Helaman's Play By Post Carrion Crown

Father Toth writes more
A Fiery Climax!

26th of Calistril, 4714

This morning was a quiet morning that held no hint of the horrors to come. After breakfast we continued our investigation uncovering more details about the Piper of Illmarsh. Of all the criminals so far, I find him the foulest; only the Splatterman approaches him. The others include a blasphemer and pair of insane killers. All bad enough, but to paralyze your victim and leave them conscious as they are slowly drained of life by those stirge creatures is truly depraved. I can think of only one thing worse… but onto the day’s events.

The town was all gathered for the Council Meeting as evening approached. After yesterday’s events, we are now afforded grudging respect at least- from nearly all but Gibbs anyway. As we ate our supper, yells arose from the square and we rushed out to find a swarm of stirges once again attacking the townsfolk gathered in the square. In the chaos it took me a while to realize that instead of screaming and running as the others, one man was piping all the while as if he were the Piper of Illmarsh himself! Suspecting a type of possession, I called on Pharasma to ward him from evil spirits. Praise the Lady of Graves, this appeared to help and my companions quickly destroyed the flittering stirges summoned by the haunted piping.

Though unwanted, perhaps this series of unfortunate events bolstered our argument at the Council Meeting. I debated Gibbs’ malicious rumors and seemed to have won most of the villagers support when the unthinkable happened- the haunts of Harrowstone turned the Town Hall into a deadly re-enactment of the terrible historic event. Lamps exploded and burning skulls flew through the air to add to the confusion as fire engulfed the meeting. My companions and I fought the flames and attempted to guide the townsfolk to safety. Many had to be dragged out bodily as they fell unconscious in the choking smoke. It was a horrible battle, but eventually the undead were banished and the burning hall extinguished. Sadly, a deputy and farmer were lost. May Pharasma judge them kindly.

With these dramatic events, there was little else to debate and we were retained to explore and exorcise the ruins of Harrowstone. Tomorrow we begin our expedition to truly send these vile souls to their final judgment.

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From The field notes of Father Jaru Toth
Progress is made

25th of Calistril, 4714

It seems the restless dead haunt our dreams, but for once no person or thing comes knocking in the dead of night. All was not still and calm, however. The sheriff comes by early to lead us to find another letter writ in blood upon the Harrowstone Cenotaph – “VE”.

More disturbingly, the dog killed at the memorial the previous day was reanimated to be found under the town’s gazebo by Simeon and a group of children. Elidal was able to destroy it before anyone was killed by the abomination. Only Simeon suffered grievous injury. A crowd gathered again, however this time we argued our case more sucessfully. With Father Grimburrow’s assistance, we were granted access to the town records and invited to the town meeting tomorrow night.

Speaking of Father Grimburrow, the deeds of the previous night that I feared to mention before have come to light. At Nighteyes instigation, we entered the false crypt without the Church’s permission. Indeed, we were vindicated as no tomb was violated and we recovered many valuable tools for use against undead infestations: magical weaponry, haunt ensnaring vials and a spirit board among other things. Fortunately, Father Grimburrow forgave our trespass, but I would not seek to betray him again. He has been an invaluable ally.

Additionally, the sheriff concurs with my original suspicion that Gibbs may be acting with the cultists. Unfortunately, a visit to his sometimes employer, The Silk Purse, did not reveal anything incriminating.

Finally, our research continues to reap rewards. The prisoners trapped in the Harrowstone fire are identified one by one and Vigil finds a trove of information on haunts that may be useful.

Potential vengeful souls released by the Whispering Way include the evocatively named: Lopper, Piper of Illmarsh, Father Charlatan, Mosswater Maurader, and Splatterman

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The field notes of Father Jaru Toth
A day of dark fortunes

24th of Calistril, 4714

Today has indeed been a day of dark fortunes. The Professor’s body has been found, though in a state of utter defilement- animated by necromancy. It knocked upon the door in the early hours and unfortunately, Kendra answered. I do not know if she will recover from the shock. Nighteyes cut the zombie down with his great curved sword, but he seems quite unhinged by the experience as well.

A crowd of townsfolk quickly gathered at the disturbance and it was only with great difficulty that they were dispersed once again. Simeon only riled them further by openly casting a spell. He should certainly have known better. The locals are all superstitious fools fearful of any and nearly all magic. I was able to keep them at bay until the Sheriff arrived to send them home.

Upon inspection with Simeon, we found that the corpse’s lower jaw crushed and missing as is the custom of the Whispering Way cult. Surely, this is more evidence of their presence. Father Grimburrow has taken the corpse for safekeeping though I begin to wonder about the local Pharasmite’s competence.

The morning brought only further disappointment and trouble. Nighteyes accompanied me to the Temple and Father Grimburrow cast a spell to heal his injured psyche. We turned up nothing further in the archives, however. Another bitter disappointment was Grimburrow’s refusal to let us personally inspect the false crypt mentioned in the Professor’s notes. Instead, he gave us some more information on the prison’s history and directed us to speak with the local smith, a dwarf named Jorfa that is the town’s longest lived resident.

The dwarf did not prove interested in a social visit however and it certainly didn’t help that Nighteyes insisted on playing bogeyman with the smith’s young apprentice. Perhaps Grimburrow’s spell was not all that effective after all. The psychotic elf also kept incessantly insisting that we break into the crypt despite not having permission. I flatly refused. He was slightly assuaged when the acolyte’s let us accompany them to replace the broken lock on the crypt which I assume was the Professor’s doing. A glance from outside was all we received however, for the acolytes continued to bar our entry.

Our situation only grew darker with the return of the others. Elidal made no headway with the council and some strange occurrence- I did not get the full story- led to another confrontation with the townsfolk at Zokar’s. Gibbs was involved of course and made horrible threats against Lament. He seems too simple to be a member of the Whispering Way, but I sense something dark behind his constant provocations.

The only dim ray of fortune granted us this day is that Lament has befriended the local herbalist named Jorminda who is thoughtfully caring for Kendra, may fate smile on her poor soul.

There is something else that I will not write about at the moment, but needless to say that I feel we are much better equipped for any threats now. Also, I fear that either the local Temple has not been effective in securing the sanctity of the Restlands or that a growing dark power has stirred the spirits there. We all witnessed haunts rising from the tombs of graves dating from the fire.

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Letters to Family in Vigil
No glorified babysitting job

Toilday, 25th of Calistril, 4714

Dear Adrian,

I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to sit down and put ink to paper. I know how much you enjoy my letters when I travel away from Vigil, but various circumstances have kept me from writing.

As I’m sure mother and father have probably told you by now, I was summoned to the village of Ravengro in the Palatinate of Canterwall in our neighboring country of Ustalav. (That’s your geography lesson for the day, by the way.) At any rate, I was summoned to attend the funeral of an associate by the name of Petros Lorrimor. Professor Lorrimor was a man of intelligence and learning; a scholar and researcher whose expertise proved a great help to me once. Though I didn’t know the professor well, I was very saddened to hear of his passing.

My trip to Ravengro was a long, but relatively uneventful one. Unfortunately, I arrived in town later than I expected and only just managed to make it for the burial ceremony. It was then that I discovered that the tales we’ve heard of Ustalavian secrecy and suspicion were no exaggeration. Some of the locals attempted to bar the late Professor’s burial in their cemetary – they threw out accusations of witchcraft and necromancy, of all things. Thankfully, some of the others that were invited to attend the funeral stepped in and convinced the local Pharasmin church to carry on with the burial.

Afterwards, myself and several others were invited to the Professor’s house for the reading of his will. There, I met his daughter Kendra as well as some of the others who had travelled to Ravengro for the funeral. A very colorful and varied bunch they are – Lament, a young halfling woman with a love of music and a talent for reading the cards. Jaru Toth, a Pharasmin priest, all the way from Osirion of all places! Simeon Plavini, scholar of the arcane, a strange but intelligent man; personal habits remind me of Etiel (you remember Etiel from down the street, yes?) and that’s all I’ll say on the matter. Vigilance Hall – cold, cold as ice, but extremely intelligent and observant. His heritage leads me to wonder if he hails from somewhere near the Worldwound, but I’d never dare to ask him. And finally, the elf who calls himself Nighteyes; obviously a seasoned warrior but extremely taciturn in nature. He reminds me of the old soldiers, the ones who’ve seen too much fighting – the way that they seem to look right through you and everything else as if it isn’t even there.

At this point, I’m sure you’ve got many questions, the biggest one being – what was in the will? To make a long story short, I won’t be able to return to Vigil for some time yet. Among other things, myself and the people that I mentioned in my previous paragraph have been tasked with aiding Kendra in setting her own affairs in order, for a period of one month from the reading of the will. At the end of that time, it has been requested that we deliver some old books to a colleague of the Professor’s at the University in Lepidstadt. There will be some compensation for our time and effort as well, supposedly as much as 100 platinum pieces for each of us from the Professor’s own funds! I’m sure you’re thinking that it’s an amazing sum for what seems to be a glorified babysitting job. Unfortunately, things here haven’t turned out to be that simple.

It’s at this point that I’m not sure of how to proceed. I don’t know if outgoing correspondence is being examined or not and I’m unsure of how far the influence of certain forces can reach. Suffice it to say that things in Ravengro are not what they seem; there have been many strange events to take place since my companions and I arrived for the funeral. We have reason to believe that the Professor’s death was not an accident, but deliberate murder – by who and for what purpose, we’re still unsure. The more we dig, the more it becomes apparent that both the Professor and this town have points of darkness in their pasts. One thing I’m convinced of, is that the inhabitants of Ravengro as well as ourselves are in danger and something has to be done.

I’m sorry to worry you like this and I wish I could tell you more, but I’m afraid that sharing too much at this point might put both you and our parents in danger. Don’t mention any of this to mother and father; they worry enough as it is when I have to leave Vigil for mundane matters. Pray to the Inheritor that my companions and I will be able to handle the situation that we find ourselves in; I’ll write again in a few days.

Love,
Elidal

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From the field notes of Father Jaru Toth
An empty grave and vandalism

23rd of Calistril, 4714

I find it a good idea to keep some account of the events that have occurred recently. Some detail might prove invaluable in days to come. Fate has thrown me in a dark and dire place. I pray to Pharasma that I am up to the challenge.

The Professor’s grave has been defiled and his remains have been stolen. I suspect the leader of the mob that sought to deny the Professor a proper burial, a drunkard named Gibbs. I spent yesterday with Father Grimburrow searching the lands around the town for the body, but turned up only two more dead men. Killed by some sort of blood drinking bird, I am assured. I feel awful to have not been more aware of Father Grimburrow’s age and health. He fell ill from the exertion, but appears to be recovering quickly fate willing.
Our rest that night was interrupted by a summons from the Sheriff. A crowd had gathered at the cenotaph to the Harrowstone Fire. A local dog had been sacrificed and a ‘V’ written in its blood splashed across the monument. The pale elf had arrived first and was disturbing the townsfolk with his ill tempered display. With some assistance from Lament, we were able to disperse the villagers to their homes. What can be meant by this act of vandalism, I do not know. Gibbs appeared affected by the death of the dog and I cannot see any reason for him to have done such a thing.

The next day there was a ceremony held for the dead dog. I spent the day at the Temple looking for anything that might explain the previous night’s strange events in the hopes it might be tied to the theft of the Professor’s body. We uncovered little beyond more details on the Harrowstone Fire and further mention of this Whispering Way cult with which Simeon seems so obsessed. I discounted it until that evening when Kendra offered us access to the Professor’s more recent journal.

I am afraid the information contained within proved fearfully illuminating. The Professor reported most dire omens and the presence of the Whispering Way in Ravengro. He seemed to imply they sought something or someone lost in the fire. Could it be one of the five prisoners that died? I shall have to continue my research tomorrow. The professor also mentioned a false crypt that might contain tools or more information. I shall ask Father Grimburrow if we might investigate that as well.

More and more, I am convinced that Professor’s death was no accident and that the theft of his body was no act of local hooligans.

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From the diary of Simeon Plavini 22nd Calistril, 4714
Strange happenings in this strange little town
NB To those reading this, if you have received permission from myself or my estate then read on and enjoy, for I know you must! If not, be warned that this missive is cursed, your extremities and private parts will wither and rot away to nothing!

22nd of Calistril, 4714
Strange happenings in this strange little town.

Rose quite tired after a night of reading, met the others in the meeting room when word came to Miss Kendra that some miscreants had absconded with our dear Petros’ corpse, exhumed as they say.

Off we went, securing our precious tomes of course, to mutter and maunder around the hold in the ground that had been Petros’ grave.

We found the so-called Sheriff lording about, but it was obvious that the man had no clue. The others asked some pointed questions that had the man almost frothing at the mouth! Very unprofessional. The prime suspect was that primate Gibbs who had accosted us on the way to the funeral yesterday.

And so all and sundry went off to the Gibbs residence where questions were flung and insults returned. Seems the dullard had some friends who it was thought perpetrated the vile act. Nothing of substance was achieved…how surprising!

We were then invited to the local tavern by the owner, Zoltar, apparently an associate of the good Professor. Quaintly, Petros had the man provide his menu items with ghoulish pseudonyms.

Somehow, my recollection isn’t clear, some of us, myself included were convinced to participate as judges in a local food competition. All I desired was to return to the residence and continue my researches.

Quite a bother.

Gained a tour of the town from the inn-keep’s son, whose name escapes me. Store, Forge, Pharasmin Temple, Apothecary, Loan Shark, another Inn and pleasantly surprising, a wizards’ Shoppe. Quite the list for a quaint country town.

Met the village mutt.

Met with some petty official to be ‘sworn’ in as judges…..really, how preposterous!

Jaru, the Pharasmin went off to the Temple.

Interminable day, walking to and from contestant’s residences, seeking their innermost motivations for cooking such and such a dish. Quite tiresome. Until the wizard Shoppe. Was shocked at the proprietor’s name: Ghoroven. Mistook the man for his brother, a much more accomplished man. Still, I will sup with him at a later date.

The judging was upon us. Despite my misgivings, some of the dishes were fairly accomplished. A dessert won first prize.

The festivities was interrupted by the Pharasmin arriving from a jaunt on the moors with the decrepit High Priest, Grimsbottom.
After a near riot, I swear these ignorant country folk are a surly superstitious lot, we heard that the two holy men had come across two corpses on the moor.

After my expert examination, I determined that the men were attacked and killed by nasty creatures called Stirges. If they’re the ones that took Petros’ body, good riddance.

Back to the faire. The surly lot of fair-goers were, as they are wont to do, gossiping and carrying on. The combined work of myself and my companions served to distract the people of Ravengro enough to declare the event a success.

Exhausted by my efforts, it was welcome to return to the residence. However, our day was not finished.

Kendra was waiting for us. With her father’s diary and another ominous letter from my dear friend. This Harrowstone, he seem to think it dangerous. It was only propriety and my love for her father that let me allow the girl to keep possession of his diary, she desired to read it first!

Most importantly, however, she produced the key to Petros’ library. Finally!

I quite respectfully and tactfully requested some privacy in my first forays into Petros’ library but that Pharasmin outrageously thrust himself where he didn’t belong!

Determined to ignore the interloper, I gained access and was amazed at the quality of Petros’ sanctum. He had volumes I’d only heard rumors of…an original of Forkul’s Necrogammatron, two copies of Hazzuth’s Hellish Descent! Amazing! A lifetime of collecting by one of the foremost minds in Ustalav and here I was standing in the middle of it! It was a dizzying experience.

Collecting myself, I approached and read a diary that seemed Petros had left to be discovered first.

Revelations!!!! The Whispering Way! Incredible! Petros was and had been for some time investigating The Whispering Way! The insanity of it! The bravery of it! It beggars my mind that he kept this hidden from me all these years, but I think the clues had been there , had I been observant enough to have made the connections.

I’ve finished my initial survey of the diary and grow weary, those that read this now know that Petros was on to momentous discoveries that I hope to discover anew with the dawn.

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From the diary of Simeon Plavini 21st Calistril, 4714
Arrival at Ravengo and funeral of a friend
NB To those reading this, if you have received permission from myself or my estate then read on and enjoy, for I know you must! If not, be warned that this missive is cursed, your extremities and private parts will wither and rot away to nothing!

21st of Calistril, 4714
Journey to Ravengro boring as expected, even Baradier’s nonsensical maunderings failed to divert. Spend an evening in a ramshackle traveller’s inn, decent beer. My travelling companions and self interrupted a domestic dispute….quite violently. The Pharasmin had to beseech his Lady to save on dullards’ life. Nightmares passing on the road made for a fitful sleep. Morning brought the death of said dullard, head separated from body quite neatly but an apparent ghost rider…..strange tidings indeed.

Arrived, eventually to Petros’ domicile, in Ravengro, a village hardly fitting the term. Farms and such surround the dismal place, though Petros’ home was tidy and well kept.

Met by Kendra, wonderful girl, has Petros’ eyes. My companions all, were apparently invited as well by Petros. Such proclivities he had, a foreign Pharasmin, a stunted harrower, and a devil-spawn, oh , and the most morose elf I’ve had the misfortune to meet.

Thrust right into the procession to the local boneyard. Were threatened by the town drunk, who apparently didn’t enjoy a suitable appreciation for the late Professor’s investigations. He was sufficiently cowed by the Pharasmin’s ire; name of Jaru Toth. Said a few eloquent words at the burial, suffered through a few other banal reminisces.

Back to the house for sustenance and the will. For a tidy sum , we we’re all to deliver Kendra and some of Petros’ more pertinent tomes back to Lepidstadt after staying for one month….I wonder what Petros’ knew….I need to get to his study, he’ll have left some notes.

Kendra brought us the tomes…. Such knowledge, it was all I could do to not snatch them up and run off to a secure room. As it was I plucked up a battered tome “Serving your Hunger”; a quaint little book, razor sharp edges was a nice touch! Some interesting notes in the margins….avenues for research!

Notes on companions:
Pharasmin, Jaru Toth, extremely devout, solid head on his shoulders
Harrower, Lament, truly odd, but obviously talented
Devil Spawn, Vigilance, cold as ice, but observant
Nighteyes, elf, violence lurks within this one
Iomedean, Elidal , woman of conviction

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A letter from an old friend and a tragedy to be investigated...
The Summons

My Dear Friend,
Forgive me for contacting you so abruptly, but current circumstances make haste the superior virtue over propriety, and I strive for virtue in all things. I look back upon our prior association fondly, and, Pharasma wiling, our possible future enterprises, because it is in the spirit of re-kindling an old friendship that I write to you now. I hereby formally invite you to visit me at my home, where I can share with you the results of my latest line of inquiry. It would surprise me greatly if you did not find it as fascinating as I do. I trust you will find your way to me in due time, and until then I wait with bated breath.
Yours in friendship,
Petros Lorrimor,
Prof. Emeritus, University of Lepidstadt,
Dept. of Cultural Preservation

That Professor Petros Lorrimor would remember you among all the others he had dealt with is, perhaps, a reflection of the trust and deep affection that he held for you and your talents, and of the friendship that developed all that time back to when you first met him. That the Professor is asking for you, specifically, out of all the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students, partners, employees, and acquaintances he had made over his career, makes your heart swell with pride nonetheless, albeit mixed with feelings of concern.

Were it not for the code phrase, “with bated breath,” you would never have thought to heat the paper, revealing the secret message Professor Lorrimor encoded therein. Several key letters appear emphasized and previously hidden symbols appear. Quickly snatching up a quill, you scribe the emphasized letters, hidden symbols and word breaks to discover the Professor’s true message:

COME TO RAVENGRO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. TERRIBLE DANGER. ENEMY. CANNOT SHARE MORE. FIND YOUR WAY TO ME. P.L.

Shivering, and not from the chill night air, you cast the paper into the fire, planning to depart for Ravengro in the next few days, dreading what the Professor couldn’t trust, even to a cipher… sadly news follows in its wake.

I write on behalf of Kendra Lorrimor, the daughter of your friend, Petros Lorrimor. I regret to advise you that the Professor has died in a tragic accident. Kendra, mindful that her father mentioned you prior to his departing into the arms of the Pharasma, bids you come to attend her fathers funeral.
In Sympathy
Your Servant
Vashian Hearthmount

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