The party left Maple and began their journey towards Hondar. Ulfang was under orders to report on their findings, both regarding the Blood Gulch incident and the wizard, Martin Laudet. On their approach to Hondar, the party encountered a man named Waldo Ergstrom, whose wagon has lost a wheel. Byrne quickly fixed his wheel and a friendship began. They traveled together into the town. Hondar was on alert when they arrived and many citizens had gathered in the town square. A trial was nearing the end of its proceedings; the judge pronounced the defendant guilty on the charges of murder, conspiracy, and trafficking. Upon investigation, the party discovered that the defendant was the former Sheriff, a halfling named Bartl’by.
Individual party members handled some side business before further investigation. Kazuo spoke to his mentor, who appeared concerned about something but did not disclose the nature of his worrying. Waldo dropped off his wagon at the big temple of Yondalla, contents still unknown, and discussed the trial with some guards. The guards believe that the Sheriff was dealing drugs. One family in particular owed the Sheriff some cash, which they could not pay. So, according to popular belief, he murdered the family. During the Sheriff’s escape, however, he was confronted by the Lord Commander Farnell‘s men. He attempted to run, killing two Cuthbertine guards in the process, but getting seriously wounded in the process. Tired and weak, he succumbed to blood loss in an alleyway, wherein the guards seized him and brought him to court. Drugs were found in the family’s house and in Bartl’by’s.
Unsatisfied with the story as told, the party asked Bartl’by himself, who was placed in stocks in the town center, awaiting his death at sunrise. Bartl’by denies the drug and murder allegations, but does not know what happened that night. He claims that he was investigating strange lights coming from the Hondar Hospital morgue before everything becomes foggy. He remembered waking up in the alleyway, covered in water and blood. He implored the party to seek evidence of his innocence while there was still time. He instructed the party to retrieve a hospital key from a stump in his backyard and to search the morgue. The stump was guarded and Byrne was nearly caught in the process but the party successfully found the key and headed to the morgue.
The morgue was sealed with iron doors and was sufficiently creepy. The morgue was filled with alchemical objects, books (including a tome in Rokugani), and two huge freezers. Each freezer contained 20+ blocks of ice, each containing frozen bodies. These bodies were the subject of experimentation during the plague-years. Interestingly, the party discovers one body unlike the others – an elf body trapped in the ice. In the second freezer, the party encounters a black cloaked figure. He appeared to be carrying a corpse before combat began. The party disabled and captured the man. Inside that freezer, one block of ice had been melted completely and its remnants turned into an icy pile. It appears that he was taking the body, but it is unlikely that he melted the block recently. Someone had to come in previously to melt the block, giving it time to refreeze, and left the body behind for some reason.
The human is about 6 feet, hairless, and covered in tribal tattoos on his neck. He was chewing on a black dragonscale, which the party noticed and ripped out from his teeth. Its purposes are unknown.
During the battle, a fire alarm was heard. Concerned that guards were coming to seize them, the party sent out Kazuo as a scout. The guards were not heading to the morgue and there was, in fact, a literal fire: Kazuo’s foster home was an inferno. Kazuo entered the building to save his master, only to find him slashed to death by swords in his bed. In Kazuo’s room, his mentor had placed a decoy – the body of an animal – in his bed, which was also slashed, although it is unknown whether the assassins took the bait. Outside of the house, Kazuo’s brother’s katana was stuck in the ground – with a long braid of his brother’s hair attached to the hilt. Naturally concerned, Kazuo took the sword and returned to Bartl’by. Kazuo explained what they found, and asked if Bartl’by had anyone that he could trust. Kazuo was led to Father Young, a pelorian priest who lives in a cottage outside of Hondar. Father Young and Kazuo returned to the hospital, retrieved the party and the presumed necromancer, and headed to towns square. They asked Bartl’by if he would like to be free, giving him the chance to prove his innocence. At first he was skeptical, but in light of the possibly of a cult, he agreed.
The party, Father Young, Bartl’by, and the Cabalist headed to a secret location in the dead of night.