Mists of Ustalav: A Carrion Crown Campaign

Shiogi's Musings: The Lodge

Wow today started out well! I tried to identify a potion (forgetting my vow) and immediately received 2 con drain. Needless to say, I will not be eating anything but bread and drinking water for a while. After this auspicious beginning we made it back to the trail and continued on to the lodge. Several times during the night we heard a rustling and saw creepy lights that looked like eyes (sometimes encircling us) but we were not attacked. The next day we came across a man with wolfsbane in his mouth and a silver dagger in his heart. When we all got close, Kelda triggered a trap and a bunch of silver tipped arrows shot Shiogi, Ronit, and Kelda. Kelda vows to have words with creator of trap (take the five crossbows). I also notice that presence of silversheen on the dagger and the arrows. We take the time to bury the body and continue on to the lodge.

We make it to the lodge late the next afternoon, and we are given some grief by the guards. We eventually talk our way through and we see a woodsman (Delgros) and a noble (Duristan) arguing. It turns out that Duristan wants to go on a werewolf hunt. Forthing for some reason decides to follow the hunting party. Kelda and Ronit choose the wise course and head to the inn to get settled. I set off with the hunting party to make sure Forthing does not get in trouble.

The hunting party gets in some trouble when they track some beasts that took the corpse of a elk. We track the beasts, find some direboars, and dispatch the beasts (Forthing finds out why he is not a front line fighter). We decide to spend the night, but Delgros goes back to the lodge (leaving sign’s as he goes).

Later that night when Kelda and Ronit show up they tell us of how nice the lodge is and how they got a invitation from Estovion (warden of the lodge) who apologized for the trouble at the gate. They also received a standing invitation to the personal library of Estovion. Kelda also relays that Lim Weftharper has shown up again and points out the Margrave, Markiza with her hound (who is our contact) and asks about if we know that there was a temple of Desna nearby.

After all this we hear a loud howling and a scream. We take off in that direction and we see two large werewolves carrying large swords. One of them starts talking about the silverhide pack, something sitting on a throne, supporting Malthus, and tells us not to meddle in wolf affairs and tells us to leave (we should have followed this advice). The fight went badly and Ronit was killed after trying to drag Forthing to safety.

It is decided that we need to get Ronit raised as soon as possible so we head back to the temple of Pharasma in Lepistadt. We talk to the judge, raise some money, raise Ronit and find out that the information that we might need is in Cortaud. Apparently there is some tribal structure of the wolves in the Shudderwood. We find that there are 5 packs and that some wolf called Sain is the “Lord of Wolves” (of the Vollensag tribe).

The wolves that we met were Vollensag (primitive descendants of the kellids), there are also the “Silverhide” or Mordrinacht tribe (aggressive, blend in with human communities, and their leader is named Malthus), the Prince’s wolves (brown and grey and oppose the Whispering Way), the Dorzhanev tribe (broken ones, act like wolves, small and red), and lastly the demonwolf tribe (Jezeldans) that were led by an antipaladin (black fur color). We also found out that they have a sacred place called the stairs of the moon or the high throne.

We then made our way back to the lodge. I finally made contact with our Palatine contact. He told me a halfling was asking about werewolves (Lim), Estovian is not reliable (would love to look in private library), and finally we set up a code if I need a meeting (LEAVE A COLORED BAG AT DOG PENS).

We find out that we can see the library in two days, then we decide to consult the weejee board. (2 knocks: evil spirit inhabiting lodge, 3 knocks: Lodge haunted, 4 knocks: ghost in lodge).

I also see a note in my pack that says “Beware the wolves that watch the woods, they see all, but leave no trace.”

Lim makes known to us that she will pay us if we find any information that links the temple of desna and the origin of the various wolf tribes.

We find out that Mari Sirinov has just left the lodge and headed to Thrushmoore.

Also, Delgros goes ahead and shows us all the exotic animals that he has available to hunt. One of them is a Giant Spider.

We do hear tales about Herik Ariesir (Duristan’s older brother) who was killed by a vicious attack (tore him and guards to pieces) which happened 10 years ago. We also hear about a noble that died 20 years ago, and yet another minor noble that died 28 years ago. We think that Herik was killed because of his political support of the Palatinate movement.

Finding this all out we consulted the weejee board again.

1 knock (Do you know anything to help in search of lodge)
1 knock (Herik killed by wolf spirit)
1 knock (someone summoned or controlled the wolf spirit)
2 knocks (Connected to whispering way)

We also find out that Duristan left the day after we did (come to find out that Forthing had been spreading rumors again!).

After this we went around and asked about Vrood. Kelda went to the fortune teller (had her fortune read (will have conflict with old acquaintance who has changed, beware older noble houses, and was seen fighting a werewolf)). Vrood also had a letter of introduction from a very highly placed individual. Vrood then saw a courtesan, we were able to set an appointment with the same lady (was very sought after in Cortaud apparently).

Meanwhile Ronit discovered that the Stairs of the Moon are haunted by vengeful spirits, and the temple was destroyed by agents of the Whispering Tyrant.

A note appeared under Forthing’s door which read “Some secrets better left uncovered. Leave before you fall prey to its curse!”

While Kelda was talking to the Margrave at dinner he said that he was concerned over an acquaintance Echtmoor Dravin who has not arrived yet at the lodge.

Kelda relayed what happened to Mr. Dravin (eaten by weaver worm) and promised us a reward tomorrow. He also told us that he was in the lodge 10 years ago when Herik was killed. He disagreed with him over the Palatinate, but he was able to verify that there were no witnesses, he was enemies with the old aristocracy, and it was unfortunate that Duristan became the heir. He also relayed a trick for listening in on conversations. We told him of everything we had heard about the wolves and he was intrigued. If we come across more information (specifically troop movements) he would be interested.

Forthing and Estovion had a talk about spreading rumors (what happens in vegas stays in vegas).

Then screams erupt.

h1. GIANT SPIDER RELEASED!

We felled the spider, and then found that the lock on the spider cage was smashed (groundskeeper was arrested).

While the attack was happening Lim snuck into Estovion’s Library and found a passage about an artifact called the Duskmoth which is linked to the Stairs of the Moon.

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At the Caromarc Estate

After a long day, the party returns to the house for a good night’s rest. During the first watch however, a note flutters from the ceiling. It claims the ‘master’ is not a bad man, but a good man, and questions “Who is Bob?”
Another note flutters to the ground during Shiogi’s watch and in the morning the group is able to convince a small, flying homunculus to reveal itself. With assurances that the group will help the master, who is in need at the top of the towers, the creature guides the party directly to the tower of interest, providing help in spotting traps. Quite a few doors are passed over on the direct route, saving the party a lot of time and resources as they enter the final set of towers.
Warned about creatures inside, the party opens a door to find cages of headless beasts in a room flooded with rainwater. By the ceiling above, gorilla heads with wings fly about, swooping and diving to bite mainly at Ronit. She does not stand for this and hurls flaming bombs of death at them.
A later room reveals a four armed construct which quickly greets Shiogi with violence. Ronit nearly meets her end as the creature latches on with several of its arms and tries to tear her in twain. Papa Forthing saves the day as Kelda and Shiogi keep the thing busy until Ronit can put it down with an impressive ice bomb, freezing the creature solid.
Some notes on the door of the room explain about a device called the Bondslave Thrall, which can be used to control Bob.
The room above is filled with webs, but no spiders are in residence. A message on the wall reveals the discovery that the Stormcaller must be activated before the Bondslave Thrall. Uncertain exactly what this means, but figuring it must have to do with the storm raging above, the party plunges ahead through an adamantine trapdoor onto the top floor of the tower.

There, amid numerous bolts of lightning, Bob is battling with a horrific flesh golem. The two battle endlessly, as the numerous lighting rods surrounding the tower continuously heal both golems. The party rushes in, but Ronit and Forthing are held fast by the roar of the creature. Shiogi joins the fray with Bob, but the massive creature has a paralyzing touch and Shiogi is tossed into it’s tentacles to be tenderized.
Kelda slashes a few lightning rods in an attempt to put a stop to the healing, but Ronit is more efficient, identifying the Stormcaller and deactivating it.
Bob continues to pound the creature, wresting Shiogi, and eventually Forthing, from it’s tentacles. Combat continues with everyone slowly chipping away at the creature, eventually damaging it enough that it comes to a halt. Bob moves in and tosses it off the tower, revealing an adamantine iron maiden.
Inside is Eben Caromarc, former Count of Lepistadt. He is thankful to the group for saving him and explains what happened at the estate.

Adivion Adrissant, Professor Lorrimor, and the Count were all acquainted as a result of their shared interests and studies. Adivion also knows Vrood and sent him to Eben, supposedly in possession of an interesting tome.
When Vrood arrived, Bob was not there to protect the estate and Vrood took over, gaining control of the Bondslave Thrall and Bob.
Vrood went to Shudderwood after leaving, heading to Ascanor Lodge.

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Assault on Caromarc

After putting down the guard dogs we were left with the challenge of gaining access to the guardhouse itself. The large figures raining missiles down upon us seemed disinclined to invite us in for tea but their goblinoid associates seemed a bit more friendly. We attempted to get the goblins to open the front door for us, but they were quickly cowed by their larger overseers.

While we attempted to find a way into the gatehouse, we noticed that the dogs that we thought we had killed were starting to stir. Armed with this new information, we quickly identified these animals as troll dogs and realized that they would not-so-slowly regenerate and rise again to pose a threat to us. Ronit promptly did what she does best and roasted the animals once and for all.

Shiogi then climbed the battlements to where the goblins had been “helping” the larger figures defend the gatehouse and he came face to face with a troll. He sounded the alarm and then held the creature off while the rest of the party could follow in his wake and ascend to the second level balcony with him. With Ronit’s fire bombs as deal clinchers we were able to destroy two of the trolls. THe third tried to descend to the ground level and Shiogi pursued it. He caught up to the troll in the stairwell and, having cornered the troll, was locked into a mortal contest with the thing. Unfortunately, the troll won. Shiogi was killed in the ensuing action but when the rest of the party was able to catch up to the action, we were able to avenge his death by killing this last troll.

Kelda quickly gathered Shiogi’s body and rode with him back to Lepistadt to try to enlist the aid of a temple there to resurrect the brave monk. Meanwhile Ronit and Forthing secured the gatehouse and interrogated the goblins therein. They learned that the trolls had taken the gatehouse by force several days ago and that the goblins were effective their slaves. They were delighted by their rescue by “the save-ees”. They also pointed out that the door to from the gatehouse to the rest of Caromarc had been barricaded by the trolls to keep a guard dog on the bridge over the ravine from harassing them. We ascended the gatehouse towers and were able to see a creature very similar to the guard dog at Vorkstag and Grime’s.

Kelda was able to secure a resurrection for Shiogi and the rejoined Ronit and Forthing late in the evening the day after Shiogi’s fall. When he appeared, we saw that he was covered in chains which had been imposed on him by his god as a reminder to be a bit more cautious in the future. When they arrived, we decided to try our luck with the dog-golem on the bridge. We quickly dispatched the creature and began to investigate the welcome house on the other side of the ravine. Ronit was able to open the door and make her way inside. The rest of the party was assaulted by a guardian air elemental that appeared in the guise of a dragon. This guardian swept up the party and deposited them on the far side of the bridge battered and bruised, and totally cut off from Ronit who was still in the welcome house.

In the house, Ronit did a little poking around and saw a freakish flesh and steel abomination hiding under the stairs. This thing sprang to life and began to attack her. Ultimately, she was compelled to flee from the house and made her way back across the bridge to the gatehouse side of the ravine.

Once we were able to collect ourselves a bit, we decided to try to dash across the bridge and burst into the house before the air elemental would have time to minifest itself and take any action to prevent our entry. This worked splendidly, with the slight downside of leaving us trapped in the welcome house with the horror that Ronit had discovered earlier. We were prepared for its ensuing assault, however, and were able to dispatch it rather quickly. We then searched the welcome house but found little of interest. It looked empty but not abandoned, at least not for very long. Ronit then swept the house for secret doors and found three. Two of these were fairly unexciting doors that connected various rooms of the house, but the third led to a bridge that spanned another ravine. On the other side of this bridge was another structure perched precariously on the cliffside.

Naturally, we wanted to cross the bridge to see what was in this new building. We started to make our way across the bridge one at a time because it was very narrow and lacked any railing on which a clumsy adventurer could steady themselves. Shiogi led the way once again and was followed shortly thereafter by Kelda. These two were set upon immediately by a trio of rust monsters. These creatures posed little threat to their persons, but some of Kelda’s gear was damaged beyond repair by the little devils. Ronit and Forthing did make their way across the gulf in time to vanquish the rust monsters, but some of Ronit’s gear was damaged in the process as well. This building looked to have been at one time an alchemical workshop. There was abundant evidence of some kind of explosion, however, that had reduced the structural integrity of the building to an alarming degree. Leading away from this workshop was a rope bridge across yet another chasm to yet another part of Caromarc. Ronit led the way across the bridge this time, and when she had made her way to the midpoint, a magical trap went off summoning a flying devil armed with a bow that fired flaming arrows. Ronit took heavy fire while she made her way across the rest of the bridge and she huddled behind the scant cover offered to her on the landing on the far side of the bridge. She was quickly taken down by the withering fire the the devil directed her way.

Forthing saw this and attempted to cross the bridge under this hail of fire to render aid to his fallen companion. He made little progress on the rickety bridge however and nearly fell to his death when he lost his balance, only saving himself at the last minute with a desperate grab that left him dangling from the bridge like a monkey at the zoo. Shiogi was able to rescue the hapless healer, but was subsequently knocked off of the bridge into the gulf himself. He somehow managed to survive the fall, but was unable to climb the wall of the chasm unaided he was effectively neutralized for the rest of the encounter. Eventually, the spell that had conjured the devil expired and the party was able to regroup and recover a bit from the encounter. All of the party members were able to cross the bridge when not under threat and we stacked up on the door to this new chamber ready to push on.

When we breached the door, we set off an alarm spell that rang throughout building. We looked into a room that contained several sarcophagi, and anther that had a giant stuffed insect on display. At this point, Ronit was grabbed from behind by on of the sarcophagi and detained inside. It turned out that this sarcophagus was actually a mimic who then proceeded to try to ransom Ronit for 50 pp. While the group tried to decide how to deal with the situation, a mummy burst into the room and attacked. Forthing quickly tried to make the deal with the mimic to release Ronit so she could help in the fight with her fire bombs. The mimic was more than happy to agree and released Ronit upon receiving the ransom. At this point Kelda attacked the mimic, leaving the group in a room with a hostile mummy and a hostile mimic. Fortunately for the party, the mimic quickly retreated into the room with the giant insect and left them with only one foe to address. With the help of Ronit’s firebombs and Forthing’s channeling of positive energy, we were able to defeat the mummy in fairly short order.

While the dust was settling from that battle, Shiogi heard some heavy footsteps approaching from the sarcophagus room. He looked in to see a large flesh golem making its way down the stairs into this room from an upper level of the building. This construct was notable for both its huge size and its lack of a face. It was accompanied by a small flock of flying demons, and did not seem hindered in any way by its apparent lack of eyes. Shiogi and Forthing quickly made a makeshift barricade out of some tables to try to keep the monster away from them. The beast, however, simply destroyed a section of the wall separating the two rooms and came through the new opening swinging. Again, the party was able to neutralize the threat this creature posed, due in no small part to the area-of-effect damage that Ronit’s firebombs inflicted on the flying devils. It seemed that the golem was somehow relying on them to provide visual stimulus, and that when they were incinerated in the battle the golem was left blind and unable to effective attack Kelda and Shiogi who had closed with the construct to do battle hand-to-hand.

A quick search of the first floor of the building revealed the presence of a secret door in a back room, behind which was a concealed staircase leading up to the next floor of the building (maybe where the Flesh golem came from?).

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The Trial Ends (8/5/2012)

After cleaning out Vorkstag and Grine’s place, we took the skinstealer (Vorkstag) to the prison with an escort from the city guard. In the meantime Forthing went to go fetch Carl and ask him if he recognized the big skin from the skinstealer or the list of deliveries to Carb Isle. Carl was able to identify the skin from the weird discoloration and was generally shocked and dismayed when he found out about the link to the bodies and the possibility of the killing of patients.

After this Forthing healed Mr. Vorkstag to wake him up and then Kelda starts investigating the legal means of obtaining a confession from prisoners (Ronit went to the apothecary to see if she could obtain read thoughts to help). When everyone had left Forthing talked to the prisoner, who made it apparent that if certain arrangements could be made that he was willing to testify to all the crimes that he had committed (but not his clients).

In an attempt to get a confession, Kelda was able to wrangle up a “closer/interogator.” This closer then was able to close the deal with the prisoner without further intervention from the party (much to Kelda’s dismay).

The whole party got to sit in on the recording of the confession of Mr. Vorkstag. He detailed a story about how he started digging up bodies in Morast which were miraculously well preserved. When he discovered that there was a good market for such goods he then dug up the 6 remaining fresh bodies at Morast, stole one of the skins and started killing people (a poacher first then other people in the town). He got the bite on his shoulder when the villagers ran him off. Next he detailed a deal that he had with one of his clients Dr. Brada. Brada started blackmailing Vorkstag, so he put on the Mongrelman skin and went to take care of the good Doctor. Unfortunately a lamp was knocked over which started the fire.

After hearing the confession (it being mid afternoon) we were summoned to the council of justice for a hearing about the Writ of Authority that we had been issued. There were 7 people on the council (Judge Daramid, the Judge from the trial, Dr. Richlet, Dr. Maltrov, Dr. Vronkin, Master Brimwidth, and an architect), and the main bone of contention was the constitutionality of the writ of authority. Everyone testified that they felt that they needed the writ’s powers to uncover the misdeads happening at Vorkstag and Grine. Ronet expressed sorrow at the demise of the mongrelmen, and Kelda lamented the necessity of the writ (mainly because of the lack of a expeditious search warrant).

We were awarded with all the alchemical items/ magic items that were found in Vorkstag and Grine’s factory.

Before we went to bed we decided to ask the Wigi board some questions.

Question 1: Was Dr. Brada working for Vrood? (2 knocks)
Question 2: Was Dr. Brada working for the whispering way (2 knocks)
Question 3: Was Miri Sirinov working for the whispering way (3 knocks, 1 knock)

When we went back to see bob before the trial began the next day we found out that Vorkstag was burned alive the previous night.

At the trial Carl gave testimony to the fact that the mongrelman skin was more likely the “beast” than Bob. The confession was presented, the interviewer took the stand, and the cabinet of skins was presented (pretty much sealing the innocent verdict). The judge signed a writ of release and while we were walking Bob to the Diplomir swamp to see him off, he invited us to visit Caromark (the home of Bob’s master), where there is a castle previously owned by the Count of Caromark. (Shiogi was able to find the location and description of such a place).

We went to see the Judge about the reward and discovered that we got a bonus for the work that we did on the case which amounted to 1200 gold a person (with 47 into the potion fund?). The Judge made us acting agents of the Order of the Palantine eye (secret passwords/winks/code names) and asked us to investigate the disappearance of the Sea Sage Effigy (only real lead is Bob). The order would also like us to investigate the other names on the list of clients from Vorkstag and Grine namely (Vrood, Sirinov, and Adrissont).

After this meeting with the Judge we got a note that Kenda arrived today (let her know that it was good to settle in town since there were good people around) and we caught up with both her and Venn. After that we went to Hurgstag to make sure that everything was taken care of properly (it was no more problems from that end), and we told the ladies in the windmill that they could move back if they like (the seemed appreciative).

When we got through with that we started the investigation of the Sea Sage Effigy by talking with Dr. Crowl. We found out that the back door was forced open and that there was an alarm spell on the door. It looks like someone was setting up Bob to get caught (only 1 minute till the guard got there). The good doctor does mention that he is surprised that the artifact has not shown up in an auction house of some type. We did shopping and selling. About day three into the shopping spree we got a message from the crooked kin about a mob looking to find the beast in the swamp (we figure that you can’t stop people from their own stupidity and left them alone), so we set out to Caromark to warn Bob of the mob’s arrival. We took a day to travel to Caromark and arrived to find magical guard dogs patrolling the area. We walked up to the gate and they started attacking (so we had to put them down). There were some large monsters throwing rock shards from the top of the battlements and some goblins flinging poo at them and then…

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Vorgstag and Grine

After the unsuccessful attempt to get into the V&G building, the group decided to ask Judge Embreth for something akin to a search warrant. Kelda met with the judge, who was willing to secure a “Writ of Authority” via the Order of the Palatine Eye in only 2 hours.

While that meeting was underway, Ronit went to speak to an alchemist she knew about V&G. This meeting didn’t reveal any new information, but it did confirm a few things the group heard about the chemical company.
Forthing had a meeting with the city guard that arrested him for civil disobedience. He apologized for his actions and tried to find out how V&G contacted them without being seen leaving the building.
The group approached V&G with a plan to try and get them to call the watch again.

Kelda and Ronit approached the building while Forthing and Shiogi staked out the guard station and enjoyed a fancy coffee and some water, respectively. Kelda and Ronit found the front gate open, with a cart receiving cases of chemicals for delivery. After provoking the bulky “manager,” he released the flesh golem dog on Kelda and Ronit and promptly fled up the wall and back into the building. Forthing and Shiogi arrived just in time, as between the dog and the manager throwing fire bombs onto the acid cart, Kelda and Ronit were in trouble.
Once the dog was put down, the group had a bit of a delay getting past the locked front door, but eventually broke it open.

The room beyond was filled with a noxious haze from the vats of boiling chemicals, several darkness spells, mongrelmen workers, and axes hurled from darkness. Shiogi moved nimbly across the narrow walkways between the vats, dispatching two of the mongrelmen with ease. The rest fled to cower in fear as Forthing dispelled several of the darkness spells. In one of these spells was the access to the higher floors of the building. The group eventually made their way over there while fighting an opponent with a poisoned weapon. The upon it’s death it exploded in a flash of light, revealing it’s nature as a Darkcreeper, a fae creature that shuns the light. It appeared to have been a cleric of the god of murder, Norgorber. Kelda would feel no guilt for sending such a creature to Pharasma for judgement.

The strange creature distracted the group from the other threat and they were soon set upon by the manager from the front door incident. He was an alchemist with a penchant for acid bombs and lobbed many at the group but was still dispatched. Forthing moved quickly and was able to keep it from bleeding to death so we could question it later. Shiogi also discovered some strange red leathery creatures with metal jaws guarding the upper levels of the building.

A thorough search of the building revealed that the manager was in fact a creature known as a Skinstealer…and it had a wardrobe full of skins. It also had a nasty gator bite on it’s neck.
The mongrelmen explained that their leader had been killed by something, but later returned (the skinstealer in disguise) and forced them from their home in the city’s sewers to work the dangerous chemical vats. Kelda vowed to help them once the next day’s trial was complete. Uncertain how the mongrelmen would fare in court, witness statements were obtained from them.

The upstairs office contained a variety of alchemy tools, a library of anatomy books, as well as a jar containing the head and shoulders of some poor soul. There were also 6 syringes filled with a substance that could be used to make alchemical zombies.

On the third level, where Shiogi had dispatched the leathery creatures, there were jars of preserved body parts, a jar a of strong acid containing a gold key, and a strongbox. Ronit’s alchemy knowledge saved someone from a nasty burn!
The next room up contained a small cache of art and artifacts. The top room was empty save for the boarded up windows. Uncovering one revealed a very nice view of the city.

In the basement there was a storeroom filled with crates, jars, and coffins. There was also a well used secret door. Beyond seemed to be another storeroom, though the coffin in this one contained a body preserved by magic, the cause of death was poison. Several complete skeletons were also in attendance. A handcart was left near a grate in the floor, it contained several items including a pile of papers. In the pile was a ledger containing a list of deliveries to and from Carb Isle, including corpses. There was also a list of destinations for the various jars of monstrous body parts in the room. Finally, there was a list of other deliveries:

jars Adivion Adrissant Caliphas
living bodies Mari Sirinov Ascanor Lodge
corpses Aktahl Mekelovich Clover’s Crossing
corpses Auren Vrood smudged
corpses Dahvid Brada Sanctuary

Also down below was a room filled about waist high with water and 36 bodies, all under the Gentle Repose spell. Kelda’s detect evil revealed that two of the bodies were infact undead hiding amongst the bodies. Having exhausted nearly all of their resources, and still badly injured from the fight with the skinwalker, Shiogi made a quick run to the magic dealer Ronit had learned about earlier in the day. He purchased a wand of cure light wounds which was put to good use by Forthing. Ronit was able to use the alchemy lab in the office while Shiogi was shopping to whip up a little alchemical mojo. The group proved to be overcautious and dispatched the zombies with no trouble.

The city guard were called in to observe and verify all of the shady happenings at the factory, and the temple of Pharasma was called to deal with the bodies in the basement.

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Civil Unrest

After being set upon by the burned totenmaske in the charred remains of the hospital on Carb Isle we poked around a little bit for evidence of who could have committed the arson. We found little of note save for an empty vial that bore a label for the chemical company Verkstag and Grime and a collection of badly burned notes made by someone at the hospital and a belt buckle on which was a depiction of the moon eating an owl.

We then returned to Lepistadt where we intended to meet once again with the only survivor of the fire, a medical assistant named Karl who had lost his eyes as a result of the severe burns he suffered during the conflagration. We also decided to check in with the Crooked Kin, hoping that they might know something about the hospital given their … unique … dispositions and the focus of the hospital on the deformed and those cast out of society. Forthing and Shiogi went to visit the Crooked Kin while Kelda visited with the survivor of Carb Isle and Ronit went to the university to try to find someone who could help her tease out some of the content of the burned notes and interpret the symbolism on the belt buckle that we found.

When Forthing and Shiogi met with the Crooked Kin they learned nothing of import about the arson but the Crooked Kin did warn them of growing unrest in the city due to the way the Trial of the Beast had been going. They told us of a riot that was brewing and that it could very well culminate in an attack on the prison where the beast was being held that very night. Forthing and Shiogi hastily made their way to the prison to see what the could do to either head off the attack or defend the prison (and the Beast) from the unruly mob. When they arrived Forthing was able to convince the guards to batten down the hatches and secure the prison.

When Kelda met with the survivor she offered to pay for a magical cure for the man’s injuries so that he might be able to provide an eye witness vindication of the Beast at the final day of the trial the next day. After taking the man to the temple of Pharasma and securing a cure for his injuries she discussed the Burning Totenmaske with Sister Ophelia. She learned that Burnt Totenmaskes are created when someone who has gone truly insane dies in a fire. The totenmaske had one milky eye, and Karl was able to connect this mark with a patient named Lazal Kalinov; Kalinov was supposedly from Illmarsh, then came to Caliphas, and was sent to the Sanctuary. He had been writing things connected to the Dark Tapestry on the wall in the asylum. Eventually, Kelda made her way to the prison and crashed in the lobby for a few minutes in a (fruitless) attempt to recover a little bit from her exertions over the past several days.

When Ronit visited the university she got sucked into a wild goose chase of academic buffoonery. While much hilarity ensued, she was unable to find anyone with any REAL knowledge of what the scene on the belt buckle might be intended to depict. She did, however, find a (very) small clue in the burned notes that we recovered. She found that the company Verkstag and Grimes was mentioned several times therein. Unfortunately, she didn’t find any context for these hints, but at least we now have something to look into further if we get a chance. After hearing word that a riot was brewing outside of the prison, she rallied the students who had latched onto the symbols on the belt buckle and interpreted them as signs of a secret society into coming to the prison and staging an anti-protest. THey all thought that that would be super groovy, man.

When our heroes had all arrived at the prison, it was clear that a group of malcontents were whipping the crowd into a murderous frenzy. Kelda and Shiogi went into the crowd to try to talk them down while Forthing went into the prison to keep an eye on the Beast, and Ronit tried to keep her protesters in some semblance of order as chaos began to erupt around them. Eventually Forthing joined the rest of the group in trying to diffuse the mob. After some furious debating by Kelda and Forthing and a couple of more … kinetic .. arguments from Shiogi the adventurers were able to disperse the crowd and prevent any more serious confrontation from coming to a head.

The next day at the trial, the judge granted a recess of one day to allow everyone to recover from the scene at the prison the night before. We decided to investigate the offices of Vorkstag and Grimes during this extra investigation time. When we arrived, it was made clear to us that we would not be granted admission to the building nor would anyone in the building come out to talk to us. Casting about for other possible ways to gain admission to the building, Forthing broke a second story window with his spear, hoping to illicit some response from those inside. Apparently, all that he managed to accomplish was to make the people in the factory call the city watch, who promptly levied an outrageous fee of 50 gp for breaking the window. Forthing agreed to pay the fine, but grudgingly and he showed some (OK a lot) of disrespect for the watchmen while paying the fine. They did not take kindly to this treatment and arrested Forthing for being rude or something. Later that day, his brave companions managed to navigate the legal system and get Forthing released on bail with a stern admonition from the judge and a warning that next infraction she would not be able to expedite matters in such a way.

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Shiogi's Meditations on the Middle of the trial.

After riding through the night the three spellcasters (Hobo, Ronit, and Forthing) headed back to the inn to recuperate. While Shiogi and Kelda got things ready for the second day of the trial. Many tasks had to be completed before the trial got under way. First we had to wake up the Bannister so that he could gather some expert witnesses on wraiths and the ways that they kill/appear. In total we talked to a priestess of Pharasma, the expert from the University of Lepistadt (about flesh golems), Bob himself, and the witnesses from Hurgstag again (turns out the townspeople left the beartraps to ward off thieves, the Beast, and adventurers!).

Bob let us know that he was actually being read poetry by Elsa, and was returning her to town when the villagers got upset and burned him in the tree. Bob also let us know that when he was rampaging in the room with the missing sea sage effigy (statuette, murky green, magical, a creature from the dark tapestry (alien apocalypse type of thing)) it was because he was hearing a voice in his head that was not his master’s voice. This was probably because someone else now held the control mechanism for Bob. The expert (who we met at the dinner party but who’s name escapes me) told us what he knew of flesh golems and rumors that he has heard about intelligent ones.

I also asked the good professor (Montaignie Crowl) what he knew about something called Sin Spawn. He let me know that they were created as soldiers in an ancient war between Magi. They are corrupted products of magic and there is one for each of the 7 deadly sins. One common feature is that they have jaws that open horizontally.

Wrath spawn – Berserkers and the most typical
Envy spawn- Rangers
Glutton Spawn-Fighters
Greed Spawn-Rogues with gold tinted veins
Lust Spawn- Sorcerers that are extremely intelligent
Pride Spawn-Wizards that are skelatal and gaunt
Sloth Spawn-Clerics that have an excess of skin

They all have spell resistance if not immunity, and are immune to mind affecting spells.

Kelda presented all the evidence that we had gathered from Hurgstag in a great fashion. We are planning on saving Bob’s testimony for the last day of the trial per Forthing’s recommendation. After the trial Kelda decided to take a nap/time to pray to recover her Paladinness for the day. After that we set off for Carb Isle which was the setting for the last in the series of crimes attributed to the beast.

In the preparations to leave for the Isle, we talked to Karl, the assistant for Dr. Broda (director of the clinic), and asked about directions and general things about the events of the arson. We found directions (2 hours away by horse), that the assistant saw a “shambling beast” of monstrous proportions.

After traveling to the Isle we found 12 graves one had the name of Michael (new patient that was into eating flesh for some reason) and another had the name of Dr. Broda (the director of the Isle). We did find a 3ft hole that I threw a rope into and then jumped down. I was immediately beset upon by a creature later identified as a Burning Totenmaske (will take the shape of someone it injures severely). At one point during the fight it took the shape of Forthing and almost killed him. With a mighty smite, Kelda was able to kill the awful thing and we did a search of the room. Inside we found:

gold bracelet (with a decoration of a moon eating an owl)
Melted Belt Buckle
12 Crossbow bolts
Broken glass inscribed with Vorkstag and Grine
Unbroken vial of chemical bleach
Candelabra with heads hanging on it (5 with deformities and one without)

The next step is to check out the Burned out hospital.

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Further Adventures in Hurgstag

After vanquishing the 12-eyed wraith we decided to check in on the horses. Our path through town took us past a church of Desna. More on that a bit later. As we were passing the church, Kelda spied another bear trap in our path and we asked Ronit to disable the device. At first it looked like she may have safely disabled the trap, at the last minute she accidentally sprung the trap and it closed on her hand! After several attempts, the combined strength of Shiogi, Kelda, and Forthing was enough to open the trap and free their friend.

When we arrived at the spot where we had tied upthe horses, we found one of the beasts dead (apparently of fright) and the the other animals had run off. Since we had to be in Lepistadt early the next morning, and the city was a 6-hour journey on horseback from Hergstag, we were quite concerned about their disappearance. We split into two groups to better our chances of finding the horses. Ronit, Kelda, and Hobo were able to find both Ronit’s pony and Shiogi’s horse in relatively short order. Forthing and Shiogi were less successful. The two of them got lost in the swamp and were unable to locate any of the lost horses. We met up after an hour or so of searching and decided to follow up on some leads that Forthing and Shiogi had found in their earlier search and together we quickly located Forthing’s horse. Finally we set out to find the final beast, Hobo’s pony.

While we were searching for Hobo’s pony we came across three (apparently) dead bodies under some trees in the swamp. As we approached, the corpses rose from their repose and attacked. Kelda was set upon immediately by one of the creatures, who vomited a vile mess of leaches all over her. Shiogi leapt to assist her and together they put their foe down. The other two creatures assaulted the remaining members of the party. Forthing turned the undead abominations, causing them to flee from his holy wrath. As they withdrew, Kelda and Forthing were able to drop another of the creatures, but the third managed to escape. Ronit immediately set off after the escapee, and Kelda followed Ronit. They were ultimately unable to chase down the creature, but it did not return to trouble us any further. After the short fight, we were able to locate Hobo’s pony and we returned to Hergstag to investigate a little bit more before leaving for Lepistadt.

When we returned t the church we headed straight to the church where we found the graves of the six children whose murders the Beast had been charged with. The building had clearly been abandoned and was in a sad state. We searched the premises, but found nothing of interest. We decided to take advantage of the hallowed ground on which we stood, trusting it to protect us from any remaining undead threats, and used the Ouija board to commune with whatever spirits were lurking therein. We mdade contact with the spirit of one of the slain girls and she confirmed for us that she had been killed by the master wraith rather than by the Beast.

Finally we explored the banks of the river that ran by the edge of town. We found a small hut, woven together in a tangle of willow trees, that had clearly been burned. In the hut we found a book written in Varisian.

We left Hergstag at midnight and traveled back to Lepistad for 6 hours. Hobo, Ronit, and Forthing headed directly to an inn to grab a few hours sleep before pursuing their investigation of the third crime the Beast stands accused of while Kelda and Shiogi headed to the courthouse to present the evidence they discovered during the second day of the trial of the Beast of Lepistadt.

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An early morning meeting

Unsettled about Forthing’s report of his meeting with the judge, Kelda took some time to compose a letter to the judge expressing her dismay at being blackmailed into performing duties she had already volunteered to do.

Your Honor,

While I have only heard Forthing’s version of events, I am both surprised and dismayed by his description of your meeting. I offered my help with the trial in good faith, with no coercion. While I will accept payment to cover the expenses of the work, I did not demand such. Now I am to believe that you feel it necessary to resort to blackmail to further secure my aid. I find this distasteful and unacceptable. I seek justice for justice’s sake, and not as a means to cover up any perceived wrongs. Furthermore, I do not acknowledge the authority of any private group over my actions. My actions are the domain of my own choices and the Lady’s judgement alone. If I have broken the laws of Ustalav or Ravensgro, I request formal legal proceedings, but I will not slink about to cover up misdeeds as judged by any other group.
I have no interest in such a group as long as the actions of said group do not impede upon the life and liberty of honest citizens. In fact when evidence of internal conflict was recently revealed, I and my companions chose to accept these actions as within the jurisdiction of the group and not subject to outside involvement. If you have further concerns, I ask that we discuss them, as I would have you as a friend than an adversary.

Sincerely,

Lady Kelda, Oathsworn Paladin of Pharasma

The judge was receptive to the letter and invited Kelda over for an early morning meeting the next day. While the rest of the group slept before the day’s testimony, Kelda met with the judge at her home and discussed Kelda’s concerns regarding Forthing’s explanation of the judge’s blackmail.
While she was sworn to secrecy about the meeting, Kelda returned to the barrister’s front porch and continued her vigil with a clear conscience.

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The Trial Begins
Trial part 1

Events prior to the start of the trial:

3pm day before the trial starts the party decides to split up.

Ronet, Forthing, and Shiogi decide to start investigating the murder of the 10 citizens in Morast.

Directions are quickly obtained on how to find the town of Morast (takes till about 4pm). The subparty then decides to set off for Morast and ask around with the intent of meeting up with Kelda and Hobo in a couple of hours after getting to the city. Upon reaching Morast the party is immediately met by Revan and asked for a bribe to get into the city. Forthing quickly gives him 30 gp for entrance and dirctions to the Elders house. Upon reaching the house the group quickly interview the elder about the happenings 1 year ago. The story that we obtain is that lone villagers were disappearing from the town. These disappearances became more brazen and afflicted people in their houses. The town folks then set a trap, and gathered torches and pitchforks. When the “beast” was next seen in the town (a huge 7ft tall monstrous figure) the villagers chased it off into the swamp. When this happened a blood gaitor by the name of old biter took a large chunk out of the figure’s neck. The “beast” then started to swear like a sailor. Curses that would make harlot’s blush. The villagers then chased the beast toward the boneyard.

Hearing this story Forthing, Ronet, and Shiogi decide to head out to the boneyard (hire Revan as a guide for 1pp). On the island they are quickly accosted by a Manticore. The manticore quickly attacked Forthing for a lot of damage using some type of quill attack. Shiogi ran for the trees and then pulled out his crossbow to shoot it down. Ronet in the meantime drank her mutagen and a shield portion in order to rain down the pain. Forthing healed himself, Ronet lit the thing on fire, and then they both retreated to the trees as the Manticore gained elevation (had swooped down to bite off Ronet’s head, but missed). We fired at it from a distance, then it tried to hit Ronet with quills and missed. When it swooped down again, Shiogi stepped out and attacked with his feet in a “flurry of blows.” Quickly after this the Manticore withdrew from the fight. One thing that was noted was that the Manticore had a distended belly.

A search of the island revealed a boat with a large sack that had been in the water. The contents of the Boat and sack were

  1. Glass vial (leftovers of a darkvision extract)
  2. Wineskin
  3. Dried Blood in the boat itself
  4. Damp artisans outfit
  5. Detached human face (yuck!)
  6. More blood
  7. Rusted lantern
  8. Rope
  9. Gag
  10. Rusty shovel
  11. 3 rusty knives

Continuing around the island we see the Manticore’s nest. Shiogi animates Forthing’s Animated Rope and climbs on up. In the nest is the corpse of a Dwarf. He graps the corpse and jumps down out of the nest. The dwarf has the following possessions.

  1. oil of Keen edge
  2. Body Balm ( When this pungent yellow powder is boiled in water and given to a creature to drink, it provides the attending healer a +5 alchemical bonus on Heal checks for providing long-term care, treating poison, and treating disease.)
  3. Silver hip flask filled with Brandy
  4. 31pp and 22gp
  5. Masterwork short sword
  6. Wand of ghost sound (given to Forthing)

Through a heal check Forthing was able to discover that the Dwarf had been mauled by the Manticore. The party then gave Revan 10gp to get them off the island and bring them back to Morast.

Hobo and Kelda decide to get a leg up on the investigation into the slaying of the six children in Hurgstag.

They discover that there are a group of three sisters that lived in Morast and currently reside in a Windmill on the outskirts of Lepistat. When Kelda and Hobo knock on the door they are invited in for a nice round of tea and crumpets. From interviewing the sisters they find out that Herstag was in a swamp (to the Northwest of Lepistat) and was abandoned after the incident with the “beast.” The basics of the story are that the children of the village started disappearing. However, the ghosts started coming back to haunt the town. One night the villagers saw a large hulking form near the lake with the body of a girl on his shoulder. Only two of the bodies of the six children that went missing were eventually recovered. One was the girl. Two nights after the “beast” showed up and walked back into the swamp, another girl was found dead in her bed with no visable marks of trauma on her. Kelda and Hobo then thanked their hosts and left Lepistat to meet up with the rest of the party.

The Party Rejoined

Once they got back from the island Ronet, Forthing, and Shiogi recited the events on the island to Kelda and Hobo. It was then decided that another trip needed to be made back to the island to search the graves and make sure that they were not disturbed. Kelda in her undying loyalty to Pharasma discovered that 6 graves were disturbed (collapsed/empty). The party had to spend a total of 10 more gold to get Revan’s friend to take them out to the boneyard and return them. The party then returned in pieces to Lepistat with Shiogi and Ronet completely exhausted (Kelda and Ronet first with Forthing, Shiogi, and Hobo trailing).

Before 10am at the trial all the evidence that the team had gathered was presented. Forthing made a good case that

  1. Bob could not have been the “Beast” because he had no bite on his neck
  2. Bob could not have been the “Beast” because his verbal skills are not up to par with the cursing that the townfolk remembered.

He was simply magnificent.

Ronet did some further investigations about flesh golems at the university but did not find much helpful information.

Shiogi slept starting when he got to Lepistat and ending when the party got to

Hurgstag

The party decided to leave the horses outside the town and proceed on foot. Upon entering the town they found a house that was completely boarded up. Something then appeared behind Forthing (Shiogi quickly identified it as a wraith). Forthing took a bad hit, but other than that we were able to take the thing down. On the road to the next house we found a bear trap which Ronet disarmed expertly. We approached the second house which had a faint trail of evil around it that Kelda could discern. Entered the second house and had another annoying fight with a wraith who picked on Forthing. We eventually dispatched of it as well and then investigated the house. It was the house of the girl who died 2 days after the “beast” sighting. What we found in the search of the house was that there was a very sturdy latch on the window (unbroken). The timbers were also very difficult to climb. Shiogi could not climb them and only with the help of Monk ningitsu was able to grab the ledge and see into the window. There were no scratches on this ledge however.

Continuing around town we did not see anything until we came across a “scarecrow”. This bird disruption device was actually a dead body who had been caught in a bear trap. In his possession were

  1. a throng with a turquoise
  2. 12 gp and 22 sp
  3. silver pocket knife
  4. Masterwork thieves tools

After seeing this scarecrow, Hobo remembers a dream that he had from a while ago. He remembers being chased by something with 12 red eyes. He also remembers running downhill when running away from it. In order to get rid of the groups collective curiosity everyone heads up the big hill on the east side of town. At the top we find a wraith with 12 red glowing eyes. We eventually killed it and screaming could be heard throughout the town (ghostly screams). At the top of the hill we found another scarecrow with a trap door underneath him. Searching the cave (10×10 chamber) we found the skeletons of 4 children (one with a charm bracelet). This cave was way to tight for the beast to fit into. What might we find in the town near the lake?

Evidence for the next day at the trial.

  1. Latch was unbroken
  2. Fought and killed wraiths (which spawn more of their kind) which kill silently and without marks
  3. House could not be scaled easily (not broken into)
  4. Chamber with bodies was too small for the beast to fit into
  5. One of the girls died after the villagers drove the beast off.
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