Chapter 1 - Haunting of Harrowstone.
Last week Gaius received a telegram. It simply said:
Request you attend funeral of Petros Lorrimor *STOP* Last will and testament of the deceased requires your presence *STOP* meet seven days hence at dusk, intersection of ANCESTOR'S WALK and THE DREAMWAY, Restlands Cemetary, Ravengro, Ustalav. *STOP* Regards, Kendra Lorrimor.
Seven days hence at dusk.
The roar of the driving rain drowns out most other noise; water drips from your nose, and plasters your clothes to your body like an overzealous embrace. Spatters of mud mar everyone’s clothing after the lengthy journey from the Temple that held the service in town. And yet, despite the chill and the discomfort, you walk steadfast, following the carriage holding the coffin alongside a small handful of the locals, brought together by grief, friendship or some sense of duty to attend the funeral.
A Father and a pair of gravediggers are awaiting your arrival at the gates to the Restlands, a woman leads up front, who you know, from the service is Kendra Lorrimor, Petros' daughter. There are only seven other somber people in attendance. A red-headed woman huddled in a cloack, who you recognise but cannot yet place a finger on from where, two men wearing Councilman robes, another man and his teenage son as well as a pretty young woman.
The Father raises his voice above the rain. "We have ensured that the grave site is ready and as is custom, we will not be joining you beyond these gates, it is solely for the bereaved to enter now." He says, gesturing at himself and the two gravediggers. Continuing, he says "Who amongst you would like to take the responsibility of pall-bearer?" He looks around, but not many people jump at the opportunity, shivering in the rain. "We are looking for four strong people to respectfully carry Petros Lorrimor to his resting site."
"I will." Gaius says, taking a step forward. He can't help but be glad that he wore his new boots - anything less would be leaking and cold as an ice witches smile by now. As it is he is merely miserably cold rather than absolutely dejected. "Petros Lorrimor was a good man, I will be honored to help him to his rest."
The Father smiles as five of the others, including the teenager, also volunteer. Kendra as the deceased’s closest living relative, has the job of leading the somber procession along the Dreamwake—a gravel pathway that winds through the cemetery.
Gaius uses both his hands to heft his wait of the casket and his shoulder to support him. The procession makes measured progress into the Restlands, at last reaching the long gravel path that leads from the gate to the Professor’s gravesite, where Father Grimburrow waits to deliver the service and last rites. Everyone walks with bowed heads, weighed down with sorrow.
The path rounds a corner, turning right as it passes a small mausoleum.
Close to a score of surly looking Ravengrians block the procession’s path. Farmers, fishermen or elderly all, the eldest amongst them stands at the front of the group, his eyes wide and his teeth clenched in a rictus grin as the men behind him mill around, seemingly possessed of varying levels of commitment. And while they may not be soldiers, it’s quite clear that some of them are all too enamoured of violence, with every man amongst them carrying farm implements of some description—sickles, threshers, hoes, pitchforks, and even a scythe.
“That’s far enough. We been talking, and we don’t want Lorrimor buried in the Restlands. You can take him upriver and bury him there if you want, but he ain’t goin’ in the ground here!” The elderly man says.
Kendra is swift to respond, her sadness swiftly transforming into
anger. “What are you talking about?” she cries out. “I arranged it with Father Grimburrow. He’s waiting for us! The grave’s already been...”
The elderly man snaps back “You don’t get it, woman. We won’t have a necromancer buried in the same place as our kin. I suggest you move out while you still can. Folks are pretty upset about this right now.”
With her anger and temper rising further, Kendra raises her voice louder, “Necromancy!? Are you really that ignorant?”
"What proof, sir, do you have of this charge?" Gaius asks, raising his voice to be heard. "Do the undead walk in Ravensgro? Has a ritual circle or book of black magic been found amongst the dead mans possessions? The priests have performed their holy rites upon him, the gods would not bless a defiler of the dead."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
"We all know he did things with those monsters." The elderly man says, but indeed lowers his sickle and pitchfork slightly.
The woman with red hair following your procession pipes up from behind you, calling loudly through the pounding rain in support of you.
"Look, he was just a man as any of you are, and in death deserves a fair burial and judgement by the Lady of Graves. I am sure you can all see that?"
Kendra's desperation is starting to show through her anger at the front of the group, but luckily, with that added reasoning, the group of villagers start dispersing, leaving a way for you to pass, the elderly man waiting to leave until last.
Bereft of his mob, the elderly villager seems somehow smaller, the pitchfork he is left holding now looks almost comically oversized for his aging frame. "You mark my words, woman, and you mark them well," he says to Kendra. "Your father brought nothin' but misery to this town, with all his meddlin' in affairs that shouldn'a concernt him. Put 'im in the ground then. Be done with 'im. And long overdue I say. Time us hard workin folks had some peace." With that, he turns and joins the dispersing crowd.
Encounter 1 dealt with peacefully! 1 trust point gained, to be explained later!
Kendra turns to Gaius, eyes welling up with tears, "Thank you Sir, another deed for my father to be grateful for even after his passing. I am also now in your debt."
One of the councilmembers speak up, professing shock, "Those were all the local farmhands, all very much low of character to do such things." The other Councilman sighs and speaks up, "I will look into reporting the crime upon our return, but fortunately I suppose, they did not actually do anything harmful in the end."
A few moments later, Father Grimburrow arrives, shuffling as fast as his old legs can carry him. "My dear fellows, I am shocked by the audacity of those folks I could see, are we all well?"
Kendra takes a moment to try to straighten her sodden gown, and tame her now-unruly hair. "Thank you so much for coming. You can see now what life has been like for us living here these last fifteen years, although in my youth men like Gibs would have kept quiet rather than airing their baseless and ignorant suspicions. My father, though, bore an abiding love for this town and its citizens, one which I struggle to emulate." She lays a hand on the teenager's shoulder. "I welcome the strength of your friendship and the life you all shared with my father even more than I welcome your strength of will right now."
"And now I think it is well past time we paid my father the final respects he deserves. Zokar, please carry on. Father, please do join us from this point."
The assault now past, the procession continues up to the plot Kendra purchased for her father. No further complications prevent the lowering of his coffin into the open grave by the gravediggers. Father Grimburrow gives a short sermon, then invites Kendra to say a few words about her father. Kendra fights back tears and briefly recounts a few of her father’s more courageous or selfless moments, thanking everyone once again for coming.
"It was my father's wish that all here share a story of remembrance of your own relationship with my father."
You can just tell the story of how you knew the man, or if you want to be particularly convincing or uplifting a DC 25 Dipl or Perform check will help here.
Dip: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Gaius speaks, but since his initial meeting with the Professor was a somewhat squalid affair involving accusations of infidelity he is forced to bring the story to a rather abrupt close.
"Regardless of the circumstances of our meeting, Professor Lorrimor was a true friend during the many years we corresponded." He concludes. "I will miss him."
As he watches the few other speakers eulogise the professor he can't help but but evaluate them. The adage to 'never judge a book by its cover' is perennially popular, but years of detective work have taught Gaius that actually first impressions often contain more than a grain of truth.
Inherited wealth which requires him to do very little except enjoy it. He concludes, after glancing at the councilman whose neck rolls right out of his collar. Grimbarrow and the other councilor seem to be of much of the same stock, elderly, weathered from hard lives but both have, presumably by reason of their position, acquired enough to live a long life - which is better than many can do.
Kendra is exactly what he would expect from Lorrimor's daughter - neat, tidy, buttoned up in a literal as well as spiritual sense. She does not fit in here. He decides almost immediately. I wonder what on earth possessed Lorrimor to settle out here? He was no farmer. Kendra's grief is genuine but Gaius can't help but wonder if a certain amount of it is self-pity. She has no-one now, so what remains for her? A daunting thought for anyone.
The red headed woman who helped to carry the casket is the only one Gaius cannot make much out of. Her religious affiliation is clear enough and that suggests things, but having met Asmodeans who could drink caydenites under the table and a self-professed Calistrian who was one of the most tolerant and forgiving people he'd ever seen Gaius is not inclined to draw any conclusions beyond the obvious. I wonder how she met Lorrimor though...
When the red head steps up to speak Gaius pays close attention.
The red-head steps forward, her sodden skirts clinging to her legs, as she pulls her cloak tighter around her chest. The cloak seems to be concealing some form of armour with the way it hangs, and the woman also is fully equipped with travelling backpack, sword and crossbow. She looks tired, her face a little grey and speaks slowly but purposefully.
"The day that The Healing Flame led me to cross paths with Professor Lorimor just a few months ago was fortuitous indeed. Fate allowed both the Professor and I to meet and become quick companions and I am much enriched to have known him for his knowledge and his curious personality."
Dipl: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 1 = 20
The others around the burial site look towards the woman with a glimmer of respect, nodding with her final sentence, many not realising that she did not say how they had met previously.
Gain 1 trust point from the village!
The others also share their memories of the Professor, but it is clear that the Professor was a private man. After the funeral is over and people shake hands before beginning to depart, giving their sympathies to Kendra, she walks over to Gaius and the red-head who both were standing on the out-skirts of the ceremony.
"I hope that you would both join me for the Last Will and Testament at my home?" She asks. This was expected after the telegram that Gaius previously received.
"Of course Miss Lorrimor." Gaius replies with a bow. "Can I escort you there? It would be my privilege."
As they walk he attempts to grill her, very gently, about what Lorrimor was doing out in the sticks.
Kendra takes your arm, a little tearfully.
"He was really selfless wasn't he? Listening to those stories really helped me realise that." She says.
When Gaius starts asking gentle, but probing questions, she does respond clearly, surprised you did not already know from the town gossip.
She relays that he was found, laying on his back near one of Harrowstone's walls and his face and neck were almost unrecognisable with a leering gargoyle, having tumbled from the roof, crushing his features. "It is why I chose to have a closed casket at the service of course."
The Lorrimor residence is a modest home (area N on the Ravengro map) with crowded bookshelves in every room.
"Please do, sit down. She says in the drawing room, gesturing to a selection of arm chairs. "We have to wait for the Councilman Hearthmount to read the last will and testament and he has some other matters to attend to, so I think we have a little time until he arrives. Would you like a drink?"
"A cup of tea or something else warming would be much appreciated." Gaius says with a smile. "And you miss? I assume the followers of Sarenrae have no difficulty providing their own warmth?"
The woman nods, takes off her drenched cloak and hangs it on the coatstand to begin to dry. "How about I get a fire started in here Miss Lorimor? Then we can all dry off and have a nice chat." She suggests. Bending down to the fireplace when Kendra nods and goes to make the tea, the woman introduces herself. "Adriel Moonflower sir, I believe we have met on an auspicious occasion before. I suppose that it is why we are both here."
"We have?" Gaius asks as his mind kicks into gear. To buy a little time he moves around the room, lighting the lamps with a simple snap of his fingers, and trying to remember what 'auspicious occasion' he might have met this woman before. It isn't until he passes in front of the mantel and sees a framed portrait of the Professor and Kendra together that the memory slots into place.
"Of course, my apologies Miss Moonflower. It has been some years, and that is the only excuse I can offer for not remembering such a brave and lovely woman as yourself. You look exceptionally well. Please do accept my apologies, once again." He bows formally. "Since this is a better occasion than our last meeting, much freer of owlbears at least I shall introduce myself properly. Gaius Trevelyan, Private Detective, at your service." He produces a business card, a gesture that is entirely automatic after decades of practice.
"What do you think of Ravensgro?" He asks, looking for another topic of conversation. "I hear pleasant things of it, but I imagine that is when it isn't raining!"
She smiles kindly when she realises that he only just realised who she was but does not mention it.
"Ah Ravensgro is a lovely, if a little insular, place is it not? I have visited a few times in the last few years and each time have been charmed by the Professor and Kendra, welcoming me as their guest. I did seem to set the town a gossip each time, I do not believe they are so used to visitors. And you? Have you spent much time in Ravensgro?"
As she asks, Kendra returns with a pot of tea and a kettle to place atop the fireplace.
"My friendship with the Professor has been almost exclusively by letter." Gaius replies, holding a chair for Kendra. "Lorrimor and I met up a few times in Caliphas for a drink or meal when he was there lecturing, but otherwise it has been a friendship of the written word rather than one of personal visits. Thank you Kendra." He adds, accepting a cup of tea and sipping it. The hot liquid goes down very gratefully and Gaius starts to feel a little more human.
"So, we are waiting for Councilman Hearthmount then?" He asks Kendra.
"Why, yes indeed, not too long I think, he said he would arrive at six." She says, glancing at the small clock on the mantlepiece. She makes you very comfortable and at ease, and seems to be genuinely happy to have the company of both her guests.
Vashian arrives precisely on time, looks at the two guests with a sniff before sitting down. Kendra sits on the edge of her chair as he produces a scroll case with an unbroken seal. He breaks the wax and opens the case. As he does so, a small iron key falls out of the tube, clattering noisily onto the table.
Undaunted by the key, the councilman begins to read, eager to be done with the business and to get back home.
“I, Petros Lorrimor, being of sound mind, do hereby commit to this parchment my last will and testament. Let it be known that, with the exception of the specific details below, I leave my home and personal belongings entire to my daughter Kendra. Use them or sell them as you see fit, my child."
“Yet beyond the bequeathing of my personal effects, this document must serve other needs. I have arranged for the reading of this document to be delayed until all principals can be in attendance, for I have more than mere inheritance to apportion. I have two final favors to ask."
“To my old saviors, I hate to impose upon you both, but there are few others who are capable of appreciating the true significance of what it is I have to ask. As you know, I have devoted many of my studies to all manner of evil, that I might know the enemy and inform those better positioned to stand against it. For the knowledge of one’s enemy is the surest path to victory over its plans."
“And so, over the course of my lifetime, I have seen fit to acquire a significant collection of valuable but dangerous tomes, any one of which in the wrong circumstances could have led to an awkward legal situation. While the majority of these tomes remain safe under lock and key at the Lepidstadt University, I fear that a few I have borrowed remain in a trunk in my Ravengro home. While invaluable for my work in life, in death, I would prefer not to burden my daughter with the darker side of my profession, or worse still, the danger of possessing these tomes herself. As such, I am entrusting my chest of tomes to you, posthumously. I ask that you please deliver the collection to my colleagues at the University of Lepidstadt, who will put them to good use for the betterment of the cause."
“Yet before you leave for Lepidstadt, there is the matter of another favor—please delay your journey one month and spend that period of time here in Ravengro to ensure that my daughter is safe and sound. She has no one to count on now that I am gone, and if you would aid her in setting things in order for whatever she desires over the course of this month, you would have my eternal gratitude. From my savings, I have also willed to each of you a sum of one hundred platinum coins. For safekeeping, I have left these funds with Embreth Daramid, one of my most trusted friends in Lepidstadt—she has been instructed to issue this payment upon the safe delivery of the borrowed tomes no sooner than one month after the date of the reading of this will.
“I, Petros Lorrimor, hereby sign this will in Ravengro on this first day of Calistril, in the year 4711.”
Councilman Vashian looks to Kendra who nods and takes the key. He stands and leaves without another word.
"Well, my father's last wishes are a surprise." She says after the quiet becomes a little too long. "My father always worried about me so...." She adds, looking a little embarrassed.
"It is no more than a father should do." Gaius replies promptly. "Nothing to be embarrassed about. I am certainly willing to conform to my old friends wishes. It is a quiet time of year in my line of work and a holiday would be most pleasant. If I might trouble you for pen and ink to write a letter or two and then I will be at liberty for as long as you'd like." He says with a smile. "Lady Adriel, what are your plans?"