Rise of the Runelords

Murder and Misgivings

Can our heroes solve the gruesome murders plaguing Sandpoint?

Faced with several avenues of investigation, our heroes set out to try to piece together what might have transpired within the lumber mill the night before. Their first stop is to the holding cells of the Sandpoint Garrison where Sheriff Hemlock is holding his only two suspects, Ibor Thorn and Ven Vinder. Kadira orchestrates the questioning with the help of a strong intimidating presence in the form of a surly dwarf, and yields no new insights, which isn’t to say the two men in custody aren’t hiding anything. At last some judicious use of “Goggles of Detecting Bad Guys” from Tobias convinces the group that there is nothing more to be gained from the two men who seem to be innocent of this particular crime.

Next on the list of leads takes our heroes to the Habe’s Sanatorium, a dark and dismal place of questionable intentions and methods. The operator is Erin Habe, a skittish man who was not happy to receive visitors of any kind when our heroes arrived. With some persuasion, Habe agreed to facilitate a meeting with his newest patient, a demented and diseased man named Grayst, the sole survivor of the first set of gruesome murders featuring a seven pointed star carved into the victims chests. Making their way through the creepy building, our heroes cannot help but be disturbed by what they see, hear, and smell. The place is not very well kept, nor is it very often used as evidenced by the layers of dust and grime on tables and chairs throughout. When at last Habe leads our heroes to a secure room, he brings in a what can only be called a man in the loosest of terms, secured in a straight-jacket. The “man”, Grayst, seems feverish and disturbed until he recognizes Kadira and speaks of his master, this visit, the high place his master has for her, and how when she goes to his Misgivings she will join his pack. At the end of his speech, the restrained man attacks in a violent outburst which the heroes quickly defuse. With the patient returned to his cell, Habe quickly ushers the heroes out, but not before offering to care for SWWWWL as she exhibits several symptoms of psychosis.

Armed with this new information, and the day getting late, the group (all but SWWWWL) decides to seek refuge from the road upon a local farm. The family, while brave, seems troubled by rumors or walking scarecrows they’ve heard coming from the southern farmsteads. Though troubled, our stalwart adventurers hole up for the night. Meanwhile, SWWWWL travels back to Sandpoint where she communes with her patron about the information they learned in the Sanatorium. She is rewarded with the knowledge of the Misgivings as a local name for an estate not far to the south of Sandpoint belonging to local nobility by the name of Foxglove. Spurred by this new knowledge SWWWWL makes the trek in the morning to Foxglove Manor and finds the decrepit and derelict building very foreboding and locked. For the next day and a half she will struggle with her own feelings of misgivings and the strange lights and auras that seem to emanate from the building. Away to the east, her companions awake to a strange cry for help.

An old man, exhausted as if he had been running the whole night, collapses on the walk to the farmhouse the heroes had retired to. After checking to make sure he was alright, the heroes attempt to make sense of this poor man staggering through the farmsteads all night, but the only thing they can get out of him is walking scarecrows, and the old Hambley Place, belonging to a penny-pinching miser known to all the locals. Rushing to investigate, our heroes soon find themselves traipsing through tall corn fields along narrows walks, scarecrows tall among the stalks. When they come close to one, it moves struggling to break free of its bonds, tearing its ghoulish flesh in the process. Clearly there is something not right here. It isn’t until they reach they farmhouse and barn that the heroes truly learn the extent of the situation as they are attacked on all sides by ghouls coming out the corn. A swift fight ensues with the undead on the losing side, hacked by axe and blade, slashed by claw and tusk, and pierced by arrow and lance. After, while searching the farmhouse, the heroes find the final clues to the source of the Sandpoint murders: Hambley, murdered like Banny Harker at the mill, and the highwaymen some nights before, with a seven pointed star carved into his chest; a stout wooden coffer under the floorboards with more coin than a farmer should have; and a iron key around the neck of one of the ghouls bearing the heraldic crest of the Foxglove family.

With all the pieces in place, our heroes meet outside Foxglove Manor, nick-named the Misgivings for both the foul deeds said to be committed there, and the restless dead which call the place home. It is with much foreboding the group enters the front doors of the haunted mansion, which the iron key unlocks.

It is here, in the entrance hall, that the house begins its assault on our heroes, as faint sobs can be heard from further upstairs and then sudden and utter quiet. A stuffed manticore decorates the room along with the swift smell of burning flesh and hair. Further in a spiraling stain of mold upon the floor ominously resembling stairs, blocks the way to the dining room which bears splendid stained glass windows of four long lived creatures; a treant, a roc, a sphinx, and a kraken. In a side room, a haunted piano plays while Anthrogate is taken up by song and dances with a beautiful ghostly woman who ages and decays before his eyes and steals some of his life in the process. A tub containing a trapped diseased rat frightens Tobias out of the wash room, while Anthrogate again is taken by a sudden urge, but this time its that of a woman’s urge to gather her child and escape this cursed house. The library is a strange scene with two chairs, one overturned, a red scarf draped over the other one, and bookend tossed carelessly in the fireplace. Only after some investigation do we find the bookend of a praying angel with butterfly wings broken and splattered with dried blood, but also that the scarf has a mind of its own and it attacks Anthrogate attempting to strangle him. Upon braving the first floor, our heroes make their way to the entrance hall and the stairs up when they are beset upon by the stuffed manticore now burning and alive for just a short while. It is with a heightened sense of the macabre that they make their way to the second floor.

The faint sobbing of a woman passes the ear as the heroes search the bedrooms of the second floor. Sagging roofs and moldy coverings draped over rotting furniture decorate the rooms of what once belonged to children. An expansive room that would give a commanding view of the Varisian Gulf is instead blocked by more expertly crafted stained glass windows bearing images of the classic necromatic spell components of scorpion’s venom, vampire’s breath, tongues of deathwing moths, belladonna, and the heart of a maiden slain by poison. While SWWWWL studies these windows, the others move on to the master bedroom torn to pieces, bed smashed, mattress ripped, and walls gouged as if by a knife. It is at the same time that SWWWWL moves into the portrait gallery where images of the previous tenants of Foxglove Manor hang upon the walls. Clearing them to get a good look at each individual, SWWWWL suddenly feels the temperature drop, fingers of rime crawl across the walls, and images turn from those of the living, to those of the dead. A girl and her mother collapse into tumor ridden corpses, a man grows pale with a long cut at his throat blood washing down his chest, a woman chars and blackens with her arms and legs broken as if from a fall, Aldern Foxglove’s image shows his flesh rot and turn to a ghoulish figure, and one marked Vorel explodes into fungus and tumorous growth. Now it is about this time that Kadira is overcome with a misogynistic rage, as if a woman were the cause of all her problems and she sets out to find and murder the first woman she can find. SWWWWL begins to see tiny splotches of mold and tender red bumps on her skin as the room turns back to normal, and stands there stunned by the powerful haunt. Kadira, despite the pleas of her compatriots rounds the corner of the gallery, draws an arrow, knocks, pulls back and lets loose an arrow into the back of the head of the closest woman she could find. SWWWWL drops dead instantly.

As she comes out of the rage filled stupor, Kadira finally understands what this house is capable of. Death saturates it, fills it with malice, and the poor souls that tried to live here had no chance at a normal life. Beyond the gallery is another bedroom otherwise untouched by decay and mold except the desk which bears a dark stain. Tobias when looking at the desk is overwhelmed with despair, as if he had murdered of the only person he ever loved. He moves over to the desk and pulls out what looks like to him a silver dagger, intent on ending his own life. When his companions try to stop themselves from losing yet another party member, Tobias lashes out with the “dagger” and then it becomes a long piece of splintered wood embedded in the chest of Anthrogate. Truly understanding the dangers present, the heroes believe that the time for exploration is over, as the house is becoming increasingly murderous.

They make haste to the attic level where they all can hear the sobbing woman. It seems to be coming from a room further down the hall. When they force the door open inside they find a sobbing woman held in thrall by her undead image in the mirror. The woman is Iesha Foxglove, murdered wife to Aldern Foxglove, the source of the ghoulish murders plaguing Sandpoint. Freeing her from the mirror’s grasp, Iesha lets out a baleful shriek and screams “Aldern, I can smell your fear! You’ll be in my arms soon!” And with that she moves swiftly from the room, down the stairs to the first floor, and makes her way to the moldy spiral stain on the floor where she begins to rip up floorboards, tearing and clawing at the floor. She steps back revealing a basement room that indeed has a spiral staircase leading further below the house. With a strange look she heedlessly jumps down into the dark and flees down the stairs.

Do our heroes dare follow? What dark and sinister dangers await them deep beneath this haunted house?

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