The wagon rolled into town just past dark the day before the funeral. Ravengro was virtually indistinguishable from a dozen other small farming towns passed along the journey—all quaint buildings with steep rooflines, skylines decorated with the sombre steeples of Pharasmin churches. The driver let his two passengers off at the circular plaza that served as the town square, directing them south down the main road to their destination.
Lorrimor’s place stood near the south end of town, less than five minutes’ walk from town square. The mismatched duo was greeted by a puffy-eyed Kendra Lorrimor, the good professor’s twenty-five-year-old daughter, dressed in Pharasmin mourning black. She thanked them for coming and led them directly to their rooms.
The small funeral procession gathered around the entrance to the Restlands, the large and well-tended graveyard just to the north of Ravengro, which the travellers had passed on the way into town. Kendra briefly introduced the fellow mourners who came out to pay their respects.
First were Councilmen Vashian Hearthmount (the thrice-chinned, but never within earshot) and Gharen Muricar—both men in their fifties, together making up one-half the town’s council. Next was the sombrely cheerful Zokar Elkarid, owner of the Laughing Demon tavern on the riverbank, accompanied by his thirteen-year-old son, Pevrin. Jominda Fallenbridge, the town’s apothecary and one of Lorrimor’s closest friends in town. Finally, a tall, lean boy in his early twenties named Caleb Foster, who arrived last-minute to join the congregation.
Kendra looked over the gathering, biting her lip. “I had hoped there would be more pallbearers available. I suppose that was a bit much to expect with things the way they are these days.”
Lorrimor’s coffin rested just before the entrance to the Restlands. As per local tradition, the attendant priest and gravediggers had gone on ahead to the gravesite.
Jominda was the first to step up to the casket, followed in short order by Carlyle and Caleb. Zokar glanced between the two councilmen and the diminutive girl with the fox, cleared his throat, then stepped up to cover the last corner. Kendra thanked everybody for coming once more, then turned to lead the procession as the deceased’s closest living relative.
Stone markers along the gravel path named the winding cemetery trails; Ancestor’s Walk, the Dreamwake, the Eversleep. Lorrimor’s plot lay on the far side of the graveyard, near the north wall.
As the procession rounded the corner off the Dreamwake onto the Eversleep, a group of about a dozen locals came into view, standing directly in the way of the mourners. At least half of them came bearing an assortment of farm tools.
“What in the—?” Kendra muttered. Her sombre expression turned hard, but she did not stop the march.
As they neared, a wiry old man not carrying a tool stepped forward, scowling. “That’s far enough. We been talking, and we don’t want Lorrimor buried in the Restlands. You lot can take him upriver and bury him there, if you want, but he ain’t goin’ in the ground here!”
Kendra responded immediately, anger rising to the surface. “What are you talking about? I arranged it with Father Grimburrow last week. He’s waiting for us! The grave’s already been dug!”
(If you wish to contribute to the dialogue before hostilities boil over, now is your chance.)
(Despite perfunctory introductions, assume for now that none of the characters know much if anything about the others. Likewise, since there has not been enough time yet for our travellers to settle in, they are still wearing the weapons and armour they would be carrying for the open road. Between Carlyle’s large crossbow slung over his back and Lavender’s tame fox companion, this has earned the pair a fair number of bemused stares since they have arrived.)
(It’s worth noting that Kendra is about 30’ from the nearest of the thugs. The pallbearers are carrying the coffin more or less directly behind her—it will take all four pallbearers one turn to set down the casket without dropping it, but until then all have both hands full. Lavender stands behind the pallbearers alongside Zokar’s kid and her fox, followed by the councilmen.)
Posted on 2017-01-14 at 03:09:04.
Edited on 2017-01-29 at 18:26:38 by Sibelius Eos Owm
“You don’t get it, woman.” The ringleader of the thugs spat.
Carlyle called out from the casket side, “What is the meaning of this?” He tried to get Kendra’s attention to stand back from the crowd, but she was entirely focused on the thugs.
The tall old man hardly spared Carlyle a glance. “The meaning of this is that we won’t have a necromancer buried in the same place as our kin. I suggest you lot move out while you still can. Folks are pretty upset right now ‘bout this.”
“Necromancer!?” Kendra went livid. Wordlessly, the toddler-sized doll skipped up to her side, fox at her heels.
Carlyle cut in, “Now see here, that is uncalled for. This man was a brilliant man, respected among his colleagues and an accredited professor. He was no necromancer, he was a good man and a great teacher. It was his belief that rather than shun the darkness, we can learn from it to better fight—”
“This matter does not concern outsiders. It was his foolin’ around in dark magic up around the old prison that cursed this town, now clear out of our cemetery or we’ll see you off ourselves.”
“Curse—are you really that ignorant?” Kendra screamed.
At this point about half of the crowd stepped forward with their farm tools in hand.
(Bit of a rush job, but I got the point across. First real round of combat will start soon, I'll figure out initiative and get back to y'all on Discord.)
As Lavender watched the humans interrupt their passage, she clapped her hands once in signal. When she felt the fox Meryl's gaze, her hands were a blur as she made quick gestures. Once done, she skipped forward, probably unnoticed by the others, their attention understandably on the opposite group. Yet, just when tensions boiled over, she brought the twin pipes to her lips and began to play.
Balancing on the balls of her feet, as she played a gentle, but deep and reflective melody, she moved with the music, tilting from one side to the other, especially during the longer held notes.
Provided the spell took effect, Merl stood by Lavender, silent before suddenly speaking, a bemused but gentle voice, "My lady suggests you all calm down, perhaps return to your houses, relax and enjoy a nice meal. Seems more pleasant than staying here, wouldn't you say?"
A bit of creative licensing on Meryl's part, but Lavender was used to that. At the very least, half of it was what she told Meryl to say for her.
“Get the coffin!” called a voice from the back of the crowd.
Kendra took a step back. “You’ll have to go through me,” she shouted. A long, thin dagger appeared in her hand from some unseen fold.
Kendra held her hands, with her dagger, in front of her chest, over the brass amulet around her neck. Power flowed from her fingertips and formed into a glowing ring of runes around the eye of her amulet as she spoke the short incantation. The runes vanished and a shell of force wrapped around Kendra’s torso.
She glanced over her shoulder at Lavender. “Stay behind me and keep your head down.”
The diminutive doll called on her own power, crafting a spell in her own way as she played a melody on her flute.
The thugs came at them with no training or unity. Two came directly at Kendra and Lavender, while two others on either side ran around them to get at the pallbearers.
“I’ll get the little witch!” called one of the thugs, carrying a pitchfork. He raised his fork and swung down at Lavender with the blunt side. Between breaths the girl dodged the fork without losing control of the energy gathering around her.
The other swung with the back end of his hoe and caught Kendra sharply in the face. She flinched, then immediately came back at her attacker with her knife. The man suffered a long, nasty cut down his arm. He yelped and immediately dropped his hoe, clutching his injured arm.
Carlyle and Caleb meanwhile both found themselves immediately surrounded as soon as they set down the casket.
Caleb put up his fists and dropped into a defensive stance. “I don’t want to fight you,” he told the thugs.
One sneered at him. “Then lie down, boy, and let the men do what needs to be done.” That one went to attack with the back edge of his sickle.
Caleb drove his fist into the side of the man’s jaw without warning. The thug went out cold on the spot, his body landing backwards in a sprawling heap.
Carlyle drew a short sword from his belt. The thugs were too close to give them a good demonstration of Bethany’s power. He was just deciding which one was uglier when Lavender’s spell took effect.
“Somebody stop that witch!” Shouted a woman from the crowd, but it was too late. The small forest girl suddenly commanded the centre of attention, her spell subtly sending out waves of compulsion. Of the five remaining farmers, three shook off the effect immediately, but two, including the man standing over her, were ensnared, their eyes glazing over.
The fox at Lavender’s side suddenly spoke up with a calm voice. “My lady suggests… wouldn’t you say?”
“…Bah, no good ever comes of dealing with witches, even miniature ones,” said the man with the bleeding arm. He backed away from Kendra and turned to flee.
Meanwhile Lavender’s spell made Carlyle’s decision easier by splitting his opponents’ attention. While one remained oblivious of him, he shoved the other back with the pommel of his sword. The thug staggered back, looked at the state of the gang, and turned to flee after the other.
On the other side, Caleb switched to an open-palm stance, then grabbed the last thug by the arm. He twisted until the thug dropped rake and yielded.
Kendra turned, her split lip bleeding slightly, to look at Carlyle, Lavender, and Caleb. “Thank you three. I’m sorry—I had no idea there were still folk in town who didn’t trust my father, and I certainly didn’t expect them to wait to show it until after… after he passed.”
Before any could get a word in edgewise, Councilman Vashian Hearthmount (the thrice-chinned) cleared his throat loudly. “Harrum, herm hem. I am shocked and appalled at this attack. Locals should know better than to give heed to such superstition—even farmhands of such low character as that lot.”
(Still perfecting the art of how we'll be doing this, but I figure with Zeakol currently occupied, it'd be best to go with a more D&D/Pathfinder style combat post.)
(Here you have a brief respite to react to events or fill in combat dialogue before I introduce the cheery local priest who is as we speak rushing down the path with gravediggers in tow. And also to give me respite b/c I ended up staying up later than I wanted.)
Psst, Dorian. 1337.
Posted on 2017-01-17 at 05:28:07.
Edited on 2017-01-23 at 01:30:46 by Sibelius Eos Owm
In Loving Memory of Dr. MacGuffin, PhD, MD, MOc, NPC
1 Pharast, 4711 AR. Restlands – Ravengro.
With one unconscious, another in a headlock, and four more on the retreat, the remaining half of the small mob lost its focus. The ringleader behind the mob was nowhere in sight.
“What is the meaning of this?” cried a voice from further down the path
The stragglers shrank away from the voice like chastened dogs. They swept away from the path, revealing a small, wizened old man with long, bushy white eyebrows, wearing black vestments trimmed with silver, and a prominent spiral holy symbol of Pharasma around his neck. The startlingly spry old priest marched onto the scene, flanked by two men carrying shovels, also dressed in black—the gravediggers.
Father Grimburrow shifted his glare from Kendra’s split lip to the unconscious thug laying next to the path, and grabbed for his holy symbol. In a voice that suggested years worth of recitation, he murmured, “Lady of Graves, see these souls and ease their pain.”
A ring of silvery light spread from the symbol to encompass the entire congregation, followed by a spiralling surge of energy. At once there was a groggy groan from the downed farmer as the life-giving energy healed and revitalized everybody in the ring. Though fully healed, the man’s fighting spirit was considerably dampened.
The old priest rounded on the farmers. “You all should be ashamed of yourselves. Every one of you has family buried here. It is not your place to decide who can and cannot use these grounds. Now be off with you, and think on how you’ll be judged when the time comes.”
The farmers, including the man released from Caleb’s headlock, departed with their heads hung in shame. The rest of the funeral carried on without a hitch. The gravediggers lowered the casket into the open plot, followed by a short sermon from Father Grimburrow. Finally, before the grave was filled, Grimburrow invited attendees to share stories in celebration and memory of Professor Lorrimor’s life.
(When you think about it in real-world terms, a 30’ radius AoE is kind of huge. Anyway, here comes the time to describe how you met Lorrimor and what you knew of him. Note that no further mobs will be formed should Meryl take the reins (probably), and a short, sombre pipe melody may be fitting as well.)
(In other notes, I didn't play it up here since neither of you got injured, but 4d6 healing from channeled energy means everyone in the 30' radius is full health now.)
Posted on 2017-01-20 at 05:24:14.
Edited on 2017-01-20 at 05:25:27 by Sibelius Eos Owm
As the pallbearers made their way to the prepared plot, Lavender lifted her twin flute to her lips and played a gentle, solemn tune as they went.
(BGM: A full moon in Garoh)
After the sermon, perhaps it was strange for Meryl to take place of the speaker, but then, the fox was clearly the speaker for Lavender, who so far had not spoken at all. This time, however, should it be noticed, Meryl spoke without Lavender's gesturing.
"Our first meeting with this human was very strange," Meryl spoke, "My dear lady had come to know strangers to either be lost in our woods, or ignorant rumour seekers. Yet, this man was neither, very curious, seeking to know truth behind the rumours of the witch in the woods, and no stranger to the arts she wielded. It was still early for our young lady, so perhaps she might not remember, but I do. My dear lady was suspicious, as she had much to be wary of from anyone calling themselves a professor. When she told him her tale, he surprised her with sympathy and understanding. Although she is unable to say so, I know that my dear lady would say that he was a good man, a seeker of knowledge that didn't allow the acquisition of knowledge to close his mind."
Carlyle grumbled and shook his sword after the thug who ran away before sheathing it and dusting himself off. "Why I've never-" He was cut off by the priest and went silent immediately. He stood at attention and watched as the farmers dispersed.
Once things were settled and the sermon finished it was his turn to speak. The odd little girl and fox spoke first and he waited to go after. Clearing his throat he furrowed his brow and smoothed his hair back even though he had no need to.
"Professor Lorrimor was a brilliant man, I had the honor of meeting with him and attending his lectures and lessons. It's been a long time since I have met a person with as vast knowledge and spirit as him and the world will dearly miss him. He was a mentor of sorts to me, helped me on the path I'm on and helped nurture my curiosity into the occult, history and other realms of education. Had it not been for him I would have just been another dreamer or farmer or something else." He wiped his eye and sighed but smiled. "My time learning from him, working with him and even a bit of travel, are some of my fondest memories." He bowed his head in respect and waited for the next speaker.
When Meryl cleared her throat to speak, she received a share of peculiar looks from the assembled mourners. If they did not expect a eulogy delivered from the mouth of a fox, however, they kept their objections to themselves, possibly out of respect for Meryl’s role in defusing the earlier melee.
Father Grimburrow thanked the visitors for their kind words. It may have been their imagination, but it almost seemed as if the corner of a smile briefly graced the old priest’s face.
After the ceremony, Kendra said her goodbyes to the others and saw them off. Councilman Hearthmount stopped to tell Kendra that he had matters to attend to, but would stop by later that day for the reading of Lorrimor’s will.
Once the guests had all departed, she turned to the strangers from out of town. “So, it looks like we have some time to kill. Why don’t we return to my fathers—er, my place for some tea to freshen up?”
1 Pharast, 4711 AR. Lorrimor Place – Ravengro.
By the light of day, the Lorrimor place was a cozy, modest home that reflected the decidedly scholarly bent of its owner. Every room featured at least one fully stocked bookshelf, complemented with stacks of books decorating every available surface.
“I’m sorry the house is such a mess—we don’t get many visitors, and when we do it’s mostly academic types who wouldn’t notice it anyway. How do you take your tea?” Kendra stopped on the way to the kitchen and back pedaled. “Uh, Lavender, was it? I’m sorry, I never asked… do you take tea?” (…) “Ah, I see—and would your familiar like something to drink?”
Kendra returned several moments later with a tray for the tea. “Now, you simply must tell me all about yourselves. My father met all kinds of strange folk in his years, but I so rarely have a chance to get out of this tiny town.”
(This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Official character introduction time!)
Posted on 2017-01-24 at 23:43:36.
Edited on 2017-01-24 at 23:46:27 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Without needing Lavender's response, Meryl answered, "My lady Lavender has very plain tea; she does not need any sugar to enhance her natural sweetness," earning a side glance and face palm from Lavender, but Meryl continues anyway, "I am Meryl," She added, just slightly rolling the 'r', "and for me, just water, please."
Also, now that they're inside rather than outside, Lavender's light flowery aroma is probably a lot more noticeable.
"Now, you simply must tell me all about yourselves"
"Not much to say about me really. I don't socialize much I tend to have my head buried in a book or sometimes a ruin or some other place away from people. I'm a bit scatter brained at times, always have some project or something on the go, like Bethany here." He says pointing to his crossbow.
"Oh Bethany here? She's my pride and joy, my pet project so to speak." As he is saying this he is looking his weapon over, while giving Kendra eye contact as he can. "I've spent years trying to perfect her, took a long time to get the firing mechanism just right. I'm nowhere near done, but when she is I'll be sure to show you." He then sets Bethany aside and fishes around his backback for a tool belt. Which he produces. It contains a few visible items such as: A hammer, tweezers, a file, a screw driver, scissors, thread and a needle. That's the visible bits.
Meryl looked towards Lavender as the question was posed, who at the time was sipping from the teacup. Placing it down, she began to move her hands in swift gestures animatedly, Meryl nodding before replying, "Similar to you, my lady is not very familiar with life outside of the place where she was raised. We hail from a forest a fair distance from here. Your messenger had their work cut out for them in finding us, a small, humble cottage in the woods," Meryl chuckled, "Ah, but I digress, my lady says that she is a young apothecary there, occasionally we get travellers from the village nearby looking for simple salves or tonics. However, as you heard earlier, she has gift with the magics she is blessed with. I am both her guardian, and voice."
"Is that so?" Kendra took a sip of her tea, glancing between Meryl and Lavender. "That's a bit of an unusual relationship, isn't it? But what would I know--we don't see many familiars around these parts. Most folk tend to see a talking animal and they're like to mistake you for a witch of some sort." She touched the eye-shaped brass amulet around her neck absent-mindedly.
"A familiar? Those are only known to respond to users of magic....witches, wizards mostly....are you one? I'll guess....." He mutters something about 'forest' 'salves' 'cottage.' "A witch?" He never once looks up from his work except now. "Lavander is it? Meryl speaks for you, did an accident take away your speech or is that just how you are? I dabble in potions to though, nothing to major. Mostly explosives. Oh speaking of!" He'll check his bag to make sure nothing is broken, melting or otherwise about to blow the house to high hell. "Anyways sorry sorry, please continue. I just get excited. One of the reasons I studied under the Professor was his knowledge on the occult and such. History, his travels. He was a brilliant man and provided so much." He'll point to Bethany again. "Helped me get my hands on her before I made a few improvements."
At this point he'll silence himself with pursed lips before he rambles because he has a tendency to.
Lavender began to sign excitedly, but Meryl simply laughed, "Quite, and isn't she just the cutest witch you've ever seen?" At which point Lavender reached up, placed both hands on either side of her hat, and tilted it down to hide her face, "But really, there was a grain of truth in that particular rumour. 'The witch of the forest.' That was originally in reference to my lady's mother. Although some might not like being called such, my lady is actually fond of the title, and is quite happy to have inherited a similar gift as her mother. As for vocal speech… that is something my lady is unable to do. That is, as you say, how she is."
As Lavender hid, Kendra attempted stifled a giggle with her hand, trying to be polite.
Carlyle then nods rapidly, fascinated. His body tense as if he is about to pounce but he doesn't. "Forgive me. I'm just fascinated by the arcane and such. If I had even a fraction of that kind of power I could accomplish so many things. But alas, I've just got my curiosity and determination." He then sheepishly chuckles at this before clearing his throat. "Anyways, I'd like to speak at length with you later, maybe you could show me how to make a healing potion or something." He rolls his right sleeve up past the elbow, and shows a rather nasty scar before rolling it back down. "My uh, work, tends to backfire....sometimes....often...."
and then he goes zip
Even though she was still hiding under her hat, Lavender's hands signed a quick response, which Meryl caught at the corner of her eye, "My lady suggests that because the process involves infusion of magical energy, a tonic capable of rapid regeneration of injury might be a bit out of reach. But she has learned of a few salves from her mother for easing pain and rashes."
Kendra grins, "You two sound like you'd probably get along fairly well with Jominda--you saw her at the funeral today. She runs the town apothecary. Most healing comes from the acolytes at the temple, though Jominda stocks a variety of magic potions of her own. She's a bit taciturn, but she's friendly enough if you get to know her."
"That's quite all right. Heavens know this house could use some animation in it after the last few weeks. I can see why my father took an interest in you. In some ways, you remind me of him."
Carlyle nods and smiles wide at this. "Perfect! Something more then explosives would be nice to know." He laughs and then looks at Kendra. "Sorry, got carried away."
There is a knock at the door. Kendra jumps up, then looks at the three empty teacups on the table. "Oh dear, is it that time already? Oh, how it flies when you're in good company."
The Last Will and Testament of Professor Petros Lorrimor
1 Pharast, 4711 AR. Lorrimor Place – Ravengro.
Kendra went to the door, then paused a moment to take a breath and gather her spirits. Her expression tightened back up just a bit, the knowledge of the occasion creeping back in and reasserting itself. Finally, she opened the door.
Councilman Vashian Hearthmount stood on her doorstep, precisely punctual. Kendra held the door open for him to step in. “Councilman, do come in. We were just having tea and getting acquainted.”
The councilman regarded the two with hardly a side-eyed glance, looking as though he had just tasted something rather bitter. “Quite. Now that we are all here, shall we get down to business?”
“Oh, yes, of course.”
Kendra led the way to a cozy study lined with books. Vashian took his seat at the head of the table and produced a scroll case with an unbroken wax seal. He broke the seal and opened the case, only to be interrupted by an iron key dropping out of the case onto the table, clattering noisily. The councilman, undaunted by the disturbance, unfurled the scroll and began to read.
“Harrum, hem herm, harre-hem, hem,” he began.
“I, Petros Lorrimor, being of sound mind, do hereby commit to this parchment my last will and testament. Let it be known that, with the exception of the specific details below, I leave my home and personal belongings entire to my daughter Kendra. Use them or sell them as you see fit, my child.
“Yet beyond the bequeathing of my personal effects, this document must serve other needs. I have arranged for the reading of this document to be delayed until all principals can be in attendance, for I have more than mere inheritance to apportion. I have two final favors to ask.
“To my old friends, I hate to impose upon you all, but there are few others who are capable of appreciating the true significance of what it is I have to ask. As some of you know, I have devoted many of my studies to all manner of evil, that I might know the enemy and inform those better positioned to stand against it. For knowledge of one’s enemy is the surest path to victory over its plans.
“And so, over the course of my lifetime, I have seen fit to acquire a significant collection of valuable but dangerous tomes, any one of which in the wrong circumstances could have led to an awkward legal situation. While the majority of these tomes remain safe under lock and key at the Lepidstadt University, I fear that a few I have borrowed remain in a trunk in my Ravengro home. While invaluable for my work in life, in death, I would prefer not to burden my daughter with the darker side of my profession, or worse still, the danger of possessing these tomes herself. As such, I am entrusting my chest of tomes to you, posthumously. I ask that you please deliver the collection to my colleagues at the University of Lepidstadt, who will put them to good use for the betterment of the cause.
“Yet before you leave for Lepidstadt, there is the matter of another favor—please delay your journey one month and spend that period of time here in Ravengro to ensure that my daughter is safe and sound. She has no one to count on now that I am gone, and if you would aid her in setting things in order for whatever she desires over the course of this month, you would have my eternal gratitude. From my savings, I have also willed to each of you a sum of one hundred platinum coins. For safekeeping, I have left these funds with Embreth Daramid, one of my most trusted friends in Lepidstadt—she has been instructed to issue this payment upon the safe delivery of the borrowed tomes no sooner than one month after the date of the reading of this will.
“I, Petros Lorrimor, hereby sign this will in Ravengro on this first day of Calistril, in the year 4711 AR.”
Once he had finished, Councilman Hearthmount looked to Kendra, who thanked him for his service and dismissed him.
She turned to Carlyle and Lavender. “Well, that is rather a lot to absorb. Thank-you again for coming. I myself am going to need at least a few weeks to decide what exactly I am going do with all this. In the meantime, I would be happy to offer you room and board here for the month—free of charge.”
(Soon I will turn you loose to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening as you desire, but first, Kendra is going to go fetch the chest where the late professor has stashed his books.)
(P.S. as you might have heard when you were down here, I’ve taken to pronouncing ‘Lepidstadt’ as ‘Lep-id-shtadt’. Also random, maybe useful note, Calistril is the month that comes directly before Pharast)
Posted on 2017-01-29 at 18:24:50.
Edited on 2017-02-03 at 04:01:06 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Meryl and Lavender were silent during the reading of the will, however as soon as the councilman had left, Lavender gave Meryl a questioning gaze and a few quick signs, to which Meryl nodded, "Yes, that's the university that our dear lady attended before she dropped out," Meryl replied, "I do wonder if any of those tomes might be of related material to the questions he had for her on one of those occasions that he visited."
Lavender tilted her head, looking to Kendra and starting to sign. Meryl nodded again and spoke towards Kendra, "My lady is wondering if she might borrow a room with apothecarial apparati, if there is one. We weren't able to bring the lab with us, and if we're going to be staying a while, she would like to set up shop so to speak, just in case her expertise is needed. She is saying it could double as her bedroom as well, though I would recommend to her that she actually use a bed."
Long post full of fancy lists, then you're free to go.
1 Pharast, 4711 AR. Lorrimor Place – Ravengro.
"I do wonder if any of those tomes might be of related material to the questions he had for her on one of those occasions that he visited," Meryl mused to Lavender.
Kendra picked up the key off the table. “I suppose there is only one way to find out,” she added. She paused, staring at the key in thought.
Lavender tilted her head, looking to Kendra and starting to sign … “that she actually use a bed.”
“Of course, she—er,” Kendra turned to Lavender “—you are welcome to borrow all the beakers and vials you need. I’m sure we have a spare alchemy lab around here somewhere I could dust off for you.”
Kendra excused herself for a moment to fetch her father’s chest mentioned in the will. She returned a moment later, carrying a small oak and iron affair. She set it down on the table, then took a step back. She pulled the key out from a pocket, but hesitated.
“Would you do the honours?” she asked, holding the key out to her guests, now technically charged with the contents of the chest.
Carlyle took the key from Kendra gladly, then popped the chest open. Inside were several old tomes, topped with a much newer looking book. A scrap of paper on top of the journal read ‘Read me first!’ in red ink.
Carlyle obliged and flipped open the leather-bound journal, taking a seat so the much shorter girls could peek over his shoulders. The earliest entries dated back over a decade, and concerned themselves with the day-to-day activities of the retired professor. As they flipped through, they found one entry circled in red:
Ten Years Ago: “The Whispering Way is more than just another cabal of necromancers, I see that now. They seek undeath as a fountain of youth—they practically treat it as a form of apotheosis. Uncovering their motivations does not place me at ease as I thought it might."
Quickly flipping through the journal, they found several more entries similarly circled:
Two Months Ago: “My research into the undeath cult calling themselves the Whispering Way has not been in vain. My suspicions are now confirmed. As I feared, the Way is interested in something here in Ravengro. It seems trouble has followed me even in retirement. What could they want with such a tiny hamlet as this?”
One Month Ago: “Whatever the Way is after, I am now convinced their goal is in Harrowstone. In hindsight, I suppose that was obvious, given the stories they tell in town about those ruins. It may be time to investigate the prison for myself. I’d rather not ask in town about it, though—enough folk here already think I’m some sort of demonologist or witch or whatever without me drawing attention to myself by chasing ghost stories.”
18 Days Ago: “I see now how poorly prepared I was when I set out to investigate the ruins of the prison. I am lucky I did not venture deeper into the prison or I fear I may not have escaped alive. The restless spirits of Harrowstone (I cannot name them, as I did not think it prudent to take the time to identify their nature) surprised me and prevented me from transcribing the strange symbols etched along prison’s foundation.
“I will have to be more prepared for my next visit—thankfully the necessary tools to defend against restless spirits can be found here in Ravengro. I know that the Church of Pharasma once stored them in a false crypt in the Restlands at the intersection between Everdeep and Black Path. I’m not certain, but I doubt the current clergy even know what their predecessors have hidden down there. If my luck holds, I may be able to slip in and borrow a few items unnoticed.”
17 Days Ago: “Tomorrow evening I shall return to the prison. It is imperative that the Way does not finish what they have started. I don’t know for certain what the purpose of their ritual is, but if my theories are correct the entire town could be at risk. Yet, I cannot inform the townsfolk of the danger, or I suspect they would merely ban access to Harrowstone, which I doubt would be effective at hindering my enemies in the least.
“If I fail and the worst should come to pass, this journal will have to carry my last words in this life. If there are any who would seek to follow me, I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing the nature of your enemy, for knowledge of the darkness provides the surest path to victory over its plans. This advice I have always given, yet there is no more time for me to follow it. I must go, and I pray all this will have been so much needless fretting. Nevertheless, Kendra, if you are reading this, I am so sorry I had to leave you like this. Know that you are strong as your mother.”
“Oh…” Kendra was dumbfounded. “Oh dear… ex-excuse me.” She stepped out of the room suddenly, leaving Carlyle and Lavender with the remaining tomes. There were four in total.
The first tome was bound in jet-black leather, with a faded title in silvery script, On Verified Madness. It was dense with text, featuring sparse sketches of tentacles, constellations, and other horrible aberrations. It appeared to be a treatise on alien monsters and their potential ties to the Dark Tapesty—the name for the dark gulfs between stars. A note tucked inside the cover read; “ Return to the care of Montagnie Crowl, professor of Antiquities, University of Lepidstadt.”
The pages of the next tome were heavily yellowed, and the sickly brown cover sported a small depiction of a fly with a stylized skull for a body. It was a copy of Serving Your Hunger, the sacred text of Urgathoa, hedonistic goddess of and undeath. The margins were heavily marked with Lorrimor’s handwriting, commenting on the contents. A note inside the cover read; “Return to the care of Montagnie Crowl, professor of Antiquities, University of Lepidstadt.”
The next was am unremarkable, thin tome, marked as a translation of The Umbral Leaves, sacred text of Zon-Kuthon, the twisted god of pain. Fortunately the translator chose to use standard paper, rather than the traditional flayed human skin. A note inside the cover read; “Return to the care of Montagnie Crowl, professor of Antiquities, University of Lepidstadt.”
The final tome was bound in rich purple, with a brass scarab set with a single eye. The covers were rimmed with polished steel and clasped with a small, but intricate lock. The key was nowhere to be found, but a note tucked into the clasp read; “Return to the care of Judge Embreth Daramid—with discretion,” complete with home address.
(Barring other activity, Kendra returns several moments later. She comments that she has a few errands to run about town, but she suggests that the three (four) of you go out to Zokar’s for dinner and celebrate her father’s memory.)
(It is at this point that you more or less have the run of the town for the rest of the day. It is later in the afternoon, but time yet remains to visit locations around town. Kendra/I can provide a list of and directions to various shops. Upcoming Town Theme: Carnivale OST--while made for more of a dirty-thirties dust bowl town, I found this soundtrack fit the insular feel of Ravengro best among those listed. Any time we are in and around town, assume one of these songs is playing in the background)
Posted on 2017-02-03 at 03:59:01.
Edited on 2017-02-06 at 13:14:10 by Sibelius Eos Owm
Could be worse, could be delivery of the entire library
As Meryl tilted her head to read the spines of the books, at least those that had titles along the spine, the fox shook her head.
"None of those appear related to why the professor sought us out," She observed, "Perhaps that is of some blessing. These... we would not want to be associated with."
Lavender tentatively poked each of the books with a slender, purple fingertip, uncertain if she should touch them but wanting to make sure they were real. After her investigative pokes, she began to sign to Meryl again.
"No, the forest spirits granted her domain over life, plant life specifically, not death," Meryl replied, "Though it's not all that different. Life and death are two sides of the same leaf."
Satisfied, Lavender nodded, before clapping her hands together.
"Yes, visiting the local apothecary will be a good idea. We'll get a good idea of what ingredients are easily obtainable around here," Meryl nodded.
Carlyle listened patiently to the last will of his former professor with solemn silence. He perked a bit at the mention of books filing away what he wanted to do with them into the back of his mind for the time being.
When all was said and done and they had taken a moment to process the information he nodded. When the chest was opened and each book was looked at, after giving Kendra a nod as she excused herself, Carlyle grinned a bit. "Oh I recognize some of these. I've never been privy to the information within sadly, but." He picks up the purple tome running a finger over the scarab. "As the professor said, knowledge of the enemy will aid us."
Intrigued by the purple tome, but unable to work past the lock...for now...he picks up the religious text of Urgathoa.
"This may offer some insights, even if miniscule. I've got some things to take care of. But I'll skim it later." He looks at Meryle and Lavender and smiled. "I promise to stop reading if it becomes to obscene." He says and sets the tome back with the rest for now.
Agreeing with the dinner plans and after Kendra has left Carlyle stands up and stretches. He rummages in his own bag and produces a few sheets of paper with hardly any writing on them, it looked like an order manifest of some kind. "Now I've got my own errands to run!" He says with a bright smile, work, something he could always get behind! He was off with a light skip heading for the forge.
Kendra returned the small strongbox to storage for the time being and gave the key to Carlyle.
Both the apothecary and the smithy lay among the businesses that surrounded the circular plaza that served as town square, so the mourners left together.
By the light of day, the plaza hummed with quiet activity. The strangers attracted more than one second glance, though most had the decency to pretend not to be looking. A young girl went wide-eyed when she saw Lavender, then as soon as she passed, loudly asked her mother, “Mom, why is that girl purple?”
“Hush, I told you it’s rude to point. She’s a gnome,” her mother said with the confidence of somebody who has never seen a gnome in her life.
Kendra stopped in the shadow of the gazebo at the centre of the plaza. “The Laughing Demon is just down that street to the riverside. We’ll meet there for supper in about an hour.”
The three split up, Kendra going to the general store.
A small garden lay next to Jominda’s Apothecary, at the moment populated only by the wintering remains of last year’s crop.
Lavender reached for the door handle, only for the door to swing open before her. A tall man with a wide-brim hat stepped out of the store. He bumped into Lavender, nearly tripping over her in the process.
“Oh, pardon me, miss, I didn’t—” The man stopped when his eyes fell on Lavender. There was a flicker of recognition. “You must be Lorrimor’s witch friend, then.” He glanced down to Meryl when he said the word ‘witch’. “My name is Benjan Caeller. As sheriff of this fine town I ask that you avoid getting into any further disturbances for the duration of your stay.”
Meryl seated herself primly, clearing her throat under her breath. “No one can avoid time, and time needs no invitation to bring events with it. You may be assured that we do not hold an open invitation, but such is little comfort - what happens will happen.”
The sheriff’s head jerked back in surprise. He looked back to Lavender, frowning. “I’m not sure I like your fox’s tone of voice, miss. Ravengro is a peaceful town and it’s my job to make sure outsiders don’t go bringing trouble with them.”
Benjan stepped out from the apothecary entrance way. “So long as you—the both of you—remember that, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.”
Lavender winced, then clapped, before signing in Meryl's direction, who added, “My lady did want to clarify that the witch you've heard of is her mother, though she is happy to inherit the title. She does not seek to cause trouble.
“As for what I said, none of us can know what lies tomorrow. For instance, I couldn't have said there would be a fight at the cemetery—in which, I also note, neither of us were aggressors...” Meryl nudged Lavender past the man toward the door.
Benjan bit his tongue. “Fair enough. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?” He tipped his hat to the witch and her familiar. “G’day, miss.”
The two watched him head off down the street. Meryl turned to Lavender. “Seeking blame for the future in the present is not going to serve him well,” she muttered. "Eyes on one side will not see the other."
The doll and fox stepped into the apothecary. An array of sights, sounds, and smells greeted them, some familiar, some not so much. The floor was strewn loosely with fragrant meadowsweet, and bundles of herbs hung from wooden beams. Vials, flasks, and earthenware containers lined the shelves, holding every sort of concoction or decoction imaginable.
On the counter sat a large scale with several weights, as well as a mortar and pestle. Aside from these was a small flask of a clear, bright green liquid, next to an open herbal manual with a diagram of a fennel plant on the page.
Jominda appeared around the corner, carrying a glass of the green liquid. “The apothecary is closed toda—oh, it’s you from the funeral. Lavender, was it? What brings you to my little shop?”
1 Pharast, 4711 AR. Ravengro Forge – Ravengro.
The metallic ring of hammer on iron reached Carlyle even before he opened the door. Inside the smithy, a broad-shouldered dwarf woman well into her second century presided over a low anvil. In one hand, she held a glowing nugget of iron with a pair of tongs and pounding on it with the hammer in her other hand.
At Carlyle’s entrance, the smith took the nugget from the anvil and dunked it into a barrel of water with a fierce hissssss. She set down her tools, then turned to Carlyle looking him up (and up) and down. Without comment, she wiped her brow.
“Aye?” she said. “What do you want?”
(Carlyle recognises that the smith is probably over 150 years old, or the equivalent of being in her forties for a human.)
Posted on 2017-05-19 at 03:25:04.
Edited on 2017-05-19 at 03:25:39 by Sibelius Eos Owm