The Mortigny Murders
A quick note about Game Master (GM) notes for campaigns. These notes are the GMs has made about running his campaign, and thus can continue information not known to the in-game characters.
The Green Griffon of Mortigny was not normally a very busy inn. (1) Travelers and merchants used it as a waystop, to be sure, but aside from those occasional wanderers, the inn was only home to a small crowd of regular patrons. However, as our adventurers arrived, the tables of the Green Griffon were bustling with relative newcomers.
At a long table, six people sat drinking and conversing. A tall, stout man with a sharpened longsword by his side sat at the head of the table, with an oriental man wearing sashes sitting close by. Near them were a gaunt elf man and a plate-clad dwarf, who bore an ostentatious symbol of a bronze spear bound in iron around his neck. (2) At the far end of the table, a bubbly strawberry blonde in leather flirted with a charming young man, who had a rapier by his side and a massive plume in his cavalier-style cap.
In a somewhat darker corner, even more newcomers sat. A pale man with a long black ponytail and goatee sat, facing the room, idly playing a hand drum. (3) Beside him, looking worried, a petite young woman sipped nonchalantly from a glass of wine. On the other side of their circular table, a massive man with a two-handed blade strapped to his back drank deep of a stein of ale, while a white-clad elf sat next to him, trying to make conversation.
Such was the sight that greeted Dera, Daimonion, Rimo, Dario and Tallorn as they entered. Sik, somewhere along the way, had disappeared, but none really seemed to notice her absence. (4) After ordering drinks and rooms, the group split off, in the hopes to find more information on these newcomers.
Daimonion and Dario immediately made their way over to the circular table, where the mysterious drummer and his comrades relaxed. After greeting the four, Daimonion asked them their names. The drummer set down his drum and set about introducing himself—he was Robert Radanavic, a Knight of the Radient Beacon from Barovia. (5) The slight girl with him was Lucca Sergial, his consort and an alchemist. Accompanying them were their longtime friends, Gareth Ruhkheim, a warrior from Lamordia, and Pinochet Starborn, a Sithican elf who was raised in the monastery where Radanavic was trained. Sadly, Radanavic told the pair that they had a fifth member to their ensemble, one of those unfortunate souls known to the populace as 'calibans', but Gug was imprisoned when they entered Mortigny, as the people feared the hulking brute. (6)
Daimonion immediately took a shine to the saddened Radanavic, and talked at length with him about their travels. Dario, too, enjoyed the company, particularly that of Pinochet, after finding out that the young elf was a priest of The Nameless One, which was, apparently, a popular faith in Barovia. (7)) After a short while, the name of Gregorian DelShonar came up and Radanavic's eyes rose in alarm. He had faced the doctor in combat before, and knew that his actions towards the group were most malicious. He told Daimonion that word would be sent, as soon as possible, to his Knighthood, so that some rectification might be made.
Meanwhile, as Tallorn drank at the bar, Dera and Rimo made their way over to the other table. The pair approached the stout man and made their introductions. Smiling broadly and raising his ale tankard, he hailed their greeting and introduced himself as Reginald Jordan III, a Darkonian native who was lately a wanderer. He then introduced his compatriots: the lithe oriental man was Yan-Bok-Chan, the elf was Roderick Graganthor, the dwarf was Kragar Stormspire, the blonde was Selena Van Bierk, and the man with the plumed hat was Nathaniel de la Cartier. With a lustful eye, Rimo turned to Selena, who gave up flirting with Nathaniel to check out the newcomer. Immediately, they hit it off, conversing at length. However, Dera was not so lucky in her questioning. Despite Mayor Traven's warnings, she immediately misspoke and dropped her cover as a caravan guard looking for work. Jordan picked up on this catch, growing angry. He questioned her violently, leaving Dera barely attempting to cover her tracks. Rimo jumped up from where he was flirting with Selena, and attempted to draw Jordan's ire away by offering a drink. Eventually, the stout man was calmed, but only at great length and even greater suspicion. (8)
At this point, after Jordan was, at least temporarily, placated, Sik arrived in the Green Griffon. (9) Immediately noticing Roderick's elven heritage, she sidled up to him and began conversing at length as to his homeland and where he was from. Smiling subtly, she plied him for information, which—thanks to her attentions—he was more than happy to provide. Dario, somewhat jealously, stood up in indignation and casually dropped by the pair to insinuate romance between himself and the attractive Sik. While Roderick was somewhat startled by this, Sik quickly allayed his fears. Rimo, on the other hand, spent much of his time chatting up Selena, whom he had taken quite the shine to. After some coercing, Selena convinced Rimo to head out to one of the local ale-houses with her, where they talked at length about his past. Intoxicated and more-than-a-little aroused, Rimo escorted Selena back to her room, where they spent the evening in revelry. (10)
The next day came swiftly, and Dario and Daimonion were quick to begin their investigations. Before the others had risen, they made their way down to the home of one Dr. Jonathan Garnet, Mortigny's household doctor and coroner. Dr. Garnet seemed to be quite helpful, inviting the pair into his home and taking them downstairs to where he had been holding the fourth victim for observation before her funeral. Immediately, Daimonion began examining the body. After several minutes of inspecting the claw-like slashes across the body, the young swashbuckler realized several key facts: not only were there no parts of the body missing, which an animal might eat, but the marks left in the body were quite refined, having none of the tell-tale jagged edges which an animal's claw would usually provide. As such, the killer was not an animal. (11)
Quizzically, Dario asked Dr. Garnet if he knew what form of weapon might make these sorts of marks. Somewhat confused, Garnet referred Dario to Godfrey Adhemar, Mortigny's resident weaponsmith extraordinaire. (12) Figuring that such a man would have the best leads to go on, Dario and Daimonion set back out the door. However, their progress was somewhat interrupted by the arrival of Dera, Tallorn and Rimo at Garnet's door. There, the trio chatted about their recent endeavors.
Tallorn, still aching from his travels, had begged his companions to escort him to the local temple of Ezra, so that he might be healed of his wounds. As Mayor Traven had told them, Warden Cartwright was ready to help him, but required a donation for the taxing spell of "restoration". Sighing, the pained ranger turned to the door. His compatriots began following, but then Tallorn turned back, drawing his short sword. Extending his pock-marked blade in both hands, he proclaimed to the Warden that in his fight against evil, his blade had served him well. While he had no money, he wished to continue his fight and would gladly give up one of his only possessions to do so. Touched by Tallorn's brave words, Warden Cartwright smiled and closed his eyes. He bade Tallorn sit down and relax, as healing energy washed from the warden's hands and into the ranger's body. (13) Thanking Warden Cartwright profusely, Tallorn and his compatriots left, meeting up with Dario and Daimonion on Garnet's doorstep.
From there, Dario and Daimonion took their leave, bound for Adhemar's shop on the other side of town. Amidst the clattering sounds of the working forge, a small bell rang as the pair entered. A burly man with a handlebar mustache and a thick leather apron came to the counter, shaking their hands profusely and introducing himself. Daimonion then explained to Adhemar about the wounds suffered by the fourth victim, asking if there was such a weapon that could inflict wounds of that type. Confused somewhat, the burly blacksmith began rifling through his stock in search of such a tri- fold blade. Shaking his head, he rose again empty-handed. The pair were about to leave when Adhemar recalled a lead that may help them. It appeared that an elven sage from Darkon was staying in town for a few days, since the roads had been closed off by the killings. This sage, Amastasia Quillathe by name, was an expert in exotic weaponry from the far-off island of Sri Raji. (14) While it was a long shot, perhaps this Quillathe might know something that might be of use. Thanking Adhemar again, Dario and Daimonion set out for Amastasia Quillathe's apartment.
The elven sage's apartment was filled with books, which splayed out of boxes all across the room. A strange scent filled the air, one of burning herbs or incense, as Dario and Daimonion entered his home. Quillathe's red-rimmed eyes stared blankly at the pair, as they made their inquiries. (15) As Daimonion finished his diatribe, the elf closed his eyes and lolled his head back onto his shoulders. Dario and Daimonion looked quizzically at each other, before Quillathe jumped up and began pulling books off of his shelf. Eventually, he found the one he was searching for and pulled it down, flipping through pages. At last, he came to the page he wanted and held it up for the pair to see. A curved form of a half-gauntlet, with three bladed spikes protruding from the back of the hand over the fingers sat in full illustration on the page. Explaining, Quillathe referred this weapon as a 'bagh nakh', better known as a 'catspaw' to those not of Sri Raji. Quite simply, the weapon was one used only rarely by assassins, when they wanted to make their killings look like an animal had performed the murder. At last enlightened, Dario and Daimonion thanked the bleary-eyed sage and hurried back to the Green Griffon to share the news with their companions.
The evening passed quickly as our heroes exchanged their information and began thinking of suspects. By 10 in the evening, much was on their minds, but some of the group members under investigation were not to be seen. Both Yan-Bok-Chan and Lucca Sergial were gone, their whereabouts unknown. Shrugging off this simple point, the group settled down for the evening. Romance was blossoming between Selena and Rimo, as well as between Roderick and Sik, which left them quite satisfied.
However, as they enjoyed their evening, a peasant burst through the door screaming. Another victim had been found, just outside of the town boundaries. While Rimo and Selena were already in bed, just as with Sik and Roderick, the others immediately leaped to their feet and made their way to the scene of the crime. Grim- faced, Radanavic expressed his concern over Lucca, as she still had not returned. Jordan, however, seemed almost nonchalant as he observed the killing, believing that the animal behind it was just waiting to be caught.
After inspecting the corpse, the group returned to the Green Griffon. Yan was already there, though, while Lucca remained missing. The majority of the group headed to sleep, while Tallorn and Dera stayed awake with Radanavic, as he asked them to wait for Lucca with him.
Dario slept fitfully, at best. It may have been for the best that way, though, as his sharp hearing picked up soft footfalls in the hallway outside. Nervous, he made sounds as if he was still awake, and the footfalls soon faded away. Daimonion, however, immersed himself in a deep slumber. Quietly, a dark-clad figure picked the lock on her door and swung it open. However, the figure had not counted on the creaky hinges of the room door. As it opened the door, with a loaded pistol drawn, Daimonion leaped awake and drew his rapier. Alarmed, the figure fired a single shot into Daimonion's shoulder, then leapt through the shuttered window to the street below. The swashbuckler cried out in pain, bleeding profusely, and watched the mysterious figure disappear into the night. (16)
Hearing the gunshot, Tallorn, Dera and Radanavic leapt to their feet. Radanavic drew forth a massive halberd which he held in both hands as they ran upstairs. Jordan and his friends joined them, along with Pinochet and Gareth. The group did their best to calm and heal Daimonion, but much was unsettled. Counting heads, they found that while Selena and Roderick were with Jordan, Nathaniel was not. Lucca, too, had still not reappeared. What was worse, both Rimo and Sik were missing. Immediately, questions began flying. As constables appeared on the scene, Nathaniel rose up the stairs with them. Daimonion and Tallorn immediately questioned him as to where Rimo and Sik might be, but Nathaniel merely said that they had decided to go drinking at a local alehouse and had stayed out later than he. Suspicious, Daimonion looked long at the cavalier, seeing if he had any weapons. Aside from his standard rapier, though, Daimonion noticed nothing out of the ordinary. (17)
Sliding past the group, Nathaniel positioned himself between Jordan and Pinochet. As the group argued, he slowly reached into his back-holster. With a swift motion, he grasped Pinochet by the throat, holding his reloaded pistol at the half-elf's throat. Smiling slyly, he told Radanavic and the heroes to put their weapons down as he and his friends gathered their things. All was obvious now—Jordan and his comrades were behind it all.
At a loss of what to do, Dera slipped into a low incantation. Immediately, the sound of several gunshots echoed down the hall. While the constables and Jordan reacted with alarm, de la Cartier steeled his grip on Pinochet, pushing his pistol barrel into the cleric's temple. Radanavic slowly lowered his halberd, as two shadows rose from the stairs.
A single shot rang out as Nathaniel de la Cartier's skull burst forth in a shower of gore. At the end of the hallway, Lucca Sergial held a smoking pistol with a determined look, while Pinochet scrambled back, breathing heavily. (18) A tall man behind her with a shorn head stepped in front of her, his eyes glowing with power. Immediately, Jordan and all his allies stood frozen in place by some unseen power. From there, the constables quickly manacled Jordan, Yan, Kragar, Selena and Roderick.
Worried about the fates of their comrades, Tallorn, Dario and the others ran to Selena's and Roderick's room. There, bound and gagged, their friends lay. As they were released, Sik grabbed up her crossbow and ran downstairs. As Roderick stood held by the unseen power of the mysterious man, Sik smiled sultrily and aimed her crossbow at the base of Roderick's skull. Helpless, the mage fell, to the horror of the constables, who were waiting to carry him away. Dark power washed through Sik and she reveled in its touch. (19)
The innkeep assembled the remaining heroes downstairs, hoping to alleviate their fears. Radanavic's eyes were narrowed as he slowly trod down the stairs with Tallorn and Dario. Lucca came last, with her mysterious friend, and addressed her consort. With sadness in her eyes, she told the knight that, simply, their romance was over. With a final forlorn gaze, Robert watched the pair silently walk into the night. (20)
At the constabulary, a full confession was elicited from Reginald Jordan and his so-called adventurers. Quite simply, they would kill a few peasants in a similar manner, using the bagh nakh, and then appear on the scene as investigators, ready to solve their own killings. After milking a town for as much cash as possible, they'd come up with a bloody animal pelt, claim their rewards and move on. Our heroes, too close to the truth, became an obstacle, which needed to be removed.
With the uneasy night behind them, dawn rose on a now-peaceful Mortigny. Drained from their investigations and the confrontation, the six adventurers made their way to bed again, hoping that rest might finally be found.