Shadows Over Ustalav

On Hiatus.

Trial

Shadows over Ustalav is now on Hiatus until september 2013 when it will return with Part II: “Trial of the Beast.”

In 2013, unfortunately personal circumstances have intervened, and I am currently running online games only-my weekly visits to the Harrogate Club have temporarily (I hope) been suspended.

However I do intend to turn up for the September-December slot regardless, or at least run this game online regardless.

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A Farewell to Ravengro
November 20th 4711

Ysabot did some final checks with Trig’s help on Wilf’s saddle, and then stood waiting outside as Kendra came out to bid farewell. When it was her turn she spoke.

“If my half brother Agrimar returns to town please give him this letter” she said, handing over a sealed envelope. “Tell him not to worry and I’ll leave another message in the Prancing Boar in Lepidstadt, if I have to go on from there. I’ll send a message back here anyway.” Kendra nodded.

Kendra had postponed her visit to Lepidstadt until the Spring, when she would spend a few months staying with a friend there. Keryn was given a handful of letters from Kendra to her various aquaintances there, to help pave the way for her visit. More farewells were made, and the group moved slowly off, taking the long route through the village centre to pick up a few last minute supplies.

The Sheriff nodded as they moved past, as did Trestleblade whom Sif had been practising with- the half elf had seemed to gain confidence from their daily sessions.

Trig was now keen to get to Lepidstadt, as she had learned from the Gnomish family in Ravengro that this had also been her sister’s destination. Zokar the innkeeper came out with a basket of food for them to take, so they would have more than camp fare for the day at least, and young Pevrin walked out with them toward the village boundary.

Ysabot nodded at Rufio as they walked past the Temple, and old Father Grimburrow also stood at the wishing well gate, smoking a voluminous pipe.

Further on near the crossroads Trig saw a group of children playing, and noticed that one of them was the young girl Lereia. She stopped short when she saw that perched on her shoulder was a raven, and that it accepted a tidbit from one of the other children who laughed.

“Say thank you Eronil” said Lereia, and the children laughed as the bird capered. The raven flew up and perched on an old ash next to the path. Trig noticed that it seemed like a pefectly healthy normal raven, though unusually it sported a single white feather amidst its plumage.

“Trig. Trig.” quoted the raven, and then as Trig stood still, not sure what to say, it flew back to Lereia, uttering a noise that sounded a little like laughing. Shaking her head Trig walked on, as the rest of the group headed westward along the path that led west and north around Lake Lias towards Tamrivena.

Pevrin stopped and waved, and shouted goodbye, and Lereia ran up to his side, also waving and calling. Eronil sat perched on her shoulder. As they watched Christov and Ysabot disappeared first into the moor mist, followed by Wilf, and then Sif and Keryn. At the rear of the column Trig lingered last, then turned and waved. Then with a last step she too was gone, her form receding into the thick mists, and the distance.

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The Fiddler's Lament
November 11th 4711

The early morning sun had barely peeked over the eastern horizon as Sif made her way through long shadows across the town square. The village itself was coming awake as goodwives pushed their sleepy-eyed children out the door to begin the day’s chores. The usual sounds of cock’s crow and the occasional dog bark were joined that morning by something unexpected. Floating lightly upon the morning breeze was the sound of a hauntingly beautiful melody as if the world’s saddest fiddler were out playing his bow to catgut in a dirge for the day to come. Who the mysterious player might be was unguessed but the music, though mournful, was not unpleasant.

Sif was off to the General Store to shop for coloured feathers and amber beads- Ysabot had reported the evening before that these had just arrived in stock, as she decorated her staff and hair plait with black raven feathers.

The storekeep and a local gaffer chated idly near the front counter talking about the strange music, which had apparently been heard across parts of town since before dawn, speculating as to who could be the source. The storekeep’s wife stocked shelves while their young girls ran around playing chase. Sif once again eyed the suit of fine plate armor that stood near the door, wondering what kind of coin it would take to get the storekeep to part with it; not that she wanted it particularly “Too heavy” she thought, but she had heard the store owner
mention that it had belonged to his wife’s long-deceased grandfather from back when he fought for the Crown.

As one of the young girls opened the cellar door to fetch a pail of water for her mother, Sif hear heard the small child’s voice suddenly exclaim with delight, "Grammy?!” to which the storekeep’s wife patiently explained, “No, dear. You know Grammy and Grampy passed on from the fever last winter. She’s not waiting in the street for you.”

Out of the corner of her eye Sif noticed that the arm of the suit of armor seemed to shift and slightly raise, as if it had been dislodged and the whole thing was about to fall over forward, but she was distracted from further investigation by the sound of the heavy, slow tread of bare feet climbing the wooden porch and the look of delight still on the young girl’s face as she shouted, “It is Grammy!” .

As the suit of armor clattered to the floor at her feet she saw standing in the doorway the worm-eaten corpse of what was once a gray-bearded old man, and she could only think to herself “And this must be Grampy.”

Then the screaming began. With her maul at home, Sif drew her longsword and stepped between the corpses and the now retreating girl. With a powerful swing she lopped its head right off. The second corpse staggered forward however, and its claw-like fingers tore deep into the flesh of Sif’s arm, forcing her second blow to miss completely. Panic started to rise as it’s other arm grabbed her throat, and rotten teeth gaped open inches from her face.

A red mist descended over Sif’s eyes and reversing the grip on her sword, ripped upward into the jaw knocking the thing backwards. As it tottered to remain on its feet she took her blade in both hands and smashed its skull to fragments. It slumped to the floor.

Staggering she moved forward to the front door, gasping for air. Around her she could hear distant cried and screams around the village.

Across from her in the centre of the square the stray dog, Old River was standing in front of the wooden Gazebo, beneath which the local children had made him a hay and blanket filled den. He was snarling at a shrubbery with bared fangs, while behind him three children of no more than five or six years old played with wooden swords. One of them ran to River’s side, challenged and threatened something with the wooden sword, and then with a giggle and a shriek went back to his excited friends. Behind her a chorus of terrified screams erupted from the upper floor of the Store.

Meanwhile Christov had just got dressed, and out of his bedroom window he could see one of the upended tree trunks that served as Posting Poles for the community of Ravengro. Once per week Pevrin, the son of Zokar the proprieter of the Laughing Demon posted a weekly newsheet, notices from the Mayor or Sheriff, and any other news of import. One such pole was situated just across the covered bridge, next to a hedge. On top of this now was stood Pevrin, a full 6-8 feet above the ground. Christov’s view lower down was obscured by the hedge but the lad was obviously trying to evade something below. Trouble.

Christov grabbed his weapons, though he was still unarmoured apart from a padded leather jerkin. Ysabot, already awake early for once was eating downstairs, saw him rush out with weapons, and followed.

The pair rattled across the covered bridge and saw the posting pole just ahead. Pevrin was crouched at the top of the pole trying to stay out of reach of two clay-encrusted skeletons that swiped at him with jagged claws. His stack of posting notices lay scattered on the ground. Standing nearby was another skeleton,this one armored in a rusted breastplate. A frayed noose dangled from its broken neck, and a cracked leather eye patch covered one eye. The other two skeletons likewise had the remains of nooses hanging from them.

The armored skeleton moved towards Christov, who smashed into it with both weapons. The other two ceased their attentions at the pole and approached. However Christov quickly cut the leader down, and although he received a wound from one of the others the fight was quickly over. Relieved, Pevrin scrambled down the pole.

“Get home” said Christov, “Lock yourselves in upstairs.”

“I know these” said Ysabot, “These were a trio of Highwaymen hanged some years ago. Their leader wore an eyepatch and was called Kuchega or something. They still tell stories about him, though it was before my time. The description fits though.”

“Hmm” said Christov, and for the first time the two heard the eerily haunting music. “Let’s head into the village and see if anything else is up.”

As they the appraoched the Silk Purse they could see Quess hanging out of an upstairs window, her cleavage displayed magnificently. “There’s your friend” Ysabot said, nudging Christov. They could see that outside the main door their eight guards were drawn up in a semicircle, and seemed to have put paid to half a dozen or more walking dead which were lying dismembered or smashed on the ground.

“Christov! Christov sweetie” called Quess. Christov looked up, trying not to look at her breasts. “Stay here and help defend my establishment. Your little friend can help too. I’ll pay you both well!”

As they paused they could hear other sounds of disruption around the village. It was a quick descision.

“I’m sorry madame but you appear to be well defended. Others may need our help more. Good day!” said Christov, and the two hurried on.

Near the Gazebo they saw Old River still snarling at the bushes, and approaching they saw a withered corpse, its legs smashed by some defender’s weapon, crawling towards the dog and children. The thing was easily despatched without effort. As Ysabot patted the dog Christov scooted the children home. Then they heard Sif.

When she heard the screams from upstairs Sif cursed and turned round- it appeared that the family had fled upstairs for safety. She pelted up the wooden stairs into a long corridor, along which she could see an open door with members of the family inside.

This appeared to be a master bedroom , still dark and shuttered from the previous night’s repose. Near a single candle huddled the storekeep and his entire family , with only a few streaks of the dawning light leaking through the heavily curtained window. As the storekeeper pointed wordlessly one of the little girls screamed, and Sif noticed an area of deeper shadow appeared to engulf her. Shouting she stepped forward and wrenched the child backwards, and swept her sword through the darkness. It simply cut through air.

As furniture was upset and people retreated Sif, found herself engulfed by the darkness, and fealt the icy touch of the thing seemingly seeping away the very life from her. It seemed that her weapons had no effect. Sif briefly considered leaping through the shuttered window and chancing the fall down onto the street, but rejected this in favour of retreating backwards towards the stairs. She slashed and shouted as she did so, as she could not think of anything else to do.

As she neared the stairs the corridor suddenly lit up, but seeing nothing she continued to cut in front of her.

“Oh stop panicking Sif it’s us” said Ysabot. “What’s the matter?”

The group advanced back towards the bedroom, and this time Christov illuminated the whole room with a spell. As he did so he thought he saw a sliver of darkness flee out behind one of the shutters, which Ysabot then flung open, letting in the growing daylight.

“Look, let’s get our stuff and see what’s going on here” she said, “It’s no good you getting killed without your weapons and gear”. Quickly they made their way back to Kendra’s as they did so noticing Trestleblade and Kurt smashing down a lone walker with halberd and warhammer; it appeared that the Guard were moving about, trying to destroy any of the undead interlopers.

As they armed themselves they instructed Kendra and Milly to shutter and lock up, and then secure themselves up in attic, preferably taking the ladder up with them. As they emerged from the house the fiddle music was still playing, and they deduced that it was coming from the north. Christov suggested that they arouse the priests at the Temple of Pharisma,and so the quickest way to do this was to go back across the covered bridge and then then straight up the road which led to the Restlands.

As the trio raced along the road they saw Brother Rufio, sitting down on a verge with a small cut across his forehead, and looking much disheveled but otherwise none the worse for wear. He was wearing his padded jerkin, pot helm and small shield, and was armed with a light mace.

“Rufio” said Ysabot, " If all goes well today I might treat you to a gear upgrade. Been in the wars?" Rufio looked up and smiled faintly; he seemed to get on fairly well with the reputed Witch.

“An acolyte of Pharisma doesn’t have spare cash for worldly things. But today has been something of a trial I’ll admit.” he said, mopping his brow.

Rufio explained that he had been heading north towards the Restlands. In between gasps for breath, he explained that Father Grimburrow and the two gravediggers had headed up into the cemetery early in the morning before the eerie music had started: they were preparing a mauseleum for a funeral to be held later in the afternoon.

“Unfortunately they’ve not returned. About twenty minutes ago a group of walking dead overran the temple and killed Sister Sigridt” he shook his head, and wiped his sleeve across his face. “I…I tried to save her but we got seperated and I just heard her screams. And then I had to flee; I came to the town for help but I fear they have their own problems.”

Rufio explained that he had to get to the cemetery to alert Father Grimburrow and bring him back. Christov suggested he accompany them, which he agreed to with relief.

As they passed Councilman Muricar’s home however they heard a disturbance from within. The stately home of the Councilman stood to their right among the trees beside the road. Several of the lower windows were broken out and the occasional scream issued from within followed by the sound of shattering glass and breaking furniture. The group raced over, and inside saw the aged noble stood on a landing hurling flowerpots, stools and whatever else came to hand at the strange figure below him.

This was in the form of a wealthy man dressed in the finery of several decades ago – but its flesh was composed of the what Christov had previously identified as ectoplasm. The shape bore a vague resemblance to the Councilman himself.

When the Councilman caught sight of the group he shouted in a raspy, fear-choked voice, “Help me! I didn’t do it! He thinks I’m my father!” Christov and Sif rushed forward, and the figure quickly succombed to a powerful blow from Sif’s new maul. Before the Councilman could stutter out his thanks Christov was already heading back out the door; the others turned and followed.

As they rushed up the hill towards the Restlands they encountered the odd walking dead, which being vulnerable and alone were quickly cut down. Around them they could see odd figures shambling about, or the sounds of desperate combats.

The source of the day’s trouble seemed to lie ahead at the Restlands, and the volume of the eerie playing grew louder as they approached. The cemetary hill grew out of the moor like a well-tended garden of stone, rising beyond its gates past row upon row of headstones to a low hill crowned by a circle of ancient tomb vaults.

The fiddling floated over the cemetery much louder than elsewhere in town and achieved an almost manic quality. Everywhere across the cemetery tombstones lay tumbled over and the earth churned where things that ought lie still struggled to emerge from the cold ground. Yet atop the hill a single figure could be seen capering around, jumping to and fro in time to the music.

“There” said Christov and pointed. As the group rushed along the path they were delayed only slightly by a foul creature which emerged from a stand of brush -obviously once a wolf, its skin hangs in ragged strips from it moldering hide with ribs showing through the gaps in its bloated, putrid flesh. It died quickly, though not without savaging Sif to the extent where she needed a healing spell from Brother Rufio.

As they hit the Ancestor’s Walk they struck up towards the cluster of aged stone vaults standing atop the hill overgrown with creepers and high wild grass. It seemed thst this portion of the cemetery was older and received less tending than some of the other areas.

Barely visible in the tall grass were a number of headstones,cracked and crumbling with age and canted at wild angles from their long years exposed to the elements. Dancing among them like a vision out of a fever dream was a female form, with flowing blonde hair-obviously living, not undead. She was barefoot with long, lithe limbs and wearing a tattered and stained shift and the ragged remains of what looked like some sort of restraining jacket, obviously no longer restraining her.

In her arms she held a narrow-bodied gypsy fiddle which she played energetically as she danced about. Her face was the very picture of transported bliss as her eyes danced with gaiety and unbidden laughs actually burst forth from her mouth from time to time. With a shock Ysabot realised that she was actually a very pretty elf.

Though the elf may have been the image of grace and joy, the effects of her playing could not be denied, as rotten and skeletal arms continued to rise from the ground around her, clawing their way to the surface as they swayed in perfect time with the frenetic music.

In a cluster they surged forward, and as they did so a number of rotting and skeletal forms lurched towards them. Christov and Rufio stepped forward to engage them, while Ysabot reached for the flasks of holy water she had brought.

Quickly realising that the elf was the source of the problem, Sif ran off to the left, avoiding the majority of the undead forms. Finding a vantage point she readied her bow and fired a shot at the elf, and had the satisfaction of seeing her keel over backwards.

Moments later however her satisfaction turned to horror as the elf got up again, and started playing. From her position Ysabot noted that while she wasn’t playing however, the dead had ceased to rise.

Christov seemed locked in an impossible combat against numerous undead: while he could cut them down, more always seemed to appear, and occasionally he would take a wound. He could not keep this up forever, and eventually Brother Rufio fell down, clawed at by one too many skeletal hands. Ysabot ran her options through her mind.

Sif had meanwhile discarded her bow and lifted her maul, and ignoring all other targets raced across the lines of graves towards the fiddler. She almost made it, but already wounded from her previous encounter she was knocked to the ground. Her attackers shambled towards Christov, who seemed rooted to the spot and unable to act decisively.

Ysabot pulled out a scroll and read it, with no discernable effect. However she started moving through the horde of undead toward the fallen Sif, and unbelievably they seemed to ignore her. Kneeling down she grabbed one of Sif’s potions and poured it down her throat. Coughing she struggled instantly back to consciousness. Ysabot helped her up. "The fiddler. Ignore everything else. " Sif nodded, and grabbing her maul raced toward the crypts among which the lithe elf was now dancing.

As the elf emerged from around a vault Ysabot smashed her on the back of the head with her staff, and she fell to the ground. Sif was hot on her heels but had to deal with a couple of skeletal forms.

As before, the figure got quickly to her feet and started playing again, and this time some of the more inactive undead started to move toward Ysabot too.Ysabot rushed forward, and finally managed to trap the elf in the narrow avenue between two adjacent stone vaults- however, both had a handful of undead figures hot on their heels.

Luck was finally with them however. Again Ysabot managed to knock the elf down, and this time Sif jumped on top of her and wrenched the fiddle from her hands. The effect was instant, and rotten forms all over Ravengro collapsed to the ground at once.

The two trudged back towards Christov,both secretly amused that for once Christov had blown his icy exterior and appeared to have lost it in a berserk rage. “Don’t worry Christov we’ve saved you” said Ysabot tactfully. Using one of Brother Rufio’s bag of scrolls she cast a spell which brought him back to consciousness. Sif noticed that she pocketed a couple of them inside her coat before handing the bag back.

While much of the graveyard was a mess Christov noticed that the door to a nearby mauseleum had been blocked in with a fallen tree trunk and a pile of broken tombstones. On the ground were pairs of horseshoe shaped footprints. He frowned.

Ysabot and Rufio looked at some of the skeletons in this location. “A lot of these are wearing Scarzani tatters” said Ysabot.

“Hmm, these graves in the middle here are called the Scarzani graves” said Rufio. “They were buried here as an act of charity many years ago. Some sort of tragedy I gather.”

Sif and Christov had started pulling away the blockage at the door, and were calling inside. They were rewarded by muffled responses, which encouraged their efforts. After tem minutes they had managed to clear the gate, and Father Grimburrow and the two grave wardens emerged.

The elf girl was still unconscious, but the old priest revived her. As he did so one of the wardens made a surprising remark.

“My word, I recognise her. I’ll never forget.” The others looked toward him curiously.

“I was only a lad of sixteen summers” he replied, “When we came on the Scarzani camp. Horrible it were-all massacred: except her. She was at on a log, staring at the ground. She were famished and sunburned- I think she’d sat there for several days. But she were daft. Said nothing, did nothing. Led like a child.”

“Anyway we piled the bodies on a cart, and they were decently buried up here. The girl was nursed back to health, but she was empty like, and never spoke. Eventually one of the Councilmen paid out of his own pocket like, for her to be sent to a proper hospital where she could be looked after. We never heard any more of her.” He scratched his head.

“And why is she back here then? And what about those hoofprints?” asked Sif.

“We’ll probably never know. The Whispering Way perhaps? A Demon? No idea really.” said Christov.

“This fiddle may be worth quite a bit to…er… non necromantic scholars in Lepidstadt” suggested Ysabot.

“I don’t think Keryn should play it that’s for sure” said Christov.

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Taking it Easy
November 10th 4711

Over the next few days, with no pressing issues or problems the members of the group made the most of their enforced stay in Ravengro. Ysabot started rising later and later, though she did spend some time brewing potions from the herbs which Trig and Cristov fetched from some of their longer walks, as they searched out the dwindling supply before the Autumn weather became too advanced.

Sif gained a distraction when she was approached by the Half Elf Guard Trestleblade, who asked her if she would give her some fighting tuition while she remained in Ravengro. Slightly flattered, and with little else to do, Sif started to train a couple of hours each day with her, and the Half Elf proved a willing pupil.

Kendra too had finally made up her mind. “I’ve been thinking about recent events, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll stay in Ravengro. I will take a journey to Lepidstadt however to purchase some books, and talk with my father’s old aquaintances.” she said. “I think I’ve been too insular in my study of magic, and I think I need to boost my range of spells. The events here have shown me that I need to be more prepared for such things, and as Allendru advances in years I can probably do some good here. I’ll stay.”

Some additional distraction was caused by Ysabot’s descision to buy a mule. Helped by Trig, she sought out a likely animal which she decided to name Wilf. Persimmon especially seemed to like the arrangement when her hooded wicker basket, with a waterproof leather covering, was perched on the very top of the portage saddle. From it’s cushioned interior she could watch the world go by, as Wilf walked along. Trig was quietly pleased to have another animal to fuss over.

Over dinner that night the group discussed their plans; their month at Ravengro was now almost near its end, and Kendra had made her descision as to her future. Frankly however, they were enjoying the opportunity to relax for a while, and especially so as the weather was now worsening considerably. After much debate a date one week hence was agreed for setting out towards Lepidstadt; the journey itself would take approximately a week.

“The distance from Ravengro to Lepidstadt is about 100 miles. No journey in Ustalav is without risk,but the old Mountain Road is generally regarded as the best route. This road goes northwest around the lake and follows the southeastern foothills of the Tusk Mountains, passing through Tamrivena and Courtaud before following the Lesser Moutray River up to Lepidstadt.” indicated Christov, “So we can break our journey a bit if we choose.”

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The Splatter Man
November 5th 4711

Thunder and lightening darkened the sky as the group trudged back up to Harrowstone. If they were successful today they would not need to come again, but they viewed the day with a degree of dread.

None more so than Sif; she had kept apart from the others over the last day, ashamed once again of her fear and superstition regarding the undead. Christov and Ysabot seemed to regard them merely as an ordinary hazard, Trig was afraid but still managed to keep her nerve, and Keryn,like Sif, was new to these horrors but had seemed to manage her revulsion rather better than Sif had. Sif realised that her performance had been patchy at best, and she trailed somewhat behind the others.

In the Training Room Christov climbed down with little hesitation, followed by the others. Sif paused at the threshold, afraid to go down, but also afraid to stay in the upper room alone, or to demonstrate her fear to her companions. She climbed down.

Moving westwards towards Reapers Hold, they applied some oil they brought with them to the long disused winch. Slowly they started to turn it, and it opened. The corridor opened into another cellblock, with a central isle of cells surrounded by a corridor, and then more cells. There were skeletons in some of them, but fortunately none of them were moving this time.

Opening a door to the south revealed a large room of ominous import: numerous grisly tools of torment decorated the room, from cages to hanging chains along the walls to a stretching rack, a large wooden tank, and a fire pit in the middle of the room. To the east stood a grim iron maiden, the lid closed and presenting a stern decoration of a tormented woman upon its face. The broken, twisted skeleton of a human dressed in a tattered guard’s uniform lay upon the stretching rack in the middle of the room; the body was surrounded by several discarded knives,branding irons, and pliers. A large, bloodstained wicker basket sat at the head of the rack, and into the mouth of the man was wedged a circular brass badge, labelled ‘Warden’.

“I’m afraid this may be the remains of Warden Hawkram” said Christov. “I fear he did not have a pleasant end.” As gently as he could, he worked the badge free. “We can take this to Versorianna.”

Meanwhile Trig was both horrified and fascinated by the room. Approaching the iron maiden it suddenly swung open, to reveal the bound and gagged form of Kendra, her eyes pleading at Trig for release from her torment. Trig moved forward.

Noticing the sudden movement Christov looked round and saw the same thing, but some sixth sense warned him of the possible danger, and he leapt forward and grabbed the lid as it slowly started to swing shut. The illusion was shattered and as Trig grabbed Kendra’s hand she saw Kendra transform into a rotting skeleton, which toppled on top of her as she pulled backward.

“Ah no, No! Get it off me!” she cried as the two fell in a tangled heap. Ysabot pushed the corpse aside with her staff. “Another Guard tortured to death” she remarked deadpan.

On the Warden’s body they also found a ring of keys. Examining the eastern wall Keryn found another hidden door, and one of the keys fitted this. A stone lined passage shortly dissappeared into a small natural cavern, which appeared once again to have been used for storage. On the other side of this the passage became stone lined again and ended in a door facing eastwards.

“If we open this I think we will be behind that closed southern portcullis” remarked Christov. “And that is the only location we haven’t checked. Be on guard.”

The door swung open into what appeared to be a long cell. This opened out into a larger room with a central oubliette, and surrounded by other cells- much like the location they had encountered the Lopper in. A corridor led out northwards towards the lowered portcullis.

Christov walked over to the oubliette, peeering down, but this time only to a depth of ten feet or so, at which point it was flooded with water. Cautiously the others moved into the room. Finally they were in the Nevermore.

As they watched and waited Sif suddenly saw a letter ‘S’, apparently being written in blood, on the wall near her. The others saw other letters start to appear, starting to spell out each of their names. Not knowing what else to do, Sif yelled and smashed at the stonework with her hammer, obliterating the letter. Dust and loose stone rained down from the ceiling.

“Come on out and fight you coward!” excalimed Christov, ignoring the letters and wheeling round trying to view all corners of the room. Sif noticed another ‘S’ being spelt out, and again lashed out with her hammer, while Keryn had the satisfaction of emptying a vial of Holy Water on the letters and seeing them dissappear.

This time however Sif had smashed a wooden bracing beam, and the effects were catastrophic. The beam collapsed, and along with it a large volume of loose stone and what was apparently a false ceiling. Trig dissappeared under a pile of small rubble, and most of the group were battered by collapsing timber and stone.

Coughing and spluttering Ysabot swallowed an expensive healing potion, while Keryn moved over to recusitate the fallen Trig with one of her spells. Sif dragged herself up and looked around glowering, while Cristov again shouted out a challenge.

“But dear Chrisstov!” hissed a sibilent voice, “I have been here all along. Join me!” Hovering above the pit was a wasted, rotting figure, its eyes glowing with unnatural green light and its hands spread out encompassing green wisps of energy. He gestured and spiralling bolts shot out, hitting everyone except Ysabot. Sif and Christov charged forward, while Ysabot activated one of her Siphons. Large rats scuttled out from the cells and rushed at the group, blocking their approach to the grinning wraith, one of them fastening onto Sif’s leg and biting deep.

The Splatter Man fought a running battle, moving into one of the cells and raining more green balefire at the group, causing Keryn to fall, and the now risen Trig rushed to aid her. Untouched by the Splatter Man’s bolts, Ysabot triggered her last remaining Siphon, while Christov and Sif attempted to battle their way past large rats and rising skeletons to reach the wraith, which darted between cells-apparently through walls, as though they were not here, and pummelled the group with his spells.

Healing Keryn Trig fell once more as another bolt hit her. Christov and Sif swallowed down healing potions. It looked like a close run fight. As soon as she awoke Keryn triggered the groups last remaining Siphon, and still the wraith did not fall. Frustrated Ysabot chanted one of her hexes at the undead wizard, who had now appeared in yet another doorway.

Finally however, Sif managed to get in position, and lashed out with the Guardsman’s Mace. Already weakened by successive Haunt Siphons, the Splatter Man reeled back, intending to disengage through another cell wall and reappear elsewhere.

This time however both Sif and one of Christov’s weapons reached through the doorway and bit home. “No. Noooo you Fools!” hissed the wraith… and then seemed to shrink and collapse in on himself, finally dispersing with a horrific wail. And then once more…. silence.

Ysabot walked over to the oubliette and peered down, then she frowned, and pointing downwards, chanted something unintelligible. The surface of the water broke, and a glittering longsword flew upwards into her waiting hand. “Magical.” she said. “More down there, but I can’t repeat this spell today.”

“That will be Nameless”, said Christov. He stripped off his armour, cast a light spell on his knife and lowered himself down. Down below were several other bodies, one of them presumably the Splatter Man he thought. He detected several other enchanted objects- one of them a warhammer: Jorfa’s presumably. Breaking the surface the others threw him down a rope, and he clambered out.

“Let’s be done with this place for good” he said, his teeth chattering, “But first Versorianna.”

Twenty minutes later they stood back in the entrance foyer, and opened the door to the north. Once more they were stymied by a phantom crowd of terrified people fleeing from the long past fire. As the doors slammed shut once more they re-opened the northern door and made their way to the old laundry, where lay the remains of Versorianna. As they opened the door, once again the phantom figure of the warden’s wife rose up to meet them.

“They are all defeated. Give me the badge” she said in a clear but somehow distant voice. Christov held it up, and it flew from his hand and settled on Versorianna’s breast.

At first they could hear a faint wailing, but then the sound grew louder to a howling crescendo of despair. A cold wind howled through the room and the whole prison, and rotten debris flew about the room, and was sucked out of the high window. As the group held on to old fixtures for support dim faces appeared snarling in the air around them, and then these too seemed to flow like a dark wind out of the prison-and at the centre of this storm stood the impassive figure of Versorianna. With a clatter the debris fell to the floor, and the sounds subsided into nothing.

“It is done” said Versorianna. “The prison is cleansed”. The badge flew away from her and clattered at the feet of Keryn.

“And now I too am free. Finally I can leave this place. Farewell.” Instead of collapsing into nothingness as before, the form of Versorianna seemed to become translucent, and then transparent. And then suddenly it contracted into a small ball of blue fire, which flew out of the window upwards, and then was lost to sight. Ysabot stooped and picked up the badge.

“This is magical now. It wasn’t before” she said. They turned and for the final time, made their way out of the prison.

Stopping briefly at Kendra’s house they went directly to the Temple of Pharisma, and there spoke to Father Grimburrow, telling him all. Rufio stood listening nearby.

“A tragic place” he commented, “And I suppose we should have expected that in this land it would harbour hatred and ancient evil. But now it is over at least.”

“Not quite” said Ysabot. “It was those bastards from the Whispering Way that triggered this chain of events, and it was them that murdered the Professor. I haven’t forgotten them.”

Father Grimburrow frowned. “Your path is a Dark One young woman, and I doubt it will lead to good for you.” His frown softened a little. “Still all of Ravengro must be grateful to you for what you have done. You should also brief the Sheriff… a good man if a little stern. The Mayor..ah, you should just tell him what he needs to know, if you take my meaning.”

“This should probably stay in Ravengo” said Christov, handing over the Warden’s Badge. “Ravengro’s History, Ravengro’s Warden, Ravengro’s Badge. Kendra identified it’s enchantment for us, and apparently it will now allow a casters spells to affect incorporeal undead like the Splatter Man or the Lopper. I hope it won’t need to be useful, but- well…”

The old priest nodded. “We will keep this, and remember Warden Hawkram. Alas from what we now know I fear his rest will be less than he deserves.”

Rufio approached and took the Haunt Siphons, and Father Grimburrow cast a number of spells to heal and restore them, and handed them some additional potions from the Churches stock. As they returned to the centre of town they stopped off at Jorfa’s, and Sif silently handed over the warhammer they had found.

Jorfa took the hammer and bowed. “Your Maul is ready. Kurt has already named it for you-’Jorfa’s Swansong’; not the most heroic name but a Naming is Naming, and that is what it is called. Use it well. It is enchanted and forged from Cold Iron-found deep beneath the earth and as hard as the finest steel-it is also proof against some foes.”

Christov also offered Nameless for sale to Jorfa but she shook her head. “No this blade is worth more than I could pay you for it. If you like I will take it a while and restore it as I intend to restore Thunderclap. Kurt here will provide it with a worthy scabbard and belt, and then perhaps you can take it to Lepistadt: there are many more armorers and folk who live there, and you should be able to sell it for a fair price.”

They also exchanged an enchanted mithril dagger they had found for ’Adder’s Tongue’- the enchanted Rapier Jorfa had previously had for sale. Keryn took it and tied it round her waist.

“And what about you then Jorfa-is this really your last Craft?” asked Sif.

“Aye. No more smithing for me. I’ll overwinter in Ravengro and help manage the business a while, but Kurt is the new Smith here from today, and I’ll be leaving for my own kin in the spring. With the return of Thunderclap you’ve made that possible at last. My thanks.” She bowed.

The Sheriff listened to the tale quietly and nodded. “If what you say is true all this nonsense should calm down in the next couple of days. If it does I’ll start releasing people. I’ll try to keep the extended number of Deputies though.”

“What about Gibbs?” asked Trig.

“Well he’s a scoundrel but if he was possessed he’s not really responsible for his recent actions. I’ll keep him on ice till you leave town though. A spell in jail will do him good.”

Councilman Hearthmount was ecstatic, and paid up the balance immediately.“All’s well that ends well,” he said, and then “And of course you’ll be moving on shortly to Lepidstadt?”

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Into the Depths
November 3rd 4711

Early the next morning, amid driving rain and leaden sky, the group once more laboured towards the old prison, this time laden with additional knotted ropes and other supplies. Re-entering the old training room with the burned -out lift shaft five hempen knotted ropes were secured to old winch anchor points and surviving metal works, and Christov decended down into the basement.

His feet touched the sodden floor of a cavernous chamber which may have once been an underground cellblock, but it had long since collapsed. The crumbled walls were thick with mold and stained with soot, and heaps of fallen stones and charred wooden beams lined the area. Water dripped and seeped along the walls, collecting in a dark, murky pool in the middle of the room. The north, the twisted remains of a wood and iron lift lay in a heap in a shallow portion of the pool near Christov, and above the jagged hole in the roof yawned above the ruin. To the west, a partially blocked opening seems to open up after several feet into a dark but stable tunnel. Amidst the debris of the eastern wall appeared to be the remains of coffins and tangles of bone.

“All clear”, he shouted, and resumed scanning the walls. Seconds later Ysabot tapped him on the shoulder. “Boo.”

“How did you get down here?” started Christov.

“Oh. I’m just quick, that’s all.” she smiled slightly, her strange eyes glittering in the half -light. Christov mulled this over as he resumed his scanning.

Keryn climbed down next, looking oddly at Ysabot. She was the first two notice the water in the murky pool bubbling slightly in two locations. “Whats that?” she pointed.

As they watched, the bubbling increased in height to a couple of feet, and now seemed to shine with a strange greenish phosphorescence. And then the bubbling seemed to shift and grow, forming two slimy, shifting masses in humanoid shape, but made out of what appeared to be some form of greenish sticky rope or cloth. The things lurched jerkily across the pool, seemingly struggling to maintain their horrific forms.

As she stood in shock one of the things lunged hard into Keryn, making her stagger back. Layers of stale putrid slime covered her face and nostrils, causing her to cough and retch as she dropped her bow and stumbled away. Another slammed into Christov, but he was more fortunate and merely suffered scratches and buffeting. Behind them Ysabot chanted and gestured in some harsh alien tongue.

Recovering, Christov cleaved one of the things with the Lopper’s Axe, and it disintigrated into a pile of revolting slime. The second too was quickly despatched.

“What”, asked Ysabot slowly, “Was that?”

“I think,”said Christov, lifting up a piece of green slime with his dagger, “That this stuff is called Ectoplasm. I had a long chat with Father Grimburrow about hauntings and such.”

The others managed to descend without incident: the passage to the west was the only exit, and as they moved up this the indications of burning became less intense, and the structure more intact. Trig rubbed a brass plate with an arrow pointing to the wrecked room they had just left, it read “Hell’s Basement”.

“Very appropriate” commented Keryn.

The short corridor exited in a large rectangular room to the west- exits could be glimpsed on the north and south walls, though the view to the west side appeared blocked by a thick stone wall or column reaching up to the ceiling. As Christov stepped in the rattle of bones was heard from around the room, and paired green dots of eerie luminescence could be seen rising from the floor. Sif gripped her hammer and gulped, keenly aware that she had hardly distinguished herself in their previous encounter with the undead in the upper cellblock.

Cristov however had no such doubts. Like the others he had recently downed one of Ysabot’s protective potions, and he stepped forward crushing two of the skeletal forms with his twinned weapons. The remainder rushed in.

This time however the group seemed to have got the measure of fighting these silent undead automatons. Keryn and Trig used their mace and club respectively, and after a brief but hectic fight all of the things were destroyed. The group themselves were unharmed.

Moving forward in to room they noted that the stone column was in fact the rubble-blocked stairwell upwards, and that there was a further exit to the west. From the northern exit a red fiery glow could be seen at the edge of Ysabot’s light spell, and Christov moved across to get a better view. He soon wished he hadn’t.

Shambling down the corridor towards them, somewhat hesitantly was another skeleton; this was was headless however, and wreathed in flame. Gripping a short axe it nevertheless moved close to Sif and Christov,swinging wildly. Again Ysabot could be heard behind them chanting in some hellish tongue.

The figure was unarmored, and the blows rained in on it splintering bone, but nevertheless it seemed to possess some unnatural resilience. The flames surrounding its body scorched and burned Christov and Sif, but finally it collapsed. It appeared to have come from a small room situated on the left side of the corridor leaing north. This too was labelled with a smoke covered brass plaque, as “The Oubliette”.

Looking briefly into the sparsely furnished room, they emerged into a square, empty room with several iron doors lining the walls. In the middle of the room, a hinged ten-foot-square metal grating lay over a dark pit in the floor. A thick rope had been tied to the grating and dangled into the pit below. Christov walked over.

Silently a ghastly figure rose up from the pit, immediately in front of him. A shaven headed man, his eyes ablaze with green fire, and his flesh a ghastly pallor of greyish white. His arms too, appeared unusually elongated, and his legs appeared knock- kneed, as though crushed or injured. With a soul-chilling shriek a one handed axe, seemingly the twin of the one held by Christov lashed out, burning his flesh with a cold dead sensation. Off to his side the hairs on the nape of Sif’s neck rose as she saw a spurt of blood shoot out of Christov, to be absorbed into the hovering spectre.

Christov staggered back badly hurt, and Sif and Keryn, determined to use the Ghost touched arrows they had aquired, moved across to flank the pit on both sides. Ysabot stepped up behind Christov and touched his shoulder, closing some of his wounds with a cool healing light.

Grinning horribly with wide colourless lips, the phantom floated across to Trig, the axe again hitting and burning her badly, with blood apparently being drawn towards the creature. Sif and Kendra aimed, unable to get a clear shot, but Christov lashed out and had the satisfaction of experiencing the Lopper’s Handaxe meet resistance as it hit, slicing through the creature. His hammer went right through the creature without effect. “Ordinary weapons have no effect” he realised, “Only the Lopper’s Axe”.

The phantom next attacked Keryn with similar success, though she managed to fire one of her magical arrows into it. Ysabot used up her final healing spell, and Christov again hit home, as this time the floating horror attacked Sif, fortunately missing.

Christov realised that in some strange way the phantom was drawing strength from their wounds, in order to replenish itself. It turned to Ysabot, but finally Sif let fly with her arrow. The Ghost Touch arrow vanished barb and shaft right into the creature, which with a piercing wail, appeared to collapse in on itself, and then vanish entirely. The chamber was silent once more, and after the difficult combat the group breathed a sigh of relief.

Ysabot leaned over the black oubliette, her eyes glittering. “There are things down there” she said, “and some of them are magical. I can see a mace.”

Trig was lowered down on a rope, and found a pile of three crumbled corpses- plus an extra skull.

“I bet that belonged to the headless skeleton” said Christov, “Probably a guard.”

Trig rooted around and held up the items for Ysabot to inspect. A heavy black mace was clearly magical, as was a strange stone in a decorative clasp. In addition there was a good quality sword, a damaged crossbow and a ring of keys.

“Finally”, said Sif. “I feel like we’re making some progress. I assume that was the Lopper?”

“I assume so” replied Christov, “Let’s go back to the big room”.

Here they discovered that there was a further passage leading westwards, and another to the south, though this was blocked by a metal portcullis and the winch mechanism looked completely siezed up. They entered the western passage towards ‘Reapers Hold’.

This too ended in a lowered portcullis, though here the mechanism looked in much better shape. Before this were two doors, one on the northern and one on the southern wall. Opening the northern door revealed what looked like a small Guardroom, but the southern door proved more interesting. This too looked like a Guardroom, but this one contained only a single large table with two chairs astride it and a single sagging cot pushed up against the eastern
wall. Several battered cabinets lined the northern wall, with a few arrows and bits of chainmail lying scattered on the floor nearby. The oddest thing however was the eerie sight of three fractured skulls sitting on the table next to a heavy hammer. It looked as if someone had arranged the fragments of the skulls in some sort of pattern, as if an attempt had been made to construct a fourth skull from the broken fragments of the trio on the table. The leathery body of a long-dead dwarf, his wiry red hair and beard still strangely
vibrant in death, lay slumped on the ground behind the table.

“Hum” said Trig, “The Mosswater Marauder? I’ll go in and have a look.”

The wall beyond the body had attracted Trig’s attention due to the regularity of the stonework, and sure enough as she examined it she was certain there was a door in it somewhere. She ran her fingers along the stones and soon found one which pushed in. There was a click, and the wall swung away from her revealing a darkened space beyond. A cry went up behind her.

Turning to here side she was horrified to see the bluish translucent figure of a bearded dwarf wielding a hammer. Nearby the three skulls rose from the table, and darted at Christov who was stood in the doorway.

The dwarf swung his ghostly hammer, but Trig managed to leap backwards reaching at her belt for her remaining Haunt Siphon.

Keryn watched the scene from over CHrostov’s shoulder and then cried with pain as something heavy smashed into her back. Staggering round, her eyes blurring she saw Sif, a feral snarl on her face and the Marauder’s hammer clutched tightly in her fist. “Sif no!” she cried backing away, realising that Sif might actually kill all of them.

Trig activated the Siphon, which rapidly filled with greenish smoke; almost simultaneously Ysabot crashed her staff down on one of the skulls which shattered. With a sonorous moan the ghostly dwarf faded away and the remaing skull crashed to the floor. The Marauder too had been defeated.

In the Guardroom the others could now hear Keryn trying to placate Sif, who was advancing and snarling, appearing confused, but was fortunately no longer attacking. Ysabot rolled her eyes.

“Sif No!” shouted Christov. “Stop Now!” Sif hesitated, and then dropped the hammer and fell to her knees, covering her face with her hands. Gingerly Christov picked up the hammer and dropped it into a sack.

“There’s a lot of stuff in this secret room” said Ysabot, “and it has Jorfa’s mark on it.”

Indeed, there was a large quantity of fine armour and weapons, as well as potions and a few other items.

“Look, we’ve done well today” said Ysabot. “but most of our spells and such are used up. Lets get this stuff out and come back another day. The Splatter Man has a long way to go yet to spell out Versorianna’s name, and a day or too isn’t going to make much difference.” The others agreed.

After spending an hour hauling their loot to the main room, pulling it up and stowing it in the corridor leading to the Property Room, the group shouldered what they could and headed back to Ravengro. With four of the spirits defeated only the Splattter Man now remained.

Later that evening Trig was the only one still awake when she heard shouting from the nearby citizen watchpost outside. Picking up her sickle she walked over to the front gate to get a view outside. Moments later she had cried an alarum and was rushing towards the barricade.

Two shambling figures, obviously dead were striking at the two spear armed villagers, who were defending themselves ineffectually. It might take minutes for the Guard to reach them, and so Trig drew her sickle and charged one of the fugures from behind. By the time it had reacted and turned round she had disabled it, though one of the villagers was also on the floor.

Although currently unarmoured the tiny gnome was difficult to hit, as her sickle cut again and again at the lumbering corpse. As Keryn and Trestleblase- one of the Guards arrived on the scene, she sliced it to the ground, and stood panting. She had been rather more successful than on her last encounter with these horrors.

Trestlebalde turned over one of the corpses with her boot. “It’s old Riggs, and Mortimer. These are the two who perished in the fire at the Town Hall. Their bodies were being stored in an icehouse with the cemetary being shut up and all.” she said.

“It seems like the Splatter Man still has a few cards he can play” said Christov ominously.

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The Property Room
November 2nd 4711

It was largely decided to forestall investigations again on this day, and Trig and Sif decided to go plant hunting up on the moors. Ysabot meanwhile had sold the Moppet Doll to Alendru and purchased the wand she had spoken of, and together with Keryn and Christov, plus a few minor supplies, they made their way up to Harrowstone early in the morning, hoping to be back home for a late breakfast.

Entering the prison foyer they turned immediately down the short corridor to the right, to face the secure door of the Property Room. As Keryn laid her tools out on the floor, Ysabot took out a small sand timer and the wand she had purchased, and when Keryn indicated that she was ready, activated it.

Periodically, when indicated by the timer, Ysabot recast the wand’s enchantment on Keryn, who was working slowly and methodically at the lock. She was rewarded over ten minutes later with a click, and the door swung open.

Inside were a number of containers and drawers, all labelled with the names of prisoners. Ysabot took out her journal and read off the names of the five notorious prisoners. There was a drawer for each of them, and although the group did not possess the Piper’s real name, it appeared that the prison authorities had not either, as there was a drawer simply labeled ‘Piper.’

The Lopper’s container contained some mundane personal possessions, and a well crafted and wicked -looking handaxe. Close inspection indicated that although the weapon had been cleaned before being put away, there were dried bloodstains both on the polished handle and on the axe blade itself. “That weapon is magical” indicated Ysabot. Nodding Christov stowed away his gladius and tucked it into his belt. “I’ll buy some sort of sheath or belt attachment later” he indicated.

The Piper’s and Father Charlatans’s boxed contained an expensive looking silver flute, and a jumble of silver holy symbols and chains. These did not appear to be magical but no doubt would fetch a decent resale price.

In the Splatter Man’s box was a large and mouldy spell book. Opening the pages Ysabot indicated that a number of the spells were still readable, and that she might be able to learn some of them , given a little time. “The book itself also seems to be enchanted in some way”, she frowned. “I’m not sure how- maybe Kendra can determine later.” The inventory list inside the box also indicated a sword called ‘Nameless’, along with a scribble note saying ’warden’s office.’

Finally the Marauder’s box contained a very well made Master Smith’s crafting hammer. Although not that fearsome a weapon, the group agreed that perhaps it might have some special effect on the Marauder’s Haunt when confronted. In any case with her interest in Armour making, Sif determined that the hammer might be of some future use anyway, and tucked it in her belt.

A review of some of the other containers revealed some incidental loot, including another wand, a set of very good thief tools (Better than mine" said Keryn), a rolled up painting and some assorted jewellry.

“All in all a tidy little haul” said Ysabot.

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Working Lunch
November 1st 4711: Afternoon.

Soon after midday Christov returned, looking very tired. He did join them for lunch however.

“I have a new trick” said Ysabot. “Watch this” She produced a small rose coloured prism shaped gem from a pouch, grasped it in front of her face, and then threw it up in the air. The stone settled into a slow orbit around Ysabot’s head.

“It’s an Ioun Stone” explained Ysabot. “That fool Quess- your new girlfriend Christov- has had this on sale for a while as a standard gem; she obviously doesn’t know what it is. I bought it for 500 gp instead of what its actually worth: probably 5000 gp. Do me a favour, and don’t tell her.”

“What does it do?” asked Sif.

“Well it kind of gives me a bit of a sixth sense. Makes it a bit easier to dodge that skeleton’s sword or whatever. Protection is good.”replied Ysabot.

“I am an Inquisitor of Pharisma now”, said Christov smugly. “That gives me certain privileges. For now I’m just very tired, but we do need to discuss yesterday.”

After some discussion the group agreed that they needed to descend to the lower level, which was apparently the source of the recent problems.

“The problem is,” said Ysabot, “It took four Haunt Siphons to defeat two of those Spirits. There are still three left, and only another four Siphons. This poses difficulties- potentially fatal ones.”

“Versorianna indicated there were things in the Strongroom which might help.” said Keryn. " We need to get into there initially."

“Bashing the door won’t help. That was a secure door. It would just make it more unopenable.” said Christov.

“And the key could be anywhere-even downstairs” added Ysabot. “I have one suggestion.”

“Look”, she continued, “I know zero about lockpicking but from what I saw Keryn spent thirty seconds on that big door before giving up, whereas on the safe she took a lot of care and time and managed to do it.”

Keryn nodded in agreement “That’s true Ysabot, but in all likelihood the secure door lock is still more difficult. If I had better tools it might be another story.”

“Well maybe we can simulate that. Alendru has had a wand on sale for some time-not really on my buying list, But what it would do is boost your manual dexterity for quite a few minutes. I’ve costed it up before and we could get it for maybe….” she did a quick mental calculation, “…say 1120 gp. If we used that, and Keryn took her time with it, and maybe if we could convince Jorfa to knock off some one-off tools or whatever, that might give us a chance to open it. Remember we still have the Rag Doll we could sell for 720 gp.”

“Er there’s one other thing”, said Keryn, “We’re supposed to go for tea at Councilman Hearthmount’s later this afternoon. 4.00 pm in fact.” This was greeted by universal groans.

“I’m exhausted” said Christov. “I’m going to bed. Tell him I was wounded in our valiant battle against the Living Dead in order to save Ravengro, or something.” He stumped upstairs.

At 4.00 pm the rest of the group, duly scrubbed, presented themselves at Councillor Heathmount’s imposing residence, on the other side of the river. A rather grumpy looking manservant showed them in, after almost refusing to let Sif in as she would not leave her weapons at the door. Fortunately sanity prevailed, and Sif was persuaded by her collegues that she was being unreasonable,and her attitude a serious breach of etiquette. Not without some sideways stares, the manservant eventually escorted them in.

Over tea the Councilman pressed them about the problems the town was experiencing- the incidents among the populace were still continuing apace. Even with additional resources, the Guard were busy and hard pressed. Trig was able to reassure him however that the problem was a least partially solved, and would hopefully be completely so within the week. The group returned home around 7.00 pm. Christov was still fast asleep.

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A Brief Interlude
1st November 4711: before Dawn

It was just after midnight when the Deputy banged on the Door. Keryn and Trig opened up to see Deputy Trestleblade shivering in the cold air. Out in the road the red glow of the watchpoint bonfire could be seen.

“Sheriff’s compliments. Come to the Jail at once.” she said.

Ten minutes later they arrived at the jail. The Sherriff nodded and led them through to the cells. All were full, but in the end cell was situated Gibbs Hephanus; as they approached he hurled himself at the bars.

“You Fools! Do you think you can stop me? I AM IMMORTAL. All of you in this pathetic little hovel will suffer, and you two Pretties especially. I know you now Trig Kemble, and Keryn Hawke. You will look much prettier when your bodies writhe in agony and spurt with blood. I know you now!”

“Calm down Mr. Hephanus. We are your friends” attempted Keryn.

“You lying bitch! I’ll see your fucking Heart Ripped out!” snarled Gibbs, and lunged at Keryn who had approached closer. The Sheriff’s truncheon snapped down on his arm. Gibbs cried in pain, and then threw himself bodily at the door, again and again. After several attempts he fell senseless to the floor. They returned into the office.

“This started at midnight” said the Sheriff.“It’s like he’s possessed.”

“Maybe he is Sheriff.” said Trig, and summarised their trip to the Prison.

“Hmm. I need to think about this " said the Sheriff. “I may speak to you again in the morning.”

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Much to Think About
31st October 4711: Late Afternoon.

The sky was darkening as the group trudged back though the lashing rain, and approached Kendra’s house. Christov and Ysabot decided to go on to the Temple with the Haunt Siphons, to see how they might be safely disposed off. Christov had not said much- he had other things on his mind.

As they approached the Temple Ysabot waved at Brother Rufio, with whom she seemed to have some half tolerant bantering acquaintance.

“I need some Holy Water Rufio, can you round up your skivvies to sell me some?” she asked.

Rufio noded tolerantly, “And what would a non believer like yourself want with Holy Water Ysabot? I’m in enough trouble with letting you fool me into looking through the Temple archives.”

“It’s in a good cause” interrupted Christov unexpectedly. “We’ve been up to the haunted Prison, and we will be returning again. You also need to get Father Grimburrow. I have made up my mind. I have decided to sign the Inquisitor Accord.”

Rufio raised his eyebrows. “You have already trained?”

“Yes. In Ardis. With Inquisitor Hoffman.But I needed to make my mind up. Now I’ve decided.”

“Very well, I’ll go and get him. And your Holy Water” responded Rufio, and went off into the main building.

“Inquisitor eh? " asked Ysabot. “That’s, er, Good.”

“Yes isn’t it?” smiled Christov. “What this will mean though is that I will need to stand a Holy Vigil tonight, through to the morning. What with the ceremonies and oathtaking I probably won’t be back until noon tomorrow. And then I will not be in a fit state to do very much.”

“Fine, we could do with a day off after today. Especially Sif – I don’t think she has encountered Undead before.” replied Ysabot.

“And you Ysabot, you don’t seem that perturbed by them. Have you had much to do with the Undead?” asked Christov.

“Yes. I have.” she replied. But she would say no more.

A few minutes later Father Grimburrow arrived, and a brief account of their experiences was given. “Do you know how to dispose of these safely?” said Ysabot, handing the four used Siphons over.

“Haunt Siphons eh? I haven’t seen these in a while- out of fashion a bit nowadays. The Temple here used to keep some in a stash somewhere you know. I wonder….” Ysabot and Christov exchanged the hint of a look.

“Anyway”, he continued. "Yes I can. " The Siphons were handed over.

“I should be back briefly this evening” said Christov, “But I need to discuss the arrangements with Father Grimburrow here for now.” Ysabot took the hint and left.

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