Following Zarek Ironbeard’s hasty retreat the dwarf soldiers in the compound agreed to surrender, but only under the condition that they be allowed to safely depart with their wounded comrades, Lear Ironbeard and the manor’s domestic staff. The party agreed, but not before demanding that the dwarves leave their downed comrades’ weapons, and that the badly wounded Lear open the door to Zarek’s workshop first in case it was trapped (it was not).
Knowing that the Fallkeep city watch may be arriving soon, the party split up to hastily gather loot. Liana, while looking through the pantry for some convenient sacks, happened upon the Ironbeard wine cellar and began filling a bag with expensive vintages. Inside Zarek’s laboratory, which showed signs of having been hastily picked over (it seemed likely that the dwarf wizard had first teleported to his study in order to grab his most important books and treasures), the party found the iron flask hovering in some kind of magical stasis field, which Seye grabbed and tucked into his pack. Upon Zarek’s desk rested two books that Nakar immediately identified as grimoires, but as Konshu picked up the first book he was afflicted with a Wither Limb spell and cried out. Nakar dispelled the trap and tucked both tomes under Konshu’s good arm; the books would turn out to be Zarek’s Air and Necromancy college grimoires, perhaps left behind in his haste to flee. On another nearby table sat a number of unique magical curiosities, which Otsuke shoved into a bag for later examination. Most of the group headed above ground at this point, but with Lear Ironbeard’s key in hand, Nakar convinced Konshu to quickly investigate the nearby trophy room as well. There were a number of very valuable-looking objects adorning the chamber, but the pair had to satisfy themselves with taking only a beautiful jade and onyx chess set, a set of fine Lustrian cigars in a handsome case and Lear Ironbeard’s personal strongbox containing coins and gems; Konshu set off a potentially lethal poison gas cloud while opening the latter, but his blessing of Obad-Hai saved him from harm.
The party regrouped outside the mausoleum, gathered up all the loot and began heading back to town. Reasoning that they had essentially engaged in banditry and showing up in town with a wheelbarrow of dwarven goods for sale may draw unwanted attention, the group paused some distance off the path to cast Shape Earth and bury the majority of the loot for later recovery, and Fiona disguised the site as a used camp circle.
Back at the company office, Jarrett Barclay took possession of the iron flask and made arrangements with Lady Chanteuse for the group’s agreed-upon fee ($1,800 each following the 10% payment back to the company). After inquiring about Zardrae and learning of his death, the Barclay took his magical dagger and agreed to try to locate his next of kin. The mage also identified the rare magical items as Bracers of Might (which Liana took possession of after a heated dispute with Otsuke); an Amulet of Proof Against Poison (which Konshu claimed); a Crimson Ioun Stone (Nakar had it in his pocket almost before Barclay finished describing it); a set of Boots of Springing (which went to Seye Tieg); a Ring of Evasion (which Fiona accepted); a Crown of Kingly Splendor (everyone agreed Arthur would get much out of it); and a pair of Slippers of Spider Climbing (which Otsuke asked Jarrett to take to his wizardly contacts and see if they could be exchanged for something else).
In the week following their adventure, Nakar’s companions noticed that the sudden influx of cash had gone to the small wizard’s head. He moved into a large rented manor house in the High District of Fallkeep, and began talking incessantly about his upcoming birthday (along with the halfling tradition of gift-giving). His friends soon received a letter inviting them to a special murder mystery party, where it would be upon the guests to determine the identity of Nakar’s killer. Sadly, Liana and Ostuke had been detained by the city watch after a very public disagreement over the recently acquired Bracers of Might, and Arthur was called away by temple duties (even paladins occasionally have to empty the chamber pots of their superiors).
Gifts in hand, Seye, Fiona and Konshu arrived on Saturday evening and were greeted by Paiero the gnome, whom Nakar had hired for the event as maitr d’. The trio were led inside and met the other guests while a rather untalented trio of amateur musicians crooned off to the side of the parlor. First was Pathos Gloomblight, a sickly, unfriendly-looking necromancer who had attended wizarding school with Nakar; Kira, a beautiful assassin and former lover of Nakar’s, apparently also in Fallkeep on business to kill an unnamed adventurer; and Ms. Brimhoof, an elderly tiefling woman who had rented a room to Nakar during his days at school and looked upon the halfling as a sort of godson. After a few minutes of snacks and mingling, Paiero announced that he would get Nakar from his study to begin the evening’s festivities, but shortly thereafter his shriek of alarm summoned the party-goers to investigate.
The group found Nakar slumped over the desk in the lavishly appointed study, actually for-real dead. In looking around the room and investigating clues, it became clear that Pathos Gloomblight’s real name was Gerald, and that he had been plotting a way to get back at Nakar for some perceived slights from back in their school days. The necromancer had devised a special version of the Soul Jar spell to trap Nakar’s spirit inside a gem, still clutched in his lifeless hand, which had been delivered as a gift just prior to the party. Upon realizing that his ruse had been uncovered, Pathos ripped open his robes and a pile of bones came tumbling out, which quickly animated into a pair of evil skeletons!
As the heroes prepared to fight Gerald and his minions, Kira stepped behind Konshu, then drew her swords and attempted to impale the fighter through the back! At her signal, the “musicians” from the parlor dropped their instruments and rushed into the study with swords drawn, revealing themselves to be <gasp> ninja assassins! A three-way fight was quickly in progress, Pathos attempting to acquire the soul gem, Kira and her cronies attempting to murder Konshu and the heroes fending them both off, while Ms. Brimhoof meanwhile fainted in surprise and Paeiro quickly made to hide beneath her.
The resulting melee was kind of slapstick and very destructive. Fiona used Create and Shape Fire along with the application of Flaming Armor spells to herself and Konshu to damage their enemies. A skeleton was knocked back into the fish tank in the study and shattered it, spilling water all over the floor. Kira tripped over a chair before ripping the window curtains swinging high over the flames to drop on Konshu with a snarl. After picking up the soul gem and feeling that he had access to Nakar’s Most Excellent Force Missile, Konshu aimed the bolt at Pathos and failed to hurt him due to an Armor spell, but the recoil blasted the samurai across the room (Nakar makes it look easy, but his magic is powerful stuff!). Seye dodged one of the ninja’s shuriken with a “Hiya!” and the blade embedded itself in the wall an inch above the unconscious Ms. Brimhoof’s head. While later trying to make her escape, Kira executed a daring somersault and leap to crash through the huge window in the study. By the end of the night the room was in shambles. Seye clearly demonstrated his martial prowess in this fight, defeating two of the ninja assassins in single combat with judo throws, acrobatic dodges and potent Deathtouch spells. While Pathos frantically ordered his minions to focus on grabbing the gem, the Blood Moon warrior then came up behind the necromancer and cracked him in the back of the skull with his staff, killing him instantly.
By the time the fires had died down, the skeletons had been destroyed, Pathos and two of the ninjas lay dead (the third having been rendered unconscious with a Sleep spell by the necromancer), Kira was forced to make her escape with a crippled right hand and all that remained was to find a wizard to re-ensoul Nakar. It was agreed by all that this was definitely how not to host a murder.
+1 cp for Konshu, Fiona and Seye, the only (living) party members present. MVP for another +1 cp was Seye for his brutal finishing blow on the necromancer while delivering a great line, plus his badass kung fu moves in dealing with the ninja assassins.
It was a totally goofy, nonsensical side quest designed for a reduced party, but seemed like everyone had fun, I know I personally got a kick out of running it. After the intense tactical fights during the Iron Flask mission, I wanted to switch it up a little and do something with a little more humor and role playing, but of course had to throw in a fight at the end! I especially liked the level of destruction inside the house – blood stains on the rugs, floors set on fire, fish tank smashed, window shattered, Konshu left a cracked impression in the plaster when he got thrown back by the recoil firing that force missile, shuriken stuck in the wall … no way Nakar’s getting his security deposit back on this one.