Tuesday, June 17th, 758, The Shudderwood/Margreve, Ustalav
Both Kendra and Abner are fatigued, but Nitca is placed in Vassily’s wicker leg. The weather is extremely bad, rain is pouring down, and it promises to be slow going. Kendra and Abner decide to stay behind. Kendra gives Katarzyna her cloak, and her silk rope. Abner gives Grewen and Katarzyna food for the trip. Grewen, Katarzyna, Dragos and Gregore venture out into the dark torrential rain. Gregore carries the torch and Dragos carries the wicker leg with the homonculus.
After about an hour of travel, Nitca starts waving its arm wildly. In the lightning, they see a Vistani man sprawled on an “island” in the bog formed by the downpour. Gregore wades through the water and checks the man, and finds that he is still alive, so Grewen gets on Amelia’s back, and she slogs over to Gregore. Suddenly, arcs of light shoot across the bog at Grewen and Amelia. Grewen immediately recognizes that they’re dealing with shocker lizards. Katarzyna is unable to determine the source of the lightning. Dragos drops the wicker leg, and Katarzyna notices that Nitca is struggling to not become submerged in the bog water. A lizard attacks Grewen, and he draws his weapon. He and Gregore also see a shambling mound, and Gregore attacks it. Katarzyna pulls Nitca from the bog, but she is unable to really see what’s happening. There are three shocker lizards in total, and they synergize with each other to subdue their prey. Amelia is severely hurt by the lizards, as is Grewen. Dragos is also hit by the blast. Grewen notices that the shambling mound seems to thrive on the energy from the lizards. The mound attacks Dragos, and renders him unconscious. Gregore manages to pulse before the mound can kill Dragos, and the mound drops Dragos and rounds on Grewen and Amelia. Dragos falls into the dark water. Grewen starts to convulse, then suddenly there are blurry black shapes swarming all over the shambling mound. They quickly take down the shambling mound.
After the fighting stops, the creatures stand around Grewen. They appear to be half-man, half wolf. One crouches down and offers its hand to Grewen. Dragos sits up in the water. Katarzyna approaches, and doesn’t realize that the creatures are werewolves at first. Two of the werewolves shapeshift into human form, naked of course, while another shifts into wolf form, another remains a hybrid. One of the human-form werewolves, Kvalca Sain, is the packleader of the werewolves of the Margreve. He tells them that his pack had helped them when they dealt with the werewolf in Grandma Babushka’s tree. That werewolf, Gernot, was the packleader of the Silverhide Clan. Kvalca Sain sends one of his werewolf pack, Johan, with Grewen to help find Mavra.
They talk to the surviving man, who turns out to be one of Tanya’s sons, Drixa. Drixa gives them four potions in thanks for rescuing him. Drixa also give Katarzyna a very light blue cloak, called a Blue Willow cloak. It is light and entirely waterproof. When the wearer whispers the word “Margreve” in the rain, it renders the wearer invisible, but only while it rains. Drixa takes his leave of them, with a few backward glances at Katarzyna, and heads back in the direction of the inn. They gather their belongings, and with Johan in tow, they continue on.
A while later, Nitca suddenly begins to convulse wildly. Grewen thinks it is trying to tell them something, and he tries to reorient them based on the map, with help from Dragos. They realize that Nitca’s link with his mistress, Jedza, is probably waning, causing it distress. They also realize that they are entering an alseid graveyard. They do their best to go around it, out of respect for the dead sylvan creatures. As they skirt the area, they come upon a wide torrent of floodwater. They see an alseid caught in large web, with a human-sized spider in its center. Katarzyna throws a Web Bolt spell at the creature, which halts its advance toward the alseid. Grewen manages to kill the spider, and they work to free the alseid. Grewen notices that the alseid has had its horns sheared off, and talks to the unfortunate creature in the sylvan tongue. The alseid gives his name as Flawn, and asks if Grewen will grant him one final boon, a dagger. Flawn tells Grewen that he is shamed, and he wishes to go to the graveyard of his people to take his own life. Grewen shares this with the others, and Gregore asks Flawn about the circumstances that led him here, Flawn tells them that he is cursed. He was seeking Jedza, the selfsame witch the group is trying to save. Flawn says the curse makes him a bane to his people. The curse causes Flawn to leave human footprints, as though two people were walking together, rather than alseid hoof prints. Katarzyna manages to convince Flawn not to take its own life, to instead help them find Mavra and the jug, and hopefully save Jedza.
The ravine widens and deepens, and on the opposite bank from the alseid graveyard, there are a dozen or so child-sized coffins piled on the ground. Flawn tells them that some of the folk of the forest will divest themselves of their sins through effigies. The effigies are placed in caskets. The ritual animates the contents of the casket. To kill a sin-eater, you simply say ”Child of the Margreve, Child of Man, I take back your name”. Pearl goes over to check out the coffins. They are all carved coffins with runes. She also sees stick creatures. They decide to use the rope to go across and dismiss the sin-eater’s effigies. Katarzyna Spider Climb’s across the rope. As they get to the other side, a dozen effigies spring up and lurch forward at them. Katarzyna Webs the area. One of them grabs Katarzyna. Dragos grabs it and dismisses the creature. They dismiss all the creatures except one, which has to be released from the Web spell in order to reach it. They dispel it through the use of the phrase, then Dragos takes three of the bundles and starts throwing the coffins into the water. Everyone returns to the other bank, build a fire, and eat some of the food they brought. After they burn the bundles they gain the effects of Resistance, Virtue, Guidance, and Owl’s Wisdom. They finish their meal, and continue down the path.
Around the next bend they see a giant wooden spider-shaped house dangling from a line stretched across the ravine. Pearl flies over to take a closer look. Katarzyna Spider Climbs over to the house, and Grewen climbs over in the conventional way. They see the interior of the spider house laid bare, and Katarzyna opens a cabinet door with Mage Hand. Inside the cabinet is an area of magical darkness. Grewen trepiditiously places a lighted arrow into the darkness, and it is sucked from his grasp. Katarzyna believes that the area of darkness is similar to a minor artifact known as a Bag of Holding, and tells Grewen a bit about them. After securing herself with Kendra’s rope to the spider house, she gingerly places her hand into the darkness, and sees three clay jugs inside the void. At that point, Dragos joins them, though the rope holding the house above the water starts to groan under the increased weight. Dragos looks around and finds an arrow made of tightly packed white sand. Katarzyna suddenly is inspired that the spider motif probably requires eight arms to reach the object. They call Gregore over to add the seventh and eight arms, and he removes his armor to limit the weight load on the ropes. The precaution is for naught, Gregore’s weight proves too great and the line snaps, sending him and the house hurtling into the rushing floodwater below.
The house plunges into the water and they find themselves completely submerged. Dragos gets free of the water immediately, but Katarzyna struggles, holding her breath, still tied to the house with Kendra’s rope. Gregore is swiftly carried past the house in the rushing current. Katarzyna manages to Spider Climb up to above the surface of the water to catch her breath. Grewen also breaks the surface, having been looking for a way to cut the rope holding Katarzyna to the house. They hit the spiderweb that had trapped Flawn downstream of their location, where they see Gregore now trapped in the web. The spider house breaks through the web, and Gregore is washed downstream further, buffeted by the rushing water. Grewen and Dragos are also dislodged from the house, and hurled down the river in the relentless rush of water. Eventually the house manages to brace itself in the ravine, and comes to a stop. It reorients itself, leaves the river and dashes into the forest at the water’s edge. It quickly climbs up into an elm tree, with a bewildered Katarzyna still inside. Moments later, Johan finds Katarzyna in the tree, and she calls out to him to find the others. He tells her that Flawn will be by soon. She decides to search the house again until Flawn arrives.
Grewen manages to finally come to a place where the river bends slightly and forms a basin of relatively calm waters off to one side. As extricates himself from the river, he sees that Gregore and Dragos are pulling themselves out of the water also, having found the same calm waters. They regroup, and wait for the arrival of the house and Katarzyna. They are afraid that the house is still heading toward them, so they scramble to get out of the way. The house does not crash into them, of course, so they have a few moments to catch their breath and get their bearings. Presently, Johan arrives, and he tells them that Katarzyna is safe. He offers to guide them to Katarzyna. Amelia is reunited with Grewen, and she is overjoyed to see him. They trudge through the woods for a few minutes, and Grewen sees the house up in the elm tree. Johan then sets out to find Flawn, coming back quickly with him. Flawn had helpfully retrieved everyone’s armor and gear, so they would not need to go back to the original site of the spider house to retrieve their belongings. Gregore dons his armor
Katarzyna finds all sorts of items in the house, among them a tree-bleed bucket. Katarzyna studies the strange hammock-like apparatus in the house, and figures out a way to guide the house down to the forest floor, sitting in the hammock with rope lines attached through a pulley system to her eight fingers. Because of the sensitivity of the pulley system, she discovers that she is able to control the house pretty easily. Grewen helps Katarzyna tie the leads to her fingertips, and she shakily maneuvers the house to the forest floor. She urges the others to get into the house, so Gregore, Dragos, Grewen, Amelia and Johan all pile in. Even Flawn manages to wedge himself in, his hooves tucked gracefully underneath him.
Katarzyna starts the house moving, and it covers a lot of ground very quickly, but almost dislodges them at one point. As they head toward the inn where Jedza awaits her sister’s jug, Grewen notices thousands upon thousands of spiders of all sizes moving through the forest, and it appears they are converging on the vicinity of the inn. More quickly than they ever imagined possible, they find themselves back in the relentless rain and back at the inn. Katarzyna grabs all three of the jugs from the portable hole, and they heedlessly trample spiders underfoot as they make their way inside the inn to Jedza. They are hopeful, they had arrived with the jug (presumably one of the three from the portable hole) much sooner than they had originally anticipated.
As they enter the inn, confusion sets in. Most of the people who had been present before were nowhere to be seen. They don’t see Abner, but Kendra is holding the innkeeper Adric at gunpoint, engaged in a heated exchange. Katarzyna rushes to Kendra’s side and brandishes her quarterstaff at Adric, and asks Kendra what had transpired in their absence. Grewen, Dragos and Gregore rush upstairs with the three jugs. They find that Jedza has been murdered, and there is a creature forming from the body of the dead fey. Grewen attacks the creature, which turns out to be an alla. Flawn and Johan are confused by all the commotion, as are the others. Johan agrees to stay and keep watch on Adric, and Katarzyna makes for the stairs. The alla hag calls an ice storm into the loft as Grewen attacks. Katarzyna makes her way upstairs, and invokes the Blue Willow cloak. A pitched battle with the alla ensues, and it goes poorly for them. Katarzyna’s spells are ineffective and quickly exhausted, and Kendra tells her to run. She is dashing downstairs when they hear a sickening sound. The alla has killed Dragos.
Grewen is horrified by the sight of Dragos’ death at the hands of the alla, and finds himself unable to act. Abner also falls, seemingly sharing Dragos’ fate. Katarzyna manages to get Johan to leave Adric and go upstairs to aid them in the battle against the alla. Gregore manages to heal Abner enough to stabilize him, and finally kills the alla. Katarzyna had rushed up the stairs after Johan, and finds Dragos dead, she cradles his head in her lap as she weeps. Johan leaps down and runs out of the room.
Gregore pulls Grewen out of the blood, and uses hypnosis to restore him to awareness. Grewen leads Katarzyna away from the carnage, they join Kendra downstairs. The battle had been very quick, but it looked as though an army had fought in the loft of the inn. The stunned companions sit in the common room, while Gregore marshalls the few people at hand to start setting about securing the inn against any further incursions.
Wednesday, June 18th, 758, The Shudderwood/Margreve, Northern Road between Karpad and Lepidstadt, vicinity of Courtaud, Ustalav
No one sleeps, not even a little. In the morning, town guards come, and Adric lies, saying that Gregore and his companions had been responsible for the carnage. Katarzyna dazedly tells one of the town guards an abbreviated but truthful version of the night’s events. They hear a voice outside saying “who stole my house?” and Katarzyna goes outside and tells Mavra that she is responsible, and that Jedza is dead inside the inn. Mavra goes inside and stays upstairs for a long time. Katarzyna stands outside in the lessening rain in Drixa’s Blue Willow cloak, but doesn’t invoke its power. Abner comes out and brings Katarzyna back to the common room. He sits her down and makes her eat. Grewen is also somewhat despondent, and Abner makes certain that he eats as well.
An older man enters the inn. He has a scar on his face and dabs with a handkerchief at his left eye, which is red and weeping. He asks many questions, starting with their names. He informs them that he is Inspector Farren of Lozeri. He calls in one of his men, Jean-Baptiste Harrow. Jean-Baptiste briefly greets Katarzyna, Grewen, Abner, Kendra and Gregore, then goes up to see the carnage from the death of Jedza and the alla. He sees Jedza’s corpse, the doctor’s corpse, Vassily’s wicker leg and the inert form of the homonculus inside. He then sees the bodies of the alla and Dragos. Jean-Baptiste carefully examines all the bodies. It’s clear that the body of Dragos has been preserved with Gentle Repose, undoubtedly the work of the Ezrite anchorite downstairs. He determines that the doctor had been killed by the ice storm. He also notices a lot of spiders in the room. Among the debris, he finds Katarzyna’s sunglasses, though he doesn’t know what to make of them immediately. He also grabs the doctor’s belongings and a few other items that appear worthy of consideration in the investigation.
Inspector Farren talks to Grewen and the clearly traumatized Katarzyna. Grewen tells him about their travels from Karpad. Katarzyna mentions that they had come from Ravengro. Inspector Farren mentions that he knew Benjan Caeller, and Katarzyna informs him of the sherriff’s recent death. Inspector Farren and Jean-Baptiste talk to the innkeeper Adric also. Tanya also arrives at the inn, as does the ranger Sandor. Sandor speaks with Inspector Farren and Jean-Baptiste. Sandor tells Jean-Baptiste how Adric essentially killed Jedza by forcing the doctor to cut away the mass before the others returned with Mavra’s jug. He also tells Jean-Baptiste that Gregore had healed Tanya’s son and sent him back to the inn. Katarzyna tries to give Drixa’s cloak back to Tanya, but she tells her that it was Drixa’s to give, and that he exchanged his life for it. Jean-Baptiste sees Inspector Farren walking casually toward a wolf in the woods. Katarzyna talks briefly with Mavra, who is upset about the state of her house. She tells Katarzyna that she will cure Sandor’s baby, in exchange for a vial of Katarzyna’s blood, to which Katarzyna agrees without hesitation. Inspector Farren decides to take them all back to Courtaud, which is only a quarter-mile away from the inn. They all travel in dazed and exhausted silence.
Courtaud is a big town. It is build in the rocky islands in the midst of a wide river. They are carried to the Golden Saucer Inn, where they are put up at no cost. Kendra feels inordinately drained, as does Katarzyna. Even in her preoccupied state, Katarzyna notices a hint of a romance blooming between Kendra and Abner, which makes her smile weakly. They all retire to their rooms, and the rest of the day passes without incident. Katarzyna sleeps for the rest of the day and night.
Thursday, June 19th, 758, Courtaud, Ustalav
Inspector Farren grants Gregore access to Dragos’ remains, and he prepares the body for travel back to Lepidstadt. Flawn seeks out Grewen, and Grewen gets his dagger back. Flawn tells Grewen that the so-called curse had been a cruel lie. His matriarch had been told that Flawn would have fourteen points, which is more than her son will have, and that would give Flawn a chance at patriarchy in place of her son. The matriarch had cast a spell on Flawn, and convinced the others in the tribe that he was cursed, casting him out. Grewen is sympathetic to Flawn’s situation, and is glad that Flawn at least knows he isn’t cursed. He tells Flawn that he hopes they meet again.
Katarzyna slowly gets her bearings in Courtaud, but doesn’t venture out of her room at the Golden Saucer until Kendra and Abner insist upon it. The following days are a blur for many of them, each dealing with their grief and trauma.
Monday, June 23rd, 758, Courtaud, Ustalav
Kendra decides to take Katarzyna clothes shopping, to replace their damaged and destroyed garb and hopefully lift their spirits a bit. They stop at Jean-Baptiste Harrow’s office, and Kendra asks him about the items that they had left at the Witch’s Teat Inn. Katarzyna asks about her spectacles, and he retrieves them from his evidence bag and gives them to her. They discover through conversation that Jean-Baptiste had known Professor Lorrimor.
Kendra invites Jean-Baptiste to lunch. They have a cordial conversation, and Kendra gives Jean-Baptiste two envelopes, one for himself and one for Inspector Farren. Kendra speaks to Jean-Baptiste in Hara-Kir, but he doesn’t understand her perfectly. She invites him to the memorial service for Dragos, since they don’t know many people in town. Jean-Baptiste learns of the professor’s murder, and he offers his assistance in their investigation, and asks them about it in detail. They remain at table for hours, until the suddenly realize that the day has gotten away from them. It’s almost time for the memorial service for Dragos, so Kendra and Katarzyna go back to their inn to change clothes. Jean-Baptiste returns to give Inspector Farren his invitation to the memorial. He also tells Inspector Farren about the Whispering Way and their connection to the Professor’s murder. Jean-Baptiste asks for permission to help Kendra find the Professor’s murderer.
The rest of them arrive at the public house. It’s rather large, and they don’t have the whole house, but they do have a large room in the back. There are two other people in the room, one is George Wittingham, the other is Lord Dominguez. They talk about Dragos’ history. Gregore shares stories about his history with Dragos before he met the others. Katarzyna sings a mournful threnody. A while later, Inspector Farren takes his leave. Jean-Baptiste talks with Grewen and Abner, he learns a lot about Abner’s history with the Professor. Kendra and Katarzyna walk back to the inn, and discuss Katarzyna’s rather naive attitude toward the various men who have expressed romantic interest in her. Katarzyna tells Kendra that at one time she thought herself attracted to Gregore, but he was brusque with her, and hurt her feelings. Then he took up with Jominda, and she forgot all about it. She laments her inability to discern the good men from the reprobates like Leromar Horgan.
The boys stay out late, and after midnight they manage to find their way back home. They don’t run into any trouble, and the tribute to Dragos seems to do them all good.
Tuesday, June 24th, 758, Courtaud
Jean-Baptiste goes to talk to Inspector Farren about the massacre at the Witch’s Teat Inn. They discuss their findings. Adric is found guilty, and Gregore’s group is cleared of all wrongdoing. Tanya is also implicated as a conspirator with Adric, to the dismay of Jean-Baptiste. He feels that she is being unjustly targeted due to her Vistani heritage.
Kendra and Katarzyna plan to take in a show, and so they go shopping for opera dresses. Kendra also buys some jewelry. The play is called “The Beast of Lepidstadt” and it is about a flesh golem that terrorizes the countryside. Katarzyna is enraptured by the play. She picks up the scent of decay at one point in the play, but it quickly dissipates as quickly as it manifested.
Jean-Baptiste and Grewen walk around the outskirts of town, and Jean-Baptiste talks to the spiders, and asks them if he can speak with their mistress. Later, Grewen, Jean-Baptiste, Gregore and Abner go out and drink and carouse at Ernesto’s. At the end of the night’s entertainment, Jean-Baptiste walks around the outskirts of town, seeing if Mavra will come out to talk with him. He waits for awhile, but she doesn’t make contact.
Still later, Jean-Baptiste goes to talk to Tanya, the Vistani woman who is being held for conspiracy with Adric. The guards leer suggestively at Jean-Baptiste “questioning” a female prisoner so late at night, but he ignores them. Jean-Baptiste implores Tanya to help him find something that would allow him to get her released. Tanya won’t break the silence of the Vistani when dealing with giorgio or giomorgo, and his efforts are for naught. When he returns to the rooms he shares with Inspector Farren, he notices that he isn’t there.
Wednesday, June 25th, 758, Courtaud
Jean-Baptiste is brusquely awakened by Inspector Faren early in the morning. He dresses quickly, and they set off for the Golden Saucer Inn.
Kendra, Abner, Gregore, Katarzyna and Grewen are at breakfast when they arrive. Inspector Farren and Jean-Baptiste join them, but the tone quickly turns dark when they learn that there have been two murders during the night at a mill, and a note found at the scene mentioning Katarzyna. It appears to be linked to another series of murders in a barn north of town a few nights prior. Three men from Lepidstadt were killed in that incident, while a surviving witness is in the Courtaud asylum.
They quickly finish their breakfast and head toward the scene of the previous night’s murders. On the way, Inspector Farren tells them that two men are in custody. Ibor Thorn is the mill owner, and the business partner of the male victim, Banny Harker. Ven Vinder is the father of the female victim, Katrine Vinder.
They arrive at the sawmill, and inspect the body of Katrine Vinder first. Her remains are a horrific sight, it appears that she was killed by the mill’s log splitter machine. There is a hatchet near the body, with what turns out to be the ichor of a corporeal undead on the blade. It’s clear that Katrine had struck her attacker. Banny Harker’s face is mutilated, the entire jaw is missing, cut away with a sharp blade of some kind. There is a symbol carved onto his bare chest. Katarzyna and Gregore also determine that Katrine Vinder’s tongue has been removed. They speculate that this is to foil a Speak With Dead spell. By far the most disturbing and distressing find is a note attached to Banny Harker’s body. It reads: “Dearest Katarzyna, You will learn to love me, desire me in time as she did. Give yourself to the pack, and it shall all end.”
Amelia picks up a scent. Jean-Baptiste and Grewen follow the trail. They find an area that the attacker had apparently used as a vantage point. Jean-Baptiste notices that the ingress point is secluded enough that it’s unlikely anyone would be observed breaking into the building. They theorize that Banny Harker was killed first, and Katrine Vinder was killed afterward. Banny Harker was clearly the killer’s intended target, it appears the Katrine was killed because she interrupted the killer and could identify him.
Katarzyna and Kendra go outside to question the crowd of onlookers. They learn that the mill was working all during the night, and that Harker and Thorn were both supposedly there working. The locals were not happy about the late hours at the mill, because of the noise late into the night.
Jean-Baptiste returns from scouting the area with Grewen and Amelia, and he searches every inch of the mill. He talks to Kendra and Katarzyna, and they decide to search the two bridges nearby. They also decide to go to the opera house, based on Katarzyna’s recollection of having smelled decay at the opera house the day before. They pick up a faint scent of the creature on the opera house island, but they don’t venture into the opera house itself.
Later, Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna go to interview Ibor Thorn and Ven Vinder. Ven Vinder is despondent, and rather unresponsive. Ibor Thorn mentions House Scarnetti as a possible antagonist toward Harker. He tells them that Harker had been embezzling from the Scarnetti family, the mill’s owners.
The group gathers together, and they talk with Inspector Farren about the first murder, the one that was believed to be related to the sawmill murders. The murders occurred north of town in a barn on the banks of Cougar Creek. There were three victims, all mutilated in the same manner as Banny Harker. Their names were Tarch Mortwell, Lener Hask and Gedwin Trabe. Lener Trask had a note on his person, telling him and his fellow con men to meet at Bradley’s Barn on the banks of Cougar Creek, the site of the murders. Jean-Baptiste reviews the note, it is signed “Your Lordship”. Greyst Sevilla is the lone survivor, a giomorgo thug. They will have to travel to the sanitarium to speak to him. Kendra and Abner decide to go to the school to research the rune while Jean-Baptiste brings the others to the sanitarium.
The sanitarium, the Saintly Haven of Respite, is the only structure on the island. Jean-Baptiste has a few terse words with the gatekeeper, Erron Habe, who grudgingly allows them in. Grewen and Amelia remain outside, investigating the grounds, while Jean-Baptiste, Gregore and Katarzyna go inside. After a few moments, the orderlies bring Greyst Sevilla to the interview room. Greyst Sevilla seems to recognize Katarzyna, and tells her that “his Lordship” gave him a message for her. If she gives herself to His Lordship, he will stop his harvest in her honor. In his unintelligible chatter, he mentions “misgivings”. This jogs Jean-Baptiste’s memory. There is an estate north of town colloquially called Misgivings, it is more properly known as Foxglove Manor, the estate of the once prominent Foxglove family of Courtaud. After Greyst Sevilla gives Katarzyna his message, he convulses and collapses, then he becomes violent and tries to attack them. Jean-Baptiste shoots Greyst, and hits him on his second attempt. Gregore manages to club him with his mace. They manage to subdue Greyst without killing him, but his condition is quite serious. He is taken out by the orderlies and restrained on his stretcher as he’s taken to the hospital ward. Grewen hears Jean-Baptiste’s gunshots, and he rushes into the facility.
Gregore, Katarzyna, Jean-Baptiste and Grewen continue to investigate in the aftermath of Greyst Sevilla’s collapse. They discover ligature marks and bite marks on Greyst Sevilla’s body. Grewen tells them that the scent he picked up outside the window is the same or similar to what they found at the sawmill. Jean-Baptiste sends Grewen out to see if there is the scent of the undead near Greyst Sevilla’s window. They leave the asylum building, and gather on the lawn. Grewen reports that there is an extremely faint scent of the undead coming up from the river going toward the house. It is not coming from the boat dock. They see a boat approaching the island. A couple of doctors from the local temple of Pharasma debark wearing plague masks.
The group returns to Jean-Baptiste’s headquarters. They decide to dine at the Golden Saucer Inn, where they expect to run into Abner and Kendra so they can share information. They order food and sit down for drinks. Gregore leaves, citing his need to pray to Ezra. Kendra joins them after awhile. She suggests that they get a private alcove. She tells them that she discovered that the runes are part of an ancient magic. It references a series of runes known as Sihedron. In a kingdom that rose and fell long before Year 0, there was a society that revered seven virtues of kingship. There were also seven sins: greed, lust, gluttony, envy, wrath, pride, and sloth. She also mentions running across references to Tar Barthon, an ancient lich, who in the year 3203 of some primordial reckoning, rose from death as the Whispering Tyrant. He united all the Caliban of a land known as Belzen.
They bring the food to the table, and Katarzyna goes to get Abner, who is smoking outside and chatting with a local man. She brings him to the alcove. They talk about the death of Professor Lorrimor, and Kendra talks about the Whispering Way and the capture of the spirit of Harrowstone Prison’s Warden, Lyvar Hawkran. She mentions the Warden’s Badge that Katarzyna has, and Katarzyna goes to bring it out of her purse, only to find it missing. Katarzyna goes up to her room to search the rest of her belongings, and finds that a barette and a pair of smallclothes are also missing. Kendra goes and gets Professor Lorrimor’s journal, and they read the relevant entries. Katarzyna tells the others about the missing items, and she and Kendra also ask Grewen to see if Amelia can pick up the scent of the thief. Nothing comes of their efforts, and they eventually retire for the night. Inspector Farren finds Jean-Baptiste, and brings him away to investigate an assault and robbery.
Thursday, June 26th, 758, Courtaud
In the morning, Jean-Baptiste is summoned to look into another murder. He goes to the Golden Saucer Inn to get the others. He sees Grewen outside. He tells Grewen that there’s been another murder. Grewen goes in to wake Kendra, Katarzyna and Abner, Gregore is already awake in the common room. Jean-Baptiste sees Gregore, and tells him about the murder. He also shows him an official document deputizing the entire group as investigators. Everyone gathers in the common room and they set out.
They go first to the jail, to interview an older man, Maester Grump, who is mumbling incoherently in the interrogation room. Katarzyna can’t make out what he’s saying at first, but they do figure out that it’s a local nursery rhyme. It is about Mumble Mumble, the Scarecrow. The man snaps out of his stupor when they enter the room, and he tells them that there have been disturbances in the farmlands to the north. He and his companions were attacked by people who looked like dead people. Jean-Baptiste requests that a local marshall named Marshall accompany them.
They set out north of town, toward the site of the murders, and they notice that the farmers are unfriendly. Around noon, they stop for lunch, and stop and talk to some farmers. They sit down and eat lunch. The farmer tells Jean-Baptiste that the Handley farm is near the Shudderwood/Margreve. He also says that the Toussaints had been in the area recently. Toussaint had told Grump that there were scarecrows walking at night. The slaughter caused him to come to this farm. They continue on the road, and see another farm. Katarzyna manages to draw out the son and daughter of the farmer, and the daughter says she swears she saw a scarecrow walking around at night.
They arrive at the Handley farm in the late afternoon, and there are three paths before them. Pearl reconnoiters the area, and tells them that either the straight path or the right path will take them to the house. As Grewen approaches a scarecrow on the side of the road, it starts to move, and lunges toward Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste manages to shoot the scarecrow, but it keeps advancing. The creature is taken down by Kendra, using a Disrupt Undead spell. Grewen attacks the second one, doing a fair amount of damage. Abner finishes it off before it can attack. Afterward, they discover that the two creatures are ghouls, and to their dismay they discover that one had been a young girl.
They come to another intersection. There is a scarecrow, and Katarzyna tries to disrupt it, but misses. Gregore walks up to it, and it is just an ordinary scarecrow. They continue on, coming upon another scarecrow, who turns out to be a girl who is close to dying, but still alive. They take her down from her crucifix, and as they are ministering to her, ghouls lunge out of the cornfields and attack Marshall, Kendra and Katarzyna. They destroy them, and continue on. They come to another crossroads, with three other scarecrows on crucifixes. Two of them attack. Gregore makes short work of one of them before it can even release itself, another lunges toward Katarzyna, but Grewen interposes himself between it and her. The creature lands a grievous attack on Grewen. The creature is slain, and Gregore and Jean-Baptiste set to work on Grewen’s massive wound. It takes some time and a fair amount of magical healing, but they manage to get him back on his feet. Gregore informs Grewen that he wants to take another look at the wound the following day.
They finally make their way close to the Handley barn. They see a copse of trees on the right, and they hear the sound of someone who appears to be still alive. Katarzyna and Gregore go up to a scarecrow and ascertain that he is indeed still alive, but only just. They take him to where Marshall and Abner are tending to the other victim. Marshall recognizes the man as Horan, a family member of the woman’s. Jean-Baptiste prepares two elixirs, to alleviate the pain of the two victims should they need it when they regain consciousness.
They return to the barn path, and Grewen tells them that the left path leads to the buildings. They finally catch sight of the barn and a farmhouse. They think they see forms moving in the windows of the farmhouse, but it seems to be a trick of the light or their imaginations. They decide to approach the barn first. Adjacent to the barn is a large and ancient stone head. Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste recognize that it is a collosal head of a statue from the time before year 0. It is so ancient, it might even predate the time of Tar Baphon. The barn is silent, and eerie. Kendra opens the door to the barn. They walk in slowly. The barn is littered with bones of all types. There are animal bones, human bones, and all are jumbled and broken, with the marrow sucked out, clearly fed upon by the ghouls. They determine that there aren’t any ghouls in the barn, but something had fed recently. They decide to investigate the house.
Katarzyna tries to check out the house from the outside, she sees no evidence of a storm cellar. They decide to enter the house from the front door, and cautiously make their way through the house. Grewen enters the house first. The living room is small, and blood spatters the walls. He hears creaking of floorboards. Everyone enters the house, and while there is a lot of blood, there are no bones littering the floor. There are doorways, one with a shut door. Without warning, a ghoul takes a swipe at Grewen, but he sees it just in time to avoid the attack. Jean-Baptiste is in the center of the room when the ghouls attack. They destroy them after a brief fight and return to their investigation of the farmhouse. They find the mutilated corpse of Crayd Handley. The corpse follows the pattern of the other victims. The lower jaw is missing, and the rune is carved into the chest, just like the previous victims. In addition, there is a white rose, with a small note, and it is addressed to Katarzyna. It reads:
“Katarzyna, my true love. Take the fever into you my love. It shall be the first of my gifts to you.” — Your Lordship
Katarzyna is visibly upset by the appearance of the note. They investigate the rest of the house, and Kendra finds a key on a leather cord, it had been around the neck of the lead ghoul. There is a heraldic device on the key, and Jean-Baptiste determines that it is the symbol of the Foxglove family. Grewen determines that the corpse of Crayd Handley has been in the house for days, since well before the barn murders. That makes this the first of the murders.
Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna talk about His Lordship’s fixation on her. Katarzyna tells Jean-Baptiste that she is Caliban, and they speculate that the ghoul master may have picked up on that, and could be attracted to her because of that. Meanwhile Grewen searches the rest of the house. In one of the bedrooms, he finds a loose floorboard. Jean-Baptiste checks it out, and they open the compartment. There is a heavy coffer, and it takes three of them to lift it out of the floor. They open the coffer, and it contains lots of pouches, tightly rolled together. Jean-Baptiste estimates that there is 34 pouches, containing 100 silver in each pouch. Grewen finds a journal in the child’s room. He is able to glean that the girl was not fond of her father, who was abusive. Crayd Handley had a reputation for miserly behavior, and the discover of the hoard of silver in this humble house confirms that reputation. It is also consistent with the pattern of the other victims, who seem to all share the sin of Greed.
They spend the rest of the evening clearing the rest of the farm, destroying three more ghouls. There were twenty-one ghouls destroyed in all, with only the two survivors they had found prior. They take the Foxglove key and the coffer of silver coins with them. After they make sure all the ghouls are dead, Jean-Baptiste and Marshall canvass the neighbors to procure a wagon to transport the wounded back to Courtaud. Though it is already dark, they decide to head back to Courtaud at once. On the way, Gregore informs them that Katarzyna, Kendra and Grewen have all have contracted ghoul fever.
Friday, June 27th, 758, Courtaud, Ustalav
In the morning, Gregore takes Kendra, Grewen and Katarzyna to the Temple of Pharasma. The ghoul fever is removed through healing magic by the priests, and they are met by Jean-Baptiste. He uses the money from the coffers to dole out to the group for expenses. Jean-Baptiste, Kendra and Katarzyna spend the day researching Foxglove Manor. They discover several important facts, including the identity of the current owner of Foxglove Manor, Aldern Foxglove.
They decide to go to the Dumont Tavern for dinner, a place frequented by local law enforcement. On the way to the tavern Jean-Baptiste spots movement out of the corner of his eye. He tells Katarzyna and Grewen to go on to the tavern, he then uses an elixir to render himself invisible, and he tries to discover the identity of the person shadowing them. He doesn’t see anyone following, so he goes back to where he spotted the pursuer. Katarzyna and Grewen continue toward the tavern. Jean-Baptiste does not find anything, and so he returns to the tavern. He meets up with Grewen and a very worried Katarzyna.
They get a table, and are joined by Abner and Kendra. They discuss their findings regarding Foxglove Manor. They linger at dinner for several hours. As they prepare to leave, Jean-Baptiste decides to go invisible, and to follow Abner, Kendra, Katarzyna and Grewen back to the Golden Saucer Inn. He smells a foul stench as he heads toward the hotel. He lurks outside, looking around. He sees a shadow on a rooftop above. A man-shaped form seems to stare intently at Jean-Baptiste’s location, and then it vanishes into the night.
Grewen hears sounds, but can’t place them. He also catches a foul scent. They cross a bridge on the way to their island. Katarzyna talks Grewen into staying with them in the hotel that night. Katarzyna checks on Gregore, and they all turn in for the night. Jean-Baptiste stakes out the area for as long as he can, going into shadow when his invisibility elixir expires.
Inside their room, Katarzyna is brushing her hair as she notices that a lock of her hair is missing. She shows Kendra the place where the hair was cut. Katarzyna is quite distressed.
After about an hour lurking in the shadows, Jean-Baptiste goes back into the inn. He knocks on the door, and Abner answers. Abner, Jean-Baptiste and Grewen discuss the situation at length, while Kendra and Katarzyna slumber. Jean-Baptiste decides to sleep outside the room.
Saturday, June 28th, 758, Courtaud, Ustalav
Everyone wakes up in the morning rather late, especially Jean-Baptiste, who returns to his room to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. Grewen notices heightened activity among the town guard, but there doesn’t appear to be any new murders. He goes to check in with Inspector Farren. He also calls up Marshall to come with him. The rest of the group meet Jean-Baptiste and Marshall for brunch, and they decide to head directly to Foxglove Manor afterward.
They head northwest, cross the bridge, then follow the small river up to the manor. They arrive at Foxglove Manor in the late afternoon. They check out the crumbling outbuilding before they enter the manor house. There are some sickly ravens around the building that flitter away as they approach. The building is a ruin, clearly it had burned long ago. A stone well is nearby. As they check out the well, they realize with dawning horror that scores of birds have started to collect on every branch of every tree. Thousands of birds, on every surface, crowd around them. Grewen notices that the birds are undead, and Marshall is terrified of them. They all rush toward the manor, but the birds swoop and attack them as the flee. Katarzyna arrives at the door before the others, unharried by the birds. As soon as she is able, she Turns the undead birds, and they instantly disperse.
After they catch their breath, they enter Foxglove Manor through the main entrance. In the middle of the grand foyer, there is a rapidly decaying stuffed creature that Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste recognize as a manticore. On the right, a curved grand staircase hugs the south wall. The entire house is in deplorable condition, and they head down the hallway. They see a mummified monkey head with a bell-pull type of mechanism attached like a tongue. There is a dark mold stain on the rotting floor, obscured by a rug. Underneath the rug they see that the black mold grows in a spiral. Grewen notices that it looks like a spiral staircase leading down, with skulls and bones scattered on every step. Kendra says that the monkey head comes from a place called Garund, and says that the object is called a hungry decapitant. Pulling the bell pull will emit a shrill sound. Jean-Baptiste takes a sample of the mold. They decide not to pull the bell.
The hallway leads to what was obviously the dining room. The east wall has four stained glass windows depicting lurid scenes of monsters. Jean-Baptiste and Kendra determine that the images depict monsters being drawn into some sort of trap, and that necromancy is involved. Kendra notices that the winged creature is a sphinx, and they identify the other creatures as a treant, a roc, and a kraken. All of the fearsome creatures are depicted as though in fear themselves, an odd juxtaposition given the nature of the creatures. Jean-Baptiste notes that these heavy, dark glass windows are obscuring the view of the river and valley beyond, which would be an extraordinary view in most people’s estimation. They open the door on the north wall of the room. There is a couch facing a stone fireplace. A slight breeze disturbs the dust on the floor. Kendra pulls out her crystal skull, and tries to detect the presence of a spirit whispering- Lorey repeatedly. Kendra suddenly bolts out of the room after whats seems a possession occurred, she even spoke in otherworldly tongues. She then runs out of the manor. Katarzyna runs after her. Once outside a column of the carrion birds swarms down toward Kendra and Katarzyna, parting around Kendra and buffeting Katarzyna as they fly into the house. In the grand foyer, Grewen is screaming wildly and gesticulating, clearly afraid of something that no one else can see. He is buffeted by the birds as they fly into the house. Hearing the approaching birds, Jean-Baptiste shuts himself inside the room, and the birds buffet the door. Gregore pulses with positive healing energy, and the undead birds fall out of the air onto the floor, their foul essence destroyed. Gregore opens the door and checks on Jean-Baptiste. They take in the scene of the dining room, with thousands of inert undead birds littering every surface. The smell is unspeakable and overwhelming. Grewen recovers himself, and tells them that he had seen the decrepit stuffed manticore animate and start attacking, and it appeared to be setting everything on fire. He struggles to accept that it was an illusion, even thought the manticore is clearly inert and nothing had been burned.
They continue on down the hallway. Jean-Baptiste has a sudden thought, and goes to see if the key fits the door of the manor, and it does, so he returns to the hallway. They see doors coming off this hallway, but they decide to first check the second door in the dining room, the south wall. It’s a small library with two chairs, one on its side, and there are scores of damaged moldy books. On the upright chair there is a brightly colored scarf, a book on the floor, and there is a carved bookend in the shape a praying angel in the fireplace. As Katarzyna watches in horror, the scarf animates and lunges for Gregore. It starts to choke him. Jean-Baptiste grabs the bookend, and notices there is blood and a portion of a skull on it. He also notices that part of the wing is missing. After Jean-Baptiste grabs the statuette, Katarzyna Turns the haunt, and the scarf goes slack and releases Gregore. He recovers quickly, and Katarzyna takes the scarf and folds it carefully, placing it in her pouch. They notice that the book is newer than the other books, and is undamaged.
The next room they come to is a drawing room, with windows that face south. The room is dark, with drapes blocking the light. Katarzyna opens the drapes, and sees a reflection of a pale forlorn woman over her shoulder. She tells the others about the face she saw, the woman appeared to be of Vistani heritage, though she was pale. They discover that this room leads them back to the grand foyer, so they make their way back to the north hallway on the first floor to the washroom. There is a strange, furtive scratching coming from inside the tub. There is a horrific sight, a rat the size of a cat, diseased and blind unable to scurry out of the tub because of the smooth sides. Katarzyna tries to Disrupt Undead, but it has no effect, and she is dismayed to discover that the creature is still alive, though clearly blind and driven mad with fear and pain. Jean-Baptiste half-heartedly tries to end the creature’s misery, and asks Gregore if he can help the poor creature in some way without killing it. Katarzyna is impressed by Jean-Baptiste’s compassion for the poor, suffering creature. Grewen has no such compunction, and quickly kills it, and Kendra collects samples from it for later study.
They go to the last remaining room on the ground floor, a spacious conservatory with a shattered chandelier on the floor. In one corner, a grand piano stands in ruined splendor. Upon closer inspection, the piano keys look extremely decayed, more so that the rest of the piano. Jean-Baptiste opens the carcass of the piano. He doesn’t see anything untoward, but when he taps one of the keys, it starts playing on its own. At the same moment, Gregore starts jerking around uncontrollably, flinging himself fitfully back and forth across the room dancing with a phantom partner. The music fades, and Gregore regains himself. He says that while the music played, he saw a woman, and he was dancing with her. As he danced with her, the woman appeared to be suffering from strangulation. She was a dark-haired pale woman, but she did not seem to have Vistani features.
There are only a few areas on the ground floor not yet explored, the area between the two hallways in the center of the house. They go to one of the doors in the hallway that they hadn’t opened earlier. They find the stairs that lead to the basement. Through another door they find stairs leading up, giving two ways to access the second floor.
Having investigated the ground floor to their satisfaction, they decide to go up the second floor by way of the grand staircase. They hear creaking behind them on the stairs, but it ceases when they turn to investigate it. There is a small room at the top of the stairs, and a hallway with several doors. They open a door to find a child’s bed and toy box. Jean-Baptiste has a troubling vision in the room, in which he relives the terror of a young girl who sees her parents trying to kill each other, knowing that the surviving parent will then kill her. He is greatly shaken by the vision.
They go to the next room. It is a musician’s gallery, with instruments and five large stained glass windows. This room faces east, and is directly above the dining room below. It would have an even more extraordinary view, if it weren’t for the heavy, dark stained glass. Katarzyna notes that the windows depict spell components commonly used for necromancy spells. One of those components is the heart of a maiden slain by venom, so clearly a left path necromancer had commissioned the scenes. They don’t find anything noteworthy in the room, and nothing attacks them, so they continue down the hallway.
They come to a room with a stone fireplace. The room appears to be empty except for a series of paintings. Katarzyna starts to clean the cobwebs away from the paintings, and as she does so, the portraits appear to slowly shift and change, depicting the apparent deaths of the subjects. Vorel, Kasanda and Lorey Foxglove’s images all turn to pustules and mold, they were all said to have died of disease. Traver Foxglove had died from a slit throat, supposedly by his own hand, and his portrait shows a line of blood forming across his throat. Cyralie Foxglove died from burning and falling onto the river rocks below. Aldern Foxglove’s portrait transformed into a ghoul. Sendeli and Zeeva’s portraits frost over, but otherwise remain unchanged. Jean-Baptiste recognizes the “parents” from his vision as Traver and Cyralie Foxglove, but he doesn’t know which of the children he himself was in the vision. Because of a feeling of youth, they all decide it must have been Zeeva Foxglove. Gregore and Katarzyna don’t recognize any of the portraits as the women they had seen in their visions.
There is another room adjacent to the gallery. Kendra says she feels like there is great pain in the room. She starts speaking in tongues. While everyone is distracted by Kendra, Marshall goes over to the desk, and grabs a wooden implement, and stabs himself in the throat. Gregore and Grewen immediately rush over to him, and manage to keep him from dying. Marshall appears to think that he is Traver Foxglove. He says that Cyralie Foxglove planned to burn down the house, killing him and all their children. Gregore soothes Marshall, bringing him back to himself.
They leave the study through the gallery, and head to the main hallway. They go into another room, and every surface seems covered in the mold. Katarzyna hallucinates that her face is covered in pustules and boils, and scratches at the uncontrollable itching. She is brought back to herself by Jean-Baptiste, and they are horrified by her bleeding and scarred face. Grewen and Gregore heal her of her wounds and restore her beauty.
The next room is a bath, with a rotting floor. Grewen gingerly steps forward, and the iron tub collapses the floor, falling to the bathroom below. Grewen tumbles out of the way just in time. They look down through the floor at the first floor bathroom below, now in even worse shape than before.
The next room contains a painting that is facing the wall. Grewen goes in and flips the painting around. Gregore is overcome when he sees the painting, which looks like the half-Vistani woman he had encountered before, Katarzyna recognizes her as well. Jean-Baptiste is almost overcome by an overwhelming desire to kill Katarzyna, but he shakes it off. He tells her of his vision, clearly shaken. The woman in the painting is Iesha Foxglove, according to the nameplate. Grewen has Amelia survey the area. Grewen thinks Amelia has detected the scent of the killer.
A doorway leads to stairs to the attic. There is a landing at the top of the stairs, and a door. Beyond is a room with building materials and vessels to catch rain water. They then come to a long hallway. The first door they open is a store room with linens, all in poor condition. The other door on the north side is a store room with furniture. They then check the doors on the south side. As they do so, they hear moans and screams, and they head toward the sounds, coming to a locked door. Abner tries to pick the lock, but it proves too difficult. They then try to break down the door, and Gregore finally breaks through. In the room, they see a full length mirror angled toward the window. A clearly undead creature that looks like Iesha Foxglove is in the room, and Jean-Baptiste quickly surmises that it is the revenant form of Iesha, who had obviously been strangled by Aldern Foxglove. Katarzyna is overcome with fear, and cowers on the floor. Jean-Baptiste has a thought, and turns the mirror around. The revenent Iesha calls out murderously to Aldern Foxglove and bolts out of the room, and they run after her, hoping she will lead them to Aldern. It is clear at this point that Aldern Foxglove is “Your Lordship”, there can be no doubt.
Iesha hurtles through the gloomy hallways and leads them down to the basement. She barrels past a swarm of rats, and Abner, Kendra and Grewen stop to deal with them while Gregore, Marshall, Amelia, Katarzyna and Jean-Baptiste chase after Iesha. They race through the warren of subterranean rooms to a work room, where they find three iron birdcages. There are also stained glass windows, depicting stages of undeath, and it is clear that the windows are on the eastern wall of the room, the windows peering out from the cliff face underneath the manor. They sprint through other rooms, and find themselves going down a stone spiral staircase, much older than the mansion above. The odor of death wafts up from below.
As Katarzyna gets to the spiral staircase, she has a vision of Aldern Foxglove, and the vision seems to depict Aldern digging around on the stone floor, with the wall collapsing and ghouls pouring through. Katarzyna is only briefly affected by the vision, and heads toward Jean-Baptiste and the others, who continue to head toward the moans of the rapidly fleeing Iesha. They find themselves in a system of natural caves. They start to lose the sound of Iesha in the caves. As they cast about trying to determine which cavern to pursue, they are attacked by ghouls. Amelia attacks one that had wounded Katarzyna, and Katarzyna Turns another of them. The third rounds on Katarzyna, but Jean-Baptiste and Gregore take it down before it can harm her.
Grewen, Abner and Kendra arrive at the bottom of the spiral staircase in the cavern complex right as the fight with the ghouls ends. Grewen has Amelia track Iesha, and they make their way forward down the center path. Grewen and Kendra use their abilities to lead them to a huge cavern. They see four small creatures on the far side. They realize with horror that they are ghoul toddlers. Jean-Baptiste and Katarzyna are particularly upset at the sight of them. They make their way toward the open door on the other side of the cavern, avoiding the ghouls.
They find themselves in a ghastly chamber, a grisly scene of ornate silver platters heaped with rotting meat and crawling maggots and other vermin. There is a horrific stench, and a shape that appears to be a humanoid mass amid the rotting meat. Propped on a chair, they see a painting of Iesha Foxglove that appears to have been reworked into some sort of caricature of Katarzyna, using grotesque scraps of skin and what appears to be Katarzyna’s own hair. They draw up short, as they see Iesha Foxglove standing facing another chair. The chair is facing away from them, so they can’t see who is seated there.