DM-Camris' CARRION CROWN Chapter 2: Trial of the Beast (Inactive)

Game Master Camris

The Beast of Lepidstadt has been captured! Upon traveling to Lepidstadt, the adventurers must discover whether the legendary monster is truly a killer or merely the instrument of some greater evil—and either way, whether it’s too dangerous to be allowed to survive.
HERGSTAG OVERVIEW


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Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

They head to the barrister immediately.


Looking rumpled in his robe after being woken from a sound sleep, Barrister Kaple met you in his parlor lighting candles.
"You are back! What was so urgent that it couldn't wait until morning? Have you found something?" He asked blearily.


Male Half-Orc Paladin (Undead Scourge)/4;HP 43/43; AC 19 T 11 FF 17; Fort +9; Ref +5 Will +8; CMB +6; CMD 18; Per +1; Init +1; Spd 20ft.

"Justice doesn't sleep, Barrister. We have made discoveries." Agrimar says bluntly.


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

Ereviss explains the many ways a beast was not involved.

The magic and equipment necessary to put on the charade.


Male Varisian Inquisitor 7 (AC 23/15Tch/19FF, 22 CMD/18FF, HP 44/55, Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +9, Init +7, Per +13)
Skills:
Climb +5, Heal +10, Intimidate +9, K(Arcana) +7*, K(Dungeon) +6*, K(Nature) +7*, K(Planes) +5*, K(Religion) + 11*, Perception +13, Ride +7, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +9, Stealth + 13, Survival +10*, Swim +5

Deduction DC 15: 1d20 ⇒ 12
Know(Nature): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Know(Arcana): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13

So I'm a little unclear what you're sharing. We basically just know that someone used a flask (of darkvision) around the time the Beast supposedly attacked which it wouldn't have need. We have that the blood stains (timeline again matching the beast's supposed attack) which are not in keeping with the beast. We also have circumstantial evidence that there were grave robbers or some other ne'er-do-wells who have apparently killed Nowhere Nan. Did I miss anything?

Christoph listens as Ereviss recounts what they've learned, adding at the end, "It is circumstantial, from my perspective, but it should paint a compelling enough picture to cast doubt on the Elder's story. There were apparently some other forces at work, human or humanoid, given that the graves were tampered with."


Female Elf Slayer 1 / Wizard (Void Elementalist Shadowcaster) 3 | AC 18 T 13 FF 15 | HP 25/32 | F +4 R +6 W +2 | Init +3 | Perc +6

"Indeed," Skiia confirms, nodding. "There are certainly grounds for reasonable doubt. Whatever happened in Morast, it seems far too premeditated for the Beast to have been directly involved. The methods, the timing..."

She takes a breath and works up her courage before continuing. "Most damningly, though it is circumstantial, someone went missing about the time the attacks started, and their remains were used to fashion a disguise. That seems out of character for the Beast, and far too close a coincidence."

I think that's about it, Christoph. It's no smoking gun, but it just doesn't add up to the Beast being a very likely suspect.


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

"If nothing more it begs the question. Has the beast shown to be clever or cunning enough to be responsible?" Rhia adds.


You talk to Barrister Kaple deep into the night.

You awaken as sunlight pours into the room, the servants having opened the shutters. You had fallen asleep sometime and are only now waking up at 7am. Three hours until trial.
Barrister Kaple gives you last minute instructions as to what to expect at trial over a light breakfast.
He eyed you critically. "Hm. Well, we're going to have to fit you for some formal Court dress, but there is no time for that this session. I'll have my tailor take your measurements after court is recessed."

Afterward, you walk down the avenue to the town square.
A significant crowd had already gathered around the Punishing Man at dawn, and a carnival atmosphere engulfs the courthouse.
The clerks arrive early to prepare the courtroom and chambers, and allow those with business to enter. Barrister Kaple shows his papers and ushers you all in with him as 'Witnesses'. He enters the evidence you gathered to the Clerk of the Court and ushers you upstairs to the Court chambers themselves, where you are to wait in the Defence Chambers. Other members of the court arrive as the time approaches 10:00 a.m.

The crowd quiets briefly as three justices finally arrive in black coaches with several guards in attendance.


The Justices make imposing figures, dressed in voluminous black robes with starched ruffs, and wearing enormous powdered wigs that tower over their heads.
The Justices for this trial are Chief Justice Khard, Justice Aldaar, and Justice Daramid. Barrister Kaple whispers a little about them as you watch them formally enter the Court from the doorway of the Defense Chamber.

Chief Justice Ambrose Khard is a dour man in his eighties, speaks with a deep, commanding voice and suffers no nonsense in his court. The Chief Justice carries the court gavel—a mallet of black ebony the Justice uses to keep order—and wears a huge cartwheel ruff to make him look even more imposing (as well as the tallest wig).
He has the power to have people removed from court, discount evidence, and issue punishments (up to hanging) for lying to the court. Any levity in the court is punished by a fine or overnight imprisonment for those who take his court too lightly.

Judge Kasp Aldaar is a larger, saturnine figure of terror for criminals on trial. He is a hard-liner in the extreme, and his merciless justice is feared throughout Ustalav. A former military general, Aldaar is infamous for his impalement of four score deserters under his command who fled a battle. Those of you who can Detect Evil find this man extremely disquieting.

Judge Embreth Daramid (whom you have already met) is a magistrate of Lepidstadt, in her sixties, with gray hair pulled back
tightly into a bun and icy blue eyes. She is a stern, nononsense
woman who appears to be all business. She is known to be steely, but scrupulously fair about the process of law and justice itself.

The Holy Sister of Justice This gray-robed priestess is present to ensure that no magic is used at the trial unless requested or approved by the justices. Unless otherwise instructed, the Holy Sister watches for unauthorized spellcasting and constantly scans the room with detect magic, recasting the spell as necessary.
The Holy Sister also has comprehend languages and zone of truth spells prepared should the court require them.

The Herald of the Court Clad in black half-plate armor with a full-face visor, the Herald keeps his identity secret. The Herald calls out official announcements with the striking of a great gong, calls witnesses, and keeps order in the court. He also acts as the justices’ protector, and has a ceremonial masterwork greatsword at hand at all times.

The Clerks are five elderly, pale, and bookish clerks with ink-stained fingers. They legally accept and record new evidence for the trial, document the proceedings, and ensure procedure is followed to the letter. They tend to speak in legal jargon, which in essence means that whenever they say anything, they use 10 times as many words as necessary.

The Prosecution: The appointed prosecutor for the Palatinate of Vieland is Otto Heiger. Together with his trio of legal advisers, he aims to see the Beast burn, and fights tooth and nail to prove his case.

You see that members of the public are also permitted to watch the proceedings. The public gallery overlooking the courtroom becomes packed with spectators when the Clerks open the stairway leading up to the balconies. Made up of locals of various backgrounds and skills, the crowd clearly wants to see the Beast burn for its “crimes". Three nervous courthouse guards are posted in the courtroom to keep the crowd in order and ensure the Beast does not escape.


As the distant cathedral bells toll the hour of 10am, the chief justice pounds the gavel thrice. The crowd quiets and everyone rises.
"Bring forth the Defendant." He intoned.

A squad of guards hauls the Beast into the court and shackles it to the large iron chair in the center of the courtroom. The Crowd jeers and catcalls, and a number of things are thrown at the Beast. These were easily fended off by the Holy Sister of Justice, those responsible were Held and the Chief Justice ordered them hauled off to a cell for Contempt in an abject demonstration of the Court's authority. The crowd quiets down at this, and the trial proceeded.


Opening of the Trial.
Chief Justice Ambrose Khard commences proceedings by laying out the rules
of the court in a very lengthy speech, interspersed with gongstrikes by the Herald.
The crowd wilts at the dense, no loopholes legalese and you can hear the snores of those who actually fall asleep at this.
Khard concludes his speech by announcing that the good people of Lepidstadt have suffered many acts of terror and barbarity at the hands of the Beast of Lepidstadt for many years, and that while the Beast is doubtless responsible for numerous murders, the prosecution will focus on three recent cases to prove the Beast’s guilt during this trial.


Opening Statements.
Prosecutor Otto Heiger outlines his case. He alleges that the Beast is responsible for the murder of 10 people in the village of Morast a year ago, in addition to two other horrendous crimes that will be described as the trial continues.
Barrister Gustav Kaple then makes his case for the Beast’s innocence, a halfhearted attempt full of stutters and awkward pauses, all the while being roundly jeered and booed by the baying mob in the gallery.
It is at this time, with dawning horror, you realize why this well respected (mostly) and well educated scion of the upper crust of the Legal profession has been so unsuccessful at trials.
He has Demophobia.
The trial setting, the crowds... they drive his natrually impressive speeches he gives to an empty library into a sweating, stammering, mumbling mess.


Witnesses for the Prosecution.
Otto first brings three locals from Morast, two young women and a man, to the stand. The trio describes events as they saw them happen—that over a series of nights, the Beast came to the village and took people away; that a trap was finally laid for the Beast; that the Beast was driven into the swamp, and, they assumed, killed.
Otto then calls the village elder, Lazne, who led the mob that drove the Beast off. He confirms the events related by the other three villagers.
Barrister Kaple, despite his stammering, is still able on cross examination to skillfully strip away a lot of the conjecture and emotional dross of the testimony. What remained is still damaging though.


At this point there is a half hour break. People are able to go outside on a beautifully sunny day to stretch and get a quick lunch.

The next step in the trial is the presentation of the Witnesses for the Defense.
Barrister Kaple gathers you in the Defense Chambers to discuss the presentation.
He wishes to present:
• Six of the graves in Morast’s boneyard have been robbed. (No motive!)
• The Beast can see in the dark, so it does not require an extract of darkvision. (It wasn't him!)
• Although the Beast was clearly seen to be bitten by a blood caiman, it has no scars from such an attack. (It wasn't him!)
• Displaying the removed face of the poacher Nan Klebem. (It was a frame!)

"Now, have I missed anything? Should I present anything else? Perhaps the shovel. 'Why would he need a shovel with those huge strong hands in swampy earth'? That kind of thing." He asked you all.
He picked up the masterwork surgical tool set.
"And what are we to make of these? How do they fit?" He asked, puzzled.

Now only one of you can go up and present any one item of evidence.
You will be making a Diplomacy check to present the evidence, and perhaps a Will save to resist cross examination.
So choose among yourselves carefully who will be presenting what.


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

Ereviss presents the poacher's face as evidence.

"You can clearly see that some nefarious and intelligent person or persons are trying to frame the beast and removed this man's face."

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25

will: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10


Female Elf Slayer 1 / Wizard (Void Elementalist Shadowcaster) 3 | AC 18 T 13 FF 15 | HP 25/32 | F +4 R +6 W +2 | Init +3 | Perc +6

Skiia's really not cut out for this, but she'll do her best. If no one minds, she'll try to handle the magical evidence, since it's what she knows most about.

When Skiia's turn to testify comes, she presents her evidence with quiet conviction and confidence in her expertise to the court-room silenced by the stern judges. She has to think a bit to remember the standard authorities to cite on the question of what the Beast is, but she does, and concludes firmly,

"Therefore, given the acuity of such beings' vision in the dark, the "Beast" would have had no need of such an alchemical concoction as this. Further, that the flask was found buried in the remains of a campfire rather than simply discarded, in addition to what can be concluded from the other evidence to be presented, clearly indicates a fear of discovery and meticulousness contrary to the "Beast's" alleged motives."

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15
Will, if necessary: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

Rhia testifies as an expert witness on the supernatural, indicating the the disturbed graves hint towards something far more subtle and insidious than anything of which the simple minded man on trial would ever be capable. Her words conjure images of the darker things that roam the night, deep within the fears of the public, things that remain hidden and use misdirection, as was done with the poor innocent victim on trial, subtly yet unnerving sounds occasionally heard around the room emphasizing the sense of something dark still out there, laughing at the proceedings.

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Will: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15


Ereviss Ladyhunter_____
Ereviss presents the poacher's face as evidence.
"You can clearly see that some nefarious and intelligent person or persons are trying to frame the beast and removed this man's face."
The loudly jeering crowd gasp and are shocked into silence when Ereviss presents the detached face. Even the Judges flinch back from the very creepy evidence.
Ereviss has some trouble on the stand as the Prosecution does a decent job of showing the lack of connection. But Otto seemed so rattled at the presence of any defense at all that he worked himself into an emotional rant that had to be rapped down by the Chief Justice. Ereviss leaves the stand shaken for several rounds.
Result is Positive for the Defense.

Skiia Anamabon_____
"Therefore, given the acuity of such beings' vision in the dark, the "Beast" would have had no need of such an alchemical concoction as this. Further, that the flask was found buried in the remains of a campfire rather than simply discarded, in addition to what can be concluded from the other evidence to be presented, clearly indicates a fear of discovery and meticulousness contrary to the "Beast's" alleged motives."
It is hard to hear Skiia’s testimony over the jeering crowd, but even with the constant interruptions she gets through it. She weathers the Prosecutions scornful rebuttal without breaking, and leaves the stand only feeling a little wrung out.
Result is Marginal Positive for the Defense.

Rhia Van der Geist_____
Rhia testifies as an expert witness on the supernatural, indicating the the disturbed graves hint towards something far more subtle and insidious than anything of which the simple minded man on trial would ever be capable. Her words conjure images of the darker things that roam the night, deep within the fears of the public, things that remain hidden and use misdirection, as was done with the poor innocent victim on trial, subtly yet unnerving sounds occasionally heard around the room emphasizing the sense of something dark still out there, laughing at the proceedings.
Rhia’s testimony is given with a surety that the prosecution’s attempt at rebuttal only mildly diminishes. She leaves the stand only mildly wrung out.
Result is Marginal Positive for the Defense.

Much of the rest of the evidence presented by Barrister Kaple is ridiculed by the crowd and the prosecution to the point of uselessness (Negative for the Defense); except for two things...
First, the sheer number of things out of place found at the scene was clearly beginning to tell against the prosecution. Marginal Positive for the Defense.
And Second, when he pointed out from the Prosecution’s own witness that the Beast was clearly seen to be bitten and torn by a blood caiman before being dragged into the swamp, he dramatically pointed to the Beast’s bare chest that it has no scars from such an attack!
The crowd hushed at that, and even the judges leaned forward to look at the Beast’s bare chest. A decidedly Positive outcome for the Defense.

When the gavel came down on the session, the prosecutor tore out of there like he was going to kill and eat someone. You suspect the next session will not be so easy.


Walking down the steps of the courthouse, you see with amazement that it is only about three o'clock in the afternoon! It felt like it should be closer to midnight.
The previously pleased crowd outside is now grumbling and glaring daggers at you. Metaphorically at the moment.

"Well my boys and girls, that went far better than I expected.
"We are still going to lose of course, but very well done!"
Expanded Barrister Kaple.

"Now; tomorrows session will deal with the Children of Hergstag."
He ruffled through the papers in his briefcase.
"Now. It seems that the village’s children vanished one by one, only to return as ghosts. Then one day the culprit was found—the Beast of Lepidstadt. It boldly walked into the village with one of the dead children, a girl named Ellsa. The witnesses all recall seeing the Beast laughing as it carried the child’s broken body. As soon as the locals saw the Beast, they set upon it with pitchforks, but try as they might they couldn’t catch it, and the Beast escaped into the swamp. The poor innocents it killed continued to haunt the village, and before long became too much for the locals, who soon abandoned the cursed village."


What are you going to do? Leave immediately? Gather info here first? Find out where the villagers went? The prosecution usually have witnesses here in town, which you have the right to question as well. Do you take the time to find them?


Male Half-Orc Paladin (Undead Scourge)/4;HP 43/43; AC 19 T 11 FF 17; Fort +9; Ref +5 Will +8; CMB +6; CMD 18; Per +1; Init +1; Spd 20ft.

"We could try questioning the Beast about this tragic series of events."


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

Ereviss agrees with Agrimar. They head to speak to the Beast.

"Give us a list of prosecution witnesses. We would like to see what they say."


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

Knowledge Local: How far is Hergstag?: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25


Female Elf Slayer 1 / Wizard (Void Elementalist Shadowcaster) 3 | AC 18 T 13 FF 15 | HP 25/32 | F +4 R +6 W +2 | Init +3 | Perc +6

"Agreed," Skiia nods. "Hopefully he can remember something about this business, unlike Morast. If he can't, well, I wonder..."

Skiia trails off as her musings take her far away. Thinking of Judge Daramid's concerns, she wonders what it might mean that the Beast seems to turn up inexplicably in such horrible situations. As for that last child in Hergstag, and thinking of the Beast's apparently limited capacities, she can't help but think, even if she doesn't want to, what such a creature might feel at the sight of a slain child? If she had seen Ysmine herself, before they brought her home out of the Tanglebriar... Skiia closes her eyes, and tries to bring her focus back to the case.


The Clerk of the Court gives Ereviss a list of the Prosecution witnesses in the matter of the Children of Hergstag.

Ereviss:
Three sisters named Garrow, Starle, and Flicht now own a small windmill on the outskirts of Lepidstadt and are witnesses for the prosecution. The address is included.

Rhia knows...:
The village of Hergstag, formerly a small, religious farming community in the Dippelmere Swamp, is eight miles NorthWest as the bird flies, and twelve miles by the only overgrown roadway that remains connecting to the site.

The guards nod at your request and open the dungeon gateway. You descend to the basement cells and are taken to where the Beast sits morosely in his cell, shackled to his chair.


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

Ereviss speaks to the Beast. He slowly explains all they have done in their investigation. Although he expects the Beast to understand very little, he hopes the fact that they are helping him is clear.

"We are here to help you. Please tell us if you know anything about this. It will help us to help you."

Ereviss shows the list of witnesses. "We can visit these sisters next."


Female Elf Slayer 1 / Wizard (Void Elementalist Shadowcaster) 3 | AC 18 T 13 FF 15 | HP 25/32 | F +4 R +6 W +2 | Init +3 | Perc +6

"I know it's hard to remember sometimes," Skiia says, speaking softly and patiently, remembering the Beast's limits from their last interview, "but it might help us if you could try. Do you remember Hergstag? There were children there, a girl named Ellsa..."

She prompts gently, and waits to see how the Beast might respond.


Under Ereviss' and Skiia's cajoling, the Beast quietly muttered "Ellsa".
You see his face tighten, the stitching pulling back its jaw into a grimace, making it look almost like the Beast is laughing.

Sense Motive DC14:
You realize he's trying to cry, but has no way to form tears.

He relents his resentful silence.
"I was living by a lake then. Inna old Hermits Tangle. There were fish there. It was good. This girl name Ellsa found me, she from Hergstag. She not afraid of what I look like. We made friends each other. She keep me secret from village, 'cause I know what they do if they find me."
He is silent for a while.
"Then, one time, she not come. I look for her outta the village. I found her; she dead then."
It squeezed its hands until the chains gave an ominous creaking sound and the guards tensed up.
"She were killed by a ghost! It steal their souls and walks at night. I try to grab it, but I can't get hold of it." It said, demonstrating. The power he put into the grip would have turned any ordinary creature into mush.
"Then, I take Ellsa back to the village. Try to tell about ghost. But... they just attack me. Like always. I ran away into swamp." He finished.
You go back and forth, but this is pretty much everything he remembers.


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16


Any more questions?


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

Ereviss has no more questions.

After being cross examined, the elf is ready to show the prosecution what being caught in a lie is like. Off to the sisters.


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

"The village of Hergstag is 12 miles from here. If the children's ghosts still walk the town, they may have some insight for us." Rhia says as calmly as if suggesting speaking with a living witness.


Female Elf Slayer 1 / Wizard (Void Elementalist Shadowcaster) 3 | AC 18 T 13 FF 15 | HP 25/32 | F +4 R +6 W +2 | Init +3 | Perc +6

“We’ll do the best that we can,” Skiia reassures the Beast. “I think today went fairly well, as far as things go. We'll get to the bottom of this.”

After taking her leave, she turns to the others with a nod. “As Ereviss said, perhaps the witnesses in town first, before it's quite evening. They might be able to tell us more of the ghosts, so that we might better understand what need keeps the children’s spirits here.”


You hail a hansom cab for a short trip to the edge of town.

Sense Motive DC15:
The crowd in the Town Square is subdued, but you feel an undercurrent of anger there as well.

At the address provided, you disembark to see farmhouse and a windmill slowly turning in the afternoon breeze, and smell the delicious aroma of baking bread. You see several farmhands moving to and fro, grinding grist into flour and pulling loaves from ovens.


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

Take 10 for 15

Rhia studies the faces and energy of the people in the Town Square. "They're angry. They mey not even realize it's there yet but it is. Simmering."


Kendra takes point and asks one of the workers about the sisters. She is directed to the bakery.
The three ladies (Three sisters named Garrow, Starle, and Flicht,) in their mid-forties are friendly and outgoing and smudged with flour. They took one look at you and directed you to the dining tables out front of the bakery.
They serve you all trenchers (A loaf of bread split hollowed out and filled with stew typically) and join you at the table.
Having not eaten since breakfast and having had a stressful day, your stomachs complain loudly until filled.
"Lord look at you all there famished! Now, what brings such fine lords and ladies out to our farm?" Asked one.


Female Elf Slayer 1 / Wizard (Void Elementalist Shadowcaster) 3 | AC 18 T 13 FF 15 | HP 25/32 | F +4 R +6 W +2 | Init +3 | Perc +6

Skiia pauses a moment before answering, hoping that the afternoon will not suddenly turn unpleasant. She acknowledges the compliment with a nod and a small smile, but demurs, "Only scholars, not lords and ladies - though thank you. It's been a busy day in court."

She lets the statement hang just tactfully, before continuing as truthfully and discreetly as she can, "And the afternoon is likely to be much the same. We've been appointed special investigators, on our way to Hergstag, and we thought that rather than traveling there directly, we ought to confer with some of those who once dwelt there, so that we can best offer our aid."

Skiia prompts as gently as she can, and carefully avoids glancing at Rhia, as if she could will the seer's spirits to unobtrusiveness by a show of equanimity. I can't help but be nervous that these folks in particular might be more than a little unnerved if they see anything spooky! :)


Male Varisian Inquisitor 7 (AC 23/15Tch/19FF, 22 CMD/18FF, HP 44/55, Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +9, Init +7, Per +13)
Skills:
Climb +5, Heal +10, Intimidate +9, K(Arcana) +7*, K(Dungeon) +6*, K(Nature) +7*, K(Planes) +5*, K(Religion) + 11*, Perception +13, Ride +7, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +9, Stealth + 13, Survival +10*, Swim +5

Not sure why I'm having so many issues lately. Can't get my forum posts to stick and still not seeing updates right...

Recognizing his lack of oratory skill (and still feeling shamed by his angry outburst with the Beast), Christoph remains silent throughout the trial. He listens to the oral arguments his companions put forward, taking notes in his journal as he does so.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (12) + 11 = 23
Know(Religion): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23 Details about ghosts returning to haunt things as claimed in Hergstag?

As they make their way to the speak to the Beast, Christoph mulls over what he knew of ghosts and their hauntings. Perhaps there is some clue to be found by the nature of those unfortunate souls. If we have the time, I must seek to return them to Pharasma's embrace. At the worst, I must send word to the Whisperers (higher ranking members of the Voice's) so that the village may be cleansed. He hangs to the rear of the party, not wishing to anger or frighten the beast again. He is caught off guard as the undead monstrosity seems, at first, to laugh. Angering, he studies the creature for signs of guilt, but is caught off guard when he finds that the Beast is in fact attempting to cry.

After his companions finish their interview, he opines, "The Beast's expression there seemed to be laughter, but I had a closer look while you spoke to him and it seems like he was trying to cry instead. I doubt he has the means actually cry, but that might be important given the Barrister's story. He might have been crying, not laughing, as he carried the girl into town. Might be worth making a note of for the defense."

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (13) + 11 = 24

Walking through the town, Christoph can only nod in agreement with Rhia, "Furious, but hidden underneath the surface. I'd not want to be around when that finally bursts out into violent anger."

Christoph thanks the women for his meal, taking a moment to lead a prayer to Pharasma for those who wished it, before heartily digging into the meal. Leaning back, he listens to Skiia's explanation, nodding and adding, "Miss Anamabon has the right of it. We're hoping to learn what we can of the Hergstag and it's former folk. I'm of the Voices and the rumors of ghosts in the village set me ill at ease. I'd hope to see those souls returned to Pharasma's grace, though it may not be in my power at the moment."


Female Human Oracle of Pharasma 7; 42/52 HP; AC:13 [19] Touch 13 FF 10 [16]; F +6 R +4 W +8 (+12 fear); Init +2; Perception +7 (+11 undead/ can percieve ethereal undead)

I would speak with them before that as well. I have....a way with those that have slipped past the physical part of their existence." Rhia says quietly.


The sisters look at each other with apprehension, then reluctantly explain what happened.
The village’s children vanished one by one, only to return as ghosts.
Then one day the culprit was found—the Beast of Lepidstadt!
It boldly walked into the village with one of the dead children, a girl named Ellsa.
They all recall seeing the Beast laughing as it carried the child’s broken body.
As soon as they saw the Beast, they set upon it with pitchforks, but try as they might they couldn’t catch it, and the Beast escaped into the swamp.
The poor innocents it killed continued to haunt the village, and before long became too much for the locals, who soon abandoned the cursed village.
They continue describing how the villagers dispersed, and how they came to Lepidstadt and set up their own grist mill and bakery using a refurbished windmill.
Their tale at an end, they lapse into a sad silence.

DC 20 Sense Motive check:
You notice they are concealing something.

Christoph:

Q: Details about ghosts returning to haunt things as claimed in Hergstag.
A: The witnesses descriptions don't contain enough information to make a determination, but they must be moderately powerful incorporeal undead at the very least.


Male Half-Orc Paladin (Undead Scourge)/4;HP 43/43; AC 19 T 11 FF 17; Fort +9; Ref +5 Will +8; CMB +6; CMD 18; Per +1; Init +1; Spd 20ft.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

sm: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
"We have destroyed many haunts and ghosts! I think it still exists. We go to the village! Tell us how to get there."


Male Varisian Inquisitor 7 (AC 23/15Tch/19FF, 22 CMD/18FF, HP 44/55, Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +9, Init +7, Per +13)
Skills:
Climb +5, Heal +10, Intimidate +9, K(Arcana) +7*, K(Dungeon) +6*, K(Nature) +7*, K(Planes) +5*, K(Religion) + 11*, Perception +13, Ride +7, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +9, Stealth + 13, Survival +10*, Swim +5

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30

Christoph listens to their tale with a neutral expression. Gathering information from layfolk and gleaning the truth of undead dangers was his profession, and his finely honed senses picked up the telltale signs of dishonesty. Frowning, he whispers to Ereviss, "They seem to be concealing something from us. What the falsehood is, I cannot say, but we should press them harder. Perhaps you'd like to start more... diplomatically. I can always put the fear of Pharasma's judgement in them if it is necessary."


Nodding, Kendra started.
Fixing the sisters with a look of desperate urgency.
"I know this is a painful memory for you, and I'm sorry. But isn't there something you left out, perhaps because you didn't think it had any connection? This is perhaps the last chance we have to gain something like justice..." She said cajoling.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
She booted Ereviss under the table, signaling him to help her.


The sisters sat there stone faced, shaking their heads, denying they left anything out.


Male Elf Bard (Detective)/4;HP 34/34; AC 17 T 12 FF 15; Fort +2; Ref +7 Will +4; CMB +3; CMD 16; Per +11; Init +3; Spd 30ft.

Ereviss smiles:
"Kendra has put it well. Leaving things out, like this thing may still be out there and not locked up, may deny us a chance to catch it. I think it is still out there."

diplo: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16

Ereviss bring out the silver spirit planchette. He sets it up and prepares to ask it questions.

He turns to the ladies:
"Please answer in full, before I have to risk my very soul communing with the spirits."

Silver is 01-90 truth 91-00 false--you roll secretly


Taking her cue from Ereviss' dramatic placement of the planchette on the ouiji board, Kendra gasped and looked around wildly.
"They're here. THEY'RE HERE! The spirits of the murdered children! Can't you FEEL the cold breath of death on the backs of your necks?" She intoned excitedly.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22

Rhia:
No there aren't.
Although...
That planchette. It fascinates you. It draws, no, demands your attention like nothing you've ever seen before...
It has a power, a resonance with yours.


With Ereviss and Kendra creating a gothic atmosphere and Christoph glaring at them with increasing fury, the sisters glanced at each other.
"We don't know what else to tell you!
"Just-of the six children who died, one—a girl named Karin—died in her own bed 2 days after the Beast was driven from Hergstag.
"Her father heard her screaming but by the time he reached her she was dead, without a mark on her and with no signs of entry.
"Her house was on the western end of the village, near a clump of swampy forest."


Though you press, you don't think the sisters know anything more.


Arranging for another coach, you travel the ten very rough miles in the fading afternoon.
The last mile was very rough over an untended track, brush covered and rutted.
Over a low hill, you get a glimpse of the town as the sun sets.
OVERVIEW

The driver stops here.
"Sorry me lord an' ladies. There's just no way fer me ta go forward here; the road's just too rough."

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