Chapter One: Haunting of Harrowstone II

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 6th Pharst, 4711

We went up the hill to Harrowstone Prison. The main entrance was pretty broken down and the gate was open enough for us to just walk through. Not that any of us were especially keen. Daggmar climbed the ivy-covered wall where her skin felt as though it were burning and then went to the observation tower on the nearest corner. She didn’t see anything and the rest of us went through the gate to meet her.

We went down some stairs to the grounds of the prison. There was a hissing sound all around us which Daggmar assured us was only rats. Skippy, Malvern’s dog, was growling. Ahead of us was a large tree and to the left was a small hut. The entrance to the prison was ahead of us beyond the tree. Sigmund went to investigate the hut. The door opened easily and there seemed to be nothing of value inside. All the furniture had been smashed up. Malvern took up a sentry position. Sigmund, Azenutine, Daggmar and Roguard went in and the hut began to creak loudly. I stayed outside by the door. Roguard looked for books amongst the charred rubble and the creaking grew even louder. Suddenly, Daggmar came running out, Azenutine just behind her, but Sigmund and Roguard were hurt as the hut collapsed around them.

At the entrance to the prison proper I looked at the walls to see if there were any markings to give us a clue what to expect inside. The ivy and the grass were cleared away from the base of the walls. A series of runes were running around the border of the building, saying the name Lyvar Hawkram in what looked to be a necromantic ritual. Sigmund and Roguard followed the edge of the building to see how far the runes extended. They found a cess pit and that the runes encircle the building. The pond appears to be a flooded graveyard. None of us fancied swimming in the dark. Who knows what lurks in the muddy depths.

At the back, by the cess pit, part of the building had collapsed and we were able to climb in, fashioning a sling out of rope to pull up those who couldn’t make the climb, including Skippy. We found ourselves in a room with a furnace, with the disturbing smell of roasted flesh. The dog was whining and it seemed wise to make our weapons ready. Sigmund moved to open the furnace and a gout of flame fired at him, though fortunately it missed. The ghostly face of an old man formed at the top of the structure, cackling and spitting fire. I swept at the ashes and felt my sword come into contact with something hard. Daggmar belted the furnace with her axe and it collapsed to the ground, revealing bones amongst the ashes. Roguard and Sigmund yell that the bones should be thrown in the water and we scrabble to get them, while the ghostly flamethrower hurls fire at us. Lucky for us no-one was hit. Roguard blessed his waterskin and threw it in the face of the ghost weakening it somewhat. When all the bones had been cast into the pond the ghost was defeated and the furnace became just a heap of twisted metal.

There were two wooden doors leading out and we chose one at random. It led into the infirmary. Mouldy cots were strewn about the floor. Malvern and I looked around to see if we could find something useful and then there was a hideous wailing noise and phantom wind grew into a tornado in the middle of the room. A ghost began to materialise but Malvern destroyed it with a silver arrow. We found some medical supplies that we thought might come in handy.

Malvern checked all the cells and they were empty so we went through the double doors at the end of the room. Which led into a corridor full of doors. Sigmund opened the first to reveal a stairwell going up. Another led to an office. The third was to stairs going down but that were blocked with rubble. The fourth led to small corridor. The last were double doors at the end of the corridor and this led to a room covered with mould. Warily we stepped in but nothing immediately jumped out at us. This room also had many doors. When one was opened there was a burnt man, screaming in agony. We argued over whether we could help him and then he disappeared. Another ghost then.

The next room we chose contained rows of benches and a podium, looking something like a theatre. As Malvern walked towards the podium he became so cold he had to stop. Daggmar scoffed at him and yet could get no further. I checked the benches for markings or items and accidently kicked one. Immediately, I felt tired and couldn’t help sitting on a bench. I had a vision of a man standing at the podium pronouncing death sentences on the assembled prisoners. Azenutine went towards the podium and was able to push through the eerie cold. He found some scraps of paper and broke the podium away from the floor.

We went through that room into a training room. There was a pit in the middle with scorch marks around it. It looked like the lift shaft. Azenutine dropped a small stone into the pit and judged it about 20ft deep. After some discussion we decided to stay on the floor we were on and returned to the first corridor, taking the door that led to a second corridor. We passed a toilet and a wash room and on the advice of Roguard entered a work room where he said the oppressive sense of evil was lessened.

The workroom was full of benches covered in piles of dusty material and sewing tools. With a mournful howl Vessoriana appeared, glowing with an eldritch blue light. She asked if we were new guards come to replace those that had destroyed her husband. We replied that we were here to protect the people of Ravengro. This seemed to please her and she told us her story. Her husband was Lyvar Hawkram, the prison warden. She came to the prison because her husband had been taken hostage by the five most evil prisoners. After the explosion and everyone’s death, she placed the seal on the building so the shades of the murderers should not threaten the villagers but The Whispering Way have been trying to break the seal and have succeeded enough that the Spatterman can possess Gibbs.

Vessoriana told us that we could defeat the ghosts by obtaining the objects of value that belonged to them in life. These things were kept in the property room to the south east. Off we went, checking rooms as we went. We found a branding room and then a cobweb covered chapel. Malvern hacked through the webs bringing down three crab spiders. We despatched them easily and found some more healing items.

From one of the doors in the mouldy room we found the property room. Strewn about where the belongings of the souls who were imprisoned here. We found some valuable items but not the ones we were looking for until Daggmar noticed a small vault tucked away in a corner. In it were the items that we needed and we each took one; a blood-stained hand axe (Daggmar), holy symbols (Roguard), a mouldy spell book (Sigmund), a smith’s hammer (me), and a silver flute (Malvern).

We used the spirit board to ask Vessoriana where we would find the ghosts and she told us there was at least one on the top level and the rest were in the dungeons below. She warned us that if Gibbs completed her name before we killed all the ghosts they would be free to harm the villagers. Lucky for us she has such a long name.

We headed upstairs and began to hear soft flute music. As we opened the door we saw a figure ahead of us. I threw holy water at it but missed. Malvern plays the silver flute, resisted the urge to keep playing, and we saw that it hurt the phantom. The playing of ghost caused some of us to bleed from the ears and become paralysed, but Sigmund killed the Piper of Illmarsh. One down.

Azenutine started checking the cells and as we neared the end of the area we could hear the clinking of silver chains. Sigmund opened the door revealed a spacious but bare cell containing a body wrapped in chains. A presence appeared behind Sigmund and tapped him on shoulder, killing him stone dead. We were shocked and stunned but still the ghost had to be destroyed before any more of us died. Fortunately Daggmar was more than up to the task and we destroyed Father Charlatan. Three more to go, but one of us was dead and we didn’t know how to proceed. We searched through all the healing items we had looking for a way to bring Sigmund back but could not find anything. Reluctantly we accepted what had happened. I had just finished making sure we had everything of his that we might need for our journey, when Sigmund miraculously awoke. He told us he had woken in a church and a priest had told him it was months in the future and that we had gone on without him. He had refused to believe it and the spell had been broken. We were all much heartened to have our paladin returned to us. Strange how quickly we have bonded.

The rest of the upper level was clear so we went to the training room to go down the shaft into the lower level. Malvern sent Skippy to wait for us by the entrance and we all made our way down the shaft. We found ourselves in a cavern that evidently floods periodically and followed a tunnel to a central area with exits in each direction of the compass. We learnt that the cavern we had come from was called Hell’s Basement. The room had the skeletons of some of the guards that had died in the fire and Roguard took a bone from each so that they could be buried.

We went north first, to the Oubliette. We went past a portcullis to a square room with lots of iron doors and a shadow-soaked corner. There was a grating in the floor covering a pit that looked full of treasure. Azenutine heard a large metal object being dragged along the floor, alerting us to the next phantom murderer. Daggmar said she heard giggling, then ran pell-mell into the shadows. She caused great damage to the ghost but was the victim of great hurt herself. This was a harder fight but we prevailed over the Lopper in the end with no losses. The pit did indeed contain treasure.

Next, we took the tunnel to the east to the Reaper’s Hold. The portcullis was down but Daggmar and Azenutine lifted it so that we could get through to the cells. Azenutine heard a gruff voice and we expected that we would find the ghost of the dwarf somewhere. In the guardroom we found a table with smashed up skulls and the skeleton of a dwarf in the corner. We sent the Mosswater Marauder to his rest with not too much trouble and were feeling confident now that we had seen to four of the five.

Last we took the corridor to Nevermore in search of the Spatterman, conscious that this might be our hardest fight. We found a room with a pool of water in the middle and a shadowy area in the far corner. Sigmund stepped into the shadows and heard a man shouting out letters. He stepped out of the shadows again followed by an ethereal wizard which immediately fired magic missiles at the paladin. Roguard blessed us all that we might fight better. Malvern and Sigmund both used smite evil on the fiend. Eventually we killed it and it left us with the ominous prophesy that ‘when he rises you’ll wish I’d killed you all’. At the time I thought it meant something else in Harrowstone but, on reflection, maybe he meant something else. The aura of evil was lifted from the dungeon.

The shade of Vessoriana appeared again to thank us. We found we were in an ordinary ruined building. One which we should get out of before it collapsed. It was dawn when we emerged.

Ravengro Post, 6th Pharst

RAVENGRO FREED FROM HAUNTING OF HARROWSTONE

Today the villagers of Ravengro woke to a very different atmosphere. The oppression of evil that we’ve suffered since the terrible fire in 4661 has been lifted. Six heroes, who came at the behest of the saintly Professor Lorrimar, have defeated the ghostly evil that has so crushed the spirit of the good people of Ravengro.

Last night the Mayor called a meeting to ask the strangers to protect us from the evil emanating from the ruined prison. During the meeting the village hall was blockaded and burned by magic and flying skulls attacked us. The brave heroes fought the skulls and broke open the doors. It was then that we were alerted to the desecration of the temple of Pharasma. The letter S was painted in gore on the side of the building. The heroes immediately headed to Harrowstone to put an end to Ravengro’s troubles once and for all.

At dawn this morning they emerged victorious and Ravengro can once again be a happy place to live. We owe our saviours an enormous debt and they will always be welcome here. This paper exhorts the councillors of Ravengro to hold a feast in their honour.

In the coming days, your reporter will bring you interviews with all the heroes.

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 7th Pharst, 4711

By the terms of Petros’ will we can’t leave this dive for another three weeks. And then we have to take these books to Lepidstadt. I have a feeling that this is just part of a bigger picture and Petros has got us involved in something very dangerous. I think I might get in some sword practice.

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