Game Time: Late Winter, 4708
Real Time: September, 2009

A Violent Interlude

While Balekh busily turns the party’s reward into magic items, the others finish their business in Magnimar. As the winter starts to thaw, they’re finally able to make their way back to Sandpoint. Taeva hangs back for a few weeks to help police the Bazaar of Sails, newly revitalized by rich people no longer afraid to leave their houses, but the rest of the group rides back up the coast in good spirits.

Just as they’re riding into town, Sheriff Hemlock meets them at the gate and tells them they’ve arrived just in time. He’d like their help protecting some nearby farms from a band of goblins that was spotted marauding up the newly ice-free coast. Balekh gives him a big hug, happy to be back in a town with a law officer that’s nice to them. The party quickly checks gear and then follows the town guard to intercept the goblin attack.

The heroes of Sandpoint take up positions on a field opposite the projected route from the town guard. Sure enough, it’s only a couple of hours before a small horde of goblins rush screaming over a hill and down towards the heroes, with another batch rushing at the town guard. A dozen goblin archers support a similar number of grinning monsters with makeshift weapons, and a trio of big and important looking minor chieftains follow behind. Veshenga begins raining down arrows, Balekh and Shayliss launch magic missiles and flame into the throng, and an enlarged Haggor soaks up arrows and crushes tiny goblin heroes. The entire warband is finished off in less than thirty seconds, and the party has time to relax and watch the entire town guard take slightly longer to defeat their own assault. Hemlock congratulates them on a job well done, and they return to town to recuperate.

A week or two later, as they’ve begun to settle in and consider what they should be doing come Taeva’s return and true Spring, Veshenga is surprised to find Zif drinking in the Rusty Dragon where she’s picking up a few waitressing shifts. After some consideration, Zif remembers that he came with a letter for Haggor, so the two of them wander up to the monk’s cave. When they arrive, Haggor is cooking lunch for himself and the two animals Veshenga previously helped him befriend: the bear that originally owned the cave and the tiger they rescued from the Magnimar hippodrome.

Haggor unseals the letter and finds a missive from the Hellknight, Valeria, suggesting that she’s been unable to identify the leak in her organization, but has confirmed that another of her subpoena targets has become a murder victim. Rather than watch the rest of her targets die behind her, she suggests that she’ll be coming to Sandpoint next to speak again to the Mayor. She figures that the remote location from Magnimar will force the assassins to strike soon after the meeting, allowing the party to catch and unmask them. Tiger is sent to retrieve Balekh and Shayliss from their nature walk, and the party puts together a plan.

A few days later, Valeria comes into town once again with her two dour lawyers, and heads to the Mayor’s office, argues briefly with her again, then retires to the Rusty Dragon for the evening. A few hours later, Mayor Deverin closes down the office and walks home, whiles away the evening, then retires to bed. Darkness rolls in, and then a small noise heralds the cautious entry of mantis-masked assassins through a nearby bedroom window. They creep across the floor, line up their attacks, and slash at their target with vicious, sawtooth blades. She lets out an unladylike growl before reaching up for a chokeslam just as Balekh, Shayliss, and Veshenga come rushing into the room.

Flash back to earlier in the afternoon. Haggor adjusts the Hat of Disguise they’d borrowed from Taeva and carefully mimics a somewhat-disapproving Kendra Deverin. The illusory mayor then waits with Balekh in the mayor’s office while she finishes her day. Balekh casts invisibility on the Mayor and has her hurry to the guard station for protection in the evening. The illusory Mayor then walks home, trying very hard to not set off any red flags in the populace.

Haggor doesn’t drop the illusion while pounding the mantis-faced assassins and bleeding on the bed, though, amused at the thought of improving the Mayor’s reputation if the assassins escape. That looks unlikely, however, as a fine red mist begins evaporating out of each of the wounds inflicted on the killers. The first assassin falls to the ground, perforated with arrows and spells, and he quickly billows into a cloud of foul red steam, leaving no body behind, and his equipment follows soon after. Half-afraid that these are vampire assassins, the party switches tactics and has Haggor restrain the remaining assassin, disarming him of his sawtooth blade and unmasking him to reveal one of the lawyers that had accompanied Valeria to town. The man regards them with the calculating expression of a hardened murderer, realizes that he has no hope of escape, and, himself, erupts into a mist.

Grabbing the mask and blade that are all that remain of the assassin’s death, the party rushes down to the Rusty Dragon to make certain that the men are not vampires returning to their lairs. They wake Valeria and explain the situation, and she shows them the lawyers’ room, where unslept-in beds are all that await. Some consideration of their habits brings them all to the conclusion that they were not vampires, merely possessed of an effective assassins’ magic to remove all traces of a failed mission. Valeria is righteously angry that assassins were slipped into her mission from the very beginning and under her nose, and asks the party to sell her the mask and blade as proof for her superiors. They agree, and she promises to send them both gold and blades of similar quality to the adamantine assassin’s sword for Taeva. She departs the next day to finish her mission and return to Cheliax.

The Mayor is quite grateful that the party managed to save her from assassination, but otherwise, things in Sandpoint go back to normal… until Hemlock calls the party into his office a few days later. He shows them a criminal that was apprehended the night before—a criminal with a sihedron rune tattooed intricately on his shoulder.