The Watcher of the Mists

The Chambers of Truth (Part 6)
Session 77

Synopsis: The heroes continued their exploration of the Hall of Arcane Wonder within the Chambers of Truth. They discovered a strange scrying device, a room full of severed heads and a contraption to speak with them, an underground garden, and a shrine to strange and terrifying creatures from beneath the sea.

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The Chambers of Truth (Part 5)
Session 76

Synopsis: The Sandpoint Heroes descend into the lower level of the Chambers of Truth. After a brief encounter with a former friend, they explored a deadly and ancient museum called the Hall of Arcane Wonder.

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The Chambers of Truth (Part 4)
Session 75

Synopsis: The party continued its exploration of the Chambers of Truth beneath the streets of Kaer Maga. They found a strange artifact unbound by the laws of time, examined viewing portals that looked upon distant worlds, and fought a terrifying creature made of stone.

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The Chambers of Truth (Part 2)
Sesion 73

Synopsis: The party continued its exploration of the underground magical research facility known as the Chambers of Truth. They encountered a strange crystaline monster in a geomancy lab, and later triggered successive waves of increasingly-powerful skeletons in a strange magical arena.

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The Chambers of Truth (Part 1)
Session 72

Synopsis: The party begins exploration of the underground chambers below the Temple of Lissala: chambers last used by the enigmatic Council of Truth before they disappeared a decade ago.

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Temple of Lissala
Session 71

Synopsis: After securing both the Lethe House and the adjacent warehouse, the party ventured into the basement. They found a temple to the lost goddess Lissala, the Rune-Maid, Keeper of Lost Lore— and a very powesful priestess who saw the party as her latest sacrificial victims!

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The Lethe House
Session 70

Synopsis: The heroes enter Tirana’s lethe house to confront the proprietor, and learn that he’s some kind of priest of the ancient Thassilonian rune-goddess Lissala, as is Tirana. A note from Tirana tells them more about the Swords of Sin. They also find out what this cult has done with the missing townsfolk!

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City of Strangers
Session 68

Synopsis: Now in Kaer Maga, the party gets the lay of the land and follows several leads on the location of Tirana and/or the Sword of Lust.

Adventure Log

Sunday, 3 Calistril 4708, late afternoon.

The party emerged from the bunker that served as the entrance to the Halflight Path into the chaotic bustle of a very strange city. The city wasn’t so much surrounded by 80-foot walls of white stone; but was essentially one immense hexagonal building! Much of the city was covered by a roof. But the wide boulevard on which the adventurers stood led into a breach in the wall. The collapsed walls must have fallen hundreds of years ago, if not longer, for countless buildings of varying degree of engineering soundness have been built up in thier stead. Stanties stood upon shacks, with balconies jutting out at numerous points above, all connected by a network of stairs, ladders, and scaffolding. Dozens or scores alleywats zigzaged in three dimensions through the dense warren of ramshackle buildings.

The party followed the boulevard onto the main thoroughfare into the city— more of a wide break through the shantytown than a proper road. Hundreds of busy travellers walked or rode along this broad unpaved and uneven street. Most of these people were human, but the party saw halflings, gnomes, hobgoblins, and orcs passing among the rest of them. Zandu even noticed a smaller-than-usual green-skinned troll with its typical tusked underbite among the throng, and no one seemed to pay her any mind. Declan was shocked to see three green-skinned muscular orcs prod eight shackled, filthy, half-naked people into the city. What all of the adventurers found surprising was that no one seemed to pay these slavers and their human wares any attention, other than a call of “Hey! 20 bob for the pretty one! I only need her for an hour!”

As the adventurers cautiosly walked into the city, they were swarmed by a throng of children, all proclaiming to be guides, and offering to show them the best the city had to offer. They also slapped away several small hands reaching for their purses. One boy, a lad of perhaps 14, stood out from the crowd. He locked eyes with Halfred, and loudly proclaimed, “Hail, Pathfinders! Welcome to the City of Strangers! I’m Gav, and I’m the best guide in the city!” Taken somewhat aback, the party paused, and Gav took that opportunity to shoo away the other children. Before anyone in the party could object, Gav extended his had to Halfred, saying, “I congratulate you Pathfinders for having the perspicatiy to engage my services for the outrageously low price of five quid a day!”

“Um, OK, uh, what’s a quid?” asked Halfred. With a wry grin and an eyeroll, Gav explained that a “quid” was a gold piece, a “bob” was a silver, and a “bit” was a copper. Declan asked why he thought they were Pathfinders. Gav pointed to Declan’s half-hidden wayfinder, and said, “Well, if you got one of those, you’re either a Pathfinder or you killed one for it. Since you would appear to be a priest of the Dawnflower,” pointing to Declan’s holy symbol, “I’m guessing that you haven’t done the latter.” Gave leaned in closer to Declan and whispered, “By they way, you might want to keep that little fact on the down-low. People around here are pretty accepting of any of the gods— with the exceptions of the Dawnflower and the Inheritor. Not that they have anything against those goddesses, mind you,” Gav winked, “just that their servants have a tendency to stick their noses where they don’t belong. And the one thing Kaer Magans hold most precious is their own privacy.”

After a little more banter, the party agreed to hire Gav at the stated rate of 5 ducats, or “quid” a day, and Gav asked where they wanted to go. Halfred replied, “Well, for starters, where would you recommend that we stay? We’re probably going to be here a week or two.” Gav seemed delighted at the prospect of two weeks’ worth of work, and replied, “Well, that depends on how much gold you’re willing to lay out… or who you want to lay with, if you catch my drift.” Zandu said that they didn’t require anywhere too fancy, but wanted somewhere clean, and hopefully safe. “Hmm… Well, definitely avoid The Sorry Excuse,” he replied, as they walked past the third billboard for that establishment. “That place lives up to its name. It’s a rot grub-infested dungheap where they’d charge you extra for the air if they could figure out how!” He then suggested an inn called the Vulgar Unicorn. “One-Thumb is an old friend of mine, and he has a soft spot in what’s left of his heart for Pathfinders. He used to be one, y’see. Or so he says.” He winked at that.

Declan asked if he’d heard of a place called the Blushing Rose. “Ha! ‘Course I’d heard of it! One of the better brothels in town, or so I’ve heard, and their dancing girls put on quite a show! Never underestimate the appetites of a priest, I’ve always said. You want to go there first?”

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The Halflight Path
Session 67

Synopsis: After using a magic item to bring Declan back from the dead, the Sandpoint Heroes continued their journey to the City of Strangers. Arriving just before noon at the village of Little Kaer, the party chose the shorter but more dangerous journey up the underground Halflight Path. Despite the guidance of a Duskwarden, the party was assailed by horrors from the depths!

Adventure Log

Toilday, 29 Abadius 4708, after midnight. Melfish

Leaving McGregor to stay with the body of their friend, Znadu and Halfred raced downstairs to try to track Declan’s assassin. Strangely, they could find no sign of a trail. Zandu alerted the town guards and dragged the broken corpse of the assassin he’d defenestrated back into the Happy Traveler’s barroom. The assassin bore no identification— save for an Aspis Consortium bronze badge! Also pocketing the assassin’s coin purse and weapons, Zandu dealt with the local constabulary, while Halfred returned upstairs. Trying his best to reassure the rest of the guests at the inn that everything was under control (“Nothing at all to worry about! We just killed three assassins that tried to murder us in our sleep, but they’re dead now, so they won’t be bothering anyone any more. Well, one did get away, but I’m SURE he’s not stupid enough to come back!”), Halfred checked out the corpses of the other two dead assassins, and also didn’t find anything more about their orders or identity— save for more Aspis bronze badges.

Returning to Declan’s room, McGregor remembered the unguent of revivification they’d recovered from Chrysalis Black’s lab. They removed Declan’s clothing and rubbed the magical ointment on his body. They then placed him back on the bed, replaced his bedclothes, and waited. A few moments after sunrise, Declan’s color returned, and he took a large gasping breath: The servant of the Dawnflower had returned from the Great Beyond!

Wealday 30 Abadius 4708, Melfish

Declan was weak and weary from his return to the land of the living, and the heroes spent the rest of the day in town. Znadu and Halfred continued to look for clues from the assassination, but were not able to turn up anything. They stayed one more night, and Declan’s spellcasting abilities returned the following morning.

Oathday 31 Abadius 4708, Abken

The heroes returned to the Lucky Jenny the next morning, and they journeyed up the Yondabarki River for another day. By late afternoon, they reached the walled town of Abken, and put in for the night. They stayed at the grandly-named Portside Palace inn, which was a bit of a misnomer, as the inn offered only simple accommodations. This night passed uneventfully.

Fireday 1 Calistril 4708, Yondabarki River

After another day of travel upstream, the boat drew near to the western bank of the Yondabarki near the confluence of the Jander River. The crew put extra watches on duty, but nothing accosted them that night.

Starday, 2 Calistril 4708, Sirathu

At around sunset of the 14th day of their journey, the Lucky Jenny came to the small and rustic village of Sirathu. When the boat arrived, the adventurers went ashore to find most of the town celebrating the holiday of Merrymead. Most of the revelers were already somewhat inebriated, but Zandu spotted a small group of people in the village square that didn’t seem to be carousing. Strangely, four young men carried a girl of about ten years on a palanquin. The girl had a faraway look on her face and proclaimed, “The stormclouds are gathering. This is the year they will break. Evil rises in Korvosa, and we must be ready when our champions seek refuge here!” She turned and locked Zandu with her gaze. After an unnerving pause, she stated, “Half-elf, you are indeed destined for great deeds, but you are not one of the heros of which I speak.” The men bearing her palanquin then walked off toward a house. Somewhat shaken by this incident, the party decided to spend the night on the boat.

Sunday, 3 Calistril 4708, Yondabarki Falls

In the morning light, as the Lucky Jenny cast off from the dock at Sirathu, our heroes got their first good look at the Storval Rise: A nearly 1200-foot cliff of reddish stone to the north. From this distance, it was hard to tell scale, but Captain Janke said that it was still 30 miles away. As the morning progressed, the rise became more and more impressive, and as the riverboat neared the cliff, the party could see strange faces and images of massive scale had been carved into the cliff face. Around noon, the party began to hear the distant rumble of a massive cataract: Yondabarki Falls. The river itself narrowed, then opened up into a lake about a half-mile across at the base of the Storval Rise. At the far end of the lake, against the cliff face, a gorge had formed, and about another half-mile into the gorge rushed a massive waterfall.

Janke turned the boat toward a small village on the eastern bank of the lake. While the crew made ready to dock, Janke offered some more advice. “We are approaching our last stop.” Several other, slower boats were visible on the lake. More were docked the large network of piers that seemed out of proportion to the size of the village. He pointed toward the top of the cliff face: What had first appeared to be a strangely even outcropping of white stone was actually the walls of a city. “That’s Kaer Maga, at the top of the cliff,” explained Janke, “but we’re putting into the docks at the village of Yondabarki Falls. It’s a waypoint for the transfer of goods and passagers from the city up there to the rest of Varisia.” A road ran from the village along the shore of the lake, into the gorge, and up a series of switchbacks that led to the top of the ciff. Janke contined, “That’s the safer, but longer way up. It will probably take you two more days of travel by that road. There is another way: a passage that leads up through the caverns and ancient passages beneath the city. It’s called the Halflight Path, and it will get you into the city in just a few hours. Take a less-traveled road that leads east along the base of the cliff.”

After bidding the captain and crew of the Lucky Jenny farewell, the party took the halfling’s advice and sought outh the Halflight Path. An hour later, they found themselves standing in a clearing next to the cliff wall, with about a dozen other travelers and wagons. Six uniformed people stood near a set of bronze double-doors in the side of the cliff. The doors were emblazoned with hundreds of strange runes that seemed to be of no known language. Staring at the doors for too long gave McGregor a slight headache. After a few minutes, a female human guard with graying dark hair approached the party, asking a few questions. She introduced herself as Abra Lopati, a Duskwarden, and said, “You four look like you can handle yourselves. You can jump to the front of the line. We head up in ten minutes.” They joined a small merchant cart pushed by a middle-aged man and his two teenaged sons. The Duskwarden handed out blue crystal necklaced to all. “These are halflight charms. They will let you see in the dark. It’s safer than using light. I’ll collect them when we arrive. A few rules: 1) No talking unless absolutely necessary. 2) If I motion for silence, you shut the hell up. 3) No wandering off… unless you want to become lunch for something nasty. We Duskwardens keep the passage patrolled and as safe as we can, but there are miles of tunnels that honeycomb these cliffs, and we can only patrol so much. Got it? Let’s go!”

The path was roughly 15 feet wide and 15 feet tall, although that varied. The path was flat in some places, steep in others. The passage itself also varied: sometimes the floor was rough stone, sometimes brick or tile, sometimes crushed gravel. Some of the passage was mined stone, some were natural caves, some were brick, some were covered with elaborate mosaics. Occasionally, the party passed doors that were chained and bolted shut… or archways that were bricked over. At one point, the tunne opened up into a vast chamber where both walls were carved with porticos and archways… all carefully locked and bricked up.

Not quite two hours into the climb, the group passed another archway that had been bricked up. But these brick were crudely placed, with the ends of many bricks sticking out at odd angles. Abra stopped to look at the wall, and mutterd, “That’s not right…” just as some… thing burst through the broken bricks! It was a huge, disgusting, wormlike creature with inhuman multi-faceted eyes. It slithered into the main passageway and attacked, followed by two more! And behind them was a humanoid creature in a ragged cowled robe that hung over its face.

The party sprang to attack, as the creatures all used strange mind-controlling magic to assail the party’s senses. Yet, they were vulnerable to blades and the group’s own spells. More disturbing was the hooded creature— which revealed itself to actually be an animated swarm of worms that could cast spells! After an intense yet brief battle, the three huge worms were dead and the swarm was dissipated. Thankful that there were no casualties on their own side, the group quickly continued its way to the surface.

Another hour later, and the party stood in the Duskwarden’s main building just outside the walls of Kaer Maga. Abra thanked the party for their heroism and defense of the noncombatants. After collecting the halflight charms, she handed Halfred a similar-looking pendant. “You can use this to summon me, if you need extra help.” Halfred was rather happy to be given such an item…

Exiting the Halflight Path, the party found themselves on a busy road, standing before the main entrance to Kaer Maga, the City of Strangers.

[To Be Continued… next week!]

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Aboard the Lucky Jenny
Session 66

Synopsis: On the trail of the stolen artifact known as the Sword of Lust, the party booked passage aboard the halfling-crewed magical riverboat The Lucky Jenny, for the two-week journey to Kaer Maga . But the Aspis Consortium can reach even into the wilds of Varisia, where the party had a terrifying encounter with daggers in the dark!

Adventure Log

Wealday, 16 Abadius 4708, night

The party returned to Heidmarch Manor with with the missing Pathfinder agents in tow. Venture-Captain Heidmarch was quite pleased to see the return of three of the missing agents. The party also reported that they had found evidence of another agent’s demise. They then shared the letter they had found in Black’s office that seemed to indicate that Black has already sent the Sword of Lust to Kaer Maga. Halfred mentioned that, while he had never been there, he knew that the City of Strangers was a two month journey away.

Heidmarch congratulated the party on successful completion of this mission. “With this, I think you have proven yourselves enough to receive a probationary field commission.” She then presented the four Sandpoint Heroes with their own wayfnders. “If you can successfully recover the Sword of Lust, I will promote you to full field agents.” She then said that she may be able to cash in a favor to get the party to Kaer Maga significantly faster than usual. “If I can work this out, unless that Aspis courier has access to teleportation, you just might be able to get there first!” She asked the party to meet her at Dock 9 in Ordellia on Sunday.

The party spent the next three days in Magnimar.

Sunday, 20 Abadius 4708, early morning. Ordellia, Magnimar

The party found themselves on a dock in the Ordellia neighborhood, standing beside Heidmarch, who was talking with a halfling. “This is Orthlo Janke, captain of the Lucky Jenny.” The child-sized man fixed each of the Sandpoint Heroes with a warm smile and clasped their hands firmly. Heidmarch continued, “This river rat owes me a favor, and he’ll bring you straight up to the City of Strangers.” He smiled at her, “Well, that favor plus that bag of gold you gave me! We’re even on that count, Shiela, but don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of service in the future.” He doffed his hat and bowed.

The Lucky Jenny was a 60-foot long flatbottomed river boat that was 20 feet wide. It had four passenver cabins. The exterior of the boat was painted a garish candy-apple red. Its most prominent feature was the 15-foot diameter paddlewheel that ran the width of the boat. “Um, what makes that thing move?” asked Halfred. “Magic!” was the enthuasiastic reply. “Well, gentlemen, climb aboard and you can each claim a cabin. You’re our only passengers. We’ve got a bit of other cargo, but you’re our main delivery this run!” The party boarded.

Checking out the cabins, our heroes made the discovery that all of the accommodations were sized for halflings, not humans. Janke half-apologized for the size mismatch but mentioned that they would be putting in to ports at night whenever possible, and that his passengers could seek lodging at inns along the way. “It won’t be every night, but it will be most nights!”

The boat got under way about an hour past sunrise. Halfred, who had traveled by Ulfen longboat in the past, marvelled at how fast the Lucky Jenny could move— especially upstream! Aside from the boat’s incretible speed, the day passed uneventfully. The adventurers marveled at the crew of the boat— all were halflings save the boatswain. The boatswain was a pink-haired female gnome named Ara Voingvleet. While both Janke and Voingvleet spoke Taldane with the adventurers, all of the rest of the crew seemed to speak Halfling exclusively. Just as the sun was getting low in the horizon, they made it to the hamlet of Marlon’s Eddy, and the party stayed at the hamlet’s one inn (“The Guest-House”) for the night.

Moonday, 21 Abadius 4708, Yondabarki River

The Lucky Jenny embarked shortly after dawn again. On this day, the land grew marshy and there were no settlements to be seen. “We’re in the Mushfens now. Nobody live here save goblins, lizardfolk, and trogs,” explained Voingvleet, “Cap’n will find a more-or-less solid bank of the river tonight to tie up. He’ll also expect you to assist on the watches, as you’re probably more ready for trouble than we are!” She winked at that. And her prediction proved true: Janke found such a bank, dropped anchor, and tied the boat to two sturdy-looking trees along the riverbank. Despite some unexplained noises from the swamp, and a freak thunderstorm, the night passed uneventfully.

Toilday, 22 Abadius 4708, Mushfens

The boat continued it way up the Yondabarki River through the Mushfens. The weather had also turned bad: hovering a little above freezing, a steady rain fell all day. Again, there was no town to put into at nightfall, so Janke found another bank to put in to. The night passed uneventfully, save that the Sandpoint Heroes awoke with very sore backs from sleeping in such cramped and damp quarters.

Wealday, 23 Abadius 4708, Wartle

After charging through the Mushfens all day, the adventurers were a bit surprised to come across a town by late afternoon. They recognized it as Wartle— a town they had overnighted in twice over the previous autum (on the way to and from Turtleback Ferry). The whole town rested on platforms raised above the muck of the Mushfens on posts— some seemingly more sturdy than others! They stayed at the Lean-To Inn again, and Halfred again drank a bit too much of that establishment’s signature beverage the locals called Bog Grog: a thick, dark, smoky stout flavored with peat instead of hops.

The next morning, upon returning to the boat, the party made a very unpleasant discovery in each of their staterooms. A bloody, decapitated chicken had been placed under each of their pillows. Pinned to each bird was a note: Turn back now if you know what’s good for you. This is your only warning. While the crew had been on watch all night, none reported anything amiss. Zandu and Halfred checked around the boat for tracks, but did not find any. Undeterred from their mission, they continued their journey after an hour.

Oathday, 24 Abadius 4708, Aelham

As the Yondabarki River left the expanses of the Mushfens, the land grew drier and more open. As the sun was setting, the Lucky Jenny pulled into the hamlet of Aelham— a very poor community with a very poor excuse for an inn (just called “The Inn”). Still, it was more comfortable than the boat, and at least the locals were friendly.

Fireday, 25 Abadius 4708, Sanos Forest

Before noon the next day, the river entered the mysterious Sanos Forest. As the party remembered from the last time they’d traveled through these woods with a mystical connection to the First World, the place was strangely quiet and always a bit disconcerting. Only the ship’s boatswain seemed to really enjoy being there. Janke found a steep riverbank and tied up the Lucky Jenny to some trees.

Starday, 26 Abadius 4708, Sanos Forest

Another day passed as the Lucky Jenny continued up the Yondabarki through the Sanos Forest. Again, no towns were seen at all along the river, although they passed two barges that were heading downstream. The night passed uneventfully.

Sunday, 27 Abadius 4708, Whistledown
Just after noon, the trees of the Sanos Forest thinned out, and the Yondabarki River cut through rocky moors. By late afternoon, the boat paddled into Lake Syrantula. High hills rose to the south of the lake, and Janke followed the norther shore a mile or so to the town of Whistledown. The sound of the wind off the lake played a tuneless yet melancholy song. The town was inhabited by at least as many gnomes as humans, and the party foud lodging at an inn called The Restful Chimes— whose front porch was festooned with dozens of wind chimes of various designs. Indeed, most buildings had four or more wind chimes attached to them. Despite the sometimes unnerving sound of the wind and the chimes, the night passed uneventfully, and they continued their journey the next day.

Moonday, 28 Abadiuds 4708, Lake Syrantula

Rather than keeping to the shore, Captain Janke steered the boat straight across the lake. After most of the day had passed, the party noticed that they were heading to a very small island, with just a few trees. “I usually put in here for the night on the lake— it shaves half a day off keeping to the north shore.” Zandu used his eyes of the eagle to look around, and noticed ruins on the southern shore of the lake, perhaps ten mils from the island. “Don’t know,” replied the captain when asked, “they have a very bad reputation, and us skippers avoid the southern shore of the lake. There are no settlements, but you can tell that something lives there. Best to avoid it.” Despite that somewhat disturbing exchange, the night passed without incident.

Toilday, 29 Abadius 4708, Melfish

By late afternoon, the Lucky Jenny was approaching the eastern shore of Lake Syrantula, and making way toward a large town. Halfred noticed the Yondabarki bisected the town, which had many piers and docks in the lake, and also many factories powered by waterwheels turned by the river. A very large drawbridge crossed the river. When he asked the captain, Janke scowled. “The town of Melfish makes a very pretty profit on tolls and taxes on boats traveling up- and downriver. As this is the only water route to and from Kaer Maga, we all pay the toll, but that doesn’t mean we like it!” Janke ordered the boat to put in to one of the public docks. A dockmaster came over, and they immediately started negotiating prices. The party disembarked to find an inn.

Melfish was about two-thirds the size of Sandpoint, and was easily the largest settlement they’d encountered on their journey. A large and well-traveled road led to the southeast of town— locals explained that the road led to the town of Baslweif, which was the northernmost point on the navigable Falcon River, which was the fastest way to get cargo to and from the city of Korvosa, just a houndred miles southeast of here. Indeed, the party noticed that the coinage in circulation here in Melfish was mostly Korvosan, and bore an image of King Eodred III.

After asking for lodging recommendations, the Heroes of Sandpoint chose to stay at The Happy Traveler, the largest and nicest of the town’s three inns. Larger than the either Rusty Dragon in Sandpoint, or the Shield and Sheepdog in Magnimar, the Happy Traveler boasted luxury private rooms for travelers of means. Feeling that they deserved to stay in comfort for at least one night of the journey, they party opted for those rooms. They had an excellent dinner in the inn’s dining room, and retired fairly late.

Well after midnight, Zandu awoke in his bed with a start. Glancing around the room, he saw a masked, black-clad figure with a dagger creeping toward his bed! He grabbed his magical kukris from under his pillow and surprised the assailant, shouting a warning to everyone else. Halfred and McGregor were both awoken to the pain of being stabbed, yet luck was on their sides, as both of them happened to stir in their sleep just as an otherwise-fatal blow would have struck! Shouting warnings to each other, the three adventurers each struggled with their unknown would-be assassins! Halfred managed to wrest his opponent’s sword from him, and ran him through with it in a fit of rage. McGregor blasted his opponent with a jet of flame, catching him on fire, and sending him running back out the door. The wizard blasted him with a lightning bolt (which awoke the rest of the guests in the inn), killing him. Zandu grappled with his assailant, and in the struggle, he threw the would-be assassin through the window, and the stranger plummeted to the cobblestones three stories below. He did not get back up. The three then went to check on Declan.

Entering the room of their priestly friend, the heroes found a grisly sight. Declan’s blood-covered corpse still lay in bed, his throat slit from ear to ear!

[To Be Continued…Next Week!]

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