Synopsis: The party’s investigation into the berserk golems continued at the Golemworks, revealing the creator to be a master artificer named Chrysalis Black. A meeting with Black in his office turned ugly, and he turned out to be a simulacrum! The party then went to Black’s upscale home in the Naos District, where he also runs a shop that sells high-end porcelain dolls.
Wealday, 16 Abadius 4708, mid-afternoon_
Standing in the greenhouse of Heidmarch Manor, the adventurers examined what remained of the malfunctioning angelic guardians. Shiela Heidmarch stated that she had ordered the golems a few months ago, and that they were supposed to be keyed to her personal Wayfinder— meaning that the constructs should have recognized her as their master, and obeyed her commands. “Perhaps the manufacturer would be able to tell us more about that,” suggested Zandu. Heidmarch grinned mirthlessly, “I was hoping you’d say that. I’ll cover expenses. I’d normally handle this myself, but I want to make sure nothing else was stolen. There is also another matter that needs my attention— two other local agents haven’t reported back in far too long.”
McGregor mentioned that most builders of constructs usually stamp their creations with a maker’s mark. An examination of the four constructs turned up something curious: no makers’ marks at all! “This is weird,” said Zandu. “I think we should head over to the factory and ask about this.” After requesting it, Heidmarch’s majordomo (the awakened gorilla Mandili), gave Zandu a copy of the sales receipt. Fortunately, the factory was just across town.
Moonday, 16 Abadius 4708, late afternoon
At the Magnimar Golemworks, Declan asked to speak with the manager on duty. The manager, a portly, balding man named Reemus, met with the party in his office. Upon hearing the story, he was visibly shocked and appalled. “That has NEVER happened to any of our constructs! Lady Heidmarch will get a double refund, plus any damages done!” Conversation turned to the person who constructed the guardians. Reemus asked if the party could describe the maker’s mark on the constructs, and was very confused when told there were none. “Hmm. In that case, I’ll have to look it up.” He rummanged through a filing cabinet, and came up with Heidmarch’s original order. “It looks like the artificer assigned to this one was Chrysalis Black, one of our more accomplished craftsmen. Let’s pay him a vist.” The party offered no objection to that.
Reemus led the party to a set of outbuildings on the Golemworks campus, away from the main assembly and enchantment floor. The etched bronze plaque on the door read, “Chrysalis Black, Master Artificer.” Remus knocked, but there was no answer. He took out a large keyring, and unlocked the door to the building. “Mr. Black must be out. I’ll let you in and you can wait in his office. Let me go put out the word that he has visitors waiting for him.” Reemus showed the party into an opulent office, with a front room decorated like a formal parlor. It had comfortable leather furnature and a well-stocked bar. Halfred helped himself to the latter.
After more than an hour, a middle-aged man in a purple frock coat and vermillion ascot came into the room. He wore gold-rimmed spectacles, and had his long hair tied back in a neat pony tail. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. Reemus tells me that you are looking for me. I am Chrysalis Black.” He then walked over to the bar, stepped behind it, and poured himself a drink. Almost as an afterthought, he offered drinks around, but only Halfred accepted one.
Zandu began by asking about the angelic guardians that he had constructed for Heidmarch Manor. After dodging the question, Black’s voice trailed off a bit, and he looked at Zandu. “Forgive me, but those exquisite ears of yours… are you half-elven?” Zandu replied in the affirmative, but tried to get Black back on topic. After a few go-rounds where the party hinted that he might have had something to do with cursing the constructs and Black deflecting the question, the artificer sighed and said, “All right. Enough of this. Attack!”
At that command, six of the wooden chairs scattered about the room animated and proceeded to try to grapple the adventurers. One succeeded in pinning Zandu, forcing him to sit in the chair, as leather restraints clamped over his wrists and ankled. Black smiled at Zandu’s prediciment, and said, almost lovingly, “Don’t worry, my dear half-elf. I won’t ley anything happen to those magnificent ears!” Halfred attempted to attack the wizard, but a wooden statue of a Mwangi warrior also sprang to life and engaged the barbarian. Even more disturbingly, the large woven Shoanti rug before the fireplace reared up, as if a huge creature rose up from the floor underneath it. Actually, it WAS a huge creature rearing up from the floor: the biggest earth elemental any of the Sandpoint Heroes had ever seen!
McGregor attempted to pin the elemental behind a wall of force, and Declan summoned holy fire to burn the wooden constructs. Several caught fire, and Zandu managed to escape his bonds. Black manged to keep out of hand-to-hand combat, and attempted to enscorcell Halfred, but the Ulfen warrior managed to shake off the effect. Most of the animated furniture destroyed, the wizard and cleric focued their spellcasting at the wizard, who took two direct hits of eldritch blasts. Black staggered forward, reeled, and then… collapsed into a vaguely man-shaped block of melting ice! At the defeat of the wizard, the elemental also broke off the attack, and descended into the earth.
McGregor examined the ice that had been the wizard, and exclaimed, “That wasn’t Black at all! It was a simulacrum! The real Black is still at large.” Looking through the simulacrum’s clothing, Zandu discovered a strange bronze badge, which identified the wearer as a Bronze Agent of the Aspis Consortium. He also found two tickets to tomorrow night’s showing of the Westcrown Imperial Opera Company’s production of Belial’s Gambit, a modern Chelish opera that was performing in town that week. McGregor explored the rest of the office, and found blueprints for the construction of angelic guardians. He rolled those up for safekeeping. He also found some notes on how to break the programming with specific sound effects, which would cause a golem to go berserk. Meanwhile, Halfred raided Black’s liqor cabinet, finding several very expensive bottles of imported spirits.
Responding to the commotion, Reemus and several Golemworks guards showed up around then. Declan expained what happened. Zandu and McGregor showed Reemus the evidence that Black was an Aspis agent, and was also responsible for the attack on Heidmarch Manor. Reemus, shocked that one of their own could be a traitor, told the Heroes of Sandpoint that Black had a second business selling high-end porcelain dolls out of his house in the Naos district. He said that Black lived there with his mother. He then gave the adventurers Black’s address.
[To be continued… next week!]