The Lorrimor Legacy

28: Loose ends and new friends
Trial of the Beast

The following morning Nisca, Narsius & Ursus scout around the city to sell off assorted loot before visiting Judge Daramid. En-rout though they find their progress blocked by four duelists from the University, dangerous-looking fops that promptly surprise them by swearing fealty to Nisca! They’d seen her performance at the trial, and had heard of her exploits about town, and wish to follow and learn from her. She agrees to take the lot on, sending the three young men to go meet with Hap back at the hotel, while the exotic-looking Shala Niclleby stays by her side.

Judge Daramid happily pays them as promised, but points out she’d overheard them talking with the Beast about visiting his creator at Schloss Caromarc. She’d like them to follow up on that, and would very much like it if they might find out if his creator happens to have a way to control the Beast, so he can be prevented from future rampages (such as the one at the University). They’d best hurry too, given a mob is setting out to hunt him through the swamp. She takes Nisca aside and informs her that several soldiers were impressed by how she quelled the mob the other night without bloodshed, and have asked if she might have them reassigned to her service & protection – this she has done. They await her at her hotel.

When they get back to the Inn where they have been staying, they find a small crowd around Hap. On top of the 4 foot soldiers and 3 newly minted squires, Nisca finds two Acolytes have been sent over by the Church of Phasama to assist her in clearing out Brother Swarm & his minions back in Hergstag, and an experienced Caravan Guard who thought she could use an old campaigner to oversee the lot of them. Agreeing to take them all on, she leaves Sgt. Kristoff Browgin in charge to get everyone prepared for the journey to Schloss Caromarc while she, Narsius, Ursus, Shala, Kendra & the two Acolytes make plans to deal with Hergstag & the wraiths the following day.

Morning comes and they set off at first light. By noon they’ve reached the ghost-town and set out for the first farmstead, home to the Wraith Allan, whom they quickly overpower and send to his eternal rest. The next farmhouse though they find in flames! Outside waits the dangerous, spooky, yet somehow sexy Daemienten, who claims to have heard about the wraith infestation and already dealt with the other ghost-children. Unable to read her as anything other than honest, they all agree to join forces and head off to the Scarecrow on the hill where Narsius had bound Brother Swarm.

Narsius calls him out, but it being day he refuses, so they set fire to the scarecrow, burning it to ash. In the ashes they find a hidden entrance to his lair, and climb inside. Brother Swarm slips out of the wall to catch them by surprise, but Narsius spots him in time, throwing up an anti-undead shell that keeps him at a distance. Baracading much of the cave and protecting the party’s weaker members, they limit Brother Swarm to fighting Ursus, Shala, Nisca & Daemienten at the far end of the cave while the rest use magic and prayer to injure him from safety. Battering him down every time he pops out of a wall to strike at Ursus, they finally bring the master wraith down, then bundle up the four missing bodies and return to bury them in Gravecharge, Lepidstadt’s Cathedral dedicated to Pharasma.

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27: Day Three
Trial of the Beast

Aaron & Ursus break off from the investigation when Ozric comes down sick and has to be escorted back to the Inn, leaving Nisca, Narsius, Variel & Kendra to explore the lower level themselves. At the last minute Nisca’s bodyguard Riff rejoins them, apparently having grown tired of standing about in the cold outside, as they push through the door the Mongrelmen fled through.

Beyond they find a storeroom with one large locked door and a hidden door leading to yet another storeroom – this latter one containing unusual body parts in jars, a well-preserved corpse in a coffin, and two Owlbear skeletons. The only other exit is a locked grating blocking the way to the sewers. Worried about undead, Narsius attempts to discern if any are about, but find none. Variel’s awareness of evil, however turns up multiple presences – Narsius he already suspected, but Riff? Riff in turn chucks an acid bomb out of the blue at them and slams the door.

Somewhat damaged, the gang pursues, eventually pushing the door back open (& knocking over the boxes recently shoved to block it). Noting the door that had been locked now stands open, all but Kendra charge in and down the stairs to find a room full of cold water and floating corpses. A shout from Kendra almost proves to late as Riff pops up again from hiding amongst the boxes they’d just left to chuck another bomb their way. Kendra plugs him with a bolt before fleeing back into the Vat room, but before the rest of the gang can give chase they find themselves under assault by two of the dead cadavers. Nisca manages to sip past Riff and rejoin Kendra in the main room, but Variel and Narsius fall to another bomb just as Narsius serenades the undead with a dirge just for them.

Nisca & Kendra play cat and mouse with Riff in the Vat-room, finding soon enough that the latter has scampered up to the vat’s edge above to reign bombs down on them, at least until Nisca demands he stop, her authoritative voice proving enough to give him pause. Variel awakes, finding the zombies have given him one of his own healing potions – it turns out they’re not only sentient, but are only working for Vorstag & Grines because of a necrotic mental rejuvenation drug the chemysts make. Variel quickly struggles to explain the healing drought they’re giving to Narsius is killing him, due to his Dhampyr nature, and the three carry him to the top of the steps. Variel leaves them to tend the Death Mage, sprinting into the Vat room to cover the now cowering Riff.

Aaron returns from his escort job, quickly hustling in to investigate the screams and explosions, and on his guard having spotted the skinless corpse in the yard. Forewarned by the rest of the gang bellow, he rushes across the planks to get to the troubled Riff, but slips into one of the vats of acid, forcing Nisca to rush up to help fish him out. Riff, laughing maniacally, shakes his fear off, but a waiting shot from Variel knocks him off balance into a vat of bleach. By the time Nisca fishes him out, the bleach has blinded him and burned strips of his flesh off, revealing him to be a Skin-stealer, a horrible fae her mother had told her about in bed-time stories. The skin-thief readily admits what they already suspect -that he is Vorstag.

Taking him prisoner, they take his keys and unlock the door in his room to find a cabinet full of human skins – and one monstrous skin not unlike that of the Beast, the skin of the Mongrelman chief. Giving his secret stash of necrotic drugs to the thankful zombie-monks, they take their prisoner and their hard-won evidence down to the Courthouse before getting some much-needed rest back at the Inn.

Rising for the last day of the trial Narsius prepares more white necromancy to speak with the dead, while Nisca, Variel, Aaron & Ursus catalogs the evidence and get permission for Narsius’ magic to be allowed in court. The crowd is practically ready to riot, except for the firm threats placed down by the Chief Justice. The trial for today revolves around the destruction of Sanctuary and the death of Dr. Brada, so the Prosecutor calls forth the only witness to the event, Dr. Brada’s blind aid, Karl. When it comes to the defense the gang brings their A game, with Variel walking the Judges through the trail from Morast to Vorstag, thanks to his surgeon’s valise, then introduces the papers found at both Sanctuary and the Chymic’s factory that connect the two. Narsius steps up, casting his spell to have Dr. Brada’s head speak of his murder over a quarrel with Vorstag & Grines over the price of corpses they’d sold him for experimenting, and of how they poisoned him & cut off his head. Aaron takes the stand next, interviewing Karl and having him admit that he’d seen Vorstag & Grines visit several times to business with Dr. Brada. Aaron then describes the Mongrelman skin, which Karl admits sounds just like the Beast he’d seen.

Then it is Nisca’s turn, as she takes great delight in showing off the collection of skins Vorstag had in his closet, especially the mongrelman skin, followed by an explanation of what a flesh-stealer is. Ursus escorts the now-fleshless Vorstag out, and attempts to point out the scar on his shoulder, but fails to make it clear. But all doubt is laid to rest once Vorstag (having agreed to a plea-bargain to keep him from the Punishing Man) goes into grizzly detail about the many crimes he and his partner had performed in the name of the Beast. The judge calls recess for an hour, and upon his return declares the evidence is overwhelming! The Beast is innocent!

In the confusion that follows the Judges have the ruckus crowd evicted, while the Beast is freed. Before he is escorted from the city though, the Beast tells them to come meet him and his father as Schloss Caromarc, which several amongst the group recognize as the ancestral castle of the Count of Vieland! They receive word from Judge Daramid as well, requesting they meet with her first thing in the morning. For tonight though, having been given license to do so by the Barrister, they set off to sack the Chymic Works for whatever they can before the City takes possession.

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26: Grines & company
Trial of the Beast

Leaving Riff and Fenris on watch outside, the gang (currently consisting of Aaron, Nisca, Kendra, Narcius, Variel & Ozric) head in the the main Chymics factory, finding a large room filled with vats of acid and bleach, being tended by eight Mongrelmen. Several of the Mongrelmen grab up clubs and attack, while the rest stick to their work, looking on nervously. But despite the nauseating fumes and difficult fighting conditions the gang solidly puts them all to route, causing them to flee through doors to the sewers in the lower level.

Heading to the upper floor they begin searching rooms, finding not only the upper loading bay, but several bedrooms, clearly belonging to Vorstag & Grines given the alchemical equipment and assorted valuable oddities. While searching one of the latter rooms they are ambushed by Grines, who keeps them on their toes with fields of magical darkness while skittering about on walls and throwing deadly poisoned axes. Aaron disrupts the Darkness by radiating Sunlight from his halo, and the gang quickly puts him to flight with arrows and bullets. Badly injured, he finds retreat downward cut off by the just-arrived Ursus, so climbs back up, only to be shoot from his perch by Variel and fall to his death in a vat of bleach.

While Aaron & Ursus struggle to retrieve Grines’ body, the others search the laboratories above. Niska starts filling a bag with the word “Loot” embroidered on the side with potential “evidence” and or shiny things, resulting in much yelling and berating by Narsius and Variel on the finer points of etiquette, law and the defenition of theft vs. salvage. Ozric nearly gets his head bitten off when he head up through a trap-door to the tower by a pair of snap-jawed Homunculi, instead succumbing to their poison and taking a nap for several minutes while the rest of the gang skitters up to dispatch the little monsters. By the end of it Aaron gets his halo infested by the surviving steel denture wielding pixie construct after it flees and goes mad once it finds he and Ursus bringing back its’ master’s body.

Once all are reunited (and conscious), the gang ascends to the final tower room (only briefly slowing for Variel to disarm the magical bell-trap) to find yet one more mad Homunculus which is quickly dispatched. Noting the curios in the tower but finding no clues (despite the ongoing dispute with Nisca’s definitions of such), they return to the second lab/bedroom where they find themselves stymied by a very challenging lock…

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25: The Chymic Works
Trial of the Beast

Joined by Aaron and his new-found companion, Fenris the wolf, the Defenders of the Beast (Narsius, Ozric, Variel & Nisca, along Kendra & deputy Riff) assemble with warrant in hand to search Vorstag & Grines’ Chymic Works. Finding the front gate bared from the inside with a snarling dog on the other side, they decide a stealthy approach might be better, so using rope & grappling hooks, Variel & Ozric climb the wall, braving the broken glass to leap over the edge into the courtyard bellow. Landing prone, the hound immediately attacks – and they find it to be no mere dog, but a construct, a flesh golem, and possibly more than they can handle. Aaron climbs over the wall next, only to land and be nearly torn apart. With Aaron down and out, Variel manages to get the door open, despite his own severe injuries.

The next minute is a frenzy of violence as everyone surrounds the monster and stabs or slashes with blades or peppers it with arrow or shot or quarrel. Though it mangles Variel’s hawk, it fails to drag anyone else down before falling to their collective fire. Having secured the courtyard, they spend a short amount f time recovering before heading through double doors to their right. After Variel discerns no traps or locks, Aaron enters to find a store-room with three startled Mongrelmen who, despite his attempts to parlay, attack. Their attack swiftly turns into a route as the gang swiftly drops two of the, leaving the last to barricade himself in the stables. As Variel patches the two prisoners up, they chat with the one trapped in the stables, who simperingly reveals that Vorstag & Grines killed their Chief, & now force them to work in their factory.

A search of the store room turns up a useful collection of alchemical goodies, as well as a fine bottle of port with a note saying, “To a preferred customer, curtsey Vorstag & Grines.” After a quick debate over the finer points of ethics and looting rights while conducting a raid for clues, the gang reassembles outside the door of the factory proper and get ready to kick in the door…

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24: No Sanctuary
Trial of the Beast

As court raps up for the day Nisca & Narsius are rejoined by Ozric, Kendra, Beja, Auric, Riff & Hap the Hunchback. After some quick talk Nisca & Oz send Hap & Riff off to do some shopping for them, while Nisca instructs Auric & Beja to continue spreading the good word about their defense of the Beast. The rest join Narisus in visiting the Cathedral to inform them of the state of affairs in Hergstag, but Narsius manages to alienate the Pharazmites to the point that they decide to not let the self-avowed arrogant white necromancer through the door. After a little more discussion, the four decide to do a bit of investigation in preparation for the last day of the trial.

After failing to gain an audience at Vorstag & Grine’s Chymic Works (Grine proving to have no interest in Ozric’s attempts to buy gunpowder in bulk), the gang heads off to interview Karl, Dr. Brada’s assistant and the only survivor of the Karb Island Sanctuary massacre four months ago, where they also find Variel (led here by his own thread of investigation). Karl, blinded from the fire, proves to be a friendly and informative host, despite having been blinded by the fire. The last thing he saw was a monster that matches the Beast’s description (though it also matches the description of creature the swampers of Morast drove off). Karl also warns them of the Ghasts that haunt the area, and mentions Dr. Brada’s body was never found. Thanking him for the repast, the Heroes of Harrowstone set off on the road to Sanctuary.

Despite their horses being somewhat spooked, they reach their destination just before nightfall. The hospital is a ruin, but searching the wreckage they discover two things: a singed strongbox, and a hole leading to the cellars. The strongbox requires muscle & a crowbar to open (the lock being melted shut), before revealing singed papers, barely legible. With a bit of work, Nisca & Kendra manage to discern the words Vorstag & Grine’s Chymic Works repeated several times. Before entering the hole, Kendra offers to use her “gift” as a seer, and once Oz tosses in one of their ever-burning torches, she projects her sense of sight and perceives the cellar interior, spotting several Ghasts lying in wait.

Planing their attack first, they toss down a knotted rope before Variel hustles down to hit the undead creatures with a burst of positive energy (winging Nisca & Narsius in the process) before starting the fight in earnest. As soon as he lands he’s surrounded, but one drops quickly as Oz, Narsius, Nisca & Kendra all fire down at the one so foolish as to step within view through the cellar entrance. The way clear, Oz zips down the rope, followed by Narsius who hanges near the ceiling. In short order they dispatch the remaining three, but not before Variel and Ozric take some injury. Pausing to heal up while Nisca & Kendra join them, they soon set about searching the wrecked workshop.

Of most obvious interest (and disgust) is a candelabra of charred human heads. Though most are misshapen, one is not, and they hazard the guess that this is the head of the missing Dr. Brada, and save the head in a sack for later communion with the dead, hoping perhaps he can reveal what happened here (possibly even to the court the following day). After digging through the mess, they uncover a number of treasures, including an empty vial of bleach marked with the label stating the name of it’s manufacturer, the ever increasingly familiar Vorstag & Grine’s Chymic Works. Tucking their finds in their packs, they retreat to Lepidstadt, dogged much of the way by a rather contented Will-o-the-whisp.

Though it is late they stop by Karls’ home and ask the blind assistant about Vorstag & Grine’s visits to the Sanctuary, but sadly he has little to add to what they know, except only to confirm that they visited every few months and did have dealings with his employer. As they are taking their leave they are met by an out of breath Hap, who warns them of an angry mob forming outside of the Courthouse, threatening to set it on fire if they guards don’t hand over the Beast so they can see him properly lynched.

Racing to the town plaza they see a mob of perhaps sixty, not quite yet organized, as ringleaders egg them onward to see justice done. Racing to join the Courthouse Guards, they set about trying reason with the crowd, which meets with a small amount of success. But not enough for Nisca’s liking – so she pulls herself up to her most imperious height and gives them her most austere tongue-lashing. Enough of the mob is taken aback that they soon disperse, ending the tense stand-off without bloodshed (and disproving Oz’s nightmare vision received so long ago in Harrowstone – for now). As the mob leaves, the gang spot a tall green hat they recognize from descriptions of Vorstag, and realize what they need to tackle next. But first they meet with the city guard (arriving a little late), who thank them for settling matters peaceably (though they get the feeling they’d be just as happy to have let the mob have the Beast).

Discussing their next move, they decide Vorstag & Grine’s Chymic Works’ time has come. After a impassioned plea from Variel to do so in a legal fashion, Nisca quizzes one of the court guards as to who might be least likely to have them arrested if they were to ask for a warrant at this late hour, and they point them back to their old patron, Judge Daramid. Soon banging at her door, the Judge admits them reluctantly, refusing to hear what evidence they “think” they may have, but proves willing to give them a warrant regardless once they convince her of the overwhelming level of evidence they are sure they will find.

As midnight fast approaches, they resemble outside they foul-smelling Chemical factory and prepare to pursue a little more justice…

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23: Day Two
Trial of the Beast

As midnight rolls around, Narsius, Nisca, Ursus & Ozric are heading down to check Ellsa’s House (Ellsa being the child the Beast had befriended). En-route they come across what at first appears to be a collapsed scarecrow in the middle of the road, which proves to be the body of a thief with his leg stuck in one of the bear-traps. After striping him of the tools of his trade (and his ill-gotten gains), they move on.

While Ozric lingers behind to watch the road, the gang searches near Ellsa’s farmhouse, where the child-wraith ambushes them. Though she fails in her attempt to “tickle” Ursus, the grizzled warrior’s instincts make sure he strikes true, and the injured spirit flees back into her home, forcing them to chase her, room by room, until Narsius “persuades” her to stay and be friends (though Nisca’s silver tongue spreads her friendliness around). Chatting with her they have their suspicions confirmed (that the Beast was her friend & that Brother Swarm killed her), and she tells them how she’d been teaching the Beast poetry. After some persuading, she agrees to take them to the tangle where the Beast had lived.

At the tangle they find the poetry book, but are ambushed again, this time by Brother Swarm himself. As Ellsa dithers between countering commands from Narsius and her creator, the gang do no small amount of damage to the master wraith, despite the knowledge that with his death all the children would grow to become full fledged wraiths themselves. Narrowly Narsius manages to pull him under his sway before such can happen however, and the Death Mage orders Brother Swarm back to his hiding place up on the hill. With grim determination, they accept the truth and surround Ellsa while pretending to play a game of ring-around-the-rosy, before slashing and hacking the poor wraith girl, destroying her unholy state to free her soul.

From there they traveled to the town chapel where another one of the Wraith children attempted (& failed) to lure them into a cornfield. After digging up Ellsa & Karen’s bodies, they argued at length about wither they’d found enough evidence to return to Lepidstadt, or wither they’d best search for more (much less wither or not they should stick around to free the children & kill Brother Swarm, or leave it to Pharasmian Inquisitors to clean up). After much debate they eventually agreed to head over to Karen’s house to check for certain if there was any evidence to be found that might prove the Beast innocent.

Once there Karen’s spirit attempts to coax them into the nearby woods, but they manage instead to get her to chase after them when they threaten to enter her house and jump on her bed and break all her toys. Flying into a rage she charges out, only to be swiftly dispatched. Hving to break in the door, their search proves it would be difficult (if not impossible) for the Beast to have broken in without clear damage to her window (shuttered and latched) or without leaving traces on the otherwise hard wall to climb.

Satisfied (for now) they retreat to Narsius’ wagon and begin the long journey back to Lepidstadt, which proves peaceful, except for a brief run-in with a half-dozen Styrges trying to suck their horses dry.

Getting in just before dawn Ursus & Ozric head off to get what sleep they can, while Narsius beds down in the court-house with the girl’s coffins, leaving Nisca to enter the evidence they’ve gathered. Nisca is overjoyed to run into Kendra & Beja, both fresh in from Ravengro and here to lend her what help they may. Kendra has come in the company of Riff, a former deputy who has sworn to be her bodyguard (the other deputies all wanted to come, but the sheriff persuaded them to stay and protect their home town). Also appearing to offer his service is Auric Slavan, in return for being part of the company that saved him from his would-be Ghoul bride. She puts him immediately to work spreading good word about the Beast in an effort to turn popular opinion of the monster around.

After making sure all their evidence is presented to the court, and that special dispensation for Narsius to speak to the dead as part of their defense is established, Nisca retreats to the Defense’s chambers to wait until summoned. The prosecution calls upon the three sisters and has them tell their perception of what happened. When it comes time for the defense it is again all on Nisca to present their case, and present she does. Pointing out the Beast bringing Ellsa in carefully, that his crying is easily misconstrued as laughter, how difficult it is to get into Karen’s home… And just before the court would be called into recess, stepping aside she gives the stage to Narsius, fresh faced from his rest and ready to call on their last two witnesses – the girls themselves.

Despite the protests of the public in the balcony above, he invokes “white necromancy” to call forth the girl’s spirits to confirm or deny the Beast’s innocence. Ellsa most emphatically assures everyone of the Beast’s innocence & talks of her trying to teach him to read (statements that set the Beast to crying in his own peculiar way. Karen’s information in turn confirms the Beast’s innocence in this matter, putting the crime firmly on Brother Swarm’s shoulders. As the crowd shouts its’ upset, the Judges bring yet another Court-day to an end…

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22: Day One
Trial of the Beast

The gang arrives back in Lepidstadt around 3 in the morning. Agreeing that Nisca had best present their evidence from Morast in court that day, Narsius & Ozric stay up with the intention of following leads regarding the surgeon’s valise as soon as the shops open up.

Pushing away fatigue, the two head over to grab help from the Crooked Kin, and once dawn arrives, they head over to spend the morning following leads that lead them through Surgeon’s Flats near the University, through Anatomist’s Way, & eventually back to the Flats and a clearing house of alchemical goods where they get a description of a tall, dapper gentleman in black who was said to run a chymic works somewhere nearby. Leaving the finding of it to the Crooked Kin, they turn around and head over to the Courthouse to see how Nisca is doing.

Nisca is doing fine. With her excellent oration and presentation of the various clues they’d found the previous evening, she seems to have given a strong case for the Beast not being responsible for the murders at Morast. Once the Court recesses for the day, the three rejoin the Crooked Kin (who’ve had no luck on their own) and find the name (and location) of their suspect by nightfall: Master Vorstag, of Vorstag & Grine’s Chymic Works.

Sadly, the hour grows late, and they fear not getting evidence regarding Hergstag (the following day’s subject in court), so the gang (now joined by a well-rested Ursus) heads first to interview three survivors of the ghost-town, then the Beast again, once they realize there are holes in their story. Turns out the Beast sounds like he’s laughing when he cries (such as when he walked into town clutching the body of his friend Ellsa). He claims the children were killed by a soul-sucking ghost, and he tried to warn the little farming community, but they drove him away. They also are browbeat into revealing that one of the girls, Rachel, died two days after the Beast had fled, while upstairs & in the privacy of her home.

Riding with care from the city, the gang’s trip proves uneventful until they arrive in Hergstag (only a half-hour until midnight). There they hobble their horses & head in on foot. They notice several Bear-traps they narrowly avoid, but when they hear a child crying, Narsius accidentally steps in one. As soon as he is so trapped, he is attacked by the spirit of Allen, one of the missing children. Before he can be messed up further, Narsius invokes a durge, and manages to persuade Allen to be his friend. Allen then tells them of how he and the others were murdered by a wraith calling himself Brother Swarm. The gang pause there with their new-found friend, debating their options and growing concern over a village full of wraith-children while prying the trap off of Narsius’ leg.

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21: CSI Morast
Trial of the Beast

The gang (now consisting only of Nisca, Variel, Ozric & Ursus) have a joyous (if peculiar) reunion with the newly Reincarnated Narsius in front of the Courthouse, before together heading in to get sworn in as Investigators for the Defense. Meeting with the stuttering Barrister Gustav Kaple, they are brought up to speed on the case and given a run-down on how the Court operates, and who the major members are. They are also informed that the trial has already started: the next three days make or break the case, and they have to register their evidence before the next day at 10am! Realizing it is already 8pm, they recognize they’ll have to work fast.

First order of business involves a visit to the imprisoned defendant himself, the Beast of Lepidstadt. Variel quickly determines he’s not evil, and soon they all come to like the poor, angry creature, childlike in his insistence that he is not at fault. Determining he has no name (except that his creator called him “son”) makes him seem even more pitiful, though the huge monster still seems quite powerful and dangerous to all the guards with them.

Next they hustle through the night to reach Morast to investigate the 10 murders he is said to have committed there. It is perhaps 10:30 at night when they arrive, so old man Lazne is none-to-happy to meet with them and answer their annoying “city-folk” questions, but they manage to win him over, and soon enough he’s telling them about how the Beast had been first killing lone travelers, then attacking whole houses at night. It stopped after they sprung a trap, then chased him back to the Old Boneyard, where he got bit on the shoulder by a Blood Caiman and dragged under. They abandoned the Old Boneyard after that, believing the blood of the Beast had tainted the isle, and had thought the matter finished and the Beast dead until they were called to Court to testify about the attacks. The gang discusses this and notes slight discrepancies in the description of the creature they pursued and that of the Beast they met earlier that evening.

Lazne agrees to the party’s request to ferry them out to the isle, and by Midnight they have arrived. They barely have time to begin investigating an old campsite Variel spotted, when they are attacked from above by a Manticore, flying in to protect it’s nest (hidden in nearby trees). Though the initial distance causes some concern, they bring it down with a deadly combo of gunshot & arrow & spell, with Ursus driving it into a frenzy when he runs over to chop down the tree holding it’s nest. The next proves to hold the remains of a traveling Dwarf merchant, but little relating to the case.

But the rest of the island reveals more clues: the campsite shows evidence that an Alchemist had camped there a year ago (residue of an extract of Darkvision near the campfire, yet Flesh Golems can see in the dark). Nearby is a hidden boat with a leather satchel in it with clothes of a craftsman, and weirdly a human face (which still oddly is both preserved and living). Hidden in the water attached by a rope they find a man-sized blood-stained sack holding rope, gag, a rusted shovel & lamp, and a collection of heavy knives. They also manage to recover an expensive Physician’s satchel containing expensive surgical gear, each item of which is marked with a raven – which Narsius postulates is the maker’s mark, and suggests that if the maker is local, he likely can be found in the craftsman’s alley known as “Surgeon’s Flats.” Showing the face to Lazne reveals (besides revulsion) that the face is known to them as belonging to a poacher named Nan Klebem, though he admits no one’s seen him since the Beast attacked.

With new evidence in hand, and new leads to pursue (and not much time to do it in), they set back off for Lepidstadt.

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20: Arrival in Lepidstadt
Trial of the Beast

Two days after Narsius’ death while camping amongst the foothills of the Tusk Mountains, the road-weary Crooked Kin Caravan arrives in the excited city of Lepidstadt. Noting the preparations of the Punishing Man in front of the Courthouse, they move on to set up their freak show in the market square some blocks away. It is here the Heroes of Harrowstone part ways with the Crooked Kin, though each promises to help the other if they are in need.

The Heroes stop first at Gravecharge Cathedral to see if the Priests can’t bring Narsius back from the dead. After some negotiation, they agree to use what’s left of Narsius’s funds, along with his cut of the reward for transporting the Professor’s books, to have a visiting Druid bring him back (once they get a resounding YES from the Spirit Planchette). Leaving his body in their care, they join Nisca in getting adjoining rooms at the Pearl Conscience Inn (a place of discretion, the proprietor assures them), where Nisca bumps (literally) into fellow aristocrat adventurer Adivion Adrissant, whom she dimly remembers dancing with a decade past at a ball in Ardis. After catching up a bit (where he briefly mentions something about traveling to the Ascanor Lodge, deep in the Shudderwood in Lozeri), he takes his leave, and the gang sees about getting cleaned up and refreshed before heading back out to deliver the first of the Professor’s books to Judge Embreth Daramid.

At her townhouse Judge Daramid invites them in and hears their harrowing tale, and while accepting the book and providing the promised reward, refuses to answer Ozric’s questions about either the whispering way or the mysterious order that opposes them. She does agree to send Narsius’s reward over to the Cathedral to see to his return to the living, and on top of that, offers them another reward, equal to their last (and including Variel) – if only they assist her in another matter.

It turns out she is one of the Judges overseeing the trial of the Beast of Lepidstadt, and she is concerned he won’t get a fair trial. The defense, Barrister Gustav Kaple, is just not up to the task of doing a case like this justice, so she would like them to assist him in gathering proof of the Beast’s innocence (or guilt). They must also agree to keep her involvement in bringing them in a secret (otherwise her impartiality would be thrown into question). The rancor in the city over the Beast, after decades of naming him a scapegoat, will be hard to overturn, and potentially quite risky, but the Heroes agree to take the case.

As evening darkens the sky over Lepenstadt, the gang again sets out, this time to visit Lepidstadt University, the place where the Beast was caught. There they talk at length with Doctor Montagnie Crowl, head of Antiquities, and recipient of the rest of Professor Lorimor’s books. The Doctor proves quite sad about the Professor’s death, and insists on liberal sharing of Brandy while telling them of the strange robbery and rampage committed by the Beast, and of his easy capture. After a little encouragement, he agrees to show them around the Antiquities building, where the robbery took place. Checking everything, the gang soon uncovers a number of clues that support evidence that he did indeed break in and bust up the place, but leaves many questions about motive and the discriminate care he showed in the theft of the Seasage Effigy (the weird green octopus-like statue that was the only thing stolen). One key point is the possible evidence supporting the idea that he may have had help from an imp (or some such creature) waiting outside a window, which would imply other conspirators.

With more questions than answers, the Harrowstone Gang takes their leave of the good Doctor and head off to the Court House to speak with the Barrister before the night draws too late and he leaves for bed.

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19: Death on the Road!
Journey to Lepidstadt

After taking an extra day to recuperate from the battle underneath the Black Goat (and to count up their reward), the gang rejoin the Crooked Kin and continue north along the Old Mountain road toward Lepidstadt.

Mid-morning, while crossing a rickety old bridge across a chasm, they are accosted by a Troll intent on eating one of their horses. They decline to pay his toll however, and with Aaron charging in and Nisca and Narsius supporting with spell & crossbow, they manage to do the monster in in short order. Hidden in the mud-banks bellow they find the Troll’s stash, the remains of two nobles (& their horse’s head). They bury the two unfortunates, but keep their valuables just the same.

Slowed by the incident, the Caravan doesn’t make it to the next town in time, and are forced to camp amongst the foothills of the Tusk Mountains. Early on in the evening their rest is interrupted by a band of Ghouls from Clover’s Crossing, long on Auric’s trail. Led by a ghoulish girl calling for her lost love, they have a brief scuffle with the camp’s defenders, with Aaron leaving two of their number dead, and enough of the rest under Narsius’ thrall that he convinces them of Auric’s death and send them sobbing back into the night to find his grave.

As midnight approaches, Aaron’s watch is interrupted by a pack of stealthy Wargs. They nearly drop Aaron, Nisca & Versithe (along with one of the Clowns, and they DO manage to kill Narsius before Ursus manages to save the day, driving them off by killing the pack alpha. Nisca shocks everyone by drinking Narsius’ blood to heal herself. As midnight arrives they draw ranks and prey nothing else will slither out of the shadow of the mountains…

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