Toilday, 27 Rova 4707 AR
Just after breakfast, the Sandpoint Six gathered near the Old Light and gazed over at Chopper’s Isle. The island covered about two acres, and was rocky, uneven, and heavily forested. All sides of the island were sheer cliffs, which ranged from 40 to 80 feet in height. It only lay about 200 feet off the mainland, and at low tide, all that separated the two was a stretch of damp sand. When the tide came in, the water depth was only about ten feet at most.
The artist Jervis Stoot made his home there for 15 years. Stoot was a reclusive, eccentric artist known for his lifelike and ornate wood carvings of birds. His art had been much loved in Sandpoint: it was considered a great honor to own a building, fence, or tree that had been graced by a Stoot carving. But five years ago, it came to light that the serial murderer known as the Chopper was really Stoot himself. 25 murders had been attributed to the Chopper. Chopper’s last victim was Sheriff Avertin, and it was then-deputy (now Sheriff) Belor Hemlock who tracked the Chopper to Stoot’s cabin on Stoot’s Isle. Everyone knows the story of what he found there: Jervis Stoot, bearing the injuries sustained by the now-dead Avertin, knelt before an idol to a demon. On the altar were the eyes and tongues of all of the victims of the Chopper. Hemlock fought the wounded Stoot, and Stoot’s body was burned in a pyre that afternoon. The townsfolk then burned down Stoot’s cabin, destroyed the wooden stairs up the cliffs, and abandoned the island, now named for the Chopper, to the elements.
Ameiko had told the heroes that no one had set foot on the island in five years, in an effort to put the grisly past behind them. Unsurprisingly, a small crowd had gathered to watch the Heroes of Goblin Day descend a crumbling stone staircase to the beach, and walk across the exposed sea bed to the cliffs of Chopper’s Isle.
Halfred found where the wooden staircase had been, and being an expert climber, scaled the cliff using the staircase anchors for hand- and foot-holds. At the top, he tied roped to sturdy trees and threw them to the rest of the group, who had a much easier time ascending. The adventurers then searched the island for the remains of Stoot’s cabin. One thing of interest were the numerous beautiful carvings of birds that seemed to be on just about every tree on the island: songbirds, eagles, ospreys, storks, cranes, gulls, falcons, and more.
After about an hour of searching, the group found the burned-out remains of a modest cabin. Only the foundation of the cabin seemed to be of any substance: the burned rafters had collapsed, and the walls and roof collapsed in during the fire. Searching through the rubble, Larissa found a singed oilskin satchel, in which were two sets of masterwork woodworking tools that still seemed to be in decent shape. Looking for a way into the basement, Charrone and Larissa each found a way down: Larissa found a stone trap door that opened up to a stone staircase, and Charrone found a section of unstable floor that broke away. She managed to leap clear before falling into the darkness. McGregor conjured a glowing orb and sent it down: there was a chamber below, about 30 feet below the surface.
Taking the stairs, the group found a large circular room. The walls and floor were tiled in a vaguely familiar fashion: it seemed very similar to the style of tiling in both the catacombs below the Glassworks and the second dungeon level in Thistletop. The walls of the room were covered with wood carvings and paintings of birds, but these birds were different than Stoot’s public works: these were all winged monsters or demons. In the center of the room stood an eight-foot tall wooden statue of winged male humanoid with a jeweled avian head. McGregor recognized the figure as being similar to the image of the demon lord Pazuzu that he’d read in the Book of Lamashtu. Larissa began prying off the jewels from the statue. Stone doors stood to the north and south, and to the east was a passageway blocked by rubble: obviously a tunnel collapse. Charrone used her Iomedae-given sight to look for hidden evil, and found some: She detected an evil presence in the room, but was unable to pinpoint it.
Larissa listened at the door to the south, and detecting nothing, asked Charrone to open it. She did, revealing a small room with a stone spiral staircase descending into darkness. Charrone led the way, and the rest of the party followed.
After following the stairs about fifty feet, Charrone suddenly felt as if she were being watched. Looking into the darkness, she was surprised to see a man wearing a hooded cloak of feathers mumbling and knocking his head against the blood-smeared wall. The man turned to Charrone, and the paladin saw its bloody, empty eye sockets, and blood dripped from his mouth. He pulled a small knife from his cloak and lunged at her. She gasped, but the vision suddenly faded. No one else saw the vision. Charrone felt the presence of evil in that location. McGregor cast detect undead, and also felt the presence of unlife in the area, but could not pinpoint its exact location. The group pressed onward.
The stairs ended in a small stone room. Three passages exited the room, but all of them were impassible due to tunnel collapse. Scraps of damp paper littered the floor, and there were several tiny bone carvings of horrific winged creatures scattered about. A moldy blanket lay on a pallet of rotting straw in one corner.
Ted began to gather the scraps of paper. Many of them were drawings of more winged demonic creatures, but Ted noticed that they were of a much less-skilled hand. One scrap had the same sentence written one hundred times, in a juvenile hand: “I now serve only Lord Pazuzu.” Declan probed the pallet with his scimitar, and found that there was something lumpy under the blanket. However, as soon as the pallet was disturbed, the ghostly image of a child manifested.
“No! Leave me alone! Mr Stoot will get me! He’s the Chopper!” shouted the ghost. While the ghost looked like a child, its mouth was filled with jagged, shark-like teeth. It flew toward Declan and touched him. The ghostly hand passed through Declan’s armor, and the cleric felt strangely fatigued. Declan raised his holy symbol and channeled the cleansing light of Sarenrae, and the ghost seemed to be hurt by the light.
“Wait, I think we should have pity on him. He’s just a kid!” said Charrone. Remembering the amulet of undead command she had recovered from the quasit below the Glassworks, Charrone held the amulet forth and attempted to use it. The words, “By the Midnight Lord, I command thee to halt!” came out of her lips, somewhat unexpectedly. She felt a coldness well up from within her, then into the amulet, and waves of dark energy flowed from the amulet to the ghost. The ghost hesitated for a split second, but then gazed balefully at Charrone, and moved to attack her. Charrone dropped the amulet, and as it fell she saw its form change to that of a tiny humanoid skull wearing a gold crown. She felt oddly ill. The ghost attempted to touch her, but she stepped away before it could touch her.
McGregor cast a spell, and flames erupted around the ghost. Decaln summoned the power of the Dawnflower agin, and the creature screamed and then vanished, the sound echoing through the chamber.
Declan pulled back the blanket and found the skeleton of a human child. Next to the skeleton was the half-rotten remains of a stuffed toy in the shape of a dog. Charrone noticed that the toy looked like the dogs at Korvut’s smithy. With surprising tenderness, Halfred bundled the skeleton and toy in the blanket and gently picked it up. The group went back up the stairs, into the main chamber, and then to the northern door in that room. Larissa listened again, and hearing nothing, asked Charrone to open it. The door opened easily.
Beyond that door was a short corridor which led into another circular room. This room contained a truly disturbing sight: Another, smaller statue of the winged birdlike humanoid stood before a large bookshelf. The shelf did not hold any books, but rather dozens of glass jars. Inside most of the jars was a sickly yellowish liquid, and floating in the liquid of each of the jars was either a pair of eyeballs or a tongue. On the western wall stood a lectern, on which was a book open to a drawing of the same winged humanoid. The picture was labeled, “Pazuzu, King of the Wind Demons.” The party took the book, and gathered up all of the jars, and then returned to the surface. They left the island and returned to town.
First stop was the cathedral to inform Brother Zantus that they had found the remains of Simon Korvut, and that a burial ceremony would need to be performed. Zantus agreed, and began preparations. Next stop was the Garrison, where they reported what they’s found to the Sheriff, nad to ask what should be done with the recovered body parts. (Answer: burn them in a funeral pyre.) Finally, Charrone took the toy with her and went to see Korvut. She explained what they had found, and handed the smith the toy. He took the toy, held it gently, and started to sob. Charrone brought him to the cathedral, where Zantus was preparing funeral rites. Zantus led the burial ceremony later that afternoon.
After the ceremony, Korvut said to Charrone," Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for finding my boy. Alive or dead, I needed to know what had happened to him. If you’re still interested in hiring me, I’d be happy to make that shield for you."
The next morning, at breakfast at the Rusty Dragon, a messenger entered the barroom. He walked over to Declan, and said, “I have a delivery for you, sir. No payment is needed.” The box was addressed to Declan and was signed “Mme. M.” Declan opened it to find a fully-charged wand of cure light wounds.