- Alefa Frigeldötter, Human (Hältlander) Fighter (Sarah)
- Asanaria Quickrok, Halfling Bard (Emma)
- Baras Gouliou, Human (Tagean) Pankratiast (Sam)
- Brother Solomon, Half-Elven Cleric of Toth (James)
- Ebrill Cadogan, Human (Aenochian) Guardswoman (Natalie)
- Hrodan, Human (Hältlander) Paladin of Augustus (Alex)
- Wren Dre, Wild Elf Ranger (Gavin)
The party have just finished convincing the deputy Reeve and the deputy Mayor that the Halflings are out of their depth in dealing with a potential Undead incursion.
Merin Fireheel looked pale but thoughtful, she tells the party that one of her watch patrols visited the Alebrook farm two days ago and found it empty and abandoned with bloodstains on the front door. She took a parchment from a pocket of her cloak and unrolled it to reveal a rough map of the Canton. The party noted with some hesitation that the Alebrook farm was close to the Canton’s graveyard. Given that it was early evening, the heroes decided to quickly check the graveyard and a couple of nearby domiciles enroute to the graveyard.
Merin wants them to take a full complement of watchmen with them but the party point out the same problems as before, namely undead versions of people they know leading to combat paralysis. To appease her somewhat, they agree to a pair of watchmen as guides so long as they stay out of combat.
First building on their route to the graveyard is the communal granary. The round tower is sat on large stone pillars, leaving the entrance some eight feet off the ground and accessible via a rope ladder. The tower itself is some twenty feet tall and there are doors at regular intervals inside with the names of various farmsteads on them. Satisfied that the three cats inside are not a threat to anything but the local vermin, the party moves on.
The next domicile they pass is that of the mayor. Lights can be seen and a figure is moving around. In answer to Baras’ query, the watchmen explain that it is likely to be Marischka, the mayor’s daughter. Although of age, they do comment that she has taken to keeping a large knife close at hand since her father’s disappearance. The party decide to leave her in peace and to talk to her in the morning.
They finally make it to the graveyard, a largish expanse of land surrounded by a corral-style fencing with a large gate on the south side, facing the church of Mordain. Noticing that the watchmen look apprehensive about searching the graveyard, Baras suggests that they keep watch at the gate whilst the party look around inside. The Halflings happily agree and take up positions either side of the gate whilst the heroes let themselves in.
Over the following hour, the heroes check the graveyard looking for signs of disturbance in the graves or breakages in the mausoleums. Meeting up at the gate after quartering the graveyard, they compare notes before exiting. As they leave, they become aware that whilst the watchmen’s lanterns are standing on the grounds, their spears lay on the ground as though dropped in place.
The heroes look at each other, worry in their eyes, before springing into action. Wren Dre quickly scans the ground and finds signs of drag marks that lead off around the edge of the graveyard. Without hesitation, the party follow the marks in search of the watchmen. When they come across a clear patch of ground, Wren Dre is able to better discern the drag marks as well as finding a familiar distinctive three-clawed footprint. He lets the other know that he believes that Kobolds are in the area.
The party pick up their pace, knowing that the lives of the watchmen depends on their speed. It’s with a sense of a urgency that they approached the two lumps on the ground. Turning them over, they find the watchmen; unconscious yet unharmed except for a puncture wound on their necks that is seeping a pale blue liquid. Solomon quickly looks them over and determines that they have been drugged with some natural poison. Drawing on his knowledge, he does something to the watchmen that causes them to vomit and the blue liquid to ooze rapidly from the puncture wound.
As the rest of the heroes look on, they see the colour rapidly return to the watchmen’s faces. Baras tasks Ebrill and Solomon with getting the watchmen to the nearby temple before meeting them back at the Inn. Whilst they do that, he and the others will continue following the tracks to see where they lead. With that, the party go their separate ways.
Baras and his companions follow the tracks as best they can. Wren Dre indicates that the Kobolds have split up, all headed in different directions. After a moment’s thought, Baras decides that they shall follow the eastern trail as the others seem to be leading out of the Canton. So Wren Dre takes point once more and leads them eastwards towards a wooded copse. As they get closer, the Elf freezes in place and whispers that they’re being watched from the copse so Baras tells him to lead them around to the Defthand farm.
Wren Dre moves back along the trail, behaving for all the world that he’s lost the trail and is backtracking himself before leading the group around to the south and across the bottom edge of the copse before coming back north on the other side until they found another set of tracks leading away from the copse. Realising where they were, the foursome decided to check out the Defthand farm.
As they approached, they realised that there were no lights in the windows and on closer inspection, it was clear that the gardens hadn’t been tended in many days. The door to the farmstead was unlocked albeit closed. Knocking as a matter of courtesy, Baras leads everyone into the main hallway. After a quick search, it is apparent that no-one has been living here for several weeks. Apart from signs of a minor scuffle in the hallway, the place is completely untouched.
Closing the door behind them, the heroes decided to let Redd and Merin know about the Defthand farm. In the meantime, they had quarry to stalk. They made their way back to the copse where the tracks exited it and prepared to move in. Apart from a fraught moment when Baras almost trips a line which would have impaled him with punji sticks, the party are able to close in on a small furred humanoid that is identifably a Kobold. Hrodan attempts to attack the bestial creature, only to have it spin round and blow a dart at his neck.
Baras followed up with an attempt to grapple the creature against the tree, only for it to duck underneath his arms so Alefa dived at the creature and managed to pin it to the ground, sending the blowpipe spinning away in the process. Wren Dre followed up with a kick across the jaw that knocked the little beggar out. They quickly made sure that it wasn’t waking any time soon before checking Hrodan’s neck. He was in luck, the dart had pierced through his skin and not entered his bloodstream. The only aftereffects he was feeling was the burning sensation from the caustic substance.
They made a hasty return to the Inn, dragging the unconscious kobold with them. On arrival, they meet up with Ebrill and Solomon. Whilst Solomon checks over Hrodan, extracts the dart and binds the wound; Baras and the other report on the evening’s event to Merin and Redd. Merin is grateful for their actions in retrieving her men and taking them to the church although both she and Redd are disconcerted to hear about the kobolds and the events at the Defthand farm. The party hand the Kobold over to Merin’s watchmen for incarceration in the watchtower and makes plans for the morning.
The next morning is atypical of the month of Nochturn, cold and frosty. The adventurers are up early and consuming a hearty breakfast, thanks to Master Softfoot and his family. Following breakfast, they wait for Redd to join them before they make their way to the Watchtower. A tall, imposing tower with the arms of the watch blazoned above the door; it acts as base and barracks for the watch patrols. The party knock and are admitted into a large circular room at the base of the tower.
Merin Fireheel is seated at a desk, doing what appears to be paperwork. Redd steps over to her and they have a brief conversation whilst casting glances at the party. It would appear that Merin has learned that at least one member of the party can understand Halfling and she wishes to keep some things secret. Once that conversation is ended, Baras asks if he can interrogate the kobold that was taken prisoner the previous night.
She agrees and Baras is led upstairs to the Gaol. The floor is divided into two parts: one half contains the jailer’s desk and the stairwell, whilst the other half contains two cells. Inside one, a pair of yellow eyes can be seen staring balefully at them. Baras steps up to the cell door and asks the Kobold if it can understand him.
There’s a moment of hesitation before it answers him: “Me hear you, me speak you”. He tells the creature that he has questions for it, if he likes the answers then he’ll arrange for it to be freed. The Kobold thinks for a moment, taking in the sheer physical form of the man outside the door before nodding.
- “What is your name?” – “Me called Mudj”
- “Who is your leader?” – “Boss called Sludj, Great Sludj”
- “Why are you here?” – “Boss have visitor, rotten meat; say come help, kill little’uns, take booty”
- “Where is Great Sludj?” – “Boss have big place near river”
Merin Fireheel and Redd Softfoot have gone pale by this point, it’s becoming clear that the Kobolds’ arrival is linked to the Undead threat but in what way? Before anyone can say anything further, the Kobold is barking and there is the sound of releasing bowstrings. Baras demands the cell door is unlocked and steps inside to examine the Kobold. It looks up at him, eyes shrouded in pain. He sighes and says “I promised that you would feel no pain”, before gently grasping the creature’s neck and snapping it. He looks at his companions and says that they will bury the creature in the copse where they captured him, then they would meet Merin and Redd at the mayor’s residence.
About an hour later, the party have met the Halflings outside the mayor’s residence. Redd knocks at the door and it is opened warily by a young Halfling maid with pale brown hair and blue eyes. The more cynical members of the party observe that she has a large knife held against her right leg. Once it is explained who the party are, she invites everyone into her home. Baras explains that they were hoping to find out information about Brambletoe’s time as Mayor and any records that might explain the disappearance of the Defthands.
She thinks for a moment and then says that her father never kept any records here so they need to look in his office at the Town Hall. She takes down her cloak from a peg and puts it on, then leads everyone out of the domicile before locking it up. She then leads them all to the Town Hall building which is built into a large oblong hill. At the back of the main hall, there are two locked doors. Merin looks reticent to open them but a quiet word from both Redd and Marischka gets her to open them.
The room on the right is the Mayor’s office and contains a desk, chair, bookcase and several paintings. The other room is the Canton Archives and contains several floor to ceiling shelves which are stuffed with scrolls and books. The team set to work, searching each room.
- The paintings are of varying quality. Marischka notes that they are painted by her sister who lives in a different Canton.
- The bookcase contains several books on Law, both general and specific.
- The desk has a single locked drawer; gaining permission from Redd, the party force it to find a diary.
- The archives contain the bare minumum of information from Brambletoe’s tenure as Mayor. The subsequent Mayor’s accounts show that Willic was extremely lack-lustre in his dealings and left the Canton with a financial deficit.
- The archive also contain a scroll written by Marischka’s father, detailing an appraisal of a ‘finely made circlet, inlaid with metals and gems’ at approximately 500 gold crowns but it also goes on to say that he got a sense of “creepy-crawlyness” from it when he kept it overnight.
- The diary turns out to be that of Janos Brambletoe, the renown Halfling adventurer, and details a lot of his adventures with his companions. It contains a descriptive narrative of the fight with the Lich and how he come to slay it.
- When Solomon checks over the account, he determines that the description of the creature corresponds more to a Ghoul but one quite unlike any he’s ever heard of before.
The heroes look at each other with concern. Whatever has happened at the Brambletoe estate, has got to be linked to this circlet, but how? In the meantime, Merin Fireheel has uncovered rumours that something is going on near the old Meadowgrass Mill. She and Redd explain how the Meadowgrass family used to own the local mill but started to squeeze the farmers too hard. In the end, the community built a new Mill that was free to everyone and the Meadowgrasses started to lose money. They upped sticks and left the Canton but never sold their estate.
Baras asked her to be careful and to come get the party if she and her watchmen needed help.