

Fireday, 2 Lamashan, 4743

After another restful evening in the witch’s hut, Tanya the human wizard goes to visit young Kynae Fromperton at the bakery, as has become her morning routine. After breakfast and stories, she makes her way to the weekly Circle Market where the rest of her party has already gathered: Lucia the halfling witch, Gwen the human druid, and Udrexa the tiefling monk.

The adventurers go shopping for bargains. Udrexa finds an incredible deal on a set of mithral manacles. The others come across useful alchemical items. Gwen acquires an alchemist’s fire, Lucia buys curative myrrh, and Tanya finds a gnomish merchant named Enburg Humblebumble who sells her a whimsy star. She also commissions a custom metamagic wand from him.

As she goes about her business, cloak pulled close around her, Udrexa is approached by Kolton the friendly vagrant. He thanks her for saving the dwarves and says he always knew there was a good heart under her horns. She awkwardly accepts his thanks. He offers to by her a cup of possum punch, but she gently declines. She gives him some coin to get himself a drink instead. Kolton suddenly remembers that he had something else to tell her, and warns that the night creatures are back.

Lucia runs across another halfling witch, a young woman named Nyra, who has an orange cat familiar named Jinx. They agree to trade spells, which involves Rita and Jinx training each other.

Seeing this, Tanya goes looking for a wizard she could learn from. She finds a dwarf, Rimi Tenison. at a booth in the market. She has no intention of trading spells and just wants to buy one off of him. He is less than impressed when he learns the the spell she is after is magic missile. But he does give her access to that. She also buys a spare spellbook off of him.

Tanya then finds a quiet spot to prepare several more scrolls while the rest of the party completes their business. That evening, they gather up for dinner and then return to Lucia’s hut for another night of rest.

Starday, 3 Lamashan, 4743

After Tanya’s morning check in with Kynae, the party heads out to the Churlwood. Hallen ferries them across the Chavali River, warning them to be careful.

Gwen guides them carefully through the woods to the bandit camp, which is nestled on the eastern slope of the ridge rising out of the forest. A single, ancient stone building and four old wagons give the place some shape. Tall grass grows around the wagons, as if they had been in place for a long time.

Four Roadkeepers are roasting rabbits around a large central fire pit. Lucia approaches them out in the open while Udrexa and Tanya approach stealthily behind one of the wagons. Gwen also tries to sneak up, but discovers a family of hedgehogs in the tall grass and gets distracted.

Lucia calls out a greeting and the Roadkeepers leap to their feet. They warn her to leave immediately or she and her skulking friends will get their throats slit. Lucia offers to give them a jar of jam as a parting gift and casts a spell on the lead Roadkeeper. He is compelled to take and consume the jar of rancid monster blood that she hands him. He immediately falls to his knees and starts puking as Lucia giggles.

Tanya launches a spell at them Gwen conjures up a flaming sphere and sends it slamming into one of the bandits. The Roadkeepers react by attacking the spellcasters. Two of them flank Tanya while a third goes after Gwen and the fourth keeps vomiting. Lucia uses her healing hex to help Tanya. Udrexa brings down one of the bandits, while the sphere burns another.

The two survivors flee back towards the stone house, calling out to “Mother Nightthrush” for help. The door opens a crack and an elderly woman casts some kind buff on them. Tanya tries to snare the bandits with create pit, but they avoid it and flee into the building. Tanya then ignites the thatched roof with alchemist’s fire.

Udrexa, not able to find any other entrance, uses her crowbar to force open the door. Peering into the gloomy space, she sees a pallet of tattered blankets in the corner, beside a silver candlestick and several books. The Roadkeepers are not visible. Tanya enters the room. The old woman lurking in corner casts color spray, blinding and stunning Udrexa. Blinking through the dazzling light, Tanya blasts a ray of frost in Mother Nightthrush’s general direction.

Gwen sends her flaming sphere into the room, slamming into the old woman. She is very badly burned. Mother Nightthrush proceeds to cast a spell on herself and then flees through a secret door. Lucia rushes into the room and reaches the top of the stairs. She recognizes Mother Nightthrush and the old woman jokes that she looks terrible.

Before giving chase, the adventurers wait until Udrexa gets her vision back. Tanya grabs the candlestick, and hastily flips through the books. One of them seems to be medicinal, one is a book of Varisian fairy tales, and the third is a book of bawdy tales with woodcut illustrations. She quietly pockets the third book.

Once everyone is ready, they pass through the secret door and descend into the lower levels of the ruin. A lit lantern sits on the floor by the bottom of the stairs. There is a barricaded door nearby, which they recall that Lullaby Vancaskerkin had warned them contained some sort of invisible monster. An archway leads deeper into the complex, the next chamber in gloomy shadow.

Udrexa stealthily scouts ahead, relying on her darkvision to peer through the shadows. She see three Roadkeepers — the two from above and a third one — lurking behind pillars in an ambush. They don’t notice her in the dark. She slides into position to attack one of them.

Tanya moves up and also spies two figures lurking behind pillars. She fires a frost ray at one of them and it splatters against the pillar. Udrexa then springs her own ambush, attacking the other one. The Roadkeepers try to gang up on Udrexa, but it doesn’t go well for them.

Lucia sends Rita to scout event further and finds that there are three more figures lying in wait in the next chamber. Lucia approaches the chamber, pausing in the archway. She shouts that she remembers everything now, that Mother Nightthrush did this to her after backing out on her deal.

Mother Nightthrush replies that Lucia should not have been such a rude whippersnapper and all this could have been avoided. She says that the curse did a number on Lucia and the magic packed more punch than expected.

Two Roadkeepers emerge from hiding. One tries to acrobatics past Gwen to set up a flank, but she checks him with her quarter staff. The other laughs and tries to leap over Lucia but hits him in the groin with her cane.

Mother Nightthrush uses sound burst to stun Lucia and Gwen. Tanya tosses glitterdust into the room, temporarily blinding the old woman and all of her minions. The two Roadkeepers engaged with Lucia and Gwen clumsily attack each other. Udrexa dashes along the wall over their heads

The tiefling advances into the chamber and ends up behind the blind Roadkeeper guarding Mother Nightthrush. Udrexa attacks the guard. Mother Nightthrush casts a protective spell on herself. Lucia comes to her senses and tries to hex the old woman, but finds herself compelled not to target her nemesis. Gwen sends a flaming sphere after Mother Nightthrush but runs into the same problem. So does Tanya. Udrexa is not similarly affected, however.

As her remaining minions are beaten, Mother Nightthrush flees down another set of stairs. Tanya reaches the stairs and sees that they lead down into a larger chamber where several more roadkeepers await. Unable to directly target the old woman, Tanya casts grease, causing Mother Nightthrush and one of the Roadkeeper thugs to slip and fall.

Tanya tells Gwen to send her flaming sphere rolling down the stairs. The druid does so and the ball of fire slams into Mother Nightthrush, burning her badly.

Udrexa gives chase but gets caught up fighting some Roadkeepers. Lucia follows next, with Tanya close behind. Two more Roadkeepers waylay them as Mother Nightthrush reaches the door to the next room. Tanya uses a tanglefoot bag to glue the old woman to the floor. Gwen stays upstairs, finishing off a pair of unconscious Roadkeepers.

Down below, Tanya uses color spray to try to hit a Roadkeeper and Mother Nightthrush. Lucia, unable to attack the old woman, heals Tanya. The old woman resists the spell, while her minion is knocked out. Another badly wounded Roadkeeper flees from Udrexa and slips past Mother Nightthrush. The old woman shouts for help. Then she casts a sound burst that stuns Tanya and Lucia.

This breaks the protective magic warding off attacks against Mother Nightthrush. Gwen blasts the old woman with a storm burst. Nightthrush casts color spray at Lucia and Tanya. The halfling witch is blinded and stunned.

Tanya moves back and casts unshakeable chill on the old woman, filling her with terrible cold. Udrexa approaches Mother Nightthrush, who is still glued to the floor, and loops the three-section staff around her neck and kicks her in the stomach. Nightthrush lets out a wet cackle and dies.

The adventurers finish off the remaining unconscious Roadkeepers. Then they loot Nightthrush’s possessions. Tanya begins draining her blood into a jar for Lucia.

The halfling witch comes to her senses and slumps down onto the ground, tears welling up into her eyes as she looks at herself. “I remember everything now. I’m not an old woman. I’m only 34! I’m not supposed to look like this! What happened to me? Why did she do this?”

Tanya inspects Lucia again, identifying a curse on her. Something feels off about it in a way she can’t quite understand. The effects seem to be much more severe than she would expect. She recalls that Mother Nightthrush’s had a surprised reaction at the curse’s effects.

Lucia explains how 10 years ago, she was trying to get rare materials for her healing practice and reached out to the Roadkeepers to acquire them. But they kept raising the price on her and holding out on delivering, so she finally threw a tantrum that included horrible insults towards Mother Nightthrush. The goons then grabbed her and Mother Nightthrush cursing her, saying she can’t be going back to talk to the authorities.

“All those times I was right in front of Father Desil and I could never ask him to help me,” Lucia said. “Ten years that I could never ask him.”

Tanya promises to help find a way to break this curse. Lucia admits that she doesn’t realize how much time she has left before the curse kills her. So they need to do something. Lucia casts gentle repose on Mother Nightthrush’s remains to harvest more blood from her later. Then the halfling witch heals up the rest of the party.

Tanya identifies the magic items recovered from Mother Nightthrush: a wand of cure light wounds, an amulet of natural armor (which Tanya takes), and cold iron dagger.

When they are ready, Udrexa scouts further ahead. The chamber they are in opens onto a hallway running east to west. The tiefling heads east, where the hallway intersects with another one running north to south. This part of the complex seems to have suffered a partial cave-in and there is on a single door to investigate.

Rather than go further, Udrexa swings back around to the west, where the hallway arrives at an intersection with two heavy doors and side passages heading north and south. The tiefling sees four Roadkeepers lying in wait in the side passages, but they can;t see her in the dark.

Udrexa returns to the others and warns them. Then she moves into a position by two of the Roadkeepers to set up her own ambush. Lucia casts some protective spells on herself and then ventures out into the hallway to provoke the ambush.

Udrexa springs her own ambush, knocking one out and wounding the other. Tanya and Gwen join the fray. The Roadkeepers are quickly over whelm, with the last one begging for mercy before Tanya blasts him with a ray of frost. She insists that there is no mercy for his kind.

The party hears noise further down the hall. Udrexa investigates and finds an alchemist’s lab. A bottle marked “invisibility” lies empty. Udrexa warns the others that they have an invisible foe, but she cannot find him. Rita, however, senses his presence and attacks. There is a thud behind Tanya as his body falls to the ground. The adventurers deduce that this is the body of the wounded roadkeeper from the previouss fight that had managed to get away.

They loot the alchemist’s lab and learn that in addition to potions, it contains treasure: a suit of magic splint mail, a masterwork cestus, and a scroll that they can’t identify. Tanya recognizes these as dating from the age of Thassilon, more than 10,000 years ago. This confirms they truly are in a Thassilonian ruin.

They investigate the adjacent chamber, which is thick with cobwebs, but has a crate stashed in the southeast corner. Udrexa enters the room and triggers a poison dart trap that she easily snatches from the air. She notices a swinging blade trap set up by the crate, and the runes of a magical fire trap on the crate itself. She avoids the blade and deliberately sets off the fire trap, dodging out of the way. But to her great disappointment, the crate holds nothing.

They decide to head back and explore the eastern side of the complex. There is a chamber which has largely collapsed. There’s also a door leading to another chamber that suffered a collapse in the north wall and is only being held up by four thick, stone pillars. Udrexa ventures into the chamber and provokes a strange creature.

The entity assembles itself into a vaguely humanoid shape made of debris, roughly a foot tall, suffused with a faint blue glow. The creature asks if the tiefling like her traps, then telekinetically picks her up and tosses her across the room. Udrexa recalls that Lullaby Vancaskerkin warned them of some sort of “ghostie” that had risen from the remains of the apprentice trap master.

Tanya and Gwen enter the chamber to try to battle the creature while Lucia hangs back. The ghostie starts lifts up rocks from the debris pile and tossing them at everyone. Tanya and Gen have a hard time hitting it, while Udrexa does her best to strike the creature. Finally, Gwen smashes its physical form and the blue energy dissipates as the creature whispers “be seeing you.”

Tanya uses detect magic to search the area and picks up traces of magic underneath the rubble where the wall collapsed. They spend the next half hour digging out the debris, finally revealing the remains of a human woman. Most of her gear has been ruined, but there is gold in her pocket, a ring of feather falling on her finger, and boots of elvenkind on her feet. Udrexa finds that the boots fit her, hile Lucia claims the ring.

After this graverobbing interlude, the adventurers decide on their next steps…

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Breaking the Bramblemouths
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 5

Wealday, 30 Rova, 4743

The four adventurers Lucia the halfling witch, Udrexa the tiefling monk, Gwenllian the human druid, and Tanya the human wizard rise from another uneventful night at Lucia’s hut.

That morning, Tanya visits with the boy Kynae Fromperton again to tell stories and grab a pastry for breakfast. The other members of the party purchase a few additional supplies for the expedition back to the Churlwood.

They finally set out at around 10:00 a.m. Hallen again ferries them across the Chavali River for free, since they are seeking out the missing dwarves. She praises them as heroes, which rankles Tanya.

There is no greeting party waiting for them on the opposite shore this time, so they head further into the forest. They hear some skittering in the underbrush and avoid an encounter with a pair of giant centipedes, who move on after about 10 minutes.

While breaking for lunch, Tanya argues that they should focus on rescuing the dwarves rather than investigating the Roadkeepers camp at the stone house. She says the gauntlets can wait, but lives are in danger at the Bramblemouth goblin den.

Gwen leads them around a ridge rising from the forest. On the east side of the ridge they notice a plume of smoke. Sneaking closer, they spy a hidden entrance in the cliff face.

Udrexa moves up to investigate. She comes across a sleeping goblin guard and executes him, but his less-sleepy compatriot is able to sound an alarm before he can be silenced.

The Bramblemouth goblin warren has a low ceiling, barely more than 4 feet high. It is challenging for the tall characters to squeeze through. The goblins have erected crude 2-foot walls to divide up the cavern and give them cover to attack. Two goblins pop their heads over a wall to fire arrows at Udrexa and the others. The tiefling monk rounds the corner, but instead of going after the goblins, she focuses on containing a pair of goblin dogs in their kennel.

Lucia uses a sleep spell to drop the two goblin snipers as the rest of the party moves into the goblin den. A goblin ranger, Nighteye, begins sinping at Udrexa from her chamber down the hall. More goblins are roused and begin loosing arrows from behind a low wall even deeper in the cavern.

Hampered by the low ceiling, the party has a rough time of it. Tanya gets pincushioned by arrows, dropping to the ground before Lucia heals her. The wizard stays prone to avoid arrows. Udrexa fights the goblin dogs, who are hampered by Tanya’s grease spell. Lucia and Gwen work overtime to heal the party.

Tanya uses a color spray spell to knock out more goblins. Gwen collapses a section of wall on another goblin and starts using storm burst to knock out more. Udrexa finally slays the goblin dogs and goes after Nighteye. Once all the other goblins are unconscious, Lucia and Gwen join the fight against Nighteye. It is Lucia’s bat familiar Rita that gets the killing blow. Tanya, Gwen and Lucia finish off the unconscious goblins.

The adventurers pause to catch their breath and loot the bodies. Lucia makes the odd request for someone to help skin a goblin’s head so she can take the skull. The work is too messy for Udrexa, so Tanya sets to it without complaint. Lucia uses the skull to case defensive bones.

The two dwarves are nowhere to be found, just a narrow passage leading even deeper into the ridge. Despite the harrowing fight, the party feels invigorated, as if their experiences had given them new insight.

When they are ready to move on, Udrexa scouts ahead down the corridor, moving with tremendous stealth. The narrow tunnel opens into a much larger cavern, this one again subdivided by simple goblin walls, although structures of worked stone can be seen at the edges of her darkvision.

Udrexa notices a goblin lying in wait among a pile of rags, who is oblivious to her. She quietly kills him, and hears more lurking behind another low wall. She heads back to the others and warns them. Then she returns to the cavern and launches the attack. Tanya and Gwen soon join her, while Lucia hangs back.

The Bramblemouth goblins toss flasks of alchemists fire that singe the adventurers. More goblins pop up from the wall behind them. The fighting draws the attention of Chief Cheektooth, who tosses a fireball that erupts in the cavern to wash over Rita, Lucia, Udrexa, Gwen and several goblins. Udrexa deftly avoids the blast, but Rita and Lucia are knocked unconscious, and Gwen is barely standing. The goblins are smoked.

Tanya casts create pit, knocking the remaining goblin into the pit. Chief Cheektooth is able to scramble out of the way. Udrexa rushes around the low wall and tries to knock Cheektooth into the pit, but he is able to hold his ground. Gwen heals herself and then circles around to join the melee.

Tanya pours a healing potion into Lucia mouth. The halfling witch then channels positive energy, healing herself and the rest of the party.

Udrexa tries a second time to knock Cheektooth into the pit, but slips and falls in herself. Lucia moves up to distract the goblin chief with her cane. Tanya blasts him with an empowered frost spell.

In the pit, the other goblin tries to climb up Udrexa to get out, and ends up perched on the tiefling’s head. The monk proceeds to take out the goblin. The pit spell wears off and Udrexa is raised back up to ground level. Cheektooth, meanwhile, has been slashing at Gwen with his flaming dogslicer. Udrexa sidles up to him and bashes his head in with her three-section staff.

The party loots the goblin bodies while Lucia tries to heal them a bit more. The halfling witch makes another strange request, asking Tanya to help prop up Cheektooth’s body so that his blood drains into a pint-sized jar she is carrying. Tanya asks no questions, but once the blood is drained, she cuts off the goblin chief’s head and mounts it on a pike.

The spellcasters are largely spent and the adventurers begin to discuss whether and where to rest before going any deeper into the complex. As the discussion proceeds, a sibilant voice interjects: “I have a sssugessstion….”

A female goblin snake, Ssesseleck, coils around a nearby rock and offers a bargain: she will arrange the release of the two dwarves, and the adventurers will take them and never return. The exhausted party decides to take this bargain.

Another Bramblemouth goblin marches the two haggard dwarves, Kaggie and Toagus, out to the adventurers from deeper in the cave. Udrexa notices the worked stone ruins deeper in the cave and asks who made them.

“Dead people,” the goblin snake replies.

Once they get the dwarves out into the sunlight, Lucia uses her last bit of healing on them. Kaggie explains that they were kidnapped because the goblin chief was trying to excavate the ruis down below, and he had heard that dwarves were good miners. Except Kaggie and her husband have never mined a day in their life. The disappointed goblins were interrogating them, but only a few spoke the Common tongue.

The adventurers begin traveling back towards Roderic’s Cove. On the way, they hear what Gwen identifies as an owlbear nearby, and they go out of their way to avoid it.

Night has fallen by the time they reach the town. Tanya leaves the severed head of Cheektooth on a pike just outside of town, with a note geading “This is how you keep the roads.”

They drop the two dwarves off at the Cove Armory, where the dwarven merchant Galdsbredtha is overjoyed at the rescue. She laments that they had to abandon her wagon, otherwise she would reward the party for their good deed. Tanya speculates that they might be able to retrieve the wagon, though Lucia worries that the goblins might have plundered it. Galdsbredtha plans to ask the militia to escort her back to the wagon site.

With that task done, the adventurers retire to the Creekside Tavern for a late dinner. Lucia notably does not partake in the meal. Audrahni drops by to touch base with them and is pleased the dwarves were safely rescued. She urges them to be careful in the Churlwood.

They decamp back to Lucia’s hut for the night. After everyone has settled in to sleep, Lucia quietly rises from bed around midnight to cast a strange spell. As part of the ritual, she drinks the pint of blood from Chief Cheektooth.

Tanya, having noticed Lucia acting strangely earlier, quietly watches the spell, which she identifies as blood transcription. She chides Lucia that there are easier ways to learn magic. The two have a conversation about the differences between wizards and witches, and Tanya reveals some personal history about her experiences with witchcraft. Lucia is left with a newfound understanding of why her connection to Rita is disquieting to some.

Oathday, 1 Lamashan, 4743

Tanya visits with Kynae in the morning and then spends much of the day scribing scrolls so that she will have a stockpile when they return to the Churlwood.

Udrexa and Lucia spend the day running errands, selling the loot they acquired from the goblin den and making purchases. This includes a bag of holding and a wand of cure light wounds for the whole party to make use of. Money is still a relatively new concept to Gwen, but she manages to make some purchases as well.

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Into the Churlwood
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 4

Moonday, 28 Rova, 4743

In the Creekside Tavern, the five adventurers enjoy their meal. Emeq the ifrit fighter, Tanya the human wizard, Udrexa the tiefling monk, Gwenllian the human druid, and Lucia the halfling witch have all decided to venture into the Churlwood tomorrow morning to follow the leads of their investigation.

Emeq, Gwen, and Lucia have a momentary sensation of dislocation, as if out of place and time, but nothing they haven’t experienced before.

Tanya decides to deal with her unfinished business before they leave town. She asks around the tavern about Kynae Fromperton’s abusive father. She learns that Ken Fromperton has no friends in town and gets by through a mix of day labor, gambling, and shady work (most likely smuggling). When he has a few extra coins, Ken can be found at an illegal gambling den in a warehouse by the docks.

Lucia, Udrexa, and Gwen head back to the halfling’s hut for the night. Tanya hangs back and invites Emeq ro accompany her to the warehouse. The gambling den’s dwarven proprietor is more than happy to send Ken out to see them when they ask.

Tanya poses as a prospective smuggling client, but Ken is suspicious of Emeq. He insists on talking to Tanya alone, in a private spot by the river. The wizard messages Emeq to stealthily follow them.

When they reach the meeting point, Tanya reveals that her real request is for Ken to leave Roderic’s Cove forever. She casts charm person on him. Ken agrees with this idea, but asks for some cash to cover travel expenses. thrown for a loop by his mercenary attitude, Tanya tells him that he should contact Boss Croat in Riddleport to seek compensation. She says he should say that “Tanja Wulfriksdotter” sent him. She does not tell him that she and Croat are not on the best of terms.

After Ken sets off for Riddleport, with a few of her trail rations, Tanya thanks Emeq for watching her back.

Toilday, 29 Rova, 4743

The following morning, Tanya visit’s Kynae at Blackerry’s Bakery. He is surprised and relieved at his father’s disappearance. Tanya gives Blackberry some gold to help provide for the boy’s welfare.

The adventurers do a little shopping to stock up o supplies, then trek five miles east of town to Hallen’s Ferry. It’s located at the site of a failed bridge project across the Chavali River. The old woman Hallen Rosker has strung ropes along the pillars driven into the river and she uses those to pull her ferry barge across.

Hallen recognizes Lucia and notes the years have not been kind to the halfling. When Hallen learns that they are going to investigate the kidnapped dwarves, she waives the fee and takes them across free of charge. She is very chatty, and warns them that bandits, goblins, and monsters all lurk in the forest.

As the ferry reaches the opposite shore, four smiling figures step out of the treeline. Hallen identifies the woman in the blue hat casually tossing a coin as Lullaby Vancaskerkin, one of the Roadkeepers’ leaders. The old woman tells them to just pay the “toll” and they’ll be fine.

Lullaby welcomes them to the scenic Churlwood and humbly asks for a donation of 10gp a head to cover the Roadkeepers’ efforts to maintain and secure the trails. This is 20 times the typical “toll” and the party refuses to pay. Lullaby’s goon squad reach for their saps.

Gwen calls down a storm burst on one of the thugs, discombobulating him. Udrexa follows up by dashing up to him and gives him a blow to the head from her three-section staff. Lucia uses a daze spell to keep another thug occupied. Lullaby starts singing an inspiring tune for her companions. Tanya fires a spell at the bard, but she ducks out of the way. Her goons, the ones who aren’t dazed, move into position to flank Udrexa and swing at her. One uses a sap, the other the flat side of a short sword. In both cases they are making non-lethal attacks. Emeq charges Lullaby and easily bats aside her rapier to jab her.

In the ensuing melee, Udrexa brings down one of her opponents but gets knocked out herself by a sleep spell from Lullaby. However, the rest of the party quickly leaves Lullaby’s goons bleeding on the ground. The bandit bard casts invisibility on herself. Tanya tries to provoke her by killing one of the unconscious goons. This shocks Lullaby, who denounces the murder, and flees through the forest.

Emeq, Udrexa, and Rita give chase, followed by Gwen and Lucia. Tanya stays behind to finish off the other ruffians. With Rita’s help, Emeq and Udrexa are able to closely tail Lullaby. Realizing it is a stalemate, the bard offers to parlay. The adventurers agree to trade information — and her gear — for her life.

Lullaby tells them that she’s one of two sub-commanders of the Roadkeepers, together with the dwarf Dolland. The overall leader is an old woman named Mother Nightthrush, who has spooky powers. The Roadkeepers have been camped out at an old ruin that Dolland has been exploring. Lullaby hasn’t gone too deep into it, as she finds it is creepy. Plus, traps in the lower levels killed Dolland’s apprentice Sharlise, who is now lingering as some kind of “ghostie” quasi-aligned with the Roadkeepers. There’s also a boarded up room with an invisible monster in it, and a dangerous glyph in the room leading into the lower levels.

Lullaby also warns about the “vindictive traveler,” an undead trailgaunt in a clearing an hour south of the river. He was killed by Roadkeepers some years ago in violation of Mother Nightthrush’s rule against killing. As a result, she has forced the Roadkeepers to maintain a road around the trailgaunt’s clearing to keep him contained, as a reminder of the dangers of murder.

Finally, Lullaby admits that she orchestrated the confrontation in town that Sir Roderic’s ghost disrupted. She had plans to break away from the Roadkeepers and set up a thieves guild in town, so she wanted to muscle out the competition from the Horned Fangs. Skimming extra funds for that side project was also why she had tried to overcharge the party on their “toll.”

Lullaby says she is done with the Roadkeepers and grudgingly hands over her gear: a suit of enchanted leather armor, a rapier, and her lucky magic hat. With the adventurers placated, she flees before they change their mind.

Regrouping back at the river, the party loots the dead Roadkeepers and then tosses their bodies into the river. It’s only then that they realize the Chavali River will send the corpses downstream towards Roderic’s Cove.

They press on into the Churlwood, following footpaths through the trees until they reach the trailgaunt’s clearing. A well-maintained road circles the field of grass that contains a single dead tree. Lying in the grass are the bodies of three people in the garb of the Cove militia — the missing patrol.

The adventurers spot a corpse-figure lurking in the shadow of the tree. It doesn’t react to their presence until Emeq steps off the road and into the clearing. Then it lurches upright. Well prepared for this menace, the party brings the monster down before it can accomplish much. They agree that they were fortunate to have been forewarned about it.

Unsure of what to do, they decide to build a pyre for the trailgaunt and burn its remains. After some debate, they pile the dead guards onto a floating disk that Tanya conjures forth and start walking back towards the river.

They encounter some wild boars, who are initially hostile, but Gwenllian is able to convince the beasts to leave peacefully.

At the ferry, Hallen praises them for battling the Roadkeepers. They try to encourage her to keep quiet about the extreme violence of the encounter.

Arriving back in town, they deliver the bodies to the Pharasmin chapel. When Audrahni catches wind that the corpses were slain by a trailgaunt, she warns that if the bodies are left out of sight of a road at sunset, they will rise again as trailgaunts themselves. Father Desil sets about purifying the bodies to remove the undead affliction. Emeq tries to get some more information about Audrahni’s past, but has no luck.

Gwen notifies Captain Julit about the dead guards and gives the party 300gp in gratitude for bringing them back.

Tanya goes to the Cove Hall to reschedule the meeting with the Port-Governor. The half-elf Sondra Vandeve, the Town Clerk, reschedules the meeting for Wealday, 7 Lamashan, a week away. Sondra also inquires after Emeq, who she was taken with when he visited the map room the other day. Tanya invites her to stop by the Creekside Tavern that night.

Once the dead guards have been seen to at the chapel, the adventurers regroup at the tavern for dinner. Emeq, Lucia, and Udrexa also turn in their Roadkeepers scarves to a slightly drunk Jana. She pays the party their weekly retainer, and hints that there may be more work for them in town if they bring back another set of scarves.

Sondra quietly slips into the tavern and is waved over by a buzzed Tanya, who proceeds to talk up Emeq’s heroism. When the ifrit and the others return to the table, the half-elf is eager to hear his version of events. They all have a pleasant evening.

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The Illusive Sword
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 3

Sunday, 27 Rova, 4743

It’s been a long day exploring Roderic’s Wreck, but fortunately Tanya the wizard, Lucia the witch, Udrexa the monk, and Gwenllian the druid have been able to work together against the dangers. It would have been much tougher going with just three of them.

But there are still four more doors on the second floor to investigate. Udrexa tries the next door, revealing a dilapidated sewing room. Nothing leaps out to attack, but Lucia’s bat familiar Rita is alarmed. The halfling witch warns the others that there may be danger.

The tiefling monk ventures inside to begin searching the room. A few moments later, the sewing supplies in the room lifts up in the air and start lashing about as if caught in a whirlwind. Udrexa escapes with some nasty gashes from shears and sewing needles. The party tries to destroy the haunt with healing magic, holy water, and a blast of ray of frost, but to no avail.

After about 30 seconds, the storm of supplies comes to an end and it seems the haunt has run its course. Tanya thoroughly searches the room and discovers a hidden compartment in a big yarn box that hides nine bars of gold. The adventurers are excited at this major cash find. Once Lucia patches up Udrexa, they move to the next room.

Gwen takes the lead in opening the door and surveying the place. It seems to have been some sort of lounge with comfortable chairs, but it’s been wrecked. Tables have been overturned, the windows have been smashed open, and there’s broken glass on the floor. Gwen senses a presence in the room, but nothing immediately attacks her.

The adventurers filter into the chamber and gather around where the druid identified the presence. Lucia has Rita deliver a healing spell, and Gwen does the same. The positive energy flashes against some sort of undead contact. A moment later a skeletal form manifests in the room, sending supernatural terror through the entire group. They scramble downstairs in a mad dash, with Tanya and Gwen heading for the back of the house while Lucia and Udrexa run screaming out the front door.

Audrahni consults with the halfling and the tiefling about what they witnessed. She says that it sounds like a poltergeist has taken up residence in the house. It’s an incorporeal undead creature that is naturally invisible, but can drop its invisibility to sow terror. Its other form of attack is telekinetically throwing objects and people around. She encourages the party to go back and confront it with holy water, positive energy, and magical attacks.

Tanya links up with the rest of the group via message spell and they cautiously head back upstairs. They make their way into the ruined lounge again and prepare to attack when the poltergeist reveals itself. However, it refuses to manifest again and instead uses its telekinesis to pick up little Lucia and hurls her through the broken window.

Audrahni attempts to catch her as she plummets towards the ground, but doesn’t quite manage it. The old halfling woman was able to cast healing on herself as she fell, so she survived the fall with minimal scrapes and bruises.

Back in the lounge, the poltergeist continues throwing furniture around while still stubbornly refusing to show itself. Gwen and Udrexa do their best to idenfy where the spirit is lurking, but it is only when Lucia returns that her bat Rita is able to pinpoint the creature’s location.

Gwen takes a swing with her shillelagh staff, but misses. Rita delivers another of Lucia’s healing spells. Udrexa tries to splash it with holy water, but misses the invisible spirit. Tanya learns from her mistake, and pours holy water all over it. The poltergeist manifests again as it dissolves.

Searching the room, they find an expensive crystal stopper to a decanter that the spirit had smashed, but little else of value.

They move on to the next door. After a game of boulder, parchment, shears, between the monk and the druid, Gwen opens the door. This ruined study has a leak in the ceiling. It also has an infestation of giant, undead cockroaches. Gwen and Udrexa bash them with their staves, while Tanya blasts one with a ray of frost.

Thoroughly searching this room as well, they find a small brass orb marked with Thassilonian runes tucked into the back of a desk drawer. Tanya can make heads or tails of it, and hangs onto it for study.

Moving on to the final unexplored room in the house, the adventurers come upon the master bedroom. The ghost of Sir Roderic manifests before them again, but this time he seems more coherent. He delivers this warning:

“My map. They took my map. It holds the key. To the vault. Baraket will control them. It will control you! I should have taken the gauntlets, but I fled. I was a coward. You must be brave. You must endure where I did not. The vault. It lies still in the vault. You must save my Cove. Save. My. Cove.”

He urges them to seek out the vault and retrieve the gauntlets so they can handle Baraket safely. Sir Roderic calls upon them to be the “heroes of the Cove” before vanishing. After his image drains back into the floor, they see that a hole has been gauged in the floor. Lying next to the hole is a long and narrow wooden case, sitting open and empty. It is of masterwork quality, with two expert locks, and thin sheets of lead lining the interior to block divination magic. A plaque on the side of the empty case says “Baraket.”

Tanya remembers that Baraket was the fabled Sword of Pride, used by champions of Runelord Xanderghul. The wizard is very alarmed by this, as she knows how dangerous these weapons are. Udrexa recalls the stories she heard from her mentors Belawara and Reri about the Sword of Greed, which enabled it’s possessed wielder to massacre most of a mercenary company. Tanya recognizes Belawara and Reri as companions of the famous Sihedron Heroes, and is surprised to learn that Udrexa of all people had such a connection to them.

The adventurers regroup with Audrahni outside and begin the walk back to Roderic’s Cove. They fill Audrahni in on their discovery, and she thanks them for taking these risks in exploring Roderic’s Wreck. They go for dinner at the Creekside Tavern to continue their conversation.

It seems clear to the party that someone from town has taken Baraket and could do terrible things with it. Lucia wonders if the sword was used during the Horned Fangs massacre a week ago, and Tanya notes that the Runelord of Pride was known for his illusion magic, which they believe is what killed most of the victims. Tanya worries that this is all over their heads. Audrahni has an idea of who they could reach out to for help, and promises to get back to them tomorrow. She leaves early, while the others finish their meal.

Lucia persuades Gwen and Udrexa to spend the night with her and Tanya in their hut outside of town. As they leave the tavern, they notice strange shapes lurking in the Town Circle. Two misshapen creatures with fangs, two legs, and deformed bodies the size of halflings attempt to ambush them. The creatures call out “Yum! Fresh meat!” in Aklo, which Tanya understands.

Udrexa beats one into the ground with her staff, while Gwen bashes another one and Tanya finishes it off with a ray of frost. They surmise that these must be the night terrors that Kolton warned about. They drop the bodies off at the town guardhouse and get a small reward from Captain Julit Freson.

While talking to the Captain, they learn that a dwarven merchant was ambushed by goblins the other day, and two dwarves were carried off as prisoners. The goblins have rarely been this bold, and a patrol of guards has been sent out to attempt a rescue. The surviving dwarves are staying with Lyndwyn Suvasa at the Cove Armory.

Before leaving town, Udrexa writes a note for Kolton in the mud under the bridge: “You were right.”

At Lucia’s cabin, the halfling witch experiments with substances obtained from the day’s events, while Tanya scribes out some new spells. Despite the troubles they encountered, everyone feels like they’ve learned a few things and grown stronger.

Moonday, 28 Rova, 4743

The following morning, Tanya goes to check on Kynae at Blackberry’s Bakery, just as she did yesterday when Gwen was returning Captain Julit’s locket. She fiishes telling the story of the red dragon attack on the town of Sandpoint ten years ago, using a bit of magic to add special effects.

Gwen spends some time communing with nature in the nearby woods, enjoying the cool fall day, and spotting a small family of deer. Lucia spends some time in the morning talking to Rita.

Udrexa uses the morning to sell some of the items the party had acquired. As she goes about her business, she is hassled by the little gremlin Mister Retch. He is perched on the eaves of a nearby rooftop, and proceeds to mock the tiefling’s heritage, family, appearance, and intelligence. Udrexa dearly wants to strike him, but knows he is just trying to lure her closer so he can vomit on her. When he realizes she won’t take the bait, he scampers off.

Udrexa shares this experience when she regroups with the others at the tavern around midday. Lucia hits on a plan to turn the tables on Mister Retch and lure the gremlin into a trap. She buys some high quality whiskey from the tavern and takes a stroll in the vicinity of where Mister Retch was last seen.

Finding a good place to sit, she takes a sip from the bottle, then leaves it out where it could be easily stolen. Meanwhile, she has quietly been tailed by Tanya on the ground and Udrexa on the rooftops.

The bottle begins to move, as Mister Retch uses mage hand to start to pull it towards him. Udrexa is able to zero in on his position on a nearby roof, but Lucia and Tanya still can’t quite see him. The tiefling monk proceeds to smack the cat-sized gremlin with a stunning fist just as he grabs the levitating bottle. Tanya hits him with a snowball spell, further staggering the little fey creature.

Lucia catches the liquor bottle as it drops from Mister Retch’s stunned fingers, and then shoots the gremlin with her crossbow. His lifeless body tumbles to her feet. The party loots his remains of its protective talismans, while a crowd of people hail them for getting rid of the horrible pest. They turn the body in to the guardhouse as well, though there is no cash reward this time.

From there, they travel to the Cove Hall where they meet the town clerk, Sondra Vandeve. The cheerful half-elf takes them back to the map room. There is an extensive collection of charts and maps to go through, and they are not allowed to take any with them, although tey can make copies. Tanya and Gwen stay to go trough the maps, while Lucia and Udrexa decide to go check on the dwarves at the Cove Armory. Lucia is enjoying her bottle of “bait.”

At the armory, they meet the dwarven weapon merchant Galdsbredtha Morgmon, who makes monthly deliveries to Roderic’s Cove. They have to pay phony “tolls” to the Roadkeepers, but otherwise don’t normally run into much trouble. That all changed two days ago when their camp was attacked by goblins from the Bramblemouth tribe. The goblins kidnapped their two guards, Kaggie and Toagas. Galdsbredtha and her valet, Fordren Kulsoth, had to ditch their cart and walk through the night to get to Roderic’s Cove. They’re very worried about the fate of their missing companions. The armory shopkeeper, Lyndwyn, tries to cheer them up with the news that their light model crossbow was one the one that killed the infamous Mister Retch.

Outside, Udrexa and Lucia are approached by Kolton. He’s excited to know that the creatures he saw the other night were real and that “Drexi” and her friends killed them. But his latest cause is the missing dwarves. He’s able to provide very specific directions to the goblins’ lair, and admits that he knows the area surrounding Roderic’s Cove very well, although he’s all done with the adventuring business.

Back at the Cove Hall, Tanya and Gwen discover another of Sir Roderic’s old maps, this one marking a locatio in the Churlwood several miles east of town with a Sihedron rune. There’s something off about the rune’s design, but Tanya isn’t sure what. The map matches up with the map of the “stone house” they retrieved from Roderic’s Wreck. That appears to be the location of the vault they are looking for.

That evening, the adventurers meet up in the Creekside Tavern at their usual table in the back. Jana and a somewhat smaller group of Horned Fangs have gathered at a table in the center of the room, their somewhat rowdy conversation making it hard to hear at times. The adventurers compare notes and discover that the goblin camp is not too far from the “stone house.”

Audrahni also arrives and explains that when the party has safely acquired Baraket, they should take it south to the city of Magnimar. That’s where they can consult with the Sihedron Council, an organization devoted to tracking down and securing dangerous Thassilonian artifacts. Audrahni looks particularly downcast whenever she says the word “Magnimar,” though she doesn’t elaborate.

Audrahni also recommends that the party use Hallen’s ferry east of town to cross the river tomorrow when they venture into the Churlwood. It’s cheaper than hiring a fisherman to carry them across, and it will get them closer to where they need to be.

With that, the adventurers pack up and get ready for bed. They have another long day ahead of them…

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Roderic's Wreck
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 2

Starday, 26 Rova, 4743

After comparing notes over lunch, the adventurers — Udrexa the tiefling monk, Lucia the halfing witch, and Tanya the human wizard — decide to investigate the ruined home known as Roderic’s Wreck to search for more clues about what is troubling the ghost of Sir Roderic.

They make their way to the west side of town, where Lucia suddenly feels the temperature dropping dramatically. She manages to avoid the “cold spot” that Udrexa and Tanya blunder into. The two feel as if they have suddenly plunged into freezing water, and Tanya is particularly chilled by it.

Audrahni, the elven graveyard keeper, catches up with the party. She identifies what they encountered as a “haunt,” a supernatural manifestation like a fragment or echo of a ghost. It can be harmed by positive energy. Audrahni encourages the party to investigate Roderic’s Wreck, as there must be something bothering him beyond the immediate unrest. But she warns that he may be confused and angry, which could be dangerous.

She has also scrounged up some additional equipment to help the adventurers and provides them with a wand of cure light wounds and six vials of holy water. They split the holy water up among the three of them and give the wand to Lucia.

It takes an hour to walk west to the spur of land along the river where the abandoned house is located. Roderic’s Wreck is truly a wreck, a sagging, dilapidated structure encrusted with mold and moss. While Tanya and Lucia hang around the back of the house, Udrexa scouts out the front and draws the attention of a pair of stirges. The giant mosquito-like monsters lunge at her, but she smashes them to bits with her three-section staff.

Used to being a lone wolf, Udrexa stealthily tries to investigate the house on her own. But when the front porch groans alarmingly under her weight, she decides it would be best to regroup with the others. She thanks Lucia for helping her buy the staff. The halfling can walk across the porch just fine but Tanya steps on a decayed board and twists her ankle as it plunges through. Lucia uses the wand to patch her up.

Udrexa finds a silver locket lying wedge between two boards on the porch. It has a picture of a young woman inside, who bears a family resemblance to the local militia commander Julti Freson. Tanya speculates they could get a reward for returning it.

Inside the house, they are confronted with a narrow hallway flanked by interior doors, and a staircase leading to the second story. The first room they investigate is the kitchen, but their presence provokes an enormous swarm of ravenous spiders. Lucia flees in terror, Udrexa flails ineffectually with her sansetsukon, but Tanya finishes the swarm off with two big blasts of acid splash.

Udrexa rips the back off an overturned cabinet and is able to plunder some valuable silver dishes. Meanwhile, Lucia investigates a neighboring room. She finds a desk with a drawer hanging open. But before she can look closer, Rita warns her of danger. The old halfling woman scampers out of the room and peers around the door frame to see two dog-sized giant cockroaches emerge from holes in the floor.

Lucia dashes back to the others, warning of the giant bugs. The cockroaches come after her, and Udrexa mashes one with with her three-section staff. Encouraged, Lucia uses her own staff to know an antennae off the other one. Tanya blasts the cockroach with acid splash, and Udrexa finishes off. The tiefling monk is grossed out by the gunk on her staff and asks Tanya to clean it off.

The desk has a piece of moldy paper that contains a map of a wooded area with a location marked as “St. Hs.” They can’t quite determine the location depicted, and will need to consult someone in town.

The next room they investigate is the family room, with a dilapidated couch and some decaying chairs. Lucia feels the hairs tingling on the back of her feet and realizes there is a haunt in the room near the chairs. The party concocts a plan for Rita to fly into the haunt and deliver a healing spell to banish the haunt.

This provokes an image of a spectral Ser Roderic reading to his three kids while his wife is doing needlework. The figures look towards the party and turn to skeleton. Then the healing magic washes over them and banishes the haunt. The adventurers breathe a sigh of relief. Udrexa loots a pair of silver coins from a couch.

The next room they come across is overrun with fungus, including a patch of slimy mold that doesn’t seem to match the others. The others are realizing that Udrexa is rather fastidious and doesn’t like getting dirty. She pulls Tanya into the room to “deal with” the fungus. Lucia realizes that the slime mold may actually be a predatory ooze. Tanya blasts the goo with an acid splash to no effect.

The ooze lurches forward and comes after Udrexa. The monk is so grossed out she can’t do much more than flail wildly in its general direction. With acid splash useless against it, Tanya instead uses her magic to supercharge a snowball spell that damages the ooze. This provides it to give off a four odor that sickens Udrexa. Nonetheless, the tiefling is eventually able to beat the ooze into a lifeless paste.

Thoroughly grossed out, Udrexa tosses her sticky three-sectioned staff at Tanya’s feet and demands that she clean it again. The wizard wearily does so, and chucks the weapon back to the tiefling. After inspecting the room, they find nothing of value left by the mold.

In the back of the house, they find another staircase leading up. There is also a door beneath the staircase that’s been boarded up, with the doorknob removed and an iron spike driven into the lock. Tanya inspects it with detect magic and picks up a faint transmutation aura within. Udrexa hears the sound of running water behind the door and gets an eerie tingle in her tail. She warns the others that there is a haunt inside. With the door closed, there’s no way for Lucia to deliver her healing spell.

They decide to risk it and have Udrexa pry open the door with her crowbar. Lucia peers from behind her while Tanya moves a safe distance away. When the door opens, an enormous volume of water spills out. It moves less like a flood and more like a bubble. Udrexa is able to tumble out of the way, but Lucia is caught within it and starts to drown, surrounded by spectral figures of Sir Roderic’s family.

Tanya and Udrexa destroy the haunt with their holy water, but Lucia is left unconscious. Unable to revive her despite Rita’s best efforts to use the wand, Tanya picks the old halfling woman up and they carry her back to town. They also recover the magic item that had been giving off the transmutation aura — a pair of slippers with a feathery design.

Back in town, they go to the Lady’s Chapel to seek out the Pharasmin priest Father Desil. He is speaking to Audrahni when they arrive. He chides them for messing with the spirits in the Wreck and initially thinks it was Lucia’s idea. However, he does heal her free of charge, though warns it should not become a habit.

Once she is awake, Lucia keeps trying to ask him something but forgets the question as soon as she begins it.

Tanya shares her speculation that the ghostly figures that Kynae witnessed the night of the Horned Fangs massacre might be some sort of haunt in the town circle. Although the sun is setting, the adventurers accompany Desil to the Circle to investigate. Tanya buys the others some “possom juice” from Possom Coots’ cart as Desil inspects the area. He finds no traces of a haunt. This leads Tanya to suspect that the “ghosts” Kynae saw must have been caused by some sort of powerful spell, most likely illusion magic.

Tanya also takes a closer look at Audrahni, noting that the awkward and morose elf is carrying an exotic weapon known as a bladed scarf. But she doesn’t look like she has the deftness of a professional rogue, the honed body of a fighter, the religious symbols of a cleric, or the spellbook of a wizard.

Tanya asks Audrahni to help them finish exploring the Wreck, but the elf offers excuses about needed to work on a backlog at the graveyard. She seems very reluctant to go inside the haunted house. Tanya ultimately convinces Audrahni to come with them tomorrow and wait outside the house, just in case they need help.

Lucia and Tanya head back to the halfling’s hut. Udrexa goes to look for a bridge to sleep under, and discovers that she’s not along in doing so. A cheerful flayleaf junkie named Kolton has already laid down his bedroll and is smoking a joint.

Kolton reveals that he was also near the Circle the night of the Horned Fangs massacre and saw Order of Resplendence “cultists” fleeing back north from the scene. He also witnessed a hideous creature with fangs, two arms and no legs crawling around the town last night. He praises “Drexi” and her friends for looking into the dangers afflicting the town.

Having concluded that he is mostly harmless, Udrexa beds down a safe distance away from him. In the morning, he’s already gone when she wakes but has left her a nice note scribbled in the mud.

Back at Lucia’s hut, Tanya reveals that when she was using detect magic earlier, she picked up a necromantic aura on the halfling woman. This perks up Lucia and she starts to respond, but then seems to forget entirely about the conversation.

After this happens several times, Tanya gives up and instead focuses on identifying the slippers. They are feather step slippers that allow the wearer to ignore difficult terrain. She suspects the party would get more value out of selling them than using them.

Sunday, 27 Rova, 4743

The next day, the party meets up at the Creekside Tavern and arrange their shopping plans. Udrexa is supposed to fence the magic slippers they recovered, while Lucia handles her mundane purchases, and Tanya goes to return the locket.

Udrexa seeks out advice from Jana about where she could sell the feather step slippers. She learns that Jana rents a room below the tavern, and talks with a hungover Jana. She points the tiefling towards the Temple of Stars and Roads. The Desnan priest there, a half-elf named Miesalo Salen, purchases the slippers and awkwardly invites the party to the music nights the temple hosts.

Tanya seeks out Captain Julit Freson at the Cove Guardhouse to return the locket. He admits to having lost it when he chickened out of his attempt to brave Roderic’s Wreck as a teenager. He thanks her profusely for returning it, as it bares the likeness of his later mother Caralee Freson. In return, he invites the group to a dinner at the Rampant Reefclaw, the town’s renowned restaurant. He also asks Tanya to keep an eye on her two sketchy party members, Udrexa and Lucia. Tanya leaves, quietly disappointed that there was no cash reward for returning the locket.

Lucia visits the Cove Armory to purchase a light crossbow,because “granny needs a gun” to protect herself. The proprietor, a human woman named Lyndwyn Suvasa, mentions that her monthly delivery of supplies from Riddleport is running late. After getting the crossbow, Lucia makes sales and purchases at Conrel’s General Store. She makes a point of picking up a potion of cure light wounds.

With the sales done, the party sets out for Roderic’s Wreck. Audrahni glumly tags along. It takes an hour to stroll out to the abandoned house. Stopping a short distance away, Audrahni gives them some sandwiches she prepared for a light lunch. She promises to wait outside, and Tanya warns her that if they don’t emerge after a few hours they might all need her help.

The adventurers investigate the last unexplored portion of the ground floor, the rickety deck out back that leans out over the Chavali River. Only Lucia is able to safely step out onto it thanks to her small size. Udrexa keeps watch from outside on the ground. The halfling woman is able to avoid getting knocked into the water when a pair of vicious reeflclaws sabotage the deck’s support pillars.

After that harrowing experience, the trio presses on into the second story. They arrive in a central hall surrounded by doors. With no clues to go on, they decide to open the doors in a clockwise fashion.

The first room contains some ruined furniture and a wicker cradle. When Udrexa investigates, a child-sized undead creature attacks her. It’s dressed in a kid’s rabbit costume, but a fox skull pokes out from the hood. The little monster steals Udrexa’s voice and starts talking with it, asking everyone to play with her. Its draining touch wounds the tiefling and eventually knocks her unconscious.

The small undead monster comes after Tanya next. It steals her voice, taking her ability to cast spells. She tries to hit it with holy water but drops the vial. The puddle nonetheless drives it backwards. Tanya scrambles through her supplies to find something to throw at it and reluctantly tosses the liquid ice, but the jar smashes against the far wall.

Lucia has had trouble hitting it with her crossbow but works with her bat familiar Rita to deliver healing spells that harm the undead monster. Finally, as the little abomination closes in on the halfling, Rita is able to tear its skull free from its head. This is able to stir an exhausted Udrexa to wakefulness and the trio stumbles back outside to recuperate.

After hearing about their encounter, Audrahni identifies the creature as an attic whisperer, a type of undead entity that emerges from the spiritual pain left by a child’s death. She emphasizes that it is not a haunt, which is fixed in one place, although attic whisperers like to lurk in quiet, isolated places.

Audrahni also notes that Sir Roderic perished at sea with his family, which may be influencing the haunts and undead drawn to his house. His spirit may have returned there because it was a source of happiness for him. The elf seems to know a great deal about the undead.

Lucia proposes a strategy for dealing with powerful haunts and monsters: simply running away.

After an hour, just as Audrahni had predicted, the ill effects of the attic whisperer’s attacks fade away. The three adventurers determinedly return to the abandon house and ascend the creaky stairs. They continue their clockwise strategy and open the next door.

It reveals a kids’ room with crumbling bunk beds. Slithering out from the wreck of the beds are three giant centipedes — undead giant centipedes. Udrexa retreats back into the hall and the party sets about fighting the skittering exoskeletons. Udrexa uses her Three-Section Staff to batter the creatures, while Tanya fires rays at them and Lucia uses her magic to continuously heal the monk. Once the critters are destroyed, they scour the room but find nothing of value.

In growing frustration, they check the next room in their clockwise strategy. This chamber appears to have once been a map room, but all the maps have been removed. The only item of value is a silver inkwell. However, Sir Roderic’s ghost finally manifests in this room, draining up from the floor.

He seems confused and angry and just keeps repeating the same phrases: “The cove. The stone house in the wood. The gauntlet. Save them. My map. The key.”

He does not engage with the party in conversation and vanishes in a few moments. Lucia concludes that the “stone house” must be the “St. Hs.” marked on the map recovered from the drawer below. They realize that the other maps in the room were likely removed to the archives in the town hall.

And there are still four more doors on the second story that they have yet to check.

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Clash at Circle Market
Secrets of Roderic's Cove, Part 1

Fireday, 25 Rova, 4743

The adventurers attend the weekly Circle Market in Roderic’s Cove. The human druid Gwenllian is amazed at the weird behavior of market-goers. The human wizard Tanya sells her wares the first half of the day, then shops the second half. The elderly halfling witch Lucia stays close to her. The ifrit fighter Emeq lounges about, taking in the scene. The tiefling monk Udrexa tries to steal from Lucia and gets caught, but Lucia allows her to take what she needs and quietly hexes her with a scar.

A confrontation between two gangs, the Horned Fangs and the Roadkeepers, develops in the afternoon. Before Emeq can intervene, the ghost of Sir Roderic manifests and panics everyone except Tanya. The young wizard chases after Lucy to make sure she’s okay.

The adventurers end up in the same vicinity when the panic subsides. Lucia exclaims that she has been robbed and asks if anyone else has anything missing, pointedly looking at Udrexa.

They drift back to the Circle, where they are briefly questioned by Captain Julit Freson of the Cove Militia. He warns the shifty tiefling not to skip town, as they may have more questions for her.

The local graveyard keeper Audrahni shows up and asks what happened. The morose elf invites them all to dinner at the Creekside Tavern and Inn to discuss further. She explains her theory that Ser Roderic’s ghost only manifests when danger is brewing in town. The last time he appeared was ten years ago, just before a “mini uprising” drove the corrupt Port-Governor Jess Gildersleeves from power for diverting town funds into the pockets of Riddleport criminals. Audrahni asks the party to look into the recent gang violence that left six Horned Fangs dead, and to find some way to lay Sir Roderic to rest.

She tells them about the murder victims, and how one had been stabbed in the throat but the other five had died of fright. She also mentions that Ladia Kelstrop of Kelstrop’s Meats was the first witness on the scene. Audrahni provides some information on the Horned Fangs, an unofficial labor guild that is getting more militant, and notes that the symbol they are wearing is the Thassilonian Rune of Wrath. This alarmed Tanya and Udrexa.

Emeq and Udrexa see a pair of Horned Fangs in the tavern who were part of the near-brawl earlier. The two outsiders buy the pair drinks and ask them about the ghost. The man, Vyncent, thinks it’s an omen of dark times to come. The woman, Joane, thinks that the ghost himself is the threat.

Joane and Vyncent have ripped the rune patches from their outfits, and are very guarded about any questions relating to the Horned Fangs. Udrexa quietly steals a slip of paper from Joane using her tail, and Emeq bids them farewell.

The two outsiders return to the party’s table and investigate the note. It’s from someone named “Jana” and instructs the readers to take off their patches, lay low, and avoid any fights until the heat dies down. Audrahni notes that there is a Jana who often hangs around the tavern, but she’s not there now.

Emeq compliments Audrahni on her deadpan humor, which causes the elf to blush at the unexpected compliment.

Having committed to investigating the situation, the adventurers go their separate ways for the night. Audrahni returns to her cottage, Tanya carries Lucia on her shoulders back to the witch’s hut outside town, Gwenllian makes for a thicket in the forest, Udrexa sleeps under a bridge, and Emeq stays in the Creekside inn.

Tanya spends some time working on he alchemical projects.

Starday, 26 Rova, 4743

The next day, the adventurers regroup at the tavern. They hear from one of the tavernkeepers that Jana usually shows up at around noon and spends the rest of the day in the tavern. The party also learns about the little gremlin Mister Retch, who has made a nuisance of himself taunting and vomiting on townsfolk and stealing booze from the tavern storeroom.

They decide to hunt down the little fey creature, but he proves notoriously difficult to find. Gwenllian isn’t able to figure out how to track him in an urban environment, and a sweep of the town by Lucia’s bat familiar Rita turns up no leads. Udrexa floats the idea of setting a trap for him using some liquor bottles, but they decide to put the hunt on hold for now.

From there, the party marches over to question Ladia Kelstrop about what she witnessed at the site of the massacre the previous week. They find her at her shop, Kelstrop’s Meats, which is bathed in a delicious aroma of smoked meat. Ladia proves to be eager to talk about what she saw: a half a dozen figures running away from the Circle Market, heading north. That’s the wrong direction that pirates or Roadkeepers would be likely to run.

The adventurers are able to build up a rapport with her and coax some more information out. Ladia admits that the only major organization on the north side of town that she’s aware of is the Order of Resplendence, a group of Varisian scholars led by a woman named Corstela who owns Peacock Manor.

There was another witness Ladia saw lurking about the Circle Market that night, a local boy named Kynae Fromperton. She’s kept quiet about that detail for fear it could get the boy in trouble. Lucia recognizes the kid as the son of the town drunk. They are told that he spends as much time as possible away from home, and can most likely be found at Blackberry’s Bakery.

It being almost noon, the adventurers decide to split up to cover more ground. Emeq, Udrexa, and Lucia head to the tavern to seek out Jana. They find her holding court with seven people including Vyncent and Joane at a large table. When Jana heads over to the bar, the three adventurers decide to intervene. They decide to let Lucia take the lead. The little old halfling woman first casts charm person but isn’t certain that it worked. The spell did seem to alert Jana, who sizes up the three weirdos.

Lucia press ahead, expressing sympathies for the deaths of the six Horned Fangs last week, two of which she knew. Jana says she doesn’t know who is responsible, but signs point towards the Roadkeepers. The bandits used to lurk around the back roads, but now seem to be making moves on the town itself. Jana offers Lucy and her companions a retainer of 10gp a week if they seek out the Roadkeepers and deliver some justice. The bandits often wear bright red scarves or fancy hats, so Jana would accept those as proof.

Jana knows little about Sir Roderic’s ghost or what caused him to manifest, but her group is laying low for now and staying out of trouble. That’s why she’s interested in hiring intermediaries like the party.

Emeq questions her about the Horned Fangs’ plan for affecting change in Roderic’s Cove. She says they are making plans for protests and strikes, and are prepared to defend themselves from retaliation. When he presses to know more, Jana tells him he needs to earn her trust by acquiring some of those red scarves. Udrexa notices that Jana is incredibly young to be leading this organization, maybe 19 or 20 years old, but her motives are hard to read.

Meanwhile, Tanya and Gwenllian travel to Blackberry’s Bakery to find the boy Kynae. He is in there playing with the remains of a scone. While the halfling proprietor Blackberry keeps a watchful eye, Tanya engages the boy in conversation. After talking about his favorite scones (cranberries), she gets him a plate and uses some cantrips to clean the scrawny lad up. She gets him to talk about what he witnessed the night of the murders.

Kynae claims to have seen two groups gathered at the Circle Market, half a dozen Horned Fangs and half a dozen “Peacock People,” though it was too hazy to make out faces. One of the peacock people, a woman, accused the Horned Fangs of “properating a runelord’s rune.” He said omething naughty back to her, causing her to sputter, and that’s when things got weird.

The peacock woman drew a sword, though it looked like it was broken with just a basket-shaped handle and no blade. As she jabbed it towards the Horned Fang, his throat started spurting blood everywhere. Then it got worse. Ghosts and terrible things came out of the fog, swirling through the air, and the other Horned Fangs dropped dead. When Kynae saw a ghost turn his way and it looked a bit to much like his old man, he turned and ran.

Tanya compliments his courage in sharing the story and promises to keep it secret from his father. She asks if his father ever hurts Kynae. “Sometimes,” the boy says. Tanya promises to return tomorrow and tell him a story. He wants to hear one about dragons.

She asks Blackberry where to find the boy’s father. The halfling tells her she can check the gutters around town for wherever he’s sleeping off his latest bender. Tanya asks if other folks in the town look after the boy, and Blackberry assures he is well loved and people try to take care of him.

Tanya and Gwenllian depart the bakery, with Tanya noting that she may have to kill the kid’s father.

The adventurers reunite in the Creekside Tavern, where Emeq had secured their usual dark corner, and compare notes. Tanya strongly suspects that the Order of Resplendence at Peacock Manor is connected to the murders. Emeq, meanwhile, is concerned that Jana’s group might be preparing for another revolution like the uprising ten years ago. Then there’s the Roadkeepers situation. Plus, Roderic’s supposedly haunted house. And of course, Mister Retch is still out there…

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