Our intrepid adventures arrived the 21st of Calistril [February] to the small town of Ravengro.. an unusually quiet and sullen locale in the wheat belt of Canterwall. Asking for directions they were directed to the house of their old friend and mentor, Professor Petros Lorrimor. It is cold and the weather promises either snow or rain in the near future.
On arrival his daughter, Kendra Lorrimor, greeted them with relief. The funeral is to be held today. She ushers you into the house. There were some mourners from outside of Ravengro who attended but there wasn’t much discussion with them before the funeral procession commenced. They were Embreth Daramid (apparently a Justice in the city of Lepidstadt) Madame Ivanja (a strikingly beautiful Varisian woman in her apparent 40s (who claimed to have a ‘special’ relationship with the Professor), Nico Garus (a military man if any of you were to guess from his behavior) from the city of Carrion Hill and Adivion Adrissant (who seems to have been a student of the Professor and seems to have been close to the family). The village priest, Father Grimburrow is there but departs as soon as you arrive to make arrangements at the grave.
You are joined by a small crowd outside in the street… though ‘crowd’ may well be too generous a term. A shopkeep or maybe a tavern keep by the looks of him in his apron, his son or apprentice, a fat formally dressed middle aged man who is rolling rapidly towards looking old and another middle aged man who has the look of a well paid scribe but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye – a man who never really grew up you’d guess.
They fall in with Lorrimors friends and the procession moves slowly through town. The weather is cold, the sky heavily clouded and the day is dark despite it being almost noon. The pale grey light of the sun paints everything in drab dead tones.
What happens is both sad and surprising. Normally what would happen would be the families of the community standing on porches or by the side of the road muttering a kind word or praise for the deceased, and making a sign of Pharasma as well as making some showing of respect. A doffed hat or a bowed head for instance. What you see instead is an absence of people – curtains are pulled aside revealing faces watching from inside their houses and of the few people who do come outside, most of them make signs against evil and spit rather than show any sign of respect.
Kendra does her best to keep her chin up but from behind you cannot see how it may be affecting her. Definitely there is a halt in her step with every supernatural ward made.
From funerary custom nothing should be said by those in the procession and any words you would say would only dishonour your fallen friend.
In due course you make your way to the Restlands, the town graveyard. On route to the burial plot you are confronted by a mob of villagers: Farmers and a few fishermen for the most part but there are a few hard men among them They are led by a tall middle aged man with a red nose and red veined checks, the sure sign of a drunkard.
“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!”
Kendra is swift to respond, her sadness swifly 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…”
“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.”
“Necromancy!? Are you really that ignorant?”, Kendra exclaims, firing up.
Sensing an impending fight the pall bearers set down their coffin and either draw steel or aim crossbows. Many of the mob (once eager to fight), realising that violence against heavily armed and armoured adventures will not go their way start to disperse, leaving the erstwhile leader, Gibbs to curse and call after them… soon leaving him nearly alone… but he and a few die hards refuse to budge.
Thats when Gibbs is punched in the back of the head as he faces the retreating peasants, and dropped him to his knees. He is worked over by the half orc Inquisitor of Pharasma while Gibbs is also harangued by her brother, a priest of Pharsma. Gibbs takes a few hits and while unbroken, he departs as well. A stirring speech is made and a few of the remaining townsmen fall in with the procession and show their respect for the departed saying that its the ‘right thing to do’.
After the casket is lowered into the grave (quite an achievement given that it was dug from the frozen earth) Father Grimburrow gave the mourners a chance to share their impressions and stories of their life that was made better by the deceased. Each of the party gave a small speech, some more emotional than others and finally the man who was introduced to you as Adivion Adrissant gives the closing memoriam and then suggests that everyone get out of the rain that had begun to fall and head back to the house.
Those mourners who travelled from other parts of Ustalav are quick to leave, citing the need to complete their long journeys, leaving you with Kendra.
Kendra is downcast by the departures – sadly by the amount of food laid out for the wake it seemed that she was prepared to feed a great many people… people who never arrived. Such is the amount of food that you are able to eat and drink to your hearts content, with an assurance their would be more than sufficient food for the morrow as well. Kendra starts drinking while making an effort to talk to you to better understand how her father had changed your lives for the better, and you wait for the reading of Petros’ will.
During this time Kendra shares how the town has changed since her fathers death, becoming unaccountably sullen and abnormally suspicious and superstitious. Such things were always part of Ravengro but they had gotten worse over the last few weeks.
After a few hours Councilman Vashian Hearthmount arrives. Acting in an officious and somewhat disapproving manner he reads the will. While Kendra receives a townhouse in Lepidstadt and a stipend to last her the rest of her life (made possible by the selling of the Ravengro home), you are all bequeathed 100 Platinum coins! A small fortune! A key is presented as part of the reading of the will.
All that is required is to deliver some books of a controversial nature to people in Lepidstadt and to remain in Ravengro to look after Kendra for 30 days. Kendra offers to put you up at her house for the period, stating there is enough room in the house which is almost a library in itself.
Kendra fetches a small chest and gives it to the party. The key that Councilman Hearthmount presented fits and within are found five books. One is a thick leather bound tome with ‘Read Me Now’ scratched into the cover – it is the professors journal. There are three books on dark topics – the Dark Tapestry, the faiths of Zon Kuthon, Urgathoa and finally a sealed purple leather bound tome set with a scarab.
With the priest settling in the journal he finds that 10 years ago the Professor was in conflict with the Whispering Way, a cabal of necromancers who seek undeath as their ultimate goal. Communicating with the party they put their heads together and are unable to put together their stories on this nefarious group before heading out to the Restlands under cover of night to check on the Petros Lorrimors grave. All seems to be in order and the return home to rest for the night.
On the morning of the 22nd they are rudely awakened by a loud banging on the door. One of the town deputies has horrible news for Kendra… Petros Lorrimors body had been dug up, presumably after the groups visit to the Restlands, and is now missing. Kendra runs weeping to the graveyard, heedless of the icy cold sleet now falling. She is closely followed by several house guests.
You squelch through the mud of Ravensgro and along the road to the Restlands. The graveyards paths, though wet, are crudely cobbled or paved so the mud becomes less of a concern but your feet are both soaked and heavily caked in mud by the time the young deputy leads you at a slow run to the side of Lorrimors grave.
Kendra is a mess, he clothes muddy, she kneels in the dirt and clay by the open grave and its opened coffin keening and weeping, rocking back and forth. A man with a badge office, evidently the sheriff walks around in a gingerly stepping about 50 yards down path of the open grave, away from the entrance and towards the exit, his face turned down, looking at or for something.
As the group approaches he turns to berate them for the event, believing in someway that they are responsible for the grave robbing. Harsh words are exchanged on both sides, particularly by the Half Orc Inquisitor. The conversation breaks down and the sheriff goes back to looking for tracks.
Vester, the sheriff calls over, I can’t find a bloody thing – rains’ washed it all away. We’re going to have to go door to door but we’ll stop at Gibbs house. I had a word with him yesterday and it looks like he may not have listened.
Right you are Sheriff, the young deputy calls back (though he has the look and sound of a farmer), but there was plenty of folk who were talkin’ about it at the ‘Laughing Demon’ last night til Zokar threatened to never pour another drink for any man who didn’t shut up about Lorrimor.
Good man, that one, comments the Sheriff. Come on then – lets be having you.
He makes to leave but hasn’t yet, allowing you some time to get in any questions you want. The priest asks if they can be present for the meeting with Gibbs and makes an impassioned plea that finds favour with the Sheriff – he concedes that they can accompany him provided they do not interfere and keep quiet.
The group makes their way to Gibbs shack… a small rickety, and by all appearances, single room affair. Gibbs is waken from a drunken stupour and while he seems overjoyed about the professors body being dug up he claims no involvement – citing heaving drinking during the night. He does say that his two war buddies who were bunking with him are missing however.
The group move over to the Laughing Demon, the last location Gibbs was found at – they met with Pevrin Elkarid, the boy from the funeral procession, and his father Zokar Elkarid – the owner of the Tavern. He offers the group some food, each with dubious ghoulish names, as well as drink and refuses to accept payment.
Isn’t that Gibbs the LIMIT, says Zokar crossly. I may cut him off if the Sherriff can prove it was him that dug up poor Petrrros!.
His apron-ed belly jiggles up and down has he hustles along to his Inn.
He gets away with a lot you know but that’s just because he’s a war hero – we have two you know. Gibbs and Councilman Heathmount. Heathmount was an officer back in his day, up along the border in Belkzen. Gibbs did too but he was a corporral. Lots of stories about him and all of them nasty but he was a brave one by all accounts! His war buddies will swing through here every now and then.
Oh but I am gossipping now.’
The meal finished part of the group accepts Pervin’s offer to take them on a site seeing and introductory tour of the town. Some of the group accepts while Matt’s character heads over to see the town smith, who apparently is the oldest resident of the town.
Jorfa the dwarvish towns smith, who seems somewhat grumpy to be distracted from the work of prepping her forge for the day, puts Matts character to work. He sees that she makes good work with possibly even a few masterwork weapons but she is relatively closed mouthed.
On the tour of the town Ezekiel Dawnstar decides to stop by the temple of Pharasma to see Father Grimburrow. The visit is a pleasant one though the topic of conversation – the grave robbing is not, and he was quite angry about it, citing blasphemy.
It turns out that Father Grimburrow was something of an adventurer in his middle age and a zealot who took a hard line – a harder line than most and even believed the Faith had grown soft. He was transferred to Ravensgro for his pains. He gave a rambling speech about the history of the town and the ruined Prison nearby, Harrowstone, and while he admitted that local legend held it to be haunted, stated that he had visited it – WITH PERMISSION mind you, he says, he found nothing untoward. He advises that for safety reasons, visiting the prison is against local laws. Access to the temple archives was requested but gently denied until a valid reason could be given but there was an olive branch extended and Father Grimburrow said he was open minded on the issue to be reviewed later.
He also talks about Petros’ body was found – up near the prison walls. A gargoyle had fallen off the wall and crushed the lower half of the Professor face. The young priest noted that there was a possible parallel to the Whispering Ways practice of destroying the jaws of those who leaked secrets of their order.
The group re-assembled back at the Laughing Demon. Zokar mention that the funeral had delayed the local end of Spring festival where a cooking competition was pride of place. Zokar suggested that the party be sworn in as judges to improve the groups standing within the community – to date the reception had been very cold (apart from Zokar and Pervin). Councilman Hearthmount swore in the group and set them at liberty to visit those townsfolk who were participating in the competition.
Before heading over to see the cooking contest the group went back to Kendra’s house. A childhood friend, Jominda Fallenbridge had taken charge of caring for Kendra and had put her to bed. In a moment of keen insight Stephens character identified that Jominda was very protective of Kendra and harboured romantic feelings for Kendra.
Back at the village cooking contest the mood was hospitable and respectful. It appears that the ploy of acting as judges was working. Even Gibbs, who sat on the Gazebo with the Village Dog, Old River, was pleasant – though he stated that this was his way of showing respect for the office the group had been sworn to and that he still hated them and that he’d show how little he felt about the party after the festival.
As the group moved around town, Ezekiel visited the temple a second time and found the old Father Grimburrow , who was surely in his 80’s, preparing to go seeking Petros Lorrimors body. Stephen, approving the old Priests dedication agreed to go with him.
The festival continued for a few hours and all seemed well.
Meanwhile old Father Grimburrow had set a good pace and roamed the area around the town eventually leading Stephens priest up the hill towards Harrowstone. There they found two bodies lying on the ground, chalk white with several bloodless wounds on their body. At that point Grimburrow gasped, grabbed at his chest and collapsed. Leaving the young priest to deal with the emergency – without any skill at healing and without appropriate magic. He opted to try to drag Father Grimburrow back to town… hard going for the young priest character who was only of average stength.
At the festival someone looked up the hill and saw Ezekiel dragging the unconscious Old priest back into town, pointing it out to everyone – who erupted into concerned babble and leaving the new judges to deal with this new complication…