After spending the night in the mansion not sleeping, the party decided to ride all the way back to Sandpoint without sleep because beds are better than tents. On the way, they ran into some legitimate businessmen who decided that, even sleep deprived, they were not a good target, so they passed each other without incident.
In Sandpoint, they headed to the inn (or in Zakhar's case, his shop) and immediately fell into bed, waking up in late afternoon. They reported to the Sheriff, who came with them to the temple, and with the priests organized an expedition the next day (since setting off immediately and arriving at sunset sounded like a bad idea) with guards and priests that would consecrate the mansion and hopefully put an end to its evil. The party decided that they'd go with them, JUST IN CASE.
They also got various diseases cured while they were there (ghoul fever, and something called 'the Phage' that Zakhar was studying, using an undead lab animal he'd taken from the mansion -- it was what the fungus infected people with, basically).
But before that, shopping! Vin Vendor was happy to know the man who'd murdered his daughter was (a) found and executed and (b) confirmed not to be him. He had some suspicious questions for Kaito, though.
Vin: "Do you have a pet fox?"
Kaito: "No, but she does." *pointing to Ash*
Vin: "Because my daughter was asking for money for fox treats."
Kaito: "Well, I'm sure he'll enjoy them."
Vin: "I didn't give her the money! Foxes are wild animals! They bite!"
Kaito: "He's very well behaved, honest!"
At any rate, he paid top dollar for the items they'd taken off Aldern himself, and decent prices for the rest of it. His wife was there also, and gave Kaito some free pies as a thank you for avenging their daughter.
Ash stared at the pies. "Do you have any more?" She did. Ash bought them all.
Kaito: "I was going to share my pie with you."
Ash: "I don't want your pie! You're like a brother to me! An annoying little brother."
Then there was some shopping.
In the morning, they headed to the mansion. It was bigger than the priests had planned for, but they'd consecrate what they could. The party led two of the priests to the sub-basement, to root out the heart of the evil. One of the priests started to case Consecrate on the fungus, only to get a strange look on his face, and start to approach it instead.
Kaito: "Don't touch it! It's evil!"
The priest ignored him, instead scooping up a big handful of fungus and eating it, then immediately falling unconscious.
Zakhar: "Kaito, you must stab him. Now."
Zakhar: "He is infected with the Phage now. He will become a ravenous ghoul and kill us all, unless you stab him immediately."
Kaito: "There's no cure?"
Zakhar: "No, no cure."
Other priest: *casts Cure Disease*
First priest: "I'm cured!"
Zakhar: "... the investigation is in its early phases."
To avoid a repeat, they had June (the sorcerer) burn down the fungus first... which resulted in a horrendous cloud of black spores that tried to possess everyone in the room. Fortunately, they didn't do a very good job of it (DC 10!), and even the NPC priests and June managed to keep the spirit out. That was the Phage's last ditch attempt -- after it failed, they were able to consecrate the room, freeing all the (formerly) doomed spirits.
With the expedition a success despite the party's best efforts, they returned to Sandpoint and started to arrange to passage to Magnimar, where The Seven were based, since they'd been the ones egging Aldern on to murder people and carve seven-pointed stars in their chests. Obviously, they were taking the Snarrot, since three party members were already on the crew. It was only a day's trip, so it ended up being pretty cheap, even with Phoof taking her warhorse and Kaito taking his girlfriend.
Or, well, trying to take her -- Vin Vendor showed up and screamed at them for kidnapping his daughter.
Kaito: "Oh come on, she's just taking a trip with us to the big city, is that so bad?"
Vin: *realizes the ship is full of pirates* "50 gold to the first person who tells me where she's hiding!"
June (instantly): "I'll show you!"
Elsie offered to punch Vin instead of letting him take his daughter back, but Kaito told her to hold off -- no sense killing him over something like this. Besides... he wasn't really sure he wanted her to see how the crew treated him. He was the only male crewmember, and not an especially high-ranking one.
At any rate, it was a short and uneventful trip to Magnimar. They tied up at the dockside bazaar and found an inn to use as a base of operations, then headed for their only solid lead, the Contraption Company that had made the cages the undead rats were in.
They had no trouble getting the information from the owner -- he remembered the order, it was from Aldern Foxglove, whose town house was just a few blocks away.
...a few dozen blocks away. In the good part of town.
Noggin's valet wanted to case the joint, so he and Kaito and Elsie crept around the grounds checking it out. It looked abandoned, with the first floor windows boarded up, but the doors were just locked. Kaito climbed to an upper window in fox form, looking to see if it would open, but heard someone moving around inside. So he tapped on the window and hid, to see who'd respond.
It was Aldern Foxglove, who they'd just killed. OR WAS IT?
Meeting up with the others, they found out that the rumor on the street was that Aldern and his wife had never actually left town to go up to Foxglove Manor -- they'd been living in their townhouse the whole time.
So Phoof, Ash, Noggin's valet, and June went to knock on the front door, with Val watching from a distance, while Kaito, Altei, and Zakhar headed around back ready to burst in unexpectedly if it sounded like things were going wrong. Elsie used her 'empty body' power to turn incorporeal and scout the upper levels that way.
No one answered the door, but Phoof had a black lion-headed key they'd taken from Aldern, which opened it. "Hello?"
Aldern's wife came downstairs and stared at them. "How did you get inside?"
Phoof: "I had a key!"
While she was initially suspicious, she quickly invited them in for tea. This seemed kind of strange, but they did want to talk to her and Aldern to find out if they were the real ones or fakes.
They were fakes. As soon as they got Phoof and Ash in the dining room, they slammed and locked the door (with June and Noggin still in the foyer) and attacked. 'Aldern' stabbed Phoof and the 'wife' mutated her fists into giant hammers, slamming Ash and grappling her.
June responded by exploding the door with fire, while Phoof used an ear-piercing screech. That alterted the group out back, who unlocked the door and opened it and tossed in a firebomb.
With both doors open and the party surrounding them, the enemies didn't last long. After 'Aldern' went down, the 'wife' tried to flee, and while she managed to tumble past Kaito it slowed her down enough that he was able to run after her and stab her in the back to finish her off.
Kaito: "Wait, we needed to take prisoners..."
Dopplegangers: *dissolve into goo*
June: "Can we speak with dead?"
Kaito: "They need a mouth and tongue. All I see here is goo."
So they searched the rest of the house. Most of it was uninteresting, except for a hidden keyhole in the fireplace on the third floor that Phoof's lion key also opened, revealing a small hoard of platinum and some incriminating documents. Apparently, Foxglove Manor had only been leased from the Seven (for 100 years), and disturbingly, the Seven used the seal of Magnimar itself as their signature. Were they actually in control of the city?
As for leads, there was a sawmill on a small islet in the city that was used as collateral, and there were recent entries in a ledger that had 'Aldern' paying someone at the sawmill every Oathday at midnight to pay for his wife's 'vacation'. Whatever the heck that meant.
Obviously the next place to check, though.
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