Chapter One: Haunting of Harrowstone I

Ravengro Post, 3rd Pharst, 4711

EVIL NECROMANCER’S REMAINS POLLUTE RESTLANDS

The body of Professor Lorrimar, found a week ago at the old Harrowstone Prison with his face smashed in, was today buried in the Restlands. Honourable men of the village stood in the way of the funeral profession to prevent the resting place of all our loved ones being fouled by the remains of a necromancer. But the death of this unnatural sorcerer has attracted strangers to Ravengro who viciously attacked leaving Cranwell of Woodside Farm crippled in one leg.

Father Grimwood has allowed this blasphemy to go ahead and this paper petitions the Church of Pharasma to send the faithful of Ravengro a more devout priest. After the horrible ceremony the strangers returned to the Lorrimar house and were shortly joined by Councillor Hearthmount bearing the will of the late Professor. The good Councillor did not stay long and your intrepid reporter could not get close enough to hear what was in the will.

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 3rd Pharst, 4711

Arrived Ravengro for Petros’ funeral. Village seems weirder than usual. I won’t be sorry not to have to come here again. All the villagers are hiding and watching through the curtains. Apparently he left me something in his will and it seems I wasn’t the only one. Four of us made it for the funeral; me, Sigmund von Valice (paladin), Roguard Ghaler (cleric of Pharasma), and Malvern Riminous (ranger). Seems Petros had a big impact on many people in his life.

Kendra asked us to be pallbearers for the funeral. I always got the impression he was well liked in the village so I wondered why none of the villagers was doing it. Found out why on the road to the cemetery. We were greeted by a handful of villagers demanding that Petros be buried elsewhere and claiming he was a necromancer. What? He studied the undead, sure, amongst many other things, and well, I wouldn’t have known him if he hadn’t wanted grave goods finding, but I didn’t think he was a necromancer. Still, it’s possible I suppose. Kendra was upset and naturally wants her father laid to rest in the family plot. Sigmund tried to reason with the villagers (led by Gibbs, naturally) but managed to inadvertently insult them. Twice. We put the coffin down and they tried to take it. There was some pushing and shoving, the coffin got dropped and Malvern shot one of villagers in the knee.

After that they ran off and we went to the grave. Father Grimwood officiated and we all said a few words. I left a good luck charm. Petros was always amused by my trinkets.

Back at the house, the local lawyer turned up with the will. Not quite what I was expecting. We have a chest of dodgy books to return to Lepidstadt in a month’s time – for which we will be handsomely rewarded – and in the meantime we have to hang around and keep an eye on Kendra. I guess the payday is good enough to justify hanging around in the arse end of nowhere for a month. Seems the others are up for it as well. After the lawyer left, Kendra went for the chest and opened it so we could see what we were carrying. Gives those charges of necromancy some weight.

I spent the afternoon going through Petros’ journal. Seems like The Whispering Way is up to something locally and Petros was trying to find out what. He’s got some stuff stored in a crypt in the Restlands. We should probably get that back. Malvern asked Kendra about Harrowstone Prison. One of the books in the chest has a lock. I tried to pick it but it is very expertly made.

Roguard went off to speak to Father Grimwood. I don’t think he liked what he found. Grimwood likes a more pleasurable lifestyle than Roguard seems to. Sigmund and I went to the Laughing Demon for a drink. Zohcar was full of ghost stories and told us that Petros had died up at Harrowstone. Apparently he’d taken to walking up there at night and had been crushed by some falling masonry. His face was so smashed in Kendra wasn’t allowed to see it. And the memorial was vandalised by kids painting the letter V on it.

Malvern came in and said he was going up to Restlands so I left Sigmund in the pub and went with him. Roguard joined us and we could see by the light of his staff. We checked on Petros’ grave and all looked ok. Malvern had a vision of some gravestones with Sigmund’s name on it and a death date of 4661. Wasn’t that the year Harrowstone burned down?

Then we went to the crypt where Petros had stored some tools he thought might come in handy. Someone had been there before us. In the chamber below there was a sarcophagus, evidently the only place to hide anything. As we opened it, two giant centipedes dropped from the ceiling but we dispatched them easily. The sarcophagus held some potions, scrolls, arrows, sun rods and a spirit board. We gathered it all up and left.

As we came out we could hear voices coming from the entrance. Not wanting to confront any angry villagers, Roguard cast light on a crossbow bolt and fired it into the bushes. I think it hit something but we didn’t hang around to find out.

Ravengro Post, 4th Pharst 4711

MEMORIAL DESECRATED! STRANGERS STILL IN TOWN!

The memorial to the heroes lost in the Harrowstone Prison fire has been desecrated again. This time the vandals painted a letter E. Who would do such a terrible thing? This paper exhorts the Sheriff to post a vigil on the memorial tonight to catch the villains responsible.

The strangers that arrived here yesterday for the necromancer Professor Lorrimar’s funeral are still in town without any signs of packing up to leave. Why are they still here? Could they have had anything to do with last night’s damage to the memorial?

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 4th Pharst 4711

Started the day with a visit from the Sheriff and an angry mob. Desna, what a place. Keep thinking of the money. An E was painted on the memorial last night. Clearly nothing to do with us as we were busy grave robbing in the Restlands, ha. Sheriff is a humourless bastard.

Spent the afternoon researching the prison.

Malvern went for a walk up to the prison to get the lie of the land. He was passed by a mysterious, ghostly carriage. He heard it, saw the tracks on the road and smelt the horses as it went past. Then he fell over and hit his head on a rock. He never actually got to the prison.

Roguard and Sigmund went to the temple to look at the archives. Don’t think they were impressed. Grimwood mentioned the Order of the Palatinate Eye. It seems as though the bodies of the people who died in the fire were just left there. However they brought back a file on some of the notorious murderers housed in Harrowstone just before the fire.

Someone new arrived, also named in Petros’ will; Daggmar, a half-orc barbarian. That should upset the locals.

We looked at the file Sigmund brought back from the temple. Looks like there were four serial killers and a con-artist housed in the prison at the time of the fire. There was quite a bit of detail in the file. Disturbing reading.

In the afternoon, we went into the village to see the Sheriff. We’re beginning to put things together and maybe the strange happenings are related to what Petros was working on. The Sheriff doesn’t want our help and says he’s got the memorial covered. We went to look at it and learnt that the Warden’s wife was called Vessoriana. Another of Petros’ beneficiaries arrived; Azenutine, a half-elf rogue. Sigmund detected evil lurking around the area. The Sheriff’s men didn’t want us around so we returned to Kendra’s as the sun set.

As we approached the house, Azenutine saw a shambling man wearing tattered robes with matted hair walking up to the door. I ran up to him and saw his faced was all smashed in. Daggmar tried to tackle him, but landed in front of him on the path. I pushed him back and it took all of us to stop the zombie getting to the front door. Suddenly Zohcar’s tales don’t seem so far-fetched. We pulled the body round the back of the house to the shed and examined it to find it was the corpse of Petros. Roguard recognised the robe he was buried in and I found the amulet I’d left on his grave marker. In the shed there was enough stuff to make a cart  so we took him to Restlands and re-buried him.

Ravengro Post, 5th Pharst 4711

NECROMANCER RISES! SUSPICIOUS STRANGERS IN VILLAGE MEETING SHOCK!

The grave of Professor Lorrimar was disturbed last night. The body was in the ground by this morning but some people believe that the Professor rose from the dead and walked the streets of Ravengro. An anonymous friend of this paper said they saw a shambling man approaching the Lorrimar house just after sunset and that he was welcomed by the strangers staying there.

Councillor Hearthmount has called a village meeting in the Hall at 4pm this afternoon. Everyone is invited to attend.

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 5th Pharst 4711

Daggmar had a nightmare last night and woke to find her name written in gore on the ceiling. Just like the Spatterman. She told me later she dreamed of being locked in a cell in a prison but didn’t recall any rioting or fire. Breakfast was interrupted by the Sheriff. He said Petros’ grave had been disturbed and wanted to know where we’d been last night. What could we say? Kendra told him we were at the house, but Sigmund the paladin was compelled to tell the truth. We didn’t raise Petros but it doesn’t look good for us. The Sheriff put us under house arrest and told us to come to a meeting at the Village Hall at 4pm. When we’ll be tried and found guilty. If I get out of here alive I’m never coming back.

We did some more research on the prison. It seems the fire was a rather convenient solution to a riot that threatened to allow the prisoners to escape. Daggmar tried to intimidate the Sheriff’s deputies but no joy. Azenutine had a go at unlocking the Order of the Palatinate Eye book but couldn’t get it either.

At 4pm we went to the Hall. Half the village must have turned out. There were at least sixty people in the Hall and another couple of hundred outside. We sat up on platform at the front. Councillor Hearthmount started a speech about the weird goings on in the village. There have been ghost sightings, demons walking abroad, graffitti and disappearing animals. The fact that all this was happening before any of us arrived seems to have escaped him for the moment. He asked us flat out if we were necromancers. Sigmund was very offended.

Daggmar, Sigmund and I noticed noises from outside and the room was getting very warm. Just as I shouted fire the tapestries on the wall burst into flame. The Sheriff ran to the door but couldn’t open it. Then the windows were smashed by five flying flaming skulls which started attacking the villagers. Seriously, never coming back. What the hell is going on here? Azenutine and Malvern dealt with the skulls while Sigmund, Daggmar and I tried to break through the door. With the skulls destroyed Azenutine started chucking kids through the windows and Roguard healed the dying. Eventually we broke through the door. It hadn’t been locked or held shut in any way we could see. Just as we got everyone out of the hall the ceiling collapsed. Close call.

A boy came running up to tell us that the temple of Pharasma had been desecrated. Hearthmount announced that we are heroes and are here to save the village. I’m somewhat dubious but he offers us 500gp each to do it and I suppose that’s enough of an incentive since I’ve got to stay here for the month anyway. If I didn’t know better I’d say the ghosts of some pretty nasty serial killers were haunting Ravengro.

We went to the temple to find a S painted in blood on an outside wall. VES – Vessoriana? Grimwood told us the fire happened because Vessoriana poured oil down a shaft into the dungeon beneath Harrowstone and the Spatterman’s spell reacted with it. The place has been designated a tomb and no-one goes there. I wonder why Petros never asked me to go in, given that he was interested in the place, and he asked me to rob plenty of other tombs.

Daggmar, Azenutine and Malvern found some tracks leading away from the bloody graffitti so we followed them. They led down the road towards Harrowstone and over the bridge to a shack by the side of the road. It stank of blood and offal. Everyone seemed to think it a good idea to draw weapons. I opened the door and we saw a man in a bloody nightshirt hunched on the bed muttering like a madman.

We grabbed him and restrained him. It was all a bit confused. Sigmund wanted to question him but Daggmar and I thought it would be safest to just kill him. Once we had him subdued it turned out to be Gibbs, who had led the mob that tried to interfere with Petros’ funeral. He didn’t remember what he’d done and is plagued with nightmares.

It isn’t over. We’re going on to Harrowstone Prison tonight. I’m sitting on a rock by the side of the road while we get ourselves ready, scribbling these notes in case I don’t get another chance to write this journal. Desna be with us. We could use some luck.

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