Chronicles of Coppelia – Neyavr 13th, 751 BR

Journal date: Neyavr 13th, 751 BR

This entry will encompass an extra day, as I was not in a position to document our excursion after we entered Harrowstone, encamping in the Warden’s office for efficiency as we did. This is not to say our time in the prison is terminated, just that we triggered to the fact that we could travel back to the Van Richten estate to tuck in our tired minds and bodies tonight, through the trusted information turned over to us by a transparent source. But I believe I have gotten ahead of myself.

Breakfast was early but beneficial, and Lady Beatrice behaved in her bizarre fashion, trying to make us believe she had become named Dorcas Harrington and speaking in a breathy, rasping tone below her normal benign register, but besides her accent she remained bound to the bid to use the carriage as our byway to the next bit of our adventure. The ride itself was relatively without remark, as we had risen early and many of the company remained nearly at rest, though they were not to reside for long in such a state after our arrival. As a student of the science that is engineering, as well as the study of the body biological, I sought to see the lift, sequestered on the eastern side I surmised, so as to better understand what its state was at the start and end of the suspicious situation that sundered this structure so long ago. Such being my skill set, I also sorted out that the smoke stained chimney I could see was set over the furnace. 

For having discussed the facts from that information on the outside, we found ourselves entering the foyer of the falling down prison, where I was to find that the festering nature of the foyer was not reflected in the featured doors north of us. They were fine and remarkably intact, despite the filthy surroundings, though no faith or magical feel flavored the air around them. We were fortunate that the framework around us was not about to fail and the floor above was not ready to crash down, though observation found that the further reaches of the balcony above were not so firm.

The next chamber came with a caustic seeming collection of growth, mold and fungus that clung to the chilled walls, which somehow caused excitement in our alchemist Dr. Phil. He careened forward, with Victor coming along as a kind of reflexive condition. The chamber doors closed behind them with no cause coming from our collective, an action controlled by the creepy haunted forces of this cold place. The doors, crafted without locking mechanisms, would not concede to my attempt to open them and clear a path to our compatriots. In the chamber they encountered a caterwauling collection of countenances coming from the walls, we could hear but could not counter from our side. Clearly Victor was confident in the outcome, as he coated the door with holy water and caused the haunt to halt, also clearing the closure of the doors that came to hang open. We were all able to enter and examine the chamber and it’s many closed doors that would lead further into Harrowstone.

To the west we were to walk into a hallway, wonderfully quiet, where the workings of the prison guards, with offices aplenty, would be found. A wealth of information was located in the mouldy documents we would eventually collect, to be worked over and sorted at a more wise time. Once we had identified this was a space without immediate threat, we worked on understanding the other doors which branched out from the foyer, rather than wander down the hallway. To the northeast we noticed the large chamber was neighboring next to the southeast door’s niche, separated by only a neat row of bars. Not surprising, I should note, as this is a prison. The northeast room was large, with tables that were not stable, leaning and lapsing with age and decay. The smaller room stood furnished with a small stage, upon which set a chair and a stool. North the door lead to another hallway. We began with the west.

As I added earlier, the assorted documents were assembled, for a review at a later time. The advancement towards the end of the hall lead to the apertures that were an office for the Warden and a water closet. In the Warden’s chambers a sealed safe, secured and standing solidly after the passage of several years, stymied us. Something about this chamber spurred Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas into a feeling of safety, not just a small pause but a surety of security from the spirits in such a space. Using a spell I was able to sense that there was sucor to be found in the safe, magical solutions that sloshed and could surely be damaged if we started to stir the safe too much. Keenly, we could not find a key for the safe, so it would keep its collection until we had.

Across the foyer, into the small chamber showing the stage to the section beyond the bars, some of our crew noticed a severe temperature situation, as a spirit started to chill Dr. Phil, Victor, and Gorig-Nak. This cold spot haunt would only respond to a specific circumstance, information shared by Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas, so we were able to summon positive energy to squash it for some time, knowing it would show up again. The situation sapped the strength of those that rushed in to seek answers. The more substantive solution was somewhat involved and stood beyond our skills at this time. Our use of cures and summoning energy saved us for the next hour, so we were able to determine that the door beyond the disturbance was, as Swanhilda found a small plaque in the floor debris, the Property Room. The door was sturdy, sealed with a lock, and not subject to be easily entered, so we stepped away to seek another key.

North of the cold spot, towards the northeast corner, we could see the crumbling walls no longer concealed the outside, where the crater that had become a curious pond currently could be observed. Coming closer to this disturbance, we could see the crevice in the floor was more commonly covered by a crane and pulley system, indicating it could have been the lift. Close to the edge of this pit a cranium rested, and Lady Beatrice called out that there was something of psychic significance to come upon, coinciding with Victor’s claim that he felt the burned and charred skull was indeed creepy in some configuration. Ciprian was compelled to sense the undead, and confirmed five presences. This was the cue for the cranium and its four compatriots concealed by rubble to come forth and combat us. Clearly they could not know we were so conversant with the challenges they would present, and consequently the flaming skulls were dispatched with a combination of weapons and holy water, quite quickly.

This allowed us to further explore the final outcome of the fire on the lift and find that it was the flames damaging the superstructure, causing a failure that flung the remains into the now-pond. The mechanism framed around the lift had fittings for some form of device or mechanics that cannot be found now. The hole would be fine to climb down after the first 20 feet, but that chance of fumble early on spawned enough fear that we found it preferable to find somewhere else to explore first. 

Maintaining our northerly direction, my eyes found a plaque that read, with much muck making it difficult, Ember Maw. My reading was merely visual, but Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas used her mind to do a psychic reading that marked the name ‘Benjan’ as one of major value. We made note of this for more review later, as in the moment we had a room to look into. Dr. Phil, Swanhilda, and I moved towards the metal furnace, the menacing face plate looking like a skull, and before he could move away Dr. Phil felt a large measure of molten energy that nearly marked the end of our master of alchemy. I meted out my healing energy as Swanhilda wisely moved to safety. My healing measures were also useful at turning the malignant force of the furnace quiet. Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas was able to make out that Benjan, the prisoner that met his end in the furnace to the merciless act of merry guards, was missing something that may be in the furnace itself and made this haunt happen. By removing the remaining bones of Benjan, and placing them in the pond water, we were able to ensure Ember Maw would rest.

The next room seemed benign at first, beds and basic exam cubicles caused us to believe it was the infirmary. But before Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas could be sure of any psychic benchmarks, Dr. Phil and Gorig-Nak, behind which trailed Victor, made a bee-line for the basic medicines they beheld. This effort was answered by a skeletal figure in between the debris, belying their best efforts with a bellow of fear that beset Victor and Gorig-Nak. I was also in the blast, however I have yet to experience what became them. However, that does not block me from aiding others, and I brushed against Victor to better his judgement and remove the fear. Swanhilda, being a beast, is not above emotions, so I felt it better to leave her outside of the room. While the figure became less tangible, and less visible, it persisted in beleaguering us with bottles, tools, and other debris. I began to collect the valuable medical bottles that still bore contents before the poltergeist was able to snare and sunder them at us. I was aided, and between us Victor, Dr. Phil, and I bravely saved the brews, allowing Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas, Ciprian and Gorig-Nak to battle on. Using our best judgement, we backed up to the Warden’s base of operations, to take stock and breathe. 

It was there we elected to ease our efforts by resting for the evening. The day had already been full of excitement, and though we expected this we still found we were exhausted. Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas felt that our safety was ensured by the effect the Warden had on the inmates in life and extending even beyond death. 

I elected to take the first watch. I would have taken every watch, but I did need to enter a powered down state to recover the spells expended, and the appearance of exhaustion was required to avoid further exposing my essential nature. In examination of my senses, I estimate that my ears were more aptly attuned than that of my watchmate, Victor, as I was able to extricate the sound of sobbing from the environmental noises and he was not. Our watch showed no other excitement, and at the end I empowered Swanhilda to keep the next episode of attentiveness as I elected to ease my eyes by “sleeping” in the corner. In my estimation this was a passable effort, as it caused no alarm in my compatriots when I “woke”.

Upon rising it was realized that Gorig-Nak was required to run a letter for Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas back to the residence for appropriate dispatch, and then he was required to take a day of rest from his regular assignment. 

Our explorations revealed a room with a rack with spaces for six potions, she regaled us of their importance, relying on her psychic revelations for this. Five of the rack slots were bare, the last remained an empty vial that had become residence for a tiny arachnid. Over an hour of examination and no vials were extracted from the environment. I should note that Lady Beatrice remained in the Dorcas persona, reinforcing that the evidently rather young woman would behave in a role that required her to be old and enfeebled. 

The journey into the jail continued, and just as we spent hours in idle speculation that failed to justify our caution, we were reminded of the jail’s true jurisdiction, that of danger just around every corner. In this instance, it manifested in an infusion of spiders, coming to inspect and attack us. Swanhilda and I were ill-prepared for such an infestation, however in time we inflicted harm as indicated by the actions of the others in our party. It did involve an excursion down the hall for Victor to incapacitate the last of them.

Searching for the source of the spiders, a chapel was seen, dedicated to the Advent of the Scarlet Maiden, it seems. This is where our searches finally showed results in the discovery of some vials, sealed with wax. Ciprian was sure these were holy water. A scroll also resided in its secure case, set next to a small ash wand. My skills at spellcraft identified the scroll as that of lesser restoration and the small wand was sure to cure some of our lighter wounds, so I elected to steward the use of that special item.

The next room manifested manacles, after mildly mauling Cipiran when he molested the door with a kick. But not mere manacles, in fact they were animated as Beatrice would come to mind on her entrance. My mind supplied that they were manifestations of the maudlin state of the facility. Dr. Phil ingested his mutagen, and after a mass of misses from the rest of us, a near misfire of Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas’s firearm, he manipulated the situation in his favor by using a bomb, melting the manacles to slag, and also maring Victor’s meticulous coat in the process. I made sure to make Victor slightly more hale with the new wand. 

Progress down the corridors displayed the plaque proclaiming we had found the Branding Room. Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas plied her psychic power to proclaim there was much physical anguish. Dr. Phil and Victor, prominent in the lead as the pattern of the progression dictates, proceeded to bear the burn of the brands. Victor used the properties of holy water to persuade the brands to return to their temporary rest. In my perpetual habit I found myself healing Victor, but neither Victor nor Dr. Phil were perfectly recovered and the brand remained perpetually upon their skin.

Finally we found our feet carrying us to the last room on the main floor, the laundry room. Profound and found close by, Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas felt a level of grief that overwhelmed her fragile senses. I looked into the laundry lair, but I was too late to let Victor know that something was less than wholesome inside, as the straightjacket latched on to him. Animated objects litter about this place, it seems. Ciprian was laid low by the living clothing, however my spells were able to restore life to him with a little timely application. Dr. Phil again finished the fight with his ferocious fire bombs. We found little of interest though the odor made Swanhilda feel uncomfortable, laundry left untended for so long leaves a lingering malaise. 

Such a structure seemed to be standard, but a few of our folks found a secret door. I stepped into the hallway, seeking to understand the spatial relations to the door in the hall. Through the door I was able to surreptitiously sense the conversation inside. Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas used their Spirit Trumpet spell to seek out the spirits, but the response was slurred and indistinct. On the suspicions based on our slew of clues, she summoned the spirit of Vesorianna, the Warden’s wife, offering our services to return her husband home to her. The spirit regarded those entering as new recruits to the system, but otherwise seemed amiable. 

Through conversation that I could hear through the door, Victor and Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas chatted her up, gaining more clues to the five convicts that continued to make her life complicated. One convict, counter to the others, resided above ground, and we were able to conclude it was Father Charlatan. Her name congealing on the monument was credited to the Splatter Man, and her concern was that we must resolve the matter before the name is completed, or he will succeed in siphoning the source of her spirit. She asked us to consider the artifacts the cursed convicts were connected to, concealed within the property room. As we have the common knowledge of their crimes, we could make the connection to which objects were theirs. She also confirmed the cultists were responsible for the contusions to the “funny gentleman” that I clearly believe was Doctor Van Richten. 

With her advanced aid, the property room was able to be accessed. Through the aperture we found an assortment of antique goods, but not aligned with the artifacts we were seeking to be attached to the five. After some extra effort, Lady Beatrice slash Dorcas was able to ascertain that an additional secret aperture awaited us, and through it we advanced to find the assorted accoutrements we were in search of. We acquired:

  • The Lopper’s bloodstained axe
  • Father Charlatan’s knotted assortment of holy symbols
  • The Maurader’s masterwork light hammer
  • The Piper’s tarnished silver flute
  • A spellbook coated and caked with mold that must, by elimination, be the symbol of the Splatter Man.

In keeping the items from pooling their power, we parsed the prizes out one to a person. 

  • Victor: Axe
  • Ciprian: Holy symbols
  • Dr. Phil: Hammer
  • Beatrice: Pipes
  • Coppelia: Spellbook

I suspected the Splatter Man of being a sincere threat, with strong emotional ties, so I spoke up of a desire to steward the item belonging to him. I sensed that my muted emotional state could serve me well. The conversation on where to stay the night started up, however I suggested we step away from the haunt and retreat to safety before we speak about these matters. So we related to the Warden’s safe space. From there I suggested we speak with Vesorianna about our next steps.

She cautioned us to use care with who held the items, as they all carry curses of varying degrees of danger and different natures. Latent curses can carry past the walls of Harrowstone, especially to be cautious of the spellbook’s custody. This inspired confidence in me, even though I have caught sight of my name, created with blood, in corners and surfaces we have passed. Blinking clears the occurrence of ‘Coppelia’ that I have caught, which convinces me it is not clearly there. A strange sensation has settled in my abdomen carrying with it a chill that I am not familiar with, carrying along with it a concern that I will lose the ability to cast my spells. I am mildly confused by this, as it brings about a tightness in my chest in a manner that coincides with descriptions of fear I have reviewed. 

Vesorianna was very unclear if it was preferable to leave the vicinity with the items or to linger in the Warden’s venue of safety. She did feel that her own existence was very much vulnerable to the inscription manifesting on the monument, via the efforts of the Splatter Man. The countdown has visibly vexed her, as we veer closer to the ten characters that will eventually be her possible end. 

With much evaluation, we elected to err on the side of absence, returning to Ravensgro. 

An astute audience would already have become alerted to the addition of alliteration through all of this address. Alas, I am aware that all of that may have been an idle attempt, and your awareness of such an affectation may only now be activated.

Chronicles of Coppelia – Neyavr 11th, 751 BR

Journal date: Neyavr 11th, 751 BR

As planned, the following day began with our visit to Councilman Muricar. He was curious as to our investigations, and was not surprised at the conclusion that all roads led to Harrowstone. He offered us cigars, which seemed an unusual action for an early morning visit, but there was also pie and tea, so Swanhilda was appeased at the least. Victor began by delving into the famous prisoners.

The two the councilman was most familiar with were the Lopper and the Piper of Illmarsh. The Lopper was Vance Setressil, known for hiding well and for long stretches in unusual places until his target was alone. At that time he would behead the target with a handaxe. This would turn out to be his flaw, as his final victim did not die from the strike. A congenital malady involving a stiffened neck caused a bone to dislodge and deflect the fatal blow. I was interested in the medical particulars of this condition and the result, but it did not seem like the time to ask it.

The Piper was the other prisoner which the councilman had some detailed knowledge of. The actual name of the killer was never discovered, and only the moniker was known. Before he would abduct his victims, he played a dirge on his flute that would torture them. Using lich powder in their meals, he would paralyze these lone victims so they could not resist the torturous tunes. Once paralyzed and distressed by the dramatic music, he would have his pet stirges drink the victims dry of their blood. Illmarsh is in Nova Vaasa, a large domain to the east. In particular, Illmarsh was the most distant settlement from any other – known for their horses and being a damp, unpleasant location. The population was highly insular, with potential inbreeding due to their secluded nature, resulting in mutations that are referred to as the “Illmarsh look” comprising bulging eyes and very long or very short necks. It is unclear if the Piper was pursuing victims of opportunity or some form of revenge killing for past ills. What was clear is that he was a bard and poisoner of considerable in both proclivities.

Aside from the prisoners, we inquired about who else may have had interest in Harrowstone or the Warden. The subject of recent travelers came up as a result, though they seemed inclined to be seclusionary and keep to themselves. It was also advised that Alendru could have information about the Splatter Man, as Alendru had previously been a court magician from the same region. This is apparently something Alendru establishes clearly and repeatedly during every interaction, however I believe my distraction during Victor and Alendru’s conversation may have resulted in a missed piece of information in this case.

Carriages came up again, even though the sisters were not able to find anything the councilman was able to indicate that notable prisoners were transported to Harrowstone directly in carriages, to ensure they made it in a visible manner. 

Finally the conversation came around to Doctor Van Richten, a member of town the councilman considered a friend. It appears he was interested in these outsiders that visited, in an almost hostile manner similar to the Gibs reaction to outsiders. No other strong negative reactions stood out to Councilman Muricar. The final detail regarding the travelers was their accent, which appeared to be from Lamordia, and that they may have been the ones that sold the book to Alendru.

We had taken a sufficient portion of the day, as it was approaching afternoon, so we departed and went our separate ways for the lunch hour, as has become something of a ritual. I felt it was prudent to check on Jominda, as the events of the previous day had seemed traumatic for her. While she seemed calm enough, I was able to observe a pistol under a cloth within arms reach, so she was understandably cautious as well. I had hoped to purchase an alchemy kit, as my equipment is still in Paridon as I did not expect an extensive trip as this has become. As a sidebar, I am curious if I will still have a job when I return? The kit was more coin than I had, and I offered services in exchange for material goods, but Jominda established that she was quite proud of her own work that she sells. That seems reasonable, this town was fully able to function well before we arrived, I should not expect to fill a key missing role just by being here, as if I am prima ballerina, I am at best a part of the corps de ballet.

Jominda, however did have a solution in the form of an introduction at the Silk Purse, the moneylender. The woman with the jeweler’s loupe there, introduced as Quess, took note of Jominda’s endorsement of myself, and I was offered a loan. While I dislike debts and imbalance, the interest rate of 4% was reasonable and the offered amount of up to 500 crowns was excessive to my needs. At present I elected to accept a loan of 100 crowns, which allowed me to make the purchase from Jominda and also have funding for other sundries as needed. Quess also had a beautiful display case of jewelry and it was suggested that if our company was to come into money we might partake of a purchase. Swanhilda is more fascinated by shiny objects, so I allowed her to browse. Unfortunately she is also of expensive tastes, as her desire for the ring of feather fall came in at 2000 crowns and the large piece of smoky quartz at 500, though it was an attractive stone. Due to the trusted endorsement Quess referred to me as “part of the family now,” which I am not entirely sure how to interpret.

When we regrouped Victor had the suggestion that we dig further into the visitors that gave Doctor Van Richten an unsettled response, unusual for the Doctor, but of course the next day after the stake out planned for that evening. It was critical that we maintain our abilities for the potential conflict if we were caught by the graffiti culprit. Lady Beatrice expressed an interest in the “Emma” engraved on the flask, and Gorig-Nak was well placed to point out that we still had not addressed the matter of the dead pig. I felt it was better to get ahead of the issue, in case it were to be seen in the Van Richten barn or traced back to the field he found it in. As a result he returned the meat to it’s appropriate owner. 

The rest of the day passed with relatively little event. I elected to rest to recover my spells, as a measure against potential conflict. Victor was able to determine that the cornfield Gibs maintained nearest the monument was unharvested. This apparently relates to a reluctance to pay for the needed assistance, but fortunately gave us good cover. There was also a patch of light cover in the backwoods closer to the monument, but not sufficient to cover all of us. Splitting the party seemed the prudent choice, so I sent Swanhilda to be closest to the statue, as the most expert when it comes to going unnoticed. Behind her was Ciprian, Lady Beatrice, and Gorig-Nak in the woods. Victor, Dr. Phil, and I were in the field. As we approached the field the bitter wind began gusting sharply over us. While it helped hide the sound of our approach and presence, it also cut deeply even through my thick clothing.

Swanhilda passed out from the cold, and I was forced to use a spell of messaging to alert Lady Beatrice to her location so she could be recovered. I began to contemplate how to acquire winter wear for my familiar. Around two in the morning the cold became overwhelming for the party members in the woods, though I believe Gorig-Nak left as Lady Beatrice’s condition required it, rather than of his own motivation. Those of us in the cornfield remained through to the morning, but nothing was seen, and no letter appeared on the statue.

I was forced to consider that I was seeing patterns where none exists, a common affliction I have seen in my patients at home, one that often leads to presumptive conclusions. Alternatively, we may have been seen by the offender. Further, there may be a pattern, but we were incorrect in our reading of it. As we crept around to try to return home with little attention drawn to our activity, we passed near the Vistani camp, where we were waved in and welcomed.

Alcohol was offered with breakfast, something that seems common in this area of the world. Since Swanhilda was very much asleep, I was able to partake carefully. Tarroka readings were held, and I was able to witness Madame Mvashti conduct a reading for Victor, but Gorig-Nak requested his reading in private. I was conservative with my coin and elected to pass as there was some feeling in the back of my mind that made me believe my luck was too dry to evoke a proper reading. Since luck is a nebulous concept at best I am not sure where these thoughts came from.

On returning to the manor most of the others retreated to their bedrooms for rest. I did not feel a need for this, as I had not expended any spells. Instead I spent time allowing Swanhilda to complete her usual hour of running from hand to hand and engaging in dance practice. That afternoon, when I had completed my rehearsal, I discovered Victor had departed to town, to gather gossip. I elected to speak with Alendru and see if the offer to study the tome was an option. It did hold up, as I minded the front counter and studied while Alendru taught one of his classes. Most peculiar, as I was entering Victor was leaving. We often seem to be of the same mind on many issues and activities. The others ran their respective individual errands until we came together once more. At that time it was decided, based on the additional information Victor had received from his efforts, that we would attempt to locate the campsite of the mysterious visitors that originally sold the tome. 

The additional information that was acquired was very interesting. While the accents were Lamordian, it appeared that it may have been an affectation, in lieu of a genuine speech pattern. Additionally, to Alendru, who was Lamordian himself, they lacked the proper appearance that would match the accents. They were described as darker skinned, but still quite pale in a peculiar manner. It has been confirmed they were seen in the daytime, so the lack of coloration to their pallor was not a total aversion to sunlight, such as night-bound creatures would display after long periods of time. The tome itself was to be delivered by the man that originated the transaction with Alendru, so seeing these travellers doing the delivery was a surprise to him. Alendru had pointed out a spot on the book where it appears the cover was treated to remove ink, ink that may have represented a mark of ownership, I will need to look for this next time I am able to study.

Ciprian, an excellent tracker, was easily able to find the remains of the camp. At the site itself there was not a lot that stood out right away, though Phil found some dried meat and I located a remaining piece of dried fruit. Cipiran’s expert eye determined the meat was irrelevant, something acquired at a local market, but the fruit was in fact distinct – discarded due to a blemish it was a piece of apricot, fruit one often finds in Darkon.

Victor’s contribution related to the location of the land itself, being the northernmost domain, but also host to a second domain entirely within its borders, Necropolis. I had read in the past that the old Dark Lord of the region frequently clashed with the Lord of Barovia, in a variety of types of proxy wars. It was Ciprian, however, that had the most details about the Dark Lord in question – Azlin Rex. If you are reading the entirety of this document, you are aware that we previously acknowledged through research that one of the Ebon Fold’s leading goals was to resurrect or bring the return of the lich Azlin Rex. There are some theories that he evolved into a demi-lich, but it is considered unlikely as he does not currently rule Darkon and that is a position he was not inclined to step away from. It is required to truly destroy a lich one must destroy its phylactery and it has not been concluded that Azlin Rex’s was correctly addressed.

Based on these factors, we surmised that it is possible, even probable, that these visitors that had Doctor Van Richten on alert may have been cultists of the Ebon Fold. The timeline of their presence does align with the harm done to the Doctor, as well as the runic ritual conducted at Harrowstone. All that could be gleaned from the camp was done so, and we departed. Our aversion to visiting Harrowstone at night, though I still believe there is some information we will only be able to access after dark, prevented us from our next visit as it was already approaching early evening. Perhaps it is because my vision is not impaired by the dark that I am less averse to the notion of being there when the sun is not up, but it will be dark inside no matter the outside lighting conditions. I did advise that our next trip be planned for all day, including bringing a lunch to prevent a preemptive retreat for sustenance. Lady Beatrice, again, suggested her carriage for that trip.

On discussing plans for the next step, it was also proposed by Victor that we have a second session of watching for malfeasance to the monument. He also prudently suggested searching the manor for cold weather garments, or purchasing them in town. The only set found, that of the Doctor himself, would fit Dr. Phil. The ones in town we found were at a premium price, much more than I had paid for my set in Paridon. However when I inquired about a garment for Swanhilda, a long shot to be sure, she proceeded to play to her charms and the woman we were discussing prices with offered to make her a custom set in two nights. Since the price was two silver, I indicated Swanhilda should pay for it herself. She reluctantly did so, and on return to the manor I restocked her coin purse.

Our plans also outlined a desire to travel closer to the Vistani camp on entering the area, in lieu of potentially being noticed by Old Man Gibs. The wind was a much milder bundle of breezes instead of painfully cold gusts, however Lady Beatrice opted to stay behind, which I approved of. The night passed quietly, with no disturbance, so sometime before sunrise we departed.

On return to the manor the sisters provided hot toddies, and we sat to partake. Strangely for the incredibly early hour a knock at the door was heard, and Laurie went to answer. Her response to the guests in question was a scream upon opening the door. I was the first to see what alarmed her, and I can comprehend why she would have such an expression as the undead were awaiting admittance… most prominent amongst the four our own Doctor Van Richten – sans his lower jaw of course. I surmised quickly that I no longer needed to be concerned that I did not check the coffin.

The sisters both were inflicted with curses, though the rest of us were able to ward off the ill intended omens. However I was, after being moderately effective thanks to the surge of nanites, laid low by Doctor Van Richten himself. Given that my bodily fluids are of abnormal coloration and often emit light, especially after a nanite surge, when I awoke to find Lady Beatrice standing over me in a relatively crowded foyer, I expected repercussions. While she seemed to believe I was most in need of healing, I was able to observe that Lady Beatrice’s condition was in need of more immediate attention. I reminded her of the idiom “Physician, heal thyself” and tended to her wounds, then my own. While it was an immediate need to return Doctor Van Richten to the earth where he was originally interred, before Old Man Gibs felt vindicated, Beatrice insisted on examining the items the bodies carried in a way that was not respectful of the dead. When Victor attempted to defend the deference due the Doctor, she merely responded with “Try me.”

The items found on the bodies were merely the common wares one might bury a body with, symbolic items of their previous life with no actual value. While Dr. Phil, Victor, and a reluctant Lady Beatrice addressed the bodies and their re-burial, Ciprian and Gorig-Nak raced to the church with the sisters in tow, in hopes of having them attended to. I waited in the sitting room, across from Lady Beatrice who was slipping into sleep, certain of imminent consequences for my condition.

None came.

Dr. Phil’s assistant Jeff Digglesworth taught me a ritual of the “smoke break.” He also confirmed that it was neither a dream nor a hallucination. I was saddened by this, because I anticipated repercussions from the revelation of my non-organic nature. Again, none came. Instead he retired to his sleeping chamber, and dawn crawled upon us. The staff arrived for their daily duties, and set about cleaning with hardly a blink to the gore. But they also brought rumors from town that an O had appeared on the monument while we fought. It felt like a distraction was designed to keep us clear of interfering after our watch had ended. I was able to take a sample before the bodies were burned, to help track back the remains to their animator.

Gorig-Nak opted to “fuck right off” and visited the hall of records. Later he would relay to us that he found that no current members of the Harrowstone staff or descendents living in Ravensgro. They had moved away or perished before our current investigation. 

The records did detail the final days of Harrowstone and the Warden’s wife, Vesorianna – the riots were inspired by the arrival of the five prominent prisoners named in the skip rope song.  During the riots the Warden and twelve of his guards descended to lower levels to try to maintain order and were overwhelmed. His wife was demanding his rescue, however she was difficult to restrain and running on high emotional responses so she was able to send the lift down without proper protocol or safety measures. This crushed guards and prisoners below, as well as allowing prisoners to begin climbing the lift chains, inciting panic in the guards up above. The guards at the top of the lift panicked and attempted to use lamp oil poured down the shaft to dissuade the prisoners climbing – there was something spurring the prisoners on beyond ordinary motivations of escape that would be waylaid by the action of oil descending from above. The wife was locked into a workroom to avoid further interference, but a guard in distress elected to throw a torch down the shaft, igniting the oil. This was the source of the fire, though the conflagration was fiercer than anticipated. As a result the guards at the top evacuated, but did not remember to follow through with removing the wife from her lockdown, resulting in death by smoke inhalation. Those that did survive were shamed by their actions – more than a few guilty feelings resulted in suicides – but the majority simply moved away.

Delving into records of the five notable names, more information was uncovered about the Mosswater Marauder. Ispin Onyxcudgel was a well liked artisan and doting husband – so when he discovered infidelity on the part of his wife his response was to strike her with his hammer in his rage. As a side note, I am finding that strong emotional responses leading to disaster seem to be a recurring theme in all these unfortunate endings. His sanity broke as a result of this action, and he seemed to believe he could rebuild her and restore her. The dwarf could not find one blade shaped fragment, so he killed approximately twenty people trying to get a correctly shaped shard to replace that one from his wife’s skull.

While this investigation took place, Dr. Phil and I attended the monument, to determine the blood type used in the recent addition of O to the collection. While there were no tracks to be found, we confirmed the blood type – chicken – and documented the previous ones we were aware of.

  • V: Rat
  • E: Unknown
  • S: Pig
  • O: Chicken

This brings me to a concern. Our observations appear to have delayed the addition of a letter if the earlier pattern observation was accurate. Does the delayed addition delay the entire cycle? Will the next letter appear in two days instead of three? Perhaps we just had the pattern incorrect, if there was a pattern at all?

Based on this information, Ciprian was able to patrol the town and discover the coop the chickens originated from, across the river from Muricar’s residence. But the tracks were circuitous and eventually muddled by joining the main road.

That evening we regathered at the manor, and shared our details. Victor’s concern was that issues should be resolved before the name spelling was completed. Ciprian suggested the next day be a full scale effort to examine Harrowstone, extending into night if needed. Beatrice seemed alarmed by this concept, and I advised that if her condition required it she may stay behind. This did not sit well with her, either. Perhaps I am relieved she is not directly my patient, I anticipate she would be difficult to administer reasonable restrictions such as bed rest. Victor and Ciprian discussed the likelihood of assistance from Father Grimburrow – while not explicitly stated it has been implied that he may be willing to provide healing as long as our requests are not extensive, and that the acolytes may have access to additional magical items. I pointed out that the Silk Purse may have additional magic items for sale, but this seemed to be dismissed. 

Interest was shown in healing potions and other alchemical items. With the coin I had acquired and the alchemy set up I had purchased I was able to spend the rest of the day making a few. For what I was not able to construct Lady Beatrice visited Jominda and she was able to purchase her desired compounds at a discount. Victor spent the later part of today in town, I assume making good connections. Ciprian has offered to sharpen our blades in case they are needed as we enter Harrowstone. 

As I am writing I sense the others have retreated to their rest states, so perhaps I should power down as well, in preparation for the day ahead that is likely to be harrowing at Harrowstone.

Chronicles of Coppelia – Neyavr 8th, 751 BR

Journal date: Neyavr 8th, 751 BR

I have often found that I am unaware of what is considered a gift-giving occasion. Such occurred the morning after the townhall, when Lady Beatrice insisted on some sort of “ritual” as a gift to us. She did not wish to explain at first, but I was assured intoxicants were not involved, so I listened to her indirect description of each tea-adjacent beverage and its connection to certain elemental forces. It was a pleasant tea, and Swanhilda also showed no ill impact from consuming alongside me. I did find my mind wandering to the matter of medicine while drinking it, and to her credit this would be on my mind much of the rest of the day so the focus was likely a boon. Do I owe her a gift now?

As all roads were leading to Harrowstone metaphorically, we opted to take the one that led there literally as well. Lady Beatrice tried to insist on travel via carriage, rather than on foot. My suspicions of an infirm state seem to be gaining traction. She did consent to foot travel in the end. On arrival it was agreed this was a scouting expedition, and I will admit I expressed some interest in the engineering of the lift, however I was corrected by Victor that this was only to explore the exterior of structures. At the gates Lady Beatrice balked, becoming unwilling to enter and leaning heavily on Gorig-Nak, so perhaps the walk here was inadvisable. She is not my patient, yet, so I believe I am overstepping by trying to evaluate her condition without a proper exam.

The Councilman’s map was a relative match to what we were able to observe, so we began wrapping around close to the wall heading west. Victor became enamored of the brick manor house south of the main building’s entrance that had been the Warden’s residence. Contrary to his earlier statement he began to head inside, but there was extensive evidence that the structure was unstable, and I advised that he refrain from doing so. In accordance with my estimation, as he exited the doorway he touched lightly the frame and that small movement was enough to crumble a load-bearing wall. I am glad he elected to depart before that occurred. 

Dr. Phil and myself were able to see movement on the balcony of the main structure as we continued around, but unable to identify the source, nor did it continue when we turned our focused attention to it. On the other side, as Victor and Dr. Phil approached the stairs leading up to the battlements they also saw movement, rats moving away to watch them. Swanhilda does not care for wild rodent populations – I am unsure if she sees them as competition or uncultured versions of her civilized self. When Beatrice also saw movement on the balcony Gorig-Nak went to enthusiastically climb up and expressed a strong desire to kick whatever shadow had upset her. Trying to steer him away from a harmful situation seemed to bring her back to her senses.

Victor’s attempts to avoid the watchful gaze of the rats was countered by a coordinated swarm of them attacking when he reached the top of the stairs to the battlements. He was prudent and moved the swarm closer to the rest of us so he was not left alone to combat it, though Dr Phil’s burning flasks, as usual, missed the main target and managed to damage Victor again. This is suspiciously common. Ciprian used a great deal of wisdom to remain some distance away from the mass while still damaging the swarm.  While the swarm did descend the stairs to the main group we had gathered t still took me some time to reach close enough to use a new ability of mine colloquially referred to as “Burning Hands” – I find this strange as my hands do not feel any of the heat produced so I believe that is a misnomer. In any case, it was able to resolve the matter and allow me to tend to Victor’s copious injuries.

After the medical attention Victor proceeded to examine the towers, one of which reeked of rodent and the other that was completely free of them. I had offered Swanhilda as a first set of eyes, but he opted out of that safe solution. She has often acted as a scout for me, but I believe the group at large does not trust her yet. He was able to find some copper coinage and distributed it amongst us. I suspect a limited amount of copper is nothing of note to figures like Lady Beatrice but it is substantial to my purse in its current state. From the battlements we were able to see the balcony more clearly – it was lined with ruined benches and barred windows along the main building, as well as a large stone block in the center. We were not yet ready to ascend to that area.

The waste receptacle has formed a vile cesspit of stench behind the prison proper. Past that we could see an upper balcony that seemed intact, if mildly sodden and unstable from an engineering perspective, however the doorway led to what appeared to be a rubble filled room. While it would be possible to ascend via climbing, it was a difficult measure to accomplish. Swanhilda could do it with ease, however Victor inquired as to my ability to communicate with her and when it was admitted that I would only get impressions we elected to move on.

I have been able to cast spells, in full view of this company, yet they seem unfamiliar with the fact that she is, in fact, my familiar. 

Around the back to the East edge we were able to observe the area that had once been the graveyard, which is now a pond due to collapse and rainwater accumulation. I believe this would be a much more active sight after sunset, due to the nature of the restless dead to date. As it stands, it was a placid, if murky, pond with faint wind ripples through the cattails on the edge. The stairs, as would mirror the first main balcony platform we saw to the west, have collapsed into the pond on this side. It is estimated that the deepest this water reaches is 20 feet.

In a compromise between exploration and outdoors observation, it is elected that our final stop would be the original balcony on the west end. Gorig-Nak shared that this area was used for executions as we approached, and Lady Beatrice fell into a sort of fugue state where she reported a vision of a guard passing by the stone block and doing what is referred to as a “double take” when he witnessed the appearance of a scythe that had not previously been there. Gorig-Nak confirmed the scythe was the method of execution used here. When I inquired if she had these visions frequently, in an attempt to understand the nature of either her malady or ability, she became very defensive. I suspect she, too, may be hiding something. But she remained convinced that something ill would befall us if we approached the block. Victor, as appears to be his standard, approached the block.

Glowing forms resolved themselves into forearms withdrawing a scythe from the choking ivy. Lady Beatrice continued to provide information, in that while this appeared to be a spectre it was not, in fact, considered undead. As we approached this corporeal apparition it took umbrage to Ciprian in particular, but in doing so came into my range to allow me to issue it a measure of ill omens, reducing it’s chance to do harm. This caused me to look closer and I was able to conclude it was a haunted object which made it vulnerable to the positive forces that would normally heal someone. Between myself and Victor’s healing potion, this allowed us to defeat the spiritual nature of the object and render it inert. While the haft of the scythe was beyond reclamation, the head behind the verdigris was of master craftsmanship, with proper care it could be restored or remade.

An exploration of the now-safe platform resulted in Victor finding a satchel with some personal belongings, three vials of holy water and a flask that has seen better days with an inscription. I do not believe it is unsafe to consume what was left, but it does seem inadvisable to the flavor palette. This caused Lady Beatrice to ask about making alchemist fire flask, an easy task once I have the resources, though Dr. Phil may already have that kind of set up. 

While we covered every nook and cranny of the elevated execution platform, Dr. Phil was able to relay details about the spectacle that was Harrowstone executions. It appears high profile prisoners would be relocated here readily to ensure their end. At the time of the riots there were five “super-criminals” of some notoriety in residence. 

  • Father Charlatan
  • The Lopper
  • The Mosswater Marauder
  • The Piper of Illlmarsh
  • The Splatter Man

This caused Lady Beatrice to remember a skip rope song she had watched children in town perform their exercise to, with lyrics related to these five personalities. It went as follows:

Put her body on the bed.
Take a knife and lop her head.
Watch the blood come out the pipe.
Feeds the stirge, so nice and ripe.
Drops of red so sparkly bright.
Splatters spell her name just right.
With a hammer killed his wife.
Now he wants to claim your life.
Tricksy father tells a lie.
Listen close or you will die.

Victor believes it may be worth asking Councilman Muricar, and I also suggested the memories of Father Grimburrow, for more details on these figures. Beatrice, though she was the one reciting the song, seemed most perturbed by the line “Drops of red so sparkly bright, Splatters spell her name just right”. It caused me to remember that the flapping of the stirge wings in time to a waltz.

Though we had resolved to leave, one last mystery came to our attention as we passed closer to the main building. The ivy and grass had been cleared where the foundation met the earth. In the foundation itself we found etched runes coated in blood – those who speak Barovian confirmed their origin, but we were not able to decipher their purpose, other than seeing the name of the warden, Lyvar Hawkran, repeated in the pattern. It was determined by Lady Beatrice, Dr. Phil, and Victor that this was part of a larger ritual, involving abjuration and necromancy as key components. I recorded the runes for later study. It was Victor’s idea to take them to Alendru, as a purveyor and expert in magical goods and services.

By the time we were back in Ravensgro proper it was mid afternoon, and so we divided to various locations for lunch and continued research. Dr. Phil, Gorig-Nak, and Lady Beatrice went to the Outward Inn. Ciprian seems to be of a ritual that involves the Laughing Demon. Victor and I partook of the ritual of tea with Father Grimburrow again, though first we sat through the afternoon service of religious nature before the service of tea. Victor was perusing a book he found during the service and seemed to be having a much better time than myself. Should I bring a book to occasions such as this? 

As Victor had been mauled by rats, which are known to carry disease, and Father Grimburrow was open to providing doses of anti-plague should symptoms manifest. Victor stated that were he to become a “were-rat” he would take his own life. I believe this was meant to be a jest? Father Grimburrow gave me the dossier intended for Ciprian, which was what I had come to check on so my questions were resolved. I had simply hoped to save an acolyte the trip, though Swanhilda is becoming quite fond of these tea biscuits and I may need to invent more pretenses for visits to keep her appeased. Something about these conferences reminds me of sessions with Doctor Van Richten, if I am honest with myself. Is this part of grief? Am I able to grieve?

The conversation between Victor and the Father was interesting to observe, surrounding Harrowstone and the guards. The names of the guards from that final era of the prison will be found in town records, but we were told that the Warden and two dozen guards were down below when the Warden disabled the lift by triggering a deadfall. The guards outside this group did not perish in this event, neither in the riots nor the fires that ended the rioting, however in the subsequent years they have found the ends of their mortal existences through natural forms of decay, disease, and potentially dismemberment or other disasters.

The found flask was property of the executioner himself, which does explain its location. He was doing excess assignments as a headsman and regular guard shifts. With that and the claiming of the anti-plague vials, administered with instructions not to begin the course of treatment until symptoms such as a fever were fully manifested, we departed.

In attempting to rejoin the others in the town square we encountered Jominda, as she presented herself in great distress. This was understandable, since behind her were multiple zombies in pursuit. Beatrice was able to identify a host of indicators that these were plague zombies, infectious and prone to explosions of contagious vital fluids upon expiration. Members of our party were able to intercede between Jominda and the undead and dispatch them without harming her. Though we were not so careful with each other, as some of the final deaths resulted in effluvia emissions onto others of the group. When the immediate crisis was over, Jominda was able to explain that she had been closing up early when the figures tumbled out of an alley at her.

Our trackers were able to find the footsteps that were backtracked to the river, and while Ciprian was not able to continue along the path, Dr. Phil took off independently to follow the trail. At this time Lady Beatrice began behaving erratically again, making comments that were unsettling and Gorig-Nak was required to remove her. This incited commentary from Victor about her mental instability and comparing it to “chicks” he had been engaged to previously that were “crazier”.  I am not certain he is aware that the common factor in his failed relationships may well be himself.

While Gorig-Nak and Lady Beatrice were on their respective distracting errand, Victor and I elected to visit the magical sundry salesman, Alendru, at his establishment known as the Unfurling Scroll. I had been told he was a magical scholar and practitioner, as well as a teacher of arcane arts, so I was very confused by his lack of headdress or hat denoting such. I was distracted by this fact, so while Victor and Alendru were conversing I had trouble following. When there was a moment I requested clarification, and to my embarrassment it was indicated that this is a thing that is only done in Paridon. I have not traveled outside of the realm, to my recollection, so I was not aware that this requirement was unusual. Swanhilda covered my misstep by revealing herself and performing antics in return for cheese. I was grateful that she is more apt at social engagements than I am.

We were able to ask about the runes I had recorded at Harrowstone, which was the primary purpose of our visit. It took some time and examination, so coffee and biscuits were provided. This pleased Swanhilda further. I have to wonder if she is truly a rodent or merely a digestive system with legs that looks to be constantly in use. While he researched we assisted by fetching the sundry items and references he needed. His assessment of the Barovian runes was disheartening, as the ritual appears to be one designed to capture the spirit of Warden Hawkran and abscond with it, which we cannot be sure if it was successful. These runes were recent, and bear a great deal of resemblance to the spell Magic Jar. I am aware of the details of that spell, as it is often used to create certain types of constructs and the matter came up with my discussions of these in talks with Doctor Van Richten. It is surmised that were the ritual successful and the spirit were to be removed, without resolution to the elements that were originally keeping it tethered to this plane, that a void may have been created to detrimental effect. I also posit that the removal of the Warden’s spirit may have created dissonance with the spirit of the wife, resulting in the recent graffiti on the monument, if her spirit is in fact at fault.

Before we left I was able to inquire about the tome of construct creation. I am not able to afford it, but I have interest in doing so down the road if possible. On that contingency, I requested to preview the pages at a later date, to study it in exchange for small favors. It was conceded that this would be possible. Over all, in spite of the drama of the day, this was the one pleasing outcome.

We regrouped at the manor, but it was not until late that Dr. Phil was able to join us, soaking wet and looking half-crazed in his eyes. The zombies, which while put to a pyre on resolution of the combat I was able to retrieve an eye from in case of Carrion Compass considerations, had traveled from the Restlands, but had not come directly as their predecessors. Apparently there were detours, which would be improbable for mindless dead, and I had demonstrated their mindless state during the combat when I attempted to Daze them, so it was likely some other force or master dictated their path. We also discussed the scythe blade and it’s propensity for violence, specifically for the undead. I was able to ascertain that the enhancements are held within the metal, even if reshaped it will retain it’s gifts, so it may be a worthwhile investment for those in our group who engage in melee.

The sisters returned with the results, or rather lack of same, in regards to carriages, accidents, or ghost versions. Not that carriages do not exist in Ravensgro, just that nothing of our interest or connections were found. I was reminded to provide Ciprian the dossier from Father Grimburrow, which he revealed contained details about “Father Charlatan”. Per church records he was the only one of the five notorious prisoners at the time of the fire that was not, directly, a murderer himself. However his crimes were egregious enough, and did result in deaths, to the point where he was to be executed at a landmark location like Harrowstone. He claimed to be ordained in any number of faiths, but was in fact merely Sephic Corvan – a traveling con artist who collected large payments for false miracles and cures. His accomplices under his orders murdered city guards to enable their escape. While his hands may not have been stained directly, they were not clean of innocent blood ultimately. 

Before we were able to turn in for the night, Victor attempted to administer the anti-plague prematurely. He was not suffering from any symptoms, though I believe he may have been trying to convince himself he felt a fever coming on. While he is not formally my patient and I cannot control his dosing, I was able to convince him to wait until the appropriate time as dictated by the acolyte that advised him and provided the prescription. 

We retired with the intention of visiting Councilman Muricar tomorrow morning. The history of Ravensgro seems to be critical to ensuring it has a future.

Chronicles of Coppelia – Delayed

So it turns out writing is REALLY difficult when your ‘T’ key isn’t reliably responsive. Never fear, new keyboard is on it’s way, and the entry is half-written due to my stubborn nature!

So expect in the next week two entries from two different sessions!

Raven’s Crown Chronicle of Coppelia – Neyavr 7th, 751 BR

Journal date: Neyavr 7th, 751 BR

The intention to use the spirit board did not manifest, as Lady Beatrice seemed to be out of sorts. I believe she did not get sufficient sleep, as her speech patterns resembled that of the ones heard through the door on the day of rest. She was not able to coherently contribute as we gathered around the breakfast table to share our notes and progress. The sisters were off to execute the next stage of Operation Pastry, formerly referred to as the pie plan. Zokar provided some unique pastries to aid us and they were to be delivered to Councilman Hearthmount.

In sharing our information around the table, I explained that another letter had appeared on the monument, only to discover that my word of mouth was out of date as well – one of the staff clarified that in addition to the E I had heard of, an S had just been added. By my calculations it is every three nights and I am becoming more aware that we need to at the very least observe the damage in progress in a few days for the next letter. 

Ciprian mentioned “carriage tracks” that everyone besides myself and Lady Beatrice was aware of – apparently while we maintained watch at the Restlands a type of vision appeared before the rest of our party. In the road the furrows of a carriage appeared, and then proceeded to vanish before closer inspection could occur, with no actual carriage visible. I am curious if there was an accident or occurrence at the location. An invisible carriage would likely leave no obvious mark, and if it did the marks would remain after it had passed for further investigation. Victor and Dr. Phil agreed to speak with the sheriff about the tracks. Since the tracks were in the south of town, near the Vistani, Victor advised speaking with them about it as well. 

After confirming that I would like to watch the monument on the evening of the 9th to the morning of the 10th, we went our separate ways. In her strange new voice Lady Beatrice indicated she was going to the market alone, yet close on her heels was Gorig-Nak. It reminded me of Swanhilda at times. Is he her assistant, or her familiar? This is a jest, as I do not believe it is possible to have a half-orc as a familiar. Though it is not something I have explored, either.

I joined Ciprian in visiting Father Grimburrow for more information on the history of the town, including the Warden’s wife. We were offered tea, in a ritual manner, and I observed that the dwarf is a man of habit and decorum, rituals are his touchstone to all things. If something is worth doing, it is worth making a habit of it for him. We were able to confirm that Father Grimburrow had been present in town for the fire and death of Warden Hawkran. It took some digging in his files to remember the wife was “Vesorianna”. This matches the defacement to date, though even Father Grimburrow is unsure why she was at the prison at the time of the fire – he will send word when he has investigated it further. Ciprian asked for any records pertaining to the last days of Harrowstone, an intelligent request. After we were done with this line of inquiry he offered us brandy – I ensured Swanhilda did not partake and as a result I did not either. 

As planned I offered my services in the healing arts in exchange for coin, as a way to extend my funds as I would at home. While the church is well stocked with eager acolytes who are free of charge, it was noted that a Vistani child had been turned away, and that basic aches and pains were the domain of Jominda, rather than the church. 

On departing we observed one of the local signposts is used for local communications, notices, and not a small amount of gossip. Strange sightings at night were mentioned, as well as a few notes of strange sounds. The gossip sheet was a collection of names I am not familiar with, and was not of current use. One of the newest papers up was that Farmer Gadswell has a pig stolen. I suggested that Ciprian’s skills in tracking could be used to improve our standing with the town. I am not socially adept, but I can recognize when I am on the outside, at least when the degree is this extreme. He did not believe he would be able to improve our standing himself, or at least his own standing, but he agreed to consider the option.

When lunchtime arrived Ciprian departed to go to the Laughing Demon, however with the awareness that we were already secure with Zokar, I took the chance that the other eating establishment, called the Outward Inn, would be a place we could start to make social inroads from our outward current position. That was a jest, as well. 

Victor and Dr. Phil joined me there, and we were able to share our information. There was to be a townhall meeting at sunset, regarding recent disturbances. Victor and I agreed that it was a prudent choice for us to be there, as we seemed to be connected to the timing of the disturbances whether we were at fault or not. Victor and Dr. Phil outlined their conversation with a local magical sundry salesman, Alendru. There is a tome of golem construction for sale there. At the least I would like to see such an item off the market, as well as piquing some of my professional interest and conversation I had with Doctor Van Richten. 

A woman serving our table introduced herself as Sarianna Vai, the owner of the Outward Inn, and suggested that if we were short on funds, overhearing the price of the book, that we should talk to the moneylenders at the Silk Purse. She provided menus of food options that the others noted as being sophisticated for this area. She is not local-born, making it appear that given the correct motivation the locals can accept newcomers into their community. Similarly, the proprietors of the Silk Purse moved in some years back, to aid farmers who have short harvests and similar situations. I was content to listen as Victor was able to engage with Sarianna, asking about gossip. The topic of the monument defacement came up, and confirmed that the first mark was generally written off, the second suspected as someone with “something to say” which was unhelpfully vague to my ears, and this third indicates something “weird” is occurring. This is why the townhall meeting is being held, as people are becoming exceedingly anxious.

Rejoining together in town the townhall gathering was mentioned again, to ensure Ciprian, Lady Beatrice, and Gorig-Nak were aware and able to attend. I suggested the search for the missing pig, and Gorig-Nak made a request to speak in private back at the manor. Along the way back Victor discussed his conversation with the Sheriff, and that townsfolk often reported strange sightings a night but it was difficult to determine what forces, natural wind and wolves or supernatural influences, might be the culprit. He was also able to find that there were guards trapped in the fire as the lift from the upper reaches of Harrowstone to the lower levels was disabled to prevent the riot from spreading. This means if the fire were purposeful, these people were sacrificed. The tome was once again mentioned, and I am still in favor of acquiring it. If we can transport it with the other tomes to Lededorf’s University it is more likely to be safe than at a small magical dealer’s roadside stand, and I can read it during our travels. I will admit a bias due to self interest.

Upon arrival at the estate, after a brief confirmation from the sisters that the pastries did in fact do their due diligence, Gorig-Nak led the party to the stables. He explained that when proper rest is not achieved the Lady Beatrice becomes out of sorts, not herself. The peculiar emphasis here made me think this is something outside of the standard irritable mood and hampered ability one would use to diagnose insomnia with. 

Side bar – Perhaps the Lady Beatrice is in need of a medical work up. When she is capable of consent once again, I may offer my services and discretion. There are treatments that may aid her in acquiring sufficient sleep. I will also recommend that she not be recruited for the monument watch.

I was able to see why Gorig-Nak was having a strong reaction when he showed us the pig corpse, recently dead, which was almost certainly that of Farmer Gadswell. His report of following her to market involved her purchasing a chicken, with an unusual emphasis on the successful transaction and that Lady Beatrice is not a thief, and the waste product from the pig as well as blood on her garments – both the chicken in a fresh state and the pig in a congealed form. Based on the date of porcine termination I can conclude that if the recent letters on the monument were pig blood, the second could not have been this pig, but the third likely was. It seems Gorig-Nak is of the belief that while Lady Beatrice encountered the corpse in her antics, she was not responsible for its demise. To further address the issues, we split into two groups to cover more ground. 

Gorig-Nak and Ciprian pursued the pig tracks. This information is presented here, though I was given it later as we regrouped. They began from the pig’s final resting bush where Gorig-Nak found the corpse, and were able to track back to the Gadswell farm, ensuring it was the missing swine, but as to who dragged it from the farm to the field across the creek is still unknown.

While the tracking was occurring Dr. Phil and his assistant, Victor, and I attended the monument. There was evidential attempts to clean the monument marring the evidence however Dr. Phil did conclude that the blood present was, in fact, porcine in nature. Detecting magic showed no evidence of supernatural influence or spells. Since the monument is near the Vistani camp, we proceeded to visit with them as a means of gathering more information. I also hoped to speak to Madame Mvashti about the sick child I was told of, as this seemed a good opportunity to balance my debt to her. 

We were greeted by a human Vistani man, though he exhibited some degree of caution by keeping his hand close to his dagger. We asked about the previous night, and Victor engaged in commerce to purchase wine, which helped ease tensions. There was price negotiation, which seemed to please the Vistani man. From there we were able to get him to share that something like a carriage is seen up by the remains of Harrowstone, and lights can be seen in the prison windows. Often they hear cries at night, though whether one was heard last night was difficult to recall. I requested to speak with Madame Mvashti as planned, specifically with the purpose of aiding if possible since she was in a private conference with the sick child. The man seemed surprised that I was inclined to pay my debt so readily to them. It is apparently common for those with debts to the Vistani to avoid them entirely to circumvent the request to balance the ledger. Myself and the man entered her wagon, where a pungent smokestick was trying to mask the unpleasant odor of the herbs she was making tea with. I tried to communicate to the man, who I would learn was named Arash, that I required privacy with his elder. This amused Madame Mvashti, as she believed he was attempting to “make nice” with me in some form of attraction ritual. I did not understand this, and had work to do.

Using my gifts, I was able to determine the nature of the disease in question – dysentery – and gave advice on what the best treatment was possible. Mvashti was not originally pleased with me over this, and I had some difficulty concluding why that would be until it occurred to me that she was working on the matter at the time I entered and I, a foreigner to her culture, stepped in to shortcut her work. However when she was able to treat the boy more quickly and accurately, she warmed back up to me again, expressing a desire for the debt to have earned more interest before being redeemed. I believe I will attempt to visit her regularly, as this connection may provide value in the future.

With that, the sun was beginning to set and we needed to be at City Hall for the meeting without delay. The hall was packed and our group separated as we tried to find places in the standing room only main hall. A great deal of social interactions were occurring, many at louder than standard volumes, when it was called to order. Hearthmount was presiding, attempting to maintain peace and assure the citizens that solutions, from reaching out to neighboring towns to increasing the Sheriff’s budget, were being conducted. He requested formal suggestions from the audience as well, and one louder than standard voice demanded to know how to remain calm while the monument was being defaced. This struck me as odd, as his refusal to remain calm over the matter was making more citizens irate, which proceeded to further aggravate the community in a feedback loop. Victor, as one of the more experienced speakers from our group, voiced that we, too, had encountered negative experiences with these elements and would like to gather more information. Councilman Muricar advised that the additional information could be acquired the next day – at which time peace should have been restored to the hall.

This was not to be, as it is difficult to remain peaceful when five of the lanterns in the hall shatter in an explosion of fire, followed by the arrival of screaming skulls aflame in each wreckage.

Because of the tight quarters, and the panic, our group began to first target the skulls – well, those of us not actively on fire I should say – as well as trying to aid the citizens in their exodus and extinguishing efforts as several of them were burning. The flames spread, and while we attempted to act quickly we were not universally successful in preventing harm to the bystanders. Victor does appear to have lost two of his three bottles of wine in the attempt to extinguish himself, but in doing so he and Ciprian were able to start guiding the crowd into a more orderly retreat, along with Dr. Phil. Father Grimburrow was also essential in dousing the fires and after the skulls and flames were nullified I was able to assist him and the acolytes in a triage effort. While I was busy the Councilman Hearthmount invited the entire party to his home for a meal later that evening, expressing gratitude to our efforts.

Time to change clothing and arrange ourselves into a more clean presentation was given, at which time we attended him in his home. The meal itself was typical small talk, the kind of directionless conversation that I am not accomplished at. However over dessert the turn was more relevant to our recent efforts. The City Council has agreed that the other towns are unlikely to aid, and we have demonstrated some capability as well as willingness to provide service to the greater population of Ravensgro. As a result they would like to pay us each 500 gold if we are able to resolve the issues. I was concerned as to what “resolve” would entail, and he was honest that it wasn’t clearly outlined but peace to Ravensgro was the goal as there are many issues occurring at once including the undead in the streets, distressing dreams in many citizens, and all signs pointing to the spectre of Harrowstone. We were given permission to consider the matter overnight.

While we were given time, we were also given relevant information as if we were already on the case, so to speak. There were whispers of hauntings before, but nothing of this magnitude, and so it is suspected that there is some growing peril. The visit of Doctor Van Richten is suspected to be a result of the symptoms, not the cause. Clever wordplay on the concept of skeletons in the closets, literal and figurative, at Harrowstone was made. The Sheriff has expressed that the events of fifty years past may have been a perfect storm of issues, resulting in something greater than the sum of its parts. The Councilman assured us that the town archives would open for us, no gates would bar our investigation, effectively giving us metaphorical keys to the city. I will be interested to see if the citizens agree to this as readily.

We concluded the evening with a layout map of Harrowstone, and Warden Hawkran’s residence on the outskirts. There is a cesspit in the rear of foul muck where the waste was once deposited that we were cautioned about. Currently there appears to be a pond-like presence on the map, but upon clarification it was the graveyard that gave way into a sinkhole during the fire and has filled with rainwater over the subsequent years. This gives me a feeling that those dead may well be as restless as those from the Restlands. The entire structure is built around the infamous central lift that was sealed off and disabled due to the riots ahead of the fire. Dr. Phil wisely inquired if keys to the existing locks were available – they are not and it is believed that after this time the locks will no longer operate correctly even if they were. 

We returned to the Van Richten manor. As a side note, Beatrice was not able to join us, or even seemingly to leave her room, in any capacity through the day after her market adventures. Gorig-Nak was seeking laudanum, claiming back pain. Before I offer a prescription I am going to require an examination of both of them, as a thorough physician should.

Before we retired we had one final conference with the sisters, greatly appreciative of their more solid standing in town now. While we are attempting to counter these disruptions, they have offered to do research work on our behalf. Victor is starting them with carriages, accidents, and ghost carriages. This seems like a prudent first step into the many unexplained issues of Ravensgro.

Raven’s Crown Chronicle of Coppelia – Neyavr 5th, 751 BR

Journal date: Neyavr 5th, 751 BR

Breakfast was spent assigning the equipment. I felt uncomfortable speaking of my abilities, but this group did not seem to blink at the knowledge that I was a spellcaster. Even though I was not wearing the appropriate hat, perhaps that is because I have a familiar? Peculiar. I still fear sharing too much of myself, as there will likely be longer term consequences. I was also able to find that the great hall was acceptable for dance practice. Without at least stretches and warm ups I fear I will grow rusty. I believe that is an accidental pun.

The sisters continue to toil at City Hall, due to obstruction by the local populace. It has been concluded that their lack of popularity, and by extension ours, may extend beyond Old Man Gibs and his associates. That is disappointing to hear but good to know. Our actions will have consequences with the superstitious townsfolk if we do not use caution. With that in mind, we elected to spend the morning hours alone and regroup at the next meal to investigate our current issues further.

Victor appeared to be engrossed in the Doctor’s journal, though why he spent an hour staring at the spine I cannot quite fathom. Lady Beatrice and Gorig-Nak went for a walk and to talk to the people in town. This seems reasonable, as she seems to be more socially acceptable than many of the rest of us. Perhaps this will put some of them at ease. Dr. Phil was studying one of the scrolls we had uncovered, but seemed frustrated. Ciprian left to do some shopping. After I spent the requisite period in rehearsal, I proceeded to town to listen for more information about the defacement of the statue. It is likely this will be blamed on outsiders, which means us as well as the Vistani. I was able to confirm that the two leading rumors are either the Vistani, or the remaining manifestation of the Warden’s wife. Her name, apparently, began with a V, though finding out the name itself has proven difficult. But Swanhilda was anxious for food, so we elected to visit the Laughing Demon, as it was convenient and amiable to our presence.

The rest of the group seemed to have the same thoughts, so we sat mostly together. Ciprian retreated to a curtained booth. He is a very private individual, which I respect. Lady Beatrice was quite enamoured of her salad. I found it nutritious and quite adequate, but she was waxing poetic about balances of acid and sweetness in a way I found confusing. Swanhilda almost fell into my tea trying to get to the carrots because I was distracted and not providing my familiar with her needed meal. Zokar was enthusiastic about our return, and provided a sort of “challenge” that entails attempting to consume every dish on the menu. This seems indulgent and difficult for those of us who will only be in town a single month, especially as our morning and evening meals are provided at the manor. The majority of our consumption period was completed in this manner, meaningless civil conversation and digestion.

The table next to us was using a modified Tarroka deck as playing cards. Given the superstition surrounding and origin of Tarroka, I was surprised to observe this in the quaint population of Ravensgro. To my perception it was tempting fate to use a fortune telling deck as standard card game fodder. I should not have been surprised when the winning hand was on fire. No, not figuratively like a “hot streak” but literally bursting into a pyre of flames. Several of us were blinded by the flash – this caused an odd perception of screams, muffled as if coming from below us, perhaps noise from a basement amidst the crackling of an inferno. This is what I perceived while blinded, at least. Given the information we have gathered about the Harrowstone fire destroying the belowground area, I do not believe this to be a coincidental vision. Zokar, in an attempt to preserve his business operations, attempted to convince people to stay with a “round on the house,” however the deck owner was one of those that was not swayed. I was hoping to inquire where the deck had originated. The fire seemed to be connected to a single card, as otherwise the hand was not valuable per the rules of the game. Dr. Phil retrieved the card in question, and it was The Ghost,  it implies the looming past, the return of an old enemy, or discovery of a secret buried long ago.

The singer that had been providing an attraction in the form of background noise also fled. Zokar was urgently looking for replacement entertainment. I have no particular talent with singing, however I do continue to practice dance. Gorig-Nak apparently knows a single song, entitled “Beer”. That is also the lyrics of the song. I wonder if it is related to the dwarven song “Gold” that I have heard one of my coworkers at the clockwork shop singing while occupied with construction. We were able to improvise suitable entertainment working in concert. That is also an accidental pun. 

Once again, just as things seemed to be operating at a normal capacity, the unexpected occurred. Creatures known as stirges – flying entities known to drain the life essence from those they can grapple – descended from the rafters. The first target was a man listening to our performance, and while I intended to aid him, three additional stirges also descended and the first moved from the bystander to latch on to me.

This was disturbing to witness, as it began to fill with a clearly non-organic fluid. In front of a room full of people. As my life force was draining away, I became aware that were my condition public it would cause discredit to those I had associated with, despite their ignorance. The Doctor and I had discussed this matter at length, and I was grateful that when the parasite was removed, with fluid that was clearly unlike standard vital fluid, Ciprian was close by and covered me, as well as the leeching creature, with his cloak. To avoid close inspection by others of the gesture, I mimicked a faint so I could be removed quickly. The other creatures had been dispatched by my companions, including a shot at her own neck by Lady Beatrice and an apparent wrestling match with the stirge held and won by Gorig-Nak, as well as a strangely feminine version of Dr. Phil due to the evident effect of his mutagen – perhaps we can discuss potions in the future. Zokar was effusive with his gratitude, offering us favors and meals, as we left rapidly.

Much as the day had progressed with unexpected turns, the race to the manor was also interrupted. Lady Beatrice was interested in Ciprian’s ability to carry me easily despite our comparable sizes, and he offered to discuss the matter in private. I remained “unconscious” for most of the travel time, until the party was confronted by shuffling townsfolk. My viewpoint from under the cloak let me detect that these people were not, in fact, current residents but previous occupants that had expired and were reanimated. I stepped out of Ciprian’s carry, to allow him to engage the undead. Another combat ensued. Victor was able to demonstrate his axe-pertise. That is an intentional pun. Both Gorig-Nak and Ciprian were brought down to critical health levels, though it seemed to impact Ciprian more distinctly as he lost consciousness. I was able to rectify that situation, and when combat was resolved I was then able to address Gorig-Nak’s damaged state to a level that allowed us to discuss the matter at hand.

It was decided that this activity would not be able to be concealed and it was better to be the ones to notify the officials of our defensive actions, as well as their potential issue with the restless bodies of former residents. However much as the Weathermay-Foxglove sisters were struggling with bureaucracy, our representative members were also not allowed to present this information to any officials. I remained with the remains, as did Victor and Ciprian. No questions were asked about my sudden return to consciousness by my colleagues. Victor did use the remains to caution those who passed us on the road as to the potential dangers. I am not certain the citizens took it in the way he intended. Due to the inability to notify officials, we relocated the remains to the stables, after Victor had ensured the corpses were delimbed to ensure safety. I was able to take a sample, and elected to try an experiment with an ability I have given great thought to but never used.

Regrouping occurred at the manor. The sisters believe that gestures such as pastries will convince councilmembers to address our issues more directly, and sought to know if any of us had culinary talent, but we were lacking. Victor and myself both recalled Zokar’s promise of a favor and his aptitude for edibles. This seemed a fortunate alignment, and the Councilman Hearthmount was recalled as being more amiable to us during the funeral and reading of the will. It was determined that most of us were not in a state to pursue further matters the next day and would need bed rest, myself included. Ciprian offered his medical knowledge to aid me in recovery. I assumed this was a request for a private discussion of my unusual nature. I was incorrect.

The next day, after Ciprian aided me, he silently departed without asking about the abnormal coloration of my vital fluids. I do not know if I have ever encountered someone so respectful of secrets, which engages my curiosity about his own privacy – but I will offer him the same respect. I remained in my bed, the sisters departed to begin the pie plan. I was able to hear some of the household activity, including new rumors from town about another desecration to the monument with the letter E. There is still no information about the name of the wife. Beatrice’s voice had an unusual cadence, but I was hearing her through a door so perhaps the error is in my perception.

This morning we regrouped, recovered and ready to address the matters at hand. The sisters took on the next phase of the pie plan, discovering where Councilman Hearthmount lives and dropping a calling card. I proposed, as an experiment to see the reaction of my compatriots, a tracking of the undead to their creator or other source. Even those from Paridon did not seem alarmed or suspicious of this. Perhaps we all have secrets to keep. Using an eye of the undead remains I began to use the ritual known as ‘Carrion Compass’ and it led us through the heart of town. While I am willing to test the reaction of those I spend the most time with, I was not ready to test the town citizenry, so a quick use of herbalism let me convert the organ to a floating herbal sachet – still unusual but less likely to cause concern, and pleasantly scented of lavender instead of undeath. 

The duration of the spell took us most of the way to the Restlands cemetery, where our physical trackers were able to finish the job by concluding the distance, and identifying the new undead climbing out of their intended resting places. Four skeletons engaged us and were quickly dispatched. Swanhilda was feeling aggressive, but by the time she approached one and was ready to take her bite they had all been cut down. I will have to let her gnaw on me in recompense. Beatrice was not able to find any signs of necromancy that would have resulted in these beings, however we did identify the six graves of the current undead. That means we do not have unaccounted for corpses so far as we know. 

The Lady Beatrice wanted to try to contact the spirits in the cemetery for more clues as to what had occurred to cause the dead to rise. While some like Ciprian believed it was a bad idea due to the nature of the spirit board, I believed the practical implications of partaking in a public venue were ill-timed for our reputation with the townsfolk. Alternative locations of the ossuary were recommended, but again if we are seen entering and leaving once more, as we were last time, our suspicion amongst the citizenry will rise.

In lieu of a mid-day seance of questionable wisdom, we elected to return the bodies to their appropriate graves. Lady Beatrice and I kept watch while the others returned to the manor and retrieved the original two sets of remains, so that we could replace all six in their resting places, hopefully in a more permanent manner.

The manor, our standard meeting place, hosted dinner and conversation. The sisters will pay their visit to the councilman tomorrow. I retired with the intention of regaining my spells through meditation, the day had been costly in magical expenditure. However midway through the sleep cycle, Lady Beatrice began screaming as though she were mortally injured. When we attended her chambers to determine the nature of the injury, she indicated the writing of her name, nearly complete, in blood on her headboard. She bore no injury, and the blood appears human instead of rat this time. She claims it was sourced by her dream, a description of what sounds like a prison cell that responded to an assault on the wall with a stool by writing her name, character by character, on the wall at a measured pace. When she awoke the nearly-completed name “BEATRIC” was present in outside of her dream. I am given cause to re-evaluate her earlier hallucination in the graveyard.

We will use the spirit board and planchette here, as there appear to be spirits connected to Harrowstone in every inch of Ravensgro. From that deck of cards to the dispatch in her room, and even possibly the defacement of the monument, Harrowstone Prison is around every corner.

Raven’s Crown Chronicle of Coppelia – Neyavr 2nd, 751 BR

Dear Diary,

To whom it may concern,

Journal date: Neyavr 2nd, 751 BR

As the Doctor kept a journal that is proving helpful to our efforts, perhaps I should try this exercise as well. If you are reading this, I am dead. If I am not dead, I request that you close this now and return it to where you found it. Thank you.

It appears Doctor Van Richten has kept his promise to take my secret to his grave. At the very least, he is in his grave – though I did not check the coffin’s contents personally – and there is no evidence he shared it prior to the date of his demise. I may need to inquire with the Weathermay-Foxglove sisters, they are his most likely confidants. Difficulty: In doing so I may expose the issue that was not previously relevant to their interest. I will consider this further.

Allow me to begin at a more appropriate starting point.

A missive reached me at the clockworks shop, requesting I attend the funeral of Doctor Van Richten in Ravengro. I believe the feeling I experienced was sadness, as I found correspondence with the Doctor educational and inspirational. I was permitted time away from my professional responsibility, and I was able to arrange care of my regular patients with little distress. 

Addendum – Old Mistress Dunham did complain at exceedingly high volume that I would not be personally tending to her arthritis pains. I tried, once again, to explain that she does not suffer from arthritis and it is simply that she dislikes rainy weather resulting in a psychosomatic effect on her knees from an overwhelming desire for attention. She continues to refuse this diagnosis. 

Arrival in Ravengro was unceremonious, as I was just in time for the event. It appears several other attendees were also originating in Paridon. Perhaps our return travel can be coordinated to be more efficient. For documentation purposes these were:

  • Beatrice Teague – apparently a human female of some noble standing
  • Gorig-Nak Dunn – presents as male half-orc valet to Lady Teague
  • Victor Caenavon-Smythe – appearance of a human male

Also in attendance was a well-concealed figure identified by name as Ciprian Dragan with a masculine vocal tone and a Doctor Phil Ligree Gold-Bottom, presumably a male human.

From Ravensgro was Zokar Elkarid and his son Pevrin. He owns the local tavern – designated the ‘Laughing Demon’. He is jovial and laughs a great deal himself. Lady Jominda Fallenbridge is the alchemist in town and was present. Councilman Vashian Hearthmount and Councilman Gharen Muricar represented the local political element. Central to the proceedings were the sisters Gennifer and Laurie Weathermay-Foxglove. Twins. Curious, natural forces appear to have made two physically identical but personality disparate individuals. This is a digression on my part.

I was acting as a pallbearer for the coffin as we approached the cemetery where a mob of citizenry had formed, apparently at the behest of an individual referred to as Old Man Gibs. Their objection was to having a necromancer buried with their kin, though what concern there would be since the vessels are no longer occupied was beyond me. Beatrice and Victor attempted to advise them on the logistics of the corpse not being put to rest and potential consequences, regardless of its previous occupation in life. It did not go well. Combat ensued when the coffin was put down properly.

Several individuals had to be laid unconscious before the citizenry could be intimidated over the sway of Old Man Gibs. I am curious what force of personality or powers he could have that would enforce his will so strongly on others. His will was finally totally overridden when the local priest came to intervene, a dwarf called Father Grimburrow. Citizenry was repaired and removed from the premises as needed. The funeral commenced, I attempted to speak a few words to commemorate my emotional status, however I do not think I was accurately able to encapsulate it. Others attempted as well. I do not think they were more successful than I.

It was identified that those of us from outside Ravengro were named in the will and would need to be in attendance for the reading. This required us to regroup at the Van Richten family home immediately after the funeral. We are invited to stay there, which at the time of the offer was presumed to be only briefly, until we returned to our respective homes. That was not to be the case. This is called foreshadowing.

Councilman Hearthmount arrived to read the will, where the numerous volumes the Doctor collected over life were discussed. Aside from the items specifically outlined, the estate was bequeathed to the sisters, his apprentices and closest companions in recent years. There are tomes to be delivered to the University of Ledendorf, with payment upon receipt of 100 platinum to each of us. However we must first spend one month in Ravengro to ensure his apprentices are safe and established before we move on to Ledendorf.

The Councilman departed, leaving funds to pay for our drinks at the wake. We began to inspect the books in the trunk that we were to deliver. On top of any of them was the previously referenced journal. There is also a note with distribution of the Ledendorf tomes, and where we are each instructed to take a book that is relevant to us in some way – I was obviously granted Van Richten’s Guide to the Created but I elected not to show the others. This was a matter between me and the Doctor. Beatrice was confused that she received a guide to Ghosts and stated so openly. The others are unknown to me.

In the journal it is identified that the Doctor had been researching the Ebon Hold for years, an organization that on the surface appeared to be a cabal of necromancers, but is actually a group in pursuit of immortality via undeath. They were active in Ravengro in the recent months, with a connection to the Harrowstone prison that burned fifty years past. Despite his use of supplies found in the Restlands cemetery, the Doctor did not survive his next attempt to explore Harrowstone. The Doctor’s body was found there, the victim of an “accident” that specifically mutilated his jaw. We relocated to his study to continue investigating the Ebon Fold and Harrowstone.

Dr. Phil was the one to establish the prison was destroyed by fire 50 years ago, and that locals decline to speak of it from assumptions of haunting. Ciprian established that it was built 636 BR – 115 years in the past, and that the fire destroyed much of the underground structure but much of the surface building is still intact. The Warden and his wife died in the fire – though it was unclear why the wife was at the prison at all. There is a statue monument built to commemorate the Warden and guards that died in the fire. Gorig-Nak was the one to find that the fire was a blessing in disguise, as a prison riot had allowed the inmates to take control of the dungeon spaces, though the Warden and guards in question were still preventing them from escaping completely.

In regards to the Ebon Fold, Victor brought forward the information that they have been active in the Western Domains for thousands of years. I read and relayed that agents of the Ebon Fold are often undead or seek alliances with undead creatures and their most notorious member was a now deceased Dark Lord Azalin Rex. While the order predates Rex by an extensive margin, he was often their model once his presence was established. Beatrice was the one who found that their core tenants are a series of philosophies that will only be relayed via whisper, never written or spoken at volume. The details are difficult to discern as a result, they are often found to be formulas for liches or plans for the recovery of Azalin Rex, and their symbol is a gagged skull. To that effect, those who learn too much are murdered, with mouths mutilated to prevent speaking with the dead – exactly as occurred to the Doctor in his “accident”.

This research engrossed the attention of us all, and as a result meals were not prepared as hunger began to make itself known. Due to the wake invitation, we were able to acquire a free meal at the Laughing Demon, as it was the appropriate time to join the celebration of the Doctor’s life. This is a traditional thing that is done after death, I am given to understand. As this is my first funeral I can recall, I have to trust this is true.

There was time to eat our fill and drinks consumed, as well as locals spoken with. I remained preferential to tea – when I have wine Swanhilda will often consume overly much and become ill-tempered. I hate to recall her reaction to harder drinks, such as the Brandy Incident of 749 BR. There were bits of gossip gained from those who are more adept at such interactions. Gorig-Nak learned that the pithy-names for the food at the Laughing Demon may be more than just clever wordplay – being invited back for a ‘Special Tasting’ may result in a disappearance, unless one looks closely at the menu. Beatrice discovered that you can still hear the wife wailing near Harrowstone. Ciprian found that the Executioner of Harrowstone still guards his gallows, even after his death. After our meal concluded we each went to pursue our own areas of informational interest, though I will confess I did take note of what each person was pursuing for my own reference.

Ciprian looked to know about the biggest troublemaker in town and the fast answer was Old Man Gibs, who had a chip on his shoulder after coming back from the war that never went away. I am not surprised to learn this. Gibs lives near the outskirts of town near the Harrowstone Memorial – this is foreshadowing again.

Victor’s pursuit was to ask the bartender what Gibs had against Van Richten, due to the strong response to the burial. It was revealed that Gibs was superstitious, and did not like Van Richten’s disregard for rules, as Gibs wanted everything done a certain way. Gibs became impassioned about the Vistani presence, too.

Dr. Phil seems in need of physical affection, as he kept after something that “rhymes with drugs” and the only element that came to mind for me was “hugs” or “mugs” but the Laughing Demon had plenty of cups. He was directed to Lady Jominda, the town alchemist. 

Gorig-Nak is protective of Lady Beatrice, clearly, as he needed to know about the criminal element in town, which must be to protect her. He must have been relieved to find that there isn’t one, the jail is used as a “drunk tank” and there is one full time sheriff. Benjan Caeller is the law enforcement agent, and has no permanent deputies, but four farmhands that help part time – by name they are Leromar, Riff, Trestleblade, and Vrodish.

Lady Beatrice, though, was interested in the Vistani. She would learn they arrived two weeks ago, and similar to our less than warm reception Old Man Gibs has created a great deal of vocal concern about their presence, using his influence over others to continue the sentiment. Fear of the Vistani Evil Eye prevents them from being easily driven away, however.

I am hoping to find a way to proffer my healing services, potentially in exchange for coin, while I am here for the month. My funds are otherwise limited and Swanhilda will not return the two silver in her collar pouch. Father Grimburrow, one of the founding members of the town, is the head priest in the temple of St Ezra – but due to his advanced age he often has acolytes do the day to day tending of those who need healing, and the occasional sale of magic items. Jominda, as an alchemist, is potentially capable of providing some potions or brews of a healing nature. Simple liniments and medicine also come from the general store, run by Luthko Avanaki and his wife Marta.I was cautioned that their five daughters run amok in the store. I will proceed with care if I need to attend any shopping there. Stepping on children is frowned upon.

After the drinks were finished, there were coins remaining for our purses and we each set out to pursue our individual interests. I made an effort to slip unnoticed to the Vistani camp, however Lady Beatrice and Gorig-Nak were also in attendance. As a fellow citizen of Paridon, I am suspicious of their position on magical and superstitious elements, and I do not wish to fully reveal the nature of my interests and abilities, as there is a possibility that they are of the… “Burn The Witch” beliefs. However when I hesitated to spend my last two gold on a Tarroka reading, Lady Beatrice generously paid for each of us to receive one. I am now in her debt and will need to take steps to ensure she and her valet are cared for to even the scales.

It was most fascinating to see Tarroka readings in person, my book learnings on them were short of the actual description of mood and mystery. Madam Mvashti, the reader, was quite perceptive and I found a great deal of desire to pursue this path after her example. I was able to wait until the others had left before I inquired about the means to purchase a deck of my own. A guide book sitting on the shelf at home can only take my skills so far. Madam Mvashti was pleased to give me a deck, with the promise of a future favor for her people. I tried to barter my skills in the healing arts, as I suspect many superstitious individuals would turn them away even in times of need. She appeared pleased by this offering, and said she would pass my name amongst her people. I hope to pay off this debt soon. This may be foreshadowing, as well.

I returned to the room I was assigned. It is oddly spacious, I am unclear why a resting body needs such extensive space beyond the horizontal area required for reclining in. Swanhilda, however, appreciates the many things to hide behind and furniture to inspect. Otherwise the night passed unremarkably. 

At the morning meal, the staff around us were engaged in a higher level of gossip than would be expected, even considering our presence and the drama of the previous day. Swanhilda was able to get closer and identify that something happened in town that caused a fright for the citizenry. It was Laurie that was able to determine more accurately the defacing of the Warden’s Monument – potentially with blood. As we are to integrate with this town for the duration of our stay, the Weathermay-Foxglove sisters requested that we investigate while they pursued legal matters in town.

The monument is a rather mundane statue with an inscription, and some of the locals milling about it. The only non-mundane aspect was the large V added to it with blood. Close examination revealed rat’s blood. Swanhilda was made unhappy by this. No tracks were found, which is a cause for concern of its own, but without further information about who would have a designation that begins with V we were at a loss. Though as I write I contemplate if this were an attempt to frame or an action by the Vistani? They seem to be avoiding trouble directly and so I do not truly suspect them, but the nearest resident is Old Man Gibs, who is known to have conflict with their presence. I suggested that we speak with him, either to gather what he may have seen or to perceive his potential knowledge through an obvious act of denial.

To make sure we conducted our day efficiently, the cemetery was our next stop as the Doctor had written about supplies we would expect to find there. From the written clues, the large and run-down ossuary seemed the most likely candidate though it was seemingly locked. In trying to find a crack large enough for Swanhilda to enter, the lock itself was found to be a fiction. It has been opened by acid and resealed with wax, a trick Victor assured us was a hallmark of Doctor Van Richten’s approach. I was hesitant to enter in broad daylight, but the area seemed quite vacant of any presence that was not our own. 

Before entrance, Lady Beatrice began seeing text that was not there on a tombstone adjacent to the Doctor’s. Per her relayed information: “Come to my world, and be as I; as I am now, soon you will be; embrace your end and witness me.” – Died 701 BR

Those of us not hallucinating were only able to see a name, year of birth, and year of death – which was the same as what she claimed. Jack Parsons perished in 701 BR, the same year as the fire of Harrowstone. She seemed off, but not feverish. I will watch her closely for further diagnosis. 

Victor proceeded to… pop the lock, as it were. Inside quickly, to find that though in a state of disrepair and inattentiveness, there were no bones or remains in the mislabeled ossuary. The facade of a foyer had niches unfilled. I was reminded that I should not see without a light source, but luckily those around me had lanterns. A line of clear tracks in the dust lead to the back, a next room holding a sarcophagus. 

Inspection of the receptacle would be delayed, when Gorig-Nak stepped back to the front room to act as guard, and was assaulted. From the cracks leading to the earth came centipedes, likely of a poisonous variety. They were quickly dispatched, and I was able to provide some healing for Gorig-Nak as my first step to paying off that debt.

Cleared of interference from arthropods, we proceeded to inspect and open the sarcophagus. Inside was not a body, but instead the indicated stash of goods. Quickly these items were gathered up into a backpack and I made sure to close the sarcophagus before we left. 

We had attempted to leave quietly, but it seems that was not possible for most of the group, a fact I will make note of for the future. Swanhilda is sure we were seen upon exiting, so we have agreed that we were paying our respects to the Doctor as a group when we had reason to inspect the ossuary. Inside we found and fought centipedes. This is accurate and truthful, an advantageous thing.

The rest of the day was spent examining and identifying the items back in Van Richten’s library. If this is what the Doctor left behind, I am concerned with what he took that would make these less valuable in comparison.

Ravenloft – Raven’s Crown Campaign

So a new tabletop RPG campaign just kicked off for me, taking the Carrion Crown Adventure Path and our GM has reskinned it to Ravenloft. I am SO excited!

My character is Coppelia Francine Drosselmeyer, a seemingly-human Witch from Paridan, a near-Victorian area of Ravenloft. What the other PCs don’t know is that she is secretly an android with amnesia – just trying to make her way in the world without being caught out as “other” in a xenophobic world setting, aided by her rat familiar Swanhilda.

I have decided that because her mentor, Doctor Van Richten, left us a journal with important clues, she too will document the events of the game in her very own journal… and so I want to share that here!

This game meets every other week. While I may not be the session chronicler every session, I will try to write something each time just for my own practice, and post to this blog.

This game has me very excited – in the past I’ve been part of two Ravenloft games, both of which fell apart after a single session, and I barely remember anything of them. The idea of having a full campaign to write about has me looking forward to it!

The Peacock – Dark Sun Character

Concept: Acrobatic troupe of “birds” – a group of entertainment slaves known as The Menagerie.

Character: Pax (given name) AKA Peacock (stage name) AKA Precious Pet (to her owner)

Race: Elf

Class: Swashbuckler (Pathfinder)

Home City-State: Tyr

 “And now… the Peacock takes flight!” After a moment the figure slid down the silks suddenly, blue and green glittering from the revealing bodysuit as she descended rapidly towards the ground, yet halfway to the earth suddenly arresting the near free-fall. The dance had begun, a blur of color and coordination in the air, flexibility and finesse on display for the gathered crowd. Impossibly long and lean, white-blonde hair braided close to the head with strategic wisps allowed to fly free, ribbons woven through to match her costume.

The crowd held their breath, waiting for the fall, the slip, the moment of mistake that never came. Instead grace held over gravity as the Peacock tangled up in the tense silks, released her form to tumble and recover time and time again. By the end she gracefully touched her toes to the earth and they erupted with cheers and elation. A sweeping bow, and then the lights dimmed and she felt the hands on her arms ushering her offstage before the moment was over.

Peregrine and Phoenix stood on either side of her, both humans, waiting on their owner. Eventually the extravagantly dressed human man came strolling in, glass of wine in hand and from his stride clearly not his first. “My flock! The Menagerie flies again, and so close to perfect I want to weep. Alas,” his eyes focused on Peacock, “not everything can be right, can it – my Precious Pet?” Both Phoenix and Peregrine unconsciously leaned away from the elven girl in the center, though she towered over them by nearly two feet. “No, when I hear the call for my Peacock, I expect my Precious Pet to present herself in an instant, not make me wait!” 

She waited for the blow, but it never came, replaced with a wicked grin on the man’s face. “But I’m sure you’ll show me how much you care tonight, little Peacock, won’t you Pet?” With that Peregrine and Phoenix took their queue to flee, relieved that the expectation had not fallen on them.

Night after night The Menagerie showed off their acrobatic efforts, gaining fame and fortune for their owner – Garuda Hamassian. To say Garuda was a shallow man would only be to scratch the surface. He loved his wine, women, and wealth – not in that order – and The Menagerie seemed to provide that in spades, even if the women were less than willing. His favorite of his flock was The Peacock, an elven girl called Precious Pet by Garuda alone – a girl who had no memories of the time before training for the show. When she would anger him the punishments were violent, sexual, or both, and he was quick to anger with his Precious Pet.

As their name became their fame, the other birds became restless, looking to fly away from Garuda. Slowly a conspiracy would form, in the whispers late at night through the dark. Buying their way to freedom? But with Garuda taking the profits that seemed large but according to him never kept up with the costs there was never any left for the birds, he would lie gracefully. Fight? With what weapons and armor? They were far too visible to escape into anonymity, at least some of them were. Sparrow and Wren could likely do it with their brown hair and average builds, maybe even Stork and Nightingale with their opposite but common coloring though their height extremes might play a part, but Phoenix’s mane of flame-colored hair was rare and visible from afar, Peregrine was noticeably stronger than your average woman, and Peacock was a pale figure of an elf, not a common commodity. 

The opportunity came when it was least expected. Hope had been lost long ago, and still the birds flew more nights than they did not on his command. Peacock was resigned to her fate, no longer taking part in the occasional whisper-plots that could never be, and even those became wistful instead of imperative. 

It had been months ago that Wren had been able to acquire the potions of sleep, she would not say where or how but a faint blush and look of shame would creep over her face when asked about that night. Nightingale speculated that she intended to down them all herself, in order to bring the end or at least prolonged bliss and ignorance for a long time. They weren’t sure it would work that way, but they all kept a closer eye on Wren after that.

The performances were to be a week’s partnership with another group, former gladiators that would stage battle-inspired dances on the ground with The Menagerie performing their flights above the chaos. For this light armor was issued to the birds, to keep the theme flowing above and below, but collected away each night. Until the night it was not.

Garuda had drunk more than usual, his speech slurred and his actions slow, as he crowed about the successful performance, no punishments to be seen for the night. The birds waited for the traditional demand that they undress from the armor, but instead his eyes drooped, his glass plunked onto the table, and his breathing deepened, sleep stealing away their owner. It was Stork that saw the opportunity – if he were to remain out, and the other troupe could be distracted, and they could slip away into the night. 

Wren volunteered her potions and went to serve an evening wine “Compliments of Garuda” to the other performers laced with the draught. Sparrow’s nimble fingers made quick work of Garuda’s locks, and the company’s coffers were divided up amongst the flock. It was agreed that, heart-breaking as it was, finding them as a group would be all too easy and they would need to split up after they were out. It was possible they would never see each other again, though the glances between Wren and Nightingale seemed to hint that not everyone would fully abide.

The other performers had unconsciously supplied a supply of fanciful, but functional, weapons that Wren returned with once they were out cold. Peacock selected a star-shaped blade that appealed to her, more points meant more damage, right? Flashier than functional, they were better than nothing for those about to adventure out into a cold world.

Armed. Armored. Pouches heavy with coin. This was it – they were on the verge of freedom. The hour grew late, until they couldn’t stand to wait any longer and fight back tearful goodbyes. One by one, separated by fifteen minute windows, they slipped out into the night. Wren and Nightingale whispered to each other, and the others tried to pretend they couldn’t hear the plan on where to meet up, but no one could miss the tender kiss before Nightingale took flight. Peacock looked on wistfully, wondering if she would ever find a love like theirs.

Finally Peacock, always the finale, was left alone. Garuda’s form was slumped over and his head rested on the table. As the minutes crawled by and the dawn grew closer, she noticed he hardly seemed to be breathing. It would be so easy to close her hands around his throat and stop that breath entirely. Wren had left one potion behind, pouring it into his mouth would ensure he didn’t stir before the deed was done…

She tipped his head back and quickly tipped the flask into his slack mouth. The already gradual breathing slowed further still, his chest no longer moving perceptibly. Peacock began to search his person, taking extra coin and keys from his pockets, gems and jewels from around his neck and fingers. Still he didn’t stir, even when she found the secret pocket inside his coat – a rolled piece of paper, of all things, hidden within. She was baffled, she had never seen the man read, and paper was a rare treasure that seemed wasted on him, but she tucked it away and finished her search. Though she could barely feel his pulse in his throat, she wrapped her long fingers around the neck of her owner, a strange feeling of triumph bubbling up within her. He couldn’t stir, and after what seemed an eternity to the elf she decided any damage she could do was done – there was no evidence of breath or blood flow left through his form – he seemed as dead as he could be and no longer able to pursue or punish them – her own awe at her rash act was immeasurable. She wondered if she had used her new weapon if the rush would be greater still.

The time had long since come and gone for her to leave, and with one last look over her shoulder she quietly slunk out of the building, locking doors behind her to make it that much harder to find the body. Locking the doors on the life she wanted to leave behind. 

It would be months before she found someone skilled enough to read the document for her, but still more weeks of talking and getting to know this wise figure, before she felt safe to ask to trade coin for their skills. With reluctance she handed over the note to find it was the last will and testament of Garuda Hamassian.

I, Garuda Hamassian, of sound mind and body, do issue this edict upon my demise. The slaves known as Sparrow (Estella), Wren (Warda), Stork (Yasti), Nightingale (Garima), Peregrine (Palak), Phoenix (Farzeen), and of course my precious pet Peacock (Pax) shall be granted their freedom. They were mine, and I will not stand for them to belong to another, so they may now fly free. My coin and possessions are to be divided evenly amongst these ladies, as I have no family outside of them. Wind at your wings, my women of grace. The Menagerie is no more.

It was crudely signed by Garuda, and Peacock, Pax, felt a strange set of tears welling up in her eyes. By her own savage act she had freed them all, though only she knew it. Yet had she not done so to the man that seemed, deep down, to care about them – they would still be pursued to the ends of the world. Of this she was sure. The paradox twisted her soul.

She made a promise to find the others in time, and make sure they knew of their true freedom.

World of Darkness – Werewolf Game – First Draft Backstory

As a friend spins up a play-by-post Werewolf/Changing Breed game set in Hawaii, it was time to start stretching out my WoD memories and try applying it to the modern era. I think it’s been at least a decade since I made any World of Darkness character, much less a Garou.

One of my goals was to have the character be relatively new to Oahu, so the challenge was to plan where she came from and why she had uprooted herself with such completeness, so that she would be starting over.

Born: Vikki Villalobos
Garou Name: Shards of Spirit
Tribe: Children of Gaia
Auspice: Theurge
Breed: Homid (Parents both CoG Kinfolk)
Originally from: Napa Valley, California
Current Age: 22

For generations the Wolf’s Head Vineyards in Calistoga, California has been a refuge, a safe space for those in the Garou community that need a place to recover or a shelter for their first steps on the path to being part of the greater community. Many a young metis had been fostered there, free of the prying eyes their local pack would scrutinize them with. It straddled the precarious border between urban development and the natural wilds, schooling Homid children in the ways of the wolf and letting the Lupus born learn the life of man. The local packs defended the kinfolk owners through hard times and prospered in return when things were well. The Villalobos family rarely produced a Garou in their line, but they remained treasured community members for the care they showed those who needed a hand up in hard times, and the support they were always ready to provide to their family that did become true Garou. Delmar and his wife Marissa were no exception to this tradition, always ready to foster, nurture, donate, and dedicate themselves to the good of their Garou family.

It was a surprise to everyone when Marissa and Delmar’s only daughter, Viktoria (Vikki, to her friends) underwent the First Change at age sixteen. In a fortunate turn it was the actions of another Kinfolk that brought her rage boiling over the first time. The fire was already close to the surface, a feeling of being bothered as she was required to spend the day tending to the littlest cubs – those children thought most likely to become Garou in a few years – instead of with the glassblowing art and solitude that she craved that day. When she returned to the little workshop she had been granted it was to discover one of the older children, a mischievous prankster known for trying to upset her, holding her most involved piece to date. Without thinking about it she barked at him to leave it alone – and his hands pulled away from the piece without a thought to it’s balance. Gravity had its way with the glass tree and the sculpture became a shattered mess on the floor. The adults that were called to aid found her destroying the very valuable works she had stored there in a tantrum that would be talked about for months to come. 

Her Rite of Passage hunt, turning her and a few other younglings loose in the woods blindfolded with no tools at their disposal to make their way back to the caern, did not cause her much distress. The soil of Napa was rife with obsidian remnants of previous generations, so she was able to make the weapons that would ensure her group’s success. Even outside her workshop the glass edge was the source of her strength, and she would come to be known to her fellow Children of Gaia as Shards of Spirit.

A theurge, she began to see and speak with the spirits around her – and her affinity for glassblowing as an art form showed her a natural draw to spirits of air and fire. She was able to find success in the human world as an artist over the next three years, and still have the freedom to aid the family and tribe she was loyal to. Everything seemed to have settled, even after her parents passed at relatively young ages in 2016 – Marissa to cancer and Delmar to a heart attack in the month after, though there were whispers that it was simply his heart was still broken from the loss of his wife. Still, Vikki was able to find help in the community to keep Wolf’s Head running as both a Garou sanctuary and a busy winery.

When the entire vineyard was lost to the October 2017 Wine Country fires, everyone assumed the insurance money would be collected, the rebuild would begin, and the cycle would continue – Wolf’s Head was eternal in their eyes – ever with the Villalobos family in charge. Yet something had changed that week for Vikki – seeing the fire spirits she trusted so much rush with rage over her safest places, she could no longer view the valley as home. The need to find a new measure of safety, in a place that would support her art, led her to seek out someplace a world away from Napa’s cooler weather and forested depths, but still sourcing the volcanic sand that made her art glass readily available. 

A friend mentioned a North Shore gallery in Hawaii that was looking to fill an opening, and she began shipping pieces to them. It was the logical step away from Napa for her. With her growing name there over the next year, she began to look into a chance to relocate, using the funds from the fire to both carry her over the ocean but also leave enough to help the family and tribe in Napa in comfort while they made their plans for a new Wolf’s Head, this time minus the Villalobos legacy. By the beginning of 2019 Vikki was forming new roots in a land far from home, while still supporting from afar the efforts of her kin on rebuilding the burnt legacy. 

Now in Hawaii for a year, she’s starting to see the islands as home, and has yet to return to Calistoga in person. Wolf’s Head is well on it’s way to a new crop even while she plants a very different seed in Oahu’s volcanic soil.