Whispers from the Darkness

And So It Begins

Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:

…Very interesting…I must remember to read further as boredom grips me, as I do so enjoy tales with a tragic ending…

17-21 Calistril, 4711 Absolom Reckoning

We came to Ravengro for the funeral of our good friend Professor Petros Lorromir. Most would think that he died an untimely death; but for those that knew him, his death was a bit suspicious. Though, not all people were willing to respect the dead. When we went to lay him to rest, we had a few that tried to stand in our way. We eventually got them to stand down and let us bury him, but it was quite unsettling that they were calling him a necromancer; it only really brought about more curiosity as to what really was going on. (Necromancer? How amusing…)

A town official read the will with the professor’s daughter and our group. The late professor charged the four of us with the duty to stay in town for one month to guard and protect Kendra from any harm. I have stuck with that last wish closely. As a group, we found out a few histories surrounding the Harrowstone prison and the various criminals that were housed there. But it seemed that after figuring out such information, strange occurrences started to happen. First, farm animals were dying; blood being sprayed on a gravestone, undead wandering through town, even a stirge attack. (Stirges? Pharasma preserve us, not…Gasp!…Stirges !) We needed to do something, sadly, the guys got a bit impatient and left without me. Sure Kendra tried to assure me that they most likely tried to find me before going to the prison, but I still have my doubts.

I went to find the guys after the strange things had occurred in town, not realizing just how creepy the old prison was. After finally getting through a screaming doorway and meeting up with the guys to go through the rest of the place, I realized that corruption of the land is only partially the problem in this town. The hauntings of the prison and the creatures we’ve faced prove as much. We got to a room with a bunch of sharp objects, very unsettling from what the guys have told me. They mentioned earlier about flying inanimate objects so I stayed out of the room, peeking in to see what was going on. Sadly, some creature formed when they used a haunt siphon to try and settle things. Unfortunately, it seemed that the siphon was backfiring. It didn’t react like the other two we had to use in the boiler room. After that everything was kind of a blur, I remember hearing this cry that had me fleeing the source as quickly as I could. I don’t know what it was about that cry, but I know that perhaps I should plug my ears the next time an undead monstrosity decides to open its mouth. (I wonder who these “guys” are that this Willow continues to refer to? I shall endeavor to learn more…) – A.

Text drawn from the journal of Destryn Dorvinius, Outcast Scion of Ustalav’s House Dorvinius:

(Well! Apparently this long-winded “scholar” from Thrushmore intends to publish this experience. No doubt he thinks it will win him fame as a field researcher. We shall see.

17 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning

It was an interesting carriage ride that I shared with a half-elf (I never spoke of this to him due to the treatment we of mixed parentage receive) “gentleman” by the name of Abel Steel (quite an ironic name). He related the story of how he and the professor met after an unfortunate incident involving highway brigands. A quick appraisal tells me that this man is very capable and might come in “useful” in the future, after all the professor did keep in touch with him. (Ah, some names at last)

The carriage dropped us off outside the cemetery of the quaint village of Ravengro and I sincerely hope that the citizenry isn’t as backward and superstitious as some other far-flung places I visited in my employ for Thrushmore’s Agency. We were met at the gate by what must pass as the village’s “upper crust”, a shabby looking “natural” woman carrying a scorpion of all things, and a dour looking dwarf male/female (I am always a bit unsure there) and made our way into the Restlands. Unfortunately the earlier hopes I had were dashed when, as the procession wound its way to the late professor Lorrimor’s tomb, we were accosted by a crowd of armed locals. They were ranting about the professor being a “Necromancer”, I laugh at the very thought, and wouldn’t “allow” him to be buried in the Restlands.

I of course had to restrain the dwarf (they are always looking for a reason to fight) and knowing that a bloodbath could permanently damage my relations with these superstitious and clannish folk, talked them down using logic and reason. After that incident, the funeral proceeded without interruption and we retired from the unpleasantness to the late professor’s “estate” where we currently await the reading of his will.

17 Calistril (Evening), 4711 Absalom Reckoning

The reading of the late professor’s will was very thought provoking. Toreg (The male dwarf), Willow (The “Natural” woman), Abel (My “gentleman” friend), and myself were tasked to deliver some intriguing manuscripts to his colleagues at the University of Lepidstadt. For delivering these manuscripts we would each be paid one hundred platinum pieces, which is incredibly convenient as my money supply has run dry. The only caveat of this endeavor being that we four must remain in town for the period of one month to “watch over” professor Lorrimor’s daughter Kendra. After the reading we collected the manuscripts chest from the professor’s room and browsed through them quickly. We found the professor’s diary and read the last few entries which contained some startling news. The Whispering Way is active in this area and especially the old prison Harrowstone (This warrants investigation).The journal also mentioned a “forgotten” hidden stockpile of the church’s in a tomb in the Restlands (This definitely warrants investigation). (Lepidstadt…duly noted.)

On a side note for future reference, Toreg lives in the village, Willow is staying with the professor’s daughter Kendra, oddly Abel is also staying in the house with the unmarried women (How very improper and may cause problems for us later), while I have taken a room at the inn (thankfully payment was not required up front).

18 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning

I just returned from a harrowing journey into that hidden stockpile that I mentioned last night. I barely survived an encounter with no less than five enormous centipedes, one of which took a bite out of my neck. I managed to snatch the hidden equipment and evade the monstrous creatures to escape with my limbs attached (For future reference; do not go it alone. This is the cardinal rule of survival). Unfortunately I had to have Willow treat my grievous injury, and in the process my true nature was revealed to her, which is better than letting the socially deficient townsfolk have that knowledge. I will have to trust her discretion in this matter.

18 Calistril (Evening), 4711 Absalom Reckoning

To my utter amazement these local, intellectually-stunted, folk have blocked my every attempt to further research the matters discussed in professor Lorrimor’s journal. The church archives are off limits to me and the acolyte that Father Grimburrow (The stunted head priest whom has to have dwarven or gnomish blood in his family tree) assigned to the task of helping me is a complete dunce. I asked for records of who died in the fire at Harrowstone and was brought the records showing that there was a fire at the prison. Then later I was blocked from viewing the town hall records by an old scarecrow like biddy. These small communities are infuriatingly clannish. (And our young “scholar” has just learned the first lesson of field research: It is never easy.)

19 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning

Finally a breakthrough, with Toreg’s assistance I was able to get Father Grimburrow to allow me access to the church’s historical records. And behold there was the information that I was searching for. It turns out that there were five high profile prisoners imprisoned in Harrowstone: the Lopper, The Mosswater Marauder, Father Charlatan, The Piper of Illmarsh, and The Splatterman. There is also a list of all the prison guards that died in the fire carved on the monument overseeing the lake. It probably deserves a visit tomorrow.

19 Calistril (Evening), 4711 Absalom Reckoning

After inspecting The Silk Purse for anything that seemed out of place (there were a few items that my “sight” showed were worthwhile investments), there was some sort of disturbance in the basement after one of the hired help were sent to retrieve bows for us. The individual came back looking extremely pale and wide eyed. When questioned casually he wouldn’t say what had happened, it took some prying but eventually he told me in confidence that he had seen a “ghost” around the ax rack.

We “guys” (As willow likes to call us) decided to head over to The Laughing Demon (An odd name for a tavern if you ask me) to mingle with the locals. The establishment is run by a jolly fellow named Zokar Elkarid, who is pleasant enough once you get past his boisterousness. I noticed that this was definitely Abel’s kind of place. We had a few drinks and Abel tried his hand at a couple of the “friendly” games. As we were getting ready to leave however there was a commotion at one of the card tables and looking over I saw the cards burst into flame. Simultaneously I heard the screams of dozens people burning alive coming from below my feet (I will assume from the basement). This left everyone quite startled. Shortly thereafter we retired to our respective domiciles (I was glad to see Abel had come to his senses and took a room at the inn instead of further intruding upon Kendra and Willow).

20 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning

I awoke this morning to the faint smell of a mouthwatering breakfast coming from the common room below me. As I sat savoring my meal I listened in to the conversation buzzing around me. The events at the tavern were the talk of the day, at least they were until the sheriff showed up asking questions about the defacement of the prison monument. Further investigation throughout the day turned up other odd occurrences, some disappearing livestock and possibly sightings of the recently dead. A visit to the prison monument gave credence to what the sheriff was speaking of. The monument was splattered with blood and a large letter V was written in the same blood. Underneath the mess I was able to make out the names of the deceased guards from Harrowstone, with one standing out: the warden Hawkrin. (…piece no. one.)

Hours of research between the churches historical records and the professor’s library turned up more information on the “primary” inhabitants of the prison (For reference see my notes in the back pocket of the journal). Sadly I was still unable to procure access to the town hall records. Oh, it seems everyone has arrived for our meeting before heading out to Harrowstone at first light.

21 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning

We were all supposed to meet to head out to the prison together, but Willow never showed up. Not wanting to waste daylight (we all agreed it would be prudent to stay out of the prison at night) we decided she could catch up to us if she was coming at all (you never know with those “naturalists”). It was a short walk down the road to the ominous Harrowstone prison. As we passed through the main gate I definitely “felt” a barrier. We poked around the grounds a bit before entering the prison proper. Toreg decided to try his strength and managed to knock down an entire structure, it appeared to have been living quarters for someone (the warden maybe?).

After a cursory inspection of the grounds and lake, I noticed some script “written” on the base of the wall of the main prison structure. Upon closer inspection it seemed to be some sort of ritual invoking the name of Hawkrin, the flowing script was clearly written in blood and the syntax or the writing seemed to suggest a focus, as well as somatic and verbal components. The mystery of this ritual consumed me for most of the day as we explored the ruined expanse of the prison (see my notes in the back pocket of the journal for a sample of the writing). (noted…)

We faced quite a few dangers in the now obviously haunted prison, doors that grew faces and screamed, giant spiders, possessed flying straight jackets, a room that dropped inexplicably to freezing temperatures (my fiendish heritage helped here), and even a boiler that seemed to come to life (this we destroyed with a haunt siphon from the stash I liberated). Toreg was very unhappy when he found himself on the opposite end of some animated branding irons, (he has a lovely burn scar of the number 23 and a gaping hole in his beard) and I had to save him (quick reacting on my part I must say). We quickly devised a system of Abel checking things for traps and Toreg booting in the doors while I guarded the rear. Needless to say our prison venture became quite routine.

Sometime in the mid morning we came across a room near the outer wall that was literally haunted as it had a fully formed apparition that raged at us about trapping it here. I deciphered that this must be Warden Hawkrin’s wife after a few minutes of her ramblings. No attempt to calm her spirit succeeded. Toreg was clearly unnerved by her rantings and ravings because he ran into the room and scooped up her earthly remains in makeshift cloth bag and came back into the hallway. She never made a peep after that, but some of her ramblings stirred some thoughts about the ritual from outside (I still hadn’t figured it out yet).

After half a day of exploration and investigation Willow decided to join us (probably after some nature hike) and was almost immediately trapped by the freezing room. I wonder how she fared against the screaming faced doors? Anyway we came across a room filled with sharp objects that set off my fight or flight instincts, of which flight won out. I was a little surprised that no one else had the good sense to flee with me… (Ah, yes. One man exclaims that “good sense shall win the day,” while another observes cowardice. This one’s ancestor obviously groveled and mewed at the feet of Asmodeus as his black boots strode by in hell. Even so, between this account and the druid’s, I am at the least entertained, if not truly enlightened, mores the pity. -A)

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Inside Harrowstone

Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:

21-22 Calistril, 4711 AR

All I remember is tremendous fear and running for my life until I hit something, I think it was a door, full force. The pain to my head knocked me back to my senses, and left me looking around a bit confused. I found myself wondering why I was in the room that was freezing earlier, yet it wasn’t cold at all now…very peculiar. Peculiar indeed. (It would seem that our narrator’s senses were indeed affected by that blow: All reference to her compatriots has disappeared! Perhaps it wasn’t the blow, but her inborn selfish nature?)

I slowly started to head back, wondering what the hell happened and why I suddenly ran from a monstrosity that let out a scream. I must be weak if I’m running from a figure that normally wouldn’t terrify me so. I’ve seen far more frightening things up in the mountains. I must train harder to avoid fleeing from such an entity again. (And now we see her ego! There can’t possibly be things in this world that could affect her so! Tsk Tsk, my dear…)

Skeletons this time? I come back to my senses and meet up with Abel, only to wind up fighting more undead monstrosities. (Abel? An interesting name, with unknown history…research will be required into this…Abel…) The first couple weren’t so bad, but the third is just a nuisance. The bastard called up fire to make fighting him a pain in the ass, or in Abel’s case, a pain in the face. Fortunately for us, we had help from the other side that sent the final one – the one that gave us all that trouble – back to where he came from. Though, the rogue and myself were quite worse for wear by then. I healed up the rogue, not concerning myself with my own health at that moment. We returned to town and went to the temple for healing and rest before we’d take on the second floor of the prison.

Sadly, we discovered that by trying to lay the warden’s wife to rest and do a good deed, we made a major mistake. Somehow, the wards on the prison were tied to the warden’s last name (Hawklin), hence, his wife was the new warden that was keeping all the bad spirits in check…well…sort of. (Really? That was unforeseen. My curiosity is indeed peaked at this revelation!) We wound up having to get Kendra and her stubborn guest, as well as any people in the town to the temple. Sadly, the people were separated, many being in the town hall after darkness fell. While all the other townsfolk were in the temple. Trying to avoid panic and possible riots, we told people that they were doing early planning for the day of bones.

Wound up fighting zombies and Gibbs. Gibbs snapped out of his craze by the time I had him down enough in health, and sliced his own throat to end the madness. (This young woman continues to intrigue. She tells great details about some things, yet downplays other seemingly important occurrences…a trained mind would know better than to dismiss such events. Still, her account offers great perspective to events. ~A.)

Text drawn from the journal of Destryn Dorvinius, Outcast Scion of Ustalav’s House Dorvinius:

21 Calistril (continued), 4711 Absalom Reckoning

……. as I charged down the hallways back toward the screaming faced door room, I saw that up ahead the door was closed. Using my momentum I hurled myself at the door and knocked it off its hinges. As I stood up and looked back I realized that truly none of the others had followed me (the fools). I ran back to urge them to follow my lead only to be tripped as I leaped over Toreg who materialized in the doorway directly in front of me. Abel had himself trapped under the lone desk in the room as the blades whirled around him. I landed ungracefully in front of Abel and yelled at him to run, gathering myself as I did. I sprang up and followed Toreg out the door I had just so unceremoniously entered though. We slammed the door closed and proceeded to find a way around to Willow and Abel, who still hadn’t followed me. I surmised that they must have fled back toward the boiler room, so there we headed. (truly terrifying field trials invigorate the body’s humors indeed.)

After meeting back up with Willow and Abel, who seemed to have battled burning skeletons from the lake (I knew something was off about that lake), (Of course you did) we unanimously decided to head back to town and rest up. Now that life and limb were secure I began pondering the riddle of that bizarre ritualistic writing from the wall. This musing consumed me during the trek back to town and the temple of Pharasma.

21 Calistril (Evening), 4711 Absalom Reckoning

I was peripherally aware of the argument between Toreg and Father Grimburrow after we entered the church. I was on the verge of putting all the pieces of the riddle together. The professor’s journal entries about the Whispering Way, his death during his investigation, the bizarre ritual…the pieces were fitting. Then I had it! They were stealing the warden’s spirit and his transcended “authority” is what was holding the unruly spirits of the prison in check. The theft of the warden’s spirit is what stirred everything up, and his authority had passed to his wife, who was the only thing containing them now. Unfortunately, just as that realization came, I saw the Father and his acolytes finish the ritual “laying” the wardens wife to rest. (Hah!)

Fantastic!!(sarcasm there)….. who knows what would be descending on the town now. I tried explaining to everyone what had just happened, but I am still unsure if I adequately described the gravity of what had occurred. I urged the Father to get everyone inside the church, as hallowed ground would be much safer against the undead. Once again fate was not on my side as the sheriff rushed off to alert the town council, whom in undoubted civil procedure would call a town meeting. This would of course draw everyone to the town hall instead of the church, and they all would be vulnerable there. Hence lies the issue in these Palantates of the west. By throwing off their noble lords, the rustics have no shepherd to tend them.

Before thinking (very out of character I must admit), I rushed to the town hall to warn them of the impending apocalypse. On my way out of the church I ordered Abel and Willow to go get Kendra, and told Toreg to come with me. However the headstrong dwarf had already set off to get his cousin the blacksmith, leaving me alone. It only took a few minutes sprint to get to the town hall, but everyone was already assembling there. On the way I noticed a thick fog was settling around the village and an eerie green glow was coming from Harrowstone. I forced my way in to the crowded hall just as the councilman was calling order.

My fears were realized as I caught a glimpse of a floating, burning skull outside the windows, a fraction of a second before three of the hell-spawned things crashed into the room. Pandemonium ensued and I rushed to the citizens defense, thankfully no small children were present to be crushed in the surging mob. Drawing my rapier, I pushed magical energy into it and quickly cut down the nearest skull, dowsing myself in its liquid fire (once again my fiendish heritage payed off). I rescued a dozen or more people from another one as it dowsed a councilman with its liquid fire. After destroying the third skull, I lent immediate aid to those requiring it before helping the sheriff arrange evacuation to the temple.

In the distance I noticed a mob of farmers, that must have heard the bells, making their way to the temple. As I helped keep the lines moving I saw Gibbs rushing to the sheriff, covered in blood. Moving to intercept the crazed man I suggested the safest place for him would be the temple. He seemed to buy that and headed in that direction. Seeing that the bucket brigade to put out the town hall, and the evacuation, were now well organized and would continue unhinged without me, I decided to head for the temple myself.

As I made my way across the bridge toward the temple some sort of ruckus was occurring at the head of the evacuation line. I quickly realized that the mob of farmers I saw earlier weren’t farmers…they were the risen dead. Dashing forward, I hoped to put myself between the fleeing townsfolk and the walking dead. After closing with the beasts I saw that Toreg and his cousin were holding the front line as I flanked the mob. I cut loose with a sweeping blast of flame, and as three or four of them caught fire they turned to face me. I ably parried and dodged a few clumsy blows and managed a strike of my own, downing one. However I was soon overcome by the sheer number of hammering fists and claws raining in, a lucky shot landed across my head. I fell ever so slowly, my vision swimming in and out, blackness overcame me as I hit the ground… (Perhaps drama should be this one’s true calling, as it is applied heavily here. No doubt this will be quite popular in certain circles when it is published. Even the learned need reading materials at times when heeding nature’s call.)

I came to, gagging as Abel poured a vial of healing elixir down my throat. The risen had been dealt with, I can only assume by Toreg, his cousin, and Abel. My companion Abel assisted me (I was still quite woozy) to the entrance of the temple where I found Willow splattered with blood. I surmised that the blood must have belonged to Gibbs as his body was laying nearby (odd that she felt the need to kill him, he only seemed a bit confused when I directed him to the temple). Abel helped me inside to a bench, a blanket, and food. Before passing out I took the time to write these entries. Research indicated that the prison had a great deal of ambient energy circulating within. I must admit that I feel a bit vindicated at the cautious approach taken there. -A.)

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The Prison, Chaos, Old Enemies Revived...Crap

Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:

I was up bright and early to go out and meditate with nature. I was beginning to feel as if something bad was going to happen, and having frazzled nerves helped little after last night’s events. Though, after communing with nature and meditating on some things, I felt well enough to return to the temple. Though, I had to raise a brow as it would seem that Dorvinius, Abel, and Toreg were ready to head out again, with an extra. (Intuition informs us all, should we choose to listen.)

We returned to Harrowstone after the dwarf decided to grab a couple of maces from the forge, and abducted one of the acolytes. Evidently, the dwarf was under the impression that it was necessary for the boy to cleanse a place so full of negative energy that it physically pains a being that prefers nature. (Well, this “Toreg” seems to fit the classic stereotype for one of his race: superstitious and uneducated. It surprises me that he felt the need to leave his ancestral home in the dark…though the darkness apparently didn’t leave him.)

Getting to the prison, the screaming doors were oddly silent. The faces that screamed around us were suddenly looking as if they were melded into the door and their heads and throats were slashed several times. Dorvinius got the creeps at something skittering. Come to find out, communing with nature at the crack of dawn today allowed me to gain a giant scorpion as a companion. While the group was a bit shocked, I was thrilled. It actually looked quite cool, and it was fairly large. It makes me curious as to whether it’ll grow any larger than its current size. (Interesting. Perhaps nature does have its uses.)

Convincing the party to continue traveling through, and to not focus so much on the scorpion, we went through the prison cells and came across a heavily chained skeleton with religious markings all over the chains. Abel witnessed something and started to reach for his hand. Going through this area and looking for some kind of book for good pay will do that to any thief. (And here we have our first realistic insight into this half-breed.) They tend to take any risks necessary for a little bit of cash…at least…that’s the stereotype. Once the book was opened, chaos erupted as the sounds of cell doors and rattling chains could be heard throughout the area.

Suddenly, flute music and the sound of leathery wings permeated the air. From what happened in town earlier in the week, I knew it was likely stirges. Sadly, after fighting a few skeletons, with my scorpion doing a fair share of the damage, I found myself spellbound by flute music. I didn’t really know what happened, but at some point, something happened and snapped me out of it. Imagine my irritation when we wound up fighting more skeletons and, to make matters worse, Abel got scratched in the face and fell to the ground; chains wrapping around him and causing him to writhe. I did notice that our acolyte setting off a burst of positive energy loosened them a bit, unfortunately not enough. Remembering that I had a haunt siphon on me, I pulled it out and popped the cork. The green mist went to the chains and to the piper of Illmarsh. I had to force the mist to the chains to free our ally. Next thing I saw, the dwarf was stung by some stirges, before using an arrow to make the piper dissipate. Whether the piper was truly gone, or just faded to regroup, we don’t know, but I’m sure we will continue to keep our guard up. This place has so many traps and tricks, it’s hard to know what we’ll come across next. (More and more I feel refreshed to read the account of someone who simply gets to the point of the matter. Sometimes frivolity in prose can try the nerves. Speaking of which, on to our next account.)

Text drawn from the journal of Destryn Dorvinius, Outcast Scion of Ustalav’s House Dorvinius:

22 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning

I awoke (grudgingly after the previous night) to the sounds of a very heated argument between Toreg and one of the acolytes (Not the dunce that was assigned to help me in the archives, praise pharasma). It seemed that Toreg was attempting to abduct the poor acolyte to assist us in the “cleansing” of Harrowstone, thankfully I was able to diffuse the situation with logic and reason. The end result being that the acolyte, whose name is Justinious, reluctantly agreed to come with us. Justinious went to gather his meager equipment and other “supplies” while Toreg inexplicably left to get a few maces from the smithy. Willow was nowhere to be seen and I can only assume she was once again off “communing” with the “natural” world. (I sense disdain. Preconceived notions can be hard to throw off, especially for someone without any real, worldly experience.)

While the others were doing their varied tasks, Father Grimbarrow dourly gestured for me to follow him (I must admit that I was a bit nervous, there was no clue as to what he could possibly want with me). I got anxious as the old priest led me down into the records vault, through a narrow passage, and down more stairs. We were clearly going deep underground, and then we encountered the burial alcoves. Thankfully there were no bodies present, and seeing my discomfort the father explained that the deceased were all moved to the cemetery grounds sometime in the past.

Deeper and deeper into the undercroft we went, through more burial chambers, until at last we came to a door. This door immediately reminded me of a dungeon door (much like the one I was periodically locked behind as a child for allegedly “causing mayhem”, damn the superstition), (…very enlightening. I struggle to contain my tears…) which caused me pause as the old priest fumbled for the key. Why would he bring me into a secret church dungeon? Apparently the father could read minds because before I had even asked he told me that there is something in here I may make use of. He proceeded to unlock and with a grunt of effort push the door open.

The long corridor was flanked on both sides by row after row of barred prison doors, and the clear sounds of the risen dead shuffling endlessly behind them. At the end of the corridor one door stood apart, maybe a little heavier or sturdier looking or maybe it was imagination. We walked slowly to this door while the dead prisoners shuffled about in their eternal cells, once again the father read my mind and explained that this is a prison of sorts for “guests” the church feels are dangerous and don’t deserve to be laid to permanent rest. This got me extremely nervous as the old man unlocked the door and stepped aside; as he walked back down the corridor he said gruffly to lock up when I was finished. (Those that serve the Lady of Graves can indeed be practical. I approve.)

I was sure that I heard the far door get locked behind me as I reached to open the cell door. Inside I saw the outline of a kneeling form, and by the dress and heraldry I surmised it to be a knight from the realm of Lastwall, dating from sometime in the last few centuries. I slowly approached the form while drawing my rapier, ready for anything. Then it seemed that time slowed as the form stood up, dust falling from it, and I saw that in its hands was clutched a rapier that’s black blade soaked in the light. Before I could attack, the thing launched a brutal strike at my head, but my trained body reacted of its own accord and I dodged the clumsy blow. After a fierce series of strikes and parry’s we seemed to be on even ground, until the unthinkable happened.

A powerful strike came at me and I just barely was able to get my trusty rapier up in time to deflect the onslaught. Thinking myself in the clear, my stomach lurched as I heard the screech of pained metal, and the blade that had seen me through so many battles shattered. I almost lost the fight as the initial panic set in, but calm reasoning and logic triumphed. I hit the foul monster back with a burst of flame from my left hand and rammed the broken remains of my trusty blade into its blue burning eye socket. The thing crumbled into a pile of dust as the animating magic left it and centuries of staved off decay took hold. (Indeed I am now convinced that this “scholar’s” future lies not in research, but in the realm of fiction. There are many in Caliphas…and other decadent southern cities…that would drool over the rights to print and distribute this exciting account of “scholarly research.” I can hear the pressmen oiling their presses in anticipation even now…)

As I stood bathing in the glory of survival, I first wondered if it was the old priests’ intent to have me killed and trapped down here, and secondly, what was I going to do about my shattered sword as I currently had no funds. That all passed, however, for lying in the pile of dust was the creatures black blade. It seemed as if the curious light eating metal of the blade called for me to take it up. As I reached out and touched the hilt I did feel an electric tingle that quickly passed. I stood in the dark cell grasping my new blade and it had a familiarity as if it was meant for me (This blade requires deep study…on further thought may also require some research in a larger library such as the university). After a few practice swings I made my way back up to the temple proper, and to my surprise there were no locked doors barring my way.

I will leave off here as we are preparing back to Harrowstone. Willow has returned from whatever early morning nature hike she went on, Abel is packed and ready, Toreg has returned with a few maces (I am still curious as to why he felt the need to gather them) (dwarven superstition, apparently), Justinious the acolyte is as prepared as can be expected for a conscript, and I have my new armament. Off we go!

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Talk About Unleashing Hell...

Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:

As if we haven’t faced enough, going down to the basement we hear a lot of banging noises and as we get down there the scent of something cooking quickly turns to the scent of something revolting. Suddenly, I’m not sure I want to be here, as it seems that every time something odd happens I either wind up running or we end up biting off more than we can chew so to speak. And it seems that this time we’ll be facing the Splatter Man. I’ll admit, seeing my name written in blood on the walls as we headed down was unsettling; but there was no way I would be telling my companions that. (It is always interesting to examine the results of emotion overriding reason. This could turn into a case study…)

Why is it all the psychos look to women as weak and helpless? It’s sickening; just once I’d like to have those types put into their place by the very women they think to be weak. (Undoubtably, this Willow has never read the works of the esteemed Professor Idneous of Barstoi, whose research two centuries ago proved beyond a doubt the proper place of the female. Only through protection of the womb, and those meek women who wield it, shall mankind survive and thrive.)

We did some exploration of the room that we went into; Toreg and Dorvinius exploring a wall that evidently had something odd about it, while Abel and I looked over a bunch of tags. Sadly, most of the tags were worn away and old, so not much was actually found out except for a few items that we noticed. The masterwork war razor made me a bit uneasy.

I jumped at the sound of stone grinding against stone and turned to see what the dwarf had gotten us into this time. Though, at finding a few things, I was advised to help watch the door. I wonder why I’m taking orders or suggestions from a grumpy, stubborn dwarf. Oh, that’s right, he’s the one that keeps most of the party alive by taking the brunt of the damage. Willow’s journeys alone in nature have obviously colored her psyche. This journal appears to be her catharsis…a friend more than a tool. Not uncommon or unexpected.)

Evidently there were a few items on the shelf that they uncovered. Including a Bloodstained hand-axe, probably belonging to Hanz or in other words, the Lopper. A wad of chains on the ground with holy symbols engraved along them. A tarnished silver flute tagged with the Piper of Illmarsh. A smith’s hammer with a tag named Isben. On the top shelf a leather-bound book, tagged with the name Hean Feramen.

On our way out of Harrowstone prison, we realized that time passed quicker (…more quickly…“quicker” is not proper grammatically…)while we were inside, we found ourselves outside and down the hill from the prison just as darkness had fallen. We quickly headed to the temple and found that, once we went inside, there were many missing faces that were there the night before. Feeling the stress of the most recent events getting to me, I quickly went into the kitchen, feeling symptoms starting to creep up on me that I haven’t felt for a long while. I brewed up some tea and frowned as I realized I had enough left for about half a batch if I needed it again. (Is this evidence of an undiagnosed mental condition? No matter really, yet it does provide explanation in many regards)

Much to my chagrin, I realize I’m going to need to go hunting for more of the necessary herbs to keep from having issues later on.

I realize the whole town is far too quiet even before I drank my tea: it was beyond eerily quiet to me. Moving over to the father’s chambers, after seeing an acolyte move with quick strides in that direction, I heard what was going on and decided that perhaps it would be better if I understood how these holy people did their rituals. Maybe then I would be better equipped to try and help by putting my own thoughts into play. Though, in just glancing over at the books that the father had laid out, I was growing confused about it all. There was a lot of ritual to it rather than just doing something and getting to the point. No wonder their rituals took so damn long to complete. (Religion equals pomp and circumstance. How better to appease the omnipresent?)

Looking over at where Destrin was supposed to be I raised a brow; evidently he felt that doing research on the items would decipher how they worked and how to put an end to the supernatural occurances. Though, as if things couldn’t get worse Destrin decided to do something that for a scholar was actually quite stupid. (…exclaims Willow, obviously the most educated of our cast…) He evidently couldn’t decipher anything with the flute, so he decided to try playing it. Obviously, the tune was disturbing and the flute lashed out at the man for trying to play it, regardless of the reasoning. Fortunately, grumpy or not, Toreg came back and got the flute from him. Unfortunately he unsettled the townsfolk that were in the church with that move. We explained what could be said to calm the people before the scholar pulled out a owegi board. Though smacking him did cross my mind, once again the dwarf took care of the issue…I still want to burn the damn board. Letting out a heavy sigh, I decided I needed rest and retreated to a corner of the room, feeling that Abel should be able to keep Dorvinius under control. (A restless mind can not be satisfied so easily, no doubt.)

When daybreak came, it didn’t even look like it was daytime. It was still very dark, and the dwarf informed everyone that the people didn’t have much food to last beyond three days. So, as a deed for good will, we headed out on a salvaging mission. The mage also wanted us to bring a bunch of books to him from Kendra’s. I swear that man is more interested in getting us killed than anything. He suggests things that he may see as rational, but I know better than to just take someone’s words for just being said out of kindness. In other words, I do not now, nor will I ever trust that man, something about him causes me to feel that he can’t be trusted. (Again I find myself wondering who this woman is talking about…) If he was supposedly someone that Lorrimor trusted, it must have been a case where the professor was trying to find something out about him. The professor was a good judge of character, I wouldn’t be able to understand it if he trusted him just out of good will. (Another interesting account. I await the next entry with baited breath. -A)

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Neverending Tragedy and Chaos

Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:

Once we made certain that everyone in the temple was settled, we returned to the dreaded prison to evidently take more punishment. Some part of me wanted to stay at the temple and let the others handle it, the other part sought vengence and an end to the strangeness and danger. (It continues to amaze me why this group continues to bare their souls to Pharasma, laying their lives on the line, attempting to save the last vestiges of this town. These backwards provincials would likely leave any one of these brave fools to their fates if they were to, say, find them stranded on the moors after darkness fell. And yet, this Willow and her friends continue to dare the eternal night for them.)

The clouds in the sky and the darkness surrounding the town was almost stifling. I’d never admit such things aloud to my allies, but I’m beginning to miss the mountainous areas that I’ve grown so accustomed to; even a forest would be more comforting than this.

Inside Harrowstone

I hated this place on first entrance, I still hate this place. Really hoping that we get this blasted mission done soon. We climbed down a rope into the basement, immediately being set upon by some undead monstrosities. Between Destrin and my scorpion, we took the things out; though I’m fairly certain he was still upset at my companion…ehem…landing on him. (…landed…does this beast fly? Perhaps a new member of the Arachnida class of fauna? Note for future to claim this specimen for further study.)

Not long after, we were accosted by eight skeletons. Things were fine until they decided to catch fire. Damn undead; they need to die and stay dead! Though, I’ve discovered that while my compatriots are good at handling themselves; we do certainly work well as a team, with me using my magic stones, Toreg smashing them with his weapons, Destrin striking with that odd black blade, and the rogue, who needs some fire resistance because the skeletons seem to love him for some odd reason, using his rapier to strike at them. Fortunately Destrin went to Abel’s aid and was able to do enough damage to disperse the skeleton. (…how touching…)

My scorpion was doing well against the skeleton that I had sent it after, unfortunately I almost felt as if I could feel the pain from the flames that covered the beast. Thankfully my scorpion wasn’t fighting alone and along with the dwarf they both did their fair share of damage. I tried to use my final stone to take out the skeleton, but I accidentally hit the dwarf. I really wasn’t intending to hit one of my own comrades; sadly my aim was off with the concern I was feeling for my scorpion. At least the damn skeleton went down and my scorpion was no longer being burned; I’ll have to make certain to reward my pet for a job well-done. (The obvious connection between man and beast seems to indicate some level of psychic connection between the two egos at play. Noted. Is it possible that it is actually this unknown beast is actually a mental puppet master, pulling this Willow’s strings rather than visa-versa?)

After casting some heals, and realizing we were far too under-prepared for this mission; the group decided to head back, knowing that we would need more capability to survive, especially since those skeletons likely weren’t the worst of the horrors within.

Once we returned it was a scary sight: the ground was littered with burned out corpses. When we entered the Temple, we discovered that many of the townspeople were dead, and to make matters worse, they had thought we were gone for six days; in our perception of time, it had only been about four hours. And the situation grew more dire still as we discovered that the townsfolk had run out of food. Of course, that was to be expected, as we had only brought them enough food to last for a few days. We handed what rations we could spare over to the citizens that needed them most, and to my surprise the damn mage that usually drives me nuts was actually a lot more civil. It’s amazing what a few nights with lack of sleep will do to a pompous ass. Anywho, I digress, back to important matters.

We later spoke with Justinius and found out that the father was hurt by those weapons and had since been behaving almost like those mindless undead; except he had a bit more color. He was bound by sashes with holy symbols to keep him from moving much. We also discovered that the school teacher was forming wards to keep the place safe. Pulling out our wand of restoration, we used it on a few acolytes, Justinius, and the teacher. (The spirits inside Harrowstone appear powerful indeed if they can reach out and affect a man of the cloth. Again, if time permitted, more study would be warranted. -A.)

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The End of a Mission

Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:

Just as we were about to return to Harrowstone, all hell broke loose in the church. (This account will no doubt verify the hazy results of my divinations on the current state of Ravengro and Harrowstone. Judging by my scrying, “hell” did indeed break loose.) First, the father was possessed and broke his bonds, sending Justinius out of the room. At least, I figure it had to be the father, as the acolyte was sent out of his room with some good force, and he wasn’t looking too good prior. Then, to make matters worse, the bells started to ring and the undead started trying to break their way into the church. As I was going to lead the civilians to the basement and to the safety of the wards, Justinius made a recovery and then we got more hell as a giant skeleton burst in, right after a ghostly dwarf jumped in and onto the alter. Before my eyes, an acolyte came in and saw the dwarf, charging him for being on the alter, only to realize too late that solid weapons don’t hurt ghosts. (I ponder what the Pharasmin clergy are teaching their acolytes about the physiology, or lack thereof, of the departed. Recently departed souls are the church’s area of expertise after all. Perhaps this acolyte was simply dull-witted.)

Ideas started to formulate in my mind on possible fixes, but I had a job to do with making sure that the others were safe; I couldn’t abandon my task for fear of the others getting hurt. My parents abandoned me as a child, I wasn’t going to abandon the helpless for combat. (…how sad.)Then again…something about a green ghost going for the mage boiled my blood. I sent one of my stones at it once I got down there, sadly, I hit the mage in the process…And…successfully pissed off the green monstrosity. I’ll have to make my next two stones count to keep any more from being hurt and turned against us. (Apparently this Willow was so caught up in her memory of events that she slipped into a minor delusion, thinking that she was back in that hectic situation. Not uncommon in those of lesser faculties.)

I hit him hard with my second stone, which caused the coward to retreat and pick on someone that had their back turned. I quickly followed him as I needed to hit him before he could do anymore harm. My third stone found its way home by hitting him in the back of the neck and causing him to flip and be disoriented for a whole of two seconds, before the dwarf ran up and grabbed two of the weapons from the pack I was wearing and destroyed my bag. Though, the dwarf seemed to have issues wielding the weapons he took. I figured that out when he turned on me with a crazed look in his eye. Though, when he started screaming about me obeying him and that he was going to kill my lover in front of me, I had to raise a brow. Whatever the hell happened with him, he definitely lost it if he thought I was going to listen to some short man. Though, the benefit of that was that he turned away from me and to the lopper once again. Though things turned more dangerous as the splatter man went back downstairs. I found myself facing a conflict. I could either abandon my current mission of keeping the civilians safe and help my comrades, or continue helping the civilians. (Such disjointed narrative! This poor girl was really at her wits end, apparently.)

Reluctantly I decided that I need to help with the lopper. I was still concerned for the civilians, but at the same time my companions were in trouble. I found some power within me to strike at the enemy with holy power, which sadly pissed him off. With two of my companions down, I had to make a choice that wasn’t easy for me to make. (A choice like, perhaps, leaving innocent civilians…who one was appointed to guard…to their own fates. Sadly, there are very few easy choices in this world.)

I took some serious damage, and as much as I wish I didn’t have to, I was forced to retreat, knowing well that had I trained harder and been stronger, I may have been able to be of more use to my allies. But then…perhaps I should have continued after the splatter man, rather than turning to help with the lopper.

Our mission had failed; Loromere sent us on a mission of suicide. It’s strange, a part of me feels as if perhaps the thought of him being a necromancer was true…but then…I don’t see how I should be so concerned or show much care…I was unwelcome in that town the first day I arrived anyway. People just don’t want to know those that they deem strange, different, or come off as one to be feared. I figured I’d return to my life in the mountains; it’s far easier to live where things are familiar both to fight and to everyday life. (In the wake of a chaotic, mentally-straining episode, such as this one, it is common to feel anger and denial at one’s actions, before moving to justify one’s decisions. Here, Willow shows us a case study. She will no doubt bury her guilty conscious under layers of denial and hatred towards those deceased villagers who supposedly shunned her. Perhaps it was less their insular nature, and more her reluctance to be accepted? No matter. It is probably for the best that someone of this fragile a mental state be self-exiled to the darkest Vyrlich ranges. There, she can revel in her own delusions before being claimed by the county’s more devious inhabitants. Mental note: My next unwitting spy must be of a more mentally stable nature if further reliable accounts are to be received.)

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