Real date: March 10, 2012
In-game date: Oathday, 10 Arodus 4702
As the party returned from the Harrowstone Memorial, they discussed their plans for the day. Theophilus and San-ji headed into town to visit the apothecary and the local taverns, while Marcus and Kendra headed back to the Lorrimor residence, and Dabda returned to the Temple of Pharasma.
Marcus spent the early afternoon in Professor Lorrimor’s library, expanding his knowledge of the professor’s final topic of investigation, Harrowstone Prison. He learned of the brave actions (and errors) that led to the prison’s fiery destruction: How five of the most notorious criminals in the region had recently arrived at the prison; how the prisoners had actually taken over the lower dungeons; of the brave sacrifice made by Warden Lyvar Hawkran, who triggered a deadfall, sealing them into the dungeons to prevent a mass prisoner escape; and how the panicked guards above, in a last desperate attempt to drive back those prisoners, actually started the blaze that led to so many deaths.
Additionally, Marcus confirmed that Lyvar’s wife, Vesorianna had died in the fire (although no one seemed to understand why she was actually in the prison proper at the time).
Having exhausted the professor’s resources on the topic, the librarian had a chat with Kendra, who informed him that three other locations about town – the Temple of Pharasma, the records in the town hall’s offices, and tomes at The Unfurling Scroll – might help fill in the gaps in the story. After asking Kendra to speak to the council head on their behalf, Marcus decided to tackle the temple first, and headed to speak with Father Grimburrow.
While persuasive, the scholar was initially unable to convince the reticent priest to allow him access to the temple’s records. A minor bribe of ten gold pieces, though, overrode the grotesque dwarf’s reluctance, and Marcus was led to the small, locked stacks in the temple’s basement.
Left amongst the dusty scrolls and musty books, a few more pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Marcus learned the monikers of the five prisoners responsible for the revolt: Father Charlatan, the Lopper, the Mosswater Marauder, the Piper of Illmarsh, and the Splatter Man. He also ran across an apparently unread account from one of the surviving guards, detailing how Vesorianna’s death came about: The warden’s home was on the grounds of the prison, and hearing the alarm bells Vesorianna went to check on her husband’s safety. When she discovered that her husband had sealed himself into the dungeon with the most dangerous prisoners, and that the guards on the surface were too cowardly to try to aid him, she flew into a rage and demanded the guards assist; unable to deal with both her and the criminals in the prison’s upper cells, they subdued her and locked her in a storeroom – where she was forgotten, and burned to death in the subsequent conflagration.
One last important item the librarian found was a vivid verbal description of the prison’s layout, including the fact that much of the prison’s eastern wing had collapsed in on itself due to the fire’s damage, and partially flooded from the nearby lake.
With new knowledge in tow (as well as Dabda, who had spent the day assisting at the temple), Marcus headed back to the Lorrimor residence to share with his fellow adventurers.
Theo and San-ji
The inquisitor and the witch first headed to Jominda’s apothecary to question its owner. The auburn-haired woman freely admitted that she was good friends with the professor, meeting with him frequently to discuss alchemy and herbalism and other shared interests. But the alchemist admitted that the professor had said nothing to her about health problems. She also was not aware of the professor taking any of the common herbal compounds that could sometimes lead to heart problems – yerba mate, ma huang, guarana, scullcap, etc.
The scholarly woman also mentioned that the professor had cancelled a number of their gab sessions of late, devoting much of his time to a research project apparently involving the prison.
She expressed honest distress that the professor might have been poisoned, and knew of no one in town who might have had a deadly qualm with the professor (even the unlikeable Gibs Hephenus). Finally, when questioned about those around town who might have a facility toward higher magic, she suggested the two speak to Alendru Ghoroven, the proprietor of The Unfurling Scroll (a former alumni of the University of Lepidstadt, although not a close compatriot of the professor).
With their interview of Jominda completed, the two then headed toward The Laughing Demon on the western edge of the town proper. There they met Zokar, the tavern’s humorous and girthy proprietor, and his sandy-haired son Pevrin. Also present, cranky as usual, was Gibs Hephenus (who quickly finished his meal and stormed out), and a couple of farmhands from around the town.
San-ji especially liked the tavernkeep, and sampled a number of the tavern’s jocularly-named wares (liquid ghost, corpse chowder, and wolf balls). Theophilus used his Detect Magic to note that a simple Prestidigitation spell was behind the liquid ghost’s strange glow (also revealing that Zokar apparently had some minor faculty in magic).
When questioned, Zokar advised the two adventurers that he knew nothing of the professor’s ill health; although he liked the professor, Lorrimor did not often patron the tavern, instead occasionally picking up a cask of brandy from the tavern to enjoy at his home. The barkeep was also not aware of anyone with a severe quarrel with the professor, nor where Gibs might have gotten the idea that the man was a necromancer (although Zokar noted that the professor had been seen poking around at the abandoned prison recently).
San-ji asked about the tavern’s wine selections, and Zokar offered up two bottles – one that was not nearly as fruity as the scent mingled with the blood from the statue, and the second (a port) that more closely matched the scent). The witch purchased the bottle to take with her under the pretense of a gift for Kendra.
Heading from the tavern to The Unfurling Scroll, the two passed by the same group of young girls playing jump-rope games (although this time they were not singing the grisly skipping song from before. Afterward they met the town’s other professor, Alendru Ghoroven, a retired wizard and now a supplier of magical goods and private tutoring to the town’s wealthier families.
Under Theo’s questioning, the friendly (if somewhat pompous) Ghoroven showed no overt animosity toward Professor Lorrimor. He was unaware of any talk that the man was of ill-health, and also did not know of anyone with a serious issue with the late scholar. Gibs Hephenus, according to Ghoroven, was a nasty old man, but not dangerous – the wizard believed Hephenus to have been a soldier previously, although native-born to Ravengro.
Asking after other magic users in the town, Theo was informed that the only person that Ghoroven knew who was a skilled woodsman was the town’s sheriff, Benjan Caeller. He revealed to Theo and San-ji that the man had picked up the skills of a Ranger in his travels, and had rudimentary knowledge of herbalism as well. But in regards to potentially poisonous herbs, the retired wizard pointed to rumors that Caeller kept a close eye on the apothecary – although whether that was because the woman dealt in illicit compounds, or because Caeller might secretly be attracted to her, Ghoroven could not say.
As the two left the shop, Ghoroven said a pleasant farewell, and offered them the services of his small arcane library (for a fee).
The adventurers gathered in the evening at the Lorrimor residence to discuss the day’s findings. Marcus shared the fruits of his research while San-ji and Theophilus informed him of the outcome of their interviews.
Theophilus mused intently on the idea that Sheriff Caeller may have the aptitude to have defaced the memorial himself, but could not specifically determine a reason why he might have vandalized the memorial. Could it have been jealousy because of Jominda’s friendship with the professor – or was he reading into it too much?
The adventurers headed off to bed for a restful night of slumber. But in the dark of the night, Marcus awoke to a strange noise – the squeaking and scrabbling of rats. He sat up to find himself locked in a prison cell – barred windows, moldy floor, rotting straw on the pallet that had replaced his bed, and a strong cell door. As the cell filled with a scent of fire, the librarian spotted blood beginning to pour down the cold stone wall above his bed – spelling out his name in splattered letters.
But as the ghostly finger began to trace the S at the end of his name, Marcus awoke with a start from the nightmare. Or was it? For above his bed, the man noticed that the wet blood, spelling out M A R C U still stained the wall of his comfortable room.