The Helltreaders

This whole campaign is a murder mystery.... really

The party assembles in Valena and learns that a rash of murders has occurred over the last 3 weeks. King Itheus asks the party to track down the killer, and the party insights that this is the first real challenge of Itheus’s rule since the end of the Hellmarch (as he has been riding high on selecting the party and forward thinking enough to address the threat)

Before the party meets Itheus, they are confronted by Teagan of House Virrid. Teagan is obsessed with dueling Voronwe to prove he is the better swordsman (despite the fact that Voronwe no longer wields a fullblade). The party ignores him, despite his childish provocations and the gathered crowd is impressed. Teagan is made to look like fool.

The party begins tracking down the murderer and Brood becomes aware that the parties actions are being watched and interfered with by Alevar’s spy network. In the wake of the Hellmarch, Alevar (the ruler of Rethem) lost face when he attempted to leverage offering his support for personal gain. Voronwe has publicly rebuked Alevar for this, and Alevar has grown increasingly paranoid over the past couple of years. The once vibrant trading hub that was Rethem now more closely resembles an oppressive police state. As Alevar is convinced the party is after him, he gets his spy network to interfere with whatever the party is up to as often as he can.

The party manages to see past the mis-information and comes up with four suspects:

  • Azoun the churigeon, who has been obsessed with the Hellmarch since its conclusion and has been seen repeatedly visiting the sites where the corpses have been found
  • Tanwen the scrivener, who used to serve as Lilith/Synelle’s personal scribe, and who is said never to have left her side for years before she was exposed by the party
  • Mellothrin the brickmaker, a religious devotee of Erathis, who has been publicly critical of the Helltreader’s breaking into the temple of Erathis’ archives, even to the extent of demanding your public execution for your slight against the church.
  • Erky the locksmith, who served and an irregular during the Hellmarch, and who was captured by a devil legion early in the conflict but released soon after, completely unharmed. Rumors swirl that he sold his soul to spare his life

The party is granted access to the bodies, and Voronwe cannot find evidence that a specific devil is serving as inspiration. He finds several scenes from Kaldor’s history on the bodies, and determines that the killer must have received a formal education. Brood finds a long hair that is assumed to be the murderer’s (Azoun is bald), an uncoroperative witness, a young girl named Pug (an orphan n top of it) is intimidated into helping the party and spotted the killer while he or she was dropping off a body, and is able to relate to the party that the killer did not have elven ears. The party doesnt give into their prejudices in assuming that Mellothrin is not educated merely for being a brickmaker, and adds a primary check to the skill challenge to determine if she is educated (making it an 13/3). She is not, and the party focuses on Tanwen. the party also learns that Tanwen must have captives, owing to missing common symbols on the victims (that the patterns suggest were written on several victims).

Owing to some insights by the party earlier in the challenge, the party knows the general area of Tanwen’s hunting ground. They quickly find the specific zone, and in no time spot Tanwen between several hundred yards away. Using the crowd as cover works until the group fails a stealth check, and Voronwe is caught in the open. Tanwen takes off at supernatural speed. The chase is on!

Brood manages to keep up, Kalkanesh rallies bystanders to help impede Tanwen’s progress. Voronwe fails to make sense of Valena’s winding roads, but Isaac’s knowledge of Arcana reveals that the burst of speed Tanwen used is only temporary, and the party is able to figure out his ultimate goal of a depressed area filled with abandoned buildings. (SC passed, 13 pass, 2 fails)

Tanwen is unable to kill off his remaining captives, but is able to knock two of them out, start a fire, and douse another victim in highly flammable oil. Brood is able to release the oiled captive almost immediately. Tanwen attacks, and it is clear that his body has been warped by infernal magics. The party manages to kill him, but then Teagan and his cohort shows up. They have seized the opportunity to catch the party in a fight. Brood attempts to buy some time for a short rest, but then takes on a more threatening tone, and manages to convince one of Teagan’s allies to abandon the fight. the battle continues, and brood is dropped, but he recovers. session ends on a power failure

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