With everyone in the mill dead or captured, the party started arguing (relatively politely) about what to do next. They wanted the guards to find the cultists, but they didn't want the wrong guards to find the cultists and cover it up. Or for the day shift cultists to come in to work and sweep everything under the rug. Or for anyone to track the murders back to them, because Phoof verified that the dead priest was, in fact, councilman Ironbriar in charge of the cultist investigation.
So they had Zakhar 'disappear' the cultist bodies, and then Kaito ran across the city in fox form to get the launch from the Snarrot and row it back (well, Ash rowed it back, since Kaito was incompetent at all forms of sailing) to hide the still-living bodies and the more incriminating and bulky valuables like the paintings.
Once they were away, Phoof used a hat of disguise to become an innocent bystander who'd heard screaming in the mill, and called in the guard to investigate. Which they did. Thoroughly. Lots of them.
In the morning, the party met up at the inn and handed the cyphered journal over to Noggin, who was the only one that spoke all the required languages to decipher it. After a few hours, he was able to tell them that it would take him a few days. So, they went shopping, selling off the painting and some unwanted magic items, and then just generally bumming around the city while they waited for the translation to finish.
Ash and June interrogated the prisoners -- one knew nothing, except that people were brought to the mill late at night and 'something' happened to them, but the other was an enthusiastic member of 'Father Skinsaw's' Skinsaw cult, that delighted in murder and death. Their goal was to murder specific people seen in visions (given to 'Father Skinsaw' by his girlfriend) in order to change the future, eventually bringing about the end of the world.
Ash quietly drowned the two and disposed of their bodies. No mercy for crazy cultist murderers.
The night before Noggin was done, a nobleman came in to the inn where they were staying and offered free food and drink in honor of his birthday. Kaito partook enthusiastically, Phoof helped with some (literal) table-dancing to add to the ambiance, and Ash and Val told Kaito that he was being really dumb and that they weren't going to touch anything because this was obviously a setup. So the nobleman came over and touched both of them, putting them to sleep along with everyone who'd eaten the food or drink.
Phoof (immune to poison) and June (who hadn't eaten anything and wasn't targeted) tried to pull the sleeping party members out of the party and lock them safely in their rooms, but it didn't matter -- the guards, or people who looked like guards, knew who they were after and went room-to-room with a master key searching for them. Phoof managed to hide Altei under a bed, but everyone else that they were targeting was captured.
June followed the wagon carrying Kaito to a garrison -- were these actual city guards? In case they were, he didn't open up with a can of whoop-ass to rescue his companions, because that had the potential to go very poorly.
Elsie, who'd barely had any of the poison, woke up first, in a cell with Kaito and Zakhar, and tried to punch her way out of the cell through the bars. It didn't work, but it was enough noise to wake up the others. Kaito tried to sweet-talk the guard into telling them what was up, and managed to get that they were there to answer questions before another guard counter-intimidated the guard who'd started talking into shutting his mouth. So unfair!
Eventually, someone came to ask them questions, telling them that they knew for a fact that the three of them had been at the mill. Kaito decided to try to tell enough of the truth to maybe get out of jail without incriminating the party too much.
He told them that they'd been deputized by the city guard from Sandpoint to investigate a series of murders, and they'd found evidence linking them to Marimar, which brought them to the city. On arrival, they heard that similar murders were happing there, and their investigations pointed them to the mill, where they saw someone important looking going to work in the middle of the night. They tried to sneak in to ask him some questions, but he turned out to be powerful priest, and all the employees cultists, and in the ensuing fight they killed everyone.
Guard: "What happened to the priest?"
Kaito: "Isn't he dead? We saw him jump into the sawblades, trying to get away from us."
Zakhar: "And then he was gone."
Meanwhile, Ash and Val found themselves in another cell, along with the *entire crew of the Snarrot* including their mother.
Ash: "Damn it. Kaito must have turned us in! He's dead to me. I have no brother."
Val: "This is what we get for letting a boy on the crew."
Ash: "I know! One man, and this is what happens."
The guards questioned their mother, the captain, about why they'd traced a boat that had been present at the mill back to the Snarrot. She said that she'd rented it out to someone she knew that did that from time to time, and described Kaito in detail.
Guard: "You came here with them from Sandpoint."
Captain: "They paid for passage."
Satisfied that the pirates... er, the legitimate businessmen had little to do with the incident, they were set free, where they met Phoof and Altei and told them that Kaito had sold them out. The remaining party members switched to a different inn, where Noggin was finally able to tell them what he'd found in his journal.
Basically, Ironbriar was behind all the murders, his targets picked by the 'Lady of Scales' who lived in the Shadow Clock. There was a lot more detail about all the murders and about his crazy cult.
Noggin and June went to the underbridge -- the worst, most dangerous slums in Miramar that were literally under a giant ancient bridge -- to find the Shadow Clock and scout it out. They found three entrances, and some rumors about a snake-like creature that flew around the clock at night. Also, a bunch of bars taking bets on when the grimy statue of an angel atop the broken clock would eventually fall and crush someone.
Eventually, the town's mayor came by to talk to Kaito and the others again. He agreed to let Kaito go if he could satisfy him that he wasn't actually a danger to the town -- a city councilmember who'd been known to frequent the mill was missing, and of course all the murders. Clearly a cult was there, but was there any other evidence he could give to help his case?
Kaito: "Not from in here, but if you let us go..."
Mayor: "I'm not sure it's safe to let her go." *pointing to Elsie*
Kaito: "Oh, she's harmless..."
Mayor: *stares at the bent and battered bars*
Kaito: "Well, she has a good heart." *whispered* "Somewhere."
Zakhar: "I could find it."
Kaito agreed to bring them evidence if they let him and his friends go -- he 'knew some people' who didn't like the guard but might talk to him, who might know something. He agreed -- grudgingly -- to report in daily to a discrete guard agent, and declined a ride back to the inn since to avoid spooking his 'contacts' he wanted to be seen with them as little as possible.
Of course, when they got to the inn, no one was there -- everyone had checked out. So he went to the Snarrot.
Ash: *staring at him angrily, along with the entire crew* "What are you doing here?"
Kaito: "I... live here?"
Ash: "NOT ANYMORE."
She eventually agreed to tell *Zakhar* where to find the others. Once they joined up, Kaito asked if Noggin was done translating the journal -- because if he was, he wanted to give it to the city guard to prove that Ironbriar had been a bad guy.
Noggin agreed, and told him about the Shadow Clock, where Ironbriar's 'lover' lurked, and they decided to go raid it that night, since it might be awkward to do that after the city guard knew about it.
So that night, they met up with Ash and Val and went to the Underbridge to raid the clock. Altei scouted ahead and confirmed that climbing up the stairwell would be foolish, since not only was the stairway broken and rickety, but the bells in the tower were rigged to drop on it. So Phoof turned into an owl, and Val and June cast Fly spells, and Kaito and Ash turned into foxes to be carried, (and Zakhar and Elsie stayed behind because their players were not present for this part), and they flew up to the balcony.
As soon as Kaito opened the door, the dopplegangers attacked! It wasn't a completely one-sided fight -- especially in the back, where Ash didn't want to get out of Val's backpack onto the rickety boards that might break under her and send her plummeting to her death, leaving Val to fight a doppleganger alone -- but they were cutting their way through the enemies, when a swirl of darkness in the air resolved into a giant, jet black demon bat! They rushed inside to try to get away from it, bunching up in a closet-like entryway.
June warned them that it was about to breathe fire, so they opened the door to go further in, finding (once they popped a sunrod) a seemingly empty room with some chests set up against the back wall.
Suddenly, Kaito stiffened as an invisible spear stabbed through his midsection, held by five naga-like creatures. Or, well, one, with a mirror image. Ash tried to magic missile the images, but that didn't really work -- they all hit the real enemy instead. Kaito tried to stab it, but only managed to stab an image before he accidentally looked it right in the eye and instantly turned to stone.
Meanwhile, June and Altei were left in the closet when the monster outside breathed fire... illusionary fire, since it was just an illusion designed to drive the prey inside the tower where they could be taken out discreetly.
I've rolled natural 1s on *so many* saving throws this campaign. If it's a standard critter I had to roll a 4 to save against the gaze attack.
But the guard did say that they'd come get me if I didn't report in to my parole officer, so maybe they'll find the statue?
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