The party arose and spent their morning setting their affairs in order before their journey to Farfeld Monastery. Sergeant Faerlassel picked up her new Wolfshead shield from the smith Dutani and went to visit her partner, Baldo Buskwacker. She found him confined to desk duty, still healing from the petrification of his previous case. He had a message from Itarad asking specifically for her to investigate disappearences of displace people in the Pit. She asked Bushwacker to help deal with it and helped heal him as much as possible.
Meanwhile, Brother Dewfall and Lord Matthias attempted to get information from Tigarill, Lord Loradie’s butler, with little luck. The Old Elf told them he’d already told the tribunal everything, and shut the door in their faces; the two decided not to waste any breath on him and headed for the Tribunal headquarters.
They found the Lieutenant outside the Tribunal Headquarters, talking to a nervous-looking human with a spell-book clutched under one arm, standing alongside a long armoured carriage pulled by half-a-dozen horses. The Lieutenant, seeing them arrive, dismissed the man, telling him they’d rendezvous at the western gate. He then led the party to the Roq, the fortress in the centre of Charoq city. here they met up with Kina, who was unbound but confined to a prison carriage. The Lieutenant seemed to be taking almost a paternalistic attitude towards her. The party found this odd, but didn’t press to hard after Kina brushed them off.
The Deepwood Motte
Escorted inside the teleportation tower, they were transported to the Deepwood Motte on the outer edges of the flowing forest. There was evidence of the storm that had assailed them the previous night. They were escorted into a meeting with Emin li Accion, an icily reserved man, the Warden of the Motte and Faerlassel’s Uncle. He resented what he saw as increased Tribunal interference in his work, and made no indication that he knew Faerlassel at all. Faerlassel, for her part, remained quiet, terrified of the Warden’s legendary temper. Emin told the party they’d be relieving Captain Taroli in Westloch. He had been assigned to accompany a barge of Tribunal supplies to a research tower at the tributary of the River Senefen known as Varro’s Run. The party were to relieve him so that he could hunt the remainders of the Heralds of Chaos while they escorted the barge in his stead.
Around this time, Emin’s wife, Teria, the First Captain of the Deepwoods Rangers, returned from a hunting party. A fiery study in contrast to Warden Emin, she burst in, ‘outed’ Faerlassel’s relationship, also revealed the strained circumstances of their family’s relationship, and generally carted the party away on a river of dialogue. Aside from flirting with Matthias, she also informed them of hazards to watch out for in the Deepwoods. Apparently there had been an increase in fey activity. She also advised them to watch out for her youngest daughter, the legitimised bastard Halfling Setta, out on an expedition with her own ranging party.
The party commandeered a river skiff from the dock and set off to Westloch. On the way, Brother Dewfall experimented with a new power that gave him Truesight while Sabi steered. Kina rebuffed any attempts made by Matthias to talk.
Death in the Cornfields
As evening drew in and they passed through a more isolated area of the countryside, the party heard a low cry for help from ahead of them, carried on the wind. On a hill, they saw what looked like two scarecrows, except one of them was moving. Faerlassel, Dewfall & Sabi stayed with the skiff while Kina and Matthias went to investigate. The scarecrows turned out to be two teenagers, siblings. The younger brother, Elias, was on the edge of a coma, while his sister, Abina, was completely out of it. Kina & Matthias helped them down and brought them back to the skiff. After laying them in the skiff, which was the only dry surface on the storm-damp bank, Faerlassel & Sabi’s carried out a medical inspection. This revealed the siblings to be physically exhausted, and each had blunt force trauma to the back of the head, along with assorted rope burns and the like.
Elias was awake enough to question, though bleary and traumatised. He said that he and his sister had been celebrating her engagement to someone called Edwin while the storm raged outside last night. The next morning, their parents set upon them, killed Edwin, beat them senseless and strung them up like scarecrows.
Faerlassel stayed with the children while Sabi ran off to investigate the fiance’s house and the others headed towards the parent’s farmhouse. Sabi found Edwin’s house silent. There was a headless body on the floor of the bedroom, and a lot of blood. A short search found a patch of newly disturbed earth, which the Dwarf decided not to waste time digging up – this looked too much like vampires for her taste.
The other three found the farmhouse locked and shuttered. Matthias swiftly sprung them inside and they saw light from the living room. They stormed in and found Abner & Milena, the parents of Elias & Abina, apparently in mourning. Abner jumped up to challenge them, drawing a sword from above the fireplace, but Dewfall’s perky counterchallenge of “hello! Have you had any crucifixions lately?” stopped him in his tracks, and he started urgently asking whether the sun had cut through the clouds at all that day. taking the hint, the three booked it back to the boat, with Abner in tow.
Around this time, Elias lapsed back into unconsciousness and Abina stopped breathing. Sabi returned at a run and relayed her suspicions. The two holy women pushed the boat out into the narrow stream just as sunset hit, at which point the siblings awoke, manifesting as vampire spawns, and dragged Faerlassel onto the boat with them.
It wasn’t even a contest. Being new-born, the two vampires were still vulnerable to radiant damage, so Faerlassel carved through them both, pushing Elias into the water and decapitating him as he scrambled for the shore, before shooting a dinner-plate sized hole in the fleeing Abina with her crossbow.
In the aftermath, a tearful and hoarse Abner told them the full story. The three young ones had indeed gone to celebrate the engagement of Abina and Edwin, but they had welcomed a stranger into their new home to shelter from the storm. The newcomer, a vampire, had fed off them and left early the next morning. Elias, bleary and amnesiac in his weakened state, had gone home. There Abner, a former Ranger at the Motte, had recognised the signs of infection. He had taken Elias to check up on Abina and Edwin in their new home. He beheaded Edwin and buried the head, but, unable to face killing his own children, had knocked them out and strung them up on the scarecrow posts so that the sunlight would take them. As luck would have it, the sky had remained overcast that day so that no direct sunlight fell on the siblings, leaving them there for the party to find.
They buried the three on the hill beneath the scarecrows, where they used to sit and watch for passing boats. Abner offered them his and Milena’s wedding rings, which would have passed to their children. The party declined, saying the rings should be buried with the bodies instead.
Strangers on a Strange Road
As the players pitched camp for the night they were met by another quartet of travellers. The obvious leader said his name was Ernost, and requested to share the campfire. Over the course of conversation the human fell into talking about his journey for stories, specifically stories of revenge. Brother Dewfall stood to one side, and through his true-sight ability, Through A Mirror Clearly, saw that the four travellers appeared to be shapeshifters. The Party bedded down, their new companions off to one side, and decided to set a watch in case Ernost and his followers tried something.
Later that night, they tried something. The party was woken by Kina blasting one of Ernost’s followers – a Jackalwere, who had tried to compel her to fall asleep. The fight was brief, the party quickly dispatching the other two Jackalweres and Ernost, who revealed himself to be an Oni, an Ogre mage. During the fight, Kina was hit by the Ogre’s Cone of Cold ability, and the glamour she’d been wearing flatered for a moment – only Sabi was looking though, and was too pre-occupied with violence to try anything. The party gathered the bodies into a pyre and turned in for the rest of the night.