The Crime SceneEdit
The sun was just rising as Lieutenant Kasadei approached the sawmill, still chewing on a piece of bread for breakfast. A number of guards stood outside the building, keeping the small amount of curious townsfolk at bay. Above the entrance, a large sign depicting a comical scene of seven men rolling logs swayed gently in the morning breeze, squeaking slightly with each gust of wind.
Kasadei approached a short guard who was scraping the sole of his boot against a wooden rail. “What have you got for me, Valeros?” she asked.
Valeros looked up. “Morning lieutenant,” he replied grumpily, still trying to remove something sticky and red from his boot. “It’s a mess in there. Eleven bodies, blood everywhere. One survivor, looks like he was to be the next Sihedron killer’s victim. He’s no use, the last thing he remembers was leaving home last night. We found him tied up upstairs.”
“Mellini mentioned a prisoner…” Kasadei said as she made her way toward the double doors leading into the sawmill. Valeros fell into step beside her.
“Yeah, that group from Sandpoint captured one of the bastards, they have him at the Arvensoar but are refusing to hand him over to anyone but you.”
Kasadei grunted. Someone knew the group from Sandpoint had arrived in Magnimar and had set an ambush at the Foxglove Townhouse. The men were wise not to trust anyone here. Not even the city guard, she admitted with some regret.
The investigator led her sergeant upstairs toward the crime scene. On the third floor she came to the first sign of battle. The walls and floor were sticky with dark, congealed blood. The defenders had obviously made a stand upon the stairs, the wooden walls scuffed and scraped from flailing blades and crashing bodies.
Upon the top floor the guards had laid out the bodies in a neat row. The entire floor was covered in a pool of sticky blood. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air, matching scorch marks on the floor and walls. Above came the sound of ravens cawing, greeting the sunrise.
Kasadei looked at each of the corpses in turn. They were dressed in the same set of red and gold robes, most stained dark with blood. Some of the bodies had been hacked, with one almost cut in half from a mighty blow. A few were covered in small scratches and bites, as if attacked by murderous alley cats. Two were blackened from fire, their features burnt away.
“They were all wearing one of these,” Valeros says, passing Kasadei a leathery mask.
She held it up and frowned in disgust at the gruesome apparel. “What in the gods’ is this?”
Valeros shrugged. “Part of their sick ritual I presume.”
Kasadei threw it into the corner of the room where the others were piled. Walking along the row of bodies, she stopped at one and nudged it with her boot. “Aryk Highbridge,” she said flatly. The ravens above were causing a ruckus. Kasadei glanced upward, annoyed at the noise.
Valeros pointed to several corpses. “We’ve identified four others, all minor aristocrats.”
“An upper class cult,” the investigator mused aloud.
“The Skinsaw Men, apparently,” Valeros grunted. “According to the prisoner. He keeps spouting some nonsense about Father Skinsaw coming.”
“Who’s Father Skinsaw?” Kasadei asked.
“According to Brother Callan, an aspect of Norgorber,” Valeros replied. “Venerated in secret by assassins.” He held out a holy symbol. “Strange that we found this, though.”
Kasedei took the old holy medallion, the sword and sun holy symbol of Iomedae. She examined it carefully, noting the name ‘Deneas’ was engraved on the back. “A victim? Looks like I’ll have to pay the priests a visit,” she said.
“We also found this, but I can’t make heads or tails of it.” He handed her a small book, a journal or diary. Inside entries were written in a neat hand. Kasadei recognised elvish letters and words but it was mixed with another unfamiliar language.
“Send this to Shaila, she’ll be able to translate it,” Kasadei aid, handing back the book.
She walked over to a ladder against the wall, leading up into to a small rookery above the room. Climbing a few rungs she poked her head through the ceiling. Several ravens were caged there, flapping and hopping with anxiety at the strange face. “Oh and sergeant, find someone who can speak with these birds.”