While Helen performed the ritual to examine the dagger, the rest of the party questioned Ned some more about what had happened to him. He reiterated that he’s just a guy from Seaton on his way to Saltmarsh to find work, and that he’d been hit on the head just after he entered the house and awoke to find himself bound up. You weren’t quite believing his story, but the bard did stop trying to hang him over the balcony. He made a run for the front door, but Taryn caught him before he could make it more than a step.
Then, Taryn talked to him about the merciful danger of Kord, and Ned gave a passable performance of someone experiencing a change of heart. It seemed to please the paladin, though not to the point of fully trusting him.
Once Helen had discovered the full extent of the poisoned dagger’s abilities, the party decided to explore the attic. Taryn pushed Ned ahead of the party and ordered him to climb up the wall to drop a rope down for the others. He asked for climbing gear and a weapon, but was denied. So he climbed up anyway, looked around, and reported that the place looked pretty empty. He then tied the rope around a beam and dropped it down for you.
One by one you climbed up into the attic, and one by one he offered a hand to each of you to help you up, smiling awkwardly as he did so. You looked around, and discovered that his assessment wasn’t far off. The attic was devoid of much, except a couple of sacks of old, decrepit clothing and rags. Several large holes allowed sunlight in, providing some bright areas and some dim light around them.
You pushed down into the wider southern part of the attic (it being one large ‘room’), and were shocked to discover two things: an injection of stirges and Ned’s long-awaited betrayal!
Yes, Ned took advantage of the momentary chaos to make his move. He used a wooden stake to stab Boogiestein, finding some grim revenge for almost being thrown over the balcony. It was a horrible wound, though in hindsight she’ll feel glad that he no longer had the poisoned blade.
Meanwhile, Varis and Taryn were attacked by stirges, who successfully poked proboscises into each of them. Boogie and Rakik tried to deal with Ned, and Helen caught the attention of a loose stirge while he remained a little closer to the attic stairs.
Ned, having inflicted some painful wounds (and receiving a few himself) headed for the broken attic stairs but stopped to take a stab at Helen on the way. As he then broke away to drop down the hole, the stirge who’d been harassing Helen made an opportunity attack against Ned and attached itself! Ned, with stirge firmly injected, dropped down anyway and ran out of sight.
Rakik followed, hot on his heels, but found him crawling away only 60 or so feet around a corner. The stirge was happily sucking out the last few hitpoints from him. Rakik asked him if he had any last words, to which he responded, “Fuck you all.” He died with one hand flipping the bird towards the group. Like a shitty coffee, he was bitter to the very end.
After dispatching the last stirge, the group decided to take a rest in the attic to recoup. Taryn discovered the stirges’ nest and found an odd stone coin tucked in a cracked, leather purse. He gave it to Rakik, who give it some consideration during their short rest, and was pleased to discover that it had magical properties!
The group then headed downstairs to take care of those dangerous skeletons, once and for all (barring re-reanimation, but that hardly ever happens).
With a plan in place, things went much more smoothly. During the fight, Helen produced Fharlanghn’s holy symbol to turn back the evil used to animate the skeletons, and two of them did indeed run in panic. The first was immediately cut down by Taryn as it ran, but the other reached the secret door at the side of the room and ran beyond, into darkness.
The skeletons dealt with, you proceeded into this new room, where you found a secret alchemical laboratory. Seated in front of a desk, a book open in front of him, was the skeleton of a man in a fancy wizard robe with a pointy wizard hat. In one hand was clutched a very interesting-looking vaguely-glowing stone. The book appeared to involve the transmutation of materials from one form to another, which fit with the whole alchemist vibe you’d previously noted. Two golden objects were on the desk as well: an apple and a rose, both perfect replicas of their real-world counterparts.
Taryn plucked the stone from the dead man’s hand, and discovered to his horror that it was, in fact, a cursed luckstone which attuned to him immediately. Closer inspection gave the impression that the alchemist may have died from a heart attack, as he sat, alone, in his well-hidden secret lab, which was protected by a gaggle of skeletons within the fairly-secret cellar-area of the house. Bad luck, indeed!
And that’s the point where we wrapped for the night.
When you eventually decide to check out the rest of the basement area (from whence the smugglers had emerged) you will discover the following layout:
The cavern marked “25” has a large—and easily avoidable—green slime living on the ceiling, dropping blobs of itself onto the cavern floor to digest the human waste and other debris that had been thrown there, but the other parts of the cave network do not present any danger. The passages and caverns all decline perceptibly toward the sea, and are wet and slimy with moist floors. Coarse matting has been laid in various places along the main route toward the ocean in an apparent effort to make it more easily passable.
Stacked neatly in a couple of the other caverns are 9 bolts of silk cloth, and 15 casks of brandy. These are identical to the silk cloth and brandy you found in the cellar. In total, you found 10 bolts of silk cloth and 17 casks of brandy (one of which you opened and sampled). These are all fairly heavy (around 50 lbs. per cask, and 30 lbs. per bolt).
As shown, a “jolly boat” (about 12 feet long, with four oars, no sail) can be found pulled up and tied on the small, stony beach astride the ocean. Efforts have been taken to camouflage the boat using gray tarpaulins.
When inspecting the beach area, Varis notes that hand-holds have been painstakingly carved right up to the very top edge of the cliff face, some 70 feet above sea level.