|Karl the Bastard|
Shanoa considers for a moment. "As much as I hate the idea, going at night may be wise. I don't think we should let the townsfolk know we're going there - they seem to be skittish enough as it is - I'd rather we not have more rumors flying around if we can help it. I suppose we could still go by day if we left town from the other direction and then skirted around the town to approach the prison. Also, I'd like to make some more holy water before we go - I used all mine this morning."
That sounds like a good idea to me. Let's retire to the house; we'll ready ourselves to infiltrate Harrowstone in the morning well rested and with all of our strength. Roland, Arthur, what do you think?
Roland will also carry one of the syphons and is happy to also have some oil on hand.
"Frankly, I don't even like that Oorin isn't here with us right now. We can't afford to lose another like we lost Michael..."
"He is, however, with Kendra." Roland points out. "And her safety is paramount. In fact, I'd prefer to ensure her safety before we go anywhere."
"Of course! Roland, we could work together and try to open the lock on this book I've been carrying around since we got the Professor's effects! This might have the information we need!"
Roland thinks on this for a moment, then shakes his head. "I think I'd rather not. The lock is very complex, and I'd hate to damage the book as the Professor wants us to return it to someone in Lepistadt. Indeed... had the Professor intended for us to open it, it is likely he would have left us the key."
"As much as I hate the idea, going at night may be wise. I don't think we should let the townsfolk know we're going there - they seem to be skittish enough as it is - I'd rather we not have more rumors flying around if we can help it. I suppose we could still go by day if we left town from the other direction and then skirted around the town to approach the prison. Also, I'd like to make some more holy water before we go - I used all mine this morning."
"That sounds like a good idea to me. Let's retire to the house; we'll ready ourselves to infiltrate Harrowstone in the morning well rested and with all of our strength. Roland, Arthur, what do you think?"
"I have some Alchemists Fire brewing at the house... but, ah, it'll be a few more days before it's ready. But I admit, we need to act before things get any worse in the town." He sighs. "Even so, we really should be rested and prepared before we do anything. And again, we must make sure Kendra won't be harmed while we're away."
He clears his throat, and looks away, slightly embarrassed to admit his cowardice to Shanoa. "And, ah... I would also be more comfortable going to the prison while the sun is up..."
What a great way to impress a lady...
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl gathers up any unclaimed haunt siphons and oils of spirit interaction and brings them back to the house house to pass out, making sure that Shanoa and Arthur each get one of the oils. We can apply these to our weapons when the time comes. Let's try to be sparing with them though.
He then goes through his pack,deciding which items to take, and which to leave in his room at the Lorrimor house. I probably won't need my tent or my bedding he mumbles to himself as he goes through the items, and this iron pot is right out but the rope should be useful, and these sunrods as well.
Afterwards, he applies his normal whetstone to his daggers and javelins before taking his care and honing his greatsword with the magical whetstone he received at the false tomb. Finally he looks to his armor, checking for weak links and rust, then applying a fresh coat of oil mixed with ashes to keep the links rust free and dulled against reflecting lights.
When he has seen to his gear, Karl gets what sleep he can before taking a watch during the middle hours of the night.
Anyone else want to take a watch tonight?
Shanoa passes the afternoon restlessly. When night finally falls she retires to her room and lays out two more empty flasks, kneeling before them and reciting several incantations which fill them with water before the water very subtly changes hue. Thinking of the events of this morning, she checks the window to make sure it's latched and shuttered before finally changing into her night clothes and climbing into bed. I'm not eager for the morning to come... she thinks as she drifts off to sleep.
casts create water followed by bless water x2. I'll need a full night's rest to recover my spells, unfortunately.
The road south out of town intersects with a wide trail about one mile south of Ravengro. A dilapidated sign indicates the trail leads to Harrowstone Prison. The trail was covered in stone at one point, but the decades of neglect have left it overgrown with tall grass and weeds.
The trail winds to the southeast for a few hundred yards before you emerge from the forest. A large hill rises in front of you, with a stone wall and guard towers resting on top. The trail continues around the base of the hill until it reaches the southern side where it turns up the incline. At the top of the hill are a set of rusting iron and wooden gates supported by two large towers. They creak softly as the wind pushes them to and fro. Beyond the gate, you see the two-story building known as Harrowstone.
A couple of notes for the courtyard, using the map I posted in the Discussion thread. This is some basic information you can see as you approach the gate (nobody has entered the courtyard at this point).
The gate is located on the south side of the courtyard (R1). A small brick building is visible southwest of the main prison (R3); it appears to be a workshop or home, and the front door is hanging askew, opening the interior to the elements. The wall surrounding the prison is overgrown with ivy and weeds, and the stones are obliviously crumbling. There are a couple of guard towers still standing (R2).
A large pool of murky water covers the eastern side of the courtyard (R10). In some places, ruined areas of the wall still stand, providing you with an idea about where the wall once stood. It appears that part of the prison has collapsed into the pool.
The prison itself has suffered badly during the past 50 years. The walls and decorations are crumbling, and large sections of the roof are missing shingles, leaving the rafters open to the sky. Large piles of rubble cover the ground around the base of the prison, and rusting bars cover all the windows. There was once a set of large front doors, but only one remains, the other lost to vandals or time (R4). From your vantage point, you only see darkness beyond the door.
What's the weather like?
Shanoa tries to put on a brave face as they leave in the morning, but as they walk out of town towards the prison she becomes more and more anxious, her eyes darting from shadow to shadow. As the walls of the prison come into view, her heart beats increasingly faster and her step falters for a moment before she looks around, and being reassured by the presence of her companions, continues onward. She tries to concentrate on the reassuring soft clink of the flasks of liquid at her side as they make the final approach to the gate. Taking a deep breath, she pulls one of the giant wooden doors open to gaze upon the courtyard. Almost breathlessly, she says in a low voice, "Let's look in that smaller building before we try and find a way in to the prison."
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl nods and quietly says. That's fine, let's all go in together.
He takes his greatsword in hand, balanced on one shoulder and ready for a quick strike before moving forward to the smaller building, eyes wary.
Stealth: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27
Roland may not be a "people person," but on the trip to the prison he can practically sense the uneasiness in his companions - especially from Shanoa. As they reach the gates of the imposing structure, he tries to give her a reassuring smile.
It's a fair effort, if not exactly successful.
As she turns to open the doors, his eyes sweep over the crumbling facade.
Professor... you came here by yourself? I knew you were a brave man, but this seems foolhardy... even with numbers. He looks around at his companions, noting the painful absence of Michael.
I almost struck him in the tomb. The poor lad. He feels a sudden, odd rush of anger, and his hand tightens on his cane. These restless spirits have already decimated our number and we've never even set foot within the walls of this place! We will not suffer another loss!
Roland looks to Karl - perhaps and unlikely, but defacto leader? Worldly, well-traveled, his sword slung over his shoulder, looking every inch the brave warrior prepared to stride into danger.
His gaze shifts to Shanoa - clearly terrified, but willing to confront her very real fears to carry on the Professor and Michael's legacies. Boldly taking point and throwing open the doors of madness and horror.
He looks to Oorin - an odd gnome who admitted he barely knew the Professor, but earnest and good enough to step into a dangerous situation when innocents were threatened. Possessed of a keen curiosity that must drive him the way the Professor's did.
Finally, to Arthur - the Slaughter Priest. In many ways, an enigma - eerily calm in the face of almost certain doom.
Brave heroes, all. Michael and the Professor deserve to be here with them. Not me. I'm the cowardly scholar who should be safely back at Kendra's...
His heart pounding, Roland watches Shanoa throw open the doors, half expecting an army of ghostly prisoners to pour out and consume them. When nothing happens, he audibly sighs in relief.
"Let's look in that smaller building before we try and find a way in to the prison."
That's fine, let's all go in together.
Perception 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
Roland's eyes dart hither and yon as the quintet all begin to advance into the threshold of Harrowstone; every shadow and rustle is enough to cause his stomach to lurch.
The group pushes the gate open and moves into the courtyard. As you get closer to the smaller building, you notice that it definitely appears to be a house rather than a workshop or office.
The atmosphere in the courtyard is almost oppressive, and as the wind shifts slightly, all of you are assailed by the stench of burning flesh and wood. It appears that the worst of it comes from the east, somewhere around the murky pool of water. Just as it threatens to overwhelm you, the wind shifts again and all traces of smoke and death are gone.
Suddenly, Roland begins coughing and choking. He slaps at his arms and chest, throwing his hands into the air. A hoarse scream escapes his lips as he drops to the ground and starts rolling around, "It burns, the fire! It burns!"
|The Slaughter Priest|
Fort save 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15
Wild with sudden panic, flames dancing in his vision, Roland doesn't seem to see or hear Shanoa, and slips away from her... only to be caught by the strong hands of the The Slaughter Priest. He struggles, but is no match for the firm grip of the Oracle of Battle, shrieking.
"We're burning alive! Why won't they let us ouuuuuuuttttttt!?"
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl looks at Roland in shock and horror, unsure of what to do, he drops his sword and grabs his haunt siphon. He twists the vial open and whispers under his breath Pharasma, let this work!
Positive Energy: 2d6 ⇒ (6, 6) = 12
As the haunt siphon opens, the gas inside the vial erupts outward and hovers in the air for a moment, before flying directly at Roland. The smoke dissipates as it hits him, and he slumps forward.
Roland blinks and looks up, his eyes once again clear, and no longer suffering from the haunt.
As Roland calms, Shanoa scrambles back to her feet, suddenly feeling self-conscious. She looks around for some indication of who might have caused Roland to lose his sanity like that, but not seeing anyone other than their group, becomes still...and frightened. "What just happened?"
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl looks around wary as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
What happened Roland? Are you ok? Also, not to alarm anyone, but there is a skull on the steps of the main building.
He slowly places the spent vial into his backpack and takes his sword back up again.
His words come out in a strained whisper. We should keep moving. I don't think staying in one place for a while is a very good idea here.
Roland slumps in the Slaughter Priest's grip, shaking his head. His voice comes out hoarse.
"My... my apologies..."
He clears his throat, and tries to smile, voice quaking, face pale.
"You... ah... can let me go now, Arthur. Whatever came over me seems to have ended."
"What just happened?"
"Are you ok?"
"I don't know. As we crossed into the courtyard I was suddenly overcome with visions of flames... and a terrible sense of being trapped. It was so real..."
Roland shudders, the intense feeling over overwhelming heat still fresh in his mind.
We're not welcome here... we're trespassing on a grave...
Unconsciously, he makes the sign of Pharasma's spiral over his heart.
"We should keep moving. I don't think staying in one place for a while is a very good idea here."
We should flee while we still can!
"Ah... yes... and let's be sure not to get separated if we can help it."
As you all look around, it becomes obvious that the small house is on the verge of collapsing. The interior has been ransacked and destroyed, and there does not appear to be anything of value inside.
|Karl the Bastard|
No need to apologize, Karl tells Roland with a forced grin. We're just glad you're ok. Best to not let him know how much that rattled me. Panic is death here.
There are rats in the Western guard tower, and red markings on the front of the main prison building, Karl whispers to the others as he points out the red eyes and red markings for the others. And there is that skull as well. There's something I really don't like about that skull.
Knowledge(Nature): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20 to know general swarm traits. Nice, that should cover it!
If the rats swarm us, that alchemists fire of yours should be effective, Roland. Keep some close to hand, as they'll probably be too small for my sword to be effective. If they're of the larger variety, they'll cut easy enough, though the fur and meat are nothing to write home about. Let's not provoke them if we can avoid it, but in this place, well, who knows how they'll act?
Shanoa freezes as she realizes what she's looking at. Without turning, eyes fixed on the skull, she asks, "Wasn't one of the murderers that died here trying to recreate his lovers' skull by piecing together bits from his victims?"
"Yes, indeed," Oorin murmurs peering more closely at the skull. "Is this just a psychotic habit or is there necromancy at play?"
Oorin casts Detect Magic on the skull.
0-level: Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Disrupt Undead, Read Magic
1-Level: Mage Armor, Stumble Gap, True Strike
Specialization: Burning Hands
Spellcraft 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
"This is strange," Oorin says still looking at the skull. "It's definitely magical and seems to be both illusory and necromatic...a magical trap perhaps. Possibly designed to trick the unwary into investigating but it could also be concealing something of importance."
Oorin shakes his head in frustration. "I don't know enough of these people's methods. You don't place traps for no reason; it's either designed to keep something out (or in) or to guard something. I don't know which."
"Also, there's a set of arcane red marks and lines which, as far as I can tell, surround the prison in its entirety. They appear to be...well, I'm not completely sure what they are. Something to facilitate a summoning perhaps?"
Oorin's voice takes on a worried tone, "These magics are unusual and unique. A great deal of planning and time has gone into this and we've barely scratched the surface. The Professor was right to fear what was happening here but I'm afraid he didn't fear ir enough. There's more going on here than an unusual haunting or two."
You were a brave and intelligent man Professor but you were in over your head on this one. I wonder, after all the time you spent investigating, what it was that triggered the need for you to be killed.
|The Slaughter Priest|
As his katana touches the skull, it disintegrates into a small pile of dust.
I'm going to assume you look around a bit from the ground, and there are several locations of note. Let me know if you want to investigate any of these locations.
R2: Guard Tower
When you get within twenty feet of the tower, the rats begin to get very agitated. If you retreat, they calm back down.
R6: West Balcony
Stairs lead up to this balcony. From the ground, you can see several barred windows in the main building that overlook the balcony.
R7: East Balcony
The northern portion of this balcony has crumbled away into a pile of rubble amid the gently rippling waters of a dark pool of water. Ivy hangs down from the walls in thick, matted lengths, while dense tangles of vines decorated with deep red and violet flowers adorn the balcony’s edges above. There does not appear to be an easy way to get up to the balcony from the ground.
R8: Upper Balcony
This balcony sits twenty feet off the ground. You can see that unlike the others, it is constructed of wood, not stone. There does not appear to be any way to get up to the balcony other than climbing.
This deep pit was obviously where the prison discarded all of their refuse. Even today, fifty years later, the foul stench of the pit assaults your senses if you get too close.
R10: Murky Pond
This large pond of dark, muddy water spreads out along the eastern section of the prison grounds. Here and there, bits of ruined wall protrude from the water, and thick tangles of reeds and cattails grow along the muddy shores.
You also have the entrance to the prison at R4 if you desire to simply walk through the front door.
Shanoa is startled at the sudden destruction of the skull, but grateful to have it gone. "I suppose we'd better look around a bit before we head inside." She walks over to the murky pond, morningstar in her hand at the ready, her eyes darting here and there for signs of danger.
perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
|Karl the Bastard|
Karl steps up beside Shanoa. Inside the pool, or inside the prison? His eyes travel warily, on the lookout for any signs of danger.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
|The Slaughter Priest|
|Karl the Bastard|
Fair enough, prison it is. Karl makes his way to the entrance, as he does, he says in a low voice, Oorin, that magical writing... I don't know much about such things, but if we were to erase it, would that be good or bad? I mean, if the Whispering Way put it there, shouldn't we take it down?
He leaps at you, swinging his hammer at your head, but at the moment of impact, the image dissapates and he is gone. You feel a quick rush of air, but that is the only evidence that what you saw was real...
This entire episode takes approximately one second of game time.
Roland is sure to stay close to the rest of the group, clearly still shaken from the earlier experience.
Not too much to add at the moment - and a busy weekend will limit my ability to post for the next day or so.
Shanoa nods and cautiously approaches the entrance to the prison. With a few words of incantation, her morningstar begins to shine bright as a torch, illuminating the path in front of her. "Goddess light my way." Thus prepared, she takes a deep breath and steps inside.
I have posted a link to a map of the prison in the Discussion thread. I will use that map for references, uncovering portions of it as the party progresses.
S1: This was once a wide hall flanked by a pair of waiting rooms, but the foyer to Harrowstone now lies in ruins. With little left to hold up the ceiling, the wooden beams above sag dramatically. The wall to the north contains a large pair of oaken doors. The doors are open, and with the illumination from the light spell, you can see:
S2: Streaks of mold stain the walls of this foyer, and the floor below is a thick, gray carpet of fungal growth. Sturdy wooden doors beckon from every wall. There is a single door to the west, double doors to the north, double doors and a single door to the east.
|The Slaughter Priest|