Thursday, May 2, 2024

Terra Povos: Tying Up Loose Ends

So Vinny used to be a dwarf, before he was a floating magic skull with green gem eyes and green gem teeth that glow. He became a wizard and a lich, was living out in the west caverns and then Durest put necromancy on the map. Vinny’s a big fan of this, and then when Durest ascended Vinny decided to shrug off his body.

Turns out the dwarves are still racist against necromancers, so Vinny takes over the crypt of trickery, renames it to Durest’s Funhouse, and it helps spread the word around.

We manage to get back to the dock, and go ashore. We get the stuff for Mom to do spells with, and then Vinny pots  nice fox-fur handbag and he wants it. Well, okay, we buy it for him. He snuggles in; he’s very excited about this. We had back over to the Shattered Golem, bringing Mister Pibbles the carrion crawler into the stable. The Alderman and our goblin contact Max Glimmergab are at a table, and they’re pretty drunk. 

Mom comes out and hustles into the back before the two drunks really focus on us. 

We hand over the spell components and break down who needs help with the restoration. She thrilled that we’ve returned with enough money to get Pythia resurrected. We’re going to have to make the journey to Silverkeep to get it done, though. 

The conversation that ensues is someone awkward, especially after Vinny teleports up to our room and starts offering to reanimate our dead sister. As an undead. Which… NO. Lithos goes upstairs to try to head him off, which cues up a whole Benny Hill scene complete with Yackety Sax for the background music/

The rest of us eventually recount the story… well, most of it. 

Then we get the story of why Alderman Thunderbrew is drunk: the “investigator” talked his way into questioning the prisoners and then killed them. Mom thinks we should go check the jail and release the two guards that Thunderbrew locked up after that. The Senator is pissed and the Quaestor is coming to investigate the crime scene in person. 

The Senator isn’t here yet, and apparently we’re still invited to dine with him. He's also in Silverkeep, so we can do that and resurrect Pythia all at the same time.

We stop and talk to the two drunks. Alderman Thunderbrew has left Grimgor (the head of the Guard) to watch the jail; the Alderman explains how the investigator just came in, and went to talk to the prisoners. Also he had a package for us “from the quaestor” to “thank us for solving the mystery.” He seemed so official, the investigator did, in the colors of Silvergard with the logo on his back. Short-trimmed beard, jet black hair, kind of thin – for dwarf. Looked like a good underhill soldier – chainmail and  a tabard. 

We wait until morning, when we get our Wisdom restored. At some point Amergin comes out to use the restaurant and finds Vinny floating in the air with a spellbook in front of him and a pair of glasses on, reading. 

Elderman Thunderbrew is sleeping on the table, and Max is curled up in his lap. We have breakfast, Mom restores us. 

We head over to the jail. Grimgar looks up from the desk. “Oh thank God! Can you do something about the Alderman?” 

Baldy: “Marduk and Tara are taking care of that.” 

He takes us over to where we can look at the crime scene. Grimgar: “I wasn’t here when the ‘investigator’ came. So the evening this happened I was at home, and one of the guards called me back to the jail, where Alderman Thunderbrew. Scori and Ulfgar were the two guards on duty. They let the investigator see the prisoners, using the standard protocol. So there are keys on a latching ring in the main room. They go in with the visitor with the keys, so once they’re in they can’t get out. There’s a rope inside that the pull that rings a bell in the guard quarters and that guard comes in to bring the prisoner in.”

James: “Has anybody ever hung themselves on the rope?”

Nobody has.

So, the prisoners are in there and manacled to the floor. Which means that their corpses are now in there manacled to the floor. To find out what happened that night we need to talk to Skoli and Ulfgar. There’s also another prisoner who’s been locked in here this whole time. There are bloody footprints going back and forth across the floor because they’ve been feeding the prisoners while trying to not to touch anything. 

We send a note to the captain of our boat and tell him not to talk to ANYBODY until we get back. James and Lithos stay behind, while Amergin casts Pass Without Trace on the other three. Whisper checks the package for traps and finds nothing; there appears to be a cloak of resistance +1 inside. We open it up and look at the nice writing on the expensive paper: from the desk of the Quaestor’s office of Silverkeep. It thanks us and offers the cloak as a reward. Embroidered on the back of the cloak is the Silvergard emblem. We hand that off to Whisper. 

We are not, at this point at all sure whether the “Investigator” maybe was an impostor who killed a legitimate investigator, or whether for some reason the Quaestor actually wanted the deep dwarf and the duergar smugglers killed, or if something even weirder

Amergin goes sniffing around the outer room; Grimgor doesn’t think that anything much has changed in here. We think Grimgor is basically competent. 

We release Scori and Ulfgar. Grimgor has been using a second key ring; the one they were using is still on the floor. Archibald starts questioning Scori and Ulfgar. Scori is a little slow, but after talking to Ulfgar their stories seem to line up: they brought the investigator in on Thuderbrew’s orders. Red hair, long braided beard. Nice noble clothes. Had the Silvergard logo on his cape, just like the one Whisper is now wearing. 

So they unlock the door, then lock themselves into the holding area. Then they bring the prisoners out from the cells, shackle them to the floor, and they stand with the guest to flank him. Then the Investigator turns around to ask a question and then the guards wake up in the cell. Scori dreamed he was a unicorn. The investigator has a mannerism where he strokes his beard, but this is the third physical description we've gotten of him and aside from being a male dwarf, none of them match. 

Scori and Ulfgar leave with effusive gratitude. 

We move to Gondrin, a drunkard who’s been sitting there in his cell smelling the corpses rot. He’ll tell us the same thing he told Grimgor: there he was in the cell, “drying out”, Then there’s this visit, and they bring the prisoners out, and then things got quiet – really eerie quiet. Magically quiet. Then, out of the corner of his eye he sees the investigator walking back to the holding door. He can’t give us a very good description. And a bit after the guy left, Gondrin could make noise again. 

We agree to let Gondrin go. 

Whisper checks over the holding area, with Amergin and Archibald to help him. The key ring is on the floor, the corpses are still manacled to the floor. Amergin looks over the bodies; they’ve been expertly tortured, probably with tools; it was time-consuming and methodical. Based on what Gondrin had to say, it was something like half an hour before the silence ended. 

Lithos says, “I wonder why none of the bones in their right hands were broken?” Apparently they were writing answers while the silence was in place. There isn’t much sign of struggle, despite the blood on the floor. 

Vinny informs us that the corpses don’t have souls. It’s like the fat on the ribs, he says. He has no idea how that might have happened; he says it wasn’t him, though. Also, he’s too much of a soul snob to have eaten these two. Lithos doesn’t come up with much, except that it’s probably a wizard, sorcerer, or cleric of considerably higher level than us. Archie tells Grimgor that we’re going to have to go to the capital to investigate further and ask for additional support. 

Grimgor is actually pretty favorable towards his idiot boss, the Alderman, and hopes we can help him out. He then falls asleep because Vinny wants to come out and talk and Vinny knows the Sleep spell. He’s not worried about the tarrasque; he thinks this is awesome. He learns that it’s a baby and now he really wants to keep it as a pet. “Ohhhhhh,” he says happily. “This is getting good.” He slips back into his bag. 

We decide we need Mom to come Gentle Repose these corpses, but after that we need to lock the place up to make sure nobody else stumbles into this. We bring Mom over. “Huh,” she says. “That’s weird. It’s not working the way it usually does.” We don’t enlighten her about the missing souls, but it doesn’t matter: she’s our mom. “Amergin Gregory Foundingstone, don’t you lie to me!” 

So we tell her about the missing souls.

“Oh,” she says, “like the Caminante.”

Those are the secret police for the Empire; powerful people – like Senators – would be able to use them. They have this rod that they carry that they can use to eat souls – the rod is called the roubama – to silence witnesses. Brinja and Durak had smuggled the tarrasque baby in, and that means that the Inquisitor – um, investigator – almost certainly knows what they had and who took it from them.

It is definitely time to head for Silverkeep. We can take our boat, fortunately, which will only take about half a day – not that we have days, exactly, down here. We find a room, send word to the senator, and find the Temple of Shiva and get Pythia resurrected. She’s definitely not at full strength, so she’s just going to stay here and rest. We catch her up on the less… incriminating… elements of subsequent events. 

We leave Pythia behind and go back to await word from the senator. We head out to the market to get the lay of the land and do some shopping. There’s news of a customs agent who was killed in Deepwatch – which is where the two smugglers came into the kingdom. None of us think that's a coincidence.

We get back to find a scroll from the senator's butler welcoming us to Silverkeep; he's has a small barrel of fine wine sent to the inn, wine which is neither poisoned nor magical. Not that we're paranoid. The senator is honored that we accepted his summons; he's prepared a supper for us this very evening. 

We head over to the senator's house. We get an immediate introduction to the Senator, his older son Throg, and his lictor (a distinguished warrior who serves as a guard to important personages). Senator Goldbeard is a very polished man. He's polite, he's pleasant, he toasts us as the ones who discovered who killed his son. He's pissed that the ones who killed his son will never face justice-- he collapses onto the table, silent and unmoving.

Vinny says, "Uh-oh. Bad place to be." He disappears from the bag. 

Amergin approaches the senator, looking at Throg and the lictor.

The senator's chest is not moving. 

James spits out his wine. Archibald sets down his food and starts reassuring folks that it'll all be okay and nobody needs to panic. Whisper is taking stock of the situation. Lithos starts casting Detect Magic, and the Lictor draws his sword: "Stop!" 

Throg (the son) calls for us to be arrested as assassins. The lictor pulls him back a bit, but we're still going to the dungeon while they sort things out. Amergin yells for them to seal the house, and Lictor Bjorn acknowledges that as a good idea. We're still going to the dungeon, though.

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