Temple of Iomedae, Magnimar
Fireday morning, the 4th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Having collected the lamia and faceless stalker carcasses into theirs and another cart they’d conveniently found on the ground floor of clocktower, the Sihedron headed back to the temple of Iomedae. Arriving there, they turned the monstrous bodies over to a priestess named sister Sidone to prepare them for post mortem questioning.
The Sihedron further inquired about the prisoners from the Sawmill and found that they’d regained consciousness and had been persuaded to answer some question by a priest named brother Iomore. Two particularly chatty cultists, men named Gidived and Jivae, gave exacting accounts of not only who was killed, but how and why. Brother Iomore had also concluded that the cultists had had their psyches damaged through the wearing of the vile skinsaw masks. He began petitioning to have them healed to remove the harm and, hopefully, make them productive members of society if not the Iomedian church, after a period in the Hells.
Using magics similar to those Ironbar had himself used during the trial of Thistletop’s criminals, brother Iomore had similarly succeeded in drawing out the ex-justice’s own story. It was a sordid tale filled with murder. For many years Ironbar and the skinsaw cultists had made certain that the temples of Norgorber in Magnimar had never lacked for sacrificial victims. His sawmill cultists had been hired over the years by many disreputable individuals in the city to remove their business or amorous rivals. The cult’s aims had changed however once Ironbar met Xanesha. Known to him as the Wanton of Nature’s Pagan Forms, she’d apparently charmed the ex-justice and drafted a list of targets; each one chosen for their greediness. The skinsaw men had been using the list to enact the sinful sihedron rituals on her behalf ever since.
Being made to leave their mutilated victims to bleed out where they would be found, Gidived and Jivae revealed that the cultists had been unnerved by the sudden attention that their killings had provoked. The tactic was a complete change of the cult’s modus operandi. After the first two such murders, finding and killing their remaining targets had become progressively more difficult.
It seemed that, while carrying out Xanesha’s wishes, Ironbar had refused other contracts and had stopped dealing with those who knew him; using his free time to compose sonnets to the lamia matriarch. Suspecting that Ironbar’s will had been magically subverted by the lamia, brother Iomore prayed to Iomedae to purge the ex-justice of her influence. Ironbar instantly became much more cooperative. Through his confession, Brother Iomore learned that Xanisha had come to the city of Magnimar two years earlier.
Learning that no trace of either Nualia or Tsuto had yet to be found in the city’s prison, Aubrey asked his folletti companion to fly hastily to Sandpoint to warn the town’s officials about the vengeful fugitives. She departed right away.
Returning to sister Sidone’s side, the Sihedron witnessed as she enacted the rituals to question the souls of the departed. She began by speaking with the four faceless stalkers. In so doing it was revealed that Xanesha had magically beguiled and recruited seven of their number after discovering them in the Mushfens to the southeast. The lamia matriarch had later brought the lot of them with her to Magnimar to serve her as bodyguards and servants. She’d stationed three of them in Aldern’s townhouse and kept four with her at the clocktower. Every few days, the lamia matriarch had arranged to send them out into the town with a cart to hunt live prey. Targeting the city’s poorest neighborhoods, they’d discreetly cart back whatever they could not eat. During the previous two years they’d successfully slain and eaten eight people, ten mules a score of dogs and cats; being careful to never leave any trace of their grisly deeds. Sister Sidone called for an artist to draw likenesses of the eight unknown victims from the stalkers’ descriptions in the hopes of identifying them.
Having repeated the necessary ritual with the lamia’s body, Xanesha’s spirit proved much less forthcoming than the those of the stalkers. Nonetheless, sister Sidone persevered and eventually succeeded in drawing out some details of the lamia matriarch’s nefarious background. Known to justice Ironbar as the Wanton of Nature’s Pagan Forms, Xanesha was a lamia matriarch who had emerged from the hoary spires of Xin-Shalast; the lost capital city of Shalast, the Thassilonian kingdom of wealth and greed. Having survived the earthfall cataclysm that had destroyed the Thassilonian empire, she’d been living there for more than a hundred centuries. Recently she’d been chosen to be sent southeast to harvest greedy souls through the sinful sihedron ritual by her superior; another lamia matriarch named Ceoptra. Although she believed that the Sihedron ritual would bring about some sort of golden age for her kind, Xanesha seemed unaware of Karzoug’s involvement in the scheme even though she recognized his name when questioned.
While other matriarchs went to other locales, Xanesha ended up in Magnimar, near where she’d awoken after Earthfall so long ago. Although she’d had many liaisons in the city since her arrival two years earlier, Xanesha had taken her time seeking the perfect agent to perform the Sihedron ritual. She’d found just such a man in the ex-justice. Ironbar’s cult had succeeded in ritualistically murdering ten greedy souls; eight by design along with a pair of would-be-thieves who’d been caught attempting to rob a temple of Norborger in the Shadow.
When questioned about the vial and the mysterious black-clad wizard at the clocktower, the lamia matriarch further revealed that she knew him as “Triest” and that he’d contracted her to produce the necromantic elixir, which she called Vorel’s Legacy. It was he for whom Xanesha had been inexplicably lying in wait when the Sihedron had launched their unexpected raid on the clocktower. Unaware of their presence in the city, she in fact hadn’t yet learned that Aldern Foxglove had been slain. Sister Sidone conjectured that Triest might be one of the city’s crime lords. When asked, Aubrey created a lifelike illusion of the man for the temple’s artist so that the temple’s clergy might be able to uncover his identity.
Sister Sidone, worried at the mention of ancient Thassilonian threats, wished to better understand the Ritual of Greed. The gnome obliged, explaining to her how the ritual was being used to siphon the power of greed into Karzoug’s ancient runewell, likely located in Xin-Shalast and how it might be used; possibly in the creation of an army of greed-sinspawn and other unwholesome goals.
Xanesha’s Brass-smith’s shop, Magnimar
Fireday morning, the 4th of Lamashan, 4707 ARMeanwhile, the stealthy folletti followed the courier from the clocktower as he made his way directly to Xanesha’s brass-smith’s workshop. Once there he handed over the vial to the old smith for which he was paid a silver. Discreetly entering the shop, Ainsel watched as the smith set the vial carefully in a bowl on a table at the back of the shop before returning to his work. The folletti’s further exploration of the shop turned up a pouch of valuable gems in the upstairs apartment chest as well as a small amount of boxed gold and silver ingots in a basement storeroom. Returning to Aubrey’s side with the confiscated goods, together they informed the Iomedae clergy of that smith’s apparent involvement in Xanesha’s criminal activities.
A temple knight, Sir Albert Dorun of the Light, was tasked with informing the city watch and to accompany them as they went to arrest the man. The smith, a journeyman craftsman named Hugh, was quickly apprehended without a struggle. He readily admitted to being hired by Xanesha the previous autumn to work in the shop; he knew her only as his beautiful employer who arranged the purchase of required supplies when she visited the shop irregularly. He was paid a small sum every month for his work. The watch captain seemed content to simply fine the man but Sir Albert insisted he be further investigated; though he admitted that he believed Hugh was largely ignorant of Xanesha’s nefarious activities. The smith was subsequently arraigned and set to stand trial within 10 days.
Morrin’s Apothecary shop, Street of Plagues, Magnimar
Fireday midday, the 4th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Making their way to the street of Plagues alongside a temple knight, Sir Medak Terrium of the Light, and a contingent of city watch officers, the Sihedron approached the small apothecary shop belonging to the necromancer responsible for concocting Vorel’s Legacy. Sir Medak admitted that he’d long suspected by the Iomedae temple of brewing poisons. Having surrounded and entered the shop, the watchmen easily apprehended the wizard Morrin without struggle; though the man maintained his innocence and refused to acknowledge that he knew either Ironbar or Xanesha. He would be made to stand trial with the prosecution intending to use Ironbar’s ledger along with Morrin’s own falcon familiar’s accounting and the Sihedron’s testimony to link him to the criminal conspiracy.
Oddly, during the raid, Sir Medak discovered that one of the city guardsman accompanying them was false. Taken by the knight for questioning, the watchman eventually admitted to being a skinsaw man though he claimed to never have worked with the ex-justice personally.
Ironbar’s residence, Alabaster District, Magnimar
Fireday afternoon, the 4th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
The Sihedron next made their way to Ironbar’s townhouse to search for further evidence or co-conspirators. They were met there by yet another temple knight who’d been assigned by the chaplain to guard the place. In residence were only three apparently innocent servants; goodwife Matilda, her daughter Tia and a butler named Young Jon. They admitted that their master stayed there only infrequently. A thorough search of the premises turned up only a few simple luxuries, Ironbar’s modest legal library, his case files and a few poor attempts at romantic poetry intended for Xanesha.
Fireday evening, the 4th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Ainsel arrived in Sandpoint a few hours after her departure, pausing only to observe a group of pilgrims en route to the small town. She began by visiting the cathedral, where she interrupted the bishop to warn him about Tsuto and Nualia. He fetched father Liam and a few acolytes to investigate the catacombs beneath the town. The folletti next approached mayor Deverin. Although dismayed, she organized the Magnimarian knights still in residence to search the town, asked the clergy to secure the town’s wells and recruited armed couriers to visit the hinterland farms. Ainsel departs shortly after carrying the mayor and bishop’s good wishes for continued success to the Sihedron.
Temple of Iomedae, Magnimar
Fireday evening, the 4th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Further questioning of Ironbar by brother Iomore revealed the existence of a second temple of Norborger located in a popular tavern in the Irespan’s shadow, to which the ex-justice had delivered funds and sacrificial victims. Plans were quickly put into motion to raid the tavern in the morning.
Then, as the Sihedron were getting ready to excuse themselves for the evening, good news arrived at the temple; both Nualia and Tsuto had been located in the Hells. It seems that the ex-justice had used his influence to have new identities created and the pairs’ interment records modified so that they might be released to a mercenary company within a year. When interrogated, Nualia and Tsuto (who’d been passing themselves off as Shiela and Martin) claimed to be ignorant of Ironbar’s motives; they’d merely played along so as to enjoy their reduced sentences. With their true identities revealed, both had their original prison terms reinstated.
The Sihedron retired for the evening shortly after speaking with the master of the vault about commissioning various magical items in exchange for those they’d turned over to the temple of Iomedae during the past few days.
Starday morning, the 5th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Having returned to Magnimar only to hear that Tsuto and Nualia had been located, our poor folletti had turned right around and flew back to Sandpoint during the night, arriving shortly before daybreak. Making the rounds once more, Ainsel related the good news to the bishop and mayor before catching a westbound wind for Magnimar.
Razor bar, the Irespan Shadow, Magnimar
Starday morning, the 5th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Having regrouped at the temple of Iomedae alongside dozens of priests, knights and city guardsmen, the Sihedron listened to the intended plan for the raid as detailed by a priestess named sister Cinda. Those taking part would split up into small groups and discreetly make their way to the bar serving as the evil temple’s front, surround it and then enter en masse to arrest whoever was present. The Sihedron was teamed up with a blase half-elven wizardess named Sonilie Harmethon who was familiar with the bar and who planned on defying the instructions by magically transporting their group into the bar’s basement gambling hall early. Aubrey insisted they at least wait for the raid to start so as to not allow any of the patrons to flee. She relented and chatted with the Sihedron while waiting.
At the appointed time, Sonilie wove magic around herself and the Sihedron; whisking all of them into an unfamiliar gambling den with a bar, a roulette wheel, fighting cage, a few card tables and a pair of patrons and one barkeep. At first startled by their sudden appearance and the sound of the raiders upstairs, the trio were easily convinced to surrender without a fight. Together both groups enjoyed some libations from the soon-to-be defunct bar’s stock while calmly waiting for the raid to play itself out upstairs. They barely had time to sip their drinks before Iomedae knights came charging down the stairs; signalling that the operation had succeeded and was over. The patrons and parishioners, sixteen in all, were arrested, led outside, thoroughly searched, bound and led away.
Toborus manor, the Summit, Magnimar
Starday morning, the 5th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
After stopping by the city’s registrars office to file a request for information, the Sihedron made their was up to the Toborus family manor to fulfil a promise. Welcomed into the lavish home of Mandrake and Isalia, Iesha Foxglove’s parents, Aubrey took it upon himself to tactfully convey the news of their daughter’s death and offer them her ashes, scarf and one of the portraits they’d recovered from Foxglove manor (painted by a local artist named Belvin). All in all, the Toboruses accepted the grim news with grace, though Isalia shed some tears. Mandrake was visibly relieved to hear that their daughter’s murder had been properly avenged; thanking the Sihedron for their efforts. He also invited them to attend the family’s wake for their lost daughter and placed himself in the Sihedron’s debt.
Temple of Iomedae, Magnimar
Starday midday, the 5th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
The Sihedron next checked in with Silia at the temple of Iomedae who, having finished deciphering Ironbar’s ledger, was already hard at work on a similar encrypted record recovered from that morning’s raid.
Perusing Silia’s finely scribed transcription of the former revealed Ironbar’s cult’s transactions for the preceding decade, most pertaining to successful assassinations in Magnimar. Other transactions were linked to three reoccurring payments: the first being a decade long monthly payment received from Aldern Foxglove, the second being a monthly payment to the recently raided temple of Norgorber, and the third being a monthly payment from a group of local merchants for the preceding two years. The ledger also recorded a sizeable payment within the previous week from the “red mantis” for delivery of “vorel’s legacy”.
Brother Iomore, being the first to have read Silia’s transcription, was busy drafting a formal writ of indictment against Ironbar. The priest felt confident that, in light of their many prisoners’ confessions and the ex-justice’s own written account of his crimes (once verified against the known deaths of several prominent residents), would be more than sufficient to send Ironbar to the gallows. Already brother Iomore had his clerks busily scrutinizing the ex-justice’s past cases for signs of additional malfeasance. Several Sihedron members offered to either write depositions or to testify at trial should it be necessary to ensure justice for all of the Skinsaw conspirators.
Aidreman townhouse, Magnimar
Starday afternoon, the 5th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
After stopping by the city registrar’s office to hear the result of their earlier request for information, the Sihedron made their way to the Aidreman family townhouse along the ridge to complete another sad task; informing Zeeva Aindreman (née Foxglove) of her late brother Aldern’s death. Her husband Sir Thomas, who coincidentally was present during that morning’s raid, wasn’t home at the time of the group’s visit. Zeeva, having long ago made her peace with the tragic fate of her family, accepted the news stoically. She also declined to accept the deeds to Aldern’s townhouse or her family’s manor, saying that she wanted nothing from her tormented family’s past; further claiming to speak for both herself and her sister Sendeli in the matter. In turn, Zeeva offered both townhouse and manor to the Sihedron if they could make some use of them. Upon discovering that innocents had suffered from Aldern’s madness, Zeeva further entrusted the group with a sum of five hundred gold coins for “reparations” to use as they saw fit.
Temple of Iomedae, Magnimar
Sunday morning, the 6th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
While at the temple to discuss matters of legal proceedings with brother Iomore and of commissioned items with Pietre, the Sihedron learns that Ironbar has been officially stripped of his civic position. Furthermore, they’re informed that Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras had learnt that his name was on Xanesha’s list of greedy targets; it being rumoured that he almost fainted when told. Appreciative of the Sihedron’s heroics, Grobaras had 6,000 gold coins delivered to the temple for each of them as a reward. Included along with the sum was an informal promise of employment if they were interested.
Toborus manor, the Summit, Magnimar
Sunday evening, the 6th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
The Sihedron attends a wake at the stately Toborus manor in memory of Iesha Foxglove. Aubrey takes advantage of a quiet moment to discreetly slink away to the family’s chapel where he leaves a small gift of fifty gold coins in the family’s chapel; tracing a simple butterfly symbol in glowing ink nearby.
Sunday night, the 6th of Lamashan, 4707 AR
Using a list of the Skinsaw murders’ victims’ next of kin’s addresses the wily gnome had been discreetly compiling over the previous few days, Aubrey and Ainsel flew across the city under cover of darkness visiting each of their eight dwellings in turn. Using their skills, glamour and small size to their advantage, the pair stole into each dwelling; leaving behind only a stack of fifty gold coins and a glowing butterfly tracing before departing. The last such place they visited was a dwelling beneath the Irespan through whose roof Xanesha crashed three days earlier.
Then, rising up to the very top of the nearby clock tower, Aubrey went about magically cleaning and repairing the despoiled angel statue mounted at its peak. The gnome completed his task as best he could by the morning’s early hours, pausing briefly to trace a small glowing butterfly mark behind the statue’s right ear before heading off to rest.
Lamashan, 4707 AR
With all pressing matters having been attended to, the members of the Sihedron set aside some time over the ensuing weeks to relax, enjoy the sights and visit with friends and family in Magnimar or the Sandpoint Hinterlands. Having no kinfolk to speak of within Magnimar proper, both Aubrey and Ton found themselves in the city’s infamous prison visiting incarcerated prisoners; Erylium the redeemed quasit and Nualia Tobin for the gnome and Lyrie Akenja the dark elf for the monk. Having taken possession of Aldern Foxglove’s unoccupied townhouse for their own use, the Sihedron also dedicated some time to putting the premises back in order, and inviting Ton’s old master Pujian to reside there (with his two young disciples) as its caretaker in the Sihedron’s future absences.
As the weeks passed, Magnimar’s temple of Iomedae and the city’s judicial system pursued their investigations into the Skinsaw cult’s criminal conspiracies. Soon enough, trials were held and sentences meted out by the city’s justices. Due to brother Imomore’s plea for mercy for the Skinsaw cultists, whom he claimed were spiritually damaged by the masks they’d been wearing, each was sentenced to ten years of hard labor in the city’s infamous “Hells” prison. Similarly, most parishioners from the second raided temple were likewise sentenced to lengthy incarcerations. Both Ironbar and the high priest of the Razor bar/temple of Norborger were sentenced to hang from the gallows for their heinous crimes. Morrin, the apothecary who helped unleash the ghoul fever plague in Sandpoint, was initially stripped of his license and holdings but successfully enacted a short-lived escape from the tower where he was being held before being recaptured. He was subsequently sentenced to hang alongside the two evil priests while his falcon familiar was entrusted to a group of druids. Those merchants identified in deciphered records as being patrons of the city’s Norborger cults were investigated and, due to their considerable influence, were merely sentenced to pay fines of 10,000 gold coins apiece. Hugh, Xanesha’s journeyman brass smith, was stripped of his licence, his mistress’ shop and materials were seized and he was exiled from the city. Suspecting that he was largely ignorant of Xanesha’s schemes, the Sihedron took pity on the man and drafted a letter of introduction to Sandpoint’s authorities on his behalf in hopes that he might be able to settle and work there. Over in Sandpoint, a traveling justice gave the now infamous Dr. Habe an offer: a week in the stocks or the gallows. Habe chose the latter, likely due to his greater fear of the linch mob Father Liam had helped to provoke.
The Sihedron eventually set sail for Sandpoint on their recently acquired magical ship, which they’d named the Stargazer. While passing the bluff upon which the abandoned Foxglove manor lay, Ainsel and Aubrey flew up to the house and down the old well shaft to the caverns below. While there the wily gnome drew a simple butterfly sigil in glowing ink in a discreet corner of Vorel Foxglove’s secret workroom. Similarly, during a stopover in Sandpoint, the gnome and folletti accessed the town’s old smuggler’s tunnels through the Glassworks’ basement access. Venturing into the ancient catacombs, Aubrey made use of a hallowed prayer scroll entrusted to him by Magnimar’s temple of Iomedae to finally neutralize the unhallowed aura of the ruined temple of Lamashtu located therein. The gnome then used his late grandfather’s leyfinder stone to assess the arrangement of the region’s ley lines; noting that they’d returned to normal. Once more, in a discrete corner near the rubble which was once the Mother of Monsters’ granite altar, the wily gnome traced a simple butterfly sigil with glowing ink.
In the city above, the gnome paid a visit in turn to each of the town’s noteworthy scholars; starting with his friend Veznutt Parooh of the Way North cartography shop, followed by Chask Haladan of the Curious Goblin bookshop, Brodert Quink the Sage, Sabyl Sorn of the House of Blue Stones monastery and finally Headmaster Ilsoari Gandethus of the Turandarok Academy. Seeing as how the Sihedron had recently amassed an impressive collection of books, maps and etchings, Aubrey wanted to offer each the opportunity to share in their good fortune and to advance Sandpoint’s reputation as a place of scholarly pursuit. The gnome’s offer was simple; Veznutt would take books from the Sihedron’s collection and distribute them to each scholar according to his needs and desires. Each scholar would make use of the books, either for personal research, to share with visiting scholars or to copy and sell as was there wont before returning it to Veznutt in exchange for further books. Each person in the chain would be honour-bound to report any profits garnered from the book’s use and turn over half; which would then be used to further charitable goals.
Finally returning to Thistletop, Kivu set to work surveying the island’s barren top; carefully laying out a wide circle with seven equally spaced points. In a simple ceremony, each of the Sihedron’s seven members stood at one of these points and, as the sun set and the stars came into view, planted one of the seven magical acorns Aubrey had commissioned. Within seconds, the island was covered in a magical grove of seven towering 60-ft. white oak trees. The gnome and folletti then serenaded their companions with fine woodwind music as the stars glittered overhead.
Later, when free, Aubrey and Ainsel followed a eastbound wind to alight in their home community of Simplerose in the Sanos forest to sojourn with their kin and kith. Seeking the counsel of the gnome’s godfather Novi, himself a lyrakien herald in Queen Desna’s service, Aubrey carefully considered the position in the Court of Dreams that had been offered to him. After a period of soul searching amidst familiar surroundings, the gnome eventually decided to accept his Queen’s offer and, at dusk on Oathday the 24th of Lamashan 4707 AR, entered a magical chrysalis. Lost in dreams, Aubrey emerged a week later; having metamorphosed forevermore into a tiny winged fey creature known as a spryte. Just in time it seemed, for a magical missive bird sent by Haldmeer Grobaras, the Lord of Mayor of Magnimar was waiting for Aubrey; he desired a meeting with the Sihedron on the first day of Neth. Without delay, Aubrey and Ainsel said their goodbyes and rode the wind west towards the distant city.