Wealday 12 Lamashan 4707 AR, late afternoon
After the defeat of the shapeshifting creature that had assumed Ted’s identity, the party paused to absorb the terror and shock of the loss of their friend. Halfred dragged the corpse of the shapeshifter back to the cavern that held the body of the real Ted, in case the creature suddenly woke up.
Declan examined Ted’s body, and determined that he had been killed about a week earlier, and that the cause of death was most likely that his throat had been cut by a sharp blade. There did not appear to be any other wounds on the body, which seemed strange. Charrone asked why the nearby ghouls hadn’t tried to eat him. No one had a guess to that question. Zandu left to find the sheriff, and Charrone, Declan, and McGregor quickly re-explored the rest of the Catacombs. They found two more chests of flayleaf in the statue room, but otherwise the Catacombs appeared to be empty.
The Sheriff and three guardsmen arrived not long thereafter. Looking at the corpse of the shapeshifter, the sheriff said, “That think is a creature that’s called a Faceless Stalker. I’ve seen them once or twice over the years. It’s said that a small enclave live in the Brinestump Marsh south of town. No need to keep guarding it— once they’re dead, they’re dead. The smarter ones sometimes hire themselves out to be spies or assassins.” McGregor said that he was sure he’d seen the impostor cast a spell, which was one reason he had been convinced that it was really Ted. “Well,” replied Hemlock, “I’ve heard it said that a small number of them are actually sorcerers, and can use their magic to enhance their ability to go undetected. They are a very insidious creature, bur fortunately quite rare.”
Hemlock turned his attention to Ted’s body. “Exactly the same as Vishki, only three days older. This is some kind of ritual. I’ve seen this kind of thing before, five years ago, with the Chopper. He killed random people, mutilated them, and left the bodies for others to find. Of course, the specifics are different: the Chopper always cut out his victims’ eyes and tongues. This guy is cutting off the jaw and all the skin of the face, and then he carves that star on the chest. Have any of you seen this symbol before?” McGregor explained that it was similar to an ancient symbol of Thassilonian arcane magic. “Well,” sad Hemlock, “there aren’t any ancient Thassilonians running around any more, so I guess we can rule them out.” No one laughed at his attempt at black humor.
Charrone said that she would write a letter of condolence to Ted’s family in Magnimar, and asked what should be done with the body. Hemlock replied that the town would be honored to inter his remains in the town boneyard, and that Ted’s grave would be revered as one of the Heroes of Goblin Day. The rest of the party agreed, and the bodies were placed onto litters and removed from the Catacombs. The bodies of Ted and the imposter were taken to the Garrison’s morgue, while the ghoul bodies were taken to the beach below the Old Light to be burned.
Wealday 12 Lamashan 4707 AR, evening
Back at the Rusty Dragon, the party searched Ted’s room. They found that, while Ted had kept a neat and tidy living quarters, the chamber was in a state of lived-in disarray. Two things of note: Ted’s alchemical equipment hadn’t seemed to have been used in about a week, and all of the quills Ted used to write scrolls were dried up. However, between what was on the impostor’s body and what was in the room, all of Ted’s possessions were accounted for.
After a late dinner, the party lingered over drinks to drown their sorrows. Another patron managed to talk the owner, Ameiko Kaijitsu into one of her rare impromptu performances, and she sang an old, sad folk song about death and loss, accompanying herself on the cittern.
The song brought a tear to many an eye, and the adventurers went to bed shortly thereafter.
Oathday 13 Lamashan 4707 AR, just before dawn
Halfred awoke to the sound of someone knocking loudly on his door. “Halfred! It’s the Sheriff. Please open up.” Halfred got out of bed, pulled on some clothes and opened the door. He was surprised to see the Sheriff Hemlock, grim-faced, with four town guardsmen behind him, hands on the hilts of their swords.
“Halfred, I’m certain that this is a misunderstanding, but I have to ask you to please come with us to the Garrison. I need to ask you a few questions about the past few days, and I hope that we can clear everything up. But this isn’t a request— you need to come with us now.”
Halfred protested, saying that he wasn’t going. Hemlock sighed, and said, “Okay, Halfred. Sorry we had to do it this way. I am arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Katrine Vindler.”
Halfred, shocked at the accusation, protested rather loudly, waking up Declan and Charrone. Fearing more shapeshifters, Charrone said that she would accompany the sheriff and Halfred. Hemlock didn’t object, but he did say that it would only be himself, Halfred, and Brother Zantus in the interrogation room. He also said that Othart would stay behind to brief the rest of the party on the situation. The Sheriff, three guards, Halfred, and Charrone left for the garrison where Zandu and Brother Zantus were waiting there.
Othart explained that there had been two more murders last night: Halfred’s ex-girlfriend Katrine Vindler and her new fiancee Banny Harker. He asked if the remaining party members would join him at the murder scene at the lumber mill.
Declan knocked on McGregor’s and Larissa’s doors. McGregor answered, but Larissa did not. Declan tried the door, and was surprised to find it unlocked. Fearing the worst, he threw open the door to find… a completely empty room. Larissa and all of her belongings were gone, aside from a letter on the desk. It was in Larissa’s hand, and it read:
Dear Halfred, Charrone, Ted, McGregor, and Declan:
It has been an honor to adventure with you these past several weeks. However, the road calls to me, and I have decided to head north to seek more adventures on my own. I hope that our paths may cross again!
Your Friend, Larissa
Othart looked at the letter too. “I don’t remember seeing her at all yesterday. Any idea when she left?” No one did. Othart wrote something in a notebook, then led the three adventurers to the Lumber Mill.