Chapter 1 - The Haunting of Harrowstone.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
GM
 GM, 343 posts
Tue 23 Jul 2019
at 18:28
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Constantine found Jominda sad eyed but hard at work at her apothecary. Bubbling alembics roiled on workbenches and a large iron cauldron simmered in the center of the shop, dried herbs hung in bundles from the rafters, and the sharp scent of alchemical reagents floated underneath everything.

Jominda chatted with Constantine as she prepared his goods, foul smelling vermin repellent in sealed jars and troll styptic in a paper packet sealed with beeswax.

The paladin spent the remainder of the morning on humanitarian pursuits. The small villages of Ustalav were often insular and suspicious of strangers and Ravengro was no exception, but the other side of the coin was a tight knit sense of community. There were few unfortunates in town, a family that suffered a bad crop year or some accident or catastrophe could turn to their neighbors for support.

In the end he wound up bringing a bushel of assorted produce to the Widow Andar who cared for such orphans as the town had, two sisters who had lost their parents the previous winter and a young Varisian boy. She fussed over him and stuffed him with tea cakes, tucking her white hair behind her ears like a schoolgirl while the children stared wide eyed at him from behind her skirts.
Garland Van Burke
 player, 128 posts
Tue 23 Jul 2019
at 23:44
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
The armor had been somewhat of a surprise and Garland praised the blacksmith for her attention to detail. He had expected that she would have had to make it from scratch and if that  had been the case he had some design ideas but needing only a day of fitting and work was worth the price. Perhaps, in the distant future, if he had another made he would add the symbology of the clergy to its design and his own family crest.

Even after the smith was satisfied Garland put the armor through its paces, practicing spellcasting gestures and even taking it for a quick run around the block. Only when he was sure about the armor's quality did he return and place down his payment. "I thank you for your assistance, you have created a true masterpiece in both functionality and art. If I require your services again I will return." he said with a polite bow before he left.

Garland would spend the rest of the day at the temple burying himself in the books and lore held in the hallowed walls, seeking more information on Vessorina Hawkren.

OOC: Assuming theres time Garland will make a research check on our new ally

16:44, Today: Garland Van Burke rolled 24 using 1d20+8.  Knowledge history check.
GM
 GM, 345 posts
Wed 24 Jul 2019
at 20:23
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Jorfa was too taciturn to beam at his praise, she settled for knuckling her forehead respectfully and grunting something about keeping the leather straps dry, but the surest way into a dwarf's heart is praise of their craft. She all but strutted around the forge as he counted out his coins, and gave him a bow as he left, clanking under his purchase.



Vesorianna Hawkran had been the warden's wife but was not a member of the prison staff, so the prison's records had no clues about her. She and warden Hawkran had been wed before he came to Ravengro to assume his post, so there weren't records in the town archive's records of births and weddings either.

So it was by examining old journal entries, the remaining scraps of personal logs, and other ancillary records of the time that Garland was able to cobble together some portrait of the woman herself.

Vesorianna Hawkran, nee Brundheim, was betrothed to Euran Hawkran while he was a lieutenant guardsman in Caliphas, Ustalav's capitol. They had been wed just less than a year when he was promoted to guard captain and assigned the stewardship of Harrowstone Prison. The couple moved to Ravengro and took up residence in the manor house at the prison itself.

Reports from the night of the fire were relatively more easy to come by now that Garland knew what he was looking for, and the circumstances of her death were somewhat more easy to find than the details of her life. Some of the details he was able to glean from the guard's reports, some from his conversation with the ghost of Vesorianna herself, and the rest he was able to guess.

On the night of the fire a riot had broken out, prisoners seized the lower levels of the prison, and Warden Hawkran sealed the dungeon by triggering a dead drop that collapsed the stairs rather than allow them to escape. This left him trapped, and he and his guards were overpowered. Vesorianna was awakened by the commotion and went to the prison to make sure that her husband was alright. When she learned of the grim situation she grew panicked and hysterical, the remaining guards locked her in the workshop both to keep her out of the way and to keep her safe from the riot. When the prisoners below began climbing up the lift shaft the panicked guards doused the shaft in lamp oil and set it ablaze in a desperate bid to keep them from escaping. The resulting fire quickly grew out of control, and by the time anyone remembered that Vesorianna had been locked in the workshop it was too late to save her.



It was still daylight when Garland finished his research, although it was trending towards evening. There was perhaps two hours of light left to explore the prison, unless our heroes wanted to risk exploring at night.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:24, Wed 24 July 2019.

Garland Van Burke
 player, 129 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 05:16
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
When everyone was gathered and treated to his best ability Garland prepared for the night, spending some time in deep meditation and prayer with Pharasma before gathering his things for their return to the prison. This time he prepared spells more in tune with fighting spirits and his new armor gave him a small bit of newfound confidence. Still he knew his faith and knowledge were still his strongest weapons.

When everyone is gathered he pulls the small rod of restoration from his pack holding it aloft. "Do any of you require more healing? I lack the spells able to do so but we still have this wand anytime we need it. If not, I suggest we return to the prison as soon as possible. The spirits will likely lay dormant till nightfall giving us some time to try and find the warden's body and symbol of office."
Sir Constantine Godalming
 player, 172 posts
 Chicanery?
 Count me in
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 13:10
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
SCG felt he had recovered from the most recent foray into the prison, and he was glad he was able to return to the town and help the few needy that lived in the community.

"I believe that we still have much work ahead of us in the prison and I can see no further reason for delay."
GM
 GM, 346 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 17:46
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
After a short period of preparation and the hike up the hill to Harrowstone our heroes stood once again in front of the dilapidated prison. They knew the first floor to be relatively clear, as well as portions of the upper floor. The dungeon, accessible through the charred remains of the lift in the training room, was unexplored.

"Should we head down into the dungeon and look for the warden, or finish exploring the upper floor?" Kendra asked.



Harrowstone Upper Floor





Harrowstone Ground Floor


Garland Van Burke
 player, 130 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 19:25
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Garland pulls the morningstar from his belt, slowly chanting a soft prayer until it bursts with light, illuminating the area. "I took some time to examine the old records concerning Mrs. Hawkren and her involvement in the prison. The records also seemed to suggest that the warden passed away in the dungeon. However, I believe for the sake of safety we should deal with the other spirit upon the second floor. The last thing we want is to be flanked by two powerful apparitions."
Darcon
 player, 78 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 19:36
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
"Yes, let us finish the remaining apparition on the second floor. Remember, the ones down below are supposedly more powerful according to the spirit of the Warden's wife," Darcon remarked, narrowing his eyes against the sudden flare of Garland's conjured light.

Turning to regard Kendra he added, "Lady Kendra, if you have any spells of protection I suggest you use them now before we face another of these apparitions, and whatever wretched allies they have by their side."
GM
 GM, 347 posts
Fri 26 Jul 2019
at 18:04
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
"Perhaps I'll stay behind the group, where it's safe." Kendra said in answer to Darcon. She rubbed her arms unconsciously, where the stirges had drained her, and shuddered.

As unnerving as ever, the first floor of the prison was still clear of haunts and enemies, as was the stairwell and the areas of the second floor that our heroes had already explored. Wary of ambush, eyes on the walls and the floor as well as the cell doors, moving cautiously, they began to explore the western cell block.

There was a privy to the north, out of use for long enough for foul smells to have dissipated to simply musty. The cells were much the same as the eastern cell block. Most were locked but could be seen to be empty through the barred window. A few were open, or had doors rotted enough to easily push through. Several held bodies, nothing left but dry bones now.

One of the bodies was different.

It could be seen through the barred window, a skeleton slumped in the corner in a tattered prisoner's robe just like the others. This body, though, was draped from head to toe in heavy chains. The body had manacles at wrist and ankle, an iron collar around its neck, and a metal belt around its waist. The manacles were not connected together as to bind the hands, instead thick chains that ended in heavy weights depended from the restraints. In life this prisoner would have been able to move only with great difficulty, dragging chains and weights wherever he went. Each weight had a holy symbol stamped into the iron, no two holy symbols the same.

The door to the cell was locked but rotted, it yielded to a sharp kick and gave access to the unusual corpse.




Darcon
 player, 79 posts
Sat 27 Jul 2019
at 14:55
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Darcon gazed at the revealed skeleton with a mixture of trepidation and fascination. What could have caused such precautions to be taken? It did not appear to be similar to ones taken against mages or other spellcasters, perhaps a brute creature of some sort, such as a half-orc berserker? The holy symbols implied some form of unholy creature, perhaps a lycanthrope?

"Kendra, Garland, what do you make of this? Has your research revealed a reference what sort of creature this may have been in life?" Darcon queried his companions.
Perception Check: 10
Garland Van Burke
 player, 131 posts
Sat 27 Jul 2019
at 17:23
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Garland waited a moment raising his hands with his holy symbol in his hands as he spoke softly. "Holy goddess grant me the sight to see the abominations that hide from us." He looked over the area, letting the spell do its work as he spoke softly. "My research revealed the deeds and the names of the prisoners but not what they looked like."

OOC: Casting Detect undead and focusing on the corpse and the area
Sir Constantine Godalming
 player, 173 posts
 Chicanery?
 Count me in
Sun 28 Jul 2019
at 16:43
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
"I share in your trepidation of what sort of prisoner requires such precautions, and why such a prisoner would not be deep below in the furthest recesses of a dunegon."


SCG looks through darkvision as perhaps the creature is not dead or undead at all.
GM
 GM, 348 posts
Mon 29 Jul 2019
at 18:19
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
A closer examination of the body showed it to be quite human, nothing demi-human or lycanthropic about it. With the tissue rotted away until only bones remained it was nearly impossible for an examination to reveal the cause of death, but given the body's pose huddled far from the door and our hero's knowledge of the disaster it could be surmised that he had died of smoke inhalation.

Garland's spell lent immediate results. From the very first he could detect a strong necromantic presence in the area, in addition to the general undead aura of the prison. As he concentrated further he began to narrow his focus. He could detect a single, powerful aura present in the area and a second aura, just as powerful, but attenuated and stretched thin as if it enveloped the whole prison. As his clarity and focus with the spell reached its height he was able to determine the location of the localized aura. To his shock it resolved itself, to his eyes alone for as long as he maintained his spell.

He saw a ghostly figure, the twin of the chained body on the floor but made manifest in full flesh in the ghostly, transparent hue of an unquiet spirit. The figure was short and stout, in the simple brown robe of a priest. Yet the chains it wore in life were mirrored on the ghost, a hunched back bent down by weighted holy symbols. It did not seem perturbed. The figure's face was cherubic, fat cheeks pulled into a beatific, fatherly smile. It seemed to radiate kindness and good cheer. And it stood, not over its own mortal remains, but hoovering protectively over Darcon's shoulder. One ghostly hand rested there, unfelt by the mage's mortal senses, a paternal gesture.







Garland's Detect Unead picks up the presence of undead auras in the first round.

In the second round of concentration he senses two distinct auras, one centered on the room and one emanating over the whole prison. The strongest aura is the diffuse aura emanating over the whole prison, it is Strong (5-10 HD).

In the third round of concentration he senses both aura's strengths and locations. The first aura does seem to cover the whole prison. When he turns to detect the second aura he sees the spirit standing next to Darcon with its hand on his shoulder. Its aura is also Strong (5-10 HD).

Everyone else who is not casting Detect Undead cannot see this spirit, but you can assume that Garland describes it in sufficient detail.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:20, Mon 29 July 2019.

Sir Constantine Godalming
 player, 174 posts
 Chicanery?
 Count me in
Tue 30 Jul 2019
at 13:32
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Assuming the spirit is described.........


"This sounds perhaps a spirit that we need not face yet, as it is or appears to mean no harm.  Perhaps we should check the guard post and then head for the lower level."
Garland Van Burke
 player, 132 posts
Tue 30 Jul 2019
at 15:16
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Garland takes the time to describe the spirit and its actions in exacting detail as he looks over the spirit. "Before that, we should try to communicate with him. " he said as he took on old dusty piece of wood from the debris, presenting it to the spirit that he saw, asking softly "I am Garland Van Burke, could you write your name in the dust?"
Darcon
 player, 80 posts
Tue 30 Jul 2019
at 16:58
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Darcon's eyes widened as Garland described what he saw with the ethereal sight afforded by his conjuring. Despite his own experience with magic and the otherworldly, he couldn't help but shudder at the thought of an apparition touching him.

"Yes, reveal yourself spirit and state your intentions," Darcon spoke sternly, glancing in the direction Garland looked as he presented the piece of wood from the debris to the invisible apparition.
GM
 GM, 349 posts
Tue 30 Jul 2019
at 17:31
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
It seemed as if the spirit could hear them, he turned his pleasant smile towards whoever spoke, but he said not a word. The ghostly figure did not shake his head or give any sign of refusal, but neither did he move to write his name or give any other signal. He simply floated behind Darcon, a gentle hand on his shoulder.

When Darcon moved the spirit did as well, when Darcon moved quickly he moved away but when he stopped the ghost drifted over again, always with that hand calmly on his shoulder. The gentle smile never left the spirit's face. He did nothing else, simply hovered there, looking around with his friendly and paternal mien, and beaming at each of them in turn.

At Constantine's suggestion Kendra, careful to keep well clear of our heroes, moved to rattle the locked door of the guard post. A row of bars separated it from the rest of the landing, and the iron door was locked fast.

"It's still locked." She said, calling into the cell block.

It would take a key or significant effort with mace and prybar to force entry.
Garland Van Burke
 player, 133 posts
Wed 31 Jul 2019
at 02:39
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Garland looks at the spirit tilting his head slightly as he watches the being. "He seems to like you Darcon but he will not, or perhaps can not speak with us. I do not know if he is one of the infamous prisoners I studied but if he could be any of them my guess would be Sefick Corvin. His crimes were many and hienos but to his credit he was no murderer"

He stops and reaches back to his belt, pulling out one of the small vials of acid he had purchased just before their first foray into the prison and handed it toward Kendra, never taking his eyes off the spirit. "Try this Kendra, your father used the same trick on a locked tomb when he and I met years ago."
GM
 GM, 351 posts
Wed 31 Jul 2019
at 17:46
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Kendra's face brightened and she carefully drizzled the acid into the lock. There was a hiss and the acrid scent of melting metal filled the corridor. After a few minutes watching the lock melt Constantine was able to kick the weakened metal open with a clang.

The guard post was well organized and neatly appointed, there were no signs of panicked activity. Evidently it had been empty during the fire and had not been touched since. There was a weapons locker holding pitted, rusted blades in organized rows and four sets of steel manacles that had survived somewhat better. There was also a cabinet with some emergency supplies, a healer's kit and a wand that Darcon identified as a wand of cure light wounds.

Garland's spell lasted for some time into the search, as long as he kept it trained on Darcon he still saw the specter hoovering over him, but eventually its duration ended and the ghostly figure vanished from sight.







I've added a wand of cure light wounds with 21 charges to the group loot sheet, as well as a healer's kit and 4 masterwork manacles.
Sir Constantine Godalming
 player, 175 posts
 Chicanery?
 Count me in
Wed 31 Jul 2019
at 18:45
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
"We have done well my friends.  Once we are ready we can travel on to the lower levels or to the flooded sections."
Garland Van Burke
 player, 134 posts
Thu 1 Aug 2019
at 03:17
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Garland takes his time to secure one of the sets of manacles and he also takes the wand, adding it to his growing arsenal of magical healing tools. "I believe I am the only one with the skill set to use this though if someone else desires it, please say so."

Once the loot is decided he points down towards the ground as he looks at the others. "Our next task is in the prison's lower level but I suggest we examine the entrance we know of before we descend. The last thing we want is to descend into the darkness with no way of escape. "
GM
 GM, 352 posts
Thu 1 Aug 2019
at 17:57
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
With their exploration of the first and second floors completed our heroes knew that the only remaining entrance to the dungeon below the prison was in the training room (A4).

As they descended the stairs from the upper floor (A9) they peeked once again into the other stairwell, the one that had once led downward. Those stairs had been collapsed by the deadfall, nothing remained but a blocked passage of rubble and rotting timbers. It would have taken a team of engineers and miners a week to excavate those stairs, and that would risk damaging the foundations of the rest of the prison as well.

And so the party gathered in the training room, peering into the great deep hole that yawned blackly in its center. Scorch marks emanated out from the pit, and the charred remains of timbers still clung raggedly to the edges of the hole. That had once been a lift used to lower supplies and equipment into the dungeon below. During the riot, after the deadfall had sealed the stairs, this was the lift that the prisoners had tried to scale. The lift that the guards had set aflame in an ill-conceived attempt to stop them from escaping.

Nothing remained of it now. The timbers of the shaft, the platform, the counterweights, all had burned to ash and collapsed into the dungeon below.

Kendra bumbled with her flint and tinder and after a moment dropped a torch down into that abyss. It fell about 20ft to the floor of the chamber, not a small drop, but not one easily navigated either. The hole was in the rough center of the ceiling of the chamber below, meaning that it wouldn't be easy to scale down past the ceiling. The guttering torch showed only a small pool of light around it, but there didn't appear to be any obvious threats down below.




Sir Constantine Godalming
 player, 176 posts
 Chicanery?
 Count me in
Thu 1 Aug 2019
at 18:16
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
"Safety and common sense would say that we should secure a block and tackle and perhaps a horse here to get us lowered to the chamber below. "


He looks around to the group...
"Unless someone has other ideas?"
Garland Van Burke
 player, 135 posts
Thu 1 Aug 2019
at 20:12
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Garland shook his head side to side as he looked down the hole. "I lack any spells to easily traverse the hole. Though I doubt we should leave the rope to a horse. There must be something sturdy nearby that can hold our weight, at least one at a time." He pauses as he looks over at Kendra. "If not, then I suggest Kendra remain here in case we require aid. Father Grimburrow's priests or the guard should be able to pull us up if she seeks their aid."
Darcon
 player, 81 posts
Fri 2 Aug 2019
at 18:40
Re: Chapter 1 - Ashes to Ashes
Still trying not to think too much about the ghost he was sure was still hovering about him, Darcon moved past the others and peered down into the hole, staring at the torch sputtering down in the dark. Raising a hand he murmured something subtle underneath his breath and a ball of soft blue light flickered into existence over his tattooed palm. With a casual flick of his wrist he sent it careening lazily down into the hole.

"I can use my magic to get us down there, but getting back up will require more mundane means, unless we find some other way to come back up. I suggest we tie a rope to the edge of this pit to allow us to climb back up; someone must have a grapnel?" he said to the others.

Turning to look back down the pit Darcon furrowed his brow for a moment, and the ball of blue light moved past Kendra's torch at the bottom to illuminate the area a bit more. Darcon stared down for a moment before turning to regard the others again.

"Something doesn't sit right with me, the spirit of the Warden's wife claimed there were two apparitions on the upper floor, yet we faced only one. That means either she was mistaken, or the one hovering around me is the second one, and if that is the case we should really think about doing something about it before it becomes a problem," the mage added in a concerned tone.