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The sheriff sighs and stares at Ruth. "Young lady. When you grow up and get responsibilities, then you can lecture me. Until then, keep your opinions to yourself. We don't force people to disarm for no reason. The townsfolk make the rules, I enforce them. I never lied to you, miss. You did me that discourtesy without blinking. If you don't want to deal with this thing, I will. But. Get. The. Hell. Out. Of. My. Town. Understood?" You hear a jostle outside and peer out the door to see the adults of the town standing outside, all armed with clubs, pitchforks, torches. They're looking in at you and don't seem pleased.
The Sheriff shrugs. "Magic's not much of a concern round here. People don't mess with magic. Best to be careful, though. The Wastes are... They're unpredictable. Be careful."
He shakes his head and leaves, coming back shortly with your weapons and a few other items: a longspear, a scroll of scorching ray, and a wand of bless with 20 charges remaining. He also presents you with a glowing arrow, stating “this arrow has been handed down in my family for generations. My great-grandmother used an arrow just like this one to strike through the heart of a wild creature that was trying to tempt people to a watery grave. It wouldn’t feel right not to give you everything I can to help you defend Mercy.” The arrow is a +2 cold iron fey bane arrow.
He also tells you that he's seen the cloak-shaped thing flying with the bats in the past, but it's never acted up like it did today. He suggests that if you follow the bats, they should lead you to the thing. He also looks sideways at the walking doll and suggests you take it too.
Delgros looks somewhat miffed and mutters under his breath, "werewolves are unnatural..."
Estovion looks stricken. "We must clean up his body, there must be a burial. Local customs dictate he must be buried before sundown." He starts to give orders to the staff for the immediate preparation of the body and cleaning of the room.
The Sheriff nods. "I can't leave the town undefended and you lot, for all your lack of social graces, seem to be able to handle yourselves. I'll return your weapons, and in your case, miss," He nods at Ruth, "Overlook the fact you lied to me and kept your sword, and add a couple supplies I've found that might be useful. But that thing, whatever it is, needs to be dealt with."
Knowledge Dungeoneering would serve you well!
The doll Nira toddles inside after you, still murmuring 'murder' in a low voice.
True to his word, after about a half hour the Sheriff comes back and knocks on your door. Coming in, he looks weary. The sheriff sighs, “The world out there is full of evil and terrible things—undead horrors that live for thousands of years, dragons the size of cities, and forces from beyond our world that try to ruin everything they touch. I’m grateful for whatever it is that shields Mercy from storms, keeps us healthy, makes our crops grow, and protects us from monsters like whatever that thing was that swooped overhead today. Does Robori watch over us? Honestly, I’m not so sure, but I’m not as willing as most people around here to leave matters in the hands of faith alone. We need your help. I’m asking you to deal with that monster. Vampire or not, if it can make bats attack like that, it’s a danger to our town, and I can’t risk going off into the Wastes and leaving folk here undefended.”
The swarm bursts into a bright flame as many of the bats burn! A couple of villagers carrying another crock of hot soup fling it upon the remainder of the swarm, dispersing it and sending bats flapping in all directions.
In the midst of the action, one of the 'tarps' covering a cart suddenly flaps into the air, its form changing into a horrid sight: a ray-like creature that opens a toothy maw and leers with glaring red eyes. Behind it whips a menacing tail of segmented bone. It takes to the air, heading south out of town. As it leaves, you can see what spooked it: a small child sized figure with a tilted head that lurches its way into the square, pointing at the fleeing ray-thing and saying in a high pitched voice: "Murder! Murder!"
The Sheriff steps toward you, looking from you to the villagers who are scooping up their children and racing back to their homes. He sighs deeply and shakes his head slowly. “Let me get everyone calmed down and settled at home. I’ll come by the guesthouse in half an hour and talk to you in private.”
Etune moves out of the immediate danger, while pulling out an alchemist's fire.
The swarm seems to lengthen and narrow so that it engulfs Goldur and Ruth both, dealing 1d6 ⇒ 3 damage plus 1 bleed and eliciting a DC 12 Fort save versus distraction!
In the background the villagers are trying to get several children into shelter. All of them appear to be covered with plant-like growths!
Ruth, Florin and Goldur are up!
The rock sails true, but the swarm seems to take no damage from it. However a clever townsperson has thrown a crock of hot soup at the swarm, damaging it!
The swarm wheels and turns toward you, seeking a safe spot! It swarms over Goldur and Florin, dealing 1d6 ⇒ 2 damage and eliciting a Fort save (DC 11) vs distraction!
Florin, Goldur and Ruth are up!
I'll throw you a bone.
As you leave the Temple you can tell that it's close to evening. You pause for a moment outside a small cottage. Three sets of orange robes hang from the clothesline outside of this simple cottage. Two of them are sized for adults, while the other one is sized for a child. The orange flag on this house’s message box is raised. Orange curtains cover all of the windows. However one of the curtains has been pulled back, perhaps to let air or light in, and you catch glimpse of a young girl, maybe 10-12 years old. She spies you and gives a gasp, sinking out of sight as an adult quickly pulls the curtains closed.
You noticed something in the short time you saw the girl, however. She was covered in odd, plant-like growths over her skin. And she smelled like rotten vegetables.
You try to catch another glimpse, but to no avail. Heading back toward the guest house, you arrive just as the three bells ring. There's food in the box for you to eat. You manage to start eating when you hear a scream outside!
Screeches fill the air, accompanied by the sound of thousands of wings crashing through leaves and branches, and the occasional “thud” of something hitting the ground from a great height. The people of Mercy are out in the square, slinging rocks into the trees to frighten away the mass of bats attacking the town.
init, Ruth: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Etune is up, then the BATS!
"What?" The high priestess immediately moves over to Etune and listens to her explanation carefully. When she's finished, the priestess gasps. "I thought I was helping Him! I had no idea! Truly you are the blessed of Robori!" She murmurs a prayer over you. “Wood of the tree speaks a whisper to thee. The sun rises soon. To you, a boon. Such is the will of Robori.”
You will now get a +4 to diplomacy checks to influence villagers.
No rats will answer Risbeth's call, which is odd enough. Looking about the room, no one notices anything immediately odd, but the Professor can verify that the wounds are consistent with those a large wolf might make.
After a few moments the Lodge Warden Estovion comes in, breathless and clearly interrupted in getting dressed. He pales looking at the carnage and nearly chokes. "Who... who could have done this?" He asks in a breathless voice.
Outside the door the other guests and employees gather, gawking at the horrid scene. Only Delgros looks pleased, repeating "I knew it! A werewolf has done this travesty. We must gather our weapons and begin a hunt immediately!"
The woman smiles pleasantly, wiping dirt from her hands onto her robe. "This is a temple to Robori. Welcome to his house."
No sign of evil on her, Florin.
Etune walks to the large twisted tree and begins chatting with it, but it doesn't seem to respond. It does, however, reek of dried hay (sorry, not bay as I posted before). Etune realizes (using that 20 for a Knowledge Nature roll instead!) that it's coming from some sort of oil that has been spread on the ground at the tree's base, seeping into the roots. Brushing aside some of the dirt, she can see that a sort of blight has started in the roots, though it doesn't yet reach the trunk or branches. Clearly whatever oil they spread on the ground here is causing it.
As you confer, there is a sudden scream and the sound of something heavy hitting the floor. It came from the hall, very close to your room!
Throwing open the door, you can see the chambermaid, Bisthe, standing over a dropped tea kettle and platter with rolls spread across the hallways, looking terrified and staring into room D, the Margrave Cilas Graydon's room. She whimpers as you throw the door open and points into the room.
Moving to where you can see into the room, you spy a horrible sight! The Margrave's body, torn apart as if by clawed hands is laying on the floor in the center of the room. His dead eyes stare up at the ceiling, a look of puzzled bafflement on his face! Blood covers everything.
Going outside, you can see that it's after noon now. You head in the direction of the Temple. The temple is the largest building in Mercy. Wooden pews line the east and west side of the building, with a garden on the south. An enormous, twisted tree takes up the north side of the building. A pleasant walkway snakes around the tree up to the temple opening, which has no door. Animals made of twisted twigs adorn the branches, and vanilla orchids flourish in the shade.
As you approach you smell the pungent aroma of bay oil, which seems to be coming from the twisted tree. A woman in orange robes is tending the garden on the south of the building, humming tunelessly to herself.
Only a single rat responds, a scarred bold fellow that scampers in as if he owned the Lodge. He submits to the questions and the food, and answers in a high pitched squeak.
"Two-legs that smell of the dead came. Half the moon ago. Stay a couple suns and leave. The wolf-men stalk the woods, for their leader is dead. Not safe for the People there any more. People from far away flee here, for the dead-smell went off there. The dead-smell dig up the buried two-legs and make them walk again. And here, here the spirits walk and make evil things. Evil things outside, evil things inside. The People are uneasy. The People cannot stay and they cannot flee. But while we remain, we will watch the room for you. The People will watch from the unseen places where we walk."
You recall Robori is the god who is worshipped here. You saw an odd building that might be a temple on your way here. For the life of you, you still can't recall ever hearing of Robori before...
The doll looks at Ruth and seems to be really thinking hard. "Dolls see why children hide. Children... different... ask the plants." The doll seems to really struggle to get this out, as if thinking or remembering is a battle for it.
The doll looks confused at your questions, but perks up when you mention children. "Dolls see why children hide!" She starts gesturing outside, you think toward the Temple of Robori.
You get the impression that the transition to doll-hood was not easy and Amenira's soul may be having trouble settling into a new body. Perhaps time will improve it?
You scan the doll for magic and it radiates a faint necromantic aura you've heard of in tales. The stories tell of dolls that arise when a soul or piece of soul is embedded in a doll...
The doll smiles at Ruth and thrusts out its hand. A piece of paper is crumpled in it. When you take it, you recognize a scroll of enter image.
In the spellbook on the table you find the following spells: alarm, burning hands, comprehend languages, dispel magic, enter image, feather fall, flaming sphere, floating disk, glitterdust, hydraulic push, identify, locate object, mage armor, memory lapseAPG, resist energy, and sleep.
YES! Finally someone rolls high enough, with an aid from Goldur...
It's under the bed that Etune and Goldur make a stunning discovery: a doll the size of a small child, with a head crooked on its shoulders, with twigs poking out from its neck. It has the same face as the other dolls Etune found, but this doll blinks at you! It looks up at you with a confused look on its face.
Bellik lets out a cry of frustration mixed with fear. "I CANNOT! I HAVE TAKEN OATHS!" Suddenly he goes silent and barrels past you, either no longer caring if you harm him or valuing his oath over his own life.
Around you doors open, revealing other patrons in states of bed-dress. Margrave Graydon stands in his nightshirt, still looking imposing even in such clothing and speaks in a low voice, deadly with tension. "What is the meaning of this commotion? Unless you wish to be removed from this Lodge as disturbers of the peace, I strongly suggest you return to your rooms or take your nonsense downstairs to the parlor where sensible people have conversations. Your rudeness is disturbing the other guests." The Markiza stands in her doorway, shaking her head disappointingly at your rudeness. You appear to have committed a major social faux pas.
Sorry, the wand works exactly as advertised. Nothing odd happens.
In the journal, you discover a scrap of paper detailing what Amenira discovered of Mercy's unspoken rules. Added to the google page.
The people of Mercy are rather secretive, even about their social norms. I have deduced the following unspoken rules.
The bedroom is dominated by a bed and desk. On the desk is a small journal and a larger book marked with arcane symbols, a spellbook. The bed looks unmade, as if a child was sleeping there, and small twigs are scattered in the sheets.
I need a Perception check for the room, and one (or a Linguistics check) for the journal. Ruth has made her check for the room, so I just need another for the journal.
The dolls are well-made, but there's something about the detailed faces, that are the exact same on every doll you see that really strikes you as odd.
You all search the front room, but find nothing out of the ordinary for a doll-maker. There is still the bedroom... I'll need separate Perception rolls for that.
The door swings open at the rapping, revealing a simple home inside. The home is made of two rooms, the first being a living room/kitchen/workshop. Littered about the room are crafting materials, likely used for making toys and dolls. In fact, several dolls line the shelves, all painted with the same face. Perception checks!
Perception DC 15:
You don't see any weapons, armor or things one would take on a journey. It looks as if those items were packed and taken away.
Beyond the front room you can see a bedroom beyond.
The halfling looks aghast, but you sense it's more from being caught and called out than from hearing of a crime. "I assure you, sir, that if any rooms were entered, then nothing at all was pilfered, sir! It is sometimes necessary to check rooms for various reasons, such as tidyness, to ensure safety of guests or to verify occupancy. But pilfering is not something we allow at this Lodge, sir! Now, I have much to do, overseeing clean up from the unfortunate spider incident and seeing to the health of our dear chambermaid. I simply do not have time to debate Lodge procedures in the hallway. Good day sir!" He begins to head toward the stairs downward.
You sense he's not lying about not stealing anything. If he was looking for something, it was not for the purposes of theft.