Baron has sent word to the Lord we will be coming, but the power lies with the council.
We load up on holy water from the magic cup the church has.
It's Kaelen's core; The Bald Hill 4 and the Tavern Two.
We mount up and ride to Saltmarsh.
Small fishing town with hardworking and friendly folk. Some farms around countryside.
Population of 2000, 2/3 live in the town proper.
Its sort of like a mini republic. There is a local lord who works with a town council who gets things done. The local Sheriff is the law.
Town is hustle and bustle when we arrive. Cryers calling out news, market is jumping.
The Bear and the Fox
Lots of shops for just about anything
Both inns were recommended in Restenfort. We take the Bear and the Fox, considering our aversion to Crimson these days.
The council meets once a week at all times. We schedule our arrival for 2 days before the meet on Sundays.
They have enough space if we double up. Kaelen takes a single bed room, Clyde sleeps on the floor.
We came mounted, a few boys take our stuff up to our rooms.
Oliver says hi to the Bald hill 4, he saw them before we met them.
Oliver is a great guy.
We tell him we are here to look into this supposed haunting that's driving you all so crazy.
He confirms folks are getting scared. He's not, as he lives no where near it. The house is a bit outside of town about 4 miles to the south west. It was a alchemist's house obsessed with philosopher's stone type. That was Tulvar's master.
He doesn't know what killed the alchemist. The apprentice came through, said he was dead, and left. Shortly later lights would come on in the house. Couple of guys went to check on things. No one answered though noises continued. One of the walked right in the front door, them boys came runnin' back to town talking about all sorts of ghouls and goblins and all. Frightened out of their britches. This was couple years to.
The activity settled down then stopped altogether.
Until 20 years ago, alchemist/magicial, sinister, lived there. Now, house has gotten great air of evil and mystery. Abandoned and dilapidated. Some have looked for secret hordes of alchemical gold, but returned with nothing but word of perils there.
None now dare to enter, what with that and the haunting sounds. Prime ground around it lies untilled and weed infested.
Oliver intros us to an aged poacher, Roger Davies. Roger hangs here often.
Roger tells that he wndered into the house's back door couple years ago looking for food. Like free wine in the cellar. Going gownstairs, heard gastly shrieks and wails. Scared to death he ran, had never heard its like. He figures undead. He volunteers to take us there.
There is also a well out there.
He also saw steps going up as he ran out, and swears he saw a woman at the top of the stairs only for a moment, then a flock of bats flew out behind me "Beware the vampire woman."
Oliver says we should consider, beforehand, meet with the council. We say that's our plan.
He loves Baron Grellis.
He wishes us good luck.
Martin asks him about the other tavern. Old Roy is a friend of Oliver's dad. Older now, with 3 sons: Roy the Younger, Thomas, John Boy. Age 33 to 21.
He says Payne is a bit of a snob, richest of the council. Tim, as authority figure to other drivers and such, is used to getting his way, acts like the world owes him something for nothing. Nathaniel is a swell guy, peacekeeper type, balances the whole council. Tim and Payne do not like each other. When they do agree though, no stopping it.
Gordon runs the docks, does not seek to be on the council. All shipments into town land at one of his piers and he sets all tariffs.
Loriel puts on a so so performance. Christofer dances quite average tonight, too.
We take the morning to get acquainted with the town's layout.
Then we meet Lord Salte and tell him we are here to see the council tomorrow. He's maybe 19. Strapping looking young lad.
If we need strong arm help, we go to him and the sheriff, not the council. Only they can mobilize. He hasn't had much time to really think on the haunting himself, has bigger issues:
Duke of Norcross always has scouts and such lurking on the fringes, he says. Their location is prime realestate so some Skyldings occupy some land nearby as well. With Restenford's open defiance of the Crimson Path not as many ships are getting through anymore; Path ships are interfering with trade. Plus usual random humanoid problems and such. Fishing has been crap for year or 2, also. No one knows why either.
The house is on the coast to SW.
Martin, Ean, Beorn and Ogrumat go to manor house to scout the surroundings for any creature evidence.
They will stay near it all night as well to listen for the haunting sounds.
Christofer and Volcifar gather info in the town all day, rumors and such.
Kaelen goes to meet the reeve. He has 5 full time dep's, all mounted and professionally equipped. Also a regular paid beat cop force of 10. There are bells all around town to ring in case of trouble, just keep ringing. It is a bad offence to ring it as a gag.
4 others stay at the HQ full time with a wagon full of water barrels = fire brigade.
Kaelen makes a list of where the bells are and will share that with her team.
"Have you checked out the haunting?" No, to them just rambling of the old drunk poacher. Now, when Tulver first mentioned his death, the reeve's predecesor went to look into it. Found nothing untoward so let it go. They never did get any body out though. Within days the first tales of the haunting started.
"Anyone new in town, say, the last 2 years?" None of note that stick out to him. Couple small landowners, new shopkeeper here and there.
No evidence of Path or Norcross infiltration, but they really have no such network to keep tabs on that kind of thing.
Christofer finds a few seedier taverns in town, hears about a thieves guild of sorts, or at least a local chapter of a larger guild elsewhere. Word is there is an op in town, bringing in contraband, from drugs to poisons and such. Location and members unknown. There have been arrests that some had some of this contraband on them. At least one found overdosed on drugs of some sort, bad stuff. Arcane and alchemical, even.
Volcifar has no luck finding any good info.
Ean et al explore the environs, coast, looking for evidence of movement to and from the house, nearby caves, etc.
The house itself is rundown. Built in a T shape, 70' above the sea, 80' off from the sheer cliff that runs several miles up and down the coast. 6' stone wall surround a garden, partially collapsed. All is well and overgrown. A well to the east rear of the house is 5' wide and 15' deep to 3' of water.
Peak pointed roof, with holes of missing slate tiles.
No tracks found in the vicinity of the house.
At low tide, its not easily traversable down below. Night is downright deadly. We'll need a boat to look for caves. Couple time we do see a brief flickering light in a room then it will go out.
No caves around here.
Ean sens Beorn back this evening to report to Kaelen.
We do hear the spook sounds of moans and creaks and groans from inside the house.
When Beorn returns Kaelen asks around about a high quality local fisherman who's a great boatman with a really good boat, private operator. Kaelen finds out about Roary Hawkins, lives a bit outside of town. His brother and their sons have a 15 footer. Their boat is the Master's Revenge and they only use Thatcher Netting. Their old boat The Golden Master sunk ironically about 3 days after the stories of the Masters disappearance.
Kaelen rides out immediately. Its after supper at this point. One of the boys is wiping down the boat.
"Doing fine work there, boy."
He calls in for pa, and Rory and his bro come to greet Kaelen, each with a small hatchet just in case.
Asks to rent one of them as a pilot and the boat tomorrow. They agree for good pay.
Their wives live here as well.
They invite her inside to meet everyone, get a drink and a bit of food.
Kaelen gets from the wives that the best pilot is Rory, more xp.
She tells them where we are going, so that they are prepared for it. We need to arrive at low tide day after tomorrow.
He tells her about Dead Man's Cave about a mile north of the old mansion. Bad one, plenty of wrecked ships. One more south of the mansion called Locat Cove. Still no fun ride, looks like a gaping maw of some sort of hell beast.
Sharp rocks stick up out of the water at the entrance, 3 grisly stalagtites stick down from top.
Kaelen will pay them an extra gold per day she's in town that this stays a secret. We may come here late tomorrow and camp out at their place to get an early start the next day.
Back to town.
Loriel puts on a fine show. Christofer gets himself some local young beauties for the night.
Locals are thrilled by Loriel's exotic look and sound, though. Not many sightings of elves here.
Volcifar takes off for a short bit. We don't know why.
We hit the market, hobnobbing and window shopping.
Kaelen and Volcifar go around to shops and such, dropping some subtle thieves 'cant to see if anyone picks up on it, but they get no feedback.
We stop in at all the establishments in town run by council members to introduce ourselves. All act pleased to meet us. All of them seem quite affable, even Payne. At least he acts like it. He does tell us there is a 5% adventuring tax on loot gained w/in the county. We're pretty sure we're immune to that, but he will need that in writing.
The chairman is Barne today.
Nathaniel was at the tavern last night watching the show. He'd love for us to furnish us with a fine instrument. He was impressed by Loriel.
The meeting is this eveing, dinner is served there.
Kaelen gives Clyde a note, and sends him off to meet the house scouts on their way back. They will not enter town; he takes them to the fisherman's house, they will then go into the country and make sure we are not followed out of town tonight after the meeting.
We lunch at our tavern. While we eat, a man walks by and says a 'cant code. An acknowledgement they caught our vibe, that if we want talk, midnight tonight come to the wharf and meet the contact.
The Bishop is also here, as is the reeve, Porter.
There are a number of standard local issues dealt with first. Then we officially meet the entire council. Kaelen introduces everyone here.
They say the council is not sponsoring investigators into the house, the man who came to Restenford requesting assistance was sent by some of the more panicked residents. They think its a bigger issue than it really is. No up front compensation is offered. But, if we do investigate there may be financial compensation if an actual problem is dealt with. That will be a judgement call. We are free to operate so long as it does not cause any disturbance of the peace in town, hinder business, nor invade anyone's rights and liberties unless they are commiting a crime.
Kaelen brings up the rumor about illicit smuggling. They are all absolutely surprised at this announcement. Reeve say 'yeah, yeah, we did have one townsfolk found unresponsive in an alleyway. Dep that showed up found a pocketful of sanish on him. He presumably OD'd for there were no wounds.
A particular shop on Moore End is rumored to be dealing in contraband. The council is perplexed at not being informed, but reeve felt it being all hunches and such, w/o any real evidence, was not worth their time.
Reeve offers an apology and we move on.
They really have no major tasks necessary, like Restenford did.
Their main concern is the fishing problem actually. No dead fish washing up or anything, they've just dwindled considerably.
No tales at all of boatman or close to shore homes being assaulted by any creatures from the sea.
Loriel "How quickly did the fish dwindle?" 3 to 4 months, wasn't really as noticeable at first.
They say solving that problem is worth some cash.
Back to tavern. All we know about the guilds in this area is that in Avery in particular, they are more than just thieves. In these lands lots of contraband and assassin guilds.
That's what Kaelen is worried about right now, that there is an assassin's guild in the are, and therefore what are they doing here?
Beorn "Our ends were written long ago. If we are to be killed by assassins, that is our fate."
Midnight, Kaelen, Christofer and Volcifar meet the contact at the wharf.
Kaelen and Volcifar see 3 guys in dark garb by one of the piers. We head that way, and they move through the shadows to not be seen by anyone from a distance. Faces covered.
2 keep their arms concealed in the sleeves of their cloaks, hunched a bit. The 3rd approaches "greetings and well met stranger, what is your business with the guild. One does not 'cant unless on actively seeks the attention of the guild."
Kaelen says if there are assassins here, its going to be a big problem. To ease your mind, the guild has not been dealing in what we speak of.
"Good, so who has?" There has indeed been an uptick in travellers coming through town, he says. Most heading north. But no obvious signs of something big about to happen.
He says Bardaye is one of the most honest, on the up and up people you'll meet.
They know literally nothing about such an operation we are asking about. On the same note, they haven't tried much.
Kaelen recommends they keep their eyes open a little bit more.
The Moore's End shop the reeve spoke of is a general store. The guy there is pious in the Covenant. Flynn's General Store. Flynn only showed up maybe 9 or 10 months ago. The Bishop been here a long time, lifer.
Kaelen "He and Flynn known to talk much, together, on their own?"
"Not that they now of, not especially."
He says in order to contact them quicker, but tell no one else, out our tavern window hang a blue cloth. They will contact us by end of the night.
If not at the inn, draw an X with chalk somewhere semiconspicuous. One of their agents should see it, that marks the meet spot.
To Rory's house go Geoffrey, Wolk and Beorn. They tell Clyde to make it back to the inn before daybreak.
Kaelen, Christofer, Volvifar and Loriel remain in town.
Talk in the moring of old Roy at crimson flask had a customer skip out on their bill for their room and their tab. A traveller named Ned Flanders.
Ean, Martin, Geoffrey, Wolk, Beorn, and Ogrumat take the boat out with Rory.
Dead Man's has 3 partially sunken small vessels on the rocks. Low tide, we navigate through the rocks. Inside, its a great place to pilot in and stop. Very tall. No danger of high tide flooding.
There is a platform with a path going deeper within. A number of skeletons lie there, seemingly undisturbed since.
We get out and start walking in. It goes to 1 chamber, filled with different seaweeds and fungi and such.
We make a detailed search, Wolk guiding us around such things, avoiding the dangerous stuff. We find nothing.
Back to the boat and down to the next cave.
We navigate inside. Fish bones area throughout the cave. Thousands.We can get out onto a sandy interior. 2 passages lead out. We explore. We will need to get out of here before high tide.
Both lead to smaller cavern complexes. Was definitely once a lair of some sort, Locatha fishmen Beorn says, hence the cave name. Beorn finds some of their skeletons, a year or so dead.
Beorn says they are highly reclusive, living in close knit groups. Not much specific is known about them but that they smell out of water. They try to not be noticed.
We find their old living area. It looks like someone layed waste to them. Stuff lies about broken by force.
No other ways out of these passages.
We keep cruising up and down looking for anything else suspicious.
We notice large collections of boulders, many huge ones, along the cliff bottom. Possible Master's War havoc collapsing the cliff back a short distance. At 3 points on the coast between Locat and Saltmarsh, the piles go almost up to the top.
There are hundreds of glorified rock 'islands' jutting out from the water. A few big enough to built on. They run all along the Bay's coast. Nothing farther until Jesrik.
We start back for Rory's home, checking out a few of these island on the way back before it gets too dark.
Beorn spots a boat, crew of maybe 30, beached at the base of one of the rocky islands, big hole in the side like it ws rammed. Then managed to each itself on the shore. Bloated bodies lie on the shore, full of arrows.
We move in and investigate.
Fast moving ship. Whatever got it was meant for battle. Arrows are all quality arrows. No signs of who attacker could have been. The flag on the boat though is of Grandfeld, the kingdom east of Restenford's area. All the arrows are fletched with red.
The hold has been washed out, looks like weapons and armor and such, not much left.
On a second island we find an old campsite off shore. A search finds whetstones, half sheet parchment they thought was left to burn with a partial coastal map and a couple markings untitled and a dotted line going along to them.
Back to Rory's.
Kaelen to go a church function today. She senses nothing untoward about the place nor the people nor services.
Flynn is here. He is happy to meet Kaelen, loves talking to new people in town. He thinks the house is haunted for sure. The old alchemist was up to no good.
Flynn moved here cause of its safety, and also the original owner of the store picked up the withering sickness. Flynn paid good cash for the shop so the guy could live out comfortably. He died a few months ago. Flynn has always been a merchant, his last one was less then half the size of the one he owns now.
Kaelen then introduces himself to the Bishop, and how she knows Qualten et al. She offers any assistance she could offer.
"Well, there is one thing. Find out what happened to Ned Flanders if you can." He explains Ned was recently passing through. Seemed good Covenant man; up and skipped out on his bill at the Crimson Flask leaving a lot of his gear. "I think something more insidious is happening" since he left all of his stuff.
Kaelen "I'll do some asking around."
We both wonder about connections to the drug death and haunted house.
He says lots of newcomers have come on the trading ships. He has noticed they might come with 20, leave a man or so light, and they'll leave by foot later.
Including a handful of shady individuals, mostly making their way north toward Restenford. Several have spoken of getting to Falco's Tavern.
That matchers the odd folk visiting we have seen not paying Falco.
Ned never did mention Falco's.
We talk religion and how the Path is tearing the church apart.
Ned associated with few people regularly, was only here 3 days. Spent most of his time at the Flask, The ship he came in on was a merchant ship, must have had its name changed from something, for the paint on it was a slightly different shade from the rest around it. The current name was the Prince of the Sea.
Go to Gordon about merchandise logs. He's a nice enough guy, probably just show me what I need, Bishop says. His house is right off the docks, his office is close.
To our inn,
Christofer and Loriel start gathering info on Ned's disappearance:
day before he vanished Ned was at tavern most of day but for buying some basic supplies at Flynn's, then returned. Spoke to someone, no one is sure who. That person left. Ned never left after that, was actually going back to his room.
Roy has the room still in Ned's name for a few days in case he returns.
Kaelen goes to the merchant receiver with Volcifar. He greets us kindly.
He has no problem giving me the info I need.
While he is showing Kaelen the info, we lift and wax imprind all of his keys.
The cpt was Sigurd, mage Bjorn, boson Frithoff. They were Tharangian,crew a mixed batch. Thinks they may have gone for a drink briefly. They dropped off a lot of brandy, seafood and spices. Sent throughout town. Picked up their payments plus couple cases of…."well, that's strange, that page of the log is missing."
Kaelen gets a list of imports broken down by receiver.
The ship and crew were new to him.
She has him check for more missing pages. He does have one more missing, from about 9 months ago. Just about everything from the ship is missing in the log. Name of ship was The Sea Ghost. No real specific memory does he have of it. That ship name is new to him as well. What is listed, it came from a town called Bessel. On the continental coast. Their last port of call prior to Saltmarsh was Laclaire in Peldanor, across sea from the penninsula south of Langbay.
We take our leave.
Back at our rooms, we look over the lists. Rather than gold payment, most is done in equal trade in return. Not so much supplying a ship as soldiers hidden in plane sight. Just the right amount of canvas and type for tents, wood good for arrows and bows, etc. This is what they were paying the ship with here in town.
Nothing being sent out is unusual for the town to have, someone could be using this town to weaponize their force.
This style was unique to that ship.
Kaelen puts out a sign to talk to the thieves' guild. One of the thieves meets her. She wants to meet their records guy concerning shipping, Slippery Fingers Tommy.
He says the Prince of the Sea delivered some stuff for them actually. 1 box in a crate. Flynn hires hands to help him unload his stuff, and one of the day laborers is one of our guys. On one of Flynn's crates listed as spices was actually a box of thieves' tools. The Sea Ghost has an even larger shipment for the guild. Disguised as alcohol they got acid and other liquids.
The person who told them the ships would be coming is from out of town, he comes by every few months at best. However, he notices anomalies in Flynn's. Someone else smuggled in stuff on Flynn's shipment. Officially, it was in the same crate as the guild stuff, with the spices and so on. So likely chemicals etc.
Kaelen "Drugs, and poison."
"Could be. Certainly."
Their Sea Ghost records are damaged!! Spilled ink.
Kaelen "You have a mole, my friend."
He says, for sure, there is a name in common on both ships: the bosun Frithoff.
Ned Flanders came off on the Prince, off the Ghost came one Ned Snakeshaft.
Flynn came in by land, he says, about 2 weeks prior to the Ghost and Snakeshaft.
She asks them to watch Flynn if they have a good crew, and look for an in house mole.
Search Flanders' room:
Nothing to be found whatsoever.
After breakfast, a townsfolk named Edward Holly comes to us "Tommy wants you to have this" and walks off.
It says: the timing of events from when the fish started depleting, then couple months later the ghost arrives. From that time all payments were in supply not coins. Then the Prince being the same thing, arrival of the Neds, timing is right with the haunting. A pattern. The Ghost's arrival was about the same time that a bunch of other ships came through with smuggling happening. Most have, actually. Definitely a 2nd organization.
Kaelen notices a code in his writing saying that in a population of 2000 total, the guild itself has 12 guys that are real thieves of skill, plus petty criminals associated with it; plus maller groups in outlying towns. All in all, 60.
Whatever org. is running under their nose is really good and is not doing anything really big in Saltmarsh at this time. Their business is going north.
During the day, the other part of the team arrives, informing Kaelen of no subterrainean entrance into the house from below, and all the other evidence.
Kaelen sends Ean home to Restrenford immediately with a note detailing evidence of a plot against him. Ean is to keep a guard on the Baron, keep the guards on alert but try not to look like they are on extra alert. Also letting the church know as well. But that's it. Also recommend having a person or 2 over who we trust, seemingly for dinner and spend the night, just to have extra guards. ALso, talk to people who might get out often like Perk and Pelo about possible lairs around Restenford these potential killers might be hiding out at.
To the hounted mansion, just before first light.
We check the backdoor first, to seye if it is unlocked like it was for the poacher. It's unlocked so we enter. A voice welcomes us to our deaths with a terrible laugh, too long lasting laugh. Wolk lays down an area dispel and it stops. 1 door leads out.
SIngle large told earing=20 in refuse pile inside
Kaelen searches the room in detail while Ogrumat opens the door, Volcifar, Martin and Loriel ready to go. Opens into a hall to the foyer, 2 doors opposite one another. Martin goes right to foyer as Ogrumat/Volcifar listen at the doors. Loriel and Christofer in the hall now with them. Clyde enters with Kaelen.
Stairs climb from foyer to a balcony. He checks, steps seem safe. Left goes deeper into the stem of the T shape of the house, turning, 3 doors visible. Forward has a hall into the other wing.
Volcifar's room is the library, most not intact and only 1 pile of books here. Ogrumat's room once a study/den. Writing desk broken and rotted. 2 of 3 drawers broken open on purpose. Volcifer finds 13 books, covered in mold and rat crap.
3 might be of interest:
The Magical Properties of Gemstones by Master Tenser
The Magical Properties of Herbs and Flowers by Tenser
The Metaphysics of Mathematics by Master Nystul.
We take them. 150 ea to right buyer. Can offer bonuses to reader in right circumstance.
In the last is a handwritten paper, 2 words legible only 'beyond skeletons'.
Ogrumat busts open the desk completely. Bunch of documents of no value, the alchemists book keeping
Glass Vial (rose colored liquid, spicy scent) = 2 doses neutralize poison, alchemical so will not work on magical poisons.
Kaelen finds leftovers of muddy footprints, cleaned up well. Came from door Ogrumat is at, and about halfway through the room. In front of the backdoor, the floor boards are perfectly lined up in the shape of a square rather than each board being staggered like normal floorboards.
She closes the back door, looking for a way to open it like a hatch. There is a thin gab, she feels a cord underneath to a coiled cord which she pulls out and lifts the entire secion up. She does not do so yet.
The last 3 now enter, Wolk/Geoffrey/Beorn, everyone in foyer now.
Kaelen sends Christfer/Wolk/Martin straight back from front door. Left door goes to a sitting room with fireplace, chair cushions torn apart, table broken apart. Mantle portion lifts into a hidden cavity":
Ring pure gold set with sapphire = ring of DR plus 1
Right room is the dining room, table lies broken as is the china.
Last room the kitchen. Gray old and cob webby. Steps leads upward, steps decayed; one door out to the scullery. Lots of mold and cob webs, worst room on the floor. Steps lead down to cellar. This is the room the poacher went to.
To other wing to Ogrumat/Volcifar/Beorn. They come to a living area first, nothing of note to find but for mushrooms growing from the floor. Small cavity in the chimney is a leather poucn:
Another living area, plaster from ceiling on floor more than elsewhere even in broken ceiling.
Geoffrey stays in foyer to respond as needed.
Upstairs goes Kaelen/Loriel/Clyde. Find steps to kitchen.
Another set of steps to 3rd, but rotten.
2 rooms at that end of the house, first a large bedroom. Lots of rubbish, matress torn up. Large wooden chest with moldy clothihg and documents which are letters related to original purchase of house. One sheet is a scroll detailing the binding of a person.
Scroll Hold Person
Other room was for storage, large oak chest full of old nasty clothes, broken chairs. One bundle of clothing is new, no dust, nasty moldy sack with rotten clothes.
11 gp in pocket of the new clothes
2 bedrooms on opposite wing from stairway. Evidence of rodents.
Last 3 rooms in final section.
Fist sized chunk of crystal in a fireplace, cheap zyrconia but well cut.
Last door is locked or held by some means. Ogrumat tries to push it open but it doesn't budge, then starts to give. We hear the sound of a gagged voice inside and she shoves it open. We releast the bound and gagged man. He says he's our missing Ned Flanders and thanks us for finding him.
He says, to be honest, he's a thief. He came up from the south to Saltmarsh, was planning on staying and trying to join the thieves guild eventually. Heard about the haunted house so decided to check for valuables. He skipped out before sun up, just like we did. Was attacked in the kitchen from behind, only waking up a few hours ago captive and w/o any of his stuff. He did not see his attackers.
Beorn inspects his wounds and they check out with his story.
Says Ned Flanders is his real name, though fond of Black Bart as a pseudonym.
He thought he heard noises in the basement, but a ghostly voice scared him away. Sounded like someone being murdered. "I don't do to well with the death and killing. Not my thing."
We untie him. The clean clothes we find are his. He's disappointed those rotten clubbers took his traveling coin. Hahahaha.
We toss a grapple up and climb up to the attic and search. Other than lots of bats and guano, only an old leather purse with ring that matches the DR ring, but with an agate rather than sapphire.
Ring: when worn as a set, this becomes a ring of prot plus 1. Otherwise this one does nothing.
Back downstairs. Martin checks the kitchen for evidence of his story on the floor but finds nothing. Possible its been eliminated.
Wolk detects magic on the trap door area, Bed tries to talk us out of doing this, talking od death below, how he remembers now that he saw red eyes at the bottom of the steps before the murderous scream.
We ignore him and open the trap door.
Ogrumat, Martin and Beorn stay above, watching the kitchen with Ned. The rest of us head down.
Ogrumat leads the way, then Kaelen and Geoffrey. Ogrumat enters into a room, several lit torches on the walls. Looks like about 10 people might live in this room. Large tablet with lots of chairs, fireplace, beds.
Volcifar is next, but yells "Ah mother me dios! I thought I recognized him!" then rushes past Loriel, Wolk and Clyde and toward the kitchen as we hear a cry of pain from Beorn from that direction.
Ned insists they made a huge mistake going down there.
Martin "What makes you so sure?"
Ned waves his hand and a flaming blade is conjured "Because I can't let you!" and swings at Beorn hitting 16. Christofer then crits him back. Martin then shield bashes him.
He swings at Beorn again and takes him down. Martin fails to but Christofer grapples him. Volcifar bursts into the room "I thought so, Ned Snakeshaft, you have met your end."
Christofer while grappling "Who the heck is Ned Snakeshaft? And do we want to kill hm?"
Volcifar says "Well, he is a nefarious aranist/assassin."
Christopher pins him and Volcifar cuts his throat wide open, reaches in and pulls his tongue out, the infamous girhellian amulet.
Volcifar explains that many years ago a man who went by Black Mamba Bart or Ned Blacksnake and the like, we were competing for a target and interacted. Ned tried to eliminate Volcifar which allowed the target to get away. Ned fled the scene. Volcifar shows us a nasty scar on his side Ned left on him. Its been several years now.
Kaelen and Clyde arrive as the story is being told.
We drag his body upstairs and meet the others still down in the living quarters below.
Ogrumat has found a secret door in the room to the north to a wine cellar. The kitchen steps from above lead her. No intact bottles. A human lies dead in the room in plate and steel shield and longsword. We investigate him first. All 3 items are high quality but if smells foul, died relatively recently so he's ripe still. Has a belt pouch, nice boots and gloves, pack, dagger.
We'll take him out later and bury him proper, Martin assembling a makeshift drag stretcher. He's infested with rotgrubs, which luckily we avoid by having dragged him onto the stretcher rather then looting him immediately.
We will clean his stuff thoroughly
Lots of good crockery in the common room here, ham, sausage and such as well. We'll eat here when this is all over.
Cheap ale, water, salted mutton, casks of brandy, honey. We take all this.
Plate mst, 1 ability
other gear mst, no ability
high quality riding boot, padded for extra warmth
emerald = 250
bolt of fine silk
Search the private quarters of a leader type, 3 candles burning.
3 books: Erotic Poetry, fully illustrated (Christofer takes this); Naval ALmanac of tides for the area, 100 total miles covered; learned volume on mesmerism and its effects with some common tongue words and their gnoll equivalents.
3 flaks oil, tinderbox, fling/steel/8 candles
parchment with curious markings upon one side, the other a map of nearby coast.
Small book: series of spells
Small iron box (Kaelen deals with the needle trap): 5 vials (3x healing, delusion, speed potions) in wood shavings
We find a secret door on our final search, out of the main room, into a passage going down, 2 flights of stairs, then into caves not worked stone.
We hear what soundsl like ocean and salt air. Hmm.
Volcifar stays here by the barred door. Loriel watches up top, Beorn with her as well.
The rest of us head down, to a Y intersect. To the right, empty and unused chamber but another exit out.
To left a long passage continues and turns, then Y's off again. Right goes to a room, left up to another Y section. Left to dead end, right continues. We check the right room, nothing but an exit to the other cavern with the exit.
We take the last direction to the forks right, to another fork. Left first, well lit by torches on brackets.
We see 1 female, looking roguish. And a man in leather, with broadsword and dagger, weraing gold chain with large rabbit's foot, gold ring in ear, and belt pouch. A pirate.
Plus 2 gnolls, looking hypnotized.
No visible exit out.
The woman speaks to the gnolls in bark and yelp like sounds, who are opening the crates. The man is detailing on parchment what they pull from the cargo.
Wolk goes for a dispel, but it does not work on the non magically mesmerized gnolls. The woman, however, turns into a guy to the surprise of the guy keeping the records.
"You fool, "I'm still your chief, do what I say."
We attack and mow both down easily. As the mesmerist dies, the 2 gnolls snap out of it.
They speak no common.
We call Loriel down who casts Comprehend Languages. Their pack had been wiped out, and were waylaid while sleeping, eventually sold to this illusionist who hypno's them so they wouldn't try to escape.
Orfik and Gilrod are their names.
What they can tell us: they know this person was female when she bought them, female name was Sanbelet. Had a crew of 8 men, smugglers, working with a boat docked now in the cave.
Volcifar knows that name too. He looks at the body later. He's Ortega San Belet, a somewhat known smuggler wanted by 3 kingdoms. Might be a reward for his head. We take it. One, the high king where Volcifar is from, also a warrant in northern Peldanor
3 gems 250 ea
Manifest of contraband
5 bolts of silk = 100 ea
8 casks brandy = 50 ea, same as upstair.
the gold chain and charm above =10
We continue on now to the upward sloping passage, floor matted. We quickly encounter 3 more guys carrying contraband. They drop it and draw weapons.
One yells "Intruders." Geoffrey with 2 crits and Ogrumat cut them down.
We move forward quickly and are greeted by 3 men throwing axes. Ogrumat, Geoffrey and Christofer deal with them.
3 more bolts of cloth
5 more casks
same as above
3 bolts of cloth
Passage leads to a cave into the sea. Tide is out. A small boat, maybe 8 men, anchored here.
Nothing nor anyone aboard.
5 bolts of cloth
8 casks elsewhere
This cave entrance must have been blocked by illusion before.
Back upstairs. Behind the barred door are a couple of skeletons which we destroy.
In a room behind is the old alchemist's lab:
Sitting at a table is the dead alchemist, body still sitting there. Probably killed where he sat, old dried blood spurt upon the book open in front of him. His apprentice likely murdered the poor guy.
Ye Secret of ye Philosopher's stone = up to 500 to an alchemist in a city
3 small copper pots
gold human skull 750
gold apple 150
gold rose 150
5 small gold discs 10ea
Apparently he succeeded at least these few times.
47 gold coins, turned from copper
Smooth ovoid pebble, pale gold colored, faint glow = luckstone
That's all we find here. Only smugglers, no assassins nor the ship that brought Ned to Saltmarsh. The gnolls have no where to go, but not adventurers neither. But they are thankful of our help and feel they owe us something.
Kaelen asks them to come back to Restenford and help scour the surrounding countryside for hideouts. As a matter of fact, Martin draws them a map of the area. Clyde leads them to Restenford now so they know how to get there.
Back to Saltmarsh and the council.
They hold a special meeting for us. Lord, merchant receiver, Lord and such are present.
We explain what we found, lots of question. They are very pleased we solved the mystery and shut down the smugglers.
We start organizing our loot being gotten from the house in one day, hiring teamsters to do so.
Kaelen meets and shows the ciper/map parchment to the thieves guild. The ship marks look like stopping points. 3 islands they call the 3 Sisters. Uninhabited, legend says once Sirens living on them. Good places for ships to stop during storms, beach the ship and hunker down.
They say the cipher is similar to that which they use when they are getting shipments in. He explains if this were them, the small and long dashes are how long to hold the light open with a bullseye lantern. Its ship to base signal and vise versa. You wait for the ship to give their code, then give the response. He offers to do it for us but any action afterward, he is not taking part in. He explains it in detail how it would work.
We show them all their ledgers and paperwork as well. Looks like a ship is returning in the next couple days.
He offers 2 guys who work for the merchant receiver who can lend hand with fighting. We take them up on it. They are friendly to the thieves' guild as well as being the receivers employees. Pvt. Tom and Cpl. Will Stoutly, so also in militia.
A good portion of the cloth bolts are potential spell component cloth in large bundles, like cloth from priest robes, from a ghoul's cloting, etc As well as bolts of patterns that one could simply cut pieces out of to make into a false standard, false coat of arms, etc.
The rods binding the cloth are potential casting related: turned into wands, Rods, etc.
The other mark on the map at the tip of a Cape, WSW of Saltmarsh and past the 3 Sisters, is a small river called the Dunwater, but there is nothing there.
The council did not realize this, they only say cloth and alcohol.
The guild will help look into where it all may have been going.
We ask them to immediately keep watch on Flynn and how he reacts to smuggling op being taken out.
Also, we get a layout of all the villages and hommlets and such between here and Restenford.
Kaelen sends Beorn with Rory on his boat to meet with the Northmen to gauge their interest in taking us to investigate the map site.
Tim Wainwright had a meeting with a bunch of teamsters, reports the guild; Gordon Porter has been going through his logs and paperwork with his staff, very busy doing so. Roy of the Crimson Flask his younest John Boy as a messenger leave town that night heading North. All have potential reason to be active with the recent sacking of the smugglers.
We will hang at mansion, lying in wait. We have the Reeve commission a boat from town. It will lie off the coast in the darkness. It will come at the ship from the opposite side of the coast. Kaelen, Wolk, Christofer, Ogrumat, Muerto, and Martin will sneak aboard while their attention is drawn and hit them from behind as Loriel, Geoffrey, WIll and Tom, and a few militia come dressed as pirates from teh front. Loriel will use some simple illusion to assist at disguise so that in the dark she will look like the false female Cpt.
We assume, since they are using light communication, they will arrive at night.
We set up a sting on Flynn, putting Muerto in a dark corner disguised as Ned and fake wounded, to see how Flynn reacts. HIs reaction is not one of recognition of Ned, its "Hed Flanders, ain't you the guy that owes old Roy money? I'm not gonna ask you what you're doing in my shop right now" and talks approaches to help him and get the doctor.
Muerto responds with "I thought you were on our side, you're a dead man, Flynn" and leaps out the window. He reacts by locking up and boarding up the windows.
He reports to the Reeve, who spends the next couple days looking for Ned.
We eat breakfast afterward, and around lunch time Kaelen and Muerto go to Flynn's shop. We do a bit of supply shopping and tell him we heard of his trouble. He insists on having no idea why his life was threatened. He's concerned he may have fallen afoul of the thieves' guild. He admits he may be on the roster of getting things from the smugglers, for the previous owner did deal in small contraband which he continued to honor. Mainly with hedge wizards in the wilds and such; plus a couple dopers in town who like their exotic drugs which he has procurred occasionally.
Before we head out to the house on the 2nd day, we check up on Wainright and Porter. Porter says he is simply making sure all their books are on the up and up and where the tax fraud was happening, etc. All legitimate.
We ask him to show us what he found, and while doing so he acts like a real bureaucrat. Total jackass, trying to go fast and trying to talk over our heads, etc.
His circle talking gets Wolk and Loriel's minds in a stitch, but he's not swift enough for Kaelen. All seems to add ok at first, but he seems generally off in his talk. She can't quite place it though. He is turning from page to page rather quickly, tiresome of the interruption if nothing else. She skillfully sees, still, that his paperwork in impeccable though. Then she and Loriel, in spite of his efforts, spot several documents that he is a bit faster with with oddities. Loriel misses it totally, but Kaelen sees in that instant that the ledger pages are in varying handwriting, often deletions and overwritten/ammended. She feels there is certain doctoring and forging on those. Predominantly doing with the accounting side, not so much the materials.
Kaelen give a quick series of taps to the pages as she draws his attention to another paper to repeat himself, signaling Ogrumat to lift them which she does smooth as silk.
After all said and done, we depart telling we are more than satisfied.
The guild gets us the list of names the teamster met with. He did so with 2 or 3 guys at a time not all at once.
We take the documents to Slippery Fingers and go over them. Looks like expenditures on his part but altered. A transaction where he gave money to a person for services rendered and services to be rendered. It's a decent sum of gold paid to this person with the initials of NS. Below is another expenditure for a bunch of equipment and other sorts of supplies that are erased and rewritten in. He can't make out what was erased.
Kaelen has Wolk, being quite the skilled alchemist, put together something to bring out the hidden older writing. He only pulls up a few words: stuff supposed to go the Flynn's was originally something else then rewritten as different. Some of the things going to merchants getting contraband material got something other than what was officially intended. This at least in part had to do with Snakeshaft. Looks like he was defrauding them.
There are 2 dates on the NS paper, one is just a few days ago, another the night that Ned Snakeshaft disappeared. The furture services is set for a couple days from now.
To the Reeve! We are going shut his arse DOWN. He says the first job looks like it was the same day they found the dude OD'd on drugs. A teamster. Who just had meetings! Looks like Porter may have been trying to frame Flynn for the drugs. We suggest to him he ignore the Ned aspect, let us deal with that, and pull all his people to get the Porter and his people. They will take care of that tonight.
We have to get to the house now.
On this 2nd night since our raid of the house, about 11pm, we see the light at sea!!!
The guild man communicates with it and they signal to send the boat. Through the spyglass, its the Sea Ghost but also the same as the other before that! Changed the name.
8 men on the boat to the ship: Geoffrey, Ogrumat, Will and Tom of the militia, Volcifar, Loriel in disguise (at first glance she looks like the chief illusionist as a woman).
It's a single masted vessel. It's the Sea Ghost.
One man in the crow's nest, couple others on deck awaiting the smuggler's boat. Its a barely crescent moon, nice and dark. Perfect for us. Also a man fore and aft.
Kaelen recognizes them as Gotts. Rivals to the northmn at the Langbay court.
It's a surprise attack and we massacre them, taking 2 crewmen and the Cpt captive. Then, Kaelen hears noise right below her, she is standing on one of the grates to the lower hold. 3 lizard men almost pulled her in but she jumps aside! We kill them quickly.
1 of the militia, however, is killed by the Bosun in one mighty hit.
Lizard Men armed with anglo blades.
Lots of salt beef, dried beans, flower, ale, honey, olive oil in their galley.
Lots of building tools for ship repair and lots of 100' rope.
1000 ep in the lizard quarters
Miniature dragon, size of a house cat, tied in a room like a guard dog. Loriel and Kaelen know it as a pseudo dragon. Loriel knows they like eggs and fish. We feed it and it is totally friendly, communicating telepathically. Takes a fast liking to Loriel! She takes to it as well and frees it. It's name is
It was the pet of one of the lizard men.
Punketah was the name of the wizard; in his quarters:
Silver bowl, Karaffe, goblet = 400gp total
Spellbook: Read Magic, Magic Missile, Sleep, Mending, Spiderclimb, Web
Personal and intimate letters from 3 ladies, each under impression she is Mrs. Sigurd Snakeyes.
Document requesting further consignment of Iron Ware, signature in pictograph of a lizard, same as on the lizard men shields above.
Potions: 2x healing; cure disease; neutralize poison
Charts and sea/coastal maps professionally prepared
crude chart marking rendevous point with lizardmen, the other mark on the cipher map?
Lots of useless personal effects
Book of addresses of ladies in various coastal towns, with comments on each lady
90 bolts cloth as before
81 contraband brandy
219 casks fine wine
3 casks scented soaps
1 cask salt
cask with portioned spell components and drugs
Total worth to sell = 15480
But, the town confiscates the illegal drugs and such = down to 11610 for us!
Parrot which sqawks 'pieces of eight' and other pirate like things
strange crossbow thing
chained up aquatic elf: the key just above opens the chains; name is Oceanus tribe of Manaan, in coastal waters 15 to 20 miles SW of Saltmarsh; the Pirates dealt with them for the territory; they got suspicious of the Sea Ghost, and he followed it 4 nights ago. He boarded to investigate but captured 2 nights ago. The spear and dagger and crossbow (speargun for aquatic) are his.
Cpt is Sigurd Snakeyes (does have beady eyes)
Mate was Bloody Bjorn
Bosus known as Frithoff the foul
Book: principls of navigation by Dakorma
Legal distinctions in letters of Mark, by Tazaar
Various weapons and shields, all already emblazoned with the lizard symbol
Questioning begins to our captives, including Porter and his workers. All are questioned separately.
Via Ned as contact, Porter overlooked some of their shipments; separate from the other contact (the guild contact). The lizard men contacted the pirates about arming them, why the Cpt does not know. Not his business. They paid in rare ingredients for spell that you could then sell. They are arming a tribe on that spot on the map we have, at least 50 but probably closer to 100. That's fighting force.
Only Porter was in direct contact with them from town. Another man in town got different contraband, often travellers too, fare paid in advance by others. Ol' Roy at the Crimson Flask did so many times over time; 1 from Restenford too, a priest named Qualton once paid for some of his priests returning back. One was named Krellar. That one was maybe random, not paid in advance. Father Bartholemew paid it with Qualton's credit then they went and picked them up. Not unusual for any ship, if you're going the right direction though.
He drops some names from his ledgers that stopped at Ol' Roys. All check out as those who stayed here a day then went north.
Kaelen to Reeve "I think it's time to bring ol' Roy in." Ogrumat and Geoffrey join him and they bring him in.
Wainwright and Porter usually work closely, regular business. But apparently one of the teamsters must have found out something he shouldn';t have known about. Old Ned was preparing for a hit last time he came to town (referring to the OD'd murder).
We send for Wainwright to be brought in as well.
Old Roy and his 2 sons are found in the back room of the tavern, throats slit. Muerto has been with us the entire time. No one saw anything suspicious. The guild says one of their guys went to the inn shortly after it happen and found them so snuck off; they do have a suspicion that there might be a rival guild.
Porter says he was instructed by a man he finds to be scary to help facilitate the arrival of goods and services. Ned was a fee agent, not part of the assassins guild. Its a loose network of about a dozen in Saltmarsh and several outlying villages. They are here to do a particular job. He used Ned a few times. Initially lesser crimes than murder. When the guild started wanting Porter to get their men and goods in he wasn't keen until they threatened friends and family and slow painful death. One of the teamsters found out what was going on by being too nebby. He found the assassin accoutrements so Porter hired Ned to take him out. The fall guy was trying to frame Flynn, taking advantage of his arrival date. Was then going to use Ned to help get him out of his issues with the assassins. He sent Ned out to warn the men in the caves.
The assassins were in cahoots in some way with ol' Roy. Details he does not know.
Timothy Wainwright says the teamsters are treated unfairly all the time. He knows a guy who will sometimes tell people who want to rip them off not to, convincingly if necessary. Hiring this man as a tough. As part of that, we don't just move supplies, we deal in information as well. Carrying communications delivered designated dead drops in the area. The way they contact their tough is that he used to hang out at the Flask.
He gives us the dead drop locations. The name of his knuckle breaker is Cain the Despised, he lives outside of town in a hamlet.
We send Oceanus off post haste to inform Beorn/Vikings about the lizard man details and that if they agree, come here asap.
John Boy's trail goes down the main road, then goes onto a side trail to one of the hamlets. It is following the trail to Cain the Despised.
The cops go to the hamlet with Ogrumat, Martin, Geoffrey and Christofer but he is not home. He and quickly packed possessions are gone. John Boy is no where to be found. Christofer asks around, but no one saw John Boy arrive nor them leave.
Martin starts at the house and looks for a trail but after a mile or so loses him. But there were 2. Easterly direction.
Ogrumat and Geoffrey with the Reeve's men search the house. It is obvious they are not a big fan of the Path, though not on an offensive with them either. Cain likely killed Roy or was in on it. Notably, some personal effects Roy should have had on him when found including a teardrop shaped blood amulet! Roy may have been Path!!
The cops say that generally in that direction lies more hamlets and small villages.
Back to Saltmarsh.
Back there, we meet with the Reeve and Lord and talk in detail about all that is happening. Its agreed to keep the lizard man/viking stuff in this room only. Lord says that we need to do fast whatever else we are doing. The vikings make him nervous, and he is worried about taking care of the lizard man thing ASAP.
There is a dead drop listed in Restenford. The drop is with Falco, the teamster says. Eventually someone will come along and ask for any deliveries they assume. They are just to tell Falco "This is for a drop" in the 'cant slang.
Our ship, the Sea Ghost, is resting in port.
Kaelen, Christofer, Ogrumat, Loriel go to Restenford, using a scared teamster to perform a fake dead drop tonight, to draw the assassin there out.
We meet Ean and Clyde.
Kaelen talks to the head of the Baron's guard, telling him al that has happened. He joins us with Perk, Pelo and the berserk to make sure no one takes off.
Several hours pass w/o a visitor.
Finally, almost closing time, he starts sending people home. At the last minute a man enters, hood up etc. He sees people still inside and turns around, walks out. Ogrumat follows him out and signals for those outside to grab him. Kaelen gets up and walks to teh bar with a note of her own, says the same code and gives Falco the note "Gotcha".
Outside they nab the cloaked man, though he tried to escape.
They bring him in to Falco's. We bring the dart thrower down too.
Falco says they were adventuring rogues, so they know a lot of people. They don't keep any real connections, people just use this as their hub of communication.
The pick up man is John Bumford. From a nearby village. He is one of the assassins, it becomes clear under interrogation. Which we do in the inn. He will only say the power structure in this region is going to look absolutely nothing like it does now. The Barony of Restenford is the epicenter of the change.
Kaelen threatens to take him to Norcross and drop him off at a Path church with the teardrop amulet and convince them he murdered one of their kind.
He loosens up a bit at that entirely not hollow threat: currently there are 12 other assassins in the area. He is the only one who is originally a local man, the rest are from outside; moved into cottages in the wilderness a lot of the time. There are 2 death plans, one by the guild and another by a competitor group. Both on the same person. These 13 were hired by a foreign power to take out the Baron. He is to be the first, within the month. The larger plan involves other cells we aren't connected with. Pelitar, Baron's wife, etc were all to be assassinated. Then Gary Salte, too. The whole Barony was to be destabalized. There was a frame job involved as well, sowing chaos among the remaining lords and such to begin conflict, the other cells doing jobs within that framework. This is ALL orchestrated by a royal family from the continent. He does not know exactly who, however.
The competitor are the Inuisitors. The Path has men around this part of the country, though maybe not in this direct area, with their own plans. That stems from Norcross.
We help them get going and plan over thre next day or 2, then the assassins, over next week, will be set up and taken out by the Baron's men plus the 2 gnolls, Ettin, Bugbears as backup. We set them all up on the same night, its like a Godfather finale multikill across the area.
Cain however is never found. Neither is John Boy.
Clyde and Ean stay put. Perk, Pelo, berserk will take turns going to the Baron's house and guarding overnights. We grab the Ettin to take with us vs the Lizardmen.
Back to Saltmarsh. Some of the militia meet up. Couple hours prior to our arrival a longship pulled up. Wolk and Geoffrey met them. A raiding party of about 20 Vikings, with Beorn and Oceanus. They are led by Knut. We meet him immediately. He says the Skylding colony is having some issues, so not able to send more men. Norcross is the issue. Something big is going on with Norcross, massing up their men. Looks like about 2000 inf, 1000 cav, 4 times that many in conscripts. Plus the Path fanatics and Church Guard.
The colony is close to Cuthbury, on Norcross northern border. Lots of skirmishing there. The leader of the colony, still, sent what he could. The colony can't handle those kind of numbers.
3 others events they can tell us of, in terms of news:
Halvgrim and his 2 compatriots from Langbay have killed a great fire wyrm. He has a number of dwarves making a magical weapon for him, word says. The one he has from the Master was badly damages in the combat with the dragon. They are actually staying with the colony right now, but for how long they don't know.
2nd, Lance and his gathered force fo augments have been seen moving around the northern parts of the island, Avery most recently. They are trying to save as many as they can inside the lion's den.
News of the world: on the continent, the kingdom of Argonia no longer exists. The post Master vanishing chaos down there was its downfall. The barbarians who had moved in could not keep unity, its now all city states and independant fiefdoms. Their once glorious legions are now warlords or mercs for others.
The Crimson Fleet (church's navy, effectively) is moving like a school of sharks around the Island. Likely, we figure, why Evans is being held up. Trade ships going to full church controlled territories are allowed through. Its loose regional blockades.
We leave tomorrow morning. We will sail partway, then attack from land. We will have to take our own boat. The Stoughtleys and Hawkins brothers will act as crew on our ship, Beorn is cpt.
Oceanus' people have noticed the fish shortage as well. They do not know why. The Skyldings say that the number of Lizardmen would not disrupt fish that much, so it can't be them.