Rise of the Runelords

The Skinsaw Murders: Part 4

Misgivings

Thanks to the healing skills of their cleric, both of the young farmers and all of the adventurers are able to overcome Ghoul Fever after a few days back in Sandpoint. They spend their recuperation time learning all they can about their next destination: Foxglove Manor. After preparations are made, they make the trek to the site.

The route leading out to Foxglove Manor is a 3-mile hike along a narrow path that follows the Foxglove River from the covered bridge where it flows under the Lost Coast Road to the dark sea cliffs overlooking the Varisian Gulf. Here, wild sea birds call out to a roaring ocean that churns hundreds of feet below. As the adventurers near Foxglove Manor, it almost seems as if nature herself has become sick and twisted. Nettles and thorns grow more prominent, trees are leafless and bent, and the wind seems unnaturally cold and shrill as it whistles through the cliffside crags. The path slowly rises, bending around a steep corner in the cliffs, and then Foxglove Manor looms at the edge of the world.

The strangely cold sea wind rises to a keening shriek as Foxglove Manor comes into view. The place has earned its local nickname of the “Misgivings” well, for it almost appears to loathe its perch high above the ocean, as if the entire house were poised for a suicide leap. The roof sags in many places, and mold and mildew cake the crumbling walls. Vines of diseased-looking gray wisteria strangle the structure in several places, hanging down over the precipitous cliff edge almost like tangled braids of hair. The house is crooked, its gables angling sharply and breached in at least three places, hastily repaired by planks of sodden wood. Chimneys rise from various points among the rooftops, leaning like old men in a storm, and grinning gargoyle faces leer from under the eaves.

Decay abounds inside the manor. Ceilings sag, plaster swells, and timbers rot. Doors are often wedged shut by dampness and rot. Mold and stains mar walls and floors, often in strangely unsettling patterns. As they search the apparently abandoned structure, the adventurers are haunted by powerful and terrible visions of the past. It becomes clear that unspeakable horrors have befallen all who have inhabited this house for any period of time.

Through these visions, they learn that Vorel Foxglove, who originally built Foxglove Manor, was attempting to turn himself into a Lich, but was stopped by his wife Kasanda. After doing so, a strange disease that caused any living creature to break out in tumors and decay killed everyone inside the house. When Traver and his family moved in years later, Traver became increasingly insane. His wife, Cyralie, blamed this on the manor itself and tried to burn it to the ground, starting with the servant’s quarters. When she tried to light the manor itself on fire, Traver flew into a rage and redirected the flow of the fire using magic to ignite her instead. As she burned to death, Cyralie staggered across the room and threw herself through the window to plummet to her death on the rocks below. This sight caused Traver to finally snap out of his madness long enough for him to retreat to his bedroom and kill himself.

Years later, after taking over the manor, Aldern became increasingly jealous and suspicious of his wife, Iesha. Returning home drunk one night, he found his wife and one of the carpenters huddled in the library in the chairs by the fire, their heads almost touching as they leaned toward each other. Aldern mistook their shared examination of a book for passion and roared into the room, sweeping up a stone bookend from a shelf as he approached. He brained the carpenter with the bookend, knocking him senseless, then dropped the bookend and strangled Iesha with her own scarf. He hid her body upstairs and dumped the carpenter down the well.

While exploring, the adventurers discover that Iesha has become a Revenant, awaiting release from an attic bedroom so she can exact her revenge on her murdering husband. After a not-so-successful sneak attack from the rogue, she leads the adventurers to a once-buried staircase in the basement that leads to a series of waterlogged caves beneath the manor. These caves have become the home of Aldern, who has become the powerful ghast known as Skinsaw Man and his budding ghoul army. As they enter the room to face him, they find that he and his ghasts have defeated Iesha. When he sees Sorcerer Dave, he exclaims, “You live! Well and good, for now I shall have the reward of tasting your heart while it is yet warm…”. The adventurers have their most difficult battle yet against the Skinsaw Man, but eventually he drops his weapons and falls to the ground sobbing and begging for mercy. He claims that “The Hurter” is gone now, and that “His Lordship” is in control again. He seems to be willing to tell them anything they want to know in order to convince them to help him…

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