Hangman's Noose 01

 On the way back to the Pathfinder Lodge Falathar came across children playing.  They sang “Wealday, Wealday, Hangman comes for you, Ole Broke-Neck Mord, gonna hang you too!”  It recalled to Falathar that hangings in Magnimar are always held on Wealday (Wednesday).  The song prompted him to recall the story surrounding Mord.

Jarbin Mord was the hangman for a court outside of Magnimar in a former Cheiaxian colony.  He lived with his wife and son in the attic apartment above the courtroom.  About ten-years ago his wife and son were brutally murdered in the apartment.  A trial was held which found Mord guilty.  He was hung the same day on the very scaffold he had hung so many.  Shortly thereafter, the court building was closed.  Over the years the city had tried to sell it, but each time the sale fell through!  It seems that the building was now haunted.  The nearby buildings were also abandoned over the years for similar reasons. 

A trio of heroes entered the building about five-years ago to excise the spirits.  The leader was a well known cleric, Father Kellnor handsome with his blond locks and crystal blue eyes.  The warrior – captain was an imposing Dwarf called Grisdom Twin-Axe.  The third was a noble Sashrala Vortrum, she being a wizard.  They were held in high esteem by the local populace and were assured of being successful.  They entered the Silver Shore Courthouse to much fanfare at the fall of dusk on the fifth anniversary of Jarbin Mord’s hanging.  The crowd outside waited the next morning for the victorious return of the trio.  Alas, the next morning only Grisdom emerged.  His eyes had been gouged out and he was carrying a macabre lantern.  It held the severed head of the female wizard with a lit candle stuck in her mouth!  Grisdom babbled incoherently.  The only intelligible phrases: “Hangman, neck for a neck!”  “Hate never forgets!”  “Show me the way out!”

Falathar shook off these dreary thoughts and returned to the lodge.  They rest of the party had not returned.  Never the less, he enjoyed a pleasant meal with an excellent vintage wine.  As Falathar lay down to sleep he recalled the children’s song.  The dream of a cloaked figure entering the small attic:  A voluptuous woman with dark features sits in a rocking chair and knits a sweater for a small child.  She looks up, alarm on her face, as the figure closes, its back display to Falathar as it advances toward her.  Slowly the alarm changes to horror as the figure looms over her.

Sleep falling from their eyes Strabo, Bron, and Falathar find themselves in a dilapidated courtroom with several people they did not recognize.  The light outside is that of the falling dusk.  The room is covered with dust and looks as if it has been abandoned for years!  Each of the three had awakened from a dream.  Everyone is sitting the jury box.  The three are sitting with a Dwarf called Hammer Grind, a Halfling mage named Blossom, an ancient Gnome called Jester, a ½ orc, a “lady” dressed in a red dress with a opal necklace named Patricia Riggs, a Paladin Sir Record Cole, a hobgoblin thug Malgrim Hurkes, and a drunk man with a monocle Killiam Palthreth who has seen better times.

Everyone was surprised to find themselves in the abandoned courthouse.  As we talk it becomes clear that everyone except Strabo, Bron and Falathar sat on the jury that found Jarbin Mord guilty 10-years ago!  Falathar shared his memory of the story with Strabo and Bron.  He recounted his dream, nightmare or vision to those present.  Falathar’s description of the woman in his dream matched that of the Mord’s murdered wife.  Strabo and Bron had also experienced dreams prior to finding themselves here.

The courtroom has its high bench covered in muslin next to the witness box.  The chair in the box is tipped on its side.  There is a painting of the Goddess Iomedae fighting Norgorber, Asmodeus and Calistria.  There is another image of a face feasting on guilty souls!  There is a table covered in muslin.  It seems to have something underneath the covering.  The ½ orc wants nothing to do with this and rushes to open the door.  Immediately, an axe flies out from under the muslin on the table spinning towards the ½ orc and the door.  He barely manages to duck aside, but is still sliced on the cheek as the axe lodges in the door!

We learned from the original jurors that Jarbin Mord was not allowed to testify at his own trial.  His lawyer did not seem very competent.  This did not seem to bother the jurors as Jarbin was definitely guilty!  The prosecutor was Alistair Wade and the trial was presided over by Judge Silman Trabe.  We also learned that the Paladin and the “lady” have since been joined in marriage.

The ancient clock in the courtroom struck 7:00 PM.  The horrific sounds of a terrifying murder issued from the clock chilling all present!  A Strabo the Halfling exited the courtroom.  They crossed over to the entrance to the second courtroom and opened that door.  A swarm of dead black crows flew down to attack them at the door.  Strabo managed to Channel Negative Energy into the swarm, but only a few fell.  He quickly stepped back as the Halfling Blossom slammed the door shut!

The dwarf managed to pull the axe out of the door and it no longer seemed possessed.  He tried vainly to hit the door.  Finally, the Hobgoblin used the axe to hit the door.  It did no have much of an effect.  He then pulled out a spiked chain and knocked a chunk out of the door, but there is an eerie fog outside.  They stepped out through the door, only to immediately reappear coming back in another exterior door!  We advanced the hands on the clock to the morning, but they snapped back instantly.  It looks like whatever brought us hear is not ready to let us leave!

Falathar did a sweep using Detect Magic, but he only found the lady wearing a plus-one ring of protection.  Accompanied by Bron he entered Judge Trabe’s chambers.  There was a plain oak desk with a volume of Magnimar Law on it.  The book rose up “punish the guilty!”  “Those we entrust with justice must be above reproach!”  “Those who fail to serve justice blindly shall reap what we sow!”  After this the book fell back to the desk no longer animated.  We found a scroll containing [i]light[/i], [i]mage armor[/i], [i]magic missile[/i], and [i]shield[/i].

The entire group returned to the first courtroom.  There we learned that the three missing jurors are dead.  It was their seats that Strabo, Bron and Falathar found themselves sitting in.  We discussed why the spirit of Mord might want us there and thought he might want to deliver his testimony, which had been excluded from the trial.  Therefore, we went back to out seats in the jury box and called out for Jarbin Mord to take to the witness stand.  Nothing happened in the courtroom, but Strabo heard the sounds of death beyond the door to the gallows.

Several of us ventured upstairs to the attic to view the scene of the crime.  Something else the original jury never did!  On our way to the stairs we passed the doors of the jury deliberation room, privies, and the iron-bound door to the gallows.  We stopped at the other judge’s chambers and opened the door.  There was a skeleton in the chair with an iron spike chain around its neck.  The skeleton of a dog lay with cracked ribs on the floor.  The gnome went in only to be attacked by the dog.  Falathar reached in and jerked the gnome out of the room.  Bron smashed the dog with a solid hit.  The dog tried to attack Bron, but missed!  Bron smote it again dropping it with a second hit.  A search of the room found that the judge had penned a note just before his murder. 

Most Honorable Lord Justice

Bale Argentine. 

            It is with great remorse that I script this.  The chaos of our time has eaten many innocent souls, but this one was lost no to catastrophe, but to an evil deed of injustice.  Lies have killed a man this morning and I for my part did nothing to stop it.  My esteemed colleague Silman Trabe knowingly sent an innocent man to the gallows, as I stood by silently.  I only hope that Jarbin Mord’s soul may find some rest if the truth comes out

The note seems to have been interrupted by his murder.  There is a blood stain on the lower right corner.  We also found a potion bottle containing a cure light and two flasks of transmutation.  The judge’s skeleton had a dagger silver with emeralds on the hilt.  Falathar did not detect any magic beyond the potion and flasks.  Bron, Strabo and Falathar immediately noticed the weapon used to kill the judge is the same type of spiked chain used by the Hobgoblin.

We moved on to inspect the jury room on our guard, but were not attacked this time.  Strabo demanded of the lady who had caught up with us “What are you not telling us?”  He tried to charm her only to find she was trying to charm him.  We showed her the judge’s note.  Tears came to her eyes “the poor man if he was innocent?”  Falathar studied her and perceived that this was a total act on her part!  Bron stared at the painting of the judge hanging there.  His vision or dream suddenly returned:

The judge condemned Jarbin Mord to hang by his neck.  Silence fell over the courtroom.  Several members of the jury including the Hobgoblin, ½ Orc, Gnome, and Lady openly smirk.  It is evident that the Gnome wasn’t a drunk back then.

Back to the present – we grilled the four about their motives at the trial.  The Gnome had been made a fool of at a party.  It seems that Mord’s jokes were better than his!  The Halfling Blossom hated Mord for carrying out her father’s hanging.  The Hobgoblin laughed in Mord’s face as he died on the gallows.  We tried to press the lady for her motives, but did not want to raise her husband’s ire.

As we climbed the stairs we were informed that the only eye witnesses was the cleaning lady who had found the bloody crime scene and Jarbin Mord’s friend Sveth the court clerk.  Most of the jury stayed behind as we investigated.  Blossom for one seemed terrified. 

We found the attic apartment in shambles.  The mattress on the bed was shredded and bloody.  The bed frame was broken.  There were bloodstained toys on the floor.  A shadow in the curtains of the room attacked the party.  She materialized when attacking only to turn back to a shadow after.  It is Marlene Mord’s spirit!    Strabo tried to talk with the shadow without success.  Bron, however, called out imploring her “tell us what you want us to know!”  A dark woman steps into the room.  Her skull is split open.  She dances in a swirl with her scarf and touches the Hobgoblin, who screamed as the life drains from him!  The blood stained toys started advance on the party and we could hear a child chuckling.  Strabo asked “Are you the child that was killed?  Does your mother have something to say?”  Strabo sees the vision of Marlene Mord stabbing her attacker on the cheek with her knitting needle.  The Gnome sees an iron key hanging on the wall. 

Bron called out “If you stop being aggressive, we will stop being aggressive?”  The shadow dissipated and the toys dropped to the floor.  We began searching the room.  The Gnome pointed out the key, which we took.  A pouch of containing gold and silver coins was found behind the headboard.  A knitting needle with a blood stained tip was under the bed.  We returned to the second floor to search.  The clock downstairs struck 8:00 PM issued the harsh staccato whisper like a strangled man.  Malgrim Hurkes the Hobgoblin was then attacked by his spiked chain, which wrapped around his neck strangling him.  We could not get it off his neck before he died!

Once everyone was back on the ground floor, we began asking if anyone involved had a scar on their check.  The prosecutor was recalled having a scar on his check.  It turns out that he was the one who assembled the jury and rushed the trial.  We asked where Alistair was these days.  It was then that Killiam Palthreth removed his fake walrus mustache and monocle and revealed himself to be Sveth the court clerk.  Sveth recounted that Alistair had threatened to kill him.  He believed the judge and prosecutor used the Hobgoblin to tamper with the jury.  It was then that the ½ Orc said it was true, and he showed us his foot missing toes.  The Hobgoblin had done it!  Sveth revealed that Bob Malice the defense attorney had been dead for eight-years.  He claims that the prosecutor lusted after Mord’s wife and wanted her for himself!  He then showed us Mord’s letter.

I have served as an angel of justice my entire life.  I shall have mine.  Even if it be I death, justice shall be mine. Sveth, my only friend, you will find this when you clan the cell.  You are my avenging angel now.  Bring those liars and fools back to me after I swing, so that I might have my justice.  Ten years to the day, then they will pay, my soul shall stay until ten years to the day.  When the true murderer of my beloved Marlene and boy Gabe swings from my gallows as I did, on the tenth anniversary of my hanging, then at long last I shall be free.

J.M

We grilled Sveth for some time.  Asking how he managed to get us here?  How did Strabo, Bron and I come to be there?  To which Sveth would only say that he has some abilities and that Mord must want us here to find justice!  Sveth also said the judge and prosecutor would be here soon.  He had sent a note to each from the other.  The notes threatened each other with what they know.  They were to meet at the old courthouse or they would reveal the other to the world!  Sveth is sure they will come!  Several of us decided to use the time until then to search upstairs.

We opened the offices used by the attorneys on the second floor.  Falathar moved to search the desk when a giant leech rose up to attack him.  Falathar moved to defend himself, muttering “I thought they said there were no attorneys up here!”

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