The images ricochet through Ratcliff's mind, images of torture and pain. He squeaks in fear and frustration before falling to his knees. A small part of his mind fights for control...
Ganer: 5 fail
Gared: 13 fail
Horven: 16 success
Ratcliff: 6 fail
Ganer 1d4 ⇒ 4
Gared 1d4 ⇒ 4
Ratcliff 1d4 ⇒ 2
As the clanging of the grandfather clock continues for what seems like an eternity, you all try to weather the storm of insanity that threatens to sweep you down its path. After a minute or so, the clock lapses into silence, where once again silence reigns supreme.
All of you show signs of mental uffering however, with Horven seemingly able to shake it off the best. Ratcliff also was able to partially blunt the effects, but Ganer and Gared still 'see' the aftereffects of those images in their minds.
Gamer and Gared take 4 points of WIS damage; Ratcliff takes 2 points of WIS damage. This means Ganer and Gared will suffer a -2 to Will saves and Wisdom based skill checks, while Ratcliff will take a -1 to his checks. This damage will heal naturally over time (1 point/day) so no need to worry about that...for now...
Gared contiues to explore the trail of disturbed dust, but is unable to discern any additional clues from it.
TIME 6:55pm; T plus 55 minutes.
Ratcliff slowly stands back up. His head pounds but he manages to prevent his body from purging his innards. His hands shake slightly but looking at Garner and Gared he see's he got off lucky. He swallows "Suddenly... I have a deep hatred of clocks." his words are slurred slightly as he talks.
He goes to check on the jurors making sure no one is too damaged.
Horven decides to make no comment about the clock since he seems to have not suffered any real effect. He silently thanks Desna for his luck. He notices Gared being preoccupied by something, so he walks over to him.
"Have you found something Gared?" Horven asks, concern apparent in his voice.
Wow, now my will save is a straight D20. Oh well, at least it doesn't have a penalty. Kinda makes me glad I'm an Oracle and not a cleric.
Ganer approached Ganer and Gared and quietly said, "If this ghost is innocent, as you suspect, then perhaps we would do better for ourselves without the jurors. Perhaps the ghost is lashing out at them, and if it were just we four strangers, then we could explore safely.
"Innocent or guilty, Ganer, these people are likely to be in danger however we proceed. This ghost is malicious and I think that it is not due to the crime, but his eternal punishment. In good conscience, I cannot just leave them. I may not like them all, but I would not leave any of them for dead. I will not stop you from going as you like, but those are my thoughts on that matter and my firm decision," Horven explains, a thin smile on his face. Horven lays out his conviction, hoping for the best.
Gared fell to his knees as the sound wrenched and brutal images wrenched through him like a knife. When he pulled himself to his feet, a cold sweat was plain on his features, and a fear that had not been there before was much more present. All was not well. Gared glanced about nervously at the others in the room, not holding his fears in check well.
Ganer began tapping his foot impatiently, "I am not suggesting that we shove them all in a closet and forget about them! They have warriors among them, they are not helpless.I am suggesting that we leave them in the jury room, and unravel this business ourselves. We can come get them when it is resolved," He spoke quickly and apparently impatiently, theat was odd, he hadn't done that before.
I'm playing the wisdom damage as him becoming less patient and more reckless, aka, acting more foolish.
"Stay behind? And get slaughtered like a buncha lambs by a bunch ghosts?? I don' think so!'
The hobgoblin's words shatter the eerie silence. He stomps over towards Ganer, giving the other man a glare, his hand gripping the end of his wickedly barbd spiked chain. "Now, ya think yer th' boss in this joint? Lemme tell ya somethin', ya freak. Ya kin go mess around this dump but leave me outa this! I'm gettin' outta here!" He turns away at that point heading towards the south doors.
Anybody care to interrupt him, or try to stop him in any way?
Wisdom damage to monk. Hitting him where it hurts, huh. =p
Gared growled and shook his head, staggering to his feet. "Ganer, Malgrim!" Gared called out firmly and slightly aggressively. "Splitting us up is a good way to get people killed. We stand a better chance of getting out of this alive if we work together. And if any of us don't trust each other, wouldn't it be better for us to be able to all keep an eye on each other? Malgrim, you think you stand a better chance of getting out of this if you walk away from us? Do you really want to go up against Mord alone?" Gared spat on the ground, then continued in a low and dark tone "I don't think he's going to let any of us just walk out of here, and I don't place any odds on any of us fending him off on our own."
I so very much want to use Cause Fear on him to see if that will get him back in line. Of course, the spell description implies that if he is affected by it he would either fight to the death, or run for his life, so that might not be so constructive. . .
"As Gared has said, I do not believe it would be wise for you to venture off alone. Besides, I never suggested anyone be left behind, I was seeking a practical way of testing a theory." Ganer's voice was surprisingly calm, almost eerily so, especially in light of the fact that he'd just been called a freak. It was not entirely clear that Ganer cared one way or the other what the Hobgoblin did.
Horven eyes the hobgoblin. "No, Malgrim, I do not think you would leave anyway. You have had plenty of time to get out of here, same as the rest of the group. I think you are all here for a reason outside of Jabin Mord's ghost. If none of you were, you would not be following us nor would you have waited for us to come up with a plan."
Horven puts his hand on his dagger, in case, Malgrim wanted to make his point with his spiked chain.
I have had my fill of this pompous jerk. If anyone needed a swift kick in the pellets, it would be him.
"You are the strangest one of the bunch, Malgrim. You usually do not hear of dirty, stinking, filthy, pig-nosed hobgoblins serving on juries in civilized places. So, what is your story, eh? Some one know a dirty secret of yours?"
Horven flashes Malgrim a sneer. He knew he was not going to win this one over with gentle words or lies. He had to do something he had not done before. He had to play the tough guy.
Oh, please...dice don't fail me.
Ratcliff steps back slightly and waits for the arguments to finish, he is not inclined to interfere, especially since violence was becoming increasingly likely. If he want's to leave let him leave. He will soon come running back. There are much more important things to do. were Ratcliff's inner thoughts however he doesn't voice anything at this moment.
Malgrim's face bulges in rage as he reaches to unhook his spikes chain from his belt. "You like ta spout pretty words don'cha...Well, I will give ye an extra mouth ta talk wit'!"
He unhooks his chain and starts to swing it, fully prepared to backup his threat to give Horven an extra breathing hole...then he sees...something in the shorter halfling's gaze. Was it anger? Rage? Conviction? One thing for sure, fear was certainly NOT in his eyes.
The hobgoblin stares for a moment longer...but to all watching, the contest had already ended. He shudders once, then turns away from the unsettling gaze.
"Verry well...little one. I have my secrets...as do you."
He then stomps off to the front doors without a second glance, where a moment later you hear more cursing in the goblin tongue. Judging by the nature of the curses, the front doors are barred from exit.
Horven feels the presence of Madge, and also Sir Rekkard behind him. "Well done, friend Horven. You would not have faced him alone..." Madge, for her own part thanks him with a hug. "You were magnificent!" Her voice breathes into his ear.
NICE roll there!
Horven tries to conceal a sigh of relief. He lets the adrenaline settle before turning his gaze from where the hobgoblin stood.
This is getting us nowhere. We do not have much time before darkness settles in completely.
"We need to press on...together," Horven says, bringing himself back from the brink of violence. "Ratcliff, Ganer, Gared? Any ideas about how to proceed? There are far too many doors for my liking and, sadly, I am a poor judge of direction."
And I really need to apologize for that outburst later, but I cannot give Malgrim an inch.
OK moving on here...
As the others ponder what direction to proceed (or in the case of the other jurors still stunned at the near outbreak of violence), Malgrim returns to face the halfling who confronted him. "It's no good you little one!" It is obvious he is not being complimentary to Horven, but he does not look like he is threatening violence...yet.
"Together?? Ya think I be workin' wit' you while you try ta deal wit' that ghost? You outa yer frickin' mind! I be gittin' outta here...NOW!"
With that he turns and heads to the double doors on the opposite side of the courtroom where it all began.
Presuming no one stops or interrupts him...
He yanks open the door and quickly steps inside. Once he has moved out of your view, the door slams shut behind him...yet...all of you are certain he did NOT slam the door himself!
As you wonder what just happened, you all hear echoing from the closed doors a harsh staccato whisper building to the rasping croak of a strangled man that echoes through the entire courthouse. You hear Malgrim screaming frantically over the horrid sound. “No! Get away from me! You’re dead! I saw you swing! NOOOOoooo--” The jangling of a chain interrrupts the scream and wet gurgling noises follow. Then all goes silent.
TIME: 7:00 PM; T plus 1 hour
"Well, I suppose those doors would be best place to start," Horven says. "Ready yourselves, everyone."
Horven draws his dagger and proceeds to the door that Malgrim disappeared through.
Ganer drew his hands back into his cloak, readying his shield and weapon, prepared to throw off his cloak and fight. He wasn't going to do that, however, until battle was upon them, he didn't want to sour the others' opinion of him unless it was necessary.
To make up for his lack of mobility, he took the time to hobble up to the door before Horven opened it. "I suspect that we will not like what we find on the other side of the door, whether or not it is a fight."
Ratcliff follows after Ganer and Horven making sure his hands are free for whatever might be through that door. "Sounds like he may have been eaten. Interesting." he thinks to himself At least he warned us that something bad is through that door. He scurries forward excitement mixed with fear on his rodent face.
Gared was passing over the trail in the dust once more as the hobgoblin stormed out of the room. He'd given up on trying to reason with the creature. If Horven hasn't succeeded, there's little for a grizzled dwarf to try.
As the four heroes ready their weapons and spells, they are closely shadowed by the other jurors including Madge who helpfully shines the lantern ahead of the group. Once everyone is in position, Horven yanks the door open. To his surprise, the door opens easily and silently towards him.
As the group peers inside the courtroom, nothing jumps out to accost our heroes. Much of the furniture in this old courtroom has been splintered into kindling. It looks like someone has ruthlessly smashed almost everything in the room. Beyond the carnage, the bench has been overturned and the jurors’ box is in shambles. The windows here are crisscrossed with heavy boards. Where the nails breach the plaster around the windows, rust stains seep like bloody wounds in the courthouse walls.
As your eyes adjust to the shadows, you happen to glance up as Madge utters a gasp. Hanging from the rafters several feet off the ground by his own spiked chain you see Malgrim, who is quite dead, his blood pooling on the floor beneath his swinging boots.
Other than the faint creak of his chain as his body gently sways, all is silent.
Horven cannot decide whether he is relived or revolted. True, the hobgoblin was a nuisance and probably would have killed him or someone else, but no one deserved that fate. The honorable thing to do would be take Malgrim's body down, but that would possibly jeopardize everyone else for no good reason. Unconsciously, he spit off to the side.
Ganer watched the swinging corpse solemnly. His tone was flat and hard, "Let this be a lesson to each of us. We survive together, or we die alone. He turned to the jurors and added, "This ghost has claimed one of you, I think it's about time we learn what you have been holding back."
Ratcliff gagged at the scene "I have seen things in my time but this...." He holds back his horror and tries to look around the room, avoiding the dead eyes of the hanging Hobgoblin.
I don't know, do you think I'll get better results if I target an individual? No, He was talking to them as a group.
According to the PRD, Diplomacy is targetted at an individual, not a group. If you want to adresss the group as a whole, that is fine but the Diplomacy check won't apply here. You will get a response, just not a very open one, he he.
While the others debate what to do about the grisly discovery in the courtroom, and Gared continues to examine the tracks for any further clues, Ganer decides to turn his attention to the jurors, particularly the holy warrior who seems to be more amenable than the others.
After he addresses Sir Rekkart, the older gentleman gazes down at you and replies with an undercurrent of superiority in his voice, "My good man, I am not sure what you are implying here. Do you really believe Mord is innocent of the charges that were brought against him?" He reaches down to grasp his holy symbol of Iomedae, and continues "I can assure you, Jabrin Mord is guilty of the crimes for which he was charged with. He was tried and fairly convicted. The fact his ghost is seeking his revenge against those who condemned him does not change that fact."
"I do not know whether Mord is guilty or innocent, but I do know that there is more going on than I have been told. Some of you seem so wound up about this development that I wonder if this was anticipated, like our unfortunate friend Malgrim. There is also the still unanswered question of if this is a matter of revenge, why am I here? The only contact I've ever had with Mord was reading of the case in passing, and where are the other jurors, and the judge? I believe someone in this room knows considerably more than they are telling." As he made the accusation,he cast his gaze over of the people in turn.
"I would forget about this, Ganer, if I were you," Horven says solemnly, brushing his hair back from his face. "The 'whys' and 'hows' are increasingly irrelevant. Night is coming quickly and it is ill-advised to sleep here of all places. Like I said, perhaps if we find and confront this ghost, we would get better answers."
Horven turns to Sir Rekkart, his eyes dull but determined. "You keep professing Jabin Mord's guilt. We simply think that there is more to the story. You seem awfully defensive about this. This secrecy is sickening me. However, what I think is trivial right now and not going to get us out of this alive. What I do want to know is where was Mord executed and what else dwells in this building."
"It matters not to me whether you believe in his guilt Master Ganer." Rekkart replies with a cool note in his voice. "I know he is guilty. That is ALL I need. Plus furthrmo--" He is interrupted by the elderly man Killian who has been fairly quiet so far.
"Easy there, Sir Rekkart. No need to be snobbish now, we are all in this together." The elderly man turns to face Ganer and Horven and continues, "One thing is for sure, we need to work together before Mord's ghost strikes again, right? I am just an old man and I think dealing with this ghost is a game for the young. As for where Mord was executed...I believe the gallows were at the rear of the courthouse." He points tot he north end.
Horven, Ganer and Ratcliff, Sense Motive checks, please.
Ratcliff listens to the argument quietly, impatient to move on from this scene of death. How is arguing going to help us. He fidgets on the spot becoming slightly more agitated with each passing second.
He sees Killian point and quickly squeaks "Yes lets go there. Would be good to investigate, but we should be quick it might get worse at night."
If we keep addressing Jabin Mord's guilt, this will simply turn into more petty bickering. Some of them know something and I do not know well enough who to trust. Ratcliff is right; we need to keep moving.
Horven composes himself, the duplicity of the jurors wearing thin on his nerves. "We shall head north then and see what we find, since this conversation is no better than those held in Chelish noble houses."
He lets the verbal jab hang in the air. He turns to the north and begins to walk.
None of the jurors rise to take the bait laid out by Horven, so the heroes move northward to the other side of the great hall, leaving Malgrim to hang...if not in peace, then in solitude.
You see several doors that exit the hall, including another heavy iron door which is locked and barred. Also there are a pair of staircases leading up to the second floor of the courthouse.
The barred iron door is in K23-L23.
TIME: 7:10pm, T Plus 1 hour 10 minutes.
Ganer hobbled back to the door he'd approached before (J21) and looked it over, it seemed likely that an office was behind it. Deciding that an office might offer some insight, he opened the door and peered inside. This time he didn't bother to create any light source, confident that his ability to see in the dark would carry him through. He made a note to continue the line of conversation about Mord's guilt, perhaps with someone more inclined to say more, maybe Halgrak or Killan.
Ratcliff scuttles quickly behind Horven as they walk. Then on reaching a more northern part of the corridor he pauses to take in his surroundings So many doors!!!
Ratcliff is now at a loss of which direction to go "Hmmm. Do any of you jurors know which door leads to the Gallows. Or what is up those stairs." He thinks for a moment "I suppose if we really want Mord's attention Gallows would be the best bet."
Ganer opens the door and sees it leads to a privvy, long unused judging by the layer of dust in here.
Killian speaks up softly in response to the ratfolk's query, "I not be completely sure what lies on the upper floor, seeing as how we were not permitted up there, but I am fairly certain that barred door leads to the gallows. Unfortunately, it looks like we can't get in there."
"'Not permitted up there'?" Horven asks. "Why not?"
"Well, because we were not court officials I suppose." Killian replies. "That area was used by the barristers who worked here before that terrible earthquake shut down the whole district. Did you realize this area used to be called Beldrin's Bluff...and what happened at the Drownyard...such a tragedy..."
As Killian prattles on about the past glories of Beldrin's Bluff, Horven looks over the door. Clearly this door was put here to keep people out of this part of the courthouse. Barred and locked securely against anyone wishing to enter from the other side by a well-oiled padlock still in good condition after all of these years, he is forced to admit the lock is probably beyond his rudimentary skills.
Horven huffs, denied an opportunity to pry open a lock. Occasionally, he enjoyed the pleasure of pitting his dexterous fingers against those cold, hard tumblers. However, another idea strikes him.
"Well, seeing that this courthouse is no longer in use, I would say that the upstairs is open to us now," Horven says. He points at the padlocked door. "Besides, the way is shut."
Ratcliff looks at Horven and does a rodenty smile "Yes upstairs I agree. There must be some way down to the Gallows from there. Even if there isn't there is bound to be some hint what is going on here."
And I get a naughty thrill from going up. Ratcliff swishes his tail in excitement of what is to come. His fear and anxiety forgotten.
"I suppose we should go upstairs then, if only in the hope of finding something we can use to batter down this door."
Leading the pack, Ganer set off, heading up the spiral staircase on the right, if for no other reason than that one was closer. When he reached the top, he looked around, hoping to find something of interest.
Ratcliff follows in the back and says to the jurors as he puts his foot on the first step. "I think you should wait here till we make sure it's safe to come up. We won't be able to get back down the stairs quickly of you are all clogging it." He has never been one for finesse but this sounds like a reasonable reason to him. He follows directly behind the Horven after that and once up the stairs studies the area.
Gared kept silent after he finally was able to discern what had happened in the dust, and tried not to betray the feelings roiling about inside of him.
Gared is incredibly angry about something though he seems determined to hide that fact.
Assuming there isn't an interruption, When the group of four made it to the top of the stairs and out of ear shot of the other seven, the dwarf spoke in a quiet a low tone.
"I found some clues as to how we arrived here in the dust. It would seem that 11 bodies were dragged here, which can only mean that were brought by one of the eleven of us who remain. When I find the one who has brought us all here..." The dwarf's low tone turned into a growl of promised retribution.