A murderer or murderers have been stalking the city’s streets in the gloaming pre-dawn hours. There have been five bodies discovered this month—all worshipers of the goddess of healing and redemption, Sarenrae. The church and city guard desperately wants to catch the murderer(s) but they have no suspects and no leads. In order to expedite the search, they have turned to you to aid them in stopping those responsible.
The player characters’ primary point of contact with the city guard in this adventure is a woman named Kasadei. The city guards have planned a risky ambush to lure the murderer out so that he can be captured, but none of the guards have the precise training required to pull the ambush off successfully. She’s been given authority to reward the party if they can bring the murderer to justice. Before they set the ambush in motion, Kasadei tells the PCs that the guards have already done a fair amount of investigation, and can relate what they have learned so far. Of course they are welcomed and encouraged to use their unique talents to acquire more information to advance the investigation.
The Murder Sites
All of the murders took place in the pre-dawn hours in alleys in the Foreign Quarter. No witnesses have come forward. In each case the bodies were mutilated and some body parts were removed.
Each body was stabbed multiple times and two had a piercing injury probably from a bow or crossbow. Each had their hearts cut out. Sometimes other internal organs were missing. The last had the eyes removed. None of the missing parts have been located yet. All were low ranking traveling priests of Sarenrae, but beyond that, the bodies seem to have no real connections. Interrogations using the speak with dead spell have revealed nothing due to the mutilated remains. Divinations reveal lots of “woe” and that more killings will occur over 8 months unless they are stopped. In all cases, the victims were believed to be taking a traditional “dawnwalk” (a religious observance during which a worshiper of Sarenrae walks and prays during the hours before and after sunrise) when they were attacked.
The town guard has been investigating the murderers with assistance from the church of Sarenrae. Battle Captain Drussel, High-ranking member of The Guild and experienced paladin of Sarenrae, and Venture Captain Dreasing, High-ranking member of The Guild and high priest to the Temple of Sarenrae have taken a personal interest in this case due to their religious ties and position within the church. The church has warned clergy and worshipers of what appears to be serial killing. The town guard had been working with high level clerics and paladins to catch the killer(s) at night using decoys but the bait was never taken. Now they want to try using a real low level worshiper.
Enter the Heroes
Thirteen guildies were assembled by Captains Drussel and Dreasing to learn about the murders and what they could do to help. They learned about the victims and the murder sites, and there was a presentation by a Dr Reznik. He told them about the missing body parts and that Blue Whinnis poison had been found. Later after the presentation and questions he took them to examine it for themselves. From there Kasadei took them to each of the murder sites in order and they questioned people and looked for clues. They actually did discover that a gargoyle or possibly demon had been seen and heard in the area and was probably responsible from some rooftop archery. And some homeless dwarf named Antbeard saw the creature flying with a person in its arms. And that there was probably a silence spell involved. And to cap it all off Caleb found a blood trail presumably left as the flying gargoyle creature flew overhead. It also dawned on the group that it might not be just male clerics being targeted. Caleb was there due to a missing female cleric, and they later discovered that three others disappeared with the first going missing two months ago.
They took all this information and planned to lure the killer(s) out using the cleric Afarrah as bait. The City Watch was represented by Kasadei who would have a squad of guards with her to assist in the capture and arrest. There was a lot of discussion and ideas thrown around. When they realized that male clerics were being murdered and parts harvested and female clerics were disappearing they briefly thought about disguising Afarrah as a male, but that idea was discarded. Then Jerro the living doll decided to stay with the cleric during the ambush and that led to talking about disguising Jerro as a Sarenrae Holy symbol for Afarrah to wear but eventually decided to just hide him in her backpack. Magnus had a moment of brilliance when he suggested that they cast Ant Haul on Afarrah and weigh her down so that the gargoyle couldn’t swoop down and carry her off.
The ambush went as planned when the killer showed up. Afarrah was walking a loop route on a west-east street in an area the gargoyle had been estimated to fly. Kasadei, her guards, and Jalal hid in a home on one end of an alley, Caleb wore a bunch of thatch and hid on a thatched roof as a lookout, and everyone else hid in two buildings on the main street across from the alley. Caleb spotted the flying creature carrying someone. It wasn’t a gargoyle but what looked like a horned human male wearing studded leather chest straps and pants flying with bat wings. He was carrying a spellcasting woman. The pair briefly rested on a nearby building examining their prey, then swooped in for the kill. The woman in breastplate, buckler, and short sword was dropped and floated down to just behind Afarrah. The winged man looped back as if to land on the same roof occupied by Caleb.
Afarrah was lanced pretty well by the shortsword but her screams were covered by the Silence spell. Kaleb blew his rape whistle and shot the flying man with an arrow and the creature bypassed the roof and missed biting him while flying by. The rescuers began exiting the buildings. Below Afarrah stepped back and started channeling before being stabbed again. When the cleric didn’t go down her half elf attacker discarded a cheap cord “Silenced” necklace and retreated down the street. Three city watch surrounded her and demanded she give up.
The MVP award goes to Kaleb who’s next arrow shot blasted through the winged man. Although not obvious at the time the injury staggered him. Instead of snatching up the female attaker in the street it instead continued on flying away from the fight. Below the half elf called out to it but she was abandoned. She called out to Shax and channeled negative energy which dropped two of the watch and injured the third and Angus. This started a channel war between her and Afarrah. The fully buffed evil cleric was almost impossible for people to hit and she kept channeling as more people arrived. It was Adam that dealt the last blow with an arcane bolt and dropped her.
The aftermath of the sucessful trap was a captured half elf cleric of Demon Lord Shax. They stripped her of magic short sword, buckler, and agile breastplate before shacking her. Afarrah healed up the group. Kaleb found the blood trail from the flying man. Kaleb, Magus, Jalal, and Adam took off to follow the blood trail while everyone else escorted the unconscious prisoner back to base.
Kaleb had no trouble following the trail and additionally the group picked up Antbeard along the way. The trail headed into “Funky town” which Antbeard explained was a small shantytown within the old part of the Foreign Quarter. It’s tents and ruined buildings were populated by otherwise homeless and desperate individuals that he said were dangerous. Antbeard disappeared when the group approached the core collection of tents and tarps erected around a tumbled down building. The residents formed a disgruntled throng in front of the tents and the Mayor wearing a top hat and suit jacket greeted the unwelcome visitors. The Mayor was rude and didn’t much seem to believe stories of demons and sacrifices but let himself get talked into letting them pass through the tents into the central ruined building. The architecture was reminiscent of a religious structure. As they approached, the residents of Funky Town closed in behind them not-so-innocently holding improvised weapons. A robed individual was seen moving through the crowd holding a long bundle wrapped in rags. The only part of the body visible was a hairy snout that poked out from under the hood.
They quickly scrambled through the broken wall into the ruins. The outer walls were largely a shell. Inside were remains of interior walls and shattered stained glass. There were also bloody patches and large bloody hand prints in spots. The floor had scraps of clothes and unidentified chunks of flesh. At one end of the bulding was a conspicuously new iron gate with a big lock installed on the floor. They made a decision to run. The opposite wall also had a hole and only a few hobos on the other side. Kaleb used Darkness and those without darkvision hung on to those in front and the group ran. Luckily nobody tripped and the group escaped the shrine and tents of Funky town. They were chased only for a little bit.
The question is will they be able to return to base and get back to the shrine with reinforcements in time to confront those truly responsible for the heinous crimes?
investigation, ambush, tracking, discovering old shrine: 702
investigation, ambush, prisoner escort: 602
investigation, ambush backup, prisoner escort: 460