Carrion Crown by Kelly

The Wagon and the Wolf
Ravengro Pre-game

Are they co-incidences or fate, these seemingly random events which dramatically shape the future? The hand of the gods at work perhaps? Or just unrelated events that when combined can topple empires?

It is one such series of events which bring you six to the same stretch of road on the same hour of the same day headed to the same funeral. What has brought you here so far and who are you?

(Player introductions)

The sun is slowly rising in the East, reluctant to share it’s warmth with Ustalav. A heavy mist covers the ground on this late-winter morning, giving the grass a frosty coat and coating your clothing with an uncomfortable sheen of chilled moisture.

(Perception Check, DC20)

A quarter mile off of the east side of the road, a Varisian wagon stands in a clearing, tilted at an odd angle. Your gut tells you something is amiss…

(Approaching w/i 200 feet)

The mule lies dead, a wolf is eating it’s entrails. At the back of the open wagon another wolf works at eating something. A loud human groan can be heard.

(Approaching w/i 100 feet)

The second wolf is feeding on the body of an old Varisian woman who is horrifically still alive. She is certainly on her way to death’s domain, but is painfully aware of the wolf eating her eviscerated body.

Madame Vassnio

(Post combat)

She still clings to life, although she is beyond the aide of any mortal.

“The hunter was taken. Save him and I will bless you for now and ever. (hack, cough) Beware the five who stir on the road ahead for the cells weaken even now.”

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Welcome to your Carrion Crown
Can you be frightened?

You’ve faced dragons, demons, falling airships, proteans, time shifts, pirates, slavers, necromancers, goblin armies, and mob bosses. But what has your character faced so far?

Can you still be frightened or disturbed? Let’s see if we can get our characters scared for a bit and not let them feel the jaded player behind the dice.

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Session Two: The Dearly Departed Return
Wait... who left the coffin open?

Main Events

If anyone takes the time to write an in-character recap there will be rewards. These are the main events as I remember them. What did I miss?

Calistril 26

  • Research in the Professor’s Library on the Whispering Way
  • Speaking with the sheriff on Gibs’ guilt
  • Visitig Jorfa at the forge
  • A new communication attempt with the spirit planchette
  • Setting up to watch the Harrowstone Memorial
  • A zombie and two skeletons attack Ravengro at nightfall

Calistril 27

  • Catching up on sleep
  • Another attempt to use the spirit planchette
  • Cy crafts black powder
  • Blodwin crafts a shroud for the dead farmwife
  • Dinner at the Laughing Demon interrupted by stirges

Calistril 28

  • Just before dawn Professor Lorrimor, a wight, attack the home of his daughter with 9 undead

Blodwin’s Recap

The day after the letter V was found written in blood on the statue of the warden, we considered our options. The group split up. Varrik sought a good lookout point from which to watch the statue the following night. Stefan went to the jail and spoke to the sheriff and offered his services to protect the people of Ravengro. In addition, he inquired about the sheriff’s interview of Gibs Hephenus. The sheriff did not believe Gibs capable of the act. Arlad went into town and asked around to see if any other vandalism had occurred and also put his ear to the ground for any rumors. Blodwin and Cy spent the entire day, after getting permission from Kendra, to perform research in the Professor’s study.

The group met for lunch to discuss their progress. Blodwin and Cy found some good details about the Whispering Way and returned to their research after lunch. Stefan said that the sheriff accepted his offer to help maintain order and safety in the town and even agreed to let the paladin sleep at the jail in order to let other town guards get some rest and increase patrols. Stefan also convinced the Sheriff to have one of his men watch Varrik’s hiding place in the event something happened.

That night, Varrik assumed his post near the river. Cy watched him from a distance. Blodwin put the spirit planchette to work to petition the spirits for advice. He asked if any agents of the Whispering Way were active in Ravengro , to which the spirits replied “maybe”. Stefan stayed at the jail to watch over the prisoners. Cy heard a person that sounded as if they were in distress and approached to aid him, but it turned out to be a zombie! He fought the beast off with some late help from Blodwin. Around the same time, a woman was killed in the north of the town by two skeletons before Stefan brought holy vengeance upon them. Varrik stayed with the plan and watched the statue overnight, but there was no uncouth activity (except perhaps by Varrik himself).

The undead had risen from the Restlands and it was disconcerting that these abominations had once been townsfolk. Father Grimburrow declared that the grounds were hallowed and that the remains should not have been subject to animation. We spent a fitful night sleeping that stretched into the late morning hours. Arlad brought news to us that the brother of the proprietor of the Laughing Demon had invited us to dinner. We accepted and spent the day about town. Blodwin visited the apothecary and purchased some wolvesbane to give to Varrik. The ranger drank the curative, but it remains to be seen if the werewolf’s curse will be squelched.

That night, Varrik returned to the river’s edge to watch over the statue of the warden. The rest of the party attended dinner at the Laughing Demon. It began festively and a good time was had by many until the strangest of events. A group of stirges flew into the tavern and began attacking, sucking the blood of Blodwin and some other patrons. After the stirges were killed, one of the performers at the tavern pointed out that these odd beasts seemed to bob in time to the music as they flew about the room seeking blood. This was connected by the party to the Piper of Ilmarsh, one of the infamous criminals once held at Harrowstone Prison.

Dinner ended early due to the upsetting events, so the party (except Varrik, who stayed at the statue) returned to the Lorrimor estate. Blodwin used the planchette again to ask the spirits where the next attack would occur. The spirits spelled out “H-O-M-E”! The party secured the house and warned Kendra. Varrik was asked to return to the house and watches were set. Sure enough, undead callers descended upon the house, but they found it heavily guarded. Stefan bravely stood toe to toe with a wight that was made from the corpse of Professor Lorrimor himself! The wight’s dangerous curse took its toll on the paladin and we now find ourselves seeking a remedy for the energy-sapping touch. Varrik secured the back of the house and fought off several undead by himself. When it was over, a large number of undead were once again at rest, hopefully for good.

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Varrik's tale (session 3)

“It was not going well, brother,” Varrik says as he carefully draws a solid black line across another tooth. “We had burned the bodies still defiling the professor’s home, but the madman was still loose in the city and the lawman here seemed uninterested in caging him. I had stayed the course, watching the fountain and waiting for him to finish his grim business, but the monster was patient. If your prey will not come to you, the only choice is to take up the hunt.”

Varrik places the tooth next to the others that have been marked and reaches for another to complete, but instead picks up his brother’s undersized skull. “Had you lived, I would have taught you to hunt; to kill. To appreciate the way all creatures are born to feed another, or feed themselves. Watching the old man’s shack was… energizing. I have never stalked a man as I would bears or elk, and it made my heart beat faster. I think you would have enjoyed it, perhaps, hunting such a dangerous beast. Someone mentioned that he was a warrior once, and warriors never forget how to defend themselves and take lives, but there would be no kill tonight; the others suspected that Gibbs may not know what he was doing, so there was no need to end him just yet.

“As darkness fell, I made my way near his lair, close enough to hear his breathing. In the woodpile, his bloodied razor and soiled bag were buried deep, proof enough of his actions even if he did not remember. I did make a mistake searching the woodpile and the old soldier heard me, so I stashed the razor and sack in the outhouse… should the old man have bested me, I hoped he might not have time to search for the evidence before fleeing.” Varrik slowly traces one of the new scars that line his cheek and jawline. “He still remembers how to use a razor… a formidable warrior. I regretted that I had to bludgeon him so badly, but I don’t believe the Splatterman would be satisfied with killing rats for long.

“I took him to the cells in town, but Caeller’s acolyte did not trust me and rightfully so; it is never wise to trust a man who can kill you barehanded. He put me in a cage with the old warrior before leaving to find his patron. When he arrived with my new companions, he told me I would have to wait for the council’s judgment… this is not uncommon in my homelands, so I offered no argument.”

With a heavy sigh, Varrik stretches and begins putting his teeth away, content with his progress in making the protective totems necessary to protect the professor’s home and family. “The next day, I was released into Stefan’s care. You must never allow a man to control you, brother, but there are times when playing at submission can give you time to maneuver… like a wolf biding his time, waiting to put his teeth to the alpha’s throat. I agreed, and followed them to the ruins of the fallen Harrowstone prison.

“We found the very spot where the professor’s face was crushed with a statue’s head, and nearby, the name of the dead warden written in blood around the building. My companions say it is used to absorb a spirit, which fills me with both dread and fury. We moved on to find dozens of large rats in a tower and a pit that smells of burning assholes before entering a smashed area of the prison itself. There, we fought the strangest thing I have seen in my many years in this world.

“That,” he says with a loud yawn, “is a tale for tomorrow, perhaps.”

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The Road to Lepidstadt
Recap

- In the words of Blodwin -
We said good bye to Kendra Lorrimor and after some quick purchases of mounts and a wagon, we departed Ravengro headed roughly a hundred miles to Ustalav’s capital city of Lepistadt. It took the better part of a day for hilltop on which Harrowstone rests to leave my sight, but it shall be quite a bit longer before the events that took place there are forgotten. We cleansed the place – it seems – and ended the immediate threat to Ravengro, but we’ve yet to meet any of the Whispering Way in person. Unleashing Harrowstone’s terrifying spirits seemed only a small part of a larger plan.

The roads were quiet and the travel uneventful until near night of the 3rd day when we heard arguing upon the road ahead. We approached and saw a traveling carnival of sorts…a group of entertainers that some would call freakish. Collectively, they were called The Crooked Kin and one of their number had wandered off the road after hearing some singing from the forest. Some time later, their giant of a man named Trollblood had also entered the woods to look for the lost girl. Neither had been heard from.

Stephan immediately offered to aid them and we ventured into the woods. With Varrik following their tracks, we found Trollblood in short order. He was surrounded by a group of goblins and near death. The goblins were dispatched quickly enough and Trollblood saved, but the young girl was not with him. During the fight with the goblins, Cy was attacked by something with large fangs and a poisonous bite that could disappear. We waited for it to show itself and when it did, Arlad called it a “Phase Spider”. It looked like probably the largest spider I’ve ever seen, but with the face of a fanged human woman. It would not be reasoned with, so it was slain. Unfortunately, we found the body of the missing girl a short distance away, already drained of life by the wicked phase spider.

We returned the body to The Crooked Kin and spoke to Caleb, their leader. While they were all distraught about the girl’s death, they were still thankful for our efforts and they rewarded us with an heirloom dagger meant for fighting lycanthropes. We shared dinner with them and stayed in their camp. We discussed their plans and learned they were also going to Lepistadt. They expected large crowds there because the trial of the Beast of Lepistadt was beginning soon. We asked what that was about and they said a strange beast that had been blamed for almost every bit of misfortune and strife for the past few years had been caught during a break-in at the University. He was to be burned alive after a hasty trial.

As we arrived in Lepistadt, I marveled that the cosmopolitan atmosphere in the city. We knew that 3 of the Professor’s books were to be returned to the University anyway, so we went there first. We were admitted to see Professor Crowl right away and he took the news of Lorrimor’s death in stride, but offered condolences nonetheless. We returned the books and asked about the break-in at the University. He showed us around and was more than forthcoming with details. The only object missing with an idol called The Seasage Effigy, an obscure statuette of a tentacled creature about which little was known other than it had little monetary value.

The Beast was described as a 9-foot tall behemoth made of sewn-together body parts. It was known to have great strength, but little in the way of guile of delicate capabilities. It rampaged through the small auditorium and into the workshop where it was eventually cornered and caught by a large host of city guard. Varrik tried to glean some details of its path via tracking it. As he did, Cy spotted that one of the tall, thin windows into the workroom had been opened recently. We took this to be the path by which the Seasage Effigy made its exit from the University.

The next stop was the deliver the final book from the Professor’s collection. We sought out Embreth Daramid, a judge on the City Council. She lived not far from the University. When told of the death of Professor Lorrimor, it was obvious that she was hiding her feelings behind a steely exterior. She was pleasant enough and paid us immediately in accordance with Lorrimor’s last wishes. We asked her about the trial of the Beast and she offered to double our reward if we cared to help her with a problem. We agreed to hear the offer.

Daramid is one of 3 judges that were to preside over the Beast’s trial in just a day or two. She was concerned that the Beast was not going to receive a fair trial. We had also picked up on this, since he seemed to be the scapegoat for all kinds of ill events. She said that if we could work with his appointed barrister to help present at least some evidence that might give the Beast a fair trial, we would be rewarded. She truly wanted justice to be done and di not wish to see this pitiful being punished for crimes he did not commit. For some of us, the issue of fairness carried less weight than the monetary reward, so we all agreed to help. After all, we had determined that The Beast seemed to be an arcane construct called a Flesh Golem and thus not a creature with a soul or capable of reasoning…but we were wrong…

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Varrick's final possessions

ALL SOLD – 1,180gp for each member

Gold

2,060 gp

Weapons & Armor

+1 greataxe (headsman’s axe)
+1 hand axe (lopper’s bloody handaxe)
ring of protection +1
masterwork chainmail
longbow
morningstar
sap
quiver with arrows (19)
silver arrows (7)

Potions

potion of cure light wounds (2)
potion of cure moderate
potion of bloodblock
potion of magic fang
silver weapon blanch (2)
cold-iron weapon blanch (2)
bladeguard
holy water

Mundane items

compass
flask (2)
flint & steel
harrow deck
lamp oil (3)
magnet
torch (5)
trail rations (2)
sunrod
bear trap (3)
backpack
blanket
silk rope
waterskin
rosewood box
mummy skull
bag of teeth

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The Beast of Lepidstadt
AdventureLog Recap

The followers of the Professor headed to the university city of Lepidstadt to deliver the books to his old friends. There they met Judge Daramid, who asked them to look in to the case of the Beast of Lepidstadt, a recently captured creature of legend who was being charged with multiple crimes. The judge was concerned that due to the hatred of the Beast, it would not receive a fair trial, so she paid them to investigate the guilt of the creature.

The Beast, or as Blodwin named him, Fairweather, was an intelligent construct with a childlike demeanor. It was captured while stealing an artifact called the Seasage Effigy, an unremarkable item in the collection of the University of Lepidstadt. While investigating the crimes, the group found Fairweather to be innocent of all of them, including having been controlled by the Whispering Way to seal the Effigy for them. They found the home of Fairweather’s creator, the deposed Count’s Schloss Caromarc, had been converted by the Way in to a mess of traps and hazards designed to kill their pursuers.

Battling their way through the traps and monstrosities, they eventually found and rescued the Count from his prison atop his tower. He confided that the Whispering Way had used the Count’s devices to control Fairweather and break in to the University. They had left about a half of a day earlier heading south along the Old Forest Road, or Silent Path…

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Opava and the Shudderwood

Brief (horribly brief) discussion of what happened on the road from Schloss Caromac to Ascanor Lodge. With the Beast, known lately as Fairweather, freed and staying at the Schloss with the Count, the group was asked by Judge Daramid to move on the trail of the Whispering Way and track them to the Shudderwood.

On the road there, they came across the village of Opava, which has been recently greatly harassed by a ghost on the road to the Shudderwood. This malevolent spirit was not new, it had been known for decades, but only recently did the attacks come frequently. Upon investigation and hearing the tragic tale known as The Tale of Illirio and Daphne the group investigated the burial grounds of the lover Illirio. There they found a group of bandits, the leader of whom had been possessed of a demon. The fight was challenging, but they put down the bandits and managed to put the ghost of Illirio to rest for good.

They also investigated a coven of witches nearby, who were not happy to see them but were mostly non-violent. With a farewell to the sun, they entered the depths of the infamous Shudderwood.

A day or so of travel brought them to the famed Ascanor Lodge, home of hunting in luxury. While at first barred entry, they joined the huntmaster, Delgros Kroitzcer, and a nobleman, Duristan Silvio Ariesir on a hunt for a werewolf. They there assisted in the killing of 3 dire boars that were feeding on the corpse of a stag. Degros departed back to the lodge while Duristan asked the group to stay the night with him in the woods in the hope of getting the chance to slay a werewolf.

Much to his joy and the groups displeasure, werewolves did indeed show up! They slayed a few of Duristan’s servents before giving this dire warning:

“Your false explanations are meaningless. Go tell whoever sent you to stay out of wolf affairs! Let him know that his dealings with Mathus Mordrinacht and the Silverhide pack do not sit well with the other tribes of this wood. There shall be much blood spilled between our kin before a Silverhide packlord sits upon Highthrone. Mathus the betrayer shall never claim the title, and should you and yours continue to support him, the wrath of the wolf packs shall fall upon him! Now leave our territory and return to your cozy wooden den, or share the fate of these poor little sheep!”

Returning post-haste to the lodge, the group was finally granted entry with the help of a letter of introduction from Judge Daramid and a found invitation from a traveler killed by the Opava bandits, Echtmoor Dravin.

They were given opulent rooms and freedom to wander the grounds. They were able to meet one more noble, a drunkard named Corvin Tergsvor, and through questioning they did find evidence that the Whispering Way had stayed at the lodge some time before. (needs more information!)

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Corrine's Goodbye
Recap

“It’s difficult to remember,” Corrine said with a dismissive shake of her head. “What does it matter? They wanted information on werewolves, or the Whispering Way, or anything else that would be helpful. I mean, we all knew the Way had come to the Lodge, but no one knew why… maybe they like to take in the occasional fox hunt, right?” The little Halfling shifted on her pillow, blindly reaching for her wine glass.

“The morning was boring, as expected. Some noble woman, a Marquise maybe, made her presence known, but I wasn’t impressed. The little weirdo Blodwin gave some traveler the grim details about his dead partner near Opava, too; I’d say it was too much detail, really… especially when I’m eating. Once everyone was satisfied, we split up to see what we could find.

“I asked around, playing the part, you know? I found some woman working in the laundry… her little hellions running around like animals. She had a soft-spot for little girls, I guess, because she told me about Estovian’s office above the library. After a few hours, I met with the rest in a private room and we discussed what we’d found: Blodwin received a warning while he was asleep, Arlad and Stefan found a journal about some moon temple, inside of which was a reference to another book upstairs, and Cy… well, I think Cy mostly just walked around.”

Corrine pauses to watch 3 lithe elves, covered in honey and bruises, get tackled by another into a pile of pillows and flesh. With a grin, she finally says “anyways, we discussed the possibility of my sneaking into the office, or maybe Blodwin walking through the wall, but eventually those honor-bound fools decided to simply ask Estovian for his special book. It turned out to be about some Desnian artifact which none of us know anything about. Estovian seemed very unhappy about the note, but he was a good sport.”

“Things went poorly after that,” she says with a slight frown. “We were discussing the findings when a little girl ran into the room, wailing and screaming about a spider. I followed Arlad to see what had wrecked this girl’s mind, and what we found almost wrecked mine, as well: a spider the size of 4 wagons. It’s a little confusing, how it all happened… I sneaked forward, and then Arlad came crashing in behind me. I saw Cy run outside, and then Blodwin ran in carrying spears from the hall. Stefan was wearing nothing but robes and was obviously hesitant to charge this monstrosity. I was the only one both armed and armored.

“I made my way near the spider, crouched beneath a table. There was no obvious movement from anyone else, so I eventually took my chance… I put my silvered dagger through the tough hide and tried to open the beast. The retaliation was fierce, leaving me wounded and poisoned, barely able to lift my arms. I tried to tumble away as I have so many times before, but the spider was prepared and I was pinned by the monster’s fangs.”

Corrine stared into her wine for a few seconds, quietly swirling her drink. “Like I said, what does it matter? What’s done is done… but I do hope that they find what they were looking for.” She nodded as though it settled the whole matter, then turned to one side and gave her pillow a light slap on the thigh before standing up, giving no care to the wine she spilled in the process. Her pillow laughed and rolled over, stretching seductively, then began to crawl away on his hands and knees.

Calistira’s domain was a feast, and Corrine was eager to taste everything.


Quick DM recap for the part of the adventure seen only by those who lived

The aftermath of the attack of the spider was a mess of accusations and weak excuses. While Delgros the Huntsmaster aided in the combat and was deeply remorseful, he was berated by Estovion the Lodge Master for not securing his beasts, for the giant tarantula was one of the penned creatures Delgros kept around to sell as hunting quarries. Estovion went on to say the attack was the work of Paucy Troabs, the simpleminded groundskeper who has a crush on Madame Ivanja and he was seeking to drive everyone out of the lodge so he could have some alone time with the courtesan.

Stephan did determine that Estovion was the only clearly nefarious character in the bunch, which lead to further suspicions. Delgros added what limited knowledge he had on the werewolves of the forest: they are in 5 tribes but have a single packlord over the whole of the Shudderwoods. That packlord had been Kalvaca Sain, but she was killed in the past week. While the tradition has been for the one who killed the packlord to eat the heart of the former lord and gain his or her power and authority, something has gone wrong in that process and the tribes are unable to choose a new packlord… hence the coming civil war.

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Full Campaign Recap (Books 1 through half-way through 3)

Prologue:

Meeting on the road to Ravengro, strangers combined forces to try and save a fortune teller and her guard from a werewolf attack. Varrik is bitten by the lycanthrope, but it is unknown if his body was able to fight off the curse. Further down the road, two child-bandits discover that it is a bad idea to try and rob a tiefling gunslinger on a dark road.

Book One: The Haunting of Harrowstone

Put her body on the bed.
Take a knife and lop her head.
Watch the blood come out of the pipe.
Feeds the stirge, so nice and ripe.
Drops of red so sparkly bright.
Splatters spell her name just right.
With a hammer killed his wife.
Now he wants to claim your life.
Tricksy father tells a lie.
Listen close or you will die.

Five strangers assembled in the rain to say goodbye to friend, a mentor, an inspiration, or a savior: Professor Petros Lorrimor. With the help of his sole heir, Kendra Lorrimor, the group began to look into his death to see if it really was the accident that it originally seemed.

The town of Ravengro, however, was inhospitable to outsiders. Any thoughts of it being an idylic, charming village would be quickly torn asunder by one look at the dark ruins of the great prison Harrowstone, looming above the village like a tombstone over a grave. Dark looks, closed doors, and even obvious suspicious stares were quickly followed by a mob confronting the funeral demanding that a “necromancer” not be allowed to be buried in the Restlands of Ravengro. Quick talking by Arland and Stephan were able to calm the crowd and the funeral proceeded as planned, followed by a solemn reading of the will at the home of the Professor and Kendra.

The group spent the next month in Ravengro, slowly exploring the village, building trust among the locals, and finding out there was more to the accidental death of the professor than what first appeared. Hours of research was done in the records of the town hall, the library of the Lorrimor estate, and even by a bold daylight excavation of a tomb to gather tools the professor mentioned in his will.

In the hours of research the group discovered the history of the five great prisoners of Harrowstone: the Mosswater Maurader, the Piper of Illmarsh, the Lopper, Father Charlatan, and the Splatterman. It was said by locals that the spirits of those five still haunted the burned-out husk of Harrowstone to this very day. Odd happenings began to affect Ravengro… stirges attacked the village. The dead in the Restlands began to stir and wander the town. This ended with none other than the Professor himself “coming home” to his manor as a wight, leading a group of zombies.

The work of the group led them to investigate the ruins of the prison itself. Odd arcane markings around the base were found, which seemed to be some sort of binding spell. Inside, the structure was riddled with haunts — powerful spiritual remnants of the evil and darkness which once lived here. Also present were the five ghosts of the prison which had to be defeated one by one and then, with the assistance of the ghost of Visorianna (the wife of the warden of Harrowstone), the ruins were finally cleansed of evil.

Before giving up her existence to cleanse the prison, she explained to you that although the spirits of the prisoners had always been restless, the powerful will of her husband was always present to keep them suppressed. However some recent time ago (time is difficult for her to track) men in black robes came and somehow killed or removed her husband’s spirit. With him gone, the prisoners have managed to reappear, growing more and more powerful by the day. Once the five most powerful are destroyed, she would be able to exhaust her spiritual energy to eliminate the rest.

The group took a break from the mystery of the Professor to tend to Varrik, cleansing his soul of the curse of lycanthropy through an ancient and dangerous ritual. Once complete they were then off to the university city of Lepidstadt to deliver a book to an old friend of the professor.

Book Two: The Trial of the Beast

Burghers of Lepidstadt, rejoice! The Beast has been captured! Soon the abomination will be tried for crimes against the good people of Vieland. The Punishing Man now rises in the square outside the courthouse! The logs have been stacked against his flanks and the oil has seeped into his veins. The Punishing Man waits to take his passenger to the depths of Hell! And soon, he shall have his feast…
- Lepidstadt Town Crier

On the road to Lepidstadt the group met and aided a carnival troupe called the Crooked Kin and helped them defeat a phase spider which had killed one of their members.

Reaching the city of Lepidstadt, the group finds the town celebrating the capture of a legend of the area — The Beast of Lepidstadt. Every calamity, tragedy, and misfortune for two decades has been placed on the broad shoulders of this creature and he is finally about to be brought to a swift, burning justice.

Delivering the book of the professor to Judge Embreth Daramid, they find that she doubts the guilt of the creature and fears for its ability to get a fair trial. She quietly hires the group to investigate the history of the beast and see that it pays for the crimes it has committed, but no more.

Upon meeting the beast the group finds it to be a child-like, intelligent flesh golem. While capable of great fury, it is overall gentle in nature and quite terrified and confused. It was captured while stealing something called the Seasage Effigy, an interesting but otherwise worthless murky green statuette depicting a grotesque creature writhing with tentacles. The Beast has no memory of this and the statuette has not been found. The Beast was renamed Fairweather by Blodwin, which he seemed to greatly prefer.

The investigators moved to examine the accused crimes of Fairweather — the murder of ten people in Morast, the murder of six children in Hergstag, and the arson attack of the Karb Isle Sanctuary.

Morast is a quiet, isolated swamp village where the Beast had allegedly snuck in to homes at night and killed person after person. Investigating the village and the nearby boneyard, the group discovered that while the villagers speak of a great crocodile attacking the shoulder of the Beast, Fairweather has no marks or scars from such an attack. There is also clear evidence that many of the graves in the boneyard have been robbed of their corpses.

Finding surgical tools with an identifiable maker’s mark, the group traces the history of the tools from the original maker to an auction house to a retail store, and finally to a place called Vorkstag and Grine’s Chymic Works.

Presenting the evidence so far, the group casts significant doubt on the prosecutor’s story about the events in Morast. Up next was investigating the murders in Hergstag. Abandoned since the murders, the village of Hergstag was once a comfortable farming village. A series of children murders along with witness sightings of the Beast led to the accusation. The investigators, however, found the bodies of the children in a cave beneath a rotting scarecrow where they faced, and defeated Brother Swarm, a wraith that was the true culprit.

Again, by presenting the evidence of the children’s bodies and the existence of Brother Swarm, the group was able to cast doubt on the guilt of Fairweather. The final investigation of the Sanctuary led to battling the ghasts that now inhabit the ruins. Documentation here led again to the Chymic Works of Vorkstag and Grine, so the group went to finally enter the chemical plant.

Once they breached the door, there was a long fight above vats of chemicals with both Vorkstag and Grine plus their mongrelmen slaves. Once defeated they discovered a few points of interest — scars on the shoulder of Vorkstag consistent with a crocodile attack, a cabinet of skins which Vorkstag (a skinstealer) could wear as disguises, and one skin which was of a huge mongrelman and consistent with the Morast townsfolks’ description of the Beast. They also found a deep, hidden pool of floating cadavers.

Before the final day of the trial could start, an angry mob of villagers tried to attack the courthouse and serve their own brand of justice to the Beast. With a minimum of casualties, the group was able to disperse the mob and save the life of Fairweather.

The final day of the trial was upon them and the golden words of Arlad did a miraculous job of saving the life of Fairweather, who immediately left for the home of his creator — Schloss Caromarc. Not long after his departure, members of the Crooked Kin warned that the city folk were not happy with the result of the trial and had plans to follow the Beast and lynch him. Wanting to warn Fairweather and his maker, Count Caromarc, the group raced to the Schloss.

There they found the gatehouse overrun by trolls, which were dispatched, and then they battled through the many buildings over the deadly waterfalls below. Traps and various creations tried to stop the advance of the group. A Brimorak demon standing guard before one of the last buildings, slayed Varrik the Hunter before himself being returned to Hell.

Battling up the final tower, they find the Professor caged and held captive by the aberrant promethium, a vile creation of the count’s that had turned on his master. In the battle a new member of the group, Duncan, was ripped asunder when he got too close to the monster. When hope was nearly lost, Fairweather arrived to aide his only friends. Blodwin used the mechanism on the top of the tower to boost the golem’s already impressive abilities and the promethium was destroyed.

The count paid the group handsomely to never mention the experiments they uncovered in his home, which they readily agreed to, and he informed them that the Whispering Way had attack his home, taking control of the Bondslave Thrall, a device which controls Fairweather completely. They used this to steal the seasage effigy and then moved quickly along the river road. The group returned to Lepidstadt for some leisurely shopping then returned to their hot pursuit of the necromancers.

On the road into the great forest of Shudderwood the investigators rested in Opava, a small village on the forest edge. There they aided the villagers in ending a demon-possessed bandit who was using the tale of a headless ghost to kill and rob travelers on the road. They also met a coven of witches who struck a bargain with Blodwin.

Book Three: Broken Moon

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night,
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the moon is full and bright.

Following the Whispering Way through the Shudderwood, the group stops at Ascanor Lodge, a hunting lodge for nobles and the very well-placed. While initially denied entrance, they aide one of the lodge guests, Durisan Silvio Ariesir, in a hunt and are later granted access. The haughty and proper warden, Estovion Lozarov, is welcoming at first, but becomes less so as the days go by and the group continues to ask questions about the Whispering Way.

They uncover that there are five tribes of werewolves in the Shudderwoods and that the packlord over all of the tribes has recently been murdered. No other werewolf has eaten her heart, so the rule of the packs is in flux — civil war has broken out. As the questioning continues, a giant tarantula is released from the hunting pens and the group has a difficult time defeating it…Corinne is killed by the creature.

After finding the journal of Estovion where he implicates himself in some of the troubles, the group is banned from the lodge. The journal mentioned unknown men, Adivion Adrissant, Auren Vrood, and the involvement of the Whispering Way.

The group moved to the Stairs of the Moon, a long-lost temple to Desna which has become a meeting place and holy site to the five tribes of werewolves. On the ground floor of the temple they were attacked by a Vilkacis, a vengeful werewolf spirit. In deeper rooms they found the body of a Whispering Way agent, she carried onyx gems and a map marked with Ravengro, Lepidstadt, Schloss Caromar, the Stairs of the Moon and a town further east called Feldgrau.

Battling up the tower, the group faced Mathias Mordrinacht, leader of the Silverhides and Cybrisa Dorzhanev, the druid leader of the Broken Ones. Finally defeating them and cleansing the temple, an aspect of Desna appeared giving each of the group boon and glimpse of the future.

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