DM Lament Configuration's Carrion Hill

Game Master electricjokecascade

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of the infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
― H. P. Lovercraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

[Loot] | [Maps]


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[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

A chill wind rises.

Far out in the fens that surround the Kingfisher River, it blows through the skeletal reeds, rousing an alligator who lifts its head from the corpse its feeding on - a corpse bound hand and foot to a pole which was dumped over the side of a skiff days before. The wind blows over the shifting dunes of mud, sends ripples across rivulets, sets the sparse canopy of the rare tree to whispering, until at last it reaches the broad, pewter-hued expanse of the Kingfisher itself, and slips sweeping around a great, people-infested hill.

Islands, both natural and man-made, cluster around the base, connected by boardwalks and old bridges; the wind causes the homeless to shiver and pull deeper into doorways, causes the miserable within their hovels to moan and bury deeper under their threadbare blankets.

The wind rises, through the tangle of alleyways and crooked streets, around gambrel rooftops and rotting steeples. Claustrophobic houses of wood and stone loom toward each other, so that most of the byways appear to be more tunnel than street. Passes hollow-eyed women waiting on corners, past knots of bright-eyed youths palming their blades, passes by corpses lying face down in gutters and the rats and cockroaches that swarm over them.

Up to the crest of the hill the wind rises, carrying with it now a myriad scents of decay and death, the swamp and the city. Up over bone-bleached white streets, past larger, grander buildings, each moldering in the memories of their former grandeur. The wind disturbs the murders of crows that alight on almost every olive tree, every cornice, every ruptured and sagging gutterpipe.

Till at last the wind circles a fortified castle-like estate, a rambling, rotting edifice of ruin and brutal walls, to slip in through a narrow window and there set the candles to streaming. There, seated behind a broad desk, a sallow-skinned man in stained finery stares in disbelief and horror at the two guards who stand before him.

"This... this cannot be. You must be mistaken. I... I refuse to..." He passes a beringed hand over his sagging features.

"I'm sorry, milord," says one black garbed guard. "I done seen it with my own eyes. The sight of it's right seared into my soul. Gone. All gone, sunken into the earth as if devoured by some ancient beast of yore."

The other guard says nothing. His skin is waxen pale, his eyes glassy with shock, and he stares out into the middle distance as if at horrors of his own conjuring.

The candles stream before the wind, and the fire that palely burns in the fireplace near goes out.

"Close that blasted window!" shouts the man behind the desk, his fury sudden and incandescent. "Close it!"

The first guard rushes to pull the shutters together, but just before he does so, he stares out into the night. Out over the motley madness of the town, at the thousands of clustered homes, the winding streets, the shifting shadows. Stares out over his home in rank horror, and brings the shutters together with a slam.

The wind passes on, swirls up in a vortex, higher and higher into the velvety darkness. Rising, carrying with it scents of death and decay, the moans of despair and fear, the stench of rot and offal. Higher and higher it rises, swirling, turning, a gyre of madness, a thing near alive.

Almost it can remember the standing stones that once decorated the crown of this mound. Almost it can remember the ancient rites of blood and shadow. But then it sheds its mortal burdens, loses the scents, sounds, and memories, to dissipate at last, evanesce beneath the twinkling stars embedded in the midnight firmament, that Dark Tapestry of unhallowed glory that has gazed down upon this land, upon Carrion Hill and its wretched inhabitants, since time immemorial.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Walter & Lys:
The road north seems interminable, and the closer it draws to your destination the narrower it shrinks, as if even the arteries of Ustalav are reluctant to approach Carrion HIll. Now it but cuts a narrow path through the fens and fog, a singly chalky lane along a raised causeway of dubious integrity, the swamplands stretching off into a gray haze in all directions.

Such is the silence and the baffling density of the mists that a traveler could be forgiven for believing they alone walked the road; for hours, even, Walter has done just that, trekking through the damp with only the squelch of his boots for company.

Half an hour ago, however - long past the point he should have reached the small inn he'd been told of that morning - a single figure appeared on the road behind him, a large crossbow over one shoulder, head bowed as they strode through the growing dusk.

Her quicker pace draws her inevitably closer, until, just as she's about to draw abreast and Walter is shocked to recognize Lys, they both see, like a man-made island appearing out of the darkness and fog ahead, a ruined wagon. Perhaps a hundred feet further down the road, it lies half submerged in the swamp to the right of the causeway, whose pale chalky length is painted black alongside it. A single horse lies drowned in its traces, but the other is missing.

At this distance, through the rolling fog, little else can be discerned.

Yelena, Kolthis, & Maritine:
Travel to Carrion Hill has been many things, but the last few days have been uniformly tense. By day the sun is a copper disc high in a pewter sky, and as dusk draws close the temperature plummets, fog rises from the fens to swamp the broad road east, and eerie sounds filter from the darkness to hasten your passage.

Thus it's with some relief late one evening that you each espy a low, solidly built ediface to the side of the road, its windows glimmering with ruddy light, smoke barely discernible from its double chimney. A massively thatched roof beetles out over its low walls, and a second, smaller building is set out back, built along the lines of a modest stable.

The sight is not wholly unexpected; various sources told you of The Fenman's Folly, the last inn before the final stretch to Carrion Hill proper. Drawing close, you see a sign hanging above the doorway, portraying a wizened man cavorting around a pile of coin.

The owners prove to be an old couple, Master and Mistress Overton. They seem not to hear you half the time, and complete each other's phrases, shaking their heads in sad disapproval though of what is not immediately obvious. The Fenman is empty, they allow, and rooms are available: they're cold, cheerless cells tucked beneath the rafters and thatch, the walls thin, the cots narrow.

Still, a peat fire burns in the square common room, crackling and spitting sparks, and casts forth flickering illumination over the whitewashed walls and over the heavy, dark furniture. A cat sleeps curled up before the fireplace, and scores of tiny portraits adorn the walls, their glassine surfaces gleaming in the dancing light.

Dinner is available in the form of hard rolls of black bread, pungent cheese, rosemary eel pie and cold, serviceable ale, all of which is served at the sole dining table, a rectangle of black marshwood large enough to seat six.

Something about the place, though.

How the silence seems to rush in to ache between your words. How the crackle of the fireplace seems overly loud, along with the sharp, metronomic tick of the ornate clock set above the bar. The way Master Overton stares at you when you think you're not looking, and scowls and looks away when you catch his eye. Warm and smoky as the common room may be, there's someaught here that simply... doesn't feel right.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter moves slowly along the causeway, eyes cast down. Now and then he pauses and peers at something along the side of the path. Once he pick his way very cautiously down the bank to stare intently at something along the edge of the mire, then shakes his head and climbs back up again. He doesn't seem to much notice the cold wind or the heavy overcast.

Walter is not generally a happy man! But wandering through a wild place looking for new and unknown herbs is on the short list of things that can take him away from himself. For a time.

And then:
A single figure appears on the road behind him, a large crossbow over one shoulder, head bowed as they stride through the growing dusk. Perception 1d2 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4 Walter is completely preoccupied staring at the leaves of a small ferny plant. It's fern-like, to be sure. But not a true fern. Walter frowns thoughtfully. Is it a cryptogam, then? He sees no evidence of flowers, fruit or seeds, but it is late in the season...

Peering at his plant, Walter is completely unaware of Lys' approach. He hasn't noticed the ruined wagon, either.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 25/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 8/8, (2nd) 6/6, (Bonus) 1/1 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena sighs in relief at the sight of the modest inn. Not so much for the prospect of a bed, (their wagon was comfortable enough, if a bit chilly this time of year), but more for the prospect of a decent meal. Yelena is many things: a fortune-teller, a mage, a follower of the North Star...but she is most definitely not a cook. Something which Tereza never lets her forget.

"We're here, Bună. The Fenman's Folly." An unfortunate name for an inn, really. But from what they'd heard it should be a nice respite before they push their way on to Carrion Hill.

(An even more unfortunate name, and one that makes her shiver. Her dreams of the place have not been pleasant. If they had been, she wouldn't be here.)

While Tereza goes to talk to the owners, Yelena parks the wagon near the stable and makes sure Dancer is safely ensconced inside, with plenty of hay and water. "Good girl," she says as she gently pats her neck. "Enjoy your evening." She honestly not much better a driver than she is a cook, but it's a role she's gotten used to playing whenever she and Tereza set off on their own. Fortunately Dancer is a placid, well-trained horse.

By the time she's gotten Dancer settled, Tereza is finished organizing their rooms and Yelena is able to meet her, Kolthis, and Maritine inside for a hot meal. It had been surprising to see Kolthis again, and even more surprising to learn he was going to Carrion Hill for the same reason she was. Then they'd run into Maritine on the road, who was also going to Carrion Hill after some sort of ordeal in Thrushmoor had pointed the investigator to the place. For the North Star to be guiding them all to the same place at the same time, something must be very wrong indeed.

And speaking of something wrong...

Yelena can't quite put her finger on it. The food and ale are both good, the fire is warm and cozy, the common room exactly as common rooms usually were in small inns like this. Admittedly Master and Mistress Overton weren't the friendliest couple, and Master Overton in particular seems to stare at them in a most unnerving way, but that wasn't all. The normal noises were both too quiet and too loud, and the ticking of the clock in particular seems meant to drive her insane.

Something's wrong here too. But what?

Whatever magic the Starsong had blessed her with had one great advantage over most magic; it was easy to cast without anyone noticing. Outwardly Yelena continued calmly drinking her ale, occasionally patting at her mouth with her napkin. But during one of those pats, Kolthis and Maritine both suddenly heard her voice in their ear. Is it just me, or is something feel off? Whisper a reply, I'll hear you.

Casting Message, DC25 Perception check for anyone other than the three of us to hear us whispering to each other.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Lys' mind drifts off, as her exhausted horse follows the narrow mountain path with a quiet trot. Flashing back to the carnage of the midnight, the distant look in the villagers' eyes... Should I have stayed? Should I have charged in?, she thinks, nervously fidgeting with the crossbow in her hands. Shouldn't have even come all this way..., she bites her lip, idly staring back into the foggy air, doubtful thoughts ravaging at the memory of Viktor. Temper your anger, he'd say. Anger your temper, I'd reply., she stifles back a grim chuckle, glancing at the spirals and prayers on the darkwood crossbow in her hands. Well, Pharasma, it's just you, me and Bum now., she pats the horse's sweat-caked mane.

Until through the mists, a lone, unarmed figure appears through the evening fog, seemingly taken by a plant. And here I thought I was the only idiot walking through the forest alone at night. This one's even unarmed. Leaping from the saddle, Lys' soft footsteps carry her forward, crossbow raised at the unknown creature, glancing at his equipment. Notebooks? Ink vials, books, symbols? A final glance at the wild dirt-white mane, and an honest grin graces Lys' mouth.

"Arooooo.", she announces loudly, a mere step behind Walter's back. "You know, it's a good thing us wolves are well mannered, Walter, otherwise we'd have just attacked without notice." A devilish grin on her face, she gives the wizard a friendly poke in the ribs. Without a break, she continues, pointing at the wagon in the swamp with a judgemental look. "Reading and driving again? Poor horse."


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

"AAAAHHH!" Walter jumps half a foot into the air. One hand darts into his tunic, reaching for something unseen, while another jerks into the beginning of a gesture of evocation...

...and then he lets his breath out in a long sigh. "You! Madame Elize?" The invoking hand falls. "Oh. Ah... well. 'Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?'" What a surprise." Walter's greeting is sincere but a little tentative. I'm tempted to roll on the "What's up with you and Walter" table, but that's up to you whether you want to start a Noodle Incident or just leave things blank for now.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Quote:
Without a break, she continues, pointing at the wagon in the swamp with a judgemental look. "Reading and driving again? Poor horse."

"Wait, what? What? Wait?" Walter whirls. Walter can be a bit jumpy sometimes.

They both see, like a man-made island appearing out of the darkness and fog ahead, a ruined wagon. Perhaps a hundred feet further down the road, it lies half submerged in the swamp to the right of the causeway, whose pale chalky length is painted black alongside it. A single horse lies drowned in its traces, but the other is missing.

Walter stares for several long seconds.

Then: "There appears to have been an... accident? Perhaps we should investigate? And... and see if someone needs help?" This is delivered in the slow and hesitant speech of a man who is trying to work out the correct response from unfamiliar first principles.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Noodle incident? Definitely count me in for that one, whatever it is. Taking the initiative here!

Lys snorts. "Madame? I still try and make an honest living.", she teases, but the revelation that the wagon isn't Walter's makes her furrow her brows. "Sure should. Stay behind me, master Walter, and try not to set me on fire. This time.", she winks, the crossbow clicking with a loaded bolt.

Carefully descending towards the swamp, she raises the crossbow at the mists of the swamp warily, the thought of whatever caused the carriage to jump off the path drawing a bead of cold sweat on her brow. Hope whatever caused this is long gone. Day was long enough without this. "So if the carriage isn't yours,", she turns her head back at Walter, "you've been travelling by foot? Closest village is several miles out. Bravery's a word for that."

Rolls/OoC:

Survival to determine how long ago the horse died: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Perception to notice anything unusual on the carriage: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
Survival to see/track if there's any tracks, humanoid in particular: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

"As you know, I've said repeatedly that nobody gets set on fire as long as they don't get between me and --" the wizard begins, then stops as he notices Lys' apprehension.

"Ah." Walter's entire demeanor changes. He reaches under his cloak into his extremely complicated leather vest, removes a small metal wand with a leather handle, and taps himself on knee, head and shoulder. Expending one charge of Mage Armor.

"Look carefully, then," he murmurs, and reaches into his vest again to remove a scroll. Readying an action: scroll of Magic Missile, just in case. Walter's Perception is not great, but he'll try to scan the area and stay alert. 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14 Otherwise, he'll stay about 20' behind Lys as she moves to investigate the wagon.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Lys leads the way toward the wagon, walking warily, until she can make out more details.

The remaining horse is freshly dead, though it's slick hide ripples strangely. The eerie glimmers that are skipping across it's exposed body resolve themselves into inch long leeches, which seem to be swarming slowly all over it.

The wagon itself is badly battered, the exposed side badly crushed and almost stoved in, as if hit broadside by a huge log. The exposed wheels, however, are fine; the blow seems to have been dealt to the upper half of the wagon.

The darkness across the causeway beside the wagon resolves itself into thick, gummy blood.

Wheel tracks proceed smoothly along the causeway, coming your direction, right until it reached the spot next to where the wagon now lies. There they scrape deeply sideways as if the wagon had gone from full tilt forward to a sudden, almost violent sideways track - and then the ruts disappear altogether, as if the vehicle had lifted clear off the ground.

No tracks are evident beyond those.

Fifteen feet of black, inscrutable water lie between the causeway and the wagon.

Both Lys and Walter, however, hear a lapping sound coming from within the wagon itself, as if something were weakly, feebly, struggling in the near flooded interior.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
DM Lament Configuration wrote:
The remaining horse is freshly dead, though it's slick hide ripples strangely. The eerie glimmers that are skipping across it's exposed body resolve themselves into inch long leeches, which seem to be swarming slowly all over it.

Niiiice.

Quote:

Fifteen feet of black, inscrutable water lie between the causeway and the wagon.

Both Lys and Walter, however, hear a lapping sound coming from within the wagon itself, as if something were weakly, feebly, struggling in the near flooded interior.

The two stand on the shore for a long moment, staring out over the dark water. Then, "At home in Sargava, as a boy, I often swam in muddy streams not unlike this one. But not until they had been cleared of crocodiles and venomous serpents, and declared free of disease or taint by a priest of Jai Jatala, the Lady of Clear Waters."

True story: Walter has a single rank in Swim, which he is inordinately proud of, as it's his only physical skill. OTOH, he's not stupid and he's in no hurry to jump into strange dark water!


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter turns to Lys. "I have a spell that will make you faster. You would be able to leap to the wreck without difficulty." If I caste Haste on Lys, that increases her base speed by 30', adding +12 to her Acrobatics check for a long jump. A 15' jump is a DC 15 Acrobatics check to begin with, so that should be close to auto-success.

Also, why is Walter ignoring the mystery of the wreckage? Because if there's a survivor, let's rescue them and then we'll get the whole story. If there's danger, let's deal with it and then we can go into investigation mode.


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +4 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +9 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 19

Expressionless as she gave The Fenman's Folloy a dubious twice over, Maritine took a moment to properly fix her outfit before entering the last real refuge she and her travelling companions would probably have before they made for the final march to Carrion Hill.

Refuge however might not have been the correct word to choose. Food, warmth and roof meant little in Ustalav at the best of times, and the inn's best times seemed well behind. The Overtons suspicious behavior certainly didn't help. Making sure to adjust her coat so that the battered yet polished insignia of Lepidstadt University was deliberatly obvious, Maritine removed her had and slowly wandered aimlessly about in the inns main room as if she were preparing to interrogate the room.

She kept track of Master Overton and his scowling glances as Tereza greeted the innkeepers and managed payment. Once, twice, thrice...always slow to break his scowls and certainly not as secretive as he was trying to be.

Suspicious.

The cloying silence didn't help Overton's case any - she couldn't determine what exactly was wrong but given how pervasive it was (and where they were) she would wager good coin on something supernatural. She'd have to admit to suspicion bias given how the Overtons were acting but as had been drilled into her, behavior told you a lot about a person.

Is it just me, or is something feel off? Whisper a reply, I'll hear you.

Turning to hide her face by looking at the fire Maritine whispers "The owners. I'll be discreet." She waits to catch Overton staring again before she moves to the bar and carefully props herself against it, leaning on her elbows and interlocking her hands in front of her mouth. She does not break eye contact with the innkeeper the entire time - as if she were visually dissecting the man to reveal his secrets.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Lys sends a smile at Walter. "I can guarantee no crocodiles here, but can't promise anything on the disease part." The muddy waters giving her a little pause, she shakes her head at the offer of magic. "Save your fire, I can clear that easily." Famous last words., she adds to herself. "Something's in there, and as much as I'd love to be cynical about it, I think we should check it out."

Breathing out, Lys takes a run-up towards the carriage, leaping over the muddied waters. Landing safely on the carriage's side, she quickly grabs her crossbow. Hand on the handle, she nods at Walter, and turns the door handle.

Rolls/OoC:

Acrobatics: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (8) + 14 = 22
Acrobatics, if I need to stick the landing: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (18) + 14 = 32


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

The carriage rocks beneath Lys' boots as they thud into its battered side, rocks - and then sinks a handful of inches with a great eruption of bubbles that bring with them the sulfurous stink of the marsh.

The weak splashing from within goes silent as the water rises. Lys goes to yank open the battered door, but the frame is twisted and warped due to the damage.

Lys strength check: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (3) - 1 = 2

The door, consequently, seems well and truly stuck.

More bubbles erupt as the carriage begins to ever so slowly twist in place, as if it were the head of a great screw that is fixing to sink deep into the brackish mire.

Lys reckons - very roughly - that the wagon'll sink beneath the waters in five or so rounds at its current rate of descent.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Mr. Overton blinks as Maritine moves up to the bar, and half turns away in a show of searching for something to busy himself with. As Maritine leans on the bar to study him openly, he scowls and turns back to her, bobbing his head, overly large Adam's apple rising and falling, and stares irritatedly at her through his wireless spectacles.

"Aye, aye, what is it? More of the ale, I'll warrant?"

The very directness of her stare seems to fluster him, for his thin, wrinkled pate flushes red with irritation and unease.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

"I can blast the door open!" yells Walter helpfully.

A carriage door should be something like hardness 2, 10 hp? A Magic Missile can probably blow it open. If that fails, Fireball!

Also, as a Spell Sage, I can cast any bard, cleric or druid spell of levels 1-3... once per day. So if there's a spell that would help here, I can throw it. For instance, I can cast Ice Sheet or Ice Storm, which might keep the carriage afloat. Or, um... Water Breathing?


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M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 45/50 | AC: 21, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +10, R: +5, W: +7 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 4/4 2nd 3/3 | Active conditions: None

Fire rose up from darkness, tips of the flame kissing in chill air as sparks flew out, igniting the ground they landed upon like small needle pricks in the earth, weaving a pattern that only they knew.

An east wind blew, catching the embers and blowing them further along in the darkness. The fire grows, spreading ever further, flames rising higher, burning through the night and catching all that grows. A spark flew out and drifted inexorably downwards, past the base, deep into the heart of blackness.

Flame tips rise and fall, and suddenly the flame is no longer such, but a puddle of blood splattered across rocky pavement that ran between abandoned and decaying buildings. Faces flashed in the reflection by moonlight. Faces of horror. Terror. Misshapen features screaming silently into nothing, cold as the wind that passed over lifeless forms carrying their foul stench.

Screams rose with the wind, cutting through silence, accompanied by frantic breathing and laborious steps as the pavement shifted. Now, the ground was rough, made of dirt and dust and layers of grime born of decades of neglect and forgotten memories. Another body lay back at the end of the path, in a room buried in darkness, bottom half writhing on the floor as it tried to make itself whole by reaching its companion that lay at the other end.

Help

Feet carried a panting form, running from a stalking figure. Hood covered one, and shadows the other. A dip in the ground caught boots and sent feet flying, form tumbling to the ground, hood thrown back to reveal the bloodless face of a woman in terror, illuminated by a fire that was both far too close and yet impossibly far. A gauntleted hand flew out from her side, trying in vain to grasp the light as muscles in her legs refused to listen.

Help

The figure approached, catching up, pinning the useless legs into the ground. As it always had. As it always would. Darkness parted sideways into a mouth of horror with too many teeth and lashing tongues. The screams continued. Eyelids opened around the mouth and other parts of the dark, revealing pale green eyes that stared with a terrifying gaze. A gaze with irises that reflected too much, more than was possible. Of deep chasms that dropped endlessly into darkness, circling around into infinity, swallowing everything forever.

HELP

Kolthis awoke with a start, looking around frantically as he clutched the hilt of his hammer. There was no danger. There were only the people in the wagon that he was traveling with, and had been for some time now. Somehow he had managed to fall asleep briefly as they rode forward in the early morning. He glanced around to gauge if anyone had noticed the incident, but it seemed that none had. The grip on his weapon loosened as he leaned back against the wagon wall where he had been sitting, heavy armor ringing out with the movement. It was those damned dreams that made him so jumpy. They had been coming up more often as of late, and even more as he had started to make his way towards his destination.

He took a deep breath to slow his rapid beating heart. His destination, Carrion Hill. Where his dreams had led him to again and again, despite never having visited the place. Some of the people he had talked to about it tried their best to talk him out of following those dreams. They were dangerous, and nothing good ever came from voices in your head. But they didn’t know. They didn’t understand.

Kolthis looked at the divide between the wagon and the rider area, towards where Yelena was steering the horses on their way. It had been a pleasant surprise to run into her again in Kavapesta, and even more so to learn that she was also headed towards the same place he was and for much the same reason. She understood. He was sure Desna had guided both their paths to meet once more. He could not say for sure what the reason was, but it would come clear, eventually.

Maritine’s presence was even less clear. Looking over at the form of the inspector on the other side of the wagon, Kolthis wondered what the true nature of her travel was. It seemed awfully strange for someone to show up all the way from Lepidstadt, and stumble upon wagon that just happened to also be traveling to the place where no one else wanted to go. He would need to keep an eye on her, in case she tried to meddle in affairs that did not concern her.

Grabbing his holy symbol of Desna, Kolthis realized he had been glaring at Maritine. He shook himself out of his thoughts, clutching harder at the iron depiction of a butterfly. No, there was no reason to suspect her for some kind of treachery. They had been traveling together for a good while now, and she had been nothing but reasonable towards the rest of the small party. She had done her fair share of work, and it wasn’t right to be overly suspicious towards her. He leaned back against the wagon, and pulled out one of few small books he carried in his pack that detailed various adventures through the many lands of Golarion, and started reading.

Approaching The Fenman’s Folly near the end of the day, Kolthis was glad to get a chance to rest in the last proper form of lodging on their path. Rest, a warm meal, and some tasteful drink would do them all good. Walking in with Tereza, Kolthis took in the state of the inn as Tereza talked over their lodgings with the owners, a decidedly odd couple. Something about them gave him a weird feeling. Maybe it was their odd manner of speaking, or the fact that they let their inn feel so empty and cold, maybe something else. Regardless, he kept a watch out for them out of the corner of his eye as he warmed up by the fire.

His feelings were validated during their half-hearted dinner when he heard Yelena’s voice. Is it just me, or is something feel off? Whisper a reply, I'll hear you.

Hearing Maritine respond first, he nodded slightly in agreement.

Aye, the owners. But not just them. It’s all of it. The inn, the food, hells even this rickety single table. None of it feels right. It’s cold and empty and it feels unlike any other inn I’ve ever spent any time in. Not natural, it is.

He watched as Maritine went up to the bar and stared daggers at Mr. Overton. Kolthis scoffed lightly, covering it up with a drink of the ale. Subtle indeed. That was about as subtle as knocking the man out with his hammer right where he stood.

Following suit, Kolthis finished his drink and spoke up towards Mistress Overton, slamming his mug down on the table. ”That is some good ale, that is.” It was alright at best. ”Bring me another, if you please. This is...quite the place you’ve got here, I must say. Tell me, how long have you folks been running this inn?”


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 25/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 8/8, (2nd) 6/6, (Bonus) 1/1 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Yelena doesn't outwardly react, but she once again covers her mouth with her napkin. Not just me then. I'll try to get a sense of what's going on here. Maritine, could you keep Master Overton distracted for a few seconds?

She doesn't particularly like listening to people's thoughts. For one thing, it's rude. Invasive. Not to mention frequently unpleasant for all parties involved. (And that's without considering the dangers of trying to read the mind of something...other.) But it was undeniably useful. People's minds were rarely as well-guarded as their faces.

Master Overton is glaring at Maritine. Mistress Overton is distracted by Kolthis' request for more ale. This is the best chance she's going to get. She leans her chin on her hand and focuses on Master Overton's mind. What thoughts are hiding behind that face?

Casting Detect Thoughts for three rounds, Will DC17 to negate. If Master Overton fails Yelena will 'hear' his surface thoughts. This is a spell-like ability.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

The crack of Kolthis' mug was sharp in the small common room; Mistress Overton's wizened face screws into a mask of displeasure as she glares at him from behind the same bar as Master Overton.

"The ale is the finest, brought overland from..." Mistress Overton trails off, gumming her lips, frowning at Kolthis all the while. Just as he thinks he'll have to ask again, she turns, fills a mug to frothing from a pony keg mounted in an alcove behind the bar, and turns back to set it smartly on the bar. It's clear she's no intention of actually bringing it to him.

"The Fenman?" Her surprise is exaggerated. "Mr. Overton and and I have been... some time now, yes. Back before the troubles, when we lived in... then the time, that... and they rose up, clawing back the earth. We lost our only son... and for awhile there..." She frowns at Master Overton, as if seeking answers in his seamed face. "For a time, we wandered... the Fenman was empty when we found it. Empty of living things, that is. We cleaned it out. And with..."

She gums her lips again, frowning at Kolthis. "And since then... Yes."

Meanwhile, Yelena focuses on Master Overton, whose scowl is deepening as Maritine continues to stare at him.

Yelena:
Master Overton Will Save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Both are clearly capable of thought; there are no other thinking creatures within the common room.

And after a moment, images appear in Yelena's mind's eye, drawn from Master Overton's thoughts. Coherent thoughts are absent, but she picks up on strong desires that roil his mind. A yearning for silence, for darkness, for stillness. An image: both inn keepers standing in their rooms, in the dark, windows shuttered, fully dressed, facing the wall, not moving, old bodies swaying silently, eyes open, waiting, resting, at peace, alone in the empty inn...

But they're not alone. People are here. The ones they were told would come. The warning from the fenman. A prophecy, even? Complications. Unpleasant people, like this whore who was just staring at him as if this were her inn, and not theirs. This... what would it take to... but the warning, he could take comfort in that, the fate that would be theirs, the wretched, screaming deaths that awaited them all in Carrion Hill...

Mistress Overton Will Save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +4 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +9 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 19

"Maritine, could you keep Master Overton distracted for a few seconds?"

The barest of movement in the corner of her mouth is all the anser Yelena gets as Maritine shifts her inscrutable gaze to both Overtons, watching Mistress Overtone run her spiel about the Fenman and how they found it, doing her best to feign interest. She imagined she did so quite poorly, but Kolthis was assisting wonderfully.

Mistress Overton's odd choice of words don't escape her notice, but she lets it slide for the moment - getting them removed from the inn for interrogating the owners wouldn't go over well with the others, and it wasn't like they were the first strangers to have unusual secrets; Ustalav was practically built from them.

Pulling back just a little and cracking her knuckles with what she hoped to be a convincing smile, she nods once and says "How fascinating." she reaches into her coinpouch and produces two silver pieces, placing them carefully on the bar."If you have it, some wine. Please."


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 25/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 8/8, (2nd) 6/6, (Bonus) 1/1 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Only long practice enables Yelena to keep her face expressionless. She was used to seeing things that disturbed her when brushing against another's thoughts, but this...this was something else. The closest comparison she could think of was the time she'd focused on a grimspawn who took after their fiendish sire in more ways than one.

Emptiness. The void. An eternal silence, where only Nothingness remains....

She finishes her ale in one long swig. At least they don't have any plans to kill us themselves. They'll just let whatever is in Carrion Hill do it for them.

It's a cold comfort at best.

Tereza is looking at her curiously. Yelena had deliberately not included her in the message spell, not wanting to upset her if nothing was actually wrong, but she can still sense something is going on. Yelena forces a smile before turning to apparently look out the window.

We're not in any immediate danger. I'll tell you the rest later. Message is a very convenient spell, but not well-suited to long explanations. At least not when you're trying to act like you're not communicating at all. Plus she barely knows Kolthis, and knows even less about Maritine. There's no telling how they might react if she told the full story right now.

For that matter, Yelena herself isn't a good enough actress to continue casual conversation with the Overtons. Not knowing what she knows. So instead she fakes a yawn and stands up. "I think I'll retire early. Thank you for a delicious meal." She gives Tereza another smile, slightly more real this time, and heads for her room.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Feeling the carriage starting to sink, Lys swallows nervously. Well, I hope I can get out in time. The shouts from Walter, however, seem to nudge her into action. "If you insist! It's warped three ways till Toilday!", she replies. "Say when!", she shouts, readying to pry the door open. "Hey! If you in there can hear me, smack on the door, we'll get you out!", she shouts at the door.

I think Grease might be a better spell here than fireball. But, it's your call!


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Sure, I can try Grease.

"Hmmm... on second thought..." Walter flicks his hands in a complex gesture, murmurs a word of nine syllables. Casts Grease on the jammed door.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

The carriage door gleams as it's covered in a thick veneer of grease. Digging her fingers into the cracks in the wood, Lys is able to haul it open in a burst of splinters, the whole of it coming free in her hands.

Below lies the carriage interior. It's flooded with black water that swirls and rises, streams of bubbles erupting here and there - and framing the white-clad form that hovers just below the surface, her long hair forming a rippling halo about her face, which is little more than a pale blur as she thrusts a hand toward her savior, fingertips almost breaking the surface.

A jerk, the carriage sinks another inch, and the girl is pulled even deeper into the water.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

"Nice on-", Lys barks back as she throws the splintered door into the muddy waters, only for her to gasp loudly as she sees the pale woman in white dress being dragged under the surface. Cold rippling down her spine, she leaps into the carriage and extends her hand down to grab the girl. "Hold on!", she shouts, as her eyes glance behind the cloud of hair around the woman's face, afraid of what lurks beyond.

Strength Check to pull her out, not my forte: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (11) - 1 = 10


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Lys' hand sinks into the icy cold water and grabs the girl's wrist. The girl, in turn, grabs Lys's, her hair parting to reveal eyes wild with panic, a handsome face, mouth determinedly closed against the waters.

Lys pulls.

It's not enough.

The carriage sinks another shuddering few inches, water swirling up wildly along Lys' arm nearly to the shoulder, so that she's forced to turn her face away to avoid being submerged.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Master Overton's gaze slides down from Maritine's face to the coins as if she'd drawn forth two roaches from her pouch. He scowls down at them for an interminable moment, then swipes them across the bar into his palm.

"One moment," he rasps, and walks down the end of the line behind the bar to bend, with agonizing slowness, to unlock a trapdoor with a hefty iron key, which he then hauls up. This done at last, he turns, and by slow degrees lowers himself onto the first step of a steep ladder, and disappears from sight.

A minute late he returns, bottle in hand, and locks the door behind him. Straightening with almost audible creaks, he moves back to stand before Maritine, and slides the bottle before her.

It's a dusty green, the contents opaque, the label yellowed and badly faded.

"Here," he says. "The vintage you asked for. I've saved it special. Ever since. Knew you'd ask for it. Confirmed."

That said, he draws the crumbly cork, and pours out a full glass of the deep, ruby red liquid.

"Drink," he says. "You have to drink every drop."


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Crikey. As a Spell Sage, I have access to a bunch of super useful spells that could work here -- but they're all Touch range! So, I could hit you both with Water Breathing, and you'd be drowning-proof for the next few hours. But! I would have to make a DC 15 Acrobatics check to jump over there.

Option 1, I attempt that check -- even if I fail, hey, I have +1 to Swim. Option 2, pull out a scroll and use Summon Monster 1 to summon a celestial dolphin to help. Not as good, but it's sure to work. Other players: any suggestions? If I don't hear back in the next hour or two, I think I'll go with Option 1...


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +4 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +9 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 19

Maritine watches carefully as Yelena seems disturbed by something she seems to have gleaned from the strange couple. Curious but not wanting to be rude (well, more rude) she waits patiently as Overton acquires and then pours her a very red wine, his strange mutterings followed by his demand that she drink the whole glass not exactly doing him any favors.

With unblinking eye contact Maritine raises the glass to her mouth and takes a sip, mostly to get a good taste of the wine. She thinks it might be Varisian. "All in good time, good ser. Thankyou for the wine."

She turns to attempt to intercept Yelena and have the two of them talk quietly, surreptitiously glancing back to the innkeeper from time to time - he was quite insistent she drink the whole glass at once, which meant she wanted to be at least a step and a half away from the man should he get...violent.

@Walter - how brave are you feeling dice wise? Acrobatics isn't usually on the wizard skill list. Dolphin might be the better choice. Depends on what you want to hold on to for the adventure proper.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Quick note: Walter can summon a dolphin on the outside of the carriage, but there's no room inside for an animal that size. A quick search shows that your average adult bottlenose weights around 660 lbs and can reach 13 feet in length.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Well... Walter has Summon Monster I on a scroll. But as a Spell Sage, he could in theory access any of the SM II or SM III monster lists as well. And Nature's Ally I II and III too... if he were willing to burn his once/day.

But I think he's going to live dangerously and try to help. Walter isn't normally a jump into danger kind of guy... but an innocent is in danger, and he has a new alignment to live up to.


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

"I can't-", Lys shouts at the woman, breathing in deeply as she glances once more at the murky waters.

We're here to help, not just hunt. A thought runs in her mind as she hesitates for just a moment, before leaping into the waters, determined to grab whatever it is dragging the pale faced woman below the surface.

Rolls/OoC:

Move action to submerge - if there's anything pulling her, Lys will try and shoot it. If there isn't, I imagine it'll be easier to help her up from under there.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter unceremoniously shrugs off his vest and backpack, runs down the bank, and throws himself off the water's edge in a clumsy leap!

Untrained Acrobatics (Jump) check!:

1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6

and if that fails, here's his Swim check:

1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter is no sort of acrobat, and he doesn't even get halfway to the carriage. However, he is actually a half-competent swimmer; with a few quick strokes he has reached the sinking vehicle.

"I have a spell... that can help you both... breathe water! But it will take a few moments! Stay strong!"

Spell Study will take three rounds to cast. I think casting while treading water counts as "Vigorous motion while casting", requiring a concentration check. -- Darn, upon consideration I could have cast it safely on shore; it's a touch spell, which means the caster can "hold the charge". Didn't think of that until after I'd posted. Well, Walter has Int 22 but his Wis is only 12, and he's still working out how to play his new alignment...


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Swimming strongly to the carriage, Walter climbs up onto the sinking vehicle, water pouring from his water-logged robes, only to peer down into its interior and see a splash as Lys dives down into the depths.

Nobody's topside to learn of his intentions.

Down in the dark water, Lys swims down alongside the struggling girl, following her length down into the gloom which turns pitch black by the time she reaches the girl's feet - where she discovers by touch that her gown has torn and caught thickly on broken planks of wood.

The girl's movements grow more frantic, her arms and legs thrashing as she fights for the surface.

Lys & Walter:
Seeing as we're looking to start Carrion Hill proper this coming week, I'm going to move things along and assume Walter is able to reach down and cast Water Breathing on both Lys and the girl, assuring their ability to escape. I could have fleshed this encounter out quite a bit - I was toying with the idea of a leech swarm! But fun as that would have been, I think we'd best finish this appetizer and get ready for the main course.

It's a close call. Lys grabs fistfuls of the dress, plants her boots, and begins to haul, only to give up and draw her knife and set to cutting. Bubbles erupt from the girl's mouth as she screams - but before she can begin to drown, Walter reaches down and imbues her with the gift of water breathing.

A chaotic few moments follow, as the dress is shorn and tears above the knee, and Walter then helps the girl climb up onto the wagon just as it shears about one final time and goes under, near sucking them all down into the black depths.

Together, however, they swim back to the causeway and climb back up onto its bank.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Quote:
Together, however, they swim back to the causeway and climb back up onto its bank.

"Huff.. huff." Walter staggers to his feet, dirty water dripping from his sopping robes. "I think... a hot fire... clean clothes... and perhaps some tea?" He frowns down thoughtfully at the young woman. "And then perhaps our new acquaintance can tell us... what happened here?"

Walter doesn't have any ranks in Heal (though he's thinking about it). He does have several ranks in Profession (Herbalist), though. So, his solution to many problems involves brewing tea. -- Also, behind the frown Walter is tentatively pleased with himself. The part of his brain that thinks about morality is new; it says, we did a good deed! The older parts of his brain sourly hope that it won't prove to be pointless, a waste of time, or actively counterproductive.


Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 25/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 8/8, (2nd) 6/6, (Bonus) 1/1 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

As Maritine stops her, Yelena winces but still follows the other woman into a corner. As long as they're quiet, the Overtons shouldn't overhear them. "From what I saw in Master Overton's mind, they don't want anyone here. They just want to live completely alone, with nothing but emptiness around them. They were apparently told we'd be coming, and Master Overton at least was looking forward to us dying horribly in Carrion Hill from...something they'd been warned would happen. He never really thought of what."

Uncomfortable, she shivers slightly despite the fire. "Like I said, we're in no immediate danger from them. They're looking forward to us dying, but have no plans to kill us themselves. We're as safe here as anywhere else, and no doubt much safer than we'll be in Carrion Hill. It's just...creepy."


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Panting, Lys drains the muddy water from her hat with disdain, sitting down on the shore and gently letting the young woman down. "Those. And a hearty drink, too.", she nods at Walter. "And, the next time I inevitably joke about your finger wagging and magic words, you're allowed, no, obliged, to throw some of that bat s$#% you keep in your bag at me." Pursing her lips as if to say something else, Lys settles for giving Walter a grateful tap on the shoulder. He just jumped in the water, to save her?

Crazy, crazy. Leaping into unknown waters, saving weird-looking women. Bravery is for patriots, you're a mercenary., Lys' thoughts begin to race across her mind as she sets to starting the fire, whistling a dwarven tavern-favourite as she lays down the firewood. What's there for me in Ustalav, anyway? Vengeance? For what? Cracking the twigs angrily, a moment later a cheerful blaze sits on the side of the road.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

The girl lies panting on the muddy bank, her white clothing plastered to her form, leeches dotting her skin. She convulses then hawks up a torrent of black water, only to pull her sodden hair aside to consider her saviors - and recoil.

"You," she says, gaze flickering from Walter to Lys, her recognition obvious. "How - but it can't -"

Hurriedly, she gathers herself, rises to a crouch, hands stretched before her as if to ward off her new companions.

Her face, handsome, betraying her to not be more than perhaps twenty years old - finally cracks as if from to much strain, her lips trembling, her eyes filling with tears, and she shakes her head from side to side as if trying to deny some ghastly truth.

"Evil calls to evil," she whispers. "I won't go any further. I'll have no more dreams! With him dead, I'm free now, free to end this -"

She rises, sways, draws a tiny dagger from her belt.

"I know you both. I've had visions. Oh, such terrible dreams. It's why he took me. Why I was being brought to Carrion Hill. But evil calls to evil. Please." Her eyes brim with tears that quickly overflow. "Please. Don't go to Carrion Hill. Walter. Elize. Please. Escape while you can. Escape like me. Don't go to Carrion Hill."

And so saying, smiling tremulously at the last, she draws her blade across her neck in one wicked cut, and lets out her life's blood to fall limp across the muddy ground.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1
Walter the Vagabond wrote:
The part of his brain that thinks about morality is new; it says, we did a good deed! The older parts of his brain sourly hope that it won't prove to be pointless, a waste of time, or actively counterproductive.

Walter is literally gobsmacked. He's going to stand there for several long seconds with his mouth simply hanging open. Half his brain is going what? and the other half is going told you so and it doesn't leave much room for coherent thought or action.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

...the Walter of a year or two back -- OG Walter, let's call him -- would have been briefly surprised, then briefly annoyed, then would have brightly suggested to just keep an eye on the body overnight so he could cast Speak With Dead on the corpse come the morning.

But that's an evil spell, and Walter doesn't do that sort of thing any more.


Female Human Lepidstadt Inspector 5 | Initiative +4 | Perception +10 | Fort +3 Ref +9 Will +7 | HP 45 AC 19

Taking another small sip of the wine as she listens closely to Yelena, only the briefest of surprise on her face as all the details begin to come together.

"Hmm." is all she offers before putting her unfinished glass down. Probably shouldn't have had any wine, truthfully, but it was far too late to worry about that.

"I wish I could say this was...unusual. But many leads regarding Carrion Hill have all been strange, in their own way. At least they don't want to kill us." She says if it was the best news she'd expected to receive that evening. Purposfully ignoring the glass she glances back at the Overtons briefly then turns back to Yelena.

"Shall we retire? Do you believe a watch to be necessary?"


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Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

Still humming under her breath, Lys turns to see the rescued woman rise up and her mouth opens, as if to welcome her amongst the living once more. The manic, horrified monologue sends a chill down her spine, the dread conviction of Ustalav in every word from the young woman's mouth. "Buw how do-", she starts to say, jumping from the ground to turn towards the woman, not seeing the dagger in her hand.

Eyes gaping in horror, Lys leaps towards the young woman, hands pressed tightly on her neck, trying hopelessly to stem the flow. "No, no, no, hold on, hold on...", she cries out, muttering, as the blood flows between her fingers, realising only a moment later she's holding a dead body. "S+*$!", Lys shouts, leaping up from the body, snorting back a gasp. "Why woul-", she chokes on the sentence, kicking a rock from the fire into the muddy waters. I've seen horror, but never like this. Not like this.

Don't go to Carrion Hill. Escape like you can. Escape like me. The last words of the nameless girl hang in Lys' head for a moment, as she sits quietly by the lakeside, blood and mud on her hands. Escape, Lys, but not like her. Come on, run. You can get on the horse, get the wizard too, if you want, and go. Away. Leave Ustalav to eat its own, and escape. The voice of the traveller is the loudest it's ever been in years, louder than even in the morning as she strode down, leaving Viktor alone to die. "Yeah. But she didn't get to escape.", Lys answers herself, glancing at the dagger in the woman's hand. Something got to her. Something evil, and something powerful, something that will keep doing it, and nobody will stop it. And that f#&*ing thing already killed two people, today, and I absolutely hate it.

Exhaling angrily, Lys grabs the massive darkwood crossbow, taking off a whippoorwill feather charm and a spiral on a silver chain from the stock. Taking a step towards the body, she swallows, emotions and thoughts alike. Her hat in her hand, she clears her throat. "Lady of Graves.", she starts. "We've not talked much. But, for Viktor's sake, if not mine, please take her to be judged, and grant her the peace she deserves. And... him too." Leaning down to close the woman's eyes and grab the small dagger, she tucks the blade in her boot. I'll be sure to give someone your regards.

Whistling for her horse, she nods at Walter, cold fury in her eyes. "I'm on an inclination to find out what frightened her so much to kill herself, and see if it sticks to a wall. You coming?"


M CG Dwarf Fighter 2/Cleric of Desna 3 | HP: 45/50 | AC: 21, T: 12, FF: 17) | CMB: +9, CMD: 21 | F: +10, R: +5, W: +7 (+1 against Fear Effects) | Init: +7 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +10, SM: +6 | Speed 30ft | Spells: 1st 4/4 2nd 3/3 | Active conditions: None

Kolthis waited at his seat, listening to the broken torrent of half recollections that Mistress Overton spewed. Her words really didn’t make much sense, except to her and likely Mister Overton, but it seemed there was some loose threads of connection. Enough to get a rough idea of a picture, at least. A picture which was full of no less weird things than the feelings he was getting from this place. Things rising up from the ground? What was the Fenman full of when they found it, if not living things? And how long ago was this? And why the hell was she not bringing him that mug?

As her speech finished, it was clear that the Mistress was not going to make any move from her spot. Glancing at Maritine continuing to work Master Overton, Kolthis moved to where the lady stood and picked up his mug. Taking a sip he said “Ah, well that is quite the tale, that is. The inn must mean a lot to you folks.”

We're not in any immediate danger. I'll tell you the rest later

The slight hesitation from hearing the words would show only to the most perceptive, as Kolthis hid it with another sip. Gods, this ale really was not good. In what place was the finest? He supposed the same place that people like these Overton’s would feel at home. Seeing Yelena get up and leave the common area and Maritine follow not too long afterwards, Kolthis figured there was no reason to stick around much longer himself. Looking directly at Mistress Overton he could not resist one last remark. ”Losing your son must have been difficult. Losing your loved ones always is. I commend you for doing your best to move forward with your life. I only hope no one else needs to mourn here again.” He said the last bit with particular emphasis, following it with a long drink from the mug, taking in the rest of it, without breaking eye contact. Slamming the mug down once more, only slightly less loud than before, he thanked her for the drink and turned away.

Walking past Maritine and Yelena in their whispered discussion, he stopped only long enough to speak quickly and quietly as possible. “I’ll be upstairs, if you want to explain any more. I don’t trust them down here. Who knows what they can hear.” He didn’t think they were any more than normal humans, but he wasn’t going to take the chance. Besides, he could at least take this time to thoroughly check his room for traps or hidden...anything. You could never be too careful, after all.


Male Human Wizard | HP 22/22 |AC 17 (Tch 13, FF 14) | Fort 0, Ref +3, Will +7|Init +1 Perception +1

Walter has recovered himself. He stares at the body, frowning. When he speaks it is, once again, the slow and hesitant speech of a man who is trying to work out the correct response from unfamiliar first principles.

"I... think we should... bury her? Yes. Bury her, with... ah, some sort of religious rite. Whatever we can come up with. I know some, ah, prayers. I've been... studying." He sighs heavily. "And I suppose we should, well, search the body. For identification."

Walter will give the body a cursory, respectful search, looking for any distinctive marks and any small personal items. He's not planning to take anything. He'll then make some quick notes in his notebook. And then he'll dig a grave, as best he can.


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

Part One: The Shape in the Alley

By day the Kingfisher river is hammered to pewter by the distant sun, by night turned ebon black as if steeped in sin. It winds its insidious way through the Wrythe marshlands, its treacherous banks hugged by a tenuous road, and so eventually approaches the only mount of noticeable size, an outcropping made famous for being the only stable ground in a land where everything is eventual: Carrion Hill.

It is early morning when you arrive, and the fog rolls off the Kingfisher like undulating waves of cotton wool, thick and made foul by the dregs that eke a living by the river bank. Hovels cluster about the road like barnacles on a rotting hull, each built on slimy pilings that keep it a few precious feet above the mud. The road itself is more causeway than anything else, elevated on a ridge of stones that quickly peter out as you reach the town's outskirts, everything hidden by the fog, so that you step onto your first bog island with little awareness as to what looms above you.

The air stinks.

It's rancid, made so by the filth and flotsam that's trapped between the score of tiny islands that cluster around the hill's base, each joined to the other by a precarious stone or wooden bridge, each overflowing with shanties, some built atop each other to a height of three or even four stories. A morass of poverty, shot through here and there with the businesses nobody wants in the heart of town: tanneries, fish cleaners, gong farmers, and worse.

Nobody is out. You pass through these desperate quarters in silence, even your footsteps muffled by the fog. Over refuse-choked canals, a barge or two moored here and there, but otherwise abandoned. The mud seems to writhe; peering closer, you see swarms of maroon cockroaches, the sinuous shapes of rats, the green gleam of small carapaces.

The fog coils about you as if envious of something intrinsic to your person.

Finally the alleys widen and give birth to what could at best be called a street, a street that rises up at an ever steeper slope between looming buildings, and which plunge you into a twisting mass of alleys, dead ends, and lightless lanes. Towering over these footpaths are claustrophobic houses of wood and stone, and a half dozen times you get turned around, find yourself in blind courts, every window shuttered, and nobody answering at the door no matter how hard you knock.

Not a soul in sight. Not a sound to be heard. Shops closed. Taverns boarded up. Homes silent. As if every living soul filed out of Carrion Hill just before you arrived, leaving an urban wasteland in their wake.

Finally your climb broaches the fog, so that you emerge like weary birds above cloud cover. Turning at a bend in the broadening street, you gaze out over a soft, undulating ocean of whiteness that stretches as far as the eye can see. No hint of the tangled streets below, the Kingfisher, the morass of hovels, the Wrythe. All is banished from sight by the great fog, with the dark, overcast skies of Ustalav overhead.

The cobbled streets near the crown of the hill are bleached white, and the buildings larger, at once grander and more decayed. Olive trees grow in profusion, lavender spills forth from countless window boxes. The shops are more ornate, the windows boasting glass, and lamp posts stand on every street corner, though most of their glassy interiors are dark.

Even here, however, all seems abandoned.

It's a relief when you hear a voice calling out, the practiced shout of a town crier, the words indistinct but gradually growing intelligible as the man draws closer and finally rounds a corner to come into sight. Three men march together, all dressed in black leather armor, halberds propped on shoulders, one shouting, the other two glancing around themselves nervously.

The clamor seems to have drawn other strangers into your orbit, for a handful of other figures emerge from side streets, faces narrowed with curiosity and concern. Cue the PC's gathering in one locale.

"Carrion Hill needs heroes! Men and women of stout heart and bravery are asked to come to Crown Manor with all haste, there to receive a task worthy of their skill and talents and a reward of suitable magnificence! Make haste to Crown Manor! Make haste!"


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Female Human Psychic (Esoteric Starseeker) 5 | HP 25/27 | AC: 18 (T: 11, FF: 17) | Saves: F:+7, R:+5, W:+9 (+2 vs fear effects) | Init: +6 | Perc. +10
More Info:
BAB: +2, CMB: 1, CMD: +12 | Spells: (1st) 8/8, (2nd) 6/6, (Bonus) 1/1 | Phrenic Pool 4/4 | Active Conditions: None

Previous Night:
After conversing with Maritine, (and briefly stopping into Kolthis' room to convey the same information), Yelena finds herself sitting in her room, nervously shuffling her Harrow Deck. Tereza snores in the bed beside her, any difficulties in getting to sleep ignored by an old woman's relief to have an actual bed, no matter how cold and hard.

What is happening in Carrion Hill?

Wisdom for the choosing, she thinks. Dexterity could also apply, with its emphasis on current troubles, but no. She seeks knowledge from the divine in this spread. She quickly shuffles the cards together and draws. Eclipse. Self-doubt. A loss of purpose. Not the best choosing.

She deals out the nine cards of the spread.

Past.

Waxworks, misaligned. An abundance of energy in a crucial moment that changed everything. Uprising. Something much stronger than her, much stronger than anyone. An overwhelming force that would crush all in its path. Combine that with Waxworks...not all energy was good. Had someone used that energy to call forth something they didn't understand and couldn't control?

Present.

Twin. Duality. Divided loyalties. Hidden meanings, often lurking within the Harrow itself. A warning. Of what? Cricket. A card that usually she was happy to see, a symbol frequently associated with travel and quick passage. But for this reading...whatever was happening in Carrion Hill, it was happening quickly. They wouldn't have much time.

Future.

Her breath catches as she sees the card, the only card to be interpreted in this column. Lost. A world forever mad, where nothing makes sense, and all that exists is an eternal emptiness...

This is the world the Overtons seek. This is the future if we fail. She knows that, as well as she knows her own name.

With shaking hands, she gathers the cards and reshuffles the deck. It's a long time before she can bring herself to sleep.

Yelena isn't happy about it, but she leaves Tereza behind to stay with the wagon as they enter Carrion Hill. Bringing the wagon into these narrow, claustrophobic streets is a bad idea, and no one seems to be present at any of the stables. Surely there's somewhere they can leave the wagon and stable Dancer for a few coins, an inn where Tereza can stay while Yelena investigates, but she certainly hasn't seen it yet. She hasn't seen anything but fog, and mud, and scavengers.

Are we too late? Has it already happened?

Whatever 'it' is.

She jumps at the sound of a distant cry, but it's the first sign so far that anything actually still in this town. As the words become clearer, she breathes out a sigh of relief. They're looking for heroes. There are still some people here. Maybe it's not too late. A few other people have appeared, apparently drawn by the cry.

Yelena hurries up to the town crier. "Excuse me, is there a stable or inn still open? I plan to make my way to Crown Manor, but I need a place to leave my wagon." She could continue leaving it just outside the city, (it might even be safer), but she's not comfortable leaving Tereza completely alone for long. She casts an apologetic glance backward at Kolthis and Maritine. "You can go ahead without me, if you wish. I'll catch up as soon as I can."


[Loot] | [Maps] Toilsday the 13th of Pharast, around 11:30 p.m.

The town crier frowns in confusion as he looks around the white cobbled street for said wagon, and then scratches the back of his head.

"Aye, there be a number of inns and stables open - well, technically, they're open, ain't they, but with troubles being what they are, I reckon they won't be taking in any travelers right now."

One of the other two men, a lanky customer so tall he's developed a perpetual stoop, leans on his halberd and rubs at his iron stubbled chin. "Aye, but she could try her luck at The Stone Circle, couldn't she, like? Old Bosworth's always on the look out for some coin."

"True enough." The town crier grins at Yelena, showing several missing teeth. "Bang on his door and yell 'gold' loud enough, and even with the times being what they are, Old Bozzy will open the door. The Circle's located just above the Filth, right off Olive Way. Head down Newport Street, here, see, then take your third left to Olive. Follow that all the way down. You'll see the Circle on your left. Large, it is. Can't miss it."


Female Human Gunslinger (Bolt Ace) 5 | HP:43/43 | Grit 4/4 |
Stats:
|AC 21, Touch 17, FlatFoot 14, CMD 21 | Fort +7, Ref +12, Will +5| Init +8 | Perception +13

The melodic cant of Lys' horse carries through the abandoned streets, as she stares into the coiling fog. The stench of rot and disrepair fills her nostrils as she frowns, thoughts of another mist-filled village fresh in her memory. Oh, Pharasma, what is this grim place. It's like it's just... She closes her eyes, the dagger in her boot sitting heavily. Like it stopped wanting to live.

"Well...", she clears her throat, turning towards Walter. "I'm sure there's worse places. Worldwound comes to mind... The Eye of Abendego, probably?" Her eyes roll around theatrically, before concluding. "Nope. Think that's it. You think of any?", she chirps sarcastically as the sounds of the town crier reach her ears. Heroes. One word to call a fool, I suppose. Though... They do look like they have two feet in the grave, and a shovelfull of dirt in their hands.

Dropping down to lead her horse by the bridle, her eyes are caught by the trio of decidedly non-locals, a Varisian woman talking to the guard, a woman with a fine rapier at her side, and an armoured dwarf carrying a large polehammer. A familiar-looking polehammer. Wait, Kolthis? "Don't bother explaining, she's travelling with Ironjaw!", her clear voice carries in a shout from behind the guards and the crier. "No tavern has ever escaped his watchful eye!" Grinning widely, Lys opens her arms, walking towards the bearded dwarf, but with every step closer the change and years, written on the dwarf's face, become more and more obvious. He looks... grimmer. Drained. Haunted. Still, the smile on her face remains, if forced.

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