Oathday, 06 Lamashan, 4707
The Sandpoint Six were enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the Rusty Dragon Inn. They were somewhat surprised to see six dwarves walk into the barroom and ask for rooms. The dwarves then ordered food and sat at one of the larger tables. McGregor decided to be friendly, and introduced himself. In that all-business dwarven demeanor, the leader said his name was Barwin Ironbeard, of the Ironbeard Mining Company. When asked what they were in town for, Ironbeard explained that they had been hired by the mayor to seal off some unauthorized tunnels that had been discovered under the town, and were being used by undesirable riff-raff. He went on to say that his team would be examining the tunnels and then recommend what should be done about them: possibilities included bringing in a bunch of fill, installing a series of walls or iron gates, or deliberately causing a controlled collapse.
After breakfast, Charrone and Declan went over to the Cathedral, to participate in the celebration of Iomedae’s Ascension Day, as it was on this date in 3832, almost nine hundred years ago, that the mortal paladin Iomedae, servant of the living god Aroden, passed the Test of the Starstone in Absalom, and ascended to godhood. Brother Zantus had asked Charrone to lead the service, as she was the highest-ranking divine servant of Iomedae in town.
Starday, 08 Lamashan 4707
Halfred had taken his on-again, off-again girlfriend Katrine Vindler out to lunch at Risa’s Tavern. Katrine was far less talkative than usual, and even the somewhat clueless Halfred noticed. As the meal wound down, he asked, “Um, is there something wrong, Katrine?” She sighed. “Halfred, there isn’t an easy way to say this. I’ve been seeing Banny Harker for a couple of weeks, and we’ve decided to become exclusive. Do you know Banny? He’s the foreman at the lumber mill. He wants me to marry him.” Halfred looked shocked. She continued, “A miller sure isn’t as exciting as an Ulfen warrior, but he’s sweet, he’s got a steady income from the lumber mill, he’s building a beautiful new house, and I’m just not worried that he’s going to get himself killed every time he goes to work. I’m sorry, Halfred.” She got up and left while Halfred sat there silently. When he got up to pay the tab a few moments later, he noticed that several others in the barroom were looking his way, but quickly averted their eyes.
Toilday, 11 Lamashan 4707
After spending the day in their individual pursuits, the Sandpoint Heroes were relaxing at the Dragon a few hours after dinner. Ironbeard walked quickly into the room, followed by Sheriff Hemlock and two of the town guard (Zandu Agavale and Sandi Thelphar). Hemlock approached the party and said, “Mr. Ironbeard tells me that he thinks that there’s been some kind of trouble in the tunnels. One of his miners is missing. You people know those tunnels better than any of my men. Would you mind assisting these guardsmen in searching the tunnels tonight?” “We’d be happy to help,” said Charrone almost immediately, and the rest nodded in agreement. Halfred shot a quizzical look at the dwarf. “We’re engineers, not warriors,” he said, “and we weren’t hired to fight subterranean monsters, if that’s what befell Gorwin.” The party quickly returned to their rooms to don their gear, and met back downstairs in ten minutes.
Hemlock and Ironbeard escorted the party, plus the two guards, to the Glassworks, and the night manager let them in and led them down to the basement to the entrance to the tunnels. Viorek, one of the new guards from Magnimar, was sitting at a desk that had been moved to the access room. The party could see that a good amount of mining equipment had been moved into that room as well. Viorek nodded, then returned to the book he was reading. When they were out of earshot, Sandi and Zandu exchanged knowing glances, and Zandu said, “well, that’s just like Viorek. It’s not like he ever does any actual work. Why did Belor hire him again?”
The Sandpoint Six, plus Ironbeard, Sandi, and Zandu, all walked along the main tunnel. Larissa suggested that they first check out the main tunnel all the way to the secret cave entrance, and if they didn’t find anything, then circle back and check the dead-end side passage, then the passage to the Catacombs. Everyone agreed that was a sound plan. They walked about a quarter-mile, and were getting close to the end of the tunnel, when they made a grisly discovery.
Two bodies lay on the ground. One was a dwarf, who seemed to have died from multiple stab wounds. The other was a human, whose cause of death was obvious, as the business end of a heavy pickaxe was buried into his chest. “By Torag,” said Ironbeard, “that’s Gorwin Goldhelm. I don’t know the human.”
“I do,” said Zandu, “that’s Andrezi Jhorasso. He’s a local thief and smuggler who does a little extortion on the side. He’s bad news, but clever enough not to get caught very often. I thought he’d meet a bad end, but I wouldn’t have bet on a pickaxe to the chest. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him around town in weeks.”
Halfred examined the ground. “Well,” said Halfred, “the tracks in the dust here would indicate that there was a second human with him. And it looks like that other guy left while dragging something heavy, with a flat bottom, like a chest. And he was bleeding. From the looks of these tracks, two humans carrying something heavy came in from the cave entrance and got this far. There was a scuffle, two guys died, then the remaining one left with the cargo.” A few feet farther down the passage, Halfred found an empty potion bottle; McGregor identified the residual liquid as a healing potion of some sort.
Examining Jhorasso’s body, Larissa found that he lay on top of a bloody dagger, which he apparently had used against the dwarf, but then fell atop. Looking at the dagger, she noticed that the blade was also covered with a sticky greenish-black substance. “Be careful with this,” she said, “it’s poisoned.”
Sandi said that she’d go back for reinforcements, and Ironbeard said that he’d wait vigil over his fallen comrade. The rest of the party, plus Zandu, proceeded down the corridor to the secret entrance inside a cave behind a small, secluded beach northeast of Sandpoint. Halfred looked for tracks in the beach sand. The night was clear, and there was a full moon, bathing everything in clear, dim light. If it weren’t for a murder investigation, the beach would have been a very pleasant place to be.
From the marks in the sand, Halfred deduced that a small boat had been beached here within the past four hours. Two people had gotten out of the boat carrying something heavy between them and entered the cave with it. Then the boat left. At some point after that, a single person came out of the cave dragging a heavy object with a flat bottom— probably a chest. Halfred followed the tracks to a goblin switchback trail that led up the cliff. About halfway up the steep, rocky path, Halfred noticed that the tracks indicated that whoever made them was walking normally, and not dragging anyting. Larissa found a large, heavy chest inexpertly hidden behind some bushes. Picking the lock, she found that the chest contained scores of bundles of dried leaves in one section. In a smaller section of the chest were carefully packed glass vials of a greenish liquid.
Zandu examined the leaves, and broke off a small bit to taste it. “Flayleaf,” he said. “This much of the drug would probably fetch about a thousand gold.” Ted cast detect magic, and reported that nothing in the chest appeared to be magical in nature. Larissa took one of the vials and opened it. The liquid appeared to be viscous, and it smelled pungent and fishy. The vapors gave her the slightest of headaches. “I think this stuff is some kind of poison, probably the same kind that was on the dagger.” she said.
“So, what do we do now?” asked Charrone. They decided to conceal the chest where they had found it, and to try to catch the smuggler, who was most likely the one who murdered the dwarf. Halfred and the rest of the party followed the tracks through the woods for about a quarter-mile, to where the path met up with the heavily-traveled Lost Coast Road. Once on the road, Halfred lost the trail, although he suspected that their quarry most likely headed back toward Sandpoint.
The group figured that the smuggler wouldn’t want to abandon a thousand gold worth of contraband, and that either the smuggler or that person’s cronies would be back to claim it, and probably would do so later tonight. The group then hid themselves just off the trail near the chest.
Several hours later, well after midnight, Ted’s pet raven notified him that a group of people were approaching along the trail. Zandu also spotted them using his keen elven night vision, and nocked an arrow. Four black-clad figures approached. Zandu stood, and shouted, “Halt, in the name of the Sandpoint Guard!” One of the figures threw a dagger at him, and Zandu let loose the arrow, which hit the figure squarely in the chest. At that, McGregor cast a spell, and a burst of brightly-glowing dust exploded amidst the figures. The glowing dust clung to their clothing, making them extremely easy to see in the dim light. They then attempted to flee, as Halfred sprung forward and struck one with his ranseur, Larissa let loose a volley of arrows, and Charrone ran at them with her magic sword. McGregor then cast another spell, and conjured a huge, sticky, magical spider web that entangled all of the fleeing ruffians, who finally surrendered.