Rise of the Runelords, Session 14: The Skinsaw Murders

The figure seen before casually turns and walks around a corner, out of sight, but Vic notices footprints pressed on the runner coming down the stairs and promptly moves out of the way, as does Hyrum. The steps are accompanied with no sounds or corporeal embodiment and end at the bottom of the staircase, apparently going no further.

After a few moment's hesitation, the deputies press on up the stairs, first entering a room filled with construction equipment and supplies, and then a series of rooms where the least damaged furniture and new fixtures and linens, etc., are being kept while the renovation was taking place. Seeing no need to disturb anything they have no right to, these doors are then shut and the party moved along to what appeared to have once been a small living quarter, abandoned for quite some time, with moisture and age-damaged linens left in a dresser next to a worn, sweat-stained cot. Further investigation of this chamber was interrupted by a woman's scream further down the hall, so the group exited this chamber and moved on cautiously.

The next room down the line seemed to be an observatory. The telescope ruined and smashed on the floor and the trapdoor that opens to the sky tied shut hints at the long disuse of the chamber. Seemingly bored, Elspeth took a runner and flung herself out of one of the stained glass windows in the room, narrowly avoiding falling to the rocky surf below by virtue of being pierced in the side and stuck fast by a weather vane on the canted roof below. Grimacing and casting Spider Climb, she limped back into the room and lay down in the floor, regaining her sense and moaning through the pain. Help was a friendly casting from Walt away, and after a few choice words for the house from the elf, the party continued on.

The next chamber, they assumed, held the reason for the hauntings, as a body of a woman was found, identified as the woman Walt danced with in the piano room and confirmed with the bruising at the neck. The body was left where she lie, without touching or prodding of any sort so as not to disrupt any more spirits than necessary, and the room left quietly, the door shut behind them as the band crossed the hall into what appeared to be a study, filled to the brim with all manner of pseudo-occult relics and esoterica, as well as plenty of maps and books of all types. Rissi and Elspeth discussed the ratfolk's wishes to travel some day as Walt flipped through some Pathfinder Chronicles and Vic gathered some of the maps before exiting this room, as well, backtracking through the house to check out one more room in the second floor.

There, passing beyond the gallery to the chamber beyond, was a bedchamber seemingly untouched save for a light covering of dust in the years that have ravaged the other parts of the home. The only odd feature, a dark stain on a desk to the side of the bed. Walt moved forward with Rissi, inspecting the stain as his ratfolk companion picked up an almost-imperceptable sliver of sharp wood that she claimed to have thought was a dagger before she picked it up. Seeing her error, and finding nothing else of note, the PCs moved on to the basement level.

There, after a short-lived tussle with a huge throng of rats, our heroes moved on to find a strong iron door, taking Natasha several tries before making it in, revealing what was obviously a workspace used by someone very interested in the occult or real magic, based on the various cues to necromancy found therein. While Walt was going about careful perusal and attempted mending of the tomes, Natasha pushed her way to the shelves and groped roughly at the spines, then just as suddenly lost interest. The rest of the group ran cautious eyes over the room, and knowing what they must do, ventured further, descending a great set of stairs leading from the workshop, despite Vic having a sudden vision of ghouls pulling him down into the darkness below.

Below, the group found a series of semi-natural caverns and began exploration, first encountering what used to be a dire bat, but with more ghoul on it. The thing had surprised the group when it dropped onto Vic, but posed only a minor threat to the party. The commotion, however, had attracted two small packs of ghouls to the group, and though they posed the threat of paralysis and disease, held no real threat, themselves.

Fortunately, the path they took through the tunnels led them only a short distance from their ultimate (but then-unknown) destination, upon which they entered the chamber, seeing at first a table strewn with various bits and odds and ends of Vic's possessions and trash, as well as a blood-stained chair that faced away with a table beside it on which was placed a silver tray of gobleted blood and raw hunks of meat. The ghoul serving it paused for his master to speak, telling the party that he had been waiting for them, and that it had taken far too long for them to arrive.

These things were actually said to Vic, but were addressed, generally, to the party, as the speaker was still seated, but then he rose, revealing him to be Aldern Foxglove...though a less alive version than Rissi, Vic, and Walt remembered from before. This parody of their friend slipped a mask on and no sooner was attacked, the group realizing that this was the foe they needed to stop, the murderer of (mostly) good people in Sandpoint!

Though the fight was joined by a small pack of goblins that had suffered the same fate as all in these chambers, and that Aldern had taken the facial features of Vic once he donned the mask, the battle was over almost as soon as it began, as Walt and Natasha had occupied the goblin ghouls while Elspeth, Rissi, Hyrum, and Vic neutralized Aldern and his butler.

As we left off, the group was pondering Aldern's downfall and obsession with Vic in his undead state, as well as questioning the usefulness and abilities of the mask and other items found on the dread ghast that once was their friend.

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 7 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 7 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 7 - David
Elspeth, Elf Wizard (Evoker) 7 - Tami
Hyrum Vassal, Chelaxian Human Tyrant (LE Antipaladin variant) 4 of Urgathoa/Monk 1 - David (secondary)
Natasha Caine, Chelaxian Human Rogue 5 - Angela (secondary)

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