Scrivener's Prophecy

The Journey to Lepistad, and the Trial, pts. I and II
The Wizard's Recollection

We departed Ravengro by carriage – livery service provided by the University, of course – and proceeded on our way to Lepistadt. It was good to be heading back to familiar environs, though I was sad to be separated from lovely Kendra. She would not be accompanying us, but would instead be staying with an old friend in another city. She was not keen on remaining in the town in which her father was killed, and did not seem eager to return to the University, which would hold additional memories of him. I understood perfectly, and have hope that when she is ready, we can create new memories of Lepistadt. Good ones. For my part, I have a fondness for Ravengro, as it is where she and I were finally drawn together.

On the way to the city, our travel was briefly interrupted by a travelling band of carnival types. This being Ustalav, I would have expected fog-wreathed gypsies, or perhaps three witches, but instead was treated to something that reminded me of Varisia. The quality of their scarves nearly matched my own, though they were still carnies on the road, and warranted some circumspect observation before I let my guard down.

The band was suitably carnivalesque, with representatives from several ethnicities, as well as the obligatory oddities that one could brand either as “unique” or “deformed,” depending on one’s level of cynicism. One of their pinheads had gone missing, and the other two were deeply affected by it. I believe it was Viktor who offered to help search for the missing girl, while Tumbledown wooed the bearded lady away from our admiring dwarf.

How exactly that whole thing played out is still a blur to me [player outof game for a bit…], as I do not particularly like being out in the wilderness, and I was wholly unprepared to find the pinhead dead and myself under attack, with the rest of the party, by three phase spiders. I had only my go-to defensive enchantments readied, and so relied heavily on my crossbow, though in fairness to myself, Viktor said I was a surprisingly good shot.

We returned the body to the entertainers, whose group went by the name Crooked Kin. They were suitably appreciative (and more than suitably, in the case of the bearded lady and Tallowfang), and accompanied us the rest of the way to Lepistadt. The rest of our party spent some time ingratiating themselves with the carnies, as such a nomadic, anonymous group as the Kin could prove useful in the future. I was not sure how, at the time, but their theory has since been proven sound. More on that later.

We arrived in Lepistadt to the news that the Beast of Lepistadt, the city’s venerable boogeyman, had been captured by the city guard during a break-in at the University. I was intrigued, and immediately made my way there. Having dropped my items off in my quarters, I went to examine the chambers that were affected. Noting only carnage and destruction, as would be wrought by something such as that described by the guard, I retired for some rest after the long journey.

Meeting up early the next day with my new friends, we decided to return the various books and whatnot that we agreed to, per the terms of Professor Lorrimor’s will, and collect our payment for them. One of the books went to one of the three Justices of the city, who, after paying us our due, asked if we might be able to further assist her with a matter that was weighing heavily on her mind. We were asked to investigate the crimes attributed to The Beast for which he was to be placed on trial for murder, and potentially sent to the Punishing Man. She did not believe The Beast would receive a fair trial – instead, she felt as though no matter what evidence was presented, The Beast would be consigned to the flames either by lawful authority, or by a mob. Her own sense of justice could not allow that, though her position would also not allow her to directly intervene. We were to be her secret surrogates. I was hooked.

Reactions all around were somewhat non-standard: Viktor, with a highly developed sense of duty to the law, understood the importance of a fair trial, but balked both at the thought of operating as a covert agent of the Justice (which straddled the line between legal action and extralegal influencing of a case), and at the very practical effect that defending The Beast would have on the population’s view of all of us. Tigerbalm thought it would be fun, though I am sure he knew just how boring and, therefore, dangerous such a proceeding could be to him. Korrik was all for defending The Beast, thought the crimes it was accused of conflicted fully with his basic sense of goodness. Wraith, being a pirate, I figured would want to stay as far away from the authorities as possible – but she agreed. Professor Kazare was intrigued. I suppose that is not actually an odd reaction from him.

I found myself intrigued as well. And the promise of payment for services rendered did not hurt.

We revisited the University crime scene to determine what had been done. It was quickly discovered that The Beast had taken a running start from outside the building, and travelled in a simple, straight line through the front door, down a hall, over a railing, and still straight from there. The room in which it was found was largely in disarray, and the guards we interviewed said that they had found The Beast sitting on the floor laughing.
University staff noted that only one thing was missing from the room – a statuette of a creature with a twisted form, the origin of which was unknown. The Beast did not have the statue on it when it was searched at the scene. Wraith made an interesting discovery when she noted that there was no dust on one of the window frames in the room, high above the floor. Staff indicated that those windows were never opened, and never even cleaned, but the clean window swung open effortlessly. This led to a hypothesis that The Beast was somehow controlled and used as a distraction by the actual thief of the object. Of course, this had no bearing on the three cases being pursued at the trial, so we filed the information and moved on.

Our next step was to interview The Beast. It was enormous – a flesh golem of large size, and not constructed with any particular aesthetic in mind. But it simply sat in the cell to which it was confined. It answered our questions, but managed to resist my attempts to detect its thought patterns and ascertain whether it was more intelligent that it seemed. It seemed only to have childlike intelligence, though also childlike innocence. It dawned on all of us that, a) this was not a raging monster, but a confused creature that honestly did not know what was going on, and, b) that there was no way six guards could have subdued it if it did not want to be subdued. It claimed to have no knowledge of how it got to the University, and that all it could recall was sitting in a field, eating butterflies, and then suddenly being in the University, where it was scared and befuddled. So it sat down and began to cry.

Also, it did not like questions about its “father,” which I thought might be useful. As my knowledge of the arcane is rather extensive, I knew that only the creator of a golem is supposed to be able to issue commands, and so knowing who its “father” was might give us a lead. There are, I am sure, other means of controlling a golem, but what they might be is anyone’s guess. And, oddly, this golem was intelligent. Not bright, but certainly not mindless.

After a fairly fruitless interview, we pointed out a couple of inconsistencies to the guard captain – not the least of which was that he should not have survived an encounter with an enraged golem. That seemed to snap him to a certain awareness that not all may have been as it seemed with The Beast. It was a good start, but with only three days worth of trial upcoming, we had a lot of ground to cover, and not a lot of time in which to cover it.

Our first stop would be in Morast, where a number of townsfolk had gone missing, and where the townsfolk claimed to have run The Beast out of town during its last incursion. The elder of the town said that The Beast had escaped into the swamp, where it was set upon by a blood caiman and dragged under while cursing like a sailor. This brought skepticism from us, as we had met The Beast, and our druid confirmed that no mere alligator native to the swamp would have had the size or power to drag down a golem of The Beast’s size. We also determined that if The Beast had been coming into town to drag people out of their houses at night, there would have been far more damage done to the stick-and-mud huts, but no such damage existed. Further, we noted that The Beast had neither scars from a bite, nor the capacity to curse (“use bad words” as it put it). Doubt was growing.

So we trekked into the swamp, because that is always a good idea in a country like Ustalav… There was a small graveyard on a small island a little way from town, and the graves appeared to have been recently disturbed. There was also a manticore, which was dispatched with all speed, and in the nest of which we found a partially consumed dwarf corpse. It did not appear to have anything to do with our investigation, so we left it.

What did have some bearing on our investigation was the number of disturbed graves – six of them. Six is the number of bodies needed to create a flesh golem, so there was some speculation that someone had created their own monstrosity out in the swamp. This was further reinforced by the finding of a set of exquisite surgical tools, and the face of a lady from town. With six disappearances, in addition to the disturbed graves, I posited that there might be a number of golems loose in the swamp, but had no means of testing the theory.

We went back to town in time to present the evidence that we had found. Viktor thought that a known face – mine – backed by the reputation of the University might be the best presenter of the evidence to the judges. I am still humbled that our paladin thinks so highly of my rhetorical skill, but, sadly, I was absolutely terrible in my presentation. Against his personal desires, Viktor then took the reins to salvage what he could from the opening round of the trial, and was successful in getting some of our message through the heads of the judges and a handful in the observers’ box – that The Beast did not commit the crimes in Morast.

We turned to the anatomists in the city’s body-dealing district – yes, there is such a place, and yes, it is because this country is just that twisted – in order to find the manufacturer and then the purchaser of the tools we had found. We chased a lead down, Wraith wheedled some information from a man who found her enticing, and then prepared for the next day’s proceedings.

Prior to court starting, we went out to Hergestag, where a number of children had gone missing and begun haunting the town, and of which one was returned (dead) by The Beast – a girl named Elsa. Witnesses – three of them, sisters all, whom I thought should have been discussing this while gathered around a boiling cauldron and sharing a single eye – stated that The Beast had been lurking in the area, and on the day that he brought Elsa’s body back to town, he was laughing very heartily before being chased away. We noted that its mouth was twisted into a permanent grin, and when we approximated the sound it was making when it was crying in its cell, the witche sisters confirmed the sound as the laughter of The Beast. We filed that away as something to demonstrate for the court. We also determined that the last child to die had done so quietly in her bed, after The Beast had been force to leave the area. Elsa, also, had trauma consistent with a bad fall, rather than a snapped neck or crushed body as one might expect to be the result of a golem injury.

Arriving at Hergestag was disheartening – it was separated from the road by a large field of corn. Not even a dank swamp in the middle of vampire country is quite a daunting as a field of corn that one must traverse in order to get to a village from which children have been mysteriously disappearing. It was almost as if we were being written into a horror story.

Naturally, when the child wraiths came at us in the corn, after Korrik had been caught by the leg in a couple of bear traps, I felt vindicated in my loathing of Ustalav.

We dispatched several – though I will say that employing a wand full of magically generated lighting in the middle of a dry cornfield might not have been the best idea that I have ever had. Still, with the danger passed, we moved into town. Searching the houses, we discovered that there was no indication of forced entry into the final girl’s home, and that The Beast would have been incapable of quietly killing her in her sleep. Her name was stricken from the list of potential Beast victims. We also found another wraith child in town, and dispatched him – noting that when he occasionally flashed to his pre-wraith state, he appeared to have severe leg injuries as well. Plus, he was a wraith – we had the epiphany then in order to have become wraiths, the children would have needed to be killed by a wraith. Thus, The Beast could not have killed them. But, of course, we had a 2/3 hostile pool of judges, and therefore would need convincing evidence to present.

We trudged up the hill to survey the countryside, on the off chance that we had missed anything, and surreptitiously discovered that there was a hollow in the hill. Thinking that it might lead to a lead, the decision to head down into the hole was made, and it turned out to be quite productive. Painful, also, and draining in a “touched by a wraith” way. The last of the children attacked us, as did their creator – a many-eyed thing that disturbed me far more than the “children – no, wraith- no, wait, children – no, definitely wraith” things we had been dealing with. When it finally expired, however, the children were freed, and we were able to determine that they had probably fallen to the bottom of the shaft, shattered their legs, and been drained of life. Not something The Beast could have done.

We made it back to Lepistadt in time to deliver our evidence, and in this case, Viktor stood and delivered as powerful a series of case-crushing statements and questions as we could have dreamed. The prosecution looked shaken, and the justices appeared to be softening in their pre-judgment of The Beast. The observers, however, were upset and restless.

I remained behind at the courthouse to keep an eye on the gathering crowd, while the rest of the party chased down their newest lead in the anatomists’ district [player out of game for a bit…].

When they returned, they did so with two gentlemen in tow – a Mr. Vorkstag and a Mr. Grine. They were thoroughly disagreeable – particularly when they party showed me what they had found in Vorkstag’s possession. It was a cabinet full of the skins of various Lepistadt citizens. Skins that he could wear, in order to take on their appearances. I was fascinated, yet nauseated. But, with his cabinet in our possession, Vorkstag was willing to confess his crimes, and drive a nail into the coffin of the prosecution the next day. We were quite confident, after our interview of him, and our interview of the witness from the Sanctuary, and our various other leads and evidence, that The Beast was being given a fair trial, and that he would ultimately be exonerated.

I then described to the party the mood of the mob, and we made preparations to defend The Beast, and the courthouse, through the night.

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The Wizard's Recollection of Harrowstone's Depths
We finish the final 3/5; a revoltingly happy ending.

Having had a pretty taxing day, and after dropping the axe-fatuated paladin at the local church for the night, it was good to get back to Kendra’s house. I went to my room after having an evening drink and studying my spellbook for a bit. I find, now, that my prior caveat about the weight of the cursed prison dropping on us that night was far too close to prophetic for my liking. Though it did not drop – it knocked.

Having lived in Ustalav for a couple of years now, I have learned one thing with absolute certainty: if two young ladies are alone on the first floor of a house, and everyone else has retired for the evening, they should not, under any circumstances, answer the door after midnight. Sadly, Kendra’s new, pirate sister was unaware of such a stricture. I, however, was across my room, across the hall, and at the top of the steps in time to see her slam the door on the night caller and promptly direct the adorably confused Kendra to remain in her seat.

I beat the dwarf’s sister down the stairs by a mere shade, and the rest of our intrepid band thundered after her shortly. THEY, at least, know the rules in this black country. The pirate – Wraithe, though who knows what her real name is – whispered that it was Professor Lorrimer, though not quite the Petros that we remembered. This would not do, and I determined that sweet Kendra could absolutely not see her father in such a state.

Twig (the cleric’s sister’s name, I believe… as she is a druid, and a gnome, it makes frightening sense) sat with the now bemused Kendra and cajoled her into staying put while the rest of us broke out the back door in a herd. Professor Kazare and I ran one way around the house, while the cleric went the other. The dwarf, as forthrigth a member of his species as I have yet encountered, did not disappoint my expectations – though we had been very quiet about what was going on, a clearly-shouted, gruff-voiced, “He’s in the cellar,” broke the relative silence around the house. Twig ran a slightly concerned Kendra upstairs as the pirate bolted into the house.

I had gotten to the bottom of the cellar stairs when the shot was fired – I saw a spray of smallish pieces rain down across the floor, followed by the thud of the body of my collegue, still clad in his burial suit. That suit being fully identifiable, as well as the body, I spoke a few words, touched the recently ambulatory corpse, and stripped it of all flesh. Then, and much to the chagrin of the dwarf, I grabbed the suit and began shaking the bones out of it. He implored me to stop, out of respect for the dead, and I did – once the last, stubborn rib had dropped from his shirt. Previously, he had reminded us that the zombie was no longer the professor, so I reitereated it back to him, and he huffed but conceded that delicate Kendra need not hav eseen her father so, and that my intentions were good. This surprised me, as dwarves are generally more irritable – I suppose a deity whose specialty is not collecting the souls of those who die pointless, accidental deaths leads to a slightly more positive outlook. Which reminds me that I should toss a banana peel on the ground tomorrow as tribute to Zyphus.

We cleaned up a bit – I stuffed the burial clothes into my robes to give to the dwarf when he went to properly lay (or re-lay) the Professor to rest the next morning. Then back to bed. Kendra seemed to wonder why everyone was looking at her with mostly-concealed concern/sadness. To Wraithe’s credit, she did not seem to think twice before shooting her adoptive father in the face, though it leads one to consider just how she came to be without parents in the first place… Frankly, though, as long as she does not dabble in sororicide, I am content to not ask questions.

After considering whether or not it was more necessary to add flesh back to the bones tomorrow at the burial, or to poke around town for items which might be of assistance in the prison, I decided to shop for a bit in the morning.

The next morning, I was up and about early – stopping by a couple of different shops and coming away with a fabulously mis-priced ioun stone (to the detriment of the shop owner, not my own) and a treatise on the methods for constructing and animating a flesh golem. The book, coincidentally, was apparently a never-returned volume from the University’s library. I convinced the shop owner to part with it for the generous price of not reporting him for holding such an expensive work overlong. Really… Multiple thousands of coin worth of instructions for something that, I am sure, every Tom, Dick and Harry learns how to do as childhood prank in Ustalav. How do they learn, you ask? They check out a book on golem creation from the local library. For free. Country full of morons, really, with no respect for the arcane. Unless, of course, it is to make dead things a little less dead than before. Which is repulsive…

I shan’t say much about the walk back up to the prison, save that Sir Viktor seemed quite pleased that he had not hacked the church staff to bits during the night. I had been expecting to see blood not just on his hand, but also smeared over his body, as though he had been doing a boa dance with preistly entrails. Because that is the type of situation we are in. Ustalav surprised me pleasantly when that was not the case – first instance of a pleasant surprise in this country in my time here. Well, the second, actually, as I did meet extraordinary Kendra here.

We agreed that today would be the dungeon day. And there was no way I would be going first. When I did reach the bottom, there were skeletons about. Nd they were beginning to smoke. Professor Kazare’s spear was, sadly, ineffective against the creatures, and functioned about as well as a toothpick between widely-spaced teeth. Fortunately, Wraithe’s marksmanship had improved remarkably from prior outings, so her target was smashed easily, and the cleric reduced the rest to piles of bone. The headless, flaming skeleton that had brought a large axe to the fray, however, was more resilient. I tried to disrupt it, but the distracting memory of peeking into the Splatter Man’s – yes, as silly as it sounds, I have to use that name, as it fits the Ustalavic milieu – spellbook made me realize just how sparing one should be with the use of one’s Gift. Of all of us, I did not think that the pirate would be the other sensible one, staying far away from the burning undead while everyone else closed to swipe at it from well within the heat of its flames. After whittling at it for another few seconds, I tried again to disrupt it, and this time, through force of will, compelled myself to zot the skeleton. Its joints let go, and as it began to fall to pieces, I was glad to have maintained my distance, for it exploded. As we all knew, or should have known, that it would. You know why – it begins with “U”.

We made our way down the hall from whence the headless figure came, and I, personally, thought that its use of an axe, coupled with its lack of a head, might have marked it as the Lopper (ridiculous names, really). I kept the thought to myself, however, lest I jinx our chances of finding nothing further along the corridor – jinxes are something you truly, truly have to manage when dealing with anything Ustalavic. They are not benign, “Ha, ha, I jinxed it,” things here. Here, they are knock-on-wood affairs after simply joking that you still have a face or, in short order, you might find yourself lacking one.

Upon entering a cell block with, of course, an oubliette, the paladin had some sort of jerky, twitchy, other-life experience. It was very unnerving – partly because it was unexpected, but mostly because the man is a paladin. Behavior was nonstandard in the extreme. And then the wraith came. Sure, it had an axe, and its legs were broken horribly, and there were all manner of terrible things about it, but there was no reason to panic. So I am ashamed, somewhat, to admit that I was again unable to draw upon the Power to do anything for several seconds. My will to use magic failed me, and then people started bleeding. At least it was relatively clean, as the blood turned to black mist and was assumed into the form of the Lopper. Viktor was seized by the urge to hack at the thing with the bloody axe, and it was incredibly effective – moreso that I would have thought, given the incorporeal nature of the creature.

When I was able to get a handle on my spells, I cast the only thing that I could be sure would remain in place for a time and potentially harm the thing – I summoned a ball of fire and placed it squarely on the Lopper. And then he panicked. So the gnome druid did the same, and he screamed, and gibbered, and cried, and was unable to continue hacking at us with the same composure he had previously. Viktor finished him with the axe. I could have sworn the pirate was firing the whole time as well, but every time I saw her she had somehow stumbled and steadied her gun against the bare skin of one of our party, which – given her otherwise masterful handling of firearms – she surely would not have done had the barrel been hot and in use. Perhaps exhaustion had simply caught up with her.

We continued wandering, and while approaching another cell block came across a pair of doors. I chose right, while Twig chose left. Fortunately, I found nothing. Twig, on the other hand, yelped in pain after a vaguely hollow-sounding thump, and then the screaming started behind me, from the door through which she had just passed. I cringed somewhat – being startled was not helping my concentration. Then a second scream, and I decided that I just needed to get some sort of obstacle between myself and the source. Then a third scream, and I sidestepped into the gate control room. Just to gather my wits, you understand. I admit to having been shaken, and very nearly wanting to just leave the area entirely. I just hate loud noises, and shouts, and ear-splitting screams of pain and despair. They fall very much out of line with my own quiet malaise.

After some sort of scuffle in the other room, the pirate approached me and called me a coward. It was chastening, and I grudgingly admitted to being a little uneasy with the situation. My hands were still shaking a bit. But everything turned out alright, so no harm done.

We passed through the cell block with no further issues, but then came upon the torture chamber. Fully stocked. Just as every lower level of every building in this country should have. And probably does… The body on the rack was in particular disarray, but the iron maiden, which was closed when we came in, opened and contained (or, at least, appeared to contain) fair and terrified Kendra. So I rushed to save her, and was quickly enclosed by the device. Needless to say, dear Kendra was not in the Maiden. I was, and I was pierced by spikes of pure supernatural dread. I felt exceedingly weak while trapped and, hearing the sounds of a scuffle outside, worried that perhaps I would be stuck for rather a long time. As it turns out, it was just a pair of hands. Hands that belonged to the poor gentleman on the rack, who further turned out to be Vesorianna’s late warden husband.

I think that, worse than the pain of the spiritual spikes in the maiden, my own fury at having been so intentionally and terribly distressed by the image of sweet Kendra was burning away at me – and the thought that this low, base, tasteless haunting would use her likeness was too much. I overturned the maiden myself – a remarkable feat of strength for one so admittedly bookish as I. And I felt better. The others took a cue from my reaction, and vented their frustrations on the other devices in the room, after which the heaviness in the air lifted, and the deep-yet-bloodless punctures pocking my body disappeared.

We went home that night feeling a certain degree of accomplishment, for we had discovered the warden’s badge (stuffed in his mouth and used to crack his jaw when he was on the rack), and would be able to return it to Vesorianna once we dealt with the final of the Five. I told Kendra about the difficulties of the day, and my distress at having seen her in the maiden. She comforted me, and the pirate looked disgusted. I thought she was growing to enjoy the budding relationship between her new sister and myself. It may have been the “coward” thing. I resolved to redeem myself the next day.

I suppose that I forgot to mention that there was a secret tunnel running from the torture chamber to the “Nevermore” – the place where we expected to confront the Splatter Man. I had my provisions all set and ready to go. If he was a wizard, as his spell book indicated, as well as a twisted killer, there were some preparations that I would need to make. Especially considering that I was still finding it hard to justify spending magical energy on every little thing that came to pass. I had to ensure that I had the supplies necessary to openly demonstrate both, “Ha, ha… I’m better than you,” and, “Oh, and smarter, too.” A dead psychopath, with heavy trends toward narcissism, would likely find such taunts to be… Unsettling.

We collected Tingleflip, who had escorted the women and children from Ravengro to the next town over (how much safer that would be the grand scheme of things… who knows? If not ghosts, they would surely be beset by big bad wolves, or bogeymen, or some other fairytale creatures). And then we sallied forth again.

We passed through the secret passage, and there was a commotion toward the front of the line, coupled with the acrid smell of acid-drenched material. But it did not take long to get going again. I walked through a puddle of some manner of greyish ooze, which I believe may have been the cause of the ruckus. When we reached the Nevermore, we decided that, perhaps, it might be better to approach from the main entrance, where the portcullis had been dropped. So we backtracked, found the controls disastrously mangled, and then went through the same tunnel as before. Wasted steps, as far as I was concerned. I found myself absent-mindedly thumbing the pages of the spellbook in my pouch.

Walking back into the Nevermore, somone yelled, “Heen.” But there was no response. Then the pirate pulled her second most effective weapon – a piece of chalk – and began to spell his name on the wall. Of course, it was mere moments later that she began desperately rubbing at the wall, as though trying to erase something far more substantial. And so it began. In turn, the other members of the group swung at the wall, or punched it, or scrubbed it. I, alone, did not make much of the bloody first letter of my name when it appeared on the wall. Instead, I pulled out a pipe (disgusting habit, but stylistically important when dealing with a ghostly professor, who also happens to be a wizard). I lit a match. I lit the pipe. And I waited. The rest of the group expressed differing levels of exasperation, but concentrated on the task at hand – destroying the building around them. Not their fault, really, as they all feared that they were losing pieces of themselves. Someone pulled the stopper on a haunt siphon, and the letters disappeared. The sound around us indicated that the structure above us was in severe danger of falling due to the damage to the walls.

Of course, then the room fell in. That hurt. And mere moments later, the ghostly Splatter Man vaulted out of the oubliette. He fired a volley of fully powered magic missiles into the paladin, and then it was time to begin. I withdrew the book and held it tauntingly. Then I burned it. The Splatter Man seemed… Less than pleased. Sadly, there was little that we had which could affect him physically, and he then turned his attention to me. Another round of magic missiles, which dissipated harmlessly as my shield – which I had the presence of mind to cast before entering the Nevermore – blocked them. I smirked, waved my hands in a mocking imitation of his own casting pattern, and managed to break through the inhibition on using spells. He was hit by two missiles of my own. Then he seemed to go just a little bit crazy. The rest of the fight was something of a blur. We hit him with everything we could muster, and it was a near-run thing… Heen, as angry as one could imagine a ghost being, came for me. I had hoped that my layers of mystical protection – mage armor, shield, my ioun stone – and my naturally dextrous fluidity of motion would prevent him from touching me. It did not. In conjunction with the bits of room that had fallen on me, the touch of the ghost very nearly laid me low.

Korrik was very generous in his outlay of positive energy, and kept me feeling realtively strong, all things considered. I continued my attempts to draw attention to myself, but the ghost turned and touched Thimbleguy, who chirped and collapsed. I tried to convince myself that now was the time to use magic, but failed to complete another magic missile. Between Viktor, the druid, Korrik, and Professor Kazare’s faux dragon, Heen was eventually dispatched. I played little more part in the fight than my initial attempts to enrage, distract, and annoy the Splatter Man. Which, frankly, I thought rather brave, and redeeming in light of my prior issue with the screaming (as I found out later) skulls. I made a fat target of myself, thus to spare my comrades Heen’s attentions. Hopefully, the pirate will have noticed.

We returned to Vesorianna her husband’s badge, at which point she became less the pale, uneasy shade she had been, and transformed into the full protector and containment vessel for the evils of Harrowstone. It was a warm and fuzzy moment, and I feel that a bit of my internal darkness was wiped clean with it.

Upon going back to town, we told everyone that the prison was clean, and were roundly celebrated. With the remaining several weeks of required stay in town, I spent most of my time with precious Kendra. The experience in the torture chamber was still hanging over me, and it took some explaining to finally vent it from my system. She was very understanding, and sweet, and kind, as she always is. She has recently confirmed that we are “an item,” which has lifted the rest of the black cloud from me [AL change: NE → N]. I hope her sister is OK with it. I think her opinion of me may have shifted drastically, as she shakes her head in apparent disapproval whenever Kendra and I are interacting in our usual fashion – though, to be fair, most of our other companions have muttered words such as “disgusting,” “blech,” “get a room,” and the like. Professor Kazare quipped that he has been documenting the Courtship Rituals of the Besotted Human. As though I do not know what that means, or that constant giggling and mooning expressions of adoration are something to be mocked. Anyway, that treatise has already been written. I work at the University, and it is not as though I do not have time to read an enormous amount of material. The prior Courtship Rituals dealt with a man who was literally struck with idiocy when thinking about or dealing with his beloved. Nothing like me. I mean, really…

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Week 2, Day 9

Ravengrow, Day 9

The burial took place while I slept, I suppose. When I woke, Viktor was back at the house, drinking tea with bloody axe in tow. Everyone was rounded up around the breakfast table looking spent, Kendra looking mightily confused in her hostessy way of not wanting to upset anyone. I could only feel slightly upset about re-murdering her rightful father the night before.

And then back to the prison, oh goody.

Creepy gates, check. Pitoned doors, check. Way through the audience chambers, check. Daunting entrance into The Dungeons Below? Check. I made a good enough show of cleaning off the lenses of my goggles and lighting a torch so as not to be the first down the gaping hole. Kazare was to be the first idiot.

Because apparently I’d done such an excellent job of looking preoccupied, by the time my boots lighted onto the refuse below, the screaming and commotion had stopped. I dusted off my jacket and we sallied forth into … what could only make sense in a burned ruined prison dungeon but a room full of supine skeletons.

One thing I have learned about creepy prison supine skeletons is that they don’t lay about for long after living breathing entities have entered the room.

Another thing I have learned about the aforementioned recently re-mobile creepy prison skeletons is that they are highly susceptible to bullets. Shattered bones here, shattered bones there, and what should follow but – LOGICALLY – a fiery headless skeleton carrying a large axe!

Why does this make sense in my head?

To wit: fiery headless skeletons carrying axes are also highly susceptible to bullets.
Of note: they are also prone to exploding. This is why it is good to use firearms from range.

So which hallway do we choose to follow to our doom? Naturally, the one from which the fiery headless axe-wielding skeleton just exited. Viktor was so excited about this that he went into some form of enraptured seizure, screaming in his Ustalavan accent about broken legs and the like. I’ve heard about religious experiences, and really? Check please.

So Viktor in all of his fevered insight walks into the room from his seizure vision and calls out the name of The Lopper, which – of course – calls the monster leaping from his oubliette axe at the ready to do what The Loppers do best: lop off heads. Korrik spends the majority of the time throwing godliness at him, and Viktor uses his cursed axe to good measure – against its former owner.

People start bleeding from everywhere, something has to be done about this and Korrik is too damned busy dousing The Lopper with his godliness so I fire my gun into the air and smack the barrel against the bleeding wound.

What I did not expect was a “Thanks, lady, may I have another” from my targets. Odd. Mildly disgusting.

In short, we dispatched the bastard with his own tools (held by Viktor) and Korrik’s godliness. Leave it to the holy men to do all the work.

We wandered some more about the prison, avoiding the supposed “Nevermore” where Heen was hiding. How appropriate.

Screaming skulls and some whacks upon the head later and the so-called tragic Marauder was done away with. But if you ask me, anyone who murders their wife and then goes on a twenty person killing spree to re-make her skeleton is a sick bastard and deserves none of my pity.

Throw him to the sharks.

More entertaining than a dizzy Trig was the fact that Iamjos ducked away into the winch room to hide from the entire encounter.

Code states that cowards are a liability. When I confronted the lilly bellied sap about it, he just looked at me with shaking hands, muttering some excuse.

He could only redeem himself later by rushing into an Iron Maiden after his imagination.
Are all wizards like this? So scared of their own shadows that they chase their own dreams to their doom? We destroyed the thing, and found Warden Hochran’s corpse upon the rack. Now there is a man who deserves my pity. A man who’d done nothing but attempt to preserve order among chaos, and to find his corpse in the way we did.

Disgusting.

His hands were rather enamored with Viktor’s legs, though.

After such a discovery, we could only return to the town. Iamjos punctured by imaginary holes, feeling somewhat … vivified by what we’d done.

We return tomorrow to The Nevermore. If we’re up to it.
Really, if Iamjos can gain his composure enough. I suggest a hearty meal of grow the Hell up.

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Week 2, Day 8 Addendum

Ravengrow, Day 8 addendum

We put Viktor in the chapel. A place where any self-righteous holy man with a beloved cursed bloody axe should feel welcome for the night. He seemed comfortable with the idea; neither wishing to part with the axe, nor amenable to the idea of beheading anyone, he took his lot happily enough and settled down to a long and entertaining night with the temple’s acolytes.

Yawn.

Tinklewhipple in some form of bizarre fit of charity offered to ferret the women and children out of the temple that very evening and into a neighboring town. Yes! Out into the wilds of Ustalav in the dead of night with a recently possessed musician for company. Either that, or Tinklesippy had some form of bizarre fit of insight and thought – perhaps – a bloody axe wielding Paladin was not the best roommate.

Unlikely.

At the house, everyone went to bed, allowing Kendra and I to stay awake while she mooooooooned over Iamjos. I can only but listen and drown my sorrows in bourbon, into which I had just begun when there was a pounding at the door just after midnight. Iamjos, most likely afraid for the safety of his “beloved” (gag me) shuffled to the top of the stairs as I made it to the door, opening it to find …

Daddy dearest! Complete with sunken in mouth, whitened eyes, wormy skin, tattered clothes, and wishing to greet me with a hug and a zombie-esque “GRAAAAAH!”

I shut the door in his face.

“No one’s there!” and I motioned for Iamjos to join me round the back and told him to wake everyone else up. But by that time, we’d lost him at the door … Trig entertaining Kendra in the parlor as Iamjos took off in a sprint across the front of the house, Kazare upon dragon eidelon quick on his heels. I stalked around back with my gun drawn as Korrik (the dwarf) ran round and yelled out, “’E’s in the cellar!”

Trig spirited Kendra up the stairs as I ran through the back door, threw open the cellar door to greet Daddy Dearest with a bullet to his face.

I spent the rest of the night cleaning dead head meat off the walls and floor.

A proper burial will be had tomorrow. That is, after Iamjos has put some skin and fleshy bits back on the bones of Daddy Dearest whom he has just flenced, dissolved, de-meatified. I resolve to tell Kendra that I killed her undead abomination of our father in our own house as he attempted to come in and murder us all in our sleep …. but most likely not tonight.

Tonight I need a steady hand. Tomorrow it’s back to the prison with us, oh joy and rapture.

The night can hardly contain my anticip——zzzzzzzz.

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The first week or so in Ravengro - a recap from a different perspective
A Wizard's Recap
For well over a week, we have been languishing in the town of Ravengro. Ravengro – such a name pretty well typifies the atmosphere of this backwater area of the world. Nothing says, “Look out; you’re in Ustalav, where werewolves and vampires lurk behind every tree, and the gloom is palpable even for the living dead,” quite like a town with “Raven” as the primary component of its appellation. And this is coming from me, who has been told frequently, since the untimely death of my Sweetybaby, that I languish better than most, and out-gloom even those from-beyond creatures composed of sentient gloom.

Things started off reasonably well – with a funeral. I travelled to Ravengro with Adjunct Kazare (now, as a result of the death by which the funeral was necessitated, a full professor), whose capacity for curiosity is insatiable. We came to attend the interment of a friend, and the man whose good graces provided me a professorship at his university – one Professor Lorrimer. I was incarcerated briefly in a cell neighboring the Professor’s – maximum of two or three hours that I recall – which may seem odd as far as being the catalyst for employment as a language instructor, but which, in retrospect, may be the least weird thing about interactions with him. Even after his death…
And then I met the rest of those whose names were in the will.
A dwarf holy man, and paragon of his kind. If you were to envision the embodiment of “Dwarf,” you would likely come up with Kharak. Plate mail, glorious beard, gruff voice, hard drinking, battle-axe – the very image of, “I am a dwarf, and I am going to try as hard as possible to demonstrate that I am a dwarf.” He also brought his “sister,” who is a gnome. I find this… Unlikely.
A paladin. A skin-crawlingly righteous paladin. A virtuous, upstanding, extroverted paladin . From Ustalav. The irony, given that the entire nation is, I am convinced, beset by Terrible Things against which I have warded myself with garlic, wolfsbane and mirrors for the two years I have lived at the university, is that such a place could produce something this devout without causing a rift between the planes.
A pirate. Really. No, I am not kidding. A pirate. A pirate who, oddly enough, and for reasons I will go into later, I need to ensure has no idea how ridiculous I find having a pirate around to be. Good enough with a gun, though, so I shall give her that. Otherwise, I am sure we would be butting heads frequently, and she would probably not like me. For now, though, I think I am reasonably placed on her good side.
Professor Kazare. A silver-scaled kobold – anomalous, apparently. He has been a wonderful research assistant when on loan from Professor Lorrimer, as well as a subject of study by those more inclined to physiological and sociological experimentation. Now that he is a full professor, though, I expect to see his pet freely walking the corridors of the university, which may serve as a source of amusement.
The professor’s daughter. So like my Sweetykins in so many ways, and yet intriguingly different in so many others. I feel the darkness within me abate before her shining light, and long to share my days with her, releasing the remembrance of my Sweetycakes and moving on with my life as I am sure Sweetybuns would have wanted. By dint of the will, the pirate mentioned above is now Kendra’s (I wrote it! Wrote the lovely name!) adopted sister. I must stay on the pirate’s good side, lest she scuttle my best efforts at wooing. I am not sure how I would handle that…
The first couple of days in town were largely uneventful. Adjunct Kazare and I spent hours discussing myriad arcane theories, when not playing cards. He was rather less shocked than I would have thought when the ghostly presence in the Harrow deck manifested, and instead unleashed his curiosity on her.
Then came the funeral day. Those of us serving as pallbearers (including Kendra’s ex-betrothed – feh) were disrupted in our duty by locals accusing Professor Lorrimer of necromancy. Would that I had more power at my command – burning from within would have been too good for them after making such a suggestion. I, myself, felt a burning within, but it was merely my own fury, and not a force destructive enough to cause those hayseeds harm. Necromancy. NEVER! Never would either of us have any truck with the creation of the undead – I know this from personal discussions with him, and trusted him at his word. Also, one’s power must not be diluted through the creation of such monstrosities – he was wise enough to know that, though it was not something I ever touched on with him.
Gibbs. The chief hayseed, who I decided to have words with later in the evening – out of earshot of the paladin and, indeed, anyone who might report a less-than-diplomatic question and answer session to the paladin – backed down with his tiny mob, and scuttled off. We buried the Professor without further incident, and proceeded to the reading of the will.
Joy of joys, we were not so much invited as instructed to stay with Kendra in order to ensure her well-being and acceptance by the community. I believed that I would have ample opportunity to prove myself to her, and I have been doing so since.
That night, I made my way to Gibbs’ house – I may have been a bit abrupt in quitting the dinner table and stalking off into the night, but I believe the appearance of being proactive in defense of her father’s memory impressed Kendra. In hindsight, however, I may have quite forgotten to mention what I was doing, why I was doing it, or where I was going. Damage done, move on. While travelling up the road towards Gibbs’, which coincidentally lies closest to the burned out hulk of Harrowstone Prison, I heard the sound of a cart pass me on the road, spraying gravel and creating grooves in the path. Oddly, there was nothing to be seen, and the sound was audible only when the nonexistent cart was in close proximity to me. I will not say that I swear to have heard it, because that would indicate that I am attempting to convince someone of something that I am not entirely sure of – I heard that cart, period.
Arriving at Gibbs’ house, there was no one at home. I am sure there was not, for I knocked, then spoke loudly, and then knocked again. It was shortly after 9 PM. I set up comfortably on the front porch, watching to see if anything odd was happening around the prison – Gibbs’ view of the structure was amazingly clear, and all approaches were covered. There was nothing. Upon deciding to leave around 2 AM, I knocked one more time, and he answered the door looking groggy, wearing his nightshirt, and with a small amount of blood on his hand. Only very slightly odd in a country like this, but he was in no mood to answer questions, so I went back to the house.
The next day, we were informed that a bloody “V” had been drawn on the monument to Harrowstone’s heroic guards. I immediately stalked off with the sheriff, again, now that I consider it, without really explaining my purpose, and thus potentially seeming aloof and disinterested to lovely Kendra. I have been getting better, but still have a lot to work on… I think she is warming to me, though, and I believe I may have successfully enlisted her new sister in helping me win her heart, as the pirate smiles a lot when I am around.
At the monument, I found the “V,” as well as a rat split down the middle and likely the source of the blood used to write the letter. I considered telling the Sheriff of my encounter with Gibbs, but a spot of blood and a disemboweled rat were thin evidence at best – my guess is that such things are far, far from unusual in scenic Ustalav.
We spent the day researching the prison, checking leads, and generally looking for ways to help the poor, poor town that was suddenly beset by all this ugliness. We had an uneventful time. Well, except for the pirate and the dwarf – they apparently killed some centipedes in a crypt that they were robbing. Professor Kazare was happy about that, as they provided an outlet for his culinary experimentation. I decided against trying “Cooked Bug,” as I am sure he named the dish.
Upon waking the next day, we were informed that a second letter had appeared. This time it was an “E.” Inwardly, my thought was that one of the vast population of creatures of the night that must inhabit this area was simply making its intentions clear: “Ve vant to suck your blood.” Then I chuckled. Then I discarded the idea as silly, as those creatures would not announce their intentions, but would rather sweep over the town and leave us all desiccated husks. Then I shuddered, and decided to double-bar the windows at night.
I took my suspicions to the sheriff and told him that I would watch the monument that night, after he flatly told me that his deputies would not be staying out at night, in the woods, to watch a monument that someone was writing on in blood. Given my own feelings about the country, I could not blame him, and I set about trying to engineer a way to excuse myself from doing so, too. The dwarf’s gnome “sister,” and the gnome bard who had attached himself to her hip (name of Taproot, or something – I’m terrible with names…) obliged nicely, as they believed they would be less noticeable.
So I got to spend some quality time at home that night, practicing languages with Kendra, and trying my best to include the pirate – thus to show my interest in all of us getting along together as a family.
The gnomes returned after having followed – surprise, surprise – Gibbs from the monument to his home. We decided to take the sheriff up to Gibbs’ house, and were successful in finding the evidence we needed to put him in jail. He honestly did not seem to know that he had done anything wrong, and the dwarf suspected possession. So he stayed with Gibbs in the jail that night.
I was jolted from bed by a scream in the middle of the night, and knew immediately it was the pirate. I wanted to show Kendra that I could be a proper protector, and the opportunity to assist her new sister was too fortuitous to pass up – I sprang across the room, out the door, and slammed into the pirate’s door as hard as I could. It did not work, and I developed a rather ugly bruise shortly thereafter. When the door did open, the pirate’s name was written on the wall in blood, and she was terribly shaken. Kendra thanked me for doing my best to safeguard her sister, and I felt the warmth of genuine affection in her concerned smile.
We found Gibbs dead the next morning. Apparently he died of a fright-induced brain hemorrhage that the dwarf failed to detect. At least the diagnosis of possession was proved correct. Blasted Ustalav…
There was a meeting scheduled for the evening. Everyone in the town hall. Deeply tuned, as I am, to dark vibrations in the tapestry of fate, I determined quite early that this was a bad idea. I kept as close to Kendra as possible, the better to protect her from whatever ridiculous, supernatural disaster was going to befall the town.
When the fire started, as I knew it must, it affected a number of people quite badly. I managed to put out one area, and other folks who could bend the very nature of reality to create water where there was none before were similarly successful in extinguishing areas. I implored Kendra to get out, and then hurried to the aid of a townsperson who was awash in flame. I honestly do not know how people exist without the power arcane at their fingertips, as the mundane instructions that I had received since I was a child on how to put a fire out served no purpose. “Beat the flames out with a blanket or other thick cloth.” That is a load of excrement, as the tapestry I used did not retard the flames at all, and may, in fact, have contributed to the death of the towny. Still, I gave it my best effort. Professor Kazare’s pet was extremely useful, and succeeded in un-barring the doors, allowing the assemblage to escape largely unscathed. I directed the departed soul – that I had valiantly tried to save – to Zyphus, as his death was the meaningless death of the hapless, and made sure that Kendra was safe. Then the flaming skulls came through the windows. I loathe the undead. I loathe them with a heat like… Well, a heat like the flames coming off of the skulls. We eliminated them, and they bear no further discussion.
Outside the building, I was directed by someone – upon recollection, I am not sure who – to go to the monument, where I found even more blood, another letter, and the gutted and strung up remains of the sheriff and his deputy. Not having the means to get them down, nor the desire to disturb the scene, lest evidence be lost, I left them in situ, and returned to the town hall. In an unexpected twist, the town has decided to hire the lot of us – we who partook of Professor Lorrimer’s will – to put to rest the entities that are causing these disturbances. Given the various things that we have done around town, and the generally pleasant nature of interactions with townsfolk, they trust us very much. Perhaps much more than we deserve.
Following the affair at the town hall, which is now a smoking hulk but which remains structurally salvageable, the decision was made to visit the prison. Something about fire in this town; as though the prison fire years ago is trying to inflict itself on everything around.
I got out of it! I got out of it, and was able to spend the better part of the day simply spending time with dazzling Kendra. We discussed the finer points of magical practice, and laughed about the common misconceptions of the Art. Her laugh is musical and infectious, and the day was one of the most pleasant that I have yet had since my Sweetybird was abruptly taken from me.
The others fared somewhat worse. They came back from the prison looking rather whipped, and the gnome of the woods had a rather large (proportionately) brand on her forehead. The pirate had one on her shoulder, and I extended due concern for her well being. She then said that she wrestled a scythe – for which I really had no response other than confused lack of understanding. Between their tales of animated brands, animated scythes, slamming doors, Ticklepie’s skeleton swim, and a ghost whose attitude is on the dour side of… well, my own, I began to believe that regardless of the actual map, we might actually be at the geographical center of classically eerie Ustalav.
Shortly after everyone else had gone to bed, the pirate brought to me the scarab book that I now notice I never mentioned above. She must trust me a great deal, which bodes well for my continued future with Kendra. In any event, there was little of note, save that a network of operatives for a secret society had been studying events like that happening in Harrowstone, and Professor Lorrimer was among their number. I began to believe that we had been collected into one of the more obscure storybook tales of fabulous Ustalav – rather than being stalked by vampires or werewolves, or assailed by endless zombies, or hounded relentlessly by a flesh golem who picks off family members one at a time, it might be that we were twisted by Ustalav’s flexible reality into the pages of a penny mystery. I was mortified, of course, by the low-brow nature of our plight – but I was oddly calm, for the rules in such a setting are largely immutable. There are rules for dealing with hauntings, and if we were to be consigned to solving a storybook ghost tale, those rules would hold firm.
After cooing goodbye to Kendra in the morning, I sallied forth with the rest for the second day of exploring the ruin. I saw the steps they had taken to avoid being further startled by doors (iron pitons wedging them open), and the remnants of the skeletons that had been at Tinderbox. Frankly, I was unsure what the big deal was at that point. There seemed to be nothing indicating a major haunting at that point.
We entered the judgment chamber, whereupon we discovered quite a lot of moldy nothing, though persistence brought us to a concealed evidence room containing articles belonging to the worst five of the prisoners held in the prison at the time of the fire. The items were distributed amongst us, though, looking back, this seems to have been a horrible idea. I got a book belonging to the self-styled “Splatter Man.” Ah, Ustalav… You are nothing if not predictable. Sadly, the book began playing at the back of my mind, and I found myself having difficulty concentrating on casting. It was somewhat worse for the others, as we would discover.
Proceeding through the prison, we came across the furnace room which, in perfectly stylized fashion, erupted in ferocious flames and seemed to take on a sinister appearance. It also screamed the scream of hundreds dying by fire, though a more isolated scream seemed to emanate from inside the apparatus. A couple of us got in some licks quickly – I made as good an attempt to disrupt the force driving the furnace as I could – but it still jetted flame at the paladin, burning him moderately. Then everyone bolted. I am not a brave man, but these people that I am with seem to be even less so. I found myself alone in front of the maw of a great steel engine of malign, fiery destruction. There was no room off to the sides – and out of its line of fire – for me to go. I made one final stab at disrupting the entity, and succeeded, naturally; because nick of time victory over the supernatural is so cloyingly common in the storybooks.
I knew that there would be remains in the furnace, because that is how things like this work. After digging them out, and not really having time for the dwarf to hallow the ground, I simply asked him to deliver a short prayer for the dead and then began tossing bones into the lake – conveniently exposed by the shattered wall of the prison. I explained, as they all looked at me somewhat bemused, that in the absence of a grave in hallowed ground, the best way to put the remains to rest would be consigning them to the deep, as in a sea burial. The pirate shook her head sadly, likely in recognition of such a terrible fate. Though not the sea, the disposal of the remains in a large body of water seemed to serve the same purpose, as the weight in the air lifted, and the furnace was cleansed.
We continued on. And found the cells. And that went poorly.
After a quick encounter with some stirges – because everything, EVERYTHING in this lovely country sucks blood – we found the cell blocks. A body that we quickly identified as the so-called “Father Charlatan” was discovered wrapped in weights and chains. It was exactly the kind of thing I had come to expect – a grim fate. Twixster and the paladin left the cell, and began muttering about eerie music. Shortly thereafter, the dead began to move. The dwarf, the she-gnome and I stayed with the chained corpse in, ironically, the least creepy room on the floor at that particular moment. I heard no music. I heard no music, despite the fact that Tiddlyball was playing the flute, and bleeding from every visible orifice. I assume the not-visible orifices as well, which will necessitate a change of shorts.
A couple of shots rang out as the pirate did what she does best – blindly and wildly shooting at anything that startles her… It is endearing, in its own way. The dwarf, perfectly suited to this particular situation, trotted out of the cell to destroy the zombies, fell down comatose, and was wrapped in spectral chains. Typical. I did not choose to leave the cell, though I did try to disrupt the chains at range, and there was some motion there. The paladin, who was now wielding the axe from the evidence locker more than his shinier, more suitable longsword, and whose weapon hand appeared to still be dripping blood from the stirge encounter, swung at the chains as well, and broke several links – though the fact that blood splattered everywhere when he struck chains made, essentially, of nothing, was somewhat disturbing. But, again, typical…
The pirate, engaging in what appeared to be spectacularly mercenary activity, began rifling the dwarf’s pack. Old habits, I suppose… She did try to wake him with smelling salts, which failed. My guess is that she thought that such mundane items would have an effect on the unknowable of the beyond. I was beginning to think that Kendra and I should gently explain these things to her, without making her feel completely ignorant of the peculiarities of the supernatural, but she surprised us – activating a haunt siphon and breaking the atmosphere in the cell block. Everything quickly returned to regular, gloomy gloom, rather than the heightened, “Good lord it’s gloomy” gloom we had been experiencing.
With that settled, we packed up and left for the day. I was very excited to see delightful Kendra after the day we had had, and looked forward to telling her how well things had gone. But then we will have to go back again tomorrow, and hopefully we will experience further success.
Assuming, of course, that the full weight of the cursed place does not land squarely on us as we sleep tonight.

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Week 2

Ravengrow, Day 8

Another dawning day to the prison, this time with each of us in tow. The disgusting pallor of ick I initially felt upon breaching the gates initially was gone. I chalk it up to the experiences of the day prior. I refuse to believe in silly ghost stories, despite everything that’s happened thus far.

This bout about the prison, we were much less delicate. Having negotiated with the ornery slamming doors of the front foyer, we chose instead to simply ignore the entire thing and deal with it via iron pitons and our brawn. Well, the brawn of others, my shoulder was still sore from the branding the day before.

Careful searching about the judges’ chambers allowed us to discover some pretty things, and we uncovered a room full of rotten items with even more rotten descriptions. All seeming to be belongings of the Notorious Five: the prisoners that the melancholic ghost the night before had requested we dispatch.

We distributed the items equally to those who might find them most interesting: an axe to Viktor, the spellbook to Iamjos, the tangle of holy symbols to the dwarf, and to Tinklelad the gnome – a flute. The fifth item I cannot recall at this time, but considering what’s come of the items and their bearers, I’d rather not remember.

Bravely we sauntered through the ruined prison, until we haphazardly discovered a giant murderous furnace, Hell bent on burning us alive. While all of us fled for cover, the brilliance of Iamjos stood there like an idiot, wiggling his fingers at it until the thing cowered in fear of his blatant display of stupidity. Then, like the fool boy he is, he went digging through the ashes, throwing bones and detritus into the water. Claiming something about a sea burial.

What does he know about the relevance of a sea burial in a puddle? I am the pirate here.

By the way, there isn’t one.

After that ridiculousness was over, we continued on our destructive way to a stairwell to a sound dampened second story. Noting the muffled sound of the place, I pulled out my prized marble and dropped it to the floor … no echo. Perfect gunfire.

Which proved to be somewhat useful, as we were beset upon by winged things … quickly done away with, and then continued on our sacred quest to defile the place by walking into a cell of a dead man wrapped in chains. After much coercing of gods and blasphemy (on my part), Tinklepot the gnome became bored with the game and left the cell – Viktor following close on his heels (something about Paladins and their need to protect the stupid).

I opened the door of the cell belonging to whom we assumed was Father Charlatan, to hear flute music. This could only be horrible. And then it was … cell doors opened, producing the walking dead, and other mobile dead reached out from their cages, clawing at my coat.

I did what any sane woman with a loaded firearm does when confronted by ambulatory corpses: shoot them. This was apparently not a wise decision, as Tinkledork the gnome pulled out the flute and began to play a merry tune, very well. Well enough to make him bleed – from everything. The dead were entranced, easy targets, sitting ducks. Sitting dead ducks.

The cleric came clomping out of the dead man’s cell to discover exactly what was the matter, and to wreak his vengeance upon the multitudes of undead now invading his beard-space, and quickly fell over.

So I went through his things.

Smelling salts did no good. The man was far too unconscious to smell things; either that or the amount of alcohol soaked into his mustache overpowered even these potent salts. So I continued to rifle through his things, all while Tinkletwizzle played away and Viktor’s ego grew to twice it’s size. Trig and Iamjos? Stayed in relative safety in Father Charlatan’s cell: would that we all were such cowards.

Retrieving the Haunt siphon I was looking for, I activated it, and with a flash of green light, the mood was lifted and Tinkledazzle was able to stop playing the flute – which I took from him.

This is why we can’t have nice things.
That and Viktor has a growing affinity for that bloody axe of his.

The walk back home will be interesting enough, with how Viktor was eyeing Tinklegiggle’s neck.

Besmara help us all. Well, no: just me.
Let the other sods drown in a puddle. It’s a sea burial, haven’t you heard?

Ravengrow, Day 7

We left for the prison at dawn. Not exactly my cup of bourbon. Being one who stays up late in the night, I was not eager to wake at first light, eat a hearty breakfast, and witness Kendra and Iamjos in all of their “bliss” waving to us from the doorway as we trudged off to the disgusting structure.

It was like a death march.

At the gates, while everyone marveled at the towers and walls like ninnies, I entered – immediately regretting it. The feeling of the place was disgusting. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t just turn around and do so. I remained, standing there like a fool, waiting for the others to stop remarking on the color of the stone to see the ruin inside.

The house was a ruin, the gnomes confirmed it so. After their foray into the house, the two of them – the musician (I think his name is Tinkle) relentlessly flirting with Trig – decided to go for a swim. While Tinkle has proven himself relatively adept at everything, his swimming leaves much to be desired. Two steps in and he flailed about as if drowning. Trig proved to be much more professional, until we saw the pool of blood, and the rope we were holding go slack.

We yanked her out, and she brought her new skeleton friends with her. My forboding feeling of the prison was justified. I did what one does to skeletons. Shoot at them, and miss horribly. Everyone else flailed about like ninnies, I eventually hit one of the bastards, while Tinkle danced around trying to put his clothes back on.

After Trig and Viktor (who’d been slashed by one of the scum) recovered, we toured the perimeter of the facility, following a flight of steps after deciding not to mess with a pit of refuse. We were delightfully greeted by a scythe that seemed to be moving of its own volition. As with the skeletons, we flailed at it some more, ineffectively. Witnessing this, I ran up and took the scythe in my own hands, ending up in a bizarre wrestling match with an stubborn weapon, taking eventual attacks from it, and the kobold’s dragon friend.

I am embarrassed to say that the scythe was not very quickly dispatched.

Because we seem to have some sort of death wish, we entered in the prison, getting into a fight with the front door. Luckily the dwarf has a brain and used iron pitons to keep the damn thing open and we explored the interior of the building by knocking doors off their hinges. A museum, this place is not.

I was branded by some sort of flying hot iron, I am loathe to say. I too busy reloading my gun to notice the damn thing flying at me. It got me in the shoulder; poor Trig has an H on her forehead. My coat will require some repair.

And then there was the disappointing and revealing conversation with the overly depressed and annoying Vesorianna or whatever the Hell her name is. Literally any question you asked her was answered in the most dire and depressing way possible. To hear her tell it, we were doomed.

I wrestled a scythe, ghost lady. My day has gone from forboding to ridiculous. I am immune to your litany of emotional pain.

We returned to the house at just before dusk to find more horrors. Kendra and Iamjos seemed to be getting along quite well, better even than before we’d left. My mood darkened considerably. So much so that after everyone had gone to bed, I opened that damn scarab book to find it completely illegible.

Unfortunately, the only person out of all of us who speaks every damn language ever is Iamjos, so I woke him up. He was fully dressed, and dour as ever. We poured over the book. Boring text of dullness. All it revealed was that there was some secret society of people about.

All three of my dead parents were a part. Perhaps future dead parents will be a part as well.
I am collecting them after all.

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Week 1

Ravengrow, Day 3.

Who would have thought that a funeral would turn into some sort of ridiculous cast of cast off people in Professor Lorrimer’s life? I travel over seventeen days from Magnamar and end up at Kendra’s house only to be surrounded by shiny Kobolds, wistful dwarves, a Paladin (good gods, a PALADIN?), and the stupidest Wizard this side of The Shackles.

Kendra must really be up a tree if she thinks that Iamjos Flargen is any sort of match for her.

Let’s add to this inane series of events by inserting that I now apparently have THREE dead parents and a sister who has terrible taste in men; all three dead parents were all made known to me posthumously. I ought to take up a collection, really, at the rate I am going.

Let us only hope that the month passes without any stupidity, and that Professor (I almost spit on the name) Flargen ceases his endless crusade to get in Kendra’s good graces.

Ravengrow, Day 4.

If I had known that cryptrobbing was so simple, I would have given up piracy long ago. A few dead centipedes and a cache of treasures and we’re on our way with some well placed misinformation. Normally, to come away with this good of a haul, we’d have to storm a ship full of armed men who would actually do more than hiss at us for a good 10 seconds.

Ravengrow is creepy. That gnome hippie girl (Trig, I think her name is) said something along the lines of girls singing some sort of messed up rhyme as they were playing, and then there was Viktor’s name on the gravestone … the same date as the fire of Harrowstone. Not to mention the letters on the monument, and the elusive Mr. Gibbs. Something is very much up, and it doesn’t seem to be corporeal at this rate.

I never much liked ghost stories. Not much to wrap your hands around.

Ravengrow, Day 5

I went to help with some research in the Temple of whatever the hell goddess that they pray to up here. Five notorious prisoners, matching the names in the skipping rhyme … and then there was the correlation of the letters on the monument and the Warden’s wife. All signs point to the fact that we’ll have to go investigate a haunted prison.

I am none to happy about this.

I need some more tobacco for my pipe. I think it’ll be an extra late night tonight. If Professor Flargen goes on another one of his evening escapades, I want to catch him on his skulk back – just to needle him a bit more about his pursuit of my so-called sister.

Ravengrow, Day 5 (update)

I will not talk about the nightmare I just had, but the fact that my name was manifested on the wall nearly complete in blood (not my own, I checked with almost obsessive fervor) has me shaking. Kendra has offered to keep me in her room for the evening, but I am having trouble going to sleep.

According to legend, the victims met their end shortly after the names were spelled in the blood of whatever such thing. -This leads me to worry. -

Leave me the hell alone.

Ravengrow, Day 6

Mr. Gibbs is dead and the town wants to call a meeting.

Yes, this seems like a highly intelligent idea: odd and creepy things are happening all over the town and people are dying and YES, let us put everyone into one building: all the better to have something spooky happen.

So the meeting is to be in the Town Hall, suspected all major town players will be there. The villagers are very upset over the death of Mr. Gibbs, and suddenly my suddenly gained undeath cult obsessed dead father.

We’ll see how it goes. I will not be surprised if I come back without an arm, much less, a head.

Ravengrow, Day 6 (update)

Everything’s on fire. The sheriff is dead. As is his deputy. Hanging from the trees and flayed so to speak. The monument splattered in blood. One villager perished in the flames due to Iamjos’ stupidity: he spent precious seconds beating the burning man with a tapestry rather than removing him from the fire that was cooking him alive.

The fire was very theatric. Started on cue. The doors were barred from the outside. The crowd incensed, and there was Iamjos, relentlessly battering a poor dying man with a piece of embroidered wall-art. Flying skulls swathed in flame flew through the windows, creating fire where they were shattered by my bullet.

The sherrif was conspicuously missing from the meeting, as we’d not found his body hanging from the trees and splayed open from chin to belly. The ever heroic Iamjos found the bodies, and left them hanging there. What a gentleman. Kendra mentioned the other night that she is falling for him.

The town has hired us to “Save them oh please save them!” From what? Ghosts? The pay is good, I suppose. I’ve nothing else to do for the required month I am meant to remain in this forsaken town.

What I have learned this entire endeavor is: Kendra is a terrible judge of character.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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