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The man claps his hands with joy.
A...Ama...Amazing. Tha...thank you!.
He stands and waves you in to his office.
The pri..prisoner and his case I...I...I think is interesting. There are thr...three main ch...charges besides the br...break in.
He stutters through them: The murder of 10 citizens of the village of Morast a year ago; the slaying of six children in the farming community of Hergstag 7 months ago; and the arson attack 4 months ago at the Sanctuary on Karb Isle, which resulted in the deaths of Doctor Brada and his patients and the blinding of the doctor’s assistant, Karl.
He hasn't interviewed the main witnesses from each of the three cases to be discussed at the trial but he has found that the stories are very plausible.
I...I wo..would see justice done, however, I...I am cer... certain that wi...without ev...evidence in its favor, the Beast wi...will be convicted.
He is willing to assist the you with their investigations (unless he is at court). His role in court is to present evidence, cross examine witnesses, and clear the Beast of any wrongdoing. Because of his stutter, however, he suggests that if you find any evidence that can help the Beast, it might be better for one of you or some of you to present it.
Gustav is very concerned about time. He informs you that the trial is about to commence - in three days, and that preliminary evidence has been presented to the three justices.
W... w... would you like to me...meet the pri... prisoner?
The book Father Toth? I think we will need to see. As for the rest? Excellent - then we have a deal. Wait here - as for the.
She leaves you alone for a longish period then returns with a handheld casket.
She parcels out a pair small pouches of leather each containing 50 platinum to each of them to each of you.
The agreed upon sum will be paid out after the trial itself.
Add 100pp each
She gives you directions to Gustav Keppell's temporary office in the courthouse.
As the lawyer in charge of the defense it will be he who can secure access to the prisoner. I recommend you represent yourselves as concerned visitors who wish to see justice done and offer your aid. I am not wrong in my guess that he will leap at it.
With that she gives her apologies but she has preparations of her own to undertake.
Is there anything else?
I'll nudge things along a bit
Your path takes you to the nearby impressive stone building that squats rather than sits near the center of town... a building that has an impressive amount of people lingering outside it, periodically muttering to each other about "The thrice damned Beast" and how it would be burned alive all too soon.
Guards, who watch the loose mob with wary eyes bar your entrance until you mention Gustav Keppell and allow you in, giving you directions. In short order you stand outside the door and knock.
Y...Ye... Yes? a voice from inside replies C.. Com... Come i.. Come in.
The door swings open to reveal a man in his late twenties or early thirties with thinning hair combed awkwardly to hide the baldness.
Can I hel... help you?, he stutters.
indeed it is a very curious case indeed. I heard much about the Beast over the years... Not all of it bad - there are scattered incidences of the creature scaring away wolves, saving travellers and even one story where the Beast exchanged flowers with a child before it was chased away. I have met with it and conversed with it - "He". In many ways he is remarkable, so much so it would be impossible to describe to some who hasn't seen him.
I also know of my fellow countrymens tendencies towards superstition- acts of improbable murders and frenzied stories of destruction have been attributed to him, along with tales of missing cattle or goats giving sour milk. The random sightings and stories of terror have that have followed the creature cause me to doubt if all of them are true and if any are, in fact, true.
As a magistrate I am unable to intervene- I must judge the case on its merits but I would not see "mob justice" rule in the courts. I would have some one who is independent investigate the three main charges against the Beast to see if there is any truth to them... Because at the end of this trial I would have true justice.
A lawyer has been assigned to the case in favour of the Defense - Gustav Keppell , but the demands of the case appear to be too much for him... In addition to his natural limitations. I would be willing to pay your friend in addition to your bequeathed monies if you are willing to meet with the Beast and pay again the same sum as Petros' legacy if you agree to help Gustav in investigating the facts of the case. Some of you already seem eager for this chance.
You would need to be discrete - while I am all for giving the Beast a chance of real justice I cannot be seen to be playing a part in it other than that of judge. Petros saw fit to trust you and so I do too. Would you see true justice done?
Petros also would have left a tome - bound in purple leather with a Brass scarab - I believe this was to return to me? I know because I helped draft the will.
As for your companion Nalun, he was included in the bequest. For your other companion- maybe we can work something out... Indeed there is something I think we can help each other
I take it you have heard of the capture of the Beast? What think you of the situation?
The walk to the Judge's house (in a better part of town) is uneventful.
You knock and are admitted by a young woman to the house where an elderly woman reads by the fire.
She rises and faces you.
I am Judge Embreth Daramid... would you be the beneficiaries in Petro's will? I believe you may have something for me?
Embreth Daramind? He is a 'She', he chuckles. She is one
He writes out an affidavit for you and signs it.
As for the Beast itself? It just stood outside quietly while it was chained before it started bellowing and striving to break free... then it just gave up and let itself be led to the jail. Most particular.
In the prison, securely bound in heavy chains and behind stout bars or so I am told but the Beast is not available for open viewing - else to many of the mob would have ventured in to throw refuse and worse at the creature. I doubt you could get audience without permission of one of the magistrates in town for the trial. The trial is in few days. The day of the trial will be fixed in a day or two.
That, friend Priest, is EXACTLY my thoughts - it makes no sense whatsoever. I can't conceive of single reason for that creature to come in here and destroy the place... plus of course, where the effigy is now of course - I mean if the creature did steal it? What did he do with it? Eat it?
He stops mid arm waving rant.
Apologies - I am a little distraught - like I said its going to take weeks to repair the damage let alone get things back in order. Thank you for the books, but not the news of dear Petros' death. Is there anything else I can do for you?
Its simply one curio among many... now the Kellid on the other hand, thats different. The Kellid were the original people of Ustalav but have been largely displaced by Varisian and Skald immigration as well as the more obvious depoluation caused by the Whispering Tyrant. It was said they once worshiped strange and dark gods. Kellid pure bloods are rare and the once mighty people, famous for their barbarous ways and skill in battle are likely farmers or city folk these days. The language of the Kellids, Hallit, is still spoken in pockets of Ustalav.
Missing? An old statue - An ancient Kellid artifact. We called it "The Sea-Sage effigy"... I have a drawing of it... where did I put it? From what we know of it, it was held by their shamans who were said to have prophetic dreams...Ah here we are.
The artists rendition is of a curious statue with a vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of tentacles, a scaly, flabby-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. The whole of the creature is slightly unsettling.
Golem? It's a magical construct... in this case re-animated tissue made to have a semblance of life through magic! This Beast looks like it has been sewn together from many bodies and not all of may be human.
Dr Crowl looks sad indeed when he hears of Lorrimors death. Our halls will seem so much emptier with out his occassional visit to challenge us and our thinking. I always enjoyed his lectures. You have books to return you say. Ha! Thats Petros for you - I dare say he "borrowed" them from our vault - indeed I'd bet a gold to a copper thats exactly what happened.
He receives the books (except for the one to be returned to Judge Daramid) with a sigh. Ah Petros old friend, I'll be poorer for your loss.
He places the books carefully on a nearby table and sweeps a hand around the room.
Exciting times, what?, he exclaims. The Beast was caught outside this very room. He made a devil of a mess breaking in, clumsy as the proverbial bull in a pottery shop! And the time still needs to be spent renewing the wards for most of the displays that were damaged - we're doing inventory now but so far it seems that only one exhibit is actually missing.
Simeon knows that the display cases are protected by magics (an electrical form of 'Fire trap', normally needing a specialised lengthy ritual magic to cast).
It will take some considerable time to put them back in place - some of them had been in place for over a hundred years without incident and now? Its going to take Old Ygenivy weeks to do the work.
Ygenivy Pavlov, Master of Applied Magics is know to both the University Alumni. He is rumoured to the strongest (and eldest) wizard at the university though it was rumoured that Lorrimor (years younger) had the old wizards measure.
Surprised that the Beast wasn't burned to a cloud of gas by all the discharges of energy but then again the Beast is nothing if not extraordinary - a Flesh golem would you believe!?
Simeon and Nalun are both very familiar with the city and in short order have you at the University. Recently renovated, Lepidstadt is a bustling, lively city of students and academics, with newly bricked streets, wide plazas, and grandiose structures built from imported wood and stone. Away from the university and city center, however, the narrow, winding streets of Lepidstadt show the signs of its age, with dilapidated hovels, crumbling stone walls, and cramped courtyards.
Simeon knows of Doctor Montagnie Crowl, a some what eccentric man (but then again most of the faculty are too) who leads the Antiquities Department.
When you arrive at the University you are greeted by the sight of several builders and craftsman working to repair the damage to the Antiquities building. In short order you are able to track down Dr. Crowl.
Busy busy busy around here Professor Plavini... I understood you were on sabbatical. What brings you hear at this exciting time? And who are your friends?
Emmett rests and recovers in the wagon and within a few days you roll into the small city of Lepidstadt.
Founded in 3898 AR, Lepidstadt is the largest settlement in all of Vieland and effectively acts as the county's capital since the governing council is based there. Its population is normally around ten thousand or so but from the streets? You can tell the people gathering for the trial of the beast has swelled its local population by more than a tenth of that.
Gravecharge is the name of the central cathedral of Pharasma in the Ustalavic city of Lepidstadt. It is overseen by its head priest, Father Eswayne Cidaimoikis.
You roll up, after asking for directions, to Kendra's new townhouse and begin unpacking. The move takes about a day to complete and by the evening you are tired but happy with the progress you have made, the move in complete and just some unpacking to remain.
Finally the caravan leader looks a little offended. This Beast has been a cause of trouble and strife for many years. It has been feared and decried - that why the crowds gather to see The Beast enter the 'Punishing Man'
The Punishing Man is a large effigy made of wood, wicker and other combustible materials that the worst offenders are put inside before being burned alive.
My thanks Friend priest - we would welcome your presence.
We are bound for the city ourselves to entertain the crowds that have gathered for the punishment of The Beast
The caravan is truly a mixed bunch of performers - mostly deformed but all of them extraordinary. Trollblood is a simpleton but stands near 8 feet tall and is quite strong. The bearded lady, Lidia Gerod,stands near on 7 ft tall and is possessed of a fine beard that brushes her chest. The man with no limbs, 'the human caterpillar' Prince Zar, is apparently an exiled prince of the “Lost Cities of Darkest Garund”, the two remaining 'Pin heads' have heads smaller than their bodies on scale of nearly a quarter or more (Poppy and Lettie) and so on. The Wolf Boy is a very hairy child - apparently from the Shudderwoods but more likely suffering from Hypertrichosis (werewolf syndrome) - he too is a simpleton but is cared for by Poppy and Lettie as if a little brother, and so on.
Tis worse than we feared, says Kaleb Hesse on your return. That we have lost a member of our troupe is heavy on our hearts... but here, your companion looks drained and weary! Let him lay with the prince, our best wagon, as a sign of our concern and gratitude.
The Albino throws aside some heavy curtains to reveal the man who had called out before is without arms or legs!
By reason of his Highness' condition it is our most comfortable as well.
Emmett Escheus wrote:
Emmetts attempts to track is though but they are ultimately fruitless - no sign of anything besides that which can be discerned can be found.
The beast does not appear... the marsh is still
Emmett - make 6 more saves... if you make 2 consecutive saves then you stop losing Con. Otherwise lose 1 con per failed save
You stand ready for the Phase Spider to reappear but for now? Maybe you have beaten it to a draw. Who knows if it will reappear again.
GM Helaman wrote:
Emmett, Elidal, Simeon, Nalun
Nalun-Botting. He continues his song.
Power Attack 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 6 + 2 = 19
The creature pops back in in the midst of you all... and is promptly heavily wounded by a vicious attack by Elidal and then by Simeon. Jaru then puts a bolt into it
It attempts to bite Jaru... before vanishing again.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
The bolt hits it and the creature gives out an inhuman scream.
It tries to bite Emmett again 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13 missing and then disappears.
Emmett save vs poison on your round or take d2 con dmg. You are all left standing in the empty marsh. Nalun inspires you all...
Emmett, Simeon and Elidal...
You press on.
Without warning or any visible sign of approach a spider the size of a large dog appears out of thin air, its head possessed of a human set of features disfigured with large fangs coming out its mouth.
Simeon, Elidal, Jaru, Emmett, Nalun1d6 ⇒ 4
It appears behind Emmett and attempts to bite him.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
It succeeds and does 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7 damage and tries to inject its venom.
I am going to run this one mapless unless anyone has any objection. I'll consider everyone to be within melee or within 5 feet of melee... spell casters can take a virtual 5 ft step back to avoid getting bit while casting spells etc. The critter can also do the same
The creature is undoubledly a Phase Spider but not one come into full growth... nonetheless a deadly foe with a very toxic venom... anti venom is recommended if any have it - with your previous roll of 32 you can read up on the creature direct from the Bestiary if you wish. It comes with the 'Young' template. Reduced to Medium size rather than large so no 'reach' per se
Simeon Plavini wrote:
Without seeing the source of the laughter you cannot identify it but you know many things can imitate human sounds.
Emmett notes more tracks run down into a boggy river valley, and then into a densely vegetated, midge-infested marsh. With high reeds between 6 and 8 feet high blocking clear line of sight Aleece’s tracks soon all but vanish under water.
There is another tittering laugh up ahead through the marsh.
The laughter sounds strange, almost inhuman
The wagoneers seem to take Simeons comments without any display of dismay or offense.
Walking along the roadside, about 20-30 feet from the caravan Emmet and Elidal note where the reeds have been disturbed - likely from someone moving off the road... the broken and bent reeds lead down into a section of hardened mud (still not completely thawed and not yet damp) that leads deeper into the marsh.
Following the trail is not difficult for either of them before the tracks stop suddenly and there is an area that points to something of a disturbance - a wide swath of reeds have been crushed and bent.
Away from the area - around 50 feet or so from your position there is a noise of laughter.
Nalun Phlithmira wrote:
Such 'Freak Shows' are uncommon in the Xenophobic Ustalav but not unheard of and Varisians have been running roving caravan performers for centuries.
To Emmetts concern Kendra assures you she is happy with the two caravan guards as well as the troop itself to guard each other.
If you can help, then please, do not hesitate on my account.
Aleece, dear Mistress, he says in a low voice. She is one of our 'pinheads' and sister to 'Poppy' here, indicating the girl with the smaller than normal head.
A canvas flap is eased aside by a mans head and neck and another performer chimes in. I think something has delayed her... simple she was - perhaps she found a patch of flowers or an interesting frog, he says testily. The rest of the mans body must be within the wagon itself.
Yes your Majesty replies the tall pale ring master. Would you under take a service for us and search for her Masters and Mistress? We'd do what we can to reward you.
Alas' 'Tis so good master - we stopped for a meal and one of our performers wandered off and has not answered to our calls. We know not what has become of her and we are afeared we may become lost as well as she... I am not sure what to do.
I'd have gone if you hadn't said 'no' Kaleb, says a massive woman standing nearly 7 feet tall and possessed of a fine beard down to her waist.
I know Lidia, I know but what good would it do if you wandered into the marsh as well - we are not even sure where she had gotten to - we aren't trackers after all.
A shockingly ugly Ulfen man nearly 8 feet tall, tries comfort the boy who sits and howls by awkward stroking of the boys head as a girl with a head half the side that it should be hugs him while she weeps.
The howling comes from a small very hairy boy who howls disconcertingly and seems inconsolable.
A lanky albino man with red eyes and long, white hair that hangs below his knees approaches you, his hands open. The man wears a tall red top hat, a long red coat with gold buckles, and striped trousers.
Others behind him seem scared at your approach and gather together - all of them having strange and bizarre appearances.
Welcome Masters and Mistresses... I am Kaleb Hesse, the Ringmaster of our little band - sadly now one littler, called 'The Crooked Kin'. We mean no harm and simply had stopped here to rest.
Their wagons, short of being moved into the swamp block your passage at this point.