Sunday mid-morning, the 29th of Rova, 4707 AR
Parting ways with Sheriff Hemlock, father Liam, Gravist Savilla, Wald, Blind Sedge and Doctor Habe, the Sihedron headed westward to follow the Skinsaw man’s tracks. Although difficult, due in part to the efforts of the Skinsaw man took to erase his footprints, Treana succeeded in following the faint trail nonetheless. Crossing the river the group wound its way through the wetlands of the Ashen Moors until the tracks turned onto the Lost Cost road. Half a mile or so towards Sandpoint, Treana discovered a bundle of reeds which their quarry had been using, in vain, to obscure his trail. Aubrey collected the bundle for safekeeping.
Sunday noon, the 29th of Rova, 4707 AR
A little while later, having followed the trail to the outskirts of Sandpoint, the Sihedron split up in an effort to track down their quarry to find further clues. Treana and Elshbeth searched the south shore for tracks, Ton, Kivu and Ephrey the harbor-front for witnesses and Aubrey and Ainsel went to the Feathered Serpent to seek some arcane devices. Each group met with some success; clawed footprint tracks were found on the shoreline near the manor houses, some witnesses reported seeing an unfamiliar merchant entering town and Aubrey purchased two arcane scrolls and a magical protection wand. Following up on the merchant sighting, all three groups eventually regrouped at the Rusty Dragon Inn to confer over a brief meal. It was then that Aubrey revealed the identity of the Skinsaw Man which he’d discovered thanks to a scroll he purchased and the bundle of reeds he’d collected earlier: Aldern Foxgolve.
After a brief meeting with the merchant to confirm his innocence, the Sihedron quickly visited the White Deer Inn to inquire about Foxglove while Ainsel swiftly searched the streets for the murdering nobleman. They then regrouped at the Town Hall to check in with the Sheriff Hemlock and Mayor Deverin before heading off to Foxglove manor. Along with the pair they met a panicked farmer named Grump. At first the shaken man could only babble an old Varisian nursery rhyme:
Mumble Mumble Scarecrow alone in the maize.
Sleeping in the daytime, a stitched man he stays.
But when the moon she rises up Mumble gets.
He shakes his hands at first and moves his feet the next.
And when the dog is snoring and when you’re fast asleep,
Mumble Mumble Scarecrow will find you good to eat.
Eventually they calmed the man down enough to get some details from him. Seems that horrific screams and sightings of shambling “scarecrows” had been witnessed by neighbors near the Hambley farm a mile or so to the south during the past few nights. Taking it upon themselves to investigate, a half-dozen locals wielding farm tools finally dared to venture onto the property. They were quickly set upon by a quadre of scarecrows that slaughtered all but Grump himself; who fled to Sandpoint. He insisted that the Varisian nursery rhyme referred to these monstrous scarecrows.
First divulging what they’d uncovered to the mayor and sheriff, the Sihedron asked that they in turn dispatch a squad of Magnimarian knights to investigate the Hambley farm while they themselves would investigate Foxglove manor. With those arrangements agreed upon, the Sihedron returned to the boat docked in the harbor, hired a sailor and swiftly set sail westward towards the Foxglove estate.
While en route, Aubrey proposed that he perform a Harrowing for the Sihedron to see what it might reveal about the grisly goings on. Pulling his grandfather’s deck from his stocking cap, the gnome asked that the others focus on the motive behind the recent murders as he shuffled. Aubrey began with the Choosing, drawing cards from the suit of Wisdom to plumb the blasphemous nature of the Skinsaw man.
Ephrey first drew the Midwife, a hopeful card reflecting his role in uncovering new insight and in discovering the redeeming qualities of the Skinsaw man. Kivu drew the Carnival, a bewildering card that illustrates the shroud of illusions and false dreams in which the Skinsaw man has been laboring to entrap her. The Eclipse was drawn on Shiloah’s behalf; a forbidding card which revealed that, as an animal, he was ill equipped to deal with the unnatural enemies he faced. Ainsel next drew the Queen Mother, indicating that she may possess knowledge which could prove crucial in the trials ahead. Elshbeth drew the Owl, a sagacious card reflecting the paladin’s role in reasserting the natural order in regards to the undead the Sihedron faces. Treana drew the Mute Hag; an astute card hinting that the circumstances which surround her are shrouded in poisonous family secrets. Ton next drew the Lost; a maddening card which reveals the Skinsaw Man he faces has suffered a loss of identity and is caught up in maelstrom of insanity and depravity. Finally, Aubrey drew the Publican; showing that, although he may seem inconsequential at a glance, that it is he who brings about the fellowship and singular focus the Sihedron would require to unravel the Skinsaw man’s plans.
An ominous Harrowing.
That done, Aubrey reshuffled the deck and began the Harrowing in earnest. In the left-hand column, reflecting the set and unalterable past, he drew the Twin in the positive position, the Owl (Elshbeth’s role card and a partial match) in the uncertain position and the Bear in the negative position. The Owl indicated that Elshbeth’s experience in dealing with the shadows at Thistletop might prove crucial in laying to rest their undead foes in the challenges ahead. The Twin hinted that the recent events with Nualia may hide an underlying motive or plan of which the Sihedron remained unaware; Nualia had acquired the Sihderon talisman which Elshbeth now wears from the “Skinsaw men” in Magnimar.
In the center column, reflecting the evolving present, the gnome drew the Sickness (a misaligned partial match) in the positive position, the Avalanche in the uncertain position and the Tyrant (a partial match) in the negative position. The Sickness represents the spreading ghoul fever and its ability to corrupt souls though, being misaligned, the card indicates that the Sickness may yet be halted. Aubrey conjectured that the card may also represents Aldern Foxglove’s late wife. The Tyrant possibly represents Aldern himself, or his superior, and the blight upon the land that he/they represent.
In the right-hand column, representing the malleable future, Aubrey drew the Tangled Briar (misaligned) in the positive position, the Mute Hag (Treana’s role card) in the uncertain position and the Empty Throne (misaligned) in the negative position. The Tangled Briar, depicting a farmer Grump’s Mumbles scarecrow, misaligned, hinted that those murderous creatures may indirectly reveal the Skinsaw men’s true plans. The Empty Throne, misaligned, revealed that there is a ghost from the past which yet endures and which may require a great effort in the future to lay to rest once and for all. The Mute Hag, would seem to indicate that Treana will possess some invaluable insight which will prove crucial in untangling the briar and putting the restless spirits of the past to rest, though she may have trouble conveying it.
Sunday mid-afternoon, the 29th of Rova, 4707 AR
The Harrowing at an end, the Sihedron gathered their things and disembarked once their small craft landed on a beach to the west of the towering bluff upon which the manor house sat. The rest of the Sihedron remaining at a cautious distance, Ainsel went ahead to discreetly scout the seemingly dilapidated building. Peeking through curtained windows, the folletti failed to see any inhabitants inside. Then, on a hunch, Aubrey sent his familiar to investigate a nearby well’s depths; in so doing discovering a sizable cave at its bottom. Approaching the well, the Sihedron spotted a suspicious blackbird which immediately took flight north towards the open sea. Giving chase, Ainsel managed to close the distance and bring the odd creature down with a pair of fey bolts from the wand she carries. The folletti then retrieved its carcass from the surf. Bringing it back to the others, the bird was shown to be some sort of sickly undead raven.
Knotting three coils of silk rope together, the Sihedron descended down into the well’s dark depths alongside a trio Aubrey’s conjured will-o’-wisps. Eventually they regrouped in the domed cave at the bottom of the shaft. Before they could investigate a nearby stone door however, the Sihedron was set upon by wave after wave of ravenous goblin and human ghouls; over which they eventually prevailed with only Treana having been bitten.