Dink woke from a nightmare, as always.
They set off early, leaving the Club and heading out into the morning mist. Actually, now that Celendril thought about it, the mist never cleared at all yesterday. It had still been thick when they hunted the manticore. That was unheard of for the Valley. Mist came rolling in by the morning, and cleared by midday. Without fail. Something was waaay off here…
The Sacred Stone Monastery was a day’s travel to the south. While not particularly wanting to run errands for the Society, it was a good lead to the triangle-branded, stone-obsessed cultists. Since they would pass close to both the place of the attack on the Delegation and the home of the Knights of Samular, they decided to make stops at both as well.
They reached the crime scene a little before noon. Enter Helen, Jack’s ex-wife, a no-nonsense captain of the force. She had been given lead on the investigation. Unwilling to let her brash former husband run roughshod over the delicate situation with the Families more than he and his silly partner already had, she fished for a reason to pull them off the case.
She could confirm most of what they themselves had found when investigating the cellar, but also added a new name – that of Teodoro Bruventa. A famous academic of the city’s ancient history, he had been seen with the Delegation. For what purpose, she had no idea. His expertise was generally not something the Families concerned themselves with, and absolutely not as part of a major diplomatic endeavor.
They continued south, until they reached Summit. A neighbourhood on a hill, with a small castle on the top, flying flags sporting a crossed torch and sword. A round wound up the hill to the front gates. Our heroes were welcomed inside with no hassle from the guards. The inhabitants were all in full armor, but courteous and friendly. As they had questions, the quartet was pointe inside to speak with the leader of the Knights: Lady Ushien Stormbanner.
She was a no-nonsense kind of person, and made it clear that others had spoken to her about the missing delegation already, and that she did not keep secrets. The spoke only briefly, but one thing made clear was that she had never heard of a group called the “Bringers of Woe”. She did however know of the group currently using the Monastery, the Sacred Stone. They were a dour lot, keeping to their own marshal practices, rather than offer a communal place of worship and contemplation.
Walking east, towards the monolith’s of Cecil and Basik Rock, they left Summit, and headed into one of Occam’s shantytown districts. They wound their way up towards where the two monoliths met at the base. All of a sudden, the light structure of the surrounding buildings gave way to a shallow crater with a thick, if weathered, stone wall around the edge. Beyond it; the rather imposing complex of the Sacred Stone Monastery. Clearly built in stages, but with the same sandstone and red tile roof for all of it. The two things that stood out were a massive central building and the fact that the east end of the complex was in much worse shape than the rest.
An early attempt to sneak in went bad quickly, and they ran back to the front gates and knocked instead. After a few minutes of waiting a slot slid open in the door, and beyond they saw a familiar scowling gargoyle visage. The same they had seen on the body buried in the cellar.
There was a short exchange that can boiled down to “Hi! Can we-” and “No. Go away. The abbess does not allow visitors.”
Back outside the wall, they decided to rope onto the roof from a nearby building. A woman to Jack’s liking opened. Her name was Elaine Kaz, and he went on the charm offensive. This went a little so-so, but it turned out she was a collector and reseller of weaponry. With the bribe of the glaive and sword that Jack had picked up along the way, access to the roof was granted.
Elaine told them what she knew of her neighbours, confirming that the mostly kept to themselves and were some kind of “kung-fu warrior monks”. They were quite rude, and had seemingly stolen the place from a nice lich that “haunted” the place before. Our heroes paused briefly at that piece of information, but Elaine kept talking as they walked through her very impressive armory on the second floor and onto her roof.
There was not much to catch a rope on on the roof of the Monastery, but they got it secure enough for Dink to climb along. After he secured it more readily, the others crossed as well. This was not entirely silent, with Jack’s foot going more or less straight through the roof as he let go of the roof. People were clearly moving inside as a result. Our heroes found a narrow, open courtyard in front of the large central building and jumped down to it.
Attempting to bar the doors to the courtyard, they woke up two gargoyles. They took some fighting to finish of, and before our heroes could do something about the big bronze doors to the central building, the flew open.
Out stepped a monk and two guards dressed in armor of stone. Managing two dispatch the latter two even as the monk threw shatter and slow spells, they could not get to him in time before he was joined by several more monks in mask. And the abbess, a dour woman, who wore a mask without eye holes.
Our heroes were given a choice; give up and toil in the mines (What mines?), or be summarily executed. Jack was out cold at this point, but Celendril and Dink threw down their weapons. The abbess quickly knocked them both out, and turned to Mei.
She had noticed that Mei were not keen on a life of mining, despite the “executed” part of the other choice. As a courtesy, she allowed Mei to fight something called an umber hulk. With the implication that “fight” meant “be fed to”.