In our last session, our heroes had finished their explorations of the moathouse, the complex beneath, and the tomb of Rafael the Righteous but had not yet put an end to the evil named Leighton. Sadly, at the end of the session, our brave adventurers learned that the depths of Leighton’s depravity were even deeper than they had experienced so far. He had left two young children, dead but animated, hanging from the same crossed beams from which Cowle had previously hung.
This was an abbreviated session as we didn’t really start until about 7:30 or 8:00 (due to a nearby music and literature festival). Muse was missing from this session and RJ played Brenwyn. There are potential spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet as well as A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry below the break. This recap is from Rachel and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].
As Haemon jumped across the moat into the courtyard of the Moat House, he saw two undead children hanging from the wooden X. Like Leighton’s other “puppets,” their faces turned to us [cackling disconcertingly] and relayed a message, the two speaking alternating words: “I’m waiting, follow the trail.” After cutting them down and removing their heads, we continued on into the Moat House.
Before following the passage out to the trail, we decided to check out Heironeous’ area to see if anything had changed. Raphael’s sarcophagus appeared the same as we had left it. The gold statue with the sword with the large ruby in its pommel appeared to be undisturbed as well, though after close inspection Haemon determines that it is most likely just colored glass and not a ruby. In the formerly hidden area, the table where the five skeletons had been seated is now empty and the five skeletons are gone. There were no signs of a scuffle. The four stone blocks that were shaped like small sarcophagi and bore the names of Raphael’s retainers (we assume) have now been defiled and damaged.
We continued through the passage that opened to the woods and a trail with wagon tracks. There was a skull sitting on the ground by the entrance—maybe a hint from Leighton that we are going the right way? We followed the tracks and they wound through the woods, went south and ended up crossing the road that headed east from Hilltop, and then bending west and ending at the road that heads south from Hilltop (towards the quarry). While following the tracks, we came upon two more children’s bodies, but they each just gave us a gruesome smile and then went limp rather than relaying a message from Leighton. We buried and Brenwyn blessed the four kids’ bodies.
[If that was a little hard to follow since you don’t have a handy map in front of you, the key part to understand is that the trail pretty much led to the area near the quarry.]
We returned to Hilltop to let Lady Katerine know about the children and warn her that Leighton and his minions may be abducting children. Lady Katerine had already found out from another source, as two of her guards met us at the edge of town and said she wanted to see us right away. She told us that a family had been attacked—the parents and older son had been slaughtered and dismembered, while the five younger kids were missing. We told her that we had come across and buried four of the children (we are hoping these are the same children and not additional kids!) but had not come across the fifth yet. We told Lady Katerine about the wagon tracks ending at the road heading south from town, so we are planning to head to the quarry to see if that is where Leighton and his minions have gone.
Katerine said that she has set a curfew for Hilltop and that all the townsfolk are to stay at her keep or at the temple in hopes that this will be safer than them staying at outlying farms and houses. Lady Katerine also let us know that Parma, her inside guy at the quarry (from whom she has not heard in at least a week), had told her of a “secret” entrance above the mine and gave us directions to it. She also said that some folks in town working at the quarry had reported that there are dwarves working a night shift at the mine, in different areas than where the townsfolk are. Townsfolk have heard them working but none of them have seen the dwarves. It seems that the dwarves have been staying at the quarry rather than in town. This seems particularly suspicious since a whole other shift of mine workers should be increasing the amount of stone being mined, while Lady Katerine has not been getting all the stone she has ordered from the quarry to build her new keep.
Lady Katerine asked to speak briefly with just Brenwyn and me, so Haemon, Labaash, and Poul headed to the inn. Lady Katerine expressed concerns that House Langmuir in Verbobonc may be interfering with her getting stone from the quarry. Apparently there has been conflict between the Ashbys and Langmuirs for a number of years—while most previous viscounts have been supportive of the Ashbys, the Langmuirs have the ear of the current viscount of Verbobonc. If Lady Katerine is not able to construct her keep in Hilltop within a certain amount of time, the viscount may turn over the lands to the Langmuirs. This has made Lady Katerine suspicious that the Langmuirs may be actively involved in preventing her from getting stone from the quarry so that her keep construction is delayed. Katerine asked Brenwyn and me to be somewhat cautious but to find any evidence we can that the Langmuirs are involved. Brenwyn and I said we would find out what we could.
[The Langmuirs played a role in our prior Hilltop campaign as well. One of their minions, Toruko, had kidnapped and slain children just to try and incite the PCs in that campaign to do something stupid or violent against some nobles. Lady Godelva Langmuir even arranged (or forged) a missive from the elder Ashby sibling, Harold, and head of the house after the murder of their father that disowned both Harvey and Halcyon (PCs) from the house and that this pair were responsible for the death of their father. In addition, Lady Godelva claimed that her honor had been sullied by the activities of the younger Ashbys and demanded satisfaction. All of this as a horde of dragonspawn and humanoids were preparing to attack Verbobonc!
One can understand why prior Viscounts of Verbobonc may not have favored the Langmuirs but apparently they’ve worked their “magic” again and have gained favor with the current Viscount, Laodegan. Oooh…the plot might be thickening here.]
When Labaash, Haemon, and Poul arrived at the inn, Cahill with sitting with four men in chainmail. Their conversation stopped when the three entered. Cahill looked at them and then back at one of the men in chainmail, who says they are not interested in gambling. Cahill got up and joined the three, offering them healing potions in exchange for information about our activities and where we have been. Poul did not take kindly to this offer and ended up threatening Cahill by slightly choking him. [Ha! Slightly…right…] As Haemon and Labaash cautioned Poul not to do that, the three left the inn. One of the men in chainmail followed them out and called to them, saying he and his comrades are here to help us. The men are Efan, Francis, Gilbert, and Heylin, and they are followers of Heironeous from Verbobonc.
Efan accompanied Haemon, Labaash, and Poul back to Lady Katerine’s, where Brenwyn and I were just leaving to head to the inn. Lady Katerine offered Efan and his companions the same pay as Haemon and Poul, 2 gold pieces per day, but Efan insisted they need no pay. Haemon pulled me aside briefly to express concern that these followers of Heironeous showed up so soon after we found the area dedicated to one of Heironeous’ followers. Once we had left Lady Katerine’s and met up with Efan’s companions, I did get a better look at their lightning bolt medallions and could tell that they were simpler than those that had been on the five skeletons in the chamber below the Moat House. Haemon appeared relieved that they were not the same (I was relieved too!).
[Efan and companions do not appear the brightest individuals but are certainly enthusiastic about fighting evil! Huzzah!
At one point, Efan also shared that he and his companions are not paladins of Heironeous, simply followers and honorable warriors! Evil doers beware! Huzzah!
Kind of think of the Tick crossed with Mermaid Man (from Spongebob Squarepants) crossed with Quigley the demon hunter from the Myth Adventures series.]
Before taking the road south, Efan and his companions headed to Rhodri’s to purchase a tent—apparently they had not enjoyed getting rained on a couple nights on their way to Hilltop. Haemon and I scouted in the woods on either side of the road as we headed south but did not see anything suspicious. Efan was quite enthusiastic and called out to any suspicious folks to show themselves, he did not appear to understand why Haemon and I were trying to quietly move through the woods, but we encouraged him and his companions to try to move as quietly as they could and not call out loudly. We moved off the path headed toward the quarry to approach the hidden entrance. We reminded Efan and the others to try to remain quiet and not charge in immediately, stating that we needed to observe what is going on first.
The secret entrance turns out to be a grate with bars and does not look like it is meant to be an entry. We tried to move and bend/break some of the bars so we can fit through. We did break and bend a few of the bars after several attempts, but it did make quite a bit of noise [and a good bit of debris–earth, rocks, leaves, etc.–dropped down the shaft in the process]. Haemon leaned closer to the entrance to see if he could hear any noises coming up the shaft from below.
[And that’s where we stopped for the night. Haemon’s Hear Noise check was made but the results were not shared nor did I share what…if anything…had been heard.
We had to take the last two weekends off from playing as we were missing too many players but we’ll pick up with the hunt for Leighton this upcoming weekend!]