Whispers, Evasions, and Midnight Expeditions
Real date: February 24, 2012
In-game date: Wealday, 10 Arodus 4702
San-ji, Theophilus, and Dabda
Arriving at the Temple of Pharasma, Theophilus, San-ji, and Dabda seek out Father Grimburrow to question him regarding various events. Dabda ((temporarily played by Asma)) is asked to go speak to another member of the church clergy while Theo and San-ji chat with the dwarf priest.
Outwardly, the father seems fairly warm and welcoming, but upon questioning both the adventurers note that he seems to be hesitant to discuss a few things. He relays some general information on Harrowstone Prison, such as the year of the fire that destroyed it, general information on the types of prisoners it housed, and that nearly 300 people died in the conflagration. In regards to researching the topic further, Grimburrow (again seeming to wish to keep something to himself) directs the party to use the libraries at the Lorrimor estate and mentions that the town hall might have some records – although the council may be reticent to let them dig through their paperwork.
When questioned regarding the Professor’s death, the dwarf priest openly admits that he and the academic were not close friends. While he seems to hold the professor in respect, there’s also a sense of animosity there regarding Grimburrow’s limited knowledge of Lorrimor’s research into the darker topics of arcana. He truthfully admits that the professor had never mentioned being in ill-health, though, but points out that “when Pharasma calls, we go,” – in other words, that heart attacks can strike unexpectedly. He directs them to the town’s apothecary, and notes she was closer to the professor and might know if he was in ill health.
As a final line of questioning, Theo brings up the topic of the Whispering Way. Grimburrow at first has no recollection of the phrase, but then recalls that he knows it because he knows nothing of it; he remembers the professor mentioning it when he came to speak to the priest about Harrowstone, and that he could not provide the professor any information on it.
At this point in the interview, San-ji notices that the father has started to withdraw into the strange, insular attitudes of the region, and so makes her farewells. Theophilus remains behind for a few moments to speak with the professor regarding a private matter, and then exits to join Dabda and San-ji. The adventurers decide to go try to visit Jominda the apothecary.
Passing across the darkened northern bridge of Ravengro, the three encounter a group of girls playing jump-rope games near the town’s welcome sign and notice board. The girls are singing a rather disturbing nursery rhyme while skipping rope, and Theo and San-ji approach in as non-threatening a manner as possible to ask about the strange song. A black-haired girl named Magda mentions that she learned it from her sister, but otherwise doesn’t know anything about it. The children are called in for dinner and flee from the strangers, leaving only the disturbing ring of the gruesome rhyme in their minds.
Traveling into the town circle, the group finds that Jominda’s Apothecary is locked, and no lights are on inside. With their immediate plan delayed, the group turns toward home.
While the others are off at the Temple, Kendra excuses herself to take a nap, and Marcus indulges his bibliophilic nature and begins to dig through the tomes entrusted to them by the professor. After ascertaining that two of the books are unholy tomes relating to the dark gods Urgathoa and Zon-Kuthon, and a third has to do with aberrations that inhabit the void between worlds, the most interesting is a rich purple tome with a golden metal scarab on its cover. The book is securely locked and the key is not in the chest.
Marcus lays these books aside and spends some time researching the topics mentioned in the dark arcane tomes. The professor’s library reveals some detail regarding the topic, but nothing that strikes him as immediately pertinent. As the afternoon wears on, the librarian returns to the professor’s journal, where he again notes mentions of the Whispering Way, and begins to research it further, discovering some better insights as to what the cult is about.
As the researcher begins to make himself a snack, Kendra awakens and joins him in the kitchen. Although she does not know about the locked tome, she directs Marcus to the professor’s study to look for the key further.
A search of the study reveals more books, a blotter ‘copy’ of the professor’s most recent will, a roll of fine lockpicks in the professor’s desk – and no triangular key. With no key found, Marcus begins to look through the books in the professor’s study, but is interrupted by the return of the others.
The group comes together in the warm kitchen and discusses their findings of the day. All the adventurers realize, as they put their pieces together, that a sinister picture is taking shape in the events around Ravengro.
As Marcus reveals what he discovered about the tomes, he mentions the locked book. Theo tries using the professor’s lockpicks to open the scarab lock and fails; San-ji tries with her own picks but is unable to get the lock to budge. Finally, Dabda uses her knowledge of metals to break the lock with her blacksmith hammer, and the book is opened.
At first, the book appears to be gibberish, but closer inspection reveals it to be a very complex cipher. Using Comprehend Languages, Dabda is able to decode the text and relays that it deals with a group called the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. A group nearly as steeped in mystery as the Whispering Way, the Palatine Eye is more of a political organization with some interests in the arcane. Little else is revealed about the order, but there is a note in the book from Professor Lorrimor, asking that the book be delivered to the (provided) home address of Embreth Daramid, a judge in the courts of Lepidstadt.
With full darkness outside, Marcus reminds the group of the professor’s mention of a false tomb in the Restlands, where a cache of ghost-hunting gear might be found. Originally he plans to go to the tomb alone the next morning, but Dabda voices concern that the Temple might have issues with disturbing a crypt in their cemetery, and that such investigations might be better done covertly.
The party quietly makes its way to the Restlands and approaches the tomb mentioned in the journal. From the outside the crypt appears to be a typical, largish marble crypt. On the roof are several gargoyles, their mouths opened in a strange circular manner. The stone doors of the crypt appear to be locked, but upon closer inspection the lock has been broken and simply arranged to appear locked. San-ji removes the lock and the group heads inside.
After searching for a brief period in the candlelit tomb, the group notes that a patch of tile in the back of the room is free from dust. Marcus approaches the stone urn and heaves against it, pushing it (and the tile beneath) aside to reveal a ladder heading downward.
Descending below, the adventurers find a ruined chapel, aerated by vent holes that apparently open through the gargoyles above and lit by ever-burning torches. The group begins to explore the ruined chapel, unaware of the dangers that may soon befall them…