Dagny, a friend of both the Professor and Kendra Lorrimor through correspondence, arrived on Pharast the 1st and found that Thrush and Corvin Galdana were also present at the house, trying their best to distract and care for the grieving girl.
Early the next day, Andrezi Holt teleported to Ravengro from the Land of the Linnorm Kings; the travel arrangements were specified in instructions left with Councilman Hearthmount to ensure that the young Witch would be able to attend.
Not a hand later, Zera Vallas, who had been traveling through the night with a trade caravan which included other attendants of the Professor’s funeral (including the merchant Zvaskav Hora, Lord Duristan Silvio Airesir, Professor Adivion Adrissant, Abraun Chalest, and Dr. Horace Croon), arrived at Bromley Court as well.
With the new guest snugly settled after the recent late season storm, Kendra began showing the rest of the party around town. The locals seemed somewhat wary to start, especially with such a large group of outsiders present for several days rather than passing through after a night’s stay, but through the proper application of diplomacy and charm, the group quickly ingratiated themselves as at least being properly mannered and respectful.
They busied themselves in revelry at the Laughing Demon and quickly made good company of the proprietor as well as Jominda, the town’s alchemist.
After a brief and unenjoyable run in with Duristan, who showed a keen interest in Dagny and her polar bear companion, but ignored her other party companions, Corvin left a faked message at the inn summoning him back to Caliphas for important business so that he wouldn’t be a bother to Kendra (or anyone else) at her father’s funeral service. He did, however, make a final visit on his way out of town to offer the young lady his condolences and swore to follow in her father’s example of tracking down the evils of the world by dedicating himself to hunting werewolves in Ustalav.
The day of the funeral, Pharast 5th, dawned a bleak, grey day and the funeral procession, led by Kendra Lorrimor, was forced to deal with some unpleasantness on its way to the Restlands. A small group of locals led by the unsavory town drunk, Gibs Hephenus, intercepted the party, slandered the Professor, and attempted to force them off. Quick thinking by the party and an impressive showing of intimidation by Andrezi saw them fleeing with a last dirty look from the group’s ringleader, Gibs.
Father Grimburrow was mightily displeased with the turn of events and comforted Kendra before escorting her the remainder of the way to the burial site himself. The service was long, as many people wanted to pay their respects including the party that had arrived from Caliphas, as well as Sergeant Edward Dunn from Lepidstadt and a mysterious cloaked woman who didn’t introduce herself to the party.
After several beautiful eulogies (and one rather humorous account of a mummy loose in the Quarterfax Archives by Abraun Chalest), the party split as well-wishers exited.
Corvin and Father Grimburrow escorted Kendra back home while the others stayed to wait until the Professor was truly laid to rest before they too returned to Bromley Court.
A short while later, Councilman Hearthmount came to the house for the reading of the will. He first thanked the party for their decisive and non-violent action in the Restlands and assured Kendra that the gang would be seen to by the Sheriff.
The will was read and the party presented with individual gifts left to them by their friend Petros, and the Councilman took his leave of them.
The chest noted in the will as needing delivery to Lepidstadt was retrieved and the party examined it. After detecting magic within and discovering an animated object, the group briefly contended with an animated object in the form of a rather mouthy book dubbed “Flappy” before subduing the creature. Andrezi mended the item and once the contents had been examined and the Professor’s journal removed for Kendra, placed the security precaution back inside.
The others examined their new gear while chatting about plans to see the books safely to Lepidstadt, though Kendra interrupted the lighthearted conversation with confusion and concern. She had discovered several circled passages in her father’s journal and upon reading them aloud, the party came to the conclusion that the Whispering Way was likely still in town and would need to be sought out and dispatched before they could finish whatever their foul purpose was.
After the conversation, the group got a meal in town, discovering that Gibs and his friends had been thrown in cells for the night for their attempts to desecrate a corpse.
Only partially mollified, they returned home and got some rest, with the intention of speaking to Father Grimburrow about the false crypt mentioned in Lorrimor’s journal and researching the Harrowstone the following day.
That evening, Dagny had strange dreams of being locked in a cell and a visitor who spoke to her in a cryptic manner (“Dagny; from the Kellid, Dagna; meaning New Day. Interesting.”) before her name began being spelled out on the walls in blood. She smeared a letter and woke just before the last letter could be drawn.
Waking and relaying this information to both of the other spellcasters in the house, Andrezi and Kendra, the party was soon fully up and took their weapons and armor(though Thrush left his half-plate at the house so as not to overly concern villagers) and headed to the Temple of Pharasma.
Along the way the party encountered five little girls skipping rope and singing a rather disturbing set of verses as they played. Horrified, the party stopped and inquired after the rhymes in a friendly manner while the girls fawned over Asta, Dagny’s polar bear companion. With the party shaken, Andrezi voiced suspicions that the rhyme was another ‘sending’, though to what purpose he was unsure.
After arriving at the temple, the group spoke briefly with the acolyte Tobias who reassured them that no one had disturbed the Professor’s grave in the night, before seeing Father Grimburrow and speaking with him privately in his office.
Taking a chance, they told him all that they had discovered from the journal entries and their experiences so far that led them to trust the theory. Convincing him that there was real danger, the Father (who had identified Zera as a dhampyr) cast detect evil, and once satisfied that no one in the party was of an evil alignment, agreed to offer his assistance in finding out the truth and to accompany them to the false crypt and discover what lay within.
The help was offered conditionally, that the party keep the situation quiet among the town until they knew more of what was going on. The party agreed upon Father Grimburrow’s point that an unnecessary panic would cause more harm that good, and that if someone was involved and hiding within the town it would be best not to show their hand just yet.
Traveling to the false crypt in the Restlands, the party quickly dispatched two of the three giant centipedes that attacked them, allowing the other to retreat before they gathered up the items that were within the crypt. Zera harvested one of their heads to gift to Jominda which she did on her way back to Bromley Court, spotting that Gibs was back out and about though he steered wide of her in the center of town.
Once back at the house the group did an inventory of the items and spent the remainder of the day trying to find more about Harrowstone using the Professor’s library to no avail.
The group decided to go up for dinner at the Laughing Demon, relaxing with the townsfolk that were quite friendly with them at this point. After their meal they wandered to the Outward Inn to listen to a visiting Bard, Destin Hoeffner, that Sarianna Vai and her daughter Delphine were hosting there that night.
A few members of the party thought it odd that they began to hear violin music again after Destin had stepped outside for a break from performing, and when they went to look they found that Destin was playing for a couple of local girls. Their amusement quickly turned to agitation as four stirges came drifting out of the darkness. Their shouts sent the girls screaming off towards the jail, but Destin continued to play as if in a fugue while the party faced off with four, and then an additional two stirges drawn to the particularly eerie dirge he played.
Dispatching the stirges with only minor wounds (of which Corvin and Asta bore the brunt), the next hour was a blur as they were tended to by the Father and questioned by the Sheriff before finally beginning to make their way back to the house, at which point they realized Kendra was no longer with them. They rushed to the Inn and were distraught to find that she had not remained there either, and Corvin was certain she had followed just behind him on his way out of the Inn before they encountered the stirges.
After 30 minutes of searching (with much concern from Councilwoman Straelock who along with Sarianna went to speak with the Sheriff about arranging a search party while Mr. Straelock accompanied Councilwoman Faravan to check that Kendra had not returned home) Dagny was able to locate the tracks made that led out of town and towards the Harrowstone.
Deviating to put their armor on and get their mounts, the party took off as if Calistria herself cracked a whip behind them and found Kendra a mile and a half up the road, only half a mile from the Harrowstone grounds.
Four skeletons were in the road, one of which had a clawed hand tangled in Kendra’s hair and was dragging her back towards the Prison.
Quick casting, summoning, a gunshot, and a trampling charge later, all four skeletons were dead and Kendra was quickly born back to town by Thrush, followed closely on the heels by everyone else.
Unconscious and near hypothermic, Andrezi was able to stabilize the woman and left Zecara, one of the servants of the house to warm her in a bath and get her to bed.
Meanwhile, Zera and Corvin kept watch outside the house while Dagny rode ahead to speak to the townsfolk who were in the square where Sheriff Caeller was organizing search parties. She reassured those gathered that Kendra had been found and returned home before quietly telling Sheriff Caeller that Skeletons were her abductors. After a moment to recover from his shock the Sheriff told her he would come by the house that night, once everyone had been dispersed.
Dagny returned to the house with Father Grimburrow then, and he went up to help Zecara, one of the house servants, in tending to Kendra while the rest of the party regrouped outside of the house to discuss the night’s events. They all agreed that the influence was clearly growing and decided that until they had dispatched of whatever was responsible, Kendra would have to stay at the Temple of Pharasma so as to be under the watchful eye and protection of Father Grimburrow.
The man in question met them outside at that point and agreed with their decision, and the group sat inside with hot beverages delivered by the concerned cook, Hilde, who stoutly declared that she would simply not be run out of her home.
Sheriff Caeller arrived and after a brief bout of spellcasting to determine that he was still a good aligned man, Father Grimburrow and the party spent the better part of an hour filling him in on the situation in town. The oddness of recent events lining up to a grim reality, Sheriff Caeller offered them any help they might need in dealing with the problem and they asked that he and his deputies, once cleared by the Father, remain in town to keep order within Ravengro while they handle the Harrowstone.
It was decided that Sheriff Caeller would recommend precautions to the councilfolk, and advise them that there was believed to be a larger nest of stirge very nearby that may attempt more attacks as the one that night until the nest was found and eradicated.
Late in the night, the conversations finally finished and both Grimburrow and Caeller left Bromley Court to go speak with Deputy Vrodish, check him out, and fill him in on the recent events.
When the party finally got rest for the night, Andrezi was visited in his dreams. He found himself laying in the bottom of a damp, cold, stone oubliette, staring up towards the top where he could see a thin, scholarly dressed man pacing a circle around the edge and watching him from above. (“Andrezi; from the old Azlanti Ang’Rezi; means Ruler of Man. …No. I don’t think so.”) He too experienced his name being slowly written out in blood on the stone walls around him, but did wake with the realization that the being causing the visions in their dreams was not omnipotent, given that it was unaware both that he was a witch and that he was a witchwolf.
While having a coffee that morning, Andrezi heard a yell from outside and when he stepped out to check, encountered Riff, one of Caeller’s deputies, as she rushed back to town. She informed him that someone had defaced the memorial before running to fetch Sheriff Caeller.
Joined by the rest of the party in the kitchen, including a much recovered Kendra who told them all about hearing a heavy wagon pass and following tracks that seemed to appear from no where before she blacked out, the party was bolstered by a motherly pep talk and scolding by Hilde before she sent them on their way with fruit pocket pies and a demand that they sort out whatever devilry was going on.
Kendra stayed at the house with Hilde while the rest of the party set out for the memorial and found Deputy Vrodish, who gave them group a knowing nod before letting them pass, Sheriff Caeller, and an irate Deputy Riff, examining the memorial.
At the base of the memorial was a bled out cat. On the memorial itself was what appeared to be the letter “V” smeared in blood, while the rest of the memorial and the surrounding area was splattered liberally with a large quantity of blood.
Andrezi and Corvin stayed with Caeller and Riff to further examine the memorial while Dagny, Thrush and Zera followed Asta’s nose as she picked up the scent trail that led from the site.
Andrezi detected magic and was able to identify a faint necromatic aura surrounding the marking, which caused Caeller to order an even more irritated Riff to go straight to the temple and speak with the Father and gave he, Corvin, and Andrezi the opportunity to speak more freely about what might be going on.
Meanwhile, the other members of the party were able to follow the trail to a woodpile behind a shack where they found a water-skin that had been filled with blood at one point and a bloodstained war razor.
Going around and kicking the door of the shack in, they found it to be none other than their old friend Gibs, who was less than pleased to see them. After a brief tussle with Thrush, Zera drew her gun and intimidated Gibs into behaving while Thrush tied him up and then gagged him.
Dagny and Zera were able to find the boots he wore that still had faint traces of blood on the soles as well as what looked like burnt scraps of clothing in the small fireplace. Gathering the evidence, the group rejoined the others at the memorial where Dagny intimidated Gibs to question while the Sheriff was present.
Satisfied, though admittedly disappointed, that Gibs truly didn’t possess any knowledge about what had happened at the memorial, the Sheriff had him taken off to be put in a cell while the group surmised he had been controlled in his actions. Caeller agreed that it would be best to keep him in custody regardless for everyone’s safety.
Corvin left to go escort Kendra to the Temple where she would be staying for now and brought Father Grimburrow back with him to the site so they could fill him in on what they had learned.
Meanwhile, Andrezi used prestidigitation to clean all the filth from the memorial and the group agreed to keep what had happened vague around town, only letting slip that Gibs had been drunk and defaced the statue, a half-truth they all agreed was for the greater good.
Father Grimburrow arrived and cast Consecrate on the site, just to be sure, and spoke briefly with the group before telling the group that Riff was cleared and so soon would be Leromar. He asked that they come by the temple later once he and Kendra had more of a chance to research and see what they could turn up about the Harrowstone.
On the way back to the house, the group encountered Riff, where she apologized to them for being antagonistic earlier and talked briefly about what was going on. She was even able to give them two names to start with, Father Charlatan and the Player of Illmarsh, that she remembered from scary stories her great-gramps used to tell her before he passed. She directed them towards the Unfurling Scroll and her brother Samuel who was an apprentice there with a particular interest in history.
The group returned to Bromley Court and decided to use the spirit board and planchette to try and get more information about what they would have to face. After being tied up by Thrush, leaving each of them with a hand free, in case they were possessed, the other four members prepared and used the board. They were told that The Whispering Way was not in the town, that the person that the Way was after at the prison was Hawkran, that the most powerful being in the prison was Bob, and when they asked what Bob was they were told he was an asshole.
Quickly able to assume that the last two answers had been lies, Thrush asked what else should be asked and put his hand on the planchette to ask what Hawkran was, wherein they received the answer “warden”.
The group then watched as Thrush’s eyes began to roll and he twitched, having been affected by the spirits of the area. Corvin cast daylight, startling and dazing him, while the girls threw themselves in their chairs into him bringing him down in a crash of armor. Quite embarrassed, Thrush came back to himself and untied the others, declaring from then on he would just be the babysitter while they used the planchette.
Leaving Andrezi and Dagny to commune and meditate respectively to refresh their casting energy for the day, Zera led Thrush and Corvin into town to speak with some more of the children of town and see what they could find out about the skipping song they heard. Upon reaching the scroll Zera was flirted with briefly by a well-meaning Samuel, who then fetched Alendru for them.
Alendru was resistant to bringing out children for them to talk to, but when they hinted that it was to do with business for Father Grimburrow and repeated back part of the skipping song to him he became much more interested and less happy with the situation as the hour passed on. Alendru, interpreted in the pattern, brought out four sets of five children at a time and slowly Zera, Corvin, Thrush and the old wizard were able to piece out that only children of around 13 years of age or younger remembered the rhyme and could only say that it had been around forever. None of the older children couldn’t recall ever having heard it.
Truly disturbed with the new knowledge, Alendru spoke with the three party members alone, asking only the most basic of questions and threatening them with violence in the event that they proved to be responsible for any of this mischief. His reaction comforted Zera who reassured him and recommended he go speak with the Father which he agreed to do before he went to check his stock for a wand of inflict light wounds at Zera’s request.
Having procured the half-full wand, the group returned to Bromley Court where Andrezi and Dagny were now ready and as a party they returned to the Temple of Pharasma. They met with Grimburrow and Kendra in the basement and were able to find out more then about the events that transpired at the prison as well as the names of the five most notorious prisoners that were held there at the time of the fire.
Grim, but determined, the party left the church to prepare themselves and their gear for the trip out to Harrowstone Prison the next morning and went to bed early to get full rest before they started their mission.
That night, it was Zera’s dreams who were invaded, as she found herself wrapped in heavy chains bearing holy symbols and watched as a thin, scholarly man walked a circle around her at the edges of the room while she struggled with her chains. This time, he managed only his victim’s name before she cut him off and addressed him by his own; Hean Feramin, telling him that they were coming for him. He flew into a rage at her knowing his full name, and the spirit flew at her, giving her own the view of a wide, split mouth full of sharp teeth and the reflection off his round framed glasses before she woke, much like Dagny and Andrezi, just before dawn.
Within moments, there was a rapping at the front door.