We find our adventurers on the way to Hallowfeld. The weather turns very cold, and the sky darkens to a steely grey. Hallowfeld is a hamlet with a hitchin’ post and a Dollar General and a four-way stop. We rest at the inn, called Hallowfeld Arms Hotel, where the innkeeper questions us about where we came from. He says they’re not used to having travelers coming from the east. Our band of fugitives sticks out like a sore thumb, and surely the curious innkeeper will spill it when some Flayne paladins or necromancers inquire about our whereabouts. Naturally.
Because we have a lot of stuff, the DM suggests we buy some beasts o’burden to help us transport our armory and stuff. The ladies buy some asses and giggle, while Daven goes to the Battle of Darkwater Run pub to get away from us. Daven joins a group of townies playing cards. An old man questions him about his military service, and Daven answers uncomfortably until Isabelle hobbles up to the table and takes all their money. Meanwhile Spud hangs around Nabila for some reason. Maybe the battle with the Hive Spider Queen when Nabila whacked him with her staff addled Spud a bit. Or a lot. Nabila asks him why he’s called Spud. Spud asks for a potato and proceeds to show Nabila why he got that name by dropping his pants…and then the barman rushes over and stops him.
Hallowfeld has one giant manor home that belongs to a bard/playwright named Sophia Elloran. The house belonged to other bards and was passed down as a place where the writing and singing vibes flow. Sophia is off in Amaranth performing.
As we get ready to return to the inn, Nabila feels a tugging at her cloak. It’s a little girl who asks Nabila if she’s a cleric. She says her dad thinks clerics are funny. She asks Nabila to play a game of secrets with her. Nabila agrees and the little girl whispers in Nabila’s ear, “An ill wind is coming.” Izzy asks Nabila who she’s talking to because no one else sees the girl.
The next morning we visit the Shrine of Delora after Nabila promises not to desecrate it. The shrine is boarded up, but that doesn’t stop us from breaking in and looking around. There’s nothing of note inside, and we were curious why the shrine to the Sun Goddess was boarded up in the middle of winter. With that discovery, we leave Hallowfeld headed toward Vogelbrucke.
We’re traveling along minding our own business when we hear horrible keening noises coming from these giant birds flying towards us. Sindra uses the spyglass and we see barechested women with vulture bodies. They are harpies. Six harpies to be exact. We battle the harpies, and thank Nabila for her handy Hold Person spell.
We arrive in Vogelbrucke with no problems and assume false names as we get rooms at the Silver Sword Inn. Daven is Sir Isaac and Spud is his squire, William. Nabila goes by the name of Nicole J, Izzy calls herself Violet, Sindra takes on the name Neera, and Oleander is Karl-Louis Broume, with an umlaut. Umlauts everywhere!
Karl-Louis informs us that he has friends in Vogelbrucke who could help us with our little problem. With Nabila’s permission, he leaves to meet his people. He returns later with tickets to a play called The Gnomes Three. The play is tomorrow night at the Friendly Friar, and Karl-Louis will meet his contact then.
Play-time means only one thing: shopping! Nicole J and Neera go out while Violet opts to stay behind and talk to Sir Isaac about the “dwarf thing.” Both of them, including Squire William, get wasted. Nabila and Sindra visit the Black Rose apothecary and alchemy shop. The proprietor Gianna is surprised to see a real drow elf, and she barrages Sindra with all kinds of questions about the drow and the Underdark. Gianna shows us her special stock, some nice poisons and potions of healing. She suggests we go to A Tinge of Vellum to find spells and other magical items. After loading up on potions and spells, Nabila and Sindra buy some nice clothes and get our hair did so we can look nice for the play that evening.
As usual, people are surprised to see a drow elf and there’s lots of whispering. Why yes, of course the Company of the Tattered Cloak have been there! There was a drow elf. It has to be them! An Alter Self spell would have really come in handy.
The play is…full of gnome humor and puns abound. It’s not very good but Spud appeared to enjoy it. Intermission, and Oleander leaves to meet with his contact. Spud returns in a huff and says some things are bad outside and somebody got killed. What’s more, they think Oleander did it. We rush out to check, and the guards have got Oleander, ready to drag him away. Oleander protests his innocence. On the ground is the body of the bouncer, and someone has slashed off his privates. We can smell fresh blood, urine, and poison. Poison like spider venom. The bouncer had been taking a piss against a fence because his pants were lowered. There was no blood spatter against the fence, all of it pooled around his body on the ground. There’s a tiny puncture wound at the small of his back where the poison smell originates.
The guards take Oleander to the barracks. Nabila and Daven follow them while Sindra, Izzy, and Spud go back to the inn to check Oleander’s room for his weapons and poisons. Oleander had everything on his person. We plant a mundane dagger and sword in his room just in case.
At the barracks, Nabila wants to talk to Oleander, but the guard won’t let her. She says she’ll wait and stares at him. He is so uncomfortable he calls in the guard captain. The guard captain says nothing can be done until morning when Nabila will be able to see her “brother.” He tells us the name of the bouncer is Steffan Evers, but we’ll have to come back in the morning.
We return to the Friendly Friar and speak to the owner, Lucius. He tells us Steffan was hired last week. He used to be a bouncer at One-Eyed Lew’s and got fired for getting touchy with a working girl. We head to One-Eyed Lew’s, a dark and seedy looking bar. A blonde and brunette immediately approach Daven in his gold armor. (Get down, girl, go ahead, get down.) Daven shrugs them off, and the bartender tries to foist more girls on him, this time some fat and ugly or both. Does Daven want men because they have that, too. His name is Ruck, and he takes care of the other business side of One-Eyed Lew’s. Lew is his brother.
Nabila pays Ruck to keep him talking. He tells us that Steffan was a good bouncer but he liked the ladies too much. He went after a girl called Lola, and she quit. When more girls threatened to quit, Ruck fired Steffan. While he’s talking to us, he looks Daven over and says Big D looks like he’d be a good fighter. They have fights in the basement and if we want more information, we’re going to have to fight. 100gp for the winner. Daven and Nabila(!) agree to fight, and we’re escorted to the basement. Daven and Nabila are locked in a cage with two half ogres.
Spud helps himself to some drink while Sindra and Izzy go around taking bets. If the fight went downhill, Sindra was on stand by with a few Rays of Enfeeblement or a Sleep spell because we haven’t yet had a good tavern brawl. Daven and Nabila are victorious over the half ogres, and Nabila showed off some pretty sweet moves.
Because it’s ridiculously late, we go back to the inn to rest but first thing in the morning Daven and Nabila — our humans — head to the barracks to check on Oleander. The rest of us stay back and take Spud shopping. Bwahahahaha.
Oleander is the only prisoner in the barracks. Daven notices that though there are no marks on Oleander’s face, he can tell by the way Oleander holds himself that the guards have hit him. Oleander says he didn’t do it. He was meeting his contact, a woman called Tress who worked for the Cartel. She is an assassin, a high-priced courtesan. He hoped she still had contacts within the Cartel who could make the price on our heads go away. Oleander tells us he heard voices, the bouncer and the murderer arguing. The bouncer had had an affair with the murderer’s wife. When Oleander found him, the bouncer was still alive but bleeding out. Oleander could have saved Steffan, but he thought Steffan was a coward and let him die. Was Aegecia testing him? The guards arrived and found him hovering over Steffan’s body, his weapons and poisons on his body. Oleander says he’s done a lot of terrible things in his life, but now that he’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he says it isn’t fair. He tells us that Tress has short blonde hair and works at Heart’s Desire. She knows about us, and we could talk to her.
We meet back at the Silver Sword Inn. Daven can’t believe his eyes. Spud is decked out in his new clothes like he is a squire. Tri-corner hat, nice coat, frilly dress shirt, knee breeches, shoes with gold buckles. Spud is so pleased with himself that he even walks differently. Daven really has no idea what to say.
Heart’s Desire is a fancy brothel run by Orra Leminkanen. She’s 300 pounds, fake red hair, makeup, beauty marks, and a corset so tight her breasts are barely contained. The building is a circular tower with a spiral staircase. Velvet and dark lacquered oak. Ms. Leminkanen uses magical illusions to create anyone’s dreamlover. Sindra and Spud are not affected by the illusions, while everyone else sees what they desire. Daven refuses to say what he sees, but everyone knows it’s little Gideons in various stages of unsheathed. Spud stands at the bottom of the spiral staircase while the rest of us talk to Tress. He thinks at any minute he’s going to see some hot babe saunter down and pull him away by his frilly shirtfront.
Tress appears before us in a fancy dress. She eyes us all. We ask to speak to her privately. Immediately she puts Nabila down about her appearance. Ugh, why doesn’t she put some makeup on that horrible leprosy scar? Hussy! Tress says Oleander is hers, and we got Oleander into this mess. She refuses to help us, but she will help “Olie” in her own way.
Dead end with Tress. So we decide to follow up on the poison. Sindra and Nabila pay Miss Gianna a visit at the Black Rose. The poisons Gianna kept were hidden from most customers and she’s wary to talk about them. If Sindra promises to come back and talk alchemy with her, she will tell us what we need to know. Sindra promises, and Gianna is so excited she has to be prodded to stay on track. Gianna sold vials of horse tranquilizer to a guy named Talbot, the butler at the Tancreedi Residence. They are a well-to-do family, but they don’t own any horses. They needed the horse tranquilizers because one of their dogs got hurt, and the vet recommended a sedative. We thank Gianna for her time and return to the inn.
Daven, Spud, and Nabila go to the Tancreedi house. Nabila wears the Nymph Cloak for that extra bit of convincing, should it be necessary. A middle-aged halfling answers the door. They ask if the Tancreedis are selling guard dogs. No. Where did they hear that? Someone in town said it. Who are they? Talbot is suspicious. The Tancreedi matron, Leona, comes to the door because she was yelling for Talbot and he never showed up. Nabila has to make a charisma check. She botches. With a +3 modifier. Nabila shits herself. No dogs. Get out now.
Meanwhile, Sindra and Izzy return to One-Eyed Lew’s. They talk to the two girls who threw themselves at Daven about Steffan. He was married to a woman named Roxanna. They lived by the river in the north side of town. When asked about Lola, the girls didn’t want to talk, but they caved to Sindra and said Lola got on a carriage to Amaranth about a month ago. Ruck gives us Steffan’s address and we return to the inn to congregate.
Roxanna’s house is a small shack. She answers the door, her eyes red and puffy from crying. Two small children hover behind her. The house has very old, decrepit furniture. It’s a pitiful place. We ask about Steffan. She hates him for leaving her there while he spent all his time in town, hardly sending her any money to feed their children. He was a bastard. Would anyone want Steffan dead? Roxanna tells us about his affairs. The first one was with a woman named Nina Tancreedi, a rich girl who “got her claws in him.” She doesn’t know Nina’s husband’s name. She remembers a girl called Lola, but she can’t give any more information than that. Before we leave, Sindra gives her a big handful of gold and tells her to take care of herself and her children. Roxanna is shellshocked. She gives Sindra a hug, cries all over her, and then we leave.
The next morning the guard captain is waiting for us in the common room of the Silver Sword Inn. He informs us there’s been another killing. The exact same M.O. He thought we did it, but we have alibis. The latest victim is a male prostitute named Ulf, and he worked at Heart’s Desire. We ask to see Ulf’s body, and he takes us to the undertaker. This time the puncture wound is above Ulf’s right breastbone. Whoever stabbed him was approximately the same height. Nabila wants to take some of Ulf’s blood to detect the poison, so Sindra distracts the guard captain with her ideas about the Tancreedi family and also to provide some charity and aid to Roxanna Evers and her children. Nabila gets the blood, and then we go to the docks where the crime took place.
The crime took place under a pier. Blood stained rocks, blood spatter. The angle of the blood spatter suggested that Ulf was laying on his side when he was mutilated. Just like at the previous crime scene, the mutilated member is gone. Sindra again tells the guard captain our theories about Nina’s jealous husband, but he refuses to believe anyone like little ole Philippe could do such a thing. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.
After some debating, we decide to return to Heart’s Desire. Sindra speaks to the Madame. She borrowed Nabila’s studded black leather bodysuit (Nabila’s one and only wild surge), and Sindra squeaked when she walked. She and Madame Orra go to a private room, and Sindra asks about Ulf. He was sweet and kind, in his early 20s. He probably had been doing too much lotus powder. Sindra mentions Karl-Louis and the trouble he is in. Madame Orra grows nervous, worried. She will give us the information we need as long as we can promise her business wouldn’t be ruined.
Madame Orra is a powerful wizard who creates companions for certain discerning customers. About ten days ago she had an accident in her lab and the companion escaped before she could finish the creation process, mainly giving it a special codeword to control it. She created the companion for Nina Tancreedi. Nina came to Heart’s Desire often and requested illusions of a guy named Vincent who lived across the street from her and Philippe’s house. The clone was of her husband Philippe. Now that the Clone Philippe is on the loose, Madame Orra doesn’t know what to tell Nina. This could ruin her. It is our job to destroy the Clone Philippe. The problem is that it will think it is Philippe. It looks just like him. There are no distinguishing features to tell him apart from the real Philippe. Great.
Finally we head to the rich people’s bar, Master Devenoge’s, to find more information about the Tancreedi family. Leona is the matron. She had two sons, Philippe and Bernardo. Philippe became a solicitor, and Bernardo went into church life. Philippe married Nina, a golddigger. (Get down, girl, go ahead, get down.) Their marriage made Philippe fall out with his mother, and he moved out. Gossip quickly spread that Nina got bored with Philippe and fooled around with other people. What’s worse than a cuckolded husband? One that murders? One with a clone? One with a murdering clone?
Nabila petitions Aegecia to tell us where the “smoking dongs” are located. Aegecia tells us: in Philippe and Nina’s home.