Qetsiyah frowned, she hadn't wanted to put Sevilla down but she hadn't seen any alternative. She glared now at the necromancer with her dark, hooded eyes. "You may not have hurt anyone, but it wasn't for a lack of trying! Don't you dare pretend you've done no wrong. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to picture what you'd have done to us if your inept crew had managed to get the better of our meeting!"
"Any mercy that's coming to you will come through the sheriff and likely only if you can prove that you haven't hurt anyone and that this knowledge you've gleaned is worth something. Now if we find another of these ghouls, could you tell us where it's come from?"
As a cleric of a nature deity Cadas can only nod in agreement. The undead are a blight on this earth and their creation is a great evil. she states sagely, conviction in her voice.
Marcellano frowns, distracted, as Narcizia flaps back to him and reports her findings. "Thank you," he murmurs to the bird. He turns back as Cadas delivers her (very brief) homily on the undead.
"Now now, my lady, I'd hesitate to say 'a great evil,'" he says, trying his best to sound reasonable and not patronizing. He continues talking as he strides into one of the adjoining rooms and emerges thumbing through a heavy tome and pulling out scraps of paper stuck into it. "There is dark energy in the universe as much as there is light, and those who manipulate it do just that--manipulate it, wielding it as a tool the way you might a hammer or Lady Qetsiyah might her sword. The undead themselves may be evil, but their creation...eh. I would say it depends."
He turns back to the necromancer. "Which brings us to the crux of the question, of course. A few zombies locked in a basement are harmless enough--relatively speaking--but ghouls, now...those are malignant things possessed of their own will, spreading disease and terror. What sorts of things do you think might be this 'source?' I know that the fever can be spread through the bite of a ghoul, and I've heard stories of more tropical climes where it's been spread through blood-sucking insects infected by feeding on the undead, but the latter seems unlikely here. You think there's a ghoul on the loose?"
If he can skim it quickly, Marcellano will cast read magic and examine the spellbook and papers. Otherwise, he'll just hang onto it and study it later.
The elderly necromancer squints at the younger wizard for sometime. "Aye, lad. A ghoul or something worse. Something that spawns them. I haven't any proof, yet. But that is what I suspect. Just what that it is, well I wouldn't want to speculate. Nothing good, as your Shoanti friend has already surmised."
The spellbook has numerous spells in it. Many, as you would expect, from the necromantic school, but others as well.
1st level - Cause Fear, Chill Touch, Ghoul Touch, Identify, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Obscuring Mist, Ray of Enfeeblement
2nd level - Acid Arrow, Blindness/Deafness, Command Undead, False Life, Mirror Image
3rd level - Displacement, Gentle Repose, Halt Undead, Stinking Cloud, Vampiric Touch
In addition to the spells, the loose pages seem to be regarding ancient Thassilonian traditions of magic, including, to your surprise, a few drawings of the Sihedron Rune (the 7-pointed star), last seen carved into the body of Banny Harker in the lumber mill.
Unaware of the hint in the spell book Cadas works to secure these prisoners. Lets lock them in one of the small rooms and complete our search of the upstairs. If there are real patients here we cannot simply abandon them. We might have to leave someone here.
|Robin the Jester|
Locking away the prisoners, the rest of the group tramps upstairs to scout for any more patients. The ground floor is mostly the day room, and offices for Dr Habe.
Upstairs (this door is also locked, but Habe and the orderlies have keys), on the second floor, you find a guardpost which has a fortified iron door that leads into a cellblock. They keys also open this door. There are three cells here, the middle one empty. The northernmost holds a blind man, a scar covering the place where his eyes used to be. The chalk sign on the cell door says "Sedge". The prisoner here appears to be asleep.
The southern cell olds the oldest man any of you have seen. His is bone thin and frail and his mind is clearly addled as he babbles nonsense words constantly, moving around his cell in an agitated state. The sign here says "Wald"
There are more stairs that lead up to the third floor.
Cadas is a little disgusted at the mentally disabled men. My tribe would mercifully put these men down and not make them suffer like this.
Thinking that the middle one might have contained their ghoul convert Cadas goes in and looks around.
Perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (4) + 13 = 17
We could lock our new prisoners in here if we had to, and then go back and get the sheriff. I'd still rather march them back and just leave food and water for a couple days with the prisoners, just in cast.
Marcellano silently tucks the newly acquired spellbook into his backpack, making a mental note to transcribe some of the spells later. As they explore the rest of the Sanitarium, he observes silently. In the guard room, though, he pulls out the papers that were tucked into the spellbook.
"These were in that necromancer's spellbook. They contain notes on Thassilonian magic, which is a subject of interest to me...but, more importantly, look at this." He shows them the drawing of the Sihedron. "This was carved into Harker's chest, and didn't you tell me you'd seen it before?"
When Cadas asks about leaving the Sanitarium, the wizard shrugs. "We may as well explore the third floor while we're here. After that, it seems easier to leave the prisoners here and alert Sheriff Hemlock to their presence. Then he can send guards to pick them up. As long as we make sure they're secure, all should be well."
|Robin the Jester|
|Robin the Jester|
More stairs lead up to the third floor where three more cells, these with iron doors, stand. Two of the cells are empty, though one shows signs of recent habitation. The third cell is occupied. The prisoner/patient remains hidden in the shadows as much as possible, but you can see that he has the body and torso of man, but the head of something more hideous, something rodent-like, with dark feral eyes, whiskers, and enormous incisors.
"A blade...A blade...A sharp and lovely blade..." says the rat-like man over and over in a voice that is filled with insanity. "Do you have my blade? I so would like to sink into into warm flesh....Yes, oh yes."
There is one more door on this floor.
Oh my. Cadas says as she looks in on the rat-man. [b]A mad were-rat? I think we should leave that one locked in. She takes interest in the one that was recently occupied and takes a moment to examine it.
Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
So the one more door is not a cell. Maybe an office?
|Robin the Jester|
"Sorry, I don't have your blade, or any warm flesh to share!"
Robin carefully checks out the recently inhabited cell, on the chance it was Grayst Sevilla's cell and has interesting clues. Take 20=29
Once that's done, he checks out the next door with Cadas. Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26
Near as you can tell the middle cell did house Grayst Sevilla. There are few personal effects lying about, and the faint smell of putrefaction just starting to seep in around the edges. Looking through all the cell, you find nothing else of interest there.
The last door upstairs is not locked and no sounds are heard beyond. No traps or other tricks are spotted by Robin's sharp eyes, so the door is opened.
Inside, is an examination room which has as its central feature a large operating table. A cabinet on the north wall is exceptionally well stocked with all manner of obscure and frightening looking surgical tools.
A large patch of freshly cut skin sits clipped to a primitive microscope. The flesh, still fresh with bloody edges, is starting to show signs of necrosis. Whether that is from time off the body, or whether the rot started before the skin was harvested, it is hard to say.
Was hoping for mad ravings written on the wall. :)
Cadas will cast Detect Magic before searching Grayst's cell or the exam room and give each area a quick scan to see if there are any auras that need further inspection.
Heal: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31
Well, this is certainly additional evidence. Look here, there is a full set of surgical tools here, and then some.I can think of no reason a mental health facility would have need of them. And look at this skin. It is entirely possible it was removed while the patient was alive.
"Sweet merciful Desna." Marcellano gags and holds his nose slightly as he examines the patch of skin. "That's horrible, Cadas. Do you suppose this was the work of the necromancer downstairs? Perhaps...Hm." He frowns, suddenly looking thoughtful. "I wonder if he was exploring the effects of the ghoulish transformation on Mr. Sevilla? Let me see that..." He peers through the microscope, examining the piece of skin to see if he can get any idea what the original examiner was after.
Might need a roll?
Knowledge (Religion): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Heal (untrained): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
This exam room is far from the basement where the necromancer worked, and more in the middle of the actual sanitorium. It does appear that the scrap of flesh was under examination, perhaps, you are surmising to determine the effects of ghoul fever in action on actual tissue. Again, not really the purview of most sanitoriums you have seen. It seems the unusual Dr Habe likes to experiment on his patients as well.
|Robin the Jester|
"This is...sickening." Marcellano straightens up from the microscope, looking grim. "I've seen enough. Let's search this room for anything else of use, and then head out. Give them all to Belor, let him sort them out."
So saying, he and Narcizia take a look around the room.
Marcellano Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
Narcizia Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
Cadas is ready to gather the prisoners and march them back to town. She sets about making sure food and water are available to all the "patients" and that the prisoners are secure and ready for travel.
|Sherriff Belor Hemlock|
After feeding and watering the prisoners sufficiently for real help to arrive, the heroes pile their captives -- the two doctors and the two orderlies -- together and set out back for Sandpoint, driving the prisoners before them.
The trip back is without incident, Dr Habe sniveling most of the way, and the elderly necromancer complaining about his sore knees and feet. Finally, you are within sight of the village again, the broken old lighthouse rising above the town like a church-steeple.
It's not long before you are in the Watch Office, sitting with Sheriff Hemlock once again. "So they were torturing prisoners," he says skeptically. "Is that what you are saying? And then re-animating the corpses? Odd and certainly worthy of more investigation, but what does all that have to do with the murders in the lumber mill? Did you find anything out from Sevilla before he died?"
Marcellano grimaces. "Not much. He was barely coherent, in the advanced stages of ghoul fever. He implied that whoever it is that's calling himself 'his Lordship' somehow infected him with the disease...which could mean that the killer is a ghoul himself, I suppose. Our perpetrator seems to have a fascination with Cadas, and he asked her to meet him at a place called the Misgivings. Anyone have any idea what the heck that is?"
Went back and checked the thread--info's on page 58, and Kizzy made a check that lets her know the answer. ;)
We plan to go right back out Sheriff but I could not allow what I saw going on at the sanitarium to continue. I am sorry that this will cause you more problems but it had to be dealt with. And I believed you would want them brought in instead of what I really wanted to do with them. She lets her desire to kill the lot of prisoners hang in the air.
|Sherriff Belor Hemlock|
"Misgivings?" asks Hemlock. "That's the old manor house off the Lost Coast road out on the point, isn't it? That place has been abandoned for years. You think your ghoul-killer is there now?"
He listens to Cadas speak about the prisoners and the patietns still at the Sanitorium. "Yes, well, you did right bringing them in. They will get their just desserts here. I will contact Father Zantus and have him send some acolytes out to the asylum and see to the prisoners. They will be treated as well as possible, and better than they have, it seems."
As Robin starts to explain about the ghouls running amok in the countryside, the door to the sheriff's office slams open...
Marcellano's lips tighten. "Sounds like we might meet our murderer sooner than we'd like," he mutters. Reaching forward, he grabs the babbling man's shoulder, steadying him. "Hambley Place?" he demands. "Can you take us and some guards there now?"
|Robin the Jester|
"I certainly hope it won't come to that," Marcellano says grimly. "Is there anywhere else that needs to be notified?" he asks the messenger. "I can summon a horse for you if that would help and you can ride."
Calming the old man down takes a few minutes, but when you do, you hear a story that Robin expected. The farmer tells a short but harrowing story, telling how the farmlands south of Sandpoint have become overrun with foul walking scarecrows that stalk the night. He says the problem seems to be emanating from the old Hambley place - things "just ain't been right there for a few days now". The farmer says he and a few locals visited the Hambley place to root out the problem, but we beset by folk that looked like walking corpses and fed like starving dogs.
The old farmer's breath stinks of booze and his story may be a bit enhanced, but based on what you learned from the old necromancer, this story sounds plausible.
Determined to find the source of the menace, the gang mounts back up and heads back into the hinterlands to find the ghoul pack. STopping along the way, they find the farmers of the area cautious wiht strangers. Farms along the east and north have heard stories of trouble to the south. South of the Ashen Rise and near the Soggy River, stories turn into first-hand accounts. All five farms south of the Soggy River seem to be deserted. Directions to the Hambley place are easy to get, and eventually you find it, nestled in the western edge of the Whisperwood, a forest said to be home to capricious gnomes, pixies, and other fey.
This late in the growing season the normally open fields of the farm are ripe with corn. The stalks grow over the heads of even the tallest men, so that the paths between fields feel like overgrown tunnels and the threat of an ambush from within the fields is ever present. Standing at the crossroads, you can go either east or west.
See map linked at top for how to proceed.
Just for my own knowledge, is my mage armor still active? I started it (with a duration of 4 hours) right before our fight with the necromancer.
Marcellano gazes around him in worry as the group enters the cornfield. "This does not feel like a particularly safe place..." he mutters, loading his crossbow carefully. "Let's proceed, I suppose."
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Narcizia's Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
Assuming that he doesn't see anything interesting or untoward, Marcellano will proceed to the crossroad and (arbitrarily) choose to turn west.
We have directions to the Hambley place. I think that should mean we know which way to turn her to head that direction, right?
Cadas considers the situation. Let us head directly for the Hambley place. And be on guard for anything coming out of these cornfields. If she thinks they are within 40 minutes of that farm she will go ahead and cast Barkskin on herself. +2 AC from Natural Armor for 50 minutes.
|Robin the Jester|
Marcellano peers around at the crossroads and idly kicks a pebble, trying to remember whether they'd been given more specific directions to the farmstead or not.
At this point the Mage Armor will have worn off. Also the directions to the Hambley Place is what you followed to get this far. This map is of the Hambley Place which consists of several acres of farmland and the homestead. Unfortunately, the crops are so high that you can't see the house very well. I suppose Marcellano's familiar could take wing and spy the house from above.
The party moves west on the narrow lane between the high cornfields. As they move to the next crossroads, a single scarecrow is perched on a wooden cross near the road. Horrifically, as you draw near, you see the scarecrow is struggling to free itself from the ropes that hold it in place. Just as you get close, the effigy breaks free, and slavering, it moves to attack you, its hunger for flesh driving it insane.
Marcellano: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
Robin: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28
Cadas: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Kizzy: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Ghoul: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
Scarecrow - Round 1
The now-freed scarecrow has long teeth and claws and seems to move quickly, looking for a meal. It is clearly undead and not friendly. It starts about 30' from the party.
I do not have a map ready yet, if we need one, I will find something that will work. Robin is first up.
Scarecrow - Round 1 - continued
Robin takes out his whip and snaps it once, brandishing the reach weapon and ready to trip the single ghoul when it comes close enough.
The ghoul, now on the ground, lets out a horrific inhuman howl, like a lone wolf, that raises the hairs on the backs of your necks. The mournful sound is returned 5 or 6 times over, seemingly from the SW. Emboldened by the cries, the ghoul starts forward only to fall victim to the tripping attack by Robin. Crying out in alarm this time, the undead flesh-eater falls face first into the corn rows.
He is now 10' from the party, and prone. The rest of the group is up.
Cadas will cast Bless on the group and then advance so that she is 10' from the ghoul before enlarging to threaten the creature.
Well done Robin. She praises as she moves.
If it should try to stand or crawl away she will take an AOO.
Trident: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 6 + 1 = 262d6 + 3 ⇒ (6, 2) + 3 = 11
"That's not a good sound..." Marcellano mutters as the howls reverberate through the field. Muttering to himself, he begins to weave complex signs with his hands, which begin to faintly glow with energy. "Narcizia! Fly up and tell me what you can see!"
Begin casting summon monster II to summon a celestial wolf.
Narcizia leaves her perch on the wizard's shoulder and gains altitude rapidly.
Narcizia's Perception check to spot the other attackers: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
|Robin the Jester|
Cadas' arm begigs to tremble slightly as she wonders if the tripped undead will rise or if others of its kind will come rushing through the corn at her.
Scarecrow - Round 1 - continued
After the ravenous ghoul's howls are returned, Marcellano worries about the others, leaving the one on the ground for his allies. Dispatching his bird to scout, the enchanter begins casting a summoning spell that will bring an allied creature into the fray.
Narcizia, now rushing on the wing, flies above the tops of the sight-blocking crops. She sees several other scarecrows scattered throughout the fields, some seem to be struggling to free themselves from bonds like horror in front of her master. A barn and farmhouse lie some distance away to the southwest. A shambling troop of more monsters seems to be organizing there, looking to head towards where the party is. They are estimated to be a quarter mile away or so.
Kizzy steps up to finish off the prone monster in front of her, drawing out her falchion as she comes. Cutting a large gash in the creature, Kizzy gives it a serious wound, but doesn't end its lifeless existence yet.
Calling on the power of her deity to combat these unnatural creatures, Cadas' blessing washes over her allies like a warm breeze. They feel a boost to their morale knowing they fight on the side of nature. The priestess basking in the power of Gozreh, grows to large size as well. Now able to see over the tops of the corn plants. Cadas can see another scarecrow tied to a post about 20 yards to the south, and she can see the rooftops of a house and barn to the southwest.
End of Round 1
Kizzy chop vs prone: 1d20 + 9 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 9 + 4 = 25
Kizzy dmg vs ghoul: 2d4 + 5 ⇒ (4, 1) + 5 = 10
Scarecrow - Round 2
28 Robin (aiding Cadas' attack)
23 Ghoul (10 hp dmg)
15 Marcellano (casting)
***Bless in effect***
Dancing to the right, Robin points out the place that Cadas should attack next, pulling his whip tight around the leg of the struggling ghoul.
The ghoul itself, now wounded and prone, lashes out with claws and teeth at the legs of Kizzy, trying a last desperate attack to catch some flesh. The Varisian bodyguard easily sidesteps those flailings.
Ghoul bite, prone: 1d20 + 3 - 4 ⇒ (10) + 3 - 4 = 9
Ghoul Claw 1, prone: 1d20 + 3 - 4 ⇒ (12) + 3 - 4 = 11
Ghoul Claw 2, prone: 1d20 + 3 - 4 ⇒ (12) + 3 - 4 = 11
REst of the party is up next (except Robin, who has successful given aid to Cadas' next attack)
Narcizia dives down to Marcellano. "*Crawk!* Lots of dead, coming up from the house that-a-way. Some ways off. Others are starting to pull free!"
Even as she finishes relaying her information, Marcellano shouts the last word of his spell, and with a howl that sounds strangely like the tolling of a bell, a glowing golden wolf appears in a blaze of light. The wizard turns toward the shaggy creature and speaks in a strange tongue. "သင့်ရဲ့အကူအညီပေးရေးအတွက်ကျေးဇူးတင်ပါသည်။ ကျွန်တော်တို့ရဲ့တောင်ပိုင်းကဧရိယာကိုစောင့်ကြည့်ပေးပါ။"
Turning back to the fray at hand as the wolf lopes around him and glares into the cornfield, Marcel aims his crossbow and looses at the prone ghoul!
Attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
Damage: 1d8 ⇒ 1
The wolf will ready an attack against any creature emerging from the south or southwest, charging if possible.
Attack: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Damage: 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3 and trip!
Trip CMB: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6