Storms filled the sky on the day the letter arrived...
It is with great sorrow I write to you this day. Your friend, my father, Petros Lorrimor has died. Father spoke of you often and had hoped to see you again before the end. I am saddened that he did not get that chance.
As part of father’s final wishes, I am sending you this request. Father has asked for you to travel to Ravengro and participate in his funeral and sit in on the reading of his last will and testament. If you would consider it, we would be honored to have you act as one of father’s pallbearers. Please call upon me at my home when you arrive.
I wish you safe travel to Ravengro and look forward to your arrival.
Professor Lorrimor, the man who meant so much to you, suddenly taken away. Packing your belongings, you immediately began the journey to the town of Ravengro in western Ustalav.
After facing constant rains and unseasonably cool weather on the roads, you finally arrive. You barely notice your surroundings as you quickly making your way to the Lorrimor manor. The door opens before you have a chance to knock, a young woman greets you by name and introduces herself as the Professor’s daughter, Kendra. She leads you into a large foyer where several other people wait in solemn silence.
”Thank you all for coming. My father instructed me to contact you in the event of his passing. Although I do not know any of you, I know of his great respect for each of you. “
She pauses and clasps her hands together tightly in her lap. ”Your pardon, this has been a stressful time.”
Kendra takes a deep breath and continues, ”Your arrival is well-timed, as father’s funeral is scheduled for this evening. The custom in Ravengro is to bury our loved ones in caskets, placing them into the care of Pharasma's faithful. I will need help moving the casket from the church to the Restlands, the blessed burial area where we lay our… deceased” She says the last word with a small crack in her voice.
”As I asked in my letter, would any of you be willing to help bear my father to his place of final rest?”
Kendra seems very upset at the moment, and respectfully asks that you hold questions until after the funeral. She is willing to reveal two items: 1) her father apparently suffered a fatal accident near the ruined Harrowstone prison - he was found fifteen days ago by the Sheriff's men during a routine patrol in the area, and 2) her father's will is to be read immediately after the funeral, and all the characters are asked to attend.
|The Slaughter Priest|
Sense Motive 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
"I share your grief. The Professor was like a father to me. I would gladly bear him this one last time," replies The Slaughter Priest, a hint of sadness barely concealed. He then nods and moves to the casket to pay his respects, each step punctuated by the jingle of his armor and weapons.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 1 = 13 Nope, I'm too shaken up to really notice anything.
As Roland enters the old manor, he takes a brief moment to glance around, a little caught off guard by both the other faces present, and the fortuitous timing of his arrival.
The alchemist then looks back at Kendra.
She is exactly as I pictured her, he thinks. I feel as if I know her already from everything the Professor told me about her.
I wonder what he told her about me?
Roland takes her hand and gives it a squeeze.
"I am so... so sorry for your loss." His voice trembles. Roland lets go of her hand, and turns away to avoid humiliating himself, fighting back an unexpected welling of tears.
After he composes himself, he clears his throat, embarrassed, and fiddles with his cane. "I am honoured to be asked to perform this... this final service for your father." Roland adjusts his large, brown traveling coat and follows when everyone else starts filtering out.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22 - sense motive
A young woman wearing a dark dress with a swooping low-cut back that is in turn covered by her long, flowing black hair steps up to Kendra and bows deeply. "The professor and I corresponded frequently - he had taken an interest in some events in my youth and taught me much..." she pauses a moment, at once aware that this was not the time for lengthy explanations. "It would be my honor to bear him to his final resting place."
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24 - Sense Motive
A young human man wearing a holy symbol around his neck and a powerful suit of splint mail looks down at his hands, clenching his fists. "The professor? Dead? This...ARGH!" He throws his head back and yells in anger and bitter pain. The man's face falls forward, into his gloved and gauntlet-clad hands, and he weeps.
After a few moments, the man sniffs and he looks up at the woman. Tears stain his cheeks, but he tries to retain his composure. "I apologize, Miss Lorrimor. I know I have no right to act in such a way before you, when you are the person he cared about most. It's just...I'm sorry. Your father was a great, great man. He will be missed."
Standing up slowly, feeling the weight of the world fall down upon his shoulders, the man closes his eyes and wipes the tears from his cheeks. "I owe your father everything. Who I am and what I have become is all thanks to his teaching. But to know that he included me in his...in his last will and testament..." Michael choked and coughed, sobbing again, before taking a breath and continuing. "To know that I meant as much to him as he did to me...I'm grateful. I could never do anything that would pay the Professor back for all he has done for me, but I will do this."
|Karl the Bastard|
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
The large half-elf in well-worn leathers stands a bit off to the side. His hands find his pockets, then come out just as quickly as he crosses his arms before dropping them to his sides while his fingers twitch as though looking for something to come to grips with.
Sorry for your loss, he mumbles self-consciously after Michael's display of emotion, his face a bitter mask in comparison to the man's open grief. Yer dad was a great man, truly. I'm just glad I got here in time. In time to pay my respects, that is. The rains have made the roads bad. It would be my honor to help carry him to his rest. And after, I have some questions, if you don't mind too much.
That said, he steps back a bit awkwardly and resumes his fidgeting. Upon seeing the Priest, he makes his way over to him. Been a while, Priest. We're you with him when it happened? he asks in a hushed voice.
|The Slaughter Priest|
|Karl the Bastard|
I'm thinking about the time Lorrimor fended off a Will 'o wisp using nothing but his under clothes, but Karl will probably wait until after the funeral before he feels comfortable making jokes, especially concerning the professor. What do you think?
Kendra smiles as the last of you agrees, ”Thank you all. Please, the priests at the Temple await us. I would not delay any longer.”
Kendra leads the party to the Temple of Pharasma, an ornate building on the western road. An elegant stained glass window takes up most of the southern wall, a surprise in this otherwise backwater town. Inside the Temple, a closed casket waits upon a table flanked by several young acolytes.
Each of you takes a place on the casket, two on each side and one behind. Kendra speaks, ”As his cloest relative, I am to lead you to The Restlands. As is our custom, please refrain from speaking until we arrive.”
Walking to The Restlands is relatively easy, and even the weather seems to cooperate for once as the rain becomes little more than cool mist. As you enter the graveyard, you note the care and attention given to the area. The acolytes of Pharasma obviously take pride in discharging their duties in Ravengro.
As Kendra turns onto a pebble path, a small group of people standing nearby take notice. Almost as one, they move to block her passage, with an older man declaring, ”That’s far enough! We don’t want no necromancer buried with our kin. Take him outside of town if you want, but he ain’t going in this ground!”
Kendra’s demeanor swiftly turns from sadness to anger, ”What do you mean ‘necromancer’?” she cries out in denial. ”The Temple has already given their approval, why to you seek to stop us?”
The older man replies, ”You don’t get it, woman. We don’t care what the Temple says, he’s not welcome here! I suggest you and your friends just move along.” He straightens up as he gestures as the men behind him, ” Me and the boys are standing up for the rest of our town, and we’ll do what needs doing!” he says as he brings his right fist into the palm of his left hand with a meaty smack.
There are a dozen men blocking the procession. At a glance, they all appear to be unarmed, dressed in the simple clothing of common farmers or laborers.
Assume you have your typical "adventuring" gear.
Please post what you want to do. Once everyone has posted, I'll summarize and we'll move ahead as the situation dictates.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10 - sense motive
Completely baffled by this change of events, Shanoa blurts out, "What's the meaning of this? Have you no respect for the dead? Professor Lorrimor was a great man and deserves a proper burial just as well as anyone else in this graveyard. Please step aside that we may bury this man in peace."
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27 - diplomacy
|Karl the Bastard|
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
I think Karl might be autistic...
He was a great man, and lived his life in service to others. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead.
aid another: 1d20 ⇒ 19 Aid Shanoa's Diplomacy
Karl keeps a firm grip on the casket with his left hand while the fingers on his right twitch.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Wow! Two in a row! Roland is too caught up in his own thoughts to notice anything.
Roland scowls at the baseless accusations.
The Professor was a scholar and a gentleman!
He was no 'necromancer' as this rabble suggests! How dare they speak ill of the dead? Bullies. No matter where he goes...
Roland's anger flares, and the alchemist has a sudden urge to give these men a sound thrashing!
The rush of anger subsides as quickly as it rose, and Roland suddenly realizes one hand is tightly holding a vial of his experimental serum in his pocket.
That was strange.
Roland releases the vial and quickly replaces his hand upon the casket to better bear it's weight, casting a glance around to see if anyone noticed.
He clears his throat, and nervously adds his voice to Shanoa and Karl's. "Please... gentlemen... t-there's no need to do anything rash."
Aid Shanoa's Diplomacy 1d20 ⇒ 17
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Michael's eyes narrowed and he calmly placed one hand on the hilt of his blade, looking up at the men with a fierce gaze. "I'm going to say this once. Don't you dare speak ill of him like that again. If you do, I won't show you any mercy."
Michael's entire face was an expression of rage. His eyes were sharp and his pupils dilated, his eyebrows pushed down and his forehead creased, his nostrils flaring and his lips drawn into a scowl. As his eyes fixed on the opposition, he looked directly into their souls.
Standard action: Cast detect evil.
Move action: Focus on one of the two men, read his entire aura and gather information about it as if I had focused for 3 rounds.
"Sir, calm down. We all need to keep our heads about us. This is an obvious misunderstanding and The Good Professor would not be pleased with bloodshed or fighting at his funeral. If anything, maybe someone should get the sheriff to settle things down."
The brightly dressed gnome, shuffled away in a corner, had been reluctant to speak. He had only meet the Professor once before when Lorrimor had saved his life, and that was years ago. He was surprised to receive the letter and even moreso to learn that he would be mentioned in the will.
Ill-suited to help carry the casket, he has simply walked beside it in silence. He is starled by the crowds appearance and vehemence.
Not that Oorin cares much for Pharasma or her temple either, he nonetheless sees an opportunity to chastise these people for their lack of piety. He steps forward, shakes he fist at the crowd and prepares a tongue lashing:
Intimidate 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2 Good grief, what a way to start.
Instead he doubles over laughing. "A necromancer?! How completely absurd! Where did you simpletons get such a preposterous notion?" Suddenly, remembering the solemnity of the occassion, he backs down muttering a few choice words under his breath, "Superstitious...(mumble)(mumble)..."
Not expecting trouble, these are his current spells:
Cantrips: Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Mage Hand
1st lvl: Unseen Servant, Hold Portal, Burning Hands
|The Slaughter Priest|
Your actions occur at essentially the same time, here is what happens:
As you speak, several of the men behind the leader begin looking at one another with concerned expressions. Soft muttering breaks out and you clearly hear one man in the back question whether or not Lorrimor really was a necromancer. The original speaker, smiling grimly and clenching his fists, is taken aback. He spins quickly, forgetting you for the moment, "Don't listen to them, they aren't even from around here. They're outsiders! They don't know anything about Ravengro!"
From behind you, a strong voice replies, "That's right, and you're presenting a wonderful image of the folks around here, Gibs." A short man walks up the path past you to stand before the older farmer. He is easily the oldest human you have seen in town, and he wears the formal robes of a Pharasma priest.
"I knew Professor Lorrimor for 20 years, and he was no necromancer. He is going to be buried in this land, blessed by my hand, and watched over by my Temple!" As he speaks, the group behind Gibs begins to shrink back, somewhat resembling children being scolded by a parent. "Now, I think it's best if you all went home. Go on, all of you get on home."
While several of the men meekly turn to leave, Gibs looks at the priest and opens his mouth to retort. Before he can speak, several men grab his arms. Pulling him back, they finally turn him around and lead him away. From the look on his face, it was obvious that the priest's words did not affect his disposition.
The group moves away and the old priest turns to Kendra, "My deepest apologies, Kendra."
She closes her eyes and sighs. Unshed tears well in her eyes as she places a hand on the priest's arm, "It's not your fault, Father. I just don't know what's happened to the townspeople lately... so cruel..."
Standing tall, she quickly wipes her eyes, "Please, let us see this finished. Will you walk with me, Father Grimburrow?"
Several men are gathered at the gravesite, curiosity evident as they watch you approach. The old priest directs you to lower the casket into the open grave. After you finish, he speaks for several minutes about Pharasma and her obligations to the deceased, ending his service with a prayer for Lorrimor's soul.
Kendra approaches the grave, and drops a single flower into the hole to land on the casket. Turning back to the group, she asks, "If any of you would care to speak a few words about my father, now is the time."
It appears that your measured responses got through to enough men to delay what was quickly becoming a fight. Had you not been as convincing, combat would have surely ensued.
Michael, you do not detect any evil I even double-checked the spell description to be sure!.
Characters are not required to speak at the funeral, but all are given the opportunity. If you choose to speak, please roll a Diplomacy, Peform, or similar social skill check. A character may take 10 for this check.
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl goes to one knee at the open grave and scoops up a handful of dirt. He was a better man than any I've ever met. This world is poorer for the loss of him. Guide him to his rest.
He scatters the earth onto the casket and rises to his feet before stepping aside.
Take 10 on Diplomacy for 10
Michael steps up to the grave, kneels before it, and closes his eyes, saying a short, silent prayer. "Oh Iomedae, Who Art in Heaven, Blessed be Thy Name. Your humble servant begs You, let this man, this man who was always a great scholar and a great friend, let him rest in peace. Let his bones decay, let his soul reach You in Heaven. Let his body never be desecrated by evil, let his passion for knowledge continue to thrive as he learns all he can about the afterlife. In Your Name I pray, Amen."
Rising and opening his eyes, Michael once again fights back the urge to cry. A single tear leaks from his right eye as he speaks. "This man came to me. He found me, a young foolish boy, in a hospital bed on the edge of death. And he sat there and he spoke to me for hours. I always wondered why he did that. Why he came to me. I couldn't help his research. I couldn't teach him anything he didn't already know. He knew that within the first ten minutes of speaking to me. Did he leave? No. He stayed, and told me to stick to my convictions. He taught me everything I know today about life and death. He taught me how to fight my enemies, how to protect my friends. And now, as I stand before his casket, I believe I finally understand why he stayed that day. It's because, at his core, Professor Lorrimor was a good person. He was a father. A teacher. A scholar. A friend. A friend to many. But above all, he was kind. And for that kindness, I say, 'thank you, Professor. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.'"
Michael steps aside.
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Roland steps forward after Michael says his words.
"Professor Petros Lorrimor was more a father to me than my actual father. He supported me, listened to me, and encouraged me. He... And his voice breaks.
Roland sniffs, straightens up, and traces the spiral of Pharasma over his heart. "He was the best of us. May the Lady of Graves judge you fairly, Professor."
Roland steps back to allow for anyone else to speak.
Take 10 on Diplomacy for 10.
Shanoa reaches back and pulls her long hair around in front of her, the low-cut dress revealing her bare back as she walks forward to face the group. For the first time you see what was hidden - what appears to be a tattoo, an intricate design of a rose that looks as if it's growing out of a cobbled street fills the small of her back. She turns and begins to speak, "I was not a popular child growing up - it could be said that I didn't have many friends. I thought that by hiding who I was and doing what everyone else did would help me fit in, but in the end it brought me great pain.
"Lorrimor changed all that for me. He taught me the beauty and importance of who I really am, and helped me gain confidence that I never believed I could attain. It is because of the Professor I am who I am today - I owe everything to him." She pauses for a moment to regain her composure before continuing. "I'm pleased to see that he touched many more lives in the same way, and hope that he feels our love for him in the realms beyond."
Nodding at Kendra, she steps back down among the small crowd.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24 - diplomacy
|The Slaughter Priest|
The Slaughter Priest approached and took in the scene before he started reciting:
"All men must die, but first they live."
"The Professor did not allow fear to stand in the way of his quest for the truth. On many adventures, I have accompanied him and came to admire the man."
"Sadly, I was not with him on his last adventure, which ended in his death."
"But a man only truly dies, when there is no one anymore to remember him and his works. You, who are with me here today, are the best proof that the Professor and his works will continue to be remembered and live on in our memories."
"And though we are destined for death, it is in how live that we shall be remembered."
"Farewell, old friend. Rest assured that you shall be remembered well."
Diplomacy 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (12) - 2 = 10
Part 1 of 2
After the last person speaks, soft sobs can be heard from various attendees. It appears that what you said has struck an emotional chord with several people. Kendra stands up and moves to grave facing the crowd, ”Thank you, one and all, for your kind and heartfelt words. Father?”
Father Grimburrow shuffles up to stand beside her. Taking her hand in his, he raises his other to the sky, ”Now we commend into your care, Petros Lorrimor, devoted teacher, scholar, friend, and father. Please watch over his soul as he stands before you for judgement.”
The acolytes attending the ceremony punctuate the end of Father Grimburrow’s prayer with a low monastic chant, starting as a dirge, but ending with an uplifting chorus that seems to soothe the raw emotions throughout the crowd.
Kendra leans over and hugs the priest, ”Thank you.” you hear her say.
Moving toward you, she raises an arm, ”Let’s get back to the house. This weather won’t stay tolerable for long, and I don’t know about any of you, but I could use a drink.” Turning toward an older man in the audience, she inquires, ”Vashian, are you still coming over tonight for the reading?”
The man she speaks too is an older human with close-trimmed hair and a neat beard. His stance and manner indicate years of military training that has yet to disappear. He nods slowly, and in a gravelly voice, ”Yes, dear, I’ve got to go home to retrieve it, but I’ll be along shortly.” Kendra clasps her hands together and bows her head in appreciation.
When you arrive at her house, Kendra insists on all of you staying in her house, at least for one evening, as her guest. Without waiting for an argument, she begins assigning you to rooms. Though the house is immacuately clean, almost every wall is covered with a bookshelf – the Lorrimor manor likely has more documents, scrolls, and books than many libraries you have visited. Even the bedrooms have shelves and stacks of books in nearly every available space.
After making sure everyone has a room, she meets with you in the study where you spoke with her upon arrival. She provides a drink for everyone (even if it's only a glass of water), and proposes a toast to the memory of her father. Kendra begins by saying that she does not have any idea what the will contains since her father was constantly updating and changing it based on his latest research and findings.
Before any real conversation has started, a knock at the front door announces the arrival of Vashian Hearthmount, Councilman of Ravengro, and the executor of Lorrimor’s will. Kendra hurries to the door, then leads him into the study. Without pramble, he pulls a large scroll case from his jacket. Holding it up for everyone to see, he purposefully turns it so that the unbroken wax seal is clearly evident. He pulls a small knife from his belt and deftly slides it under the seal, opening the scroll. Placing the knife back in his belt, he turns the scroll sideways and begins to unfurl it. As the scroll opens, a small key drops out and lands with an audible ‘clink’ on a wooden table. Vashian glances at the key, then back to the scroll. He begins reading:
I, Petros Lorrimor, being of sound mind, do hereby commit to this parchment my last will and testament. Let it be known that, with the exception of the specific details below, I leave my home and personal belongings entire to my daughter Kendra. Use them or sell them as you see fit, my child.
Yet beyond the bequeathing of my personal effects, this document must serve other needs. I have arranged for the reading of this document to be delayed until all principals can be in attendance, for I have more than mere inheritance to apportion. I have two final favors to ask.
To my old friends, I hate to impose upon you all, but there are few others who are capable of appreciating the true significance of what it is I have to ask. As some of you know, I have devoted many of my studies to all manner of evil, that I might know the enemy and inform those better positioned to stand against it. For knowledge of one’s enemy is the surest path to victory over its plans.
And so, over the course of my lifetime, I have seen fit to acquire a significant collection of valuable but dangerous tomes, any one of which in the wrong circumstances could have led to an awkward legal situation. While the majority of these tomes remain safe under lock and key at the Lepidstadt University, I fear that a few I have borrowed remain in a trunk in my Ravengro home. While invaluable for my work in life, in death, I would prefer not to burden my daughter with the darker side of my profession, or worse still, the danger of possessing these tomes herself. As such, I am entrusting my chest of tomes to you, posthumously. I ask that you please deliver the collection to my colleagues at the University of Lepidstadt, who will put them to good use for the betterment of the cause.
Yet before you leave for Lepidstadt, there is the matter of another favor—please delay your journey one month and spend that period of time here in Ravengro to ensure that my daughter is safe and sound. She has no one to count on now that I am gone, and if you would aid her in setting things in order for whatever she desires over the course of this month, you would have my eternal gratitude. From my savings, I have also willed to each of you a sum of one hundred platinum coins. For safekeeping, I have left these funds with Embreth Daramid, one of my most trusted friends in Lepidstadt—she has been instructed to issue this payment upon the safe delivery of the borrowed tomes no sooner than one month after the date of the reading of this will.
I, Petros Lorrimor, hereby sign this will in Ravengro on this first day of Erastus, in the year 4711.
Vashian rerolls the scroll and places it on the table beside the key. ”Mrs. Lorrimor, I have fulfilled my duties as executor, if there is any further business regarding your father’s will, please call upon me at your convenience. If you will excuse me, I am sure you have much to discuss. I will see myself out.”
The current date is 3 Rova, 4711. The will was written and dated approximately two months ago.
Part 2 of 2
Kendra stands and moves to the door of the study. Pausing, her voice cracking with emotion, ”I will go retreive the chest for you, please wait here.”
She returns a few minutes later with a small wooden chest reinforced with steel bands along the edges. She sets it down on the floor in front of the table where the scroll and key rest. ”I do not yet know what I plan to do with the house and belongings my father left me, but I will have a decision well before a month passes.”
”Unless there are any other pressing issues, I would retire for the evening. If acceptable, I would like to meet with you here tomorrow morning to answer any questions you may have, as well as provide any information you desire. And thank you again for coming, it would have meant much to my father to know that the only people he cared about other than his family repaid that love by being here tonight. Good evening.” Kendra turns away from the door and heads for her room.
The small key on the table fits opens the locked chest with a solid click. Inside the chest are several old tomes and a worn journal. Three of the tomes appear to be scientific texts, and they are tied together with a note indicating they should be delievered to Montagnie Crowl, a professor at Lepidstadt University.
The other tome is a rich purple color with a brass scarab on the cover containing an eye set into the center of its back. An ornate lock prevents the book from opening, though you can see the edges of the pages appear to be golden in color. This book has a note asking that it be returned to Embreth Daramid, a judge in Lepidstadt. Strangely, the note asks the delivery to be handled discreetly, and includes Embreth’s home address.
The journal appears to be the personal diary of Petros Lorrimor. A note is tied to the outside with the words “Read Me Now!” written in what you recognize as the Professor’s handwriting. The journal appears to cover the past fifteen years of Lorrimor’s research into evil beings and organizations. A majority of the entries are mundane in nature, simply reporting results from examining documents on various arcane and mathematical theories. As you flip through the journal, you begin to notice several sections that have been circled with red ink.
Ten Years Ago:
The Whispering Way is more than just a cabal of necromancers. I see that now. Undeath is their fountain of youth. Uncovering their motivation does not place me at ease as I thought it might. Their desire to be eternal simply makes them more dangerous.
Two Months Ago:
It is as I had feared. The Way is interested in something here in Ravengro. But what could it be?
One Month Ago:
Whatever the Way seeks, I am now convinced their goal is connected to Harrowstone. In retrospect, I suppose it all makes sense—the stories they tell about the ruins in town are certainly chilling enough. It may be time to investigate the ruins, but with everyone in town already being so worked up about them, I’d rather not let the others know about my curiosity—there’s plenty of folks hereabouts who already think I’m a demonologist or a witch or something. Ignorant fools.
Twenty Days Ago:
It is confirmed. The Way seems quite interested in something—no, strike that—someone who was held in Harrowstone. But who, specifically, is the Way after? I need a list of everyone who died the night of the fire. Everyone. The Temple of Pharasma must have such a list.
Eighteen Days Ago:
I see now just how ill prepared I was when I last set out for the Harrowstone. I am lucky to have returned at all. The ghosts, if indeed they were ghosts (for I did not find it prudent to investigate further) prevented me from transcribing the strange symbols I found etched along the foundation—hopefully on my next visit I will be more prepared. Thankfully, the necessary tools to defend against spirits are already here in Ravengro. I know that the church of Pharasma used to store them in a false crypt in the Restlands at the intersection between Eversleep and the Black Path. I am not certain if the current clergy even know of what their predecessors have hidden down below. If my luck holds, I should be able to slip in and out with a few borrowed items.
Seventeen Days Ago:
Tomorrow evening I return to the prison. It is imperative the Way does not finish. My caution has already cost me too much time. I am not sure what will happen if I am too late, but if my theory is right, the entire town could be at risk. I don’t have time to update my will, so I’ll leave this in the chest where it’ll be sure to be found, should the worst come to pass.
It is approximately 8pm in the evening when you finish your initial review of the chest’s contents.
Kendra has given you a room in her house to stay in tonight, though you are free to seek out different accomodations if you desire.
To identify the books, a variety of knowledge checks might be able to determine what they are as well as who might be interested in them. The purple book must have its lock opened before examination, and it requires a successful Disable Device check to open it without destroying the mechanism.
Let me know what, if anything, you wish to do.
Michael is stunned by the request, but he does not stay that way for long. "Miss Kendra!" he calls after her, as she starts to leave. "I just want you to know, I accept the tasks the Professor stated in his will. I don't need to think about it, I won't hesitate. I am here, and I will assist you however I can, so please, ask anything you wish of me."
After she retires, Michael will examine the journal and frown. "The Whispering Way? These men...they're responsible for all the undead that have been around recently. And yet, the Professor seems to think that there is more to them than even that. But what could it be? What does he mean, 'Undeath is their fountain of youth'? Surely the entire cabal does not plan to resort to lichdom, do they?"
Michael's eyes widen in shock. An entire group of liches, not only existing at the same time, but cooperating together. All the magic they had in life, all the permanency and strength they have in undeath. A practically unstoppable force. Even the grand cleric would have a hard time battling a single lich, but an entire cabal?
Despite his divine training, Michael feels his knees shake a bit in fear. Those kinds of commanders, at the head of an army of skeletons and wraiths and zombies and vampires...they'd be practically unstoppable. And their lives...or unlives...would be eternal. The world would forever be enslaved to their rule. And if they crushed the churches once and for all, no one would be able to study and learn the divine magic necessary to suppress them.
Michael nods to himself. The Professor was suspicious of this group, that was all the proof he needed. He would have to do some investigating on his own, to find out exactly what the Whispering Way was up to. And perhaps...they had something to do with the Professor's death.
The purple book was a bit odd. Michael couldn't open it. Something tugged at the back of his mind though, and despite his complete trust in the Professor, he found himself a bit suspicious of its contents. Michael placed the purple book in the chest, and then looked down into the chest and used his paladin ability to detect evil on every book in there.
Sipping the wine, Shanoa gazes absentmindedly around the house. How did I come to be here with these people? Such a strange turns of events my life has become. She listens intently at the reading of the will and bows slightly at Kendra's departure before turning more intently to the contents of the chest. Could this be why those townspeople suspected him of necromancy? She glances briefly at the books before taking the journal and reading it out loud to the rest of the group.
A chill runs up her spine at his mention of the ghosts, and a large lump forms in her throat causing her to pause for several long seconds before continuing.
Upon completion, she sets the journal down. "Well, it looks like I'll be spending some time in Ravengro. We must find out how the Professor died. Everyone's been strangely silent on the subject until now."
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5 - knowledge (religion)
|The Slaughter Priest|
Hope I'm not stepping out of line by trying to make some linear sense of everyone's posts, so that I can respond to stuff as it happens.
Roland enjoys a glass of brandy during the toast, and seems to be in somewhat better spirits by the time the will is read, upon which his expression becomes one of surprise.
I would have stayed to assist your daughter without the promise of money, old friend. You needed only ask. He puts a hand to his chin. Still, a hundred platinum coins! That would fund my research for years to come! Perhaps it was his wish to ensure I had the funds to continue my work unhindered? Yes, that must be it.
He looks around the room at the others. I still don't really know too much of these others, though. Perhaps the condition was to ensure they remained as well?
Ensure my daughter is safe and sound, he had written. Such an odd turn of phrase. The thought of the Professor suffering a "fatal accident" sprang to mind suddenly, and Roland felt goosebumps.
Maybe there's some danger involved in this, as well...
Roland is so lost in that thought for a moment, he almost doesn't notice as Kendra begins to leave.
"Miss Kendra!" he calls after her, as she starts to leave. "I just want you to know, I accept the tasks the Professor stated in his will. I don't need to think about it, I won't hesitate. I am here, and I will assist you however I can, so please, ask anything you wish of me."
"Yes, me as well, Miss Lorrimor," Roland hastily adds. "I'll send a missive to the University in the morning telling them I'll be taking an extended leave. I, too, shall stay as long as you need."
Roland watches her head up the stairs to bed. I wish I could provide more comfort to her. He sighs. I was deeply affected by the Professor's sudden death. One can only imagine how much harder it must be for her.
The opening of the box answered nothing.. just raised further questions. He waits patiently for Shanoa to finish reading aloud the circled passages.
Definitely danger. A sudden urge of eager anticipation takes Roland, but fades just as quickly. Why would that excite me? Odd.
"Well, it looks like I'll be spending some time in Ravengro. We must find out how the Professor died. Everyone's been strangely silent on the subject until now."
As Shanoa sets down the book, Roland nods. "Indeed, even Miss Lorrimor has offered up few of the details... though under the circumstances, that's understandable. It seems his death may have been related to his investigation into 'Harrowstone' and this 'Whispering Way.'"
Whispering Way... why does that ring a bell...
Knowledge (Arcana) 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16
Knowledge (History) 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (6) + 11 = 17
Wow! Some fairly poor rolls!
"Ghosts? I wish I had brought along my copy of that book. Who would have thought it would be needed here...."
"Perhaps there is a copy here in the Professor's home, or at least a suitable substitute? It may be wise to try and make a full catalog, and determine which of his books might be of use."
Even as he says this, Roland looks over Michael's shoulder into the chest. Speaking of which, what have we in here...
Knowledge (Arcana) 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29
That's more like it!
Knowledge (History) 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
As his eyes land on the mystery purple book he pauses, and glances at Michael. "May I? He retrieves it from the box and looks at the symbols on it. "Are these Osiriani symbols?" He runs a hand over the strange lock. "An odd mechanism... my research has left me with some experience with mechanical devices. It's possible... I may be able to open this."
Assuming it's the kind of book that we should indeed open...
He glances around to see if anyone has any encouragement or objection.
|The Slaughter Priest|
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl's face is a still mask as the will is read, although his lips tighten a bit when the trip to Lepidstadt is mentioned.
Before the professor's daughter leaves the room, he speaks up. Mrs. Lorrimor, please know that I will faithfully keep to your father's last request. If I can be of service to you in any way, you have only to ask.
Michael, I do not know what the Whispering Way intends, but it they are involved in the Professor's death, we must tread carefully. Better to learn what they intend, and put a stop to it, than to go haring off unprepared. The patient hunter shall have his reward.
He turns to the others, Roland, Priest, Michael, Ms. Shanoa, and Oorin is it? Derp I know that we do not know each other well, but it seems that the Professor did. I for one have always trusted his judgment, and will continue to do so now. I propose that we work together on his behalf. A pack can take down larger prey than a lone wolf, after all. I think that we should open the diary if we have the means, and know the contents well before we begin. Although based upon what we have heard tonight, my instinct is to seek out the Pharasman priest who interred Lorrimor, and find whatever protection against spirits there is to be had in this false crypt within the Restlands before we journey to Harrowstone. Of course, if there is a better way, I am open to suggestions. Finally, Roland, may I examine that purple volume before you open the lock? And I'm interested to see how you get it open as well.
Perception on Lock: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20 checking for traps
Knowledge(Nature): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Knowledge(Geography): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Knowledge(Dungeoneering): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8 to identify books
Roland, Priest, Michael, Ms. Shanoa, I know that we do not know each other well, but it seems that the Professor did. I for one have always trusted his judgment, and will continue to do so now. I propose that we work together on his behalf. A pack can take down larger prey than a lone wolf, after all.
Presumably Oorin, as well. ;)
Roland nods his assent. "Professor Lorrimor was ever an excellent judge of character. Yes. If he had faith in all of you, then so do I."
He hands the purple tome over to Karl so he, too, can examine it.
"Father Grimburrow was it? Speaking with him may be a good idea. The Professor did mention in his journal that he suspects they may have long ago forgotten about this trove, but I personally would feel more comfortable asking..."
Roland doesn't say "rather than tomb-robbing," but the unspoken intent is clear.
Roland, Priest, Michael, Ms. Shanoa, and Oorin is it?
Absently, Oorin says, "My name is actually Oorincunathysin but no one ever pronounces it correctly so just Oorin is fine." He then lapses into a rather lenghty silence as he digests everything he's heard.
"Presumably," he begins after some time, "the Professor knew the body he was looking for or it is doubtful he would have risked the trip. We need that information as well. If it isn't here then we'll have to enquire about it at the temple as well."
"If this "Whispering Way" group is just looking for one specific person we can nip this in the bud by finding the corpse first and, either render it unraiseable by any know necromany, or remove it to the temple. Whomever it is they are attempting to find has either knowledge, power or both that they need. A seventeen day head start is unfortunate but perhaps the Professor's investigations will have made them more cautious."
He turns to survey the vast amount of books and scrolls that line the house. "Now, it's possible there could be other useful information here; even if only peripherally..."
Oorin casts Detect Magic looking first at the items in the chest and then moving on to the other bookshelves recasting as often as needed. He whistles merrily as he moves through the house. He'll also indicate to the others if the locked journal radiates any magic.
In case my previous post wasn't clear, there are five books:
- The three tomes include one with a jet-black cover, one with a brown and red cover, and one with an ivory color.
- The purple book with the brass scarab and the lock
- Professor Lorrimor's journal
Michael does not detect evil on any of these books. That said, he gets an uneasy feeling when he looks at them.
Shanoa does not remember anything specific regarding religion as it pertains to this situation.
Roland does not remember anything regarding the Whispering Way.
He has actually seen copies of the three tomes tied together; the black cover is On Verified Madness, a discussion on aberrations and how they relate to the Dark Tapestry. The mottled brown and red book is Serving your Hunger, an unholy text of Ugathoa. Finally, the ivory book is The Umbral Leaves,a religious text detailing how best to serve Zon-Kuthon. These copies are scholarly texts used for instructing those who combat the evils, not actual texts used in unholy rites or ceremonies.
But when he spots the purple book, he recalls some obscure reference he saw years ago about the symbology of a strange secretive cult. The Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye is a secret society whose members have deep interests in all things political and arcane, especially regarding the protection of civilized lands from evil depredations of tyrants. You also recall that the Order has on many occasions placed itself in positions to oppose threats specifically from undead forces.
The lock on the book, however, appears to be made by a experienced smith. On a cursory glance (taking 10 to inspect it), you are not even sure how to even begin to open it. You are sure it is at least of 'good' quality, if not better.
You have not seen any books by Van Richten, but you noticed several shelves containing volumes by one Terac Bel Allen. Bel Allen was active several hundred years ago, during a time when nightmares ruled the lands now known as Ustalav, and he penned many works claimed to contain details of his encounters with a variety of creatures.
While many believe his tales of supernatural encounters to be fanciful stories of fiction, others have claimed that only by reading his books were they able to survive encounters of their own.
You do not find any traps on the lock. Its size and complexity appear to be enough for the owner to protect the contents.
Nothing else of note comes to mind.
You do not detect magic on any of the books throughout the house.
But while looking through the house, you do begin to notice that certain areas have books grouped together by topic. The largest of these areas actually covers several rooms, with hundreds of books detailing the secrets and activities of evil cults throughout the world.
Characters may use the texts in Lorrimor's house on evil cults for further research, should they wish to do so. Such research takes 8 hours for one person. If multiple people would like to research at the same time, the time requirement is reduced according to the success of their skill checks. Such research requires either knowledge (arcana), knowledge (history), or knowledge (religion) checks. Each person must make their own check, this is not a situation in which you can aid each other.
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl takes a measured drink of the mulled wine provided after examining the locked tome and then hands it back to Roland.
I don't see anything out of the ordinary, poisoned needles or the like; although if there is some spell on it I could not tell you so. Let's have a look inside and then call it a night.
He pauses for a moment, mulling some idea over.
As I think on it, should we post a watch? I did not like the aspect of that man Gibs.
I don't see why I shouldn't share what I've found out. Let me know if at any point I'm taking too many liberties.
I'm sure I've heard the name 'Whispering Way' before... but maybe only in passing? Oh well.
Roland begins pointing out the books to Michael, and anyone else who cares to pay attention. It's clear from his expression, and the confidence in his voice, that he is very much in his element when it comes to scholarly pursuits.
"This first book, with the black cover is On Verified Madness. It's quite an old volume by the looks of it. The subject is... well, those horrors from beyond, mixed in with starry wisdom and occult lore dealing with the Far Realm and the Dark Tapestry. I've never read it, but know it by reputation. It's... not a book to be read if you want to continue sleeping easily."
He points to the next book, the one with the brown and red cover.
"That's an abridged breakdown of Serving Your Hunger. The original text is the unholy book of Urgathoa. I'm not as familiar with the more religious aspects, but fundamentally, Urgathoa is a goddess of undeath."
He moves onto the ivory text.
"This, too, is a scholarly exploration of an unholy text. In this case, The Umbral Leaves, which is the scripture of Zon-Kuthon. I must stress that neither of these books would be useful as primary sources for evil. However, I understand why the Professor would keep them hidden."
Roland taps his chin.
"A strange mix of works. What could he have needed all three for?"
His gaze hovers back to the purple tome Karl is currently examining, and he snaps his fingers suddenly.
"Of course! I remember now where I've seen this symbology before! Years ago I was assisting the Professor in some research, and I found some reference to a secret society called the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. It was rumoured they used arcane and political means to protect civilization from evils and tyrants... with an especial interest in combating the undead."
He glances at Michael and Shanoa before continuing.
"The Professor told me he believed they were a myth, but this book may hold some clues as to the truth of the existence of the organization and..."
He stops abruptly and his eyes widen. Could Professor Petros Lorrimor have been a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye?
I don't see anything out of the ordinary, poisoned needles or the like; although if there is some spell on it I could not tell you so. Let's have a look inside and then call it a night.
Roland snaps out of his reverie. "Uh, yes of course." He takes back the book and sits down to take a closer look at the mechanism.
We can assume at this point, I take that 10.
After several long minutes of fiddling and examination, Roland lets out a defeated sigh.
"I'm afraid this is quite a well crafted lock... I'm sorry, but it's simply far beyond my level of ability. It's clearly intended to keep out the unwanted, and looks like it may need a special key. I'm concerned I may damage the mechanism, or the book, if I try and force it - and we do have to return it to one of the Professor's associates back in Lepidstadt."
Roland looks apologetically at Karl. Not a great first impression. Now they'll think I'm a braggart for talking up my skill with devices.
|The Slaughter Priest|
As I do not have any of the relevant knowledge skills, I will concentrate my investigation on the Journal.
I rolled a Perception check for you, result 19.
As you flip through the journal, you start considering the dates of the entries, as well as the date the Professor was found. Something about the timing of the recent events has grabbed your attention, but you cannot quite figure out the connection.
|The Slaughter Priest|
It is fairly obvious to The Slaughter Priest that the final entries in the Professor's Journal occurred prior to his death. Hence, these entries suggest the motive, methodology and opportunity.
But how do I investigate without tipping my hand? I think I would just have to nudge the others in the right direction.
Oorin's eyes glitter at hearing the names of the books mentioned; specifically: On Verified Madness, Serving Your Hunger and The Umbral Leaves. "Ah, it can be difficult to find quality academic works on the "darker" deities. Too many are written by people already under the sway of that deities beliefs or condemantions of such. Neither has much intellectual value. If time permits, I'd like to take a closer look at those."
He pauses for a momentwith his brow furrowed. "I could've sworn there was something else...Oh, yes! While I found nothing magical in my perusals I did note that the Professor did organise his works in a rough categorical system. Much of it, unsurprsingly, deals with secret cults and whatnot. I'll see if I can find anything worthwhile."
Oorin will spend the 8 hours on research
K: Arcana 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13 Hrmph. I'm guessing Oorin keeps getting distracted by interesting sidetopics that have no relevancy whatsoever.
"It looks like we have much to learn about what was going on here, as well as what the Professor was really up to - but I'm afraid that will have to wait until morning. I'd still like to ask Kendra many questions, which I hope will make much of this clearer." She pauses momentarily, as if unsure of how to proceed, looking around at her companions a bit uncomfortably. "If you don't mind, I believe further introductions are in order. I don't know any of you, and if we are to work together for the next month I'd like to remedy that.
"As for myself, I grew up a girl of modest means of Courtaud in Lozeri, some 75 miles almost due north from here. I already mentioned my younger childhood was not a pleasant one, though I was never mistreated or abused as such - I don't want to sound as if I've had worse troubles than others. I met the Professor when he took interest in an unfortunate encounter I had as a teenager with some sort of phantom. I've been working odd jobs since I came of age and even traveled as far as Galt on one occasion to meet an acquaintance of the late Professor. It really is amazing what a traveled man he was - how did he ever have time for family with when he kept himself so busy?"
|Karl the Bastard|
Very well Shanoa. My name is Karl. I grew up in the hill country in the west of Vieland, two days further north of your home in Courtaud. I am a hunter, tracker and guide by trade and met the Professor in the Shudderwood, northwest of here less than half a year ago. I did a good turn for him there, and he did more than the same for me. I have not seen him since, but he has had a great impact on my life nonetheless.
"It looks like we have much to learn about what was going on here, as well as what the Professor was really up to - but I'm afraid that will have to wait until morning. I'd still like to ask Kendra many questions, which I hope will make much of this clearer."
Roland nods, and stifles a yawn, suddenly realizing just how exhausted he is.
"Indeed, it is getting later in the evening, and Miss Lorrimor may be able to help clear up some more details after a good night's sleep. It's been an exhausting day for all of us, I should think."
"If you don't mind, I believe further introductions are in order. I don't know any of you, and if we are to work together for the next month I'd like to remedy that.
Roland listens to Shanoa and Karl's introductions before adding in.
"I was a student of Professor Lorrimor's when he was still lecturing at the University of Lepidstadt, and we've kept up a regular correspondence ever since. I actually always considered myself something of a protégé of his."
"I, myself, am a scholar and an academic. I would call myself an expert in matters alchemical... potions, unguents, extracts; that sort of thing. That specialty includes a working knowledge of medicine, anatomy and herbalism. Along side this is a study of arcane matters - with an especial interest in ancient occult history. Though I admit I've very little magical aptitude of my own, I consider myself quite well-versed in arcane theory."
Roland clears his throat and suddenly looks a little sheepish.
"Sorry, that was probably terribly boring. Most people... don't exactly find interest in the same things I do. And I'm afraid I haven't led a very exciting life outside of the libraries and laboratories of the university."
|The Slaughter Priest|
"I am Michael Thronedweller, a paladin of Iomedae. When I was a child, I was hospitalized by a skeletal guard in Ustalav, and he came to investigate why a 13 year old lad with no extraordinary powers had survived such an attack. He agreed to teach me how to better defend myself against these creatures, and has corresponded with me ever since. Though oddly enough, he never mentioned having a daughter." Michael adds the last part as an afterthought, frowning to himself.
"Oorin...Koona Bison?" Michael tries hopefully, but sighs as he hears himself cough it out wrong. "Well, either way, it's a pleasure to meet all of you. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who was a friend of the Professor's is a friend of mine. He was a good man, and had a good judge of character."
Turning to Shanoa, Michael raises an eyebrow. "Strange. Your story and mine sound remarkably similar. I suppose that's just one trait that we share. Though I'm pleased to see you're alright."
Oorin, when did you want to conduct your research? It is approximately 9pm by the time you finish your initial review where you went around using detect magic. That would put you at 5am if you wanted to start immediately.
I am assuming you want to start the following day, but please let me know if you want to do something different.
If anybody has anything else they want to accomplish in the evening, let me know and we'll resolve it asap.
If everyone is ready to move on, the next scene begins the next morning meeting with Kendra in her study. As soon as you're ready to progress into the morning, please post questions or lines of inquiry you want to discuss with Kendra. Please post as much as you can and I'll summarize the scene again with Kendra answering as much as possible once all the characters have had a chance to get involved.
Shanoa gives a short but courteous smile to Michael, still unsure how she felt about the handsome paladin.
Though an eclectic group, it seemed natural that each one could have become one of the Professor's most trusted friends. She lets out a deep sigh. "Well, it sounds like we'll have a busy day tomorrow. I suggest we turn in and get an early start." She picks up her pack and finds an empty room, unpacking her few belongings before finally resting for a moment on the bed, reviewing and considering all that had happened today. Things are likely worse than any of us have expected. I'd best be prepared.
From her pack she pulls out two empty flasks, setting them on the floor and kneeling before them. In a quiet ritual, she calls on Milani to fill and bless the water as a ward against the undead they'd likely be facing much sooner than she'd like.
Casts Create Water, followed by Bless Water x2
Setting the full flasks next to her bed, she lays down and settles into an uneasy slumber.
|The Slaughter Priest|
Roland replaces the purple tome in the chest, and gives a polite nod to anyone who intends to stay up.
"I'll be heading off to bed, too."
He gathers up his coat, backpack and cane, and follows Shanoa upstairs to find himself a room.
He briefly considers setting out his alchemical equipment, but finds he's too tired to be bothered with it tonight.
Tomorrow morning I can ask if the Professor had a lab set up in the house, and perhaps make use of that. He may even have some unfinished experiments I can take care of.
Roland lies back on the bed and stares at the roof for a while, considering what an unusual turn his life has suddenly taken.
What have you gotten me into, Professor?
He nods off a half-hour later.