Session 24 - The Skinsaw Man Cometh
Traveling further into the darkness, the Saviors of Sandpoint were ambushed by several goblin ghasts. Their combat drew the attention of another group of ghouls, who joined the fray. The heroes broke out creative combat techniques to conserve their strength and managed to survive despite being outnumbered. While the party rested and recovered for a few minutes, Jayvielle, Kumiko, and Gallious inspected a side cavern where the ghouls had been feeding on bodies both living and dead. The heroes dug out some magic items that were tucked away amongst the remains. Gallious used a scroll to cast Lesser Animate Dead, animating a skeleton that he named Malatazz. At the edge of the slippery cavern vent, the party found a large - and locked - stone door. Kilgor drew an adamantine longsword and began hacking away at it. After a few minutes, the damaged door swung open. The air in the damp cavern reeked of decay and mold. Inside the cave was a table, a chair smeared with blood, and a few other creature comforts. The cave also contained an actual creature. Two, to be precise. One of them was the former Aldern Foxglove, now converted into a ghast of sorts. He retained much of his mental state and personality. That mental state seemed to be fixated on Kilgor, given the ample drawings of the barbarian that were scattered around the table. Aldern admitted to being envious of Kilgor's power and savagery, but now he had his own power. With that, Aldern launched himself at the heroes. Also, Aldern had his dog with him. After taking a quick beating, Aldern dropped to his knees and began sobbing. He begged the party to help him before "the Skinsaw Man" came. Truett tied Aldern's hands and Kilgor shoved him onto his stomach. Aldern's expression changed, and he smiled. He wonders who would mourn after he had murdered them all. He wondered what future would never come to happen. Something flashed beneath his body, and Aldern - now the Skinsaw Man - began to fight his way to his feet. Despite how now tougher flesh, the Skinsaw Man was slain and decapitated by Gallious. Searching the area revealed a number of interesting things:
- On the table were a stack of charcoal drawings on water-damaged parchment depicting the Kilgor, drawn by Aldern’s hand. The several dozen pictures showed Kilgor in a number of heroic poses. In some of them he was striking down goblins, in others he was slaying packs of bandits.
- Mixed in with these drawings were two letters. One was a docket for a ship called the Golden Lion, a freight ship. Jayvielle and Kilgor recognized it as the ship Kilgor was aboard as a slave when it sank in a storm. The ship was bound for Riddleport. In the docket, the twenty slaves were to be received by a representative of the Kingdom of Turapal. Kumiko recognized this as the Kingdom led by Lord Kaitos Blackmoor.
- The other letter was written in a graceful hand, addressed to Aldern at his Magnimar townhouse address.
Aldern, You have served us quite well. The delivery you harvested from the caverns far exceeds what I had hoped for. You may consider your debt to the Brothers paid in full. Yet I still have need of you, and when you awaken from your death, you should find your mind clear and able to understand this task more than in the state you lie in as I write this. You shall remember the workings of the Sihedron ritual, I trust. You seemed quite lucid at the time, but if you find after your rebirth that you have forgotten, return to your townhouse in Magnimar. My agents shall contact you there soon—no need for you to bother the Brothers further. I will provide the list of proper victims for the Sihedron ritual in two days’ time. Commit that list to memory and then destroy it before you begin your work. The ones I have selected must be marked before they die; otherwise they do my master no good and the greed in their souls will go to waste. If others get in your way, though, you may do with them as you please. Eat them, savage them, or turn them into pawns—it matters not to me. —Xanesha, Mistress of the Seven
- The fungus on the wall comprised the remains of Vorel Foxglove—after his wife disrupted the ritual he was performing to become a lich, the necromantic energy lashed back and destroyed his physical body, transforming it into the embodiment of contagion and fungoid corruption that grew on the wall here, and throughout the manor.
- The shattered box on the ground was the remains of Vorel’s phylactery. It was the same box depicted in some of the stained glass windows in the manor above.
- Among the items on Aldern's body, the one of most interest was a shard bearing an overwhelming magical abjuration aura - another shard of the Sihedron. Malatazz placed the shard in a sack, where it was secured away to prevent cursing anyone in the party.
The coins were divided up, but there was plenty of other items to sort out:
- masterwork chainmail (currently being worn by the skeleton Malatazz)
- masterwork breastplate
- potion of fox's cunning (CL 3)
- potion of darkvision (CL 3)
- potion of protection from good (CL 1)
- oil of light (CL 1)
- arcane scroll of certain grip (CL 3)
- divine scroll of detect undead (CL 1)
- masterwork scimitar
- sleep arrow
- +1 greataxe
- iron spike of safe passage
- bracers of armor (+1)
- If cleaned, the portrait of Iesha is worth 200 gp.
- A small silver key ring worth 10 gp, with two keys on the ring. The larger of these two is a tarnished iron key set with a round opal worth 100 gp. The smaller key is made of bronze and has an unusually long tang ending in a set of three notched blades. The head of this key resembles a roaring lion.
- chime of opening (5 charges)
- Pearl of Power (Lv 1) - for spellcasters who prepare spells (clerics, druids, rangers, paladins, and wizards)
- +1 leather armor
- +1 war razor
- ring of jumping
- ring of protection +1
- scabbard of many blades
- +1 rapier
Ding Level Six!
- Discovered the murderer of Banny Harker, Katrine Vinder, and the three (four) con-men in the barn. The Skinsaw Man had been given a list of names, names of greedy people, that he was to sacrifice so that their greedy souls could be sacrificed to the "master."
- Discovered a second shard of the Sihedron (not identified yet).
- Who else was on the murder list?
- Who is the master that is benefitting from the greed in the souls?
- Who is Xanesha, and what are the Brothers of the Seven?
- What did Xanesha want with the diseased rats, the cages of which were found in Vorel's laboratory?
- Is there a connection with the Sihedron shard?
Character(s) interacted with
- Aldern Foxglove/The Skinsaw Man
The Foxglove LegacyAfter returning to Sandpoint, the heroes were able to get information about the Foxgloves. Between what the townsfolk have to say, and what the heroes discovered in the manor, the sad story began to unravel.
- Built nearly 80 years ago by a Magnimar merchant prince named Vorel, Foxglove Manor was one of the first homes raised along the Lost Coast.
- Vorel Foxglove spent the next 20 years of his life researching methods to become a lich.
- On what was to be the eve of his triumphant transformation, his wife Kasanda uncovered his vile plan. She confronted him, ruined his phylactery, and triggered a necromantic backlash that destroyed Vorel’s body in one horrendous blast of disease and decay. His soul became absorbed by the manor, treating the house as the phylactery his wife had ruined. In a matter of minutes, Kasanda, her child, and all of the manor’s servants succumbed to a potent and horrific affliction spread by Vorel’s vengeful spirit.
- When nothing had been heard from Foxglove Manor for days, visitors found the family and servants dead of a mysterious disease. Disposal of the bodies was handled with utmost secrecy by the surviving Foxgloves of Magnimar, and they shunned Foxglove Manor for decades to follow.
- The building stood vacant for nearly 40 years before Traver Foxglove decided to move his family into the manor to reclaim his heritage and expunge the sour taint of the house’s reputation.
- His wife Cyralie gave birth to Traver’s only son Aldern not long after they moved in.
- For 6 years, it seemed as if whatever was wrong with the manor had corrected itself. Traver’s son and daughters were growing into fine young aristocrats and his fortunes seemed to be booming.
- Vorel’s influence over Traver grew. In time, Cyralie became convinced that Traver’s mental decline was caused by the manor itself. In a fit of desperation, she lit the servants’ outbuilding on fire then returned to the manor intending to do the same to it, but Traver, now fully in Vorel’s embrace, murdered her before she could light that fire. The shock of watching his wife die freed Traver from Vorel’s influence long enough for him to kill himself in despair.
- Smoke from the fire was seen as far away as Sandpoint, and when townsfolk arrived to investigate, they found the servants’ outbuilding burnt to the ground and Traver dead by his own hand. His wife’s body was found burnt and dashed against the rocks below. Cowering in a second-floor bedroom, though, the townsfolk discovered the Foxglove children.
- Aldern and his older sisters spent time in a Magnimar orphanage before they were claimed by Traver’s second cousin and brought to the city of Korvosa to be raised.
- Fifteen years passed before Aldern, now a grown man and a successful merchant himself, returned to the Lost Coast. Rich and popular, he secured a townhouse in Magnimar and set into motion his claim to the family manor.
- Aldern, returning from a visit to Sandpoint, happened upon a group of Varisians on the moor not far from Foxglove Manor, trapped by the terrible gale he himself was trying to get home through. Seized by an uncharacteristic fit of charity, Aldern did one of the few self-less things of his life and brought the dozen Varisians home with him, inviting them to stay in his manor until the storm had ended. And in doing so, he brought Iesha into his life.
- Iesha was surely the most beautiful woman Aldern had ever met, a goddess with raven-black hair and luscious curves, the voice of an angel and the heart of a lion. Aldern fell wildly and passionately in love with the Varisian woman and proposed marriage to her before dawn broke. Overwhelmed by the man’s handsome looks, social standing, apparent generosity, and wealth, Iesha accepted, and they were married within the week.
- Alas, as Iesha would soon learn, there was more to Aldern than met the eye. Aldern had a mean streak in him, one planted in his soul during his unpleasant upbringing in Korvosa. Aldern’s passions and lust for Iesha gave way to jealousy and paranoia, and he grew overprotective of his wife’s honor to the extent of locking her in the manor during his business trips to Magnimar.
- One night after arriving home late from Magnimar, Aldern found Iesha and one of the carpenters together in the library. Making a wildly inaccurate guess at what was going on, he brained the man with a statuette from a shelf, causing Iesha to fly into a frenzy. When Aldern recovered from his rage, he found he’d strangled his wife to death with her own silk scarf.
- In growing panic, Aldern disposed of the carpenter’s body by throwing it down the nearby well, but he couldn’t bring himself to do the same with Iesha. Instead, he wrapped her corpse in a sheet and hid it in the attic, locking the door and intending to return later to deal with the evidence.
- In the days that followed, Aldern explained to visitors that Iesha was away visiting friends in distant Absalom and that work on restoring his manor had come to a halt while he awaited more funds to pay for the final stages of the restoration.
- Xanesha reached out to Aldern and made a request of him - return to Foxglove Manor, catch one of the diseased rats that plagued the cellars, and return with it to Xanesha for her to study. For that, he would be paid well and would be able to complete the restorations of the Manor.
- Eager to finally be free of his debt, but nervous about returning to the scene of his crime, Aldern cleaned himself up and headed north. He lacked the courage to go directly to Foxglove Manor, though, and instead continued on to Sandpoint, where he attended the Swallowtail Festival. When the goblins raided the town, Aldern’s life was saved by Kilgor and the Saviors of Sandpoint. Aldern grew obsessed with Kilgor, envious of the power and combat prowess that Aldern himself never had growing up. Had he been as strong and ferocious as the barbarian, his upbringing in Korvosa may have been less traumatic.
- When he finally returned to Foxglove Manor after his stay in Sandpoint, Aldern searched the basement and heard a strange scratching from under the sagging floor in a central room. Assuming the sounds to be the rats he sought, he dug through the floor and uncovered an ancient stairwell, one that led to Vorel’s hidden laboratory under the manor.
- In these caverns, he finally discovered not only the rats he sought but the source of their affliction: a disturbing patch of fungus that grew along a cave wall. Harvesting both, he unknowingly exposed himself to latent necromantic contagions, and by the time he returned to Magnimar with the samples secured for Xanesha, he had already all but succumbed to a potent form of ghoul fever.
- Xanesha recognized the sickness for what it was and encouraged its growth. She taught him the Sihedron ritual, and once his transformation was complete, sent him back to Foxglove Manor to build an army of ghouls and expand the harvest of souls.
- Aldern, now a ghast who was growing quite mad, found the Sihedron shard amongst Vorel's belongings. The shard took Aldern's obsession and heightened it to unhealthy levels.