Palaxia, Light, and Maledictus get 1,690 experience.
A. The Heist
Cimri Staelish was met by Maledictus the dhampir monk, Palaxia the fetchling spiritualist, and Light the aasimar cleric of Asmodeus on the outskirts of Longacre, the fortlike compound of Louslik Tannery hunching in the distance. In the shelter of the evening, they slipped through a narrow gap in the Tannery palisade spotted by Palaxia. Unfortunately, no one spotted the hound sitting faithfully next to the door of his master’s office until they were face-to-face with the beast. It got off one good howl before being rendered unconscious by one of Maledictus’ well-placed fists.
The plan had been to break in, sap anyone unfortunate enough to be present, steal whatever shiny things they could find, and be out again before the cops showed – but as no one had attempted to hide their identities and Jabral was alerted to their presence, Cimri changed the order from sap to kill. The quartet broke into the office and attacked Jabral.
Jabral fought back by throwing a thunderstone, deafening Cimri and Maledictus, but he was down before he could shoot his crossbow as Light’s channeling wracked his body with unholy energy, setting him (and his puppy) on fire. He dropped to the ground screaming, trying to roll himself out, as Cimri and Maledictus finished him and the puppy off for good. Cimri located the lockbox under his desk, which contained about 800gp, and pocketed it.
As they were leaving the Tannery, the front gate opened, and an old couple pulling a very stained cart painted with flowers entered, calling greetings to Jabral. Their greetings turned to jeers as they noticed Maledictus and Palaxia in the yard. They began to huck clay pots at the group. Afraid of some unknown alchemical substance, the party was scarcely less horrified to discover that the clay pots contained night soil. However, the oldsters were unable to throw very far and were easily disposed of by Maledictus and Light’s fiery channeling. Then the group returned to the Ash House where Cimri’s employer was waiting to hear their report.
B. The Ash House
The mysterious Razelago, who addressed them from behind a screen, rewarded them handsomely for their work with gold, new weaponry, and a feast. Cimri encouraged her new partners to stay with her in the Ash House where she had been squatting for a few weeks, where they revelled until they fell asleep.
Maledictus awoke sometime in the night by the unexpected sound of splashing water from the second floor, as though someone were taking a bath. As the Ash House was a long-abandoned burnt-out husk of a manor, this was unusual, and she got up to investigate and found herself in the door of a once lavish bathroom with a porcelain tub filled with mud and stagnant rainwater. A second look showed her that instead of mud, the bathtub was actually filled with long-rotting human remains. As she entered the room to further investigate, a slimy shifting mass in the shape of a humanoid lurched out of the tub.
Maledictus fled back down the stairs, followed by the creature, who was screaming as though it were in unimaginable pain. She awoke Cimri, Palaxia, and Light just as the creature phased through the wall to the room, leaving behind a thin silvery mucus where it passed. Light was able to identify it as an ectoplasmic human, a hateful undead. The creature nearly incapacitated Maledictus and Light, but Palaxia with her scythe finally put the tortured creature to rest.
C. The Sermon
The following day, Razelago tasked the quartet with a simple job – the local Iomedaen priestess, Fifth Sword Knight Tilleavia Allamar, was giving a sermon in front of her church that day. Razelago feared some revolutionary claptrap that might sow seeds of rebellion among Longacre’s citizens, and he wanted them to attend as representatives of Archbaron Fex, wearing his insignia, and report back what the priestess said.
They showed up at the church a couple hours before the sermon was due to start to gather some information. There were rumors of an angel that had visited Allamar, talk of what had happened at the Tannery last night, and murmurs about how Archbaron Fex doesn’t like the townsfolk gathering in large groups like this, so Allamar must have something really important to say if she’s willing to provoke him. The group was also approached by Sheriff Rhona Staelish, Cimri’s aunt, in a suspicious mood, but Light’s kind smile and comforting words sent her on her way.
At two o’clock, the sermon began. Allamar addressed the hardships known by the citizens of Longacre, and, in a very inflammatory move, had acolytes wheel out coffins containing Jabral Louslik and the two tannery workers. “See how the evil has touched our own neighbors! These were assassinations provoked by Jabral Louslik’s open criticism of Archbaron Fex’s excessive taxes, callous administration, and personal decadence!”
But she had hope for the people: she read a letter she had received from someone called Lencia Visserene promising honor and redemption if they join the Glorious Reclamation! Allamar had a beautifully-crafted silver helm with angelic features and a halo of curls brought out to display, claiming that the helm belonged to this Angel Knight who would lead Longacre to glory.
Although Allamar did not overtly call for Longacre’s residents to rebel, her words were provocative, and the townspeople were in a fiery mood as she retreated (along with the helm) into the Church of Iomedae. Maledictus tried to calm the people and disperse the crowds while Palaxia attempted to counter the talk by saying that she’d heard that it was crazed worshippers of Iomedae who had killed Jabral and the tannery workers.
That evening, the party went to the two taverns in Longacre, where they learned that the Glorious Reclamation was gaining traction and had driven the Hellknight Order of the Godclaw out of their citadel, and that mercenaries that had come through the town had talked about war. They learned the name of the Glorious Reclamation’s leader, Alexeara Cansellarion, as well as a rumor that her family had owned lands and titles in Cheliax before the Chelish Civil War, making the party question the true motive behind her vow to liberate Cheliax from House Thrune.
D. The Decree
The day after the sermon, Maledictus, Palaxia, Light, and Cimri were once again summoned to Razelago’s presence and given a stack of scrolls. All but one were new decrees from the Archbaron to post around the town; the last was a decree to be delivered personally to Rhona Staelish, dismissing her as Sheriff of Longacre. The new decree stated:
- The Castle Gate is closed; anyone leaving or entering the town to come through the North or South Gates.
- Anyone entering or leaving the town must be either sanctioned by the Archbaron or must obtain a writ of passage from the Longacre notary.
- People are forbidden to meet in groups of greater than six in private or 12 in public. Meetings for the purpose of celebration, education, or religion are not exempt, although families and businesses undertaking the natural course of business are.
- A curfew is now in effect from the hour after dusk to the hour before dawn; this applies to anyone in the town’s streets without a writ of exemption from House Fex.
- Any persons found in violation will be considered seditious agents and are subject to questioning, imprisonment, and summary judgment by the Archbaron of Longacre and officials of the town government.
The party met a lot of resistance posting the decrees. The townspeople questioned everything – does the curfew apply to people with medical emergencies? Half of Longacre is related – what does “family” mean in this context? Is a group gathering at the tavern assisting the establishment in its “natural course of business”? How can people outside the town obtain a writ of passage if they’re not allowed in to see the notary? The townsfolk were assured that their concerns would be taken to the baron.
The final decree was taken to Rhona Staelish, who calmly laid down her vest and longsword. Each of her deputies followed her example, refusing to serve under a bunch of “thugs.” However, this wasn’t enough for the deputies, who ambushed the party outside the sheriff’s office and sapped Maledictus into unconsciousness. However, they lost heart when Palaxia forced one of them to flee, frightened, and the rest followed suit.
Razelago thanked them for their service once again and promised them a more exciting reward than mere gold: he wanted to introduce them to Archbaron Fex himself the following day.
The party spent their free time that evening tracking down the four deputies who had ambushed them. The first two were easy to arrest once Light threatened harm to their spouses and children, but the houses of the second two were freshly empty when they arrived – as if someone had run ahead and warned them.
E. The Hellfire Compact
The next morning, the party met Darellus Fex in his lavish scarlet and ebony-furnished office. The Archbaron offered them a job: he would make them de facto representatives of the imperial government in exchange for a salary of 150gp a week, recommending that they take the sheriff’s office as a headquarters
“I have no specific plan as yet. Word of this Angel Knight certainly concerns me. I want her revealed and dealt with, along with whoever else is stirring up rebellion in Longacre. But I am a patient man, and I trust that time will reveal the best course of action for us to take. In the meantime, I would grant you emergency authority to do whatever must be done to keep the peace – although try to keep my town intact, if you would.”
But first… “Queen Abrogail has agreed that in this time of national crisis, all agents of the crown must reaffirm their loyalty to their lord, House Thrune, and Cheliax by swearing the Hellfire Compact. If you’re going to serve as representatives of the imperial government under the Queen’s name, I must insist.”
The Archbaron then revealed a black crystal pulsing with veins of fire on a golden stand. He told the party that the crystal was an ember drawn from the forges of Phlegethon, the fourth layer of Hell, and that each must place their hand on it in turn and vow loyalty to House Thrune, House Fex, and Cheliax. The ember flared with each touch, inflicting unholy and fire damage, and left a scar in the shape of the symbol of Cheliax on the palm.
Fex then revealed Razelago’s true identity – a zebub, or accuser devil – and together they gave the party their next job. A bard called Riley Kels had been performing ballads dedicated to the Angel Knight lately at the Last Stand Tavern – which incidentally broke two of the new laws. They were tasked with arresting the proprietor of The Last Stand, Bolgart Caggan, as an example, and to question the bard through whatever methods they chose – although they were warned against killing or maiming anyone permanently.
E. Last Call
The Last Stand’s patrons glared and muttered under their breath at the sight of them. Palaxia, followed by the shadowy Bob(blehead), drew the most attention. The aforementioned bard was singing a song about the Angel Knight from the small stage. Maledictus grappled Caggan, at which point the townsfolk began to run for the door. Riley Kels, the bard, tried to inspire courage with his song, but immediately surrendered when threatened, and Caggan surrendered as well when Light set him on fire.
After dragging Caggan to the pillory, they questioned Kels. He said he came across a woman in winged plate armor at dawn a couple days ago outside town. She was praying, and when the dawn light reflected upon her sculpted helm, he believed she was was an angel. She told him her name was Lencia Visserene, and he was so inspired he spent the rest of the day writing ballads about her. He led them to the hill where he’d seen her, but there was no sign of her.
A few evenings later, they had an evening visitor, a man named Ingoe Zoags who ran the docks. He promised to bring them anything of interest, as well as to help them out if they needed to move anything sensitive down the river in exchange for 10gp a week. As an example of the kind of information he could provide, he gave them a letter from Dr. Gerya Rohalendi to her cousin in Remesiana. In the letter, Rohalendi laments that she has been informed she owes 300gp in back taxes, which she is unable to pay. She confesses her worries that she will be unable to keep the hospice running for more than a few weeks, and she doesn’t know how to tell the people who depend on her. The party agreed to Ingoe’s proposal, although Caggan in the stocks did not – as Mr. Ingoe was leaving, Caggan spat a string of curses at him, calling him – and the rest of the party – cowards and worse.
Palaxia went outside and threw a stick at him using prestidigitation, saying, “Even the earth doesn’t like you.” Caggan bellowed mightily and his body thickened as short brown fur covered his skin. Two tusks erupted from his jaw as his snout elongated. “Come and get me,” he growled in full wereboar form.
The party rushed outside to deal with the beast, but had a difficult time attacking him through his thick skin. Palaxia landed an astonishing blow with her scythe that would’ve levelled a less ferocious foe, but Caggan fought on. When he was finally brought down, he reverted to his human form, leaving the party with an awkward situation – the town would not look kindly on the fact that the beloved local barkeep had been killed while in their custody.