Redemptions and Desecreations
Real date: March 3, 2012
In-game date: Oathday, 10 Arodus 4702
After descending the ladder into the ruined chapel in the Restlands, the adventurers and Dabda began to explore the large room, looking for the cache of ghost-hunting equipment noted in the professor’s journal.
Passing between the collapsed pews, Theophilus approached the intact bookcase. Most of the books were rotting away and crumbled at a touch; three books were salvageable (but contained no immediately helpful knowledge), while two scrolls offered an interesting historical look at the region’s past. Apparently the ruined chapel was used as a secret meeting place of the followers of Pharasma during the reign of the Whispering Tyrant, over a thousand years ago.
San-ji made her way carefully to the front of the chapel, checking for traps and looking under pews. Dabda examined the statue of Pharasma, while Marcus eyed the ruined bookcase. Realizing that “ghost-fighting equipment” would likely be magical in nature, Marcus scanned the front of the room using Detect Magic, and immediately found two sets of magical auras: One beneath the altar, and another behind the wall aback the statue.
Kneeling before the altar, Marcus found a false panel and slid it away to reveal a large wooden chest. Before he could inspect it fully, however, both San-ji and Theophilus caught the haunting strains of a flute melody, drifting down through the ventilation holes in the back of the room. As the witch headed back toward the ladder to check out the noise, two giant centipedes emerged from the vent holes and began to approach the party.
San-ji, believing the music to be a charm, plugged her ears with wax from her lantern and backed away, calling out a warning to her group. The stalwart cleric blessed her friends as she moved forward toward one of the centipedes, and took a minor strike to the arm from the poisonous creature, as yet another centipede crawled forth from the vent holes.
The librarian injured the second centipede with Magic Missiles, knocking it akimbo in a heap of rubble from the pew over which it was climbing. Dabda handily crushed the skull of the front vermin with a single blow from her might warhammer. San-ji readied her bow, but her arrow was denied a target as Marcus blazed the collapsed centipede with his enhanced Burning Hands, and Theophilus decimated the remaining creature with a single shot from his mighty pistol. As the last insect died, the eerie flute melody faded away, as if driven off by the ringing of the pistol shot.
The immediate threat negated, the group resumed the search, eventually revealing both caches of equipment – the first beneath the altar, and the second revealed by Theophilus, who found the hidden trigger (turning the skull in the statue’s hand). With their new-found equipment, the group ascended the ladder back to the false tomb.
As they exited the mausoleum, the adventurers heard the sounds of singing – identified by Dabda as a gravedigger-guard of the temple. San-ji deftly replaced the lock on the crypt, making it appear as though it was again locked, and the group crept away.
Or attempted to creep away. Because of the encumbrance of the new gear, Marcus and Theo were not as silent as needed, and only the quick thinking of San-ji saved the party from discovery. The crafty woman remained behind while her compatriots fled, and (barely) convinced the gravedigger that she had had an ill-feeling about the professor’s grave and had come to check on it. Singing raucously with the priest, San-ji eventually rejoined her friends at the Lorrimor estate, and the party retired to bed after a good night’s work.
The following morning, Marcus arose to make breakfast for everyone. Theophilus awoke Kendra to let her know that breakfast was prepared. The dwarf returned from the temple, where she had delivered the two historical scrolls and spun a convincing tale that she alone had gone to the hidden chapel.
Having broken their fasts, the witch-hunter and the librarian began to examine more closely the equipment they had recovered, determining that some of it was in fact quite valuable money-wise.
San-ji, who had imbibed quite a bit of liquor the evening before, awoke and was in the middle of communion with her familiar when a loud pounding came at the front door. Theophilus opened it to a priest of the temple and Councilman Hearthmount, who demanded to see San-ji.
The councilman confronted the witch about her whereabouts the evening before, and was not wholly convinced by her story of simply visiting the professor’s grave. As an outsider, San-ji was an immediate suspect when the town’s sheriff, Benjan Caeller, discovered that the Harrowstone Memorial south along the banks of the river had been defiled. Honestly surprised at this, San-ji and Theophilus convinced the two townsmen that they had nothing to do with the desecration, and in fact talked them into allowing the group to investigate the scene. Before the two men departed, San-ji voiced suspicion that the act might have something to do with the ruckus prior to the professor’s funeral, but Vashian had already questioned Gibs Hephenus (the mob’s ringleader) and determined he was unaware of the memorial’s vandalism.
The party, accompanied by Kendra and Dabda, walked south and found the memorial guarded by Sheriff Caeller. The statue was spattered with blood, and a large V had been painted on the far-left of the statue’s base. Benjan mentioned to the group that he discovered the vandalism during his daily rounds about the town.
The inquisitor’s keen eye noticed tracks around the memorial, but determined that they belonged to the sheriff’s hob-nailed boots. His Detect Magic revealed the faint traces of a Pass Without Trace spell, earning a grudging admiration for the perpetrator, who obviously knew how to effectively cover its passage.
San-ji collected a sample of the blood from the vial, and mentioned that the amount of blood ruled out an adult human victim (or even a child); instead, a smaller animal, like a small dog or perhaps a rabbit, had died to provide the vandal’s grisly pigment. She also noted that the blood had a strange scent to it – fruity, identified by Theo as probably a fruit wine.
With the evidence collected, Marcus washed away the blood from the statue using his Hydraulic Push spell, and the group turned back toward town, wondering what this strange new day would bring…