The party regrouped and discussed the turn of events. Strabo with a smile turned to Agrent and Rain, “So much for observing and reporting”. Cameo asked Justice if any of the town guards were nearby and was informed that none had stayed behind. Bron clearly agitated, “Who can report this to if the justice system is in league with the scum.” It was suggested that we report directly to Justice’s father. This was quickly agreed to, but it took some time to decide who should go. Finally, we agreed that Justice accompanied by Parlay and Rain would carry the news. Falathar gave the original documents including the letter to Foxglove, the letter to Thorlass (Vern), and the deed to the Lost Coast. Justice, as he bent down to the corpse, said, “we’re taking one more thing,” and with that he sliced the head off of the faceless stalker. Wrapping it in a cloth, “Now we’re ready to report.”
Justice took the lead for the short walk to the tower. Parlay and Rain kept careful watch for trouble. Fortunately, they made the trip without incident. They entered the tower and were
immediately challenged by the corporal of the guard, “What are you doing here at this time of night.” Justice turned to the man, “We are here to see the Commander.” The guard demanded, “What makes you think he will see you.” Justice with a cold hard stare, “We have information that will not wait…if nothing else I am his son, Sampson Lightblade.” A flicker of recognition on the corporal’s face, “I will ask if he is willing to see you. You and your friends will wait here.” The corporal turned and said something to the two guards at the inner door, and then he disappeared inside.
In contrast to the quick trip to the tower the waiting seemed to drag on and on. Parlay noticed a coffee pot on the fire and had several cups, while Rain brewed some tea. Justice paced about clearly upset at the delay. After thirty minutes the corporal returned to the
room, “The commander will see you now.” He turned to lead the three through the doors. Two more guards took up position at the rear as Justice, Parlay, and Rain passed through. Justice didn’t seem to give any attention to being escorted by armed guards. Parlay, on the other hand, was not quite so sure. He rested his hand on the pummel of his long sword just in case.
The little parade carried on up several flights of stairs. At the top of the last the corporal turned into a long hallway. They came to a door with two guards at attention. The corporal
knocked and then opened the door. Justice strode through followed by Rain and Parlay. A tall man was standing in front of the windows. He turned and seeing his son the commander waved off the corporal, who immediately left the room and closed the door. Parlay looked about the impressive office. It was about thirty feet on each side with bookshelves in each corner. There was a door in the middle of each side wall and a window overlooking the city in the far wall. Behind a large and ornate desk covered in reports and letters sat a chiseled man with grey showing in his hair. He looked like an aged version of his son.
Justice’s father waited until the door was closed, “Whatever it is must be important to bring you out at this late hour.” Justice asked if his father had gotten the message through the town guard about the faceless stalkers encountered at the Foxglove Townhouse. His
father replied that it had been, “Very disturbing.” Justice then recapped the recent events that had led us to 3 Sugar Row. “We captured Vern, the clerk to Chief Justice Ironbriar there along with this letter.” He handed the letter to his father, “Do you mean to suggest that Ironbriar is involved?” Sampson then described how the clerk transformed into a faceless stalker. He then went on to state it was his opinion, “that Ironbriar, this Xanesha seemed to be in league with the faceless stalkers. According to the letter they are to be given free rein to hunt in the city.” Justice suggested that Xanesha seems to be the same one who had been directing Foxglove’s murderous rampage in Sandpoint.
The commander then asked his son what he proposed to do. Justice suggested that a meeting should be called with Ironbriar here at the tower. His father smiled, “A good plan if he doesn’t know you’re here. To Rain have you exposed your presence in the city?” Rain said she had been seen as part of the plan as “Foxglove’s” lady, but unfortunately Agrent had been observed in the market. The commander went on, “I have no authority over Ironbriar…the only one who has is Lord Justice Bayle Agrentine. I will write a missive for you to carry to the Lord Justice.” He sat down at his desk and wrote the note. He folded the note and dripped wax and used his ring to seal it. He handed it to his son, “Try to keep a low profile.”
Justice asked his father for help in disguising his appearance in order to get into the Hells. His father unpinned his own robe and put it about Sampson’s shoulders. “There in the night you can pass as me. Just don’t abuse it. You are not to attack Ironbrier unless he
attacks you first.” Parlay spoke up and asked for something to hide his appearance too. Justice’s father called the corporal back in and directed him to provide unit cloaks for the party. Taking his leave Justice returned to the townhouse with Rain and Parlay carrying the cloaks.
They quickly made their report to the rest of the party. Everyone put on the guard cloaks and made ready to leave. Outside they made a careful transit to the Hells, the great prison in Magnimar. In due time they reached Kyvers Island upon which the prison is located. Upon reaching the gate Justice ordered it to open, he was there to see the Lord Justice Agrentine. The guards “seeing” the commander of the town guard retinue quickly obeyed. The party was conducted to a waiting room about ten by fifteen feet. There was a set of
double doors consisting of heavy wooden planks bound in steel with two guards at the sides. Justice did not detect any evil from the guards.
The guards saluted the commander. Justice addressed them, “I’m looking for the Lord Justice. He was informed that the Lord Justice was upstairs in his offices. The guard opened the doors and directed an inner guard to escort the commander to the Lord Justice. They were led upstairs to the Lord Justice’s suite inside the prison. Along the way they passed several openings and doors from one of which could be heard the sound of dishes being cleaned. At last their escort turned into a hallway with a guarded door at the end. The escorting guard knocked on the door and opened it, “Lord Justice, the Commander is here to see you.”
Bayle Agrentine signaled that he be let in and rose to greet his old friend the commander. He was an immaculately dressed in polished armor. As soon as the guard withdrew to his surprise Justice pulled back his hood. “You are dressed in the commander’s cloak,” charged the Lord Justice. “My apologies for the disguise, my father though it would draw less attention this way.” Still reserved Bayle asked, “You come unannounced, I assume you can tell me what this is about?” Justice then handed the Lord Justice the missive from his father.
Lord Justice Argentine read the letter twice not believing what it contained. The Chief Justice looked up, “Our paladin suggested that if the letters are real and not forgeries then Chief Justice Ironbriar is implicated in the ritual murders. Agrentine then asked about the Sihedron ritual. Falathar explained that the seven-pointed star is cut into the chest of the victim prior to being slain. The victim is chosen for his/her greed such as the very wealthy and even cut-purses. Argentine spoke up, “The murders like this started out with cut-purses and the like and have moved on to the wealthy. Sihedron means seven so that makes sense, but why the greedy?” “The souls of the greedy are being harvested to raise Xanesha’s Lord or Master. Xanesha and Foxglove’s Wanton of Nature’s Pagan seem to be the same person,” pointed out Falathar. The Lord Justice examined both letters, “Yes,
the handwriting seems to be by the same person.”
Falathar then ventured a question, “Who or what is the cult regarding the Lord of Murder?” Agrentine then recounted how about 500-years ago a cult formed around the Lord of Murder Norgorbor. He had been practicing ancient rituals. He returned to Absalom and successfully touched the Star Stone during a ritual that allowed him to ascend. About 80-years ago the cult of the Skinsaw Man emerged.” Falathar offered that
we had run across that cult in Sandpoint, but did not know who the Skinsaw Man was. “He is the Lord of Murder, Norgorbor himself,” answered the Lord Justice. “It’s said they use skin masks made from the skin of their victims.” Paladin Justice exclaimed, “We found a skin mask when we killed the creature that had been Foxglove. I destroyed it.” “As for Vern’s address it’s not 3 Sugar Row,” Argentine bent down and read his register. “His address is 4 Rice Borrow Way.”
Justice then repeated the request that his father had made asking the Lord Justice to call Justice Ironbriar to a meeting here at the Hells. We would deliver the message and accompany him back for the meeting. Falathar noted that the Lord Justice wore the Holy Symbol of Abadar and a book on his desk bore the same marking. He recalled that Abadar
calls for a balanced life following strict laws. It was then that Agrentine pointed out, “If he is what you say and has been paying attention he won’t show up.” “If he attacks us, then we know for sure,” offered Falathar, “and if he comes, then you will have a chance to question him. Either way we will get to the bottom of this.”
“What if I give you a note to give him to escort him here,” proposed the Lord Justice. He turned to our Paladin, “I want your word you won’t attack him first.” Justice agreed that we would all abide by it. That was the second time we had been given that charge…have we a reputation, wondered Falathar? Argentine pulled out a parchment and seal. He quickly wrote the summons calling for Ironbriar to appear immediately with the escort and sealed it. He bade us good luck and we took our leave.
Ironbriar’s townhouse was not that far away from the island. We approached it on the alert. The house was situated on a tree lined street and we could see a city lamplighter tending to the oil streetlights. Staying in the shadows we could see the house down the street. It was four stories high and windows on the third and fourth floors showed light
inside. Marble steps led up to an ornate front door. We could see an alley led behind the houses. The townhouse had a walled back yard with eight-foot high walls surmounted by high spikes.
We decided to let Rain reconnoiter by giving her the slippers of spider climb and having Erlig cast invisibility on her. She made quick work of it before the invisibility wore off. See looked through the window on the third floor and saw Ironbriar eating with two men dressed as court officials attended by two servants. Rain made her way back and reported. The party then strode up to the front door and our paladin knocked loudly on it. Shorty thereafter, one of the servants, the butler opened the door. Justice announced, “I’m here to see the Chief Justice.” “Your name good sir?” “Sampson Lightblade,” replied Justice using his proper name. “One moment,” said the butler closing the door.
Strabo cast bit of luck on Agrent. He then cast eagle’s splendor on himself. Erlig cast mage
armor on himself. Meanwhile, Falathar had cast detect magic. Rain saw the butler through the window walk upstairs to Ironbriar. He leaned down and said something to the Justice. Ironbriar nodded to the two court officials who got up and walked downstairs. The front door opened and the two men appeared before us radiating evil to our Paladin’s senses! “Yes, this way,” said one and they turned to lead us upstairs. Falathar could not detect any magic on or about them.
We followed with Justice in the lead, followed by Parlay, Strabo, Bron and Falathar. Agrent, Rain, Cameo and Erlig were still at the bottom of the stairs when the two men entered the room followed by Justice. Ironbriar was sitting in a chair behind a desk sipping a glass of wine. The first man to head back in also picked up a glass. Falathar
looked past those ahead of him into the room. He could detect magic coming from
Ironbriar only – a ring and something else. Sampson still detected evil from the two men and now the servants, but not from Ironbriar.
Ironbriar smiled at our Paladin. “Good day sir,” offered the paladin holding the summons in his hand. “Oh, the adventures that brought in the prisoner from Sandpoint,” said Ironbriar in a very pleasant voice. “It’s more normal to make an appointment during office
hours.” “I’ve been commanded to deliver this letter from the Lord Justice Bayle Argentine and to provide an escort,” and with that Sampson handed him the letter. “Why send you,” Bayle inquired. “We were in the area.”
It was then that Strabo and Falathar saw Argentine reach under the desk and press something. A bookcase behind him started to revolve on the spot, which everyone saw. The two servants and one of the men from the court features shifted into the all too familiar – faceless stalkers. They tried to pummel the paladin, but only managed to land half. The
last man morphed into Babau Demon which failed attempting to claw and bite. Judge Ironbriar turned and leaped into the open revealed by the bookcase. He could be seen sliding down a chute. Parlay reached in with his ranseur and hit the demon. Falathar began singing his bardic performance. Downstairs Agrent could hear something sliding really fast down inside the wall. Bron used his cross bow to score a critical hit on the third faceless stalker. Justice moved into the room and used smite evil and cleave to attack the demon and scored a critical hit. Blood sprayed from the demon sizzling on anything it landed on. Some of the blood sprayed back on Justice caused a small burn. Cameo had been watching Agrent tap on the wall until the sound of battle above. He raced up a
second stairway to a door with the sounds coming from behind it. Cameo pulled the door open and found himself behind the demon. Strabo cast bit of luck on Parlay once more. Rain followed Cameo up stairs and notched an arrow. Erlig cast spider climb on himself.
The first creature attacked Parlay and landed one of its fists. The third creature and the demon attacked Justice. The creature landed a fist, but the demon missed him. Parlay attacked the first hitting with the long sword, but missing with his shield. Rain sent an arrow into the demon with a perfect shot, but to her dismay the arrow bounced off the
demon. Erlig came running up the stairs along the ceiling to peer inside. He used berserkers cry to aid everyone’s ability to hit and damage. Falathar sent an arrow into the first creature. Agrent came running up the ceiling of the second stairway behind Cameo. Bron reloaded his cross bow as Justice scored a good hit on the demon. The demon’s blood sprayed about the room hitting Cameo, which caused a small burn. Cameo returned the favor by sending a scorching ray into the demon. The demon writhed in pain and
then vanished! Strabo cast bit of luck again on Parlay. The first creature landed on fist on
Parlay with minimal damage. The second creature now leaped into the spot vacated by the demon. It completely ignored Cameo and attacked Justice and barely landed on punch. The third tried and failed to pummel Justice. Parlay bull rushed the first creature forcing it back into the room scored a hit with the long sword. This allowed Bron to get through the door and into the fight, but he was off balance and missed. Rain sent an arrow into number two while Erlig use the wand to hit it with a magic missile. Falathar tried with
an arrow, but missed due to all the movement in the room. Agrent came up behind
number two using club and klar for two solid hits. Cameo cast a magic missile into the same. Strabo repeated with bit of luck on Parlay as it seemed to be helping.
The first creature realizing someone was behind it, turned to face Bron and landed a heavy blow with a fist. The other two attacked Justice missing badly. This gave Justice a chance to do a lay on hands on himself, but he still was sorely wounded. Parlay used his long sword on number two and his shield on number three hitting both. Hopefully, they this will keep their attention off of the injured paladin. Rain and Falathar each shot an arrow and both missed badly. Erlig used the wand for another magic missile into the second creature. Agrent still on the ceiling swung and missed with both club and klar. Bron tried a cleave attack on the first creature with no better luck. Justice performed a second lay on
hands on himself and was looking much better. Cameo sent another magic missile into the second stalker. Strabo channeled negative energy into the creatures with some effect.
The first creature landed on fist on Bron, while the other two missed Parlay and Justice. Parlay landed both sword and shield on the second creature. Rain nicked number two with an arrow. Erlig sent yet another magic missile from the wand into the same. Falathar shot and missed. Agrent missed with the club, but landed the klar on number two. Bron swung and missed the first, “Damit – stand still so I kin hit ya.” Justice scored with a cleave attack on the second creature dropping it dead on the spot. Cameo tried a scorching ray but missed and hit the ceiling. Strabo reached into the room and cast bit of luck on Bron. The poor dwarf really needed the help.
The first creature tried to pummel Bron, but found the little man impossible to hit. The third creature turned its attention on Parlay and landed a weak fist. Parlay returned the favor connecting with the long sword. Rain sent an arrow into number three with a
solid hit. Erlig used the wand to send a magic missile into the one fighting Parlay. Falathar missed with yet another arrow. Agrent had no better success missing number one with both weapons. Bron, thanks to the assist from Strabo, landed a solid hit on the creature. Justice landed a cleave attack on number three with moderate damage. Cameo repeated his lack of success with another scorching ray. Strabo sent negative energy into the
creature but it didn’t seem to have much effect this time.
The creature facing Bron landed one fist, but barely did any damage to our armored dwarf. The other failed to hit Parlay. Parlay missed with the sword, but scored a good hit with the shield. Rain sent an arrow into the same, which encouraged Falathar to do the same. Erlig sent a magic missile into it. Agrent stunned that the Bard could actually hit anything missed with both weapons. Bron used a cleave attack landed both swings with one a critical on the first creature. Justice dropped the third creature with a successful cleave attack. Cameo out of spells used his cross bow to miss the remaining stalker.
The last creature vented its wrath on our poor dwarf scoring with yet another fist. Parlay moved up using a cleave attack landing a critical hit, which dropped the last one standing. Agrent dropped off of the ceiling to slit the throats of the two that were only unconscious. He looked up with a grin as he wiped the blood from his knife, “Where Ironbriar – I don’t see his body.”