Monday, 29 August 2016
Sephiria Kaddren's Account
After our discussions as to our next course of action, we determined to investigate the outlying farms to the south as well as the Saw Mill with a view to setting that up as a refuge from attacking ghouls. Lord Scarnetti told us that the Mill had been the site of the first attack where the original message to Quillax had been found.
We headed out to the Mill and found it little altered from the aftermath of the attack and the subsequent investigation. Blood still stained the cutting blade where the two victims had met their fate. Around the Mill, as well as around several of the local farms, were goblin footprints as well as the prints of a small canine – too small to be a Yeth Hound or a Warg. Quillax couldn’t identify them so Sephiria sketched a copy of the prints for future reference. We concluded that goblins were leaving the Whisperwood to the south and converging on Sandpoint.
Inside the Mill we find bloody bare footprints, similar to those of a ghoul but still retaining some human characteristics, and guess that the creature that made them might have been in some transitional form between ghoul and human. A blood covered handaxe near the log splitter showed that the victims had fought back against their attacker, and the stink still on the blade confirmed that the attacker had been a ghast rather than a ghoul.
Checking the immediate area we find a narrow tunnel dug under a bridge. Sephiria sends Moncey to investigate and the homunculus soon finds a sleeping goblin. It attempts to sting the goblin with the poison barb on its tail but the goblin awakens, throws off the effects of the poison, and chases Money out of the cave – straight into Neril. Within seconds the goblin is killed and in its den we find a pouch embroidered with an “H” containing 18gp. The goblin’s clothing marks it as a tribe from the Whisperwood allied with bugbears.
After our checks, we decide the Saw Mill is unsuitable as a refuge from either ghouls or goblins and instead head north towards the sanatorium where Grayst Sevilla, a survivor of one of the earliest attacks, had been taken. The sanatorium is run by Doctor Erin Habe, late of Magnimar, with the aid of two powerfully built tiefling orderlies. Sephiria starts chatting to him, wondering why he left a successful practice in Magnimar, and all of us notice a certain amount of jitteriness and evasion in his conversation. However, at Sephiria’s urging he agrees to let us speak with Sevilla.
The man is clearly in the advanced stages of ghoul fever, leaving both Elwin and Jarrick concerned as to how a cure had not been effected. Calling on Iomedae Jarrick reaches out to scour the disease from Sevilla, but it’s too late. He breaks free of his bonds and lunges for Quillax “he said you would visit me – he made me - he said you should come to misgivings and join his pack.” With Sevilla beyond a cure we are forced to kill him.
After the fight we start to challenge the Doctor on his treatment methods. He becomes defensive and tries to retreat with the two orderlies blocking our way. Unfortunately for Habe, Neril and then Sephiria teleport past them and intercept the Doctor before he can hide deeper in the sanatorium. Elwin recognises the orderlies as sailors and manages to convince them to step aside. Equally convincing is Quillax who has assumed her Bear form, and the tieflings decide discretion is the better part of valour and quickly tender their resignation from the Doctor’s service.
Meanwhile Habe sounds an alarm and from a doorway leading to the cellar emerge a squad of zombies – clearly former patients of the sanatorium – and behind them is a necromancer wearing the garb of a cultist of Lamashtu. Neril and Sephiria take down the necromancer while the zombies fall before the combined strength of Quillax, Jarrick and Elwin. With his allies defeated, Habe surrenders. A search of the sanatorium reveals a handful of other patients, but the only one we can help is a wererat called Pidget who is cured and returned to his family.
Habe tells us that the necromancer – Kayzalu Zerin – supported him financially and enabled him to continue his research on the nature of ghouls and how ghoul fever is spread, as well as the origins of ghasts. He appears to be unconcerned with the ethical implications of his research and, after leaving him locked in one of his own cells for the night, we decide to leave him at the sanatorium with a promise of closer oversight on the part of Lord Scarnetti.
Our next job is to visit Foxglove Manor which is perhaps the source of the ghoul attacks…
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Despite our exhaustion, we decided to hurry back to the farm where we originally heard the screams. Neril, Clank, and Sepheria's homonculous "Monky" stayed behind with Broddick and the farm's family. We decided to take the straight path through the corn fields, but we worried about getting separated in the field in the dark, so I took my elk form and carried the party. In that manner, we all could easily see over the corn stalks. There was a suspicious scarecrow off to our left, which held much of my attention when an strange elf popped out of the corn and called out to me, possibly recognizing the Druidic patterns in my fur colouring. I recognized his own colouring and clothes as an Andusanna elf, of the same clan as Shallalu, who had perished in Orik's possibly-betrayed party. He started to introduce himself as Leblond, an elven ranger, cousin of Shallulu, when he was interrupted by 3 ghouls coming up behind him.
Jarrick leapt from my back and started to move towards the Ranger, calling out at the sight. Leblond quickly disengaged from the ghouls and moved to join us. Elwin dismounted and cast his spiritual weapon, followed by Sepheria, who followed him and decided to try to end the threat immediately with a fireball. Unfortunately, we did not think of the possibility of the corn being quite so flammable but it must have been a dry season. Faced with ghouls and fire, I decided to deal with the fire, trying to contain it with a Wall of Wind. Distracted, I did not see the three ghasts approach from behind me. After that, I was sufficiently distracted with receiving injuries and an odd paralysis that I lost track of who killed the ghouls but Jarrick and Leblond had been in close combat with them. From what I heard, Neril had joined the fight and shortly after, between our group, the three original ghouls were destroyed and the three ghasts were facing the same fate.
One of the party cried out upon seeing an enormous ghoul carrying two possibly living people, easily seen now that a large chunk of field was quietly smouldering. As it was fairly certain I would survive, the party split and part headed off after it in hopes to save the people. Leblond attacked it but the ghoul shook off the arrow, so the Ranger set out after it, tracking it, with Jarrick right behind. Neril teleported into the darkness using the Elven ranger's and called out it's position and that Elwin was needed immediately to save them. With the ghasts and little ghouls all dead, I was able to shake off the paralysis and carried Elwin swiftly to that location. The rest of the group hurried after us.
Neril was demanding information from the large ghoul, who through his words and actions, indicated he was from Foxglove manor where he had some dark master he obeyed. This ghoul seemed to recognize me, which was both interesting and concerning as I had not travelled in this part of the world and had certainly no dealings the ghouls. Neril finally overpowered the ghoul with Elwin and Sepheria's help.
Leblond guarded us in case of any more ghouls while Elwin, Jarrick, and I checked over the two people, who turned out to be Lettie Gufman and her husband, farmers from further South; we later found out they were attached and taken from their beds. They were close to death and had ghoul's fever, but Jarrick was able to cure the disease, Elwin was able to heal them. Neril and Sepheria looked over the body of the large Ghoul, finding a ring to indicate that the ghoul was likely Robert Craesby, a man who had served at Foxglove Manor for many years. They also found an iron key, marked with a flower surrounded by thorns, which was known to be Foxglove's crest.
Having come around, Lettie explained that another farmer from further East, Mr Grump, had approached them earlier and said that they needed to abandon the farm as ghouls were attacking other farms and they were in danger. Examining Lettie, we realised she was with child but further examination gave us much happiness to report that the child was likely unharmed despite the ghoul's fever.
Once we were sure they were out of danger, we went to search the farm for further dangers or clues. We found a corpse, who we assumed was the farm owner, Hans Williams. He was no ghoul, but instead was dead for some time as evidenced by the level of rot, though the zehedron carved into his chest was still visible. Our examination led us to believe that the rune prevented the body from turning by acting as a channel for the life force, but to where the life force went, we were unsure. Also found was a note pinned to the body, addressed to me. It contained some odd phrases such as 'Take the fever into you' and was signed 'your lordship'.
Leblond had gone to search the house and found a chest under the floorboards in the bedroom. We spent a short time trying to open it before we resigned ourselves to searching to rotting body for a key. It was found but the chest only contained money, nothing of interest to the situation. Leaving the barn, which was as a charnel house, we examined a stone warrior head which the barn was built around. It apppeared to be Thesselonian in origin, and was likely carved by the Rune Lord of Wrath as a guard to stand at the boundry with Greed's lands. As the head was facing west and half-buried in the earth, the statue had likely tumbled at some point from it's Eastward watch of Greed's lands.
There was an interesting mention of a Sandpoint "lighthouse" which apparently is not a true lighthouse but instead has the ability to shoot fire, though I did not catch the details of this.
After burning the corpses as a precaution, we collected the living and went back to the Tetchley farm for a rest.
As we were preparing to head to Scarnetti Manor, where we hoped to deliever the farmers to a safe place until their farms were secured against Ghouls, I noticed Vanessa, who you may remember as being the wife of Orik and the daughter of the farm owner, whispering to her baby and acting rather odd. I was able to overhear her singing a goodbye lullaby and murmurs about the Hag. I raised this to my companions quickly via a whisper and was able to snatch the baby from her before it could come to harm or she could run off. It came out that she planned to trade her baby to the Hag in exchange for her husband, Orik. The situation with her is unresolved currently but Lettie was kind enough to care for the baby on our journey to Scarnetti Manor until the local Lord could be appraised of the situation, which we deemed as illegal as well as immoral, and could make a decision.
As we headed towards the manor, Sepheria brought us up-to-date on what she knew of the Scarnetti family. Titus, the lord, was a well known scoundral and possibly wastral. His wife, Lucida, was a strict, moral woman who had been kidnapped by cultists of the fertility sort, along with one of her daughters. Titus eventually randomed them, but much horror had been forced upon the women. It was feared that Lemashtu had cursed them and the women were tainted by their horrible ordeal beyond the actions suspected.
Approaching the manor, the first thing we were aware of were Shoanti Milk Maids, who requested our names to announce to the Manor's lord.
In the next short while, I could only marvel at Sepheria's ability to 'nobel' her way into control of the sitution and arrange us the support we would need in our investigations. Despite her repeated denials that she is suited for Court, her ability to handle such situations indicate otherwise.
We were made aware that Titus' manor was primarily maids and a few servants, and not a guard in sight, let alone the army he was supposed to maintain, although his fish pond was truly a thing of beauty. Titus mentioned that his wife was unwell, as well as being pregnant with her fourth child with Titus. There was no doubt that it was Titus' so there was that relief in terms of the birth. Elwin and I went up to speak to her, having convinced Titus that we could help.
The maid led us to chamber doors where we were refused entrance. There was a symbold of Iyomede, herald of the lost omen and a known Paladin protective symbol, so I went to fetch Jarrick, hoping she would allow him entry. She refused both Elwin and Jarrick, but allowed me to enter. Her worry was that her baby was not human, but a cursed thing. From my examination, I would find nothing to indicate the child was not human, but it was not enough as proof. Eventually, Jarrick was allowed to enter as I was not able to convince her to allow Elwin, Jarrick, and Sepheria to be able to cast spells on her, but he was able to calm her mind and get us permission.
We prepared over the night and Elwin was able to cast Remove Curse from both Lady Lucida and her daughter, which Elwin sensed removed a negative miasma. We were all pleased as it was two more people that we had been able to help. And now that Lucida was well, she would be able to sort out the issue with Vanessa and the baby.
It was then Titus mentioned there was a ghoul attack survivor in a sanitorium nearby.
After a discussion, we decided that we would check the surrounding farms for ghouls and ghasts to thin out any reinforcements, arrange for a safe place for the farmers, and then check out the survivor, before tackling foxglove manor, where we were quite sure we would find more clues.
Sunday, 14 August 2016
We were making good time towards our destination, having bought horses or summoned in Jarrick's case, despite pulling a cart for Clank. As we walked along a stretch of dirt road, we could see a farmhouse in the distance, but the bushes around us made us wary. As we approached the farmhouse, cautiously, cultists (recognised as such by our party) were spotted surrounding the house and one of its occupants, who swiftly retreated into his home. We decided to take action, both against the cultists and the enemies we sensed around us.
Sepheria laid down a fire ball in the centre of the cultists, doing plenty of damage. Clank, Neril, and I headed toward the Rightmost group hiding in the bushes, only to find they were undead. Neril excused himself to go help Serpheria with the cultists. Elwin and Jarrick took on the Leftmost group, also undead, and handled them with little difficulty. The spellcaster leading the way to our destination decided he was best placed somewhere far from the undead and retreated some distance back down the road.
We were made aware of someone shooting a crossbow out from the upstairs of the farmhouse, but as they were targeting the cultists, we assumed they were not enemies. Jarrick went to help Sepheria and Neril at the farmhouse while Elwin helped Clank and I with our remaining undead problem. Then we moved forward to assist, although the rest of our group had it mostly under control.
We were invited inside the farmhouse, and were introduced to the owner, the crossbow wielder, his daughter and her infant, and her husband, Orrick, whom our travelling companion recognised as a deserter from an expedition to kill a very bad person, which had gone quite wrong. He had been thought dead but now facts were beginning to point to that he had betrayed that party.
When he decided to flee, on Jarrick's summoned horse, our thoughts were confirmed. He was guilty of something at least. Jarrick called his horse and we apprehended him for further questioning for later.
As it was late, we decided it was best to camp. Sepheria set up a special warded dome outside, which half of us slept in, including Orrick, wary of a mid-night attack by the undead. The other half, including the woman and her child and our travelling companion, decided to sleep indoors. Jarrick agreed to sleep in the house as well just in case our companion decided to take revenge on Orrick's wife for the loss of his friends.
I heard a scream in the middle of the night from a neighbouring farmstead and we swiftly woke everyone, getting them safely into Sepheria's magic dome, which had a special one-time-use prototype magic generator, which would allow it to last despite her leaving it. Unfortunately, it took months to create so she only had the one.
Again, we split the party, leaving Elwin and Clank behind to guard the family.
Before we got even a mile away, Sepheria called us back, saying her proximity alarms had gone off and the others would be in danger. We hurried back past scarecrows which looked somehow wrong. At one point, Jarrick's mount tripped but I hoped the Paladin would be fine. If he was not with us in a short time, I would double back for him once we secured the group's safety.
It turned out a rather large group of undead had decided to do what we had worried about, and were attacking the dome, digging under it. Neril was able to get there first and pulled the attacker out from their holes. We struggled to ensure the family's safety in the dark and then Jarrick came on foot with a horde of undead in his wake.
In the heat of the battle, we lost track of Orrick, temporarily, as he ran. Once the undead problem was mostly under control, I gave chase. I heard Neril and Sepheria follow shortly after. I was able to catch up with Orrick at the edge of the swamp where a witch waited. I was not able to convince her to give him to me, however, she promised she would keep him alive so we could come and speak with him at our leisure in the future. It wasn't the best outcome, but better than her killing him. We returned to the farmhouse to explain to his wife his location, tend to our injuries, and finish resting.