While on the road to Lepidstadt, the group encountered what appeared to be a traveling freak show. The leader of the group, an albino man much distressed, explained that one of the “pinheads” had wandered off into the marshy area off the road and had not returned. He offered the group a magical dagger if they would go look for her.
The group found the poor thing, an apparent victim of a Phase Spider. Upon defeating the spider, they discovered a few other trinkets and Aleece’s body. They returned to the travelers with the news and received their dagger. The performers agreed to travel together the rest of the way to Lepidstadt in order to reduce the danger to both groups, and the party agreed.
Day 25-29 – October 19 2014
At about noon while traveling with the Crooked Kin, the party heard sounds of yipping and howling coming from the wooded area to the west. They chose to explore and encountered a small pack (3) of wolves. The wolves attacked, prompting the party to retaliate, and then suddenly a lycanthrope dropped from the trees into their midst. They made short work of all four enemies (?), although Pound did receive a wound from the human-wolf beast. Fairlight found the wolves’ den and located a small male wolf pup inside, which he gave to the Wolf Child in the Kin. Tatiyanna chose to drag one of the carcasses back to the camp and skin it.
Back at the camp, Pound forged a friendship with S’jeer, the “Vudrani Princess,” and Tripsin took a casual walk with the charming Bearded Lady (Lidia Gerod) – although nothing came of that.
S’jeer sheepishly admitted to Pound that she had no real powers of divination. She did, however, tell him of an herb she’d heard could cure the curse of lycanthropy, should he be afflicted. Pound was able to locate the wolfsbane on the day of the full moon, and luckily drank the concoction just in time to avoid turning. Did the herb cure him of the curse? Or simply allow him to shake off the effects?
As he did not turn on subsequent nights, either, the gods grudgingly admit that he must have been completely cured.
Finally, the party arrived on the outskirts of Lepidstadt on the 30th day. The Kin bade their leave, intending to set up their show outside the city gates before heading inside to drum up some business. The party was easily able to locate the courthouse and obtain directions to Judge Daramid’s home. There, she thanked the party for the book and promised to double the 100 pp reward if they would look into the case of the Beast of Lepistadt who was apprehended during a burglary of the University Antiquities Department and is currently on trial for numerous murders.
They agreed to see what could be done and began their investigation while turning over the remaining books to Dr. Montaignie Crowl. He showed the group where the Beast was arrested and explained about the missing Seasage Effigy (not valuable, not designed toward any particular god of which he’s aware, the only thing missing from the department, and not located during the Beast’s arrest).
The party noted several clues including a window that had recently been opened, broken-in doors, and he Beast’s apparent bee-line for the Effigy—followed by a terrified rampage in the adjoining auditorium.
They then chose to seek out the Beast’s counsel, Barrister Gustav Kaple, a rather pathetic excuse for a defense attorney. He gave them what information he had and allowed them to interview the Beast briefly. The Beast claims he “not did it” in response to questions about crimes, although he does admit to having been to Herstag. When asked about this place, he mentions friend-Ellsa who is now “gone,” and then begins to wail in sorrow.
Barrister Kaple tells the party that the prosecution will be giving evidence on the Morast crimes tomorrow, and that he’ll be expected to present a defense no later than the day after. The party agrees to go to Morast and see what evidence they can find. Kaple tells the party that any evidence they locate will most definitely mean more if it’s presented by the most diplomatic of the party, and then tells them he will explain how the case will be presented and judged. He does not actually do this, however, as he is stricken with a sore throat and is forced to call the meeting for the evening. He does, however, write up a short explanation of how the trial will work and posts it to the group members under separate cover. Oh – and the party also returns to the Judge to accept their 100 pp EACH. They may also shop in the interim, if they so desire.
Day 30 (part 2)- November 2 2014
Kaple explains how the court / trial works:
• Evidence must be presented to the court by 10am to be heard that day
• Evidence presented by one of the PCs with a Diplomacy check (can be boosted through good RP)
• There is no cross-examination nor unapproved magic
The party members decide to split up; Elian, Tripsin, and Pound head downstairs to question the Beast—I mean, their Friend—while Fairlight, Rurik, and Tatiyana go to the Pickled Goat Inn to question the prosecution’s witness for the Morast incident, village elder Lazne.
Lazne explains that he actually saw their Friend carry off Ethel, the last of the townsfolk to disappear. The next night, the villagers caught Friend in their cunning rope trap as he ran toward the dock area. They rushed him with pitchforks but before they could reach him, a blood caiman came out of the river and pulled Friend back in with him by his shoulder.
Armed with this info, the party headed to Morast, arriving their around 5pm. They explored Morast briefly, checking the dock area, and then noted another dock on the far side of the river. The swamper they met explained about their abandoned “boneyard,” so the party boated across to check it out.
After encountering and defeating a pregnant griffon, the party was able to recover 4 of her unhatched eggs. Exploring the tiny island, the also discovered an abandoned boat complete with a body snatcher/murder kit and an old “potion of Darkvision” vial. They quickly returned to Lepidstadt and began trying to hunt down the makers or last known owners of the surgery tools, eventually leading them to Vorstag of Vorstag & Grine’ Chymic Works.
Early the next morning, Pound scoped out the Chymic Works briefly and the party headed to court. Elian, Rurik, and Fairlight presented the following evidence:
• 5 bodies had been stolen from the boneyard before people began going missing (judges didn’t appear swayed).
• Friend did NOT have the expected blood caiman bite mark scar, nor could a flesh golem have healed (judges begin to look doubtful).
• Flesh golem’s already have darkvision, and so Friend would have no need of the potion found, making it unlikely that any of that kit belonged to him (judges began murmuring amongst themselves).
• A mask made of a human face, that Lazne identified as a trader who had been missing since before the beginning of the attacks, was found with the murder kit (Judge Daramid and Chief Justice Khaard have begun to lean forward in their seats, nodding frequently during the PC’s testimony; Judge Aldaar merely sneers).
• The surgery tools can be traced back to Vorkstag’s possession (Chief Justice Khaard reluctantly discounts this evidence as hearsay and not actually proof that Vorkstag was involved or that Friend was not).
(3 successes vs. 2 failures) Immediately after court, the party decides to question tomorrow’s witness, Ellsa of Herstag’s father. After threatening and manhandling the poor, broken drunk of a man and gaining very little from him, they leave him to his misery and head off to explore the town in question.
In Herstag, the group questions the sisters at the windmill and then heads almost immediately to what Friend called “the crow man.” At the foot of a giant scarecrow, they locate a small cave. Inside, they confront and defeat Brother Swarm, a notorious child killer-turned wraith after the villagers tortured him to death with hornets. They also defeated three wraith spawn, found a magic scabbard, and located four kid-sized skeletons. They emerged from the cave through a door hidden behind the altar of the small village chapel.
The party members feel ever so much more experienced, and realize they’re just a bit tougher and more skilled (Ding! Level 5).
November 15 2014
The party decided to check out Karin’s house next, finding a Wand of Speak with Dead over the fireplace, and learning some interesting things upstairs. Karin’s body was found in her bed after her father heard her yell. The window of her room was latched securely from the inside, and any physical killer would have had to pass her father on the stairs on the way out of the house.
With a way to communicate with Karin and Ellsa, the party decided they needed to be exhumed and questioned. Karin told them, “My friend Maarten came & kissed me,” and “It looked like Maarten, but I could see through Maarten, and he smelled like death.” Ellsa reported that the beast “was my friend, but he was not there” when she fell in the hole by the “crow man” while playing. The party members have now accounted for all six of the children’s bodies.
Upon returning to Lepidstadt, they decided to check out the Chymic Works again. This time, Tatiyana, Pound and Fairlight sneaked through the sewer system, nearly drowning due to a plant monster, to come up at the grate in the courtyard while Rurik, Tripsin, and Elian climbed over the gate and up to the second floor loading bay. Elian sneaked around inside, finding Grine at home in his bedroom/laboratory and several mongrelmen working the vats of bleach and acid. They escaped without being detected but did not happen upon any new clues or information.
The next day at the trial, the party demonstrated what their Friend really sounds like while crying, explained how Karin couldn’t have been killed by him, and presented the evidence from both girls. This time, their testimony had a marked effect on all three judges (5 successes vs. 1 failure).
After the trial was over, the party first spoke to Dr. Brada’s assistant Karl, the only witness the third crime, murder and arson of Dr. Brada’s hospice. There they learned that the sanctuary started as a place for the mad & deformed, but 4 months ago the place caught fire. Karl was blinded in the fire while trying to drag Dr. Brada out. He saw a large shambling fleshy beast escaping before his sight was lost, and Dr. Brada did not survive the event. His body was never recovered. Upon visiting Sanctuary on Karb Isle, the party discovered that there were twelve graves along the road, and that the cellar entrance had been dug out of the rubble. Inside a metal box they found charred papers with Vorkstag & Grines Chymic Works mentioned several times. They also found evidence that Dr. Brada had purchased or bartered for bleach and acid from the pair. Finally, they recovered Dr. Brada’s head from a group of ghasts that had moved in to the cellar, along with a handful of valuable trinkets to sell.
Fairlight cast an Augury to find out whether they should revisit V&G’s, and got a positive response. They intend to do so.
2080 XP / each
Evening, December 6 2014
On the evening of the second day of the trial, the party decides once again to visit V&G under cover of darkness. First, the successfully evaded the flesh golem hound for what should be the last time. They managed to subdue one of the mongrelmen guards to secure entry into the vats area, and then inadvertently alerted one of the mongrelmen guards; however, lucky for them, they didn’t attack any of these creatures. Instead, they allowed them to escape deeper into the chymic works where they alerted V&G on their way out.
The two alchemists were rather easily defeated; Vorkstag was killed, but Grine was taken into their custody. After much searching and wood-splintering, they managed to find V’s cabinet of “faces & skins,” proving him to be the “skin-stealer” or “shape-changer” of which had previously been referred (on a couple of occasions).
On the way out, Tripsin managed to tame and adopt the flesh golem hound.
They have discovered the following evidence to present from this evening’s work:
• Shambling Man skin
• Blood Caiman scar on Vorkstag’s shoulder
• Vorkstag’s cabinet of skins and faces
• Grine is in their custody
• Ledger of V&G’s customers, of which Dr. Brada is clearly named
They may choose to present this evidence on the third day of the trial, and/or may choose to call Karl (Dr. B’s assistant) as their witness.
1466 XP / each (Total XP each = 13,546)
Day 33: Third Day of the Trial – December 28, 2014
The party presented evidence to the court, including the very skin Vorkstag wore to terrorize Morast and Dr. Brada’s clinic, along with Vorkstag’s Blood Caiman scar, the cabinet full of skins and faces, and Vorkstag’s own confession. He and Grine were summarily arrested for the crimes at those two locations and the Beast was acquitted of all three murders.
Unfortunately, Grine refused to confess insisting he was not a part of the body-snatching part of the organization, and Vorkstag refused to sell him out. While Otto (the prosecutor) believes he has ample evidence to convict Vorkstag, he declines to press charges against Grine.
Judge Daramond is thrilled that the Beast received justice with the help of the party members and happily pays them the 100 pp each for their service to the court. She believes that the Beast may still be in danger from retaliation – the villagers seem less than convinced – and agrees that they should go to Schloss Caromarc to find him in his maker’s home. Count Alpon Caromarc is an eccentric collector and inventor, and the party may seek his help for more information on how the Beast became involved in the University theft of the SeaSage Effigy. She also rewards the party with a selection of gifts. Happy Holidays!!
The party members also decide to allow the Griffon master to hatch the eggs they found for greater profit, walking away from the deal with 19k gold pieces after a couple of days (Days 34 & 35). Combined with selling off the loot and the Judge’s reward, they are indeed “loaded.” Pound, for some reason, contributes much of his shares to the Church.
Day 36: Arrival at Schloss Caromarc
Upon arriving at Schloss Caromarc, the party finds the watchtower taken over by a troop of trolls, complete with goblin slaves and trollhounds. They manage to defeat the trolls, kill the goblins out of necessity, but not before finding evidence that the Whispering Way has been here before them. Things are not looking good for the Count.
The mansion itself seems deserted; the nearby Alchemy Workshop has suffered an explosion, and the party encountered a trio of nasty rust monsters within. After defeating them, they unfortunately tripped a trap on the rope bridge and summoned a huge air elemental. They were, however, able to defeat it without any losses or anyone being thrown into the drink (dammit).
The group decides to return to the mansion and bed down for the night.
Day 37: Waking up at Schloss January 4, 2015
Upon rising, the group fought their way through the remainder of Schloss Caromarc, eventually arriving at the tower. They continued to find curious monsters, previously caged and apparently released by the Whispering Way cultists who had been here before them. Finally, they discovered the Count himself locked in a vicious trap, and were faced with the Promethean Horror he had created from his dead elven wife. After Elian sneaked out and climbed the tower to the Bondslave Thrall apparatus, they were able to call their Friend from his hiding place in the complex and defeated the arachnid horror with their Friend’s help. While Friend lived, he will not leave the Schloss again.
The party members are now aware that the Count was responsible for creating Friend and several other horrible creatures, all in the name of experimentation. He allows them to take whatever they would like from his destroyed museum/zoo and promises to transfer a sum of 3k gp into an account in their name in Lepidstat if they don’t turn him in. He explains that he does not know where the Seasage Effigy is or why the Way wanted it. Waxwood overheard the cultists mention the Shudderwood, and Count Alpon says they probably took the Silent Path through the wood, as it begins just a mile down river of his mansion.
Both the Count and Judge Daramid have more to say, and the party plan to return to the city before they continue their hunt for the Whispering Way.