The page Carlyle had been scribbling on was now nothing more then a mass of messy writing and innumerable corrections, he had a nasty habit of coming up with appropriate numbers but in the end his brain always rushed ahead changing one thing then another. So now here he was, everything out of order as usual and about to try and ask something big of the local smith, especially from a stranger. He was pleased to see she was a dwarf, he liked dwarves for dealing with. Shrewd but most wouldn't cheat him in business so he relaxed some.
He speaks as he crumples the paper he was holding and stuffs it away, no point in it now. "My apologies Ma'am, I'm just here to conduct some business nothing to strenuous I assure you." He pulls Bethany off his back and presents the weapon to the woman as he continues. "I'm working to improve Bethany here. As such I require scrap metal and time with a forge. Since your's is the closest I'd like to requisition it." He places Bethany on a bench so the woman can inspect it should she choose.
In his usual rapid manner he forgets to give her time to interject before he continues. "I've no intention to ask for free use that would be absurd. The parts I need are custom all I need is time with the forge so I can fashion them. I'm more then willing to lend my services to you in exchange. I'm handy enough and have confidence in my skill. I can help fill orders and work during your free time so the flow of business is not interrupted."
Carlyle would have gone on but at this point he noticed the woman had her arms folded and was giving him one of those 'take a breath' looks he got when he was rambling. Shushing up for the moment he let her speak finally. "You speak to fast." She said as she moved over examining his weapon, giving it a good look over.
"You did the forge work on this yourself?" She asked him taking a closer look at his work and giving a short nod of approval. "Yes." Carlyle responds cutting himself off and keeping his ego in check, something he did sometimes have trouble with. "And you can make chain and nails without supervision?" The smith asked putting Bethany back down and turning to face him, her hands planted on her hips.
"Yes." Carlyle said without missing a beat as he keeps his attention focused on the woman now. "If you are half as clumsy as my last apprentice was, I will flay you alive and have your hide made into a new pair of boots." She took off her apron and hung it on a rack. "Most days I finish forge work by three. If I am not busy, I will let you use the forge until I go home, and in exchange you can make me fifty nails. The forge is closed on Sundays and I usually work late Oathdays. These terms sound fair?" She asked raising one eyebrow slightly and offering her hand to him.
Carlyle took the woman's hand and gave it a firm shake thus bonding the verbal contract. "I accept, my name is Carlyle Sainthro if you please." He says letting her hand go. "Jorfa." The woman responds as she takes another look at Bethany. Carlyle found it odd she didn't add her clan name. But he wouldn't ask yet it seemed a more personal matter so he would wait until they were more familiar with one another.
"Oh! Do you know a carpenter by any chance?" Carlyle asks, suddenly remembering something else he needed, focused for a moment again he fumbled around in his pocket before producing a very neatly very well kept piece of folded paper. Opening it up he laid it out, the schematics for Bethany. He pointed to a few key points between the final design he had here, and his current model. "As you can see it requires some wood working. If you could point me in a direction to find someone to assist with this I'd be most appreciative, more so then I already am." He says enthusiastically, feeling quite high spirited right now.
+oil (not the kind for burning although it could be used for that in a pinch)
Lavender nodded, her hands a whir as she signed towards Meryl, "My lady was wondering if there was anything she could do to help you out," The fox translated.
Jominda's brow furrowed. She closed her eyes to clear her head, setting down her green drink absentmindedly on the counter. "I'm sorry, you want to know if you could help out? Are you looking for a job?"
Lavender gave a light shrug as her hat tilted to one side, before signing again at Meryl. For her part, the fox seemed to be sniffing in the direction of the green flask, before nodding at Lavender, "Nothing so formal, but my lady is acquainted with some knowledge of herbs and mixtures. We will be staying in town for about a turn of the moon, and she thought it seemed polite to offer to help out while in the area. And perhaps also to learn what could be found nearby, if one were to look."
"Is that so?" Jominda's face turned mildly impressed. She leaned against the counter. "Well, I'd be happy to help any friend of the old crow's--especially one so polite--but I'm afraid it's much too early in the season for anything to be growing. There's hardly enough work for one alchemist to go around as it is, this time of year."
She plucked up her glass again. "Though, I may be tempted to distill some more of this absinthe with the way this Pharast has started."
Lavender blinked a bit and looked towards Meryl, who in turn replied, "It's one form of alcohol," Lavender began to sign but Meryl shook her head, "No, not the same as that kind. That kind is much too bitter, and probably unsafe for consumption, even if they are made in similar ways."
Lavender gave a slight squint as she thought about it, before nodding, and then began signing again.
"No, if we end up making any, you may not taste test it," Meryl replied with a shake of her head.
With a shrug, Lavender looked back up towards Jominda, her hands a whir once more, "Ah, good that you remembered," Meryl noted with a nod of approval, before also looking towards Jominda, "My lady would like to know if you knew where one could get oil, not the kind usually used in lanterns, but the kind made from seeds. Sometimes it's used for cooking."
Jominda's face turned thoughtful, "Well, I don't carry the stuff myself, but check with Avanakis across the square."
Lavender smiled, giving a curtsey, which Meryl hardly needed signs to translate, "Thank you very much."
A quick stop later netted Lavender a small container of safflower oil (or equivalent to the region), perhaps surprising Kendra when skipping into the general store for a singular item.
Later at dinner, Lavender was satisfied with a few cups of tea, but never ordered anything that resembled food.
* * *
Later that night, perhaps unheard by most, a soft clicking sound came from the room Lavender was staying in.
* * *
In the morning during breakfast, Lavender sat with tea kettle nearby, sipping her teacup as she watched the others eat.
Zokar Elkarid gladly welcomed Kendra and her guests as they peeled off their coats at The Laughing Demon. His earlier sombreness had vanished completely since that morning. The jovial barkeep ushered them to a table, pulling out a chair for Meryl.
“Normally I don’t allow any manner of pets at the table, but seeing as how you lot protected my son and I from those thugs, I reckon I can make an exception,” he said. “Now, can I get you lovely ladies anything to drink? I recommend the liquid moonlight—it’ll put a little fur on your chest, guaranteed.”
The crew soon discovered that Zokar’s sense of humour extended to the main fare as well—such house specials as vampire steaks, corpse chowder, and wolfballs. Kendra ordered the corpse chowder and a mug of moonlight while Zokar urged Carlyle to try the spider eggs, harvested just that morning.
By the time they left the tavern, night had fallen hours ago. Kendra led the way home with a magically conjured light.
2 Pharast, 4711 AR. Lorrimor Place – Ravengro.
The next morning Kendra’s eyelids were marked with black ash. Though her eyes showed she had been crying, she maintained her composure while she made tea and sausages for herself and Carlyle.
Just as breakfast was coming to a close, their meal was interrupted by a rapid,
knock, knock, knock, knock
at the door. Both Carlyle and Kendra stood up to get it immediately, but Kendra was first out of the dining room.
Kendra opened the front door to reveal Sheriff Benjan Caeller standing on the patio.
“G’morning, ma’am." He tipped his hat to Kendra. "I hate to disturb you so early, but I’m going to have to ask you if you are able to verify the whereabouts of your guests last night.” He glanced over her shoulder on the word 'guests' as they trailed out of the dining room after her.
(Kendra will of course speak to confirm, but I figure I ought to let the accused have their first chance to proclaim their innocence.)
Posted on 2017-07-15 at 18:10:21.
Edited on 2017-07-15 at 18:11:50 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Carlyle met the sheriff’s gaze innocently. “Well, after dinner I spent most of the night in that room over there, working on my schematics.”
Meryl worked her way between legs to Kendra’s side. “As you yourself observed the previous sun, my lady and I stopped by Jominda's place, where we had mind to offer what help we might as fellow apothecaries. Shortly after, we went to the general store to pick up some supplies. Mrs. Avanaki was very taken by my lady's cuteness, as she could not stop staring.”
Sheriff Caeller glanced at Lavender, who buried her face under her hat again.
“When evening rolled around, we joined Kendra and Carlyle at this lovely tavern on the river, just before coming back here to rest. Despite being older than she looks, my lady does still require rest much like that of one of her apparent age.”
Kendra confirmed for both of them. “What’s going on?” she asked.
Benjan’s mouth twisted to one side, visibly weighing the group’s alibis and deciding how much to let on. “There has been an incident at the old Harrowstone Memorial. It was vandalized sometime late last night or early this morning. I am currently in the process of crossing out the list of potential suspects.”
“The memorial? Oh dear, that’s not far from here.”
“My concerns exactly,” said Benjan. He tipped his hat to Kendra. “My apologies for disturbing you, Miss Lorrimor. Your father was a good man.” He nodded to Meryl and Carlyle without further comment, then turned down the street.
The moment the sheriff was mostly out of earshot, Meryl muttered, “So quick to assign blame.” She turned to Lavender. “My lady, I believe you should not speak with that one. I’ve seen his kind before.”
Lavender signed a response.
“Perhaps it is too early to say, but given what he said to you the previous sun, I doubt he will see with unshrouded eyes.”
Carlyle grabbed Bethany and slung the crossbow over his shoulder. The crew headed out to view the monument for themselves.
Instead of going north into town, Kendra turned along the south road, leading them down to the riverside. On a barren hill south of town, clearly visible by the light of day, loomed a bleak-looking fortress. Even from afar the structure carried an atmosphere of bleakness and disuse.
Soon they came upon the monument. A moss-covered stone statue some 25’ tall looked west over the river, bearing the likeness of a proud, muscular man wielding a truncheon. At his feet on the blocky stone base was carved a list of names.
Today, however, the moss was joined by a brownish-red spray of blood, and the carven stone plaque was painted over with a large, bloody brown-red ‘V’. A small crowd stood around the monument, gawking and speculating.
A familiar lanky boy broke off from the crowd and ambled up to the party. “G’mornin’ Miss Lorrimor. Mister Carlyle. Miss Lavender. Miss Fox.” Caleb stuck his thumb over his shoulder. “Come to see the memorial?”
(Note that the V doesn’t cover the entire base—it sits on the left as if somebody had started writing something but stopped after just one letter. You may investigate the scene of the crime as suits you, and/or ask other questions about what you can see or hear around the area.)
(Also note that it is not necessary to respond to Caleb in any significant way. This is my way of saying he has rejoined the party for now. Feel free to rp with him and/or each other, though.)
Posted on 2017-07-19 at 15:31:01.
Edited on 2017-07-19 at 15:32:42 by Sibelius Eos Owm
"Heard there was something going on, so came to check it out," Meryl nodded towards Caleb, before tilting her head towards the monument, "You know, I don't really understand what the commotion is about," Meryl commented, "I mean, yes it's graffiti, but that's what it is. Odd choice of what to write with though. Lavender, stay by Kendra."
As the fox moved closer, she kept lifting her head skyward before lowering it towards the ground, giving the area a careful circle. In the meantime, Lavender dutifully stood almost hiding behind Kendra.
"It looks like blood, and smells like blood, so it probably is blood, but I can't get an idea as to where it came from. Wouldn't have thought 'tweeting' would've spread at all," Meryl mused.
Given the questioning looks, Meryl looked up at the others, "Tweeting was a weird fad that a couple of wannabe trendsetter students had started at the university. Fancied themselves blood mages or some nonsense, and took to writing missives to each other with bird blood. Needless to say, the professors shut them down quickly and they were nearly all expelled," She explained.
Lavender gave a couple of gestures from behind Kendra, and Meryl nodded, "Good question. My lady wonders if it wouldn't be a bad idea to clean it up, seeing as no one apparently wants it."
Posted on 2017-07-24 at 02:17:03.
Edited on 2017-07-24 at 02:21:55 by Reralae
2 Pharast, 4711 AR. Harrowstone Memorial – Ravengro.
Carlyle asked the assembled gawkers if anyone from the town had gone missing.
They turned to him, looking at him as if momentarily confused that he was directly addressing them. “Missing?” Carlyle heard one turn to another. “Oh dear, you don’t think…?” “Surely we’d have heard…?” “I haven’t heard anything.”
The small crowd gossiped among each other. They cast regular glances in Carlyle’s direction, but none ventured forth an answer to his question, until one woman in her forties took up the initiative.
“We’re a small town. If anybody’s gone missing overnight, likely we’ll hear about before noonbell, ‘less it’s somebody as lives alone. Could be animal blood, though. Plenty of livestock around on the farms, and wild ones besides.”
Carlyle sighed in relief. Didn’t seem like there was going to be any more suspicious deaths to solve. “Good, good. Just want to make sure the last thing you fine folk need is someone being hurt.”
The woman remained reserved, but inclined her head. “‘Preciate it.”
2 Pharast, 4711 AR. Lorrimor Place – Ravengro.
The group returned to the Lorrimor place. Caleb followed aimlessly, staring out of the corner of his eye at corner of his eye at Lavender, only to be unwittingly invited inside by Kendra. Kendra put on a fresh pot of tea while the other settled into their corners of the study, setting up equipment and picking out books as they saw fit.
Something unusual was happening in Ravengro. The lot didn’t know what, but they knew to be prepared. Lavender and Carlyle set up their alchemy labs and soon set about brewing and distilling concoctions. Meanwhile Meryl enlisted Kendra’s help picking out a stack of books that might have information on the shadowy Whispering Way cult that Lorrimor mentioned in his journal.
Caleb watched Lavender and Carlyle work for a while, then took to a chair with a book, helping Meryl flip pages occasionally.
By lunchtime Kendra and Meryl had made scant progress. All they had found so far was that the Whispering Way was a sinister organization of necromancers that had been active in the Inner Sea region for thousands of years, making the cult much older than any of them realized.
With Kendra’s confidence that something in her father’s library must have more information about this cult, given the focus of his study, they returned to their reading while Caleb went out to chop some wood. If it was truly as old as it was, there was virtually no way Lorrimor didn't have something about it.
After several more hours, Kendra and Meryl had unearthed another interesting tidbit about the ancient cult to share. Though their practices remained an elusive mystery only hinted at in most of Lorrimor’s books, Agents of the Whispering Way were known to seek alliances with powerful undead creatures, and many were themselves undead. In fact, the most notorious of the cult’s members was the mighty lich, Tar-Baphon, also known as the Whispering Tyrant, who had thousands of years ago conquered Ustalav and made a bid to take over the world. Despite his infamy, the society of necromancers predated him millennia even still.
(Personally I always found the idea that a cult of necromancers were often members of the undead a bit of a given, though admittedly I’m sure there is a pointed distinction between them and necromancers who prefer to remain among the living even as they wield the undead as puppets. Remember, in my setting, necromancy is not inherently evil, just most of the uses for it are.)
(Bonus, the lich tyrant reigned for a few centuries between 3200’s and 3800’s. That around a thousand years ago from the current date. The living part of his life was actually thousands of years before that, and the Whispering Way is still older than that.)
As the day progressed and it started to get dark not much investigative progress had been made, but Carlyle did manage to get some work done on a little bit of alchemy for his own purposes. It was sometime in the evening after they had ate that he had to use the washroom as most living things needed to, well humans at least.
His business didn't take long just a quick drain of the ol' bladder and he was washing his hands and face, trying to keep himself awake for a little longer but he knew tonight would be an early one for him. As he looked up into the mirror something caught his eye over his shoulder.
There standing behind him was a dwarf, the poor man looked like he had been through hell and back. He was about to ask the dwarf what he was doing when the man reached out. Sudden panic and fear filled him, thankfully his pants were done up.
Carlyle bolted from the privy with the speed of a practiced athlete, mostly given his long legs. Skidding to a halt in the room and getting odd looks from the rest of the people he stopped dead. It took him a moment to process what had happened, and when he was asked the usual 'are you okay?' he had a quick response.
"Yes I am. But just a moment ago, what I now believe to be the ghost of a dead male dwarf just sent a supernatural fear and panic into the back of my brain." He stated this calmly, matter of fact even. "Given my height, and the height of the wash basin there is no possible way the dwarf could have been seen over my shoulder, without the aid of a stool or floating. He, didn't look very good either, kind of pale grey, disheveled beard and hair and gaunt eyes. As well I didn't even hear him enter. I do believe we're being haunted slightly."
The entire time explaining this he was stroking his chin, committing every detail he could remember to memory.
Lavender tilted her head as Carlyle recalled the phantom image, before clapping and signing to Meryl.
"Hmm, no we can't rule that out," Meryl replied, before looking at the others, "We have seen strange, errant magic on occasion in our woods, so it would be prudent to see if this likewise was caused by some manner of illusion. My lady and I will see if we can find anything."
After an uneventful trip to the same room, Meryl and Lavender returned, Lavender's eyes still a bit glassy looking from the fading vision enhancement.
"My lady has looked for sources of magical influence, and hasn't found any," Meryl reported, looking to Lavender as the latter began to sign again, "But it could be something she can't detect or..." Meryl paused and tilted her head as Lavender kept repeating the same new motion several times, before holding up a paw, "Dear, what have I told you about trying to make up new short hand?" Lavender sighed and signed out the word properly, "Alright, she says that based on what we've found in the library, with this cult having particular interests in the undead, it could have been an actual ghost."
Lavender frowned a bit and signed a bit more, "Ah, there's a bit more to it," Meryl commented, "With the commotion this morning, there were no clear reasons for people to do it, so perhaps it might also have been some manner of phantom act, even if not the same one."
"We need not consider them related events, but in such a short amount of time, it seems like they could share some manner of origin."
This NPC came to me suddenly last night while deciding who would come to the house.
2 Pharast, 4711 AR. Lorrimor Place – Ravengro.
Kendra’s brow furrowed. “Now what would cause the ghost of a dwarf to haunt my house? I confess I don’t know very much about restless spirits, but I’m pretty sure that they usually only linger in places that were significant to them in life or in death.”
Miss Lorrimor chewed her fingernail in thought. “We should try not to let ourselves get carried away, though I’ll admit, it does seem rather alarming in light of recent events. Perhaps tomorrow I shall ask one of the acolytes from the temple to have a look. For tonight, though, as long as there are no further apparitions, I shall get ready for bed.”
3 Pharast, 4711 AR. Temple of Pharasma – Ravengro.
The next morning the four crossed the river over to the Temple of Pharasma. The grand stone structure was easily the most elaborate building in Ravengro, with arched gothic windows and characteristic sombre steeple. Aside from the main doors, the eastern façade featured an intricate stained-glass mural depicting the goddess herself, stern faced, presiding over the judgement of a soul too detailed not to be some prominent, poorly liked historical figure.
Without much difficulty, they tracked down one of the dozen acolytes responsible for the day-to-day of the temple’s operations—a young woman no older than Kendra or Carlyle. Kendra explain their problem in brief.
“And your friend is sure he saw something supernatural in the water closet?” She cast a skeptical eyebrow in Carlyle’s direction.
With a sigh, the acolyte agreed to come over. “Better have a look, then, just to be sure.”
The woman started in the washing room. She quickly looked over both rooms, then knelt down beside the basin for a long while, holding her spiral holy symbol and muttering a prayer for clarity and insight. When she finished, she got to her feet. Raising her hand to her face, she intoned, “Gray Lady, reveal to me those who cling to this world and flee your judgement.”
The acolyte’s eyes shone with pale silver blue light as she turned slowly in place, carefully scanning the room with her spell. After a full rotation, she stepped out into the hall and completed a short circuit of the house. Within two minutes she returned to Kendra, the glow in her eyes dimming.
“It appears that whatever your friend saw, there are no restless spirits in your house at this time.”
Kendra thanked her and let her return to the temple.
She turned to the others. “Perhaps the gloomy atmosphere in this old house is merely playing tricks on our brains after all. How about we head into town for a bit today?”
3 Pharast, 4711 AR. The Unfurling Scroll – Ravengro.
Kendra, Carlyle, Lavender, and Meryl decided to head out for the day, to take a break from the gloomy atmosphere of the Lorrimor Place. As they passed from shop to shop they attracted their share of poorly veiled curious eyes, though perhaps less outright gawking than they had the first day.
Though the townsfolk showed obvious interest in the watching strangers to their town, they seemed to keep a marked distance from them unless spoken to, and preferred to interact with Kendra whenever possible. Even still, the adventurers couldn’t help but notice a subtle awkwardness between many of the townsfolk and Kendra, too.
Kendra had a few books from her father’s library that she wanted to donate to the schoolhouse, so just after lunch they traveled up the north road to near the edge of town. An unremarkable building backed by farm fields like any other in town, the Unfurling Scroll was marked by a small flock of children out enjoying their lunch break.
“I shan’t be long,” Kendra said. “You two are free to wait out here and soak up some of this lovely sun.” She disappeared inside the schoolhouse-cum-magic shop.
As they waited, the three noticed a group of five young girls, dressed in shawls and dresses, playing a skipping rope game. The girls, who all looked to be sisters, rotated from skipping to passing the ropes with expert timing so as to keep the game going without missing a beat, all the while singing what sounded like a Varisian nursery rhyme.
Carlyle hadn’t been paying close attention to the lyrics of the rhyme until a fragment from one of the lines jumped out at him—
“—With a hammer, killed his wife.
Now he wants to claim your life.”
His mind immediately conjured up the horrifying image he saw floating over him at the wash basin last night—a bedraggled looking dwarf with dark eyes… carrying a smith’s hammer in his hand.
Now more intently he listened to the other verses from the start.
“Put her body on the bed.
Take a knife and lop her head.”
The next girl jumped into the ropes and sang the next verse.
“See the blood come out the pipe.
Feeds the stirge up, nice and ripe.”
“Drops of red, sparkly an’ bright.
Splatters spell her name just right.
“With a hammer killed his wife.
Now he wants to claim your life.”
Finally, the youngest jumped in to sing the last verse in the song.
“Tricksy father tells a lie.
Listen close or you will die!”
What the hell kind of nursery rhymes did these people teach their children in this town?
Posted on 2017-09-13 at 16:11:42.
Edited on 2017-09-13 at 16:12:18 by Sibelius Eos Owm
As they overheard the children, Lavender's attention seemed to be drawn in by them. Her eyes widened and she seemed more alert, or perhaps it was something else. Whatever it was though, it only lasted a moment before she suddenly bounded towards the other children.
Taken aback by the stranger approaching them, the children abruptly stopped, looking at Lavender with a mixture of concern and confusion. Similarly, Lavender faltered, slowing her approach and stopping, her eyes widening in apology and a bit of longing. From behind Lavender, Meryl gave what seemed like a cough. Could foxes clear their throats?
"Dear, it's polite to ask before joining in," Meryl pointed out, before looking to the children, "What rhythm is it that you sing? My lady would be happy to play to the rhythm with you."
Of course, neither knew the actual song, or they might have some concerns.
The second youngest sister's eyes popped out of her head. "The fox talked!" she shouted. The two next to her shushed her immediately. The sisters were clearly well-schooled in not talking to strangers.
...But surely another little girl was all right? Even if she was a little weird looking.
The second oldest put her hands on her hips, looking at Lavender with a skeptically raised eyebrow. "Can you skip?"
Lavender clapped and nodded, before spreading her arms and skipping in place, looking for all the world just about like a dancing doll.
The second eldest screwed up her face, then looked at the other girls, pretending to look thoughtful. "Okay, you can play with us, then. Do you know how the song goes?"
Lavender gave a warm smile and clapped her hands, but at the question she shook her head.
"C'mon, kids have been singing it since forever! Even babies know the skipping song."
"Aggie. Don't be rude," said the eldest.
"Fine," Aggie sighed. She picked up one end of the rope and directed Lavender. "We'll start you. Jump in when you're ready."
And thus it was that Lavender learned the secret of the song and made more friends?
* * *
Off to the side, Meryl chuckled, "For all her desires to be treated as an adult, it seems she's still quite young."