Having arrived in the city of Skepshire the party set about gathering new armour, weapons, supplies and information. They discovered that the “Gnomish Maid” had been a ship that had last set sail from Skepshire twenty years ago, before its wreck was found off the coast of Kleistead, a city in western Kardiam, presumably with all crew and passengers lost to the sea. However, it appeared a salvage operation had taken place, and that more information could possibly be gained by visiting the Brinson Salvage Company in Kleistead.
Upon arriving in the town of Lacrima the party quickly discovered Estat Tower, and were escorted by the guard Callum Finn down into the dungeons where they met the Duchess Anabelle Estat and her Sheriff Otis Bracket. It was revealed that rather than being asked to investigate the disappearances of townspeople, now five bodies had turned up, skinned with supernatural precision, and everyone who had been missing before had apparently returned. The party was deputized and put in charge of the investigation.
The party interviewed and questioned many townspeople of the course of the following day, but didn’t seem any closer to discovering a common link between the bodies and the previous disappearances. That evening the party divided to keep watch over as much of the town as possible. Jim Frog had been put in charge of looking over the tavern, and offered to assist the server May Sadis in escorting the shopkeeper Wes Coden back to his residence, as he was extremely inebriated. While doing so the drunk Wes Coden admitted to Jim Frog that he had stolen his current fortune from Nadine Valus, currently a maid of the Duchess, by pretending to be smitten with her before getting her to sign over ownership of the general store. Enraged Jim Frog swore that once Wes Coden was sober he would duel him for the lady’s honour and do his best to end Coden’s life. Despite this revelation Jim Frog made sure to get Coden home safely.
Shear, in one of his gliding surveys of the town, had discovered a hidden nest along the cliffside of the town, apparently abandoned, but still containing one last egg. He helped with the hatching process and discovered he was now the sole caretaker for a gryphon hatchling. Shear swore to raise it as his own, and doted upon it with much affection.
Tired from their stake-out, the party decided to sleep through the morning, as all the previous disappearances had occurred in the evening. Woken by and enraged Sheriff Otis, it was revealed that a guard had discovered Wes Coden’s skinned body that very morning, not hours after Jim Frog had sworn to end his life. At this point the pieces started to fall together for the party, and the common link of all the disappearances to Nadine Valus was discovered. All the men who had disappeared so far had wronged Nadine in some way. The first, Petar Pescor, had left her for another, many years ago while they were both in their teenage years. She had been raped by Koby Erman, while she was being courted by his brother Bale who then sided with Koby in the aftermath. Victor Tessare left her with child, Callum Finn had beat her, and Wes Coden had stolen from her under the guise of caring for her. With Wes dead, the party knew of only one other man who had hurt Nadine, Drew Manus, the Duchess’ steward, who had broken off his engagement to Nadine only months prior.
The party ordered that a search be put out for Drew, and Nadine, and Callum Finn who was the one who had discovered Wes’ body. Drew was found and held in custody for his own safety, while Nadine was discovered at the shrine to The Widow, a goddess of loss and grief, overlooking the sea, a place where she had come to pray many times before. Her story seemed to indicate that she had not knowingly had anything to do with what had recently occurred in Lacrima.
Alarms were raised as an attempt was made on the life of Drew, and giving chase into an underground cavern the party discovered the culprit. Currently wearing the skin of Bale Erman was a Selkie, summoned inadvertently by Nadine Valus as she prayed at the altar of The Widow and wept seven tears into the ocean, tears of loss, or fear, of betrayal, of grief, of pain, of despair, and of rejection. An ancient and forgotten ritual completed, the Selkie came to Lacrima to give closure of a sort to Nadine by taking the skins of those who had hurt her, wearing those skins, and then admitting their crimes to her.
Having revealed his intentions to the party, the Selkie’s claws extended from the fingers of Bale Erman’s skin and attacked. Colewyn Flint tried to defend himself but failed, and was flayed alive before his horrified companions. Amazingly, Colewyn Flint managed to fight through the unimaginable pain of being skinless and remained upright. The fight was bloody, but soon enough, unburdened of his limbs by Shear, the Selkie was vanquished. Colewyn Flint replaced his skin, wearing it like a change of clothes and found himself restored, with not a mark upon him.
The Duchess was immensely grateful for the efforts of the party, and true to her promise gave them each a payment of $1000. As well, the party was given the Selkie’s Pelt, an object that allows the wearer to assume the form of a seal.
The celebration was short lived however, as Edvun Bairain, steward to Baron Haveli Vilkas of Granite Hollow made an appearance, having ridden like mad for days to reach the party in time. Apparently a squadron of knights, dispatched from the capital of Haveed, and under the command of Sir Lannet Dunlowe, a Major in the Hestial military, had arrived in Granite Hollow, seeking to arrest the party for a murder committed on July 14th 10,162 A.E., a day before any of party members had met one another. Bairain had set out to warn the party, but the squadron could not be far behind him, even now. The party’s likeness had been relayed to harbourmasters, the Mage Guild, and border guards, and a bounty of $2000 per person had been placed upon their heads.
Bairain offers a solution to the party, four Spell Stones, containing the spell Teleport, which should allow the party to escape beyond the borders of Hestial, until the Baron and Bairain could contrive of a way to clear the party’s name. Bairain had obtained these Spell Stones from a disreputable source, and is not sure where the spell will teleport them too.
The party confers briefly, and decides to take the chance that these stones offer. Simultaneously they hold the Spell Stones, and crush the enchanted gemstones in their fists, releasing the spell contained within. Jim Frog and Valmeer feel a wrenching in their stomachs, their heads feel like they are spinning, and as they look around them and take in their new surroundings, one thing is immediately obvious, Shear and Colewyn Flint are nowhere to be found.