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the table, I explained that another letter had appeared on the monument, only to discover that my word of mouth was out of date as well – one of the staff clarified that in addition to the E I had heard of, an S had just been added.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.