Session 21: “The knitting Cult”
From the journal of Adra Kellen:
Sypheros 8, 818
I’ve been working on this case for hours now. I am still without any solid evidence that points me towards who is responsible for the girl’s disappearance and am without anything that indicates who else may be involved in the cult. If Jinna is a cult member why is she missing? If she was targeted by the cult, why would she have those items? She could have been a newly recruited member that was being indoctrinated and realized her mistake and wanted to leave. Everything suggests that the cult is meeting somewhere in Low Town. The numbers of sigils drawn on buildings are more prominent and I have a fairly good idea of what happens in the city proper.
Tim-Tam and Kev-Kin have brought some interesting news. Apparently, Stonehands has been injured and taken away by someone or something in Low Town.
We’ve gathered at the last place Stone was seen: a warehouse in Low Town owned by Ulren Mogth, the self-proclaimed mayor of Low Town. Akiros and nine of his guards have surrounded the warehouse but there is little sign of anything inside. The puddle of blood in the street is profoundly worrying to Cedric, who is trying hard to hide his concern. Dwarven foot prints lead to the warehouse, but are cut short by a struggle. There the dwarf is dragged off.
After questioning a gnome across the street we find that he knows little more than we do. Mogth owns the warehouse, but had not been around at all that evening. Akiros and his men storm the building and find several crates of illicit goods and other black market items. While illegal, this is not what we came for. Cedric and I have madee our way to Mogth’s home, but Cedric insists on entering alone. I’m left here waiting in foul company. Mogth is nothing more than a labor boss who has found people gullible enough to call him mayor. While we haven’t heard any complaints of misconduct I am sure Akiros will be visiting him concerning what he found in the warehouse.
Cedric returns with news that the warehouse only has three keys, two of which Mogth can personally account for. The third would be in his study which could only be accessed by him or his wife. Though his wife had been at a birthing all day back in the city. The same one we had visited earlier that day. Mogth mentioned his wife normally spends her evening at a sewing circle at the Little Inn here in Low Town.
Well this evening could have ended better. I’m staying in the cellar of the Half-Eaten Wench due to once again being unable to return to the fort due to the others bringing home a monstrosity. I have made my suggestion and have been told to stay away from that hideous creature. Cedric of all people should know that evil can come in all forms and that something as supposedly harmless as a child could harbor something terrible and vile. My concern is that this cult has done this so many times that we may have a much larger problem on our hands. Imagine if this mid-wife was able to replace every child she helped birth. The consequences would be too terrible to even comprehend.
We arrived at the Little Inn, which is a jumble of several smaller establishments that share a common area. Its Low Town’s answer to a proper inn as we have not officially sanctioned one in Halcyon. Upon entering the inn we immediately see a large group of women sewing and knitting. We approach and I call them out for what they are. The women react by denying all accusations. I press the matter until several become far more shaken than the rest. One in particular stands up and furiously denies what I’ve said. I can tell she is moments away from striking me so I verbally push her. She reacts by driving a knitting needle down at me, but I was prepared for this. I parry the attack and drive a knee into her chest and she loses the needle as she tries to strike me again. She attempts to shove me away and I use her moment against her and put her into a grapple. I hold her there as Cedric and several guards try to calm the rest of the crowd. The other women in the circle break and while most of them flee terrified of the scene a few join the fray. Cedric commands everyone to stand down. I release the woman who attacked me as she slips into unconsciousness. We hear shouts from below the floor boards and demand access to the cellar. The moment we reach the cellar a girl comes rushing up the stairs into Cedric’s arms. I figure its Jinna as I continue down into the cellar. In the halls below the inn two women chase after a beaten and bloody dwarf. I fire a few arrows that strike the dwarf’s assailants and the dwarf finishes off the fight. As I approached the dwarf it was clear that it was Stone, though he looked worse than usual and far more serious than I had ever seen him. I laid a hand on him and spoke a prayer to close his wounds. He regained some vitality but was still clearly hurt. He was clearly tortured and those wounds would take more than a prayer to heal. We regrouped and continued deeper into the cellar which became more ceremonial as it opened up into a large circular room. There the mid-wife Malgorzata Niska was clothed in a black smock surrounded by other women in similar dress at a vile altar to their dark god. Upon the altar was a small child, the mid-wife had a crude blade raised and was about to take its life. I didn’t hesitate and sent the mid-wife into the embrace of Dolurrh. Cedric and Stone made short work of the remaining cultists who all seemed to be crazed and attacked until they were unable. The women present were the same that had attended the birthing earlier in the day
After the short skirmish, Cedric rescued the child from the altar and passed the babe to Stone who seemed much more comfortable holding children. The child had an evil aura about him, but this place was most likely responsible for that. I looked through the remaining rooms in the cellar and found a disturbing nursery covered with the symbols of the Churning Chaos. Each crib had an arcane rune carved into it seemingly to channel some foul energy from a central icon drawn on the ceiling and down the walls. A lone child rests in one of the cribs, appearing to be a new born. This cult was doing something to the children that it helped birth. Implanting them with some sort of evil from another plane or worse replacing them. I let Akiros and the guard secure the area. The second child was carried up by one of the guards.
I took two guards with me and I went to the home of the woman who today had just given birth. When I arrived I met some resistance by the father of the new child. I apologized for visiting at such a late hour, but made it clear that he and his wife were in danger. I asked to see his wife and new child, he obliged after some reassurance that this was for his and his new family’s best interest. I explained the situation once I saw the mother and child. The father and mother both refused my reasoning, that their child had been replaced by something foul. I gave the father my pendant of the Silver Flame and asked to place it against the child’s skin. As I expected as soon as the pendant touched the impostor child it left a searing mark on its skin. I called for one of the guard to bring Cedric and the younger child we found. While I admit that things could have been handled slight better than that, I had no time to delay. Cedric arrived shortly after with stone who brought the child. The parents were confused, but finally realized that the thing they held was not theirs. They received their true child and Stone picked up the impostor. Cedric was unhappy with how I handled things and kept me away from the impostor. They intended to bring it back to the fort, while the other infant was still with Akiros and his men. I refused to have the changling or whatever it was brought to the fort, but Cedric insisted.
I visited Akiros, who was already processing the surviving cultists from the inn. I took the child that was in his care to the only women in town that I thought would be up at this hour and would have some experience with children. Once at the brothel I received some puzzled looks and even more perplexing questions, but they agreed to watch the child till morning. I left knowing I would need a place to stay the night and past the Half-Eaten Wench and saw it was still open. Stonemugs was still at the bar and I asked if there was a place to stay and here I am.