After spending the last few days wooing Lord Almos Pak of Klelg Nar ( as well as communing with an Archdruid), the party awakens on the day of the Leech to the assembled band of blackguard mercenaries sent by Pak to assume control of the tower, and to make certain that Porbell is unable to remove any hidden treasures.
The short approach to the tower is rather uneventful, beyond the party, and the blackguard leader (Sgt. Brimley) disagreeing somewhat on their approach to the situation. Brimley asks them to let him handle it, relying on his long experience as a city guardsman.
He calls to the tower where a sentry stands visible. The Orc calls out to another, and a small band deploys in front of the tower, only one of which seems to understand common. The conversation heats up, with Brimley repeatedly displaying his warrant, and the Orcs talking in their own tongue, barely replying to him at all.
As both sides appear to be growing more hostile, the party fans out, encircling the orcs a little broader. Suddenly Brimley strikes out with his baton, and the melee is on.
There is some damage each way, the largest orc especially causing some significant damage with his axe until he’s sent away with a command. But the party’s numbers win over, and the orcs are captured or slain. Two of the four guardsmen are down as well.
During the battle, the party notices a large murder of black crows watching from the next tower, probably numbering over thirty birds, with wingspans in excess of 4-5 feet. They are clearly following the action, and sit silently, not even a caw from their midst.
Peeking into the tower the Orcs emerged from, the party notes that there are 12 distinct sleeping pallets that show signs of use. The orcs in the combat only numbered 5.
The party also attempted some communication with the crows, and while not hostile directly, they are not very friendly. They do indicate that they are at the service of their master, who resides in the keep. They do mention that they have run a bunch of messages for him, and other errands.
To most other questions, they just ask the party to step closer, so they can taste their eyes…
While this dialog, and initial investigation was underway, Brimley headed into the keep to serve his warrant to the Lord. After securing the orc captives to the cart, and arranging the bodies of their fallen associates as well, the two other guards set into the keep as well.
Greg also boldly entered the keep through the sagging weak main doors, while Colin took advantage of some low buildings to access the curtain wall, the wall of the keep itself, and then the keep’s roof.
Al and Derek then followed after Greg.
The two guards called out after Brimley, who was not responding, or immediately visible within. The main tower floor was mostly open, with a balcony overhead for half the main hall.
The walls are hung with tattered tapestries and ripped paintings, and smashed sculptures litter the floor. Water pools in small puddles, and leaves blow through the room.
Stairs head up and down.
The guards head up, and after looking around shortly, the party follows. The second floor is mostly occupied with the balcony overlooking the floors below. The other two rooms appear to be a once nice bedchamber, now weather damaged and looted. The second room appears to have been some kind of ceremonial chamber or chapel, with a large etched design in the stone floor.
Even with some dedicated digging around, it’s clear these rooms have been ransacked thoroughly over the years, and hold nothing of any remaining value.
On the stairs leading up to the third floor, the party and guards discover why Sgt. Brimley was not responding. He’s laid out near the top of the stairwell, blood pooling down the steps. At the top of the stairs stands a large Orc, wielding a bloody scimitar.
The two guards engage, and are both cut down cleanly as Greg and Derek step up to assist. During the engagement, he does pause and heal his wounds, so the party knows he has some clerical skills in addition to his fighting prowess.
Eventually the party’s combined efforts bring him down, and they ascend to the third and top floor of the tower, where Colin’s been exploring.
Colin landed through a large hole in the roof to a library, shelves stacked with swollen and rotting books. While poking around he also discovered a small illusionary panel in the wall, which held a small study, in much better shape.
The walls in here hold detailed maps of the surroundings, marked with paths and orcish runes.
The shelf contains 10 very nicely bound black tomes, pages edged in silver. The text is clearly magical, and Colin cannot read more into their contents.
On the table lies a scrap of paper, scrawled in common in charcoal are the words:
Down Deep, Deep down,
Treasure will be found.
Past the beasts and near the pools
Wealth greets the wise, Death welcomes fools!
Also in this room is a secret stair (actually discovered by the party later) that leads to the first basement’s bedroom.
The Third floor also contains an observatory, with a wonderful telescope on a tripod within, currently pointed to the approach road. A chair, and the signs of recent meals indicates that this was a lookout point for the Orcs.
A nicely appointed Lord’s Chambers, and adjacent servant’s quarters complete the floor. The clothes that Lord Porbell was seen wearing in town three days past are hung here in the closet.
With no further way up, the party descends to the main floor, to begin looking into the basement. Stopping to peek outside, the crows have swarmed the cart, and killed the captured orcs and mutilated the deceased guards.
Greg takes the moment to move the warhorse and the cart horses farther away from the cart, as the crows appear more openly hostile.
The basement stairs lead to a small hallway around a very large space, set up as an arena. In the center, chained to a bolt in the floor is a brown bear, looking angry, and underfed. scattered within the arena are thousands of coins, probably thrown there by the orcs as part of a game, involving the bear.
Colin carefully befriends the animal, and is able to pick the lock and remove the collar, and lead it up, and out to the bordering woods, as well as healing some of it’s wounds.
Extensive searching of the remainder of the floor reveal the secret bedroom, and it’s staircase up. The chest at the foot contains a bevy of treasures, including magical chainmail in gold, 10 red magical arrows, and a larger black magical arrow in a quiver, a pair of magical boots, books, charms, and jewelry, a magical dagger, a separate arrow in gold, also magical, and 2 potions (clear w gold flakes, and translucent blue).
The large wall of weapons along the East wall also provide a bevy of treasures, including the following magical items:
2 broadswords, one morning star, one javelin, 3 arrows, a battle axe.
The party awakens on the day of the rat, having spent the last two weeks circling the coast, approaching Klelg Nar in expectation of examining the site mentioned in a cryptic note located in the paperwork of Lord Porbell of Lankhmar. They stand at a small crossroads, with a small branch leading to the watchtower mentioned in the document, and the main trail, leading on into the city itself.
The party debates as to their direction as they break their fast. Suddenly, a large shadow flies across the sky, fully eclipsing the sun in just seconds. Full darkness fills the land for almost 10 minutes, before disappearing off into the west as quickly as it arrived.
The clerics and wizards of the party all confirm that they knew of no solar event or eclipse expected today, and certainly not one as dramatic as that.
While discussing, a large raptor strikes in the nearby field, cleanly catching a rabbit, and snapping it’s spine.
Strangely, the rabbit’s front legs kick on, flailing and twisting to get away, even as a lethal amount of blood escapes it’s wounds. The falcon continues to peck at the body as it fights back, tearing chunks of flesh away, until the rabbit has lost it’s ability to flail. The rabbit’s eyes continue to jerk from side to side, and the mouth bubbles silently until the party turns away.
Planning to scout the watchtower mentioned in Lord Porbell’s note, the party heads down that small coastal lane, disturbed by the morning’s strangeness. While still a few hundred yards from the tower, they spy the Lightning Split Oak, clearly described in the directions. Using them as a guide, and the direction and wilderness knowledge of the ranger and druid, the party follows the directions to a small glade of sassafras, which seems almost “too green”, like it glows with an inner energy.
Tangled within the branches of the central tree lies a green pendant, glowing with an inner light. It’s casing is wrought to look like branches encasing the crystal, carved so well it’s hard to tell if it’s a living branch.
Greg carefully slips the crystal free, and the glade seems more normal, still quite healthy, but not as vibrant as before.
In thanks, Colin casts a create water spell, to enrich the soil in the glade.
With the objective in hand, the party decides that investigating the full watchtower might need to wait just a little longer, until they have some more answers about this morning’s oddity. Repeated prayers to their various deities have not only gone unanswered, but it feels to the clerics like there is nobody there, listening.
With the expectation that the big city might have some answers, they cut across the fields there.
Approaching from the east, the party first enters Klelg Nar’s land facing spur, before crossing to the city proper. This spur, originally an outlying village named Orde is full of warehouses, granaries, and other storage facilities for resources brought to the capital from the surrounding villages and duchies.
It still has several taverns and inns, somewhat on the lower class side.
Citizens are all out in force, talking in the streets. There is palpable tension in the air, and a kind of frantic pace to their discussions. Selecting an appropriate bunch, the party approaches, and asks what’s happened. After some incredulous surprise that the party hadn’t heard any of the talk from the last two weeks, the huddle dissolved into the nearest tavern to discuss the full tale over mead.
It turns out that Gahdhak, King and High Vizer of Ool Hrusp lost his first wife, and favored mother to his children about three weeks past. He raged against his god,Tharmekhûl, for
denying life return to her, despite any promises that Gahdhak would make. Death’s absolute grip on denying the return to life was too much for the other gods to fight.
Gahdhak refocused his energy then, and gathered his most powerful vizers and warriors, and mounted an expedition to overthrow death itself. They passed through Klelg Nar two weeks ago, heading to the fortress of death.
The common feeling here on the street is that Gahdhak must have succeeded. People and creatures that were killed this morning cling to life, their souls still tethered to their bodies, living on in agony. The gallows are a large draw this morning, as the hanged still twich, even hours after the platforms have dropped. Rats live on in alleys, maimed and mauled by cats, and so on.
The party also established that the priests seem as directionless as others, though the temple district here is quite active this morning, in the city proper.
Deciding to split and focus their energies, the party first journeyed across the bridge to the main part of the city, and got rooms, board, and tack in a slightly nicer inn. Greg split for the gallows (island east of 12), to see the dead trapped in life first hand. Al headed to the University (2), to see what the scholars thought of this strange day. Colin headed to the temple district to try and get some answers (east of 3).
Greg discovered quite a crowd watching the gallows, with guards pushing back the mobs, and scowling at those who threw debris at the twitching bodies. Some has clearly broken their necks at the drop, and only their eyes and mouths twitched, and cried. The others flailed in various ineffective motions.
With the large crowds, and the guards keeping the populace at bay, Greg decided to re-route to a quieter place to inspect the dead, and found directions to a mausoleum within the city.
Al finds a very active community on the University Campus, with various professors and lecturers huddled in groups, loudly discussing stellar bodies, diety-cosmology bonds, and the the historical records of Death’s absence from the world in times past (blending folklore and history). Each group is surrounded by their gaggle of students and hangers on, pouring through scrolls and texts to support their case.
Al quickly learns that the astronomy staffers are locked within the observatory, and have been since this morning’s event started, and that they’ve not let anybody know what they observed or predicted from the morning.
Al engages in some good conversation, and learns more about potential historical and pantheon precedents for this kind of event, as well as some interesting theories about it’s duration, speed of travel, and the like.
Colin finds many citizens of the city out in the streets of the temples, with various priests and deacons administering prayers and speeches to their assembled worshipers. The temple to Tharmekhûl is barred, though many citizens are gathered out front, banging on the massive brass doors and demanding answers. Up in the ramparts, the eternal fires are still burning, but no dwarf or gnome is visible.
Circling around, Colin spies some second story windows in the back alley of the temple that seem unwatched. With a skillful climb, he’s up and into the halls. He appears to be in some kind of dormitory, with lots of small, cell like rooms. sneaking into one, he finds a dwarf, laid out like in slumber, but with eyes open, locked in place. He detects no heart beat or other sign of life, but nor does the drwaf appear dead.
A few other cells return the same results.
Meanwhile, Greg has found the mausoleum, and approaches a silent back aisle, and removes the memorial stone capping the crypt. Reaching in, he finds the feet of the deceased, still swaddled in their death shroud. He feels around for a minute, to see if there is any reaction. The corpse doesn’t show any signs of movement.
As each character is involved in their search, the sun reaches it’s zenith. With an overwhelming feel of presence, the priests and druids feel the aspects of their gods return. On the streets of the gods, the priests begin to bring parishioners within, and ceremonies begin.
Colin hears movement behind some of the cell doors as he feels his god’s return. He quickly races to a side window, and escapes before he is discovered.
Greg quickly walks away from the mausoleum before his work is noticed.
Colin also checked in at the dock that afternoon, and learned two pieces of gossip from the Orc caravels docked near the Dwarf vessels.
- The rumor is that to kill Death, Gahdhak drained the lifeforce of a full third of the dwarven race.
- news from Lankhmar includes the fact that a killer has been stalking the streets for about 2 weeks, killing prostitutes almost nightly, leaving heartless corpses, profaned with dark icons.
The party meets up back at the rented inn, and the common room is packed, as people come to celebrate the return of the gods. The priests are in agreement that Death has perished, and that various gods will be seeing to the deaths in their own bailiwick or realm, without the overarching presence of a avatar of death.
The news from the palace is that the Duke is meeting with representatives from Ool Hrusp, including the Vizer of the local temple, and that the ducal proclamation will be made in the morning regarding the meeting.
The air is charged again. this time with nervous energy and relief, and certainly people are drinking and eating heartily.
After enjoying themselves for a short while, the party decides to be active while the city is starting to wind up, and Colin reaches out to a member of the local theives guild, who accepts their help checking in on some merchants and townsfolk who have paid protection to the guild.
He sends the party to check on their potion maker, a master sage of great renown.
Once everybody is in the room and the door closed, the mushroom inhales, lowers his head, exhaling a cloud of spores over the party. Before they’ve even fully settled, the characters hear a high pitched voice speaking very quickly, already in mid sentence.
After slowing him down, the party learns he’s Bhulb, the housekeeper for Sage Herbifarge, and that a few hours ago, a large crate was delivered to his master’s workshop, and Bhulb was told to stay out of the room while it was opened.
There followed a very loud commotion, with shattering sounds, crashes, and other thumps, and Bhulb has been terrified to investigate, due to his earlier instruction, but certain his master was in danger.
The party quickly assures Bhulb that they’ll look into the matter, and he promises to escort them to the shop or courtyard, but can’t venture into the greenhouses (he’s too small, and it’s too dangerous for a little spore).
The workroom is in shambles, with shattered wood around, glassware knocked off the counters, and marks of something dragged out into the courtyard. There are no signs of blood though, or an indication of what weapon(s) caused all this damage.
After some investigation, the party follows the signs of dragging into the courtyard, and to the greenhouse beyond. Bhulb dances nervously from spongy foot to foot.
The first greenhouse room is hot, steamy, and filled with sub tropical plants. The party recognizes some the samples, but clearly the sage has a masterful collection, and all brought from such far climates. There are exits into neighboring green house rooms to the east and west.
While checking for signs of the scuffle, a Giant Sundew strikes out with it’s tendrils, attempting to ensnare the party. It’s sticky pods fail to grasp the characters however, and they quickly back off, giving it a very wide berth as they circle the room.
Al notices some damage to the frame of the door to the East, and the party heads into that room.
Colin surveys the room carefully from the doorway, and warns the others to hold their breath as he spots a scent poisoning Mantrap.
Despite his warning, half the party stumbles mindlessly toward the large pods, drawn by the entrancing odors.
Thinking quickly, he covers his moth and nose, and pushes the party members past to a southern door, getting momentum up before they can turn back.
The next room opens into a very small, completely dark corner of the greenhouse, where fungal blooms coat the walls.
Still being careful not to breathe deeply, Colin inspects that nothing appears to be directly dangerous here, and revives the party members to make sure the effects of the mantrap have faded.
Regrouped, and even more cautions, the party continues West into a larger, more deciduous regional room, filled with trees and ferns. There is a large area of visibly disturbed earth just a dozen feet into the room, with torn up earth and plants all round.
Warily, and fully expecting some kind of trap, the party approaches slowly. As they near, four short creatures burst from the underbrush, camouflaged in the plants around. Not at all surprised, the party battles them, heavily challenged by the four creatures.
Derek drops early, as the savage creature impales him on a spear. One falls in return, before Colin falls as well. The creature that stabbed Colin falls over him as he drops, appearing wilted or drained in some way.
Al and Greg fight on, though both are wounded. They both outlast the two combatants, and bandage their friends, before investigating the disturbed earth.
They quickly find a crate, and inside the thankful sage, Adarian Herbifarge. He’s relived to be rescued from a suffocating death, but also amazed at the vegepygmie’s resourcefulness, burying him alive when they realized they couldn’t breach his protective ring’s power.
After a moment, he realizes the party has been hurt, and that a russet mold is already creeping out of the wounds. He quickly cures the disease, and lavishes the party with gifts, including gems, and a couple of potions of plant control. He also helps the party out of the greenhouses without further attack.
After promising vengeance to the survivors of Hovel, the party takes no delay in marching into Kerlin, only pausing in the commons to ask a few small questions of a meek housewife before marching to the Manor House itself, demanding access to the Lord.
The gatekeeper sends a woman for him, and verbally battles with Derek’s outspoken priestess for several minutes.
While the dialog heats up, Colin uses the distraction to circle the dry moat, and scale the low stone wall behind the barn. Circling to the rear of the house, he climbs to a window, and enters a great room, vacated as the staff all head to the front of the house to watch the altercation.
Opening a door to the south, Colin finds an lavish solar, mostly filled with a large four poster bed, with gauzy curtains drawn. He can see a shape lies atop the blankets within the bed. A sitting area to the side, ornate chest, and desk also occupy the space.
Cautiously approaching the bed, Colin realizes that the body laying on it is deceased, probably several days. It looks like the lady of the manor, laid in repose with her arms folded across her breasts. A small censor hangs in the bed frame, keeping bugs and smell at bay.
A glance in the door to the SW shows a small chapel, dedicated to Peoni.
Hearing that the commotion out front was getting quite heated, with weapons getting drawn, Colin quickly rushes to the North end of the floor, finding a nicely appointed bedroom, with a chain mail hauberk hung on a frame, and some masculine bed clothes on the floor. An empty scabbard hangs from a bed post.
Snatching it up, and tucking it under his shirt, Colin races to the back window, as he hears people returning to the stairs below.
Quickly, but somewhat painfully he descends from the window to the yard below, and then over the wall to the estate’s rear.
Meanwhile, out front, the shouting match elevated into a full blown argument, first drawing out the second guardsman from his night’s rest, then the Lord, ostler, teamster, and chamberlain from the house and stables. The cook and other housefolk watched from the doorway.
Finally egged past his breaking point, one guard surged forward to “shut the woman up”, and was incapacitated by the party. The Lord demanded satisfaction, and insisted that someone duel him, or that the party leave his lands immediately. The chamberlain reveals his additional role as a priest of Peoni during the altercation, and
After some more blustering to allow Colin some additional time, the party headed north, to the bridge over the river west of the mill. Very conspicuously the ostler hefted a length of wood, and followed them.
After crossing the river, Greg stepped in the woods, and as the ostler passed, the party turned and attacked, quickly dispatching him. After turning out his pockets, the body was unceremoniously dumped into the river.
After a quick reconnoiter to collect Colin, the party decides to wait out the evening in the Mill, as it appears to only be used when grain is processed. In the witching hours the party returns to the manor, scales the wall and window courtesy of the thieves and some rope, and enters the solar.
After some discussion, the corpse is thrown from the window, and Derek is dressed in the clothing of the dead bride. Peeking into the chapel, he sees the Lord at prayer in front of the alter, and in the night’s glow a skeletal hand is visible over the statue of Peoni, defacing the god of grains with a symbol of necromancy.
With spellcraft and shadows, Derek draws the Lord into the bedroom, letting him believe that the bride has arisen from her death. The party jumps him, and after a command, administers a coup de grâce. Greg loots the dueling longsword, and the Lords body goes out the window with his wife.
With the main objective complete, the looting began. Sneaking downstairs, a wagon was found, loaded with goods, and some horses were liberated from the stable, including the Lord’s noble charger. The chamberlain was silently killed in his sleep, to keep the cleric’s justice from chasing the party.
As dawn nears on the day of the Dog, the parry rides away north.
The party awaits the fall of night on the hill overlooking the Necromancer’s tower.
Fearing skeletal activity in the valley below, all eyes are downcast when an attack comes from above.
After the initial surprise, the party is able to focus attacks on the bats, and slays them both.
Soundlessly, the wolves retreat into the woods.
An attempt to follow them by moonlight is unsuccessful, so the party retires to the hilltop again, watching in shifts.
In the morning, the tracks are much more visible, and lead to a small overhang with an obvious cave underneath. The path is well traveled, and shows signs of use by the wolves for months, if not longer.
Bravely entering the small cave, the party is confronted by the two wolves, which appear to be standing guard over a body, long since deceased, and wrapped in a molding cloak. Any attempts to befriend them fail, and as the party steps closer, they attack.
It’s a hard fought battle, but the party eventually kills the two beasts, though heavily wounded.
The skeletal remains turn out to be a human, deceased about as long as the remains in the nearby valley. A scabbard reveals a nice, but slightly rusted longsword. The corpse also wears a golden ring depicting animals on it’s band.
When tested, the ring returns a magical glow.
After hollering for a while, the party attracts Darig’s attention, who can read the book from the fallen tower, and helps to determine that a ranger and company must have killed the necromancer, who specialized in animal necromancy, which explained his bear’s reluctance.
After some bartering, Darig trades for the book so that he can destroy it, giving the party several good berries, and some of his special acorn traps.
With that resolved, the party continues north, to seek Lord Drenn of Kerlin.
After restoring Hovel to the villagers, and receiving the gratitude of Odolan, the party headed north along the forest road toward Lord Drenn’s Manor House at Kirlan, a three day journey.
The first day went fairly uneventfully, as did the first night. The second afternoon was met with an obstacle in the roadway, a deer carcass laying across the width of the forest lane. While still staying at distance, Derek’s keen eyes noticed that the deer’s forelegs were bound together, though the wound to it’s belly looked like damage from claws.
Considering the situation, the ranger and druid flanked to either side, and located bear prints travelling diagonally across the road, nearing the point where the carcass lay.
The party also then noticed a series of acorns spread even around the deer, carefully spaced. None of the neighboring trees were oaks.
After a lot of debate about circling the situation, Derek decided to investigate, and stepped toward the deer. As he approached, an acorn erupted into a nest of ropy threads of vine, which tethered him to the spot. As that occurred, a bellow sounded from the next hill, and loud crashing noises began approaching the party.
Derek called for the party to run, leave him! As he shouted, 2 bears crested the hill from the next valley, running toward the deer. Thinking quickly, Derek prayed for an Invisibility to Animals, which was answered by Shenene. One of the bears faltered for a moment, clearly confused, but the other didn’t seem to notice at all.
As the bears neared, one of them shifted between steps, and as the party suspected, turned out to be a Druid. Clearly not used to interacting with people, he eventually apologized for catching the party in his snare, he had not expected to see people out this way.
The snare’s intent was to capture a pair of wolves that have been lurking around this area, somehow immune to the animal friendship skills that Darig possesses. He’s noticed the same about a series of bats in the area, and often around a fallen tower to the north that his bear Cedric refuses to approach at night.
Darig is new to the area, but trying to protect it. He’s clearly very skilled as a druid, and happy to see a fellow follower of Ursus in Colin. He seems resistant to do much in depth investigation however, claiming that he has more traps to manage. He’s happy for the party’s offer of aid though, and easily directs them to the fallen tower.
At the tower lie about 6 bodies, long reduced to bleached bones, surrounded with bits of rusted bits of armor, and chipped hand axes.
The top floor of the tower has slid into the hill behind it, and lies in total ruin. The main floor seems mostly intact, though the door is swollen and crooked in the frame. It looks like the ground floor can also be accessed via the roof where the second floor has fallen away.
The party accesses the tower through both means, and discovers a small bedroom with a bed, desk, and chest. On the floor is a dusty painting of a skeletal hand.
Searching the chest the party finds a few tattered robes, and some gold rilks, along with a finely wrought silver dagger with a small silver skull at the tip of the pommel. It detects as magical.
The desk is determined to have a secret drawer, which reveals a slim, redbound book, also decorated with a skeletal hand. It’s written in a ancient language, unknown to the party. The last page of the book appears to be a spell.
While investigating and reading, the more physical members of the party shift some rocks around the fallen second floor, and reveal the shattered bones of another human, in a tattered robe matching those in the chest below.
The sharp eyed members of the party then spot a bit of movement across the valley, at the wood’s edge. As the party looks that direction, the shape turns away, and begins to flee.
Giving chase, they quickly catch up to two land mingols, who seemed quite panicked. Speaking in broken common, they indicate that they are peddlers, travelling from the far east, and heading toward Lankhmar. They offer some small wares to the party, and then go on their way.
Night has now just about fallen, and the party gathers above the tower, ready for whatever horrors are keeping the animals at bay…
The party headed inland early the next morning, taking another skin full of barley soup for the trip.
The walk to the village was uneventful, though as the party approached the village, the various sounds of the forest seemed quiet, both farther away and muted as they approached.
The village lay at the junction of a set of roads, with a larger lane heading East, and a smaller trail heading south. 7 structures lay within the common, surrounding the well. The forest encroached closely on the village, darkening it more than it should at this hour.
The arc to the north was less heavily wooded, showing signs of recent logging of the heavy trees, especially around the larger structure.
To the south the trail crossed a small quiet graveyard, with a few villagers graves. Some looked fairly fresh, within the last year certainly.
After the circumnavigation, the party approached the village itself, noting a fallen body north west of the well, long since picked apart by scavengers. The body shows a torso sword wound, and has been trampled.
Heavy hoof prints were driven into the soft earth of the road surface, circling through the city itself, and around some of the houses. They originated and departed to the East. They also appear to be quite old, probably over 3-4 months.
Stepping into some of the houses, the party finds a mix of semi- abandoned properties (portable objects have all been carried away, but larger objects like beds and looms remain), and houses spattered with blood, and rended corpses within, and all the objects left where they were.
All of the bodies are old, but the corpses show less sign of animal and insect damage than you’d expect for how long they’ve been deceased.
The NW most house is different than the others. A distinct chill is felt as the party enters the house. A few party members hear a scream, loud thump, and a falling away cry as they enter. The sounds don’t repeat, but the chill within remains.
This house is also more nicely appointed than the others, with nicer timbering, a formal writing desk, a larger bed, covered with a fur, and several nicer dresses hung in an alcove along with everyday dress. The alcove also reveals a small metal mirror, a vial of perfume, and a bone hair brush, stylized beautifully.
On the desk sits several papers, a nice well and quill, and a small yellowed bound book. It turns out to be a diary, wherein a young woman recounts her trials to escape the reign of Lord Drenn, who mistreated his serfs badly, and demanded the right of first night, and has even killed for the smallest slight.
The diary mentions that they received the right to separate from the lord, and start this new community which they’ve jokingly named Hovel. They’re happy to be free regardless of their spartan accommodations.
It also interspaces with noted about her betrothed, and mentions a beautiful golden bracelet he’s bought her.
The last entry mentions that the Lord is coming to visit on the morrow to speak with the village, and that he regretted his previous actions, and indicates that he has mellowed since his son passed away.
Carefully peering over, they can see that a body is tangled over the bucket, a few feet below the rim of the well. The winch is locked in position, which has prevented it from descending with the extra weight.
With Greg on the winch, the body is carefully brought up and lifted out, to reveal a young woman, clearly dead several months, wrapped in tatters of a formal white dress. Like the other bodies, this one is less degraded than it should have been for how long it’s been here. The right arm is also missing at the elbow.
The body also shows signs of a large impact trauma to the skull. Investigating further, the party finds a dent in the crossbar of the well, with dried blood and hair that match the victim.
Greg and Colin head down the smaller trail with a pair of found shovels, while Al and Derek perform some last rites.
After the grave has been readied, the party then decided that the whole body probably needs to be recovered, and with trepidation, Colin get’s lowered in the well, with a light spell cast on the bucket, to light his descent. With it’s additional light, he finds the arm by it’s golden bracelet’s glimmer, trapped in a root a few feet above the water level.
Carefully extracting it, joining it to the remainder of the body, the lady is put to rest, her arm and bracelet with her.
After returning to the village, approaching the chilled house no longer had any effect, and the normal forest sounds began filling the area again.
Heading out, the party gave Odolan the good news that very night (causing a small fright as lights came from the woods), and helped the villagers back home again over the next few days.
They also vowed revenge on their behalf against Lord Drenn. Odolan gifted the party with his grandfather’s military sword as thanks, which was a basket hilted short sword, with intricate markings. When tested later, it indicated that it was magical.