Carrion Crown

Law and Order in Lepidstadt - Part 3

The next day the group presents their evidence.

The surgeons tools tie Vorkstag to the Morast boneyard.
The documents and vial tie them to Sanctuary.
The skins from Vorkstag’s cabinet prove that the “Beast” seen at those sites was a fake.
Under a spell, Vorkstag confesses his crimes.

The judges deliberate for roughly an hour, before presenting the verdict. The Beast is declared innocent. He is released into the swamps, but not before telling the group that he intends to return home to his creator, Count Caromarc, whose name he has remembered. He asks the group to come see him in a few days.

The group heads to Judge Daramid’s house to collect their payment, but on their way they overhear townspeople discussing a plan to gather the mob back together and hunt the Beast down without the “interfering outsiders” to stop them.

They spend one day in town, selling off unused equipment and outfitting themselves with magical weapons, and then set off for Schloss Caromarc.

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Mob Justice

After calling some guards to arrest Vorkstag and Grine and collect the evidence, the group returns to the courthouse. As Kaple guessed, a mob of townspeople arrives after nightfall, intending to kill the beast themselves.

The party takes defensive positions and attempts to reason with the mob, but with their ringleaders spurring them on, they attack. A group charges the courthouse doors attempting to break through. Fagut and Crunch are waiting for them as the door falls, and they group is forced back. The ringleaders fire crossbow bolts every time they have a clear shot, and John, who was positioned on the balcony, is badly wounded.

A second group begins a similar assault on the gallery entrance and a third raises ladders to the balcony. John is forced back to the defense chamber stairs, and Block runs up to back him. The gallery group breaks in and reaches the gallery over the courthouse.

Facing heavy losses at ground level, the ringleaders focus their fire on Crunch and Fagut, calling for the others to just burn the building. Although John and Block are pinned in, their attackers follow orders, retreating and setting fires on their way out. The ringleaders escape, as do the remaining mob, since the party is busy fighting fires.

Shortly after the fires are contained the local militia arrives, which prevents the mob from regrouping for a second attempt.

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Showdown at the Chymic Works

When the group heads out onto the catwalk above the vats, they find Vorkstag and Grine waiting for them. Vorkstag begins hurling alchemical bombs at them as Grine attacks with a handaxe. The group manages to surround Grine, but he flees up the wall onto the ceiling, using his spider climb potion. He evelops them in a darkness globe, but it is dispelled by Negrodamus.

Grine attempts to command Fagut to approach, so that he will fall from the ledge, but Negrodamus casts levitate and Fagut flies upward to continue the battle. Soon, Grine falls, and the party is able to focus entirely on Vorkstag. He nearly incapacitates Viktor and Fagut with fire breath but they manage to overwhelm him. Both are still alive so they are bound and gagged.

A search of their offices finds all the evidence they need, as Vorkstag has a cabinet of flayed skins he apparently wears to disguise himself, including a large monstrous skin that looks suprisingly similar to the Beast.

They also discover two intelligent zombies in the cellar, kept from becoming mindless by an alchemical solution. The creatures agree to testify about Vorkstag and Grine’s Grimes in exchange for the remaning supply of the chemical.

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Serving the Warrant

Barrister Kaple fills in the returning group on the days’ trial. He thinks things are going well, but believes that to ensure victory, the group should investigate Vorkstag and Grine’s Chymic Works, hopefully finding evidence that will unequivocally exonerate the Beast. After the difficult battle at Sanctuary, and knowing they may be facing an angry mob of townsfolk after sundown, they are reluctant. Time proves to be a greater concern though, so they get a search warrant issued, Viktor pays a cleric at the temple to patch up his wounds, and they set off.

They are met at the gate by Grine and show him the warrant. He excuses himself to go get the gate keys. Believing that he may be destroying evidence, Il-kor hasily picks the gate lock. This triggers an alarm, and a stitched-together golem hound rushes from within an overturned crate to attack. It proves to be a dangerous foe, and though it falls, it very nearly takes out Crunch in the process. Viktor uses a few wand charges to patch him up somewhat, and they continue. Upon opening the door, they are subjected to nauseating fumes, but they are able to see the interior of the structure. Inside is a three-story (cellar to second floor) room, containing large vats of acid and bleach, which are being tended by mongrelmen. Il-kor shuts the door quickly.

A debate ensues as to whether they should attempt to traverse that room, despite the fumes, or investigate a different door. Eventually they decide to chance it, so Il-kor reopens the door, only to face two of the mongrelmen lying in wait for his return. Acting quickly, if somewhat recklessly, Negrodamus tosses a fireball into the room. This ignites the fumes, and a huge explosion blows out all the windows and doors. The mongrelmen are all killed, and several of the party are burned. Also the blown-out windows slow the buildup of new fumes, so the group can enter the room.

They don’t actually enter the room, though, instead heading to another set of doors. They find a storage area guarded by more mongrelmen, but the creatures fall easily. They loot several boxes of supplies, but the storage area appears to be a dead end. Next they boost Il-kor up to an elevated set of doors above the storage area. It proves to be a loading area with a crane, and he lowers the crane’s rope, so that the others can come up. They find several more useful items, along with a door that appears as if it would open onto the catwalks of the room with the vats.

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A Ghastly Surprise

Along the road to Sanctuary, the remaining group pass several graves. Il-kor notices that they appear to be less overgrown than the surrondings, and theorizes that perhaps they were unearthed and recovered at some point, much like those in Morast.

When they reach Sanctuary, they find a scene of total devastation. Almost nothing of the building reamins. They begin digging through the rubble looking for clues. Il-kor finds a hole that appears to lead down to the cellar, and John finds a metal strongbox with a fused lock. Crunch pries the box open to find a stack of singed documents. Most of the papers are illegible, but it seems as if they pertained to Brada’s dealings with Vorkstag.

The group ties a knotted rope to the heaviest beam they can find and begin their descent into the cellar. Viktor falls and is injured, but more troublesome is that the noise rouses 4 ghasts that were hiding out in the cellar. The others begin hurriedly climbing down to assist and a terrible battle ensues. The ghasts paralyzing touch proves highly effective against everyone except Il-kor, and at any given time, half the party is unable to move. A few well timed channels from Viktor and a cleaving blow or two from Crunch manage to eventually turn the tables, however, and the party emerges heavily injured, but victorious.

A search of the basement uncovers little of use, but an unbroken vial of “Vorkstag and Grine’s Chymickal Bleach” provides further evidence of their dealings with Sanctuary. Convinced that there is nothing else useful to find, the group heads back to town.

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Law and Order in Lepidstadt - Part 2

The next day, the group once again splits up. Mike, John, and Fagut stay in town for the trial, while the others Head to the site of the Sanctuary arson. At the courthouse, Barrister Kaple informs them that a cleric of Pharasma has volunteered to defend the Beast as well. After meeting the cleric, they decide that he is fully capable of presenting the day’s evidence, so they head out to follow up leads in town. He proves to be quite capable as he presents the following information gathered by the group.

Karin, the last of the six girls died after the Beast was chased away.

Even if the Beast returned, Karin died in her room with no signs of entry or struggle.

The Beast is incapable of producing tears, and the “laughter” witnessed by the vilagers was in fact his crying over Ellsa’s death.

The bodies of the children supposedly snatched away by the Beast were recovered at the bottom of a hole too small for the Beast to even enter.

The judges continue to respond favorably to the evidence being presented, but the crowd is obviously not happy. They grow increasingly agitated as the trial continues.

Meanwhile, in town, Mike and company meet with Karl, a survivor of the attack who was blinded by the fires. Karl tells them that the last thing he saw before the fire took his eyes was the Beast fleeing the scene. Further inquiry reveals that Vorkstag sometimes visited the asylum to do business with its head physician, Doctor Brada. Karl knows they supplied chemicals for Brada’s experiments but knows nothing else about them. The group returns to the courthouse in the afternoon, where Barrister Kaple tells them about the day’s proceedings. He is concerned about the reactions of the townsfolk and fears that they may try to take justice into their own hands. He asks them to stay at the courthouse that night.

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Hergstag Hauntings

The rest of the group reach Hergstag without incident. As indicated the town appears to be completely deserted. They begin at the north end of town and make their way from building to building searching for clues. Their search is periodically interrupted by bear traps on the ground, most of which they spot and disarm before they can harm anyone. Near the second building they encounter a child-sized wraith. They attempt to communicate with it, but it attacks. They dispatch it with out much effort and continue. Two houses later, a second wraith attacks, and the party manages to defeat it as well. It is a slightly more difficult battle however, since a few seconds into combat, the wraith cries out and a much larger wraith attacks from behind.

The large wraith flees southward when the small one is killed and the party heads toward the southern part of town to follow. They meet another small wraith at the ruined Desnan temple in the center of town, and defeat it. They find the larger wraith in a nearby house, along with a fourth small wraith, but the two spirits phase through the walls and flee further to the south.

The ranger’s keen vision follows their flight path toward a hill south of town which is topped by an old scarecrow. The party climbs the hill and discovers a hole nearby large enough to enter while crouching. They begin to crawl in, only to be ambushed at the bottom by the large wraith and three smaller ones. Luckily, Viktor is at the front, and his dhampir biology actually causes the wraiths foul touch to heal him. A battle ensues, with most of the group focusing their attacks on the larger wraith. When it falls, a wave of energy appears to burst from it, and the small wraiths suddenly grow larger. Rather than fight, however, they quickly flee.

When the party searches the hole, they find the remains of four children’s bodies. Satisfied that the wraith, rather than the Beast was responsible for the attacks, they finish sweeping the town for any further evidence. They find nothing of note other than the remains of a petty thief who fell prey to a bear trap while looting the abandoned town.

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Law and Order in Lepidstadt - Part 1

The party returns to Lepidstadt by late afternoon. Mike begins his attempts to trace the tools, first identifying the maker’s mark as that of Zbraslav Hora, then learning from Mr. Hora that the tools were bought by a young woman, then tracing that woman by description to the auction house for which she purchased the tools. Negrodamus concludes his investigation at the library, convinced that none of their records contain even a veiled reference to the Seasage Effigy. The group meets with Kaple to discuss the plans for the first day of testimony. When their plan is in place the group retires for the night.

The trial begins at 10am the next day. A large crowd has gathered, jeering the Beast and its defense team as they take their places. The group begins to present their evidence:

The strange vial found at the scene was an extract of darkvision. Why would a flesh golem, who already has darkvision, need that?

If the Beast was attacked by a blood caiman and nearly killed, why does he have no scars from such an attack?

Why was there no mention by the people of Morast of robbed graves?

Since the face (identified by Lazne as a poacher named Nan) was removed with precision, could the Beast have managed it?

Whose footprints were those, and why did they change size?

The prosecutor, Otto Heiger, attempts to discredit as much of the group’s evidence as possible – proposing that much of what was found could have been left in the year since the crime. He also attempts to paint the group as a bunch of non-humans who would say anything to prove that a “monster” could be innocent.

The crowd seems to favor Heiger’s xenophobic rhetoric, but the judges appear to be considering the groups findings rather strongly. Since there is no further testimony regarding Morast, court adjourns at around 230pm. The group makes a plan for the investigation of Hergstag, the next crime to be presented. Mike will stay in town to continue tracing the tools, since the group believes that the owner may be the real killer. He will also interview the refugees from now-abandoned Hergstag who relocated to Lepidstadt, to learn their version of events. The rest will set out immediately for the village, which is 2 hours away.

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Battle in the Boneyard

The party looks up into the rustling trees just in time to see a manticore landing in the tree. It appears angry that the group is poking around in its territory so it attacks, whipping a volley of spikes from its tail at John. A battle of projectiles ensues, with John firing arrows, Crunch throwing javelins, and the manticore raining down volley after volley of spikes. The constant attacks quickly drain all the healing Viktor and Block can provide, and John falls. The others rally to finish off the creature, and manage to wound it enough to drive it into the swamp. Unwilling to let it flee after it hurt his friend, Crunch grabs John’s bow and fires an amazing shot, severing its wing tendons, and driving it face first into the water, dead.

John proves to still be alive, so Block brings him around with rebuke death and they continue their investigations. Fagut notices that six of the graves have likely been disturbed, as their burial mounds are decidedly sunken in. Knowing that the boneyard has been abandoned since the villagers were unwilling to bury their kin where the Beast’s blood was spilled, he exhumes the graves, finding them empty. The group discovers the remains of a campsite, at which they find a discarded vial with the remnants of a strange substance. They also find a set of footprints that appear to change in size.

Nearby, hidden among underbrush they find a boat. A rope dangles from the boat into the water so they haul it up. It leads to a bag, which contains a gag, several knives, and what appears to be a severed human face. Near the boat, Mike finds a bag of surgical tools nearly covered by the muck. The tools are well made and have a maker’s mark, so he believes they may be traceable.

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Investigations in Morast

The group retires for the night, and in the morning heads out on their investigations. Negrodamus, believing that the relic missing from the University may be important, stays behind to do research. The others head for the small village of Morast, an hour outside Lepidstadt.

In Morast, the group meet with the village elder, a grouchy man named Lazne. They speak to him about the crimes and he explains what he saw. Over the course of several weeks, people who were alone fishing in the swamps would just go missing. Soon the learned the cause, as the Beast apparently grew bolder, now beginning to attack people in their homes. Unwilling to abandoned their livelihoods, the villagers set traps for the Beast and took it by surprise when it entered town one night. They chased it out into the swamp, down toward the local boneyard. They had nearly caught up to it when it was attacked by a blood caiman, an alligator-like beast which had been lurking beneath the water. The Beast suffered terrible wounds to its shoulder and was dragged under. The people of Morast believed the Beast to be dead until they heard the news of its capture in Lepidstadt.

The group asks if they can borrow boats to go investigate. Lazne, who plans on testifying against the Beast isn’t too happy to have its defenders around, so he charges them 5 gold per boat.

They head into the swamp, ultimately finding their way to a small island ringed by trees. The island is home to multiple mounds of earth with crude markers. The group spreads out to search, when suddenly hear rustling in the trees nearby.

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