Pathfinder: Carrion Crown

Session One
Carrion Crown

Session 1.
The party found itself in a large coach, careening through a forest at night with a storm lashing at the carriage. A gentleman, tall and black-haired with very pale skin, and three companions sat at one end of the carriage while the party, well some of the party anyway, kept to themselves. One of the gentleman’s companions was a woman. Though quiet and sitting, she was obviously in some form of distress.

Veremo and Galamir attempted to entertain the gentleman with bawdy jokes, dancing, and singing. All to no avail. The very famous Algrym then began some sort of conjuring practice on the gentleman. Through the course of his work, Carumati and one of the gentleman’s companions began dancing as if not under their own power.

The witch, Viska, became concerned about the female fellow traveler and queried the gentleman about her well being. The gentleman became suddenly, and viciously hostile and began attacking the party as he ran from the moving carriage with the woman. The party followed.

Veremo and Galamir attacked the minions and gentleman in turns. Algrym too tried to use his powers to stop the evildoers. Suffering a near lethal injury, Algrym required the healing powers of Viska who also used that power in reverse against one of the minions. Carumati threw one of her alchemical bombs at the gentleman and the woman, temporarily stopping their escape but injuring both. She injured one of the minions by pouring holy water on the undead thing.

Ultimately the minions were bested but the gentleman angrily escaped. The party made their way, injured and stunned back to the carriage. The woman whom they had saved thanked them and began a ritual card telling for Viska. The woman then gifted the Harrowing cards to Viska and bid her to perform the ritual on each member of the party.

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Session 2

The party, suffering from fatigue, and some from shock, made their way toward Ravengro. As they traveled to the Professor’s funeral, they questioned Bela Sedronis in an attempt to learn more of the mysterious gentleman who kidnapped her and attacked them. The woman was of little help and only confirmed the area’s ignorance of the evil that surrounded them.

Once arrived at the stopping point for Mistress Sedronis, Galamir, Algrym, Veremo, Sollen and Viska patronized the local tavern while Carumati held some kind of vigil by the carriage horses. After the former refreshed themselves the reunited party continued on their journey to Ravengro where they visited the Laughing Demon for food and drink, and then found lodging for the night at the Outward Inn. Galamir, Veremo and Sollen continued their drinking made even more raucous for the accompanying game of chance. Viska made a study of the card game while Carumati retired to her room and Sollen removed himself to a quieter corner of the Inn.

The next morning, a few of the party, the worse for the drinking, none-the-less proceeded to the appointed location of the funeral services—The Restlands. Professor Lorimore’s daughter, Kendra, met them at the gate of the grave yard and invited them to take up the Professor’s casket. In a somber assemblage, followed by the professor’s legal representative, Councilman Hearthmont, and a few townspeople, they processed across the small yard toward a party at the crest of a gentle slope where the minister, Father Grimbburrow, waited.

Soon after they began however, a band of agrarian hooligans blocked their path, pitchforks, shovels, and rakes in hand. The band attempted to stop the funeral accusing the Professor of necromancy. Fortunately, the quick thinking of the party convinced the leader of the hooligans that the Professor was nothing but a peaceful academic interested only in protecting their homeland from evil.

Once the funeral services concluded the party followed Kendra to her home where Hearthmont read aloud the Professor’s last will and testament. The document revealed that this group of adventurers was to protect Kendra, keep several black magic tomes from falling into the wrong hands, and was to be rewarded handsomely for achieving these goals. In addition to the tomes, the adventurers took possession of the Professor’s journal which recorded his efforts to root out the evil forces plaguing Ravengro.

That evening the adventurers began their investigation of Ravengro hoping to find some means of securing the tomes and insuring Kendra’s continued safety. They decided to explore the Harrowstone where local lore held that Warden Hawkran’s Wife haunted the ruins of a prison destroyed long ago in a fire. However, on their way, the party were diverted by hysteric screams of townspeople running to a crossroads just south of the village square.

There at the crossroads was a statue commemorating the prison guards who had sacrificed their lives to save others from the fire. The inscription, “For those who died to save the rest” was marred with a slashing red “V” scrawled across its base. The party noted that the statue listed twenty-five names all male but for one, Vesariana Hawkran. Veremo began to clean the offending stain off the statue when Sheriff Benjin Collar interceded and admonished the ranger for interfering. The adventurers took their cue and returned to their original task of investigating the prison ruins.

On their way, Galamir caught sight of a creature in distress huddled in an alleyway. As Galamir approached with Carumati and Viska following, the creature turned on the three revealing that it was an undead, unholy, creature. Holy water did not quell the creature’s attack, but Viska’s spell and Galamir’s attack exploded the corpse flesh.

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Session Three

Kendra’s eclectic security detail began its work by visiting the Temple. They hoped to find there some information about those who had perished in the Harrowstone fire. As they traveled to the temple, they were attacked by the re-animated skeletal remains of, at least, two humans – though none could possibly determine whether or not the bones were from the same humans or an abominable melange of legions of dead. From more research in the Professor’s home Viska uncovered that the cult sought the return of Tar Baphon. And, an additional journal that Veremo uncovered listed five names – the same five names that were part of the macabre children’s rhyme the party had heard nights before. Carumati surmised that perhaps Tar Baphon was held in some form in the prison at one time.

Ultimately the adventurers subdued the living skeletons and continued to the Temple where Viska made little progress in learning about the Whispering Way. On their return however, the bones were gone. Galamir and Veremo tracked footprints surrounding the bones to the sheriff’s office. After reassuring the sheriff yet again that they had no ill intent, the party learned only that they should interview Kendra’s tutor who might have more insight into the escalating evil. The sheriff granted the adventurers a meeting and the appointment was set for noon.

Research was also conducted at the Town Hall where Viska, through her wiles, gained access to town records which revealed the history of Harrowstone. The party learned that Ravengro’s identity was inextricably linked to the prison, its destruction, and history. The party learned that the worst of Ustalav’s prisoners were sent to Harrowstone and that they were executed there. Finally, Viska’s research revealed that the fire immediately followed a prison uprising and fortunately thwarted its aims.

The meeting with the sheriff did not occur as the adventurers found him – or parts of him and two others dismembered, laying in a bloody marinade with a knife wielding figure standing over them.

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Session Four: A List

Three dead lawmen
One lethal blade
One ignorant academic
One set of tracks
Pints of spilt blood
Four officious council members
One deputized elf
One appointed blowhard
Scores of villagers
a prison
a vine
a stairway
a balcony
a decapitation stone
a levitating scythe
a raze
a rive
Two wounded

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Session Five

The tensions have risen among Professor Lorrimor’s party. Though incorporeal, their enemies have dealt very concrete blows and left two of the party confined to Kendra’s home healing slowly. Sollen, the drawf, was bedridden and tended by Carumati for hours while the others attended the emergency council hearing.

The council meeting was beset by a trio of giant skulls formed entirely of flame. The skulls flew from rafter to floor to dais as the attendees flocked to the locked doors. Galamir and Veremo attempted to open the doors but were thrown to the ground in the mob chaos. Finally, the heroes extinguished the flames though a council woman and a small boy were gravely injured.

Rejoining their wounded members back at Kendra’s home, the adventurers divided the nursing duties and ventured out into the village again to make appointed meetings with Alendru. His failure to appear and the coincidental arrival of a note from The Inquisitor summoning the party to meet her at the Temple threw Carumati into a fit of paranoia. Carumati, the most inexperienced of the party, nearly immobilized the group – seeing Whispering Way conspirators behind every corner.

Cooler heads prevailed however and Galamir navigated a difficult conversation with The Inquisitor while Viska obtained access to Temple documents providing rich detail on the five murderous prisoners killed in the Harrowgate escape/fire.

All but Galamir returned to Kendra’s home – the rogue indulging his more licentious urges at an ill-repute inn. His “earnings” accompanied him back to his quarters only to awaken the entire household at dawn with tortured screams as she ran out of the house naked but for two pillows tied fast to her knees.

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Session Six: Conversation Overheard

Dear Journal,

I heard the following conversation outside my window last night. I’m not really sure I heard it. I was in a deep sleep and lay still for some time, thinking that I was listening to something outside. The voices were very clear to me. One thick and slow, the other whining but trying not to. I think I went to the window to see who was there. I think I listened at the window, but I saw no one. I went back to my bed. I’m sure I heard speaking. I am so sure I can record the conversation here.

“There are how many?”

“Five, Master.”

“Then they are no threat.

“No, Master, but they have pledged their help to The Inquisitor.”

“B-@.%! And you say they just arrived?”

“They came for the Professor’s death and they follow in his path. They were at the Restlands last night.

“Why there?”

“They were looking for something in one of the crypts. We tried to deter them but they are determined – if clumsy and weak. Our aims were even aided by some stinking monks.”

“So, they did not succeed?”

“I, uh, regret, that they did.”

“You know this?”

“We are quite sure.”

The Master, I think it was he, began growling. A deep warning growl as though something threatened his catch. And then from my bed I watched as wisps of fog spiraled up into the air. There were two of them, about 10 meters tall, spinning vertically. And then one consumed the other. The whole display was silent but the one consumed visibly winced as the other wound itself around it and squeezed.

Lilly tells me I never stirred from my bed as she is a light sleeper and would have woken if I had gone to the window. Such a strange dream, and so vivid. I must have been thinking of the strangers who have come into Ravengro. They have excited my imagination. I know that they are not to be trusted, as father trusts no one, but they are so glamorous, especially, the elves. Father would whip within an inch of my life if he read these thoughts, but what I wouldn’t give for a chance to speak with the ranger. He seems the friendliest of them all. He is a bit clumsy and actually seems not much of a ranger, but he must be useful or else why would he be with them. Maybe I will see them today in town.

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Session Seven

The Professor’s Five make their way into the rotting Harrowstone. But first five, flaming, flying skeletons splash out of the lake to attack. The dwarf and elf are still wiping muck from their clothing when Viska, Carumati, and Galamir engage the demons. Galamir attacks with two hands, Viska and Carumati attempt magic. The flying bones prove more alive than dead and require multiple attempts to subdue. The Five sustain fire damage and deep wounds that are only partially healed by the time they stagger into the first room of Harrowstone.

The room is large and empty but for a hulking furnace. The rotting smell of mouldering ash and decades of pooling water lays heavy over what’s left of the structure. Galamir, Sollen, and Carumati inspect the room. Magic is detected but it’s source and nature are not revealed. Veremo and Viska delay their entry ensuring that no more skeletons appear. Once all are inside however the furnace, as though inspired by Carumati’s words, slings a tentacle of flame striking Galamir across his back in a deep diagonal. Rather than attempt the takeover of whatever force animates the furnace, The Five move deeper into the heart of Harrowstone. They pass through another room with deep shaft running from somewhere below and into this floor. Again there is the aura of undead. Galamir climbs most of the way down and fall the rest. There is no more specific information to be found and he climbs-falls-is pulled out again.

The next room is guarded by a haunt that warns off intruders with screams and slamming doors. Several times Veremo and Galamir attempt to hold open the doors long enough to see in or move in without success. Finally a large wooden table shoved in the opening allows the group to enter a sentencing auditorium. This room too has the taint of magic – a dead cold rises and intensifies as all enter the room. Carumati senses the origin of the stinking freeze from one of the auditorium benches and dispels it with holy water. Galamir opens the lock on the en-caged stage and the rest follow to investigate. It is clear to all of them that prison officials stood behind these bars before a murderous audience and handed out decrees in years and decades. Behind the stage Galamir points out what might be though a prop room except that it is revealed to hold a tempting stash. All of the items are those of Harrowstone’s most heinous criminals. There are spell books, charms, an ax, arrows, which turn Veremo, and Viska into keening collectors. The items are rounded up and the adventurers continue to crawl through room after room down the center corridor of the building.

Each one is entered without much trouble and found to contain nothing but a rotting film of mold until they reach the door at the end. Galamir opened the door and he, Sollen, and Viska crossed the threshold before it slammed shut before the remainder waiting in the corridor. Those inside found the room to be an infirmary and found it also to be haunted once shards of beaker, vials, syringes, began flying at them.

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Session Eight

The party is split, separated by an enchanted door that slammed behind Viska, Sollen, and Galamir. The screams from inside, pleas for rescue, spur Veremo and Carumati into action. They try repeatedly to break down the door and save their companions from whatever attacks them.

Ultimately the door comes down and Carumati and Veremo help to extinguish a horrific specter attacking Viska and Sollen. Galamir has retreated to a side room gathering his nerve for another attack. Once free of the ghoul, the heroes collect provisions – healing and protective items that they distributes and carry away with them. They begin a long night of exploring the remainder of the prison ruins.

Their first encounter is with the ghost of Vesoriana Hawkran. She is confined to the remains of sewing room that seems to be her prison within the haunted prison. Vesoriana informs the party that she is all that remains keeping the forces of the Whispering Way and the Five evil ghosts from re-animating a horrible force in the prison and the town. The party learns that people in Ravengro do indeed play a part in the plan, and that should the Warden Hawkran’s Badge of Office not be found and returned to Ms. Hawkran the Five will succeed.

Room by room the party continues to search Harrowstone with the new goal in mind. They muck, Sollen personally, slash spiders, suffer branding, collect additional tools of survival and ultimately find Warden Hawkran’s office. A safe inside the office occupies Galamir and Sollen and yields yet more provisions. As the heroes prepare to rest for the remainder of the night, Carumati the first “watchman” hears the distinct cry of a half-orc.

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Sessions Nine and Ten

A miserable, horrifying, slog through sinister ruins is taking its toll on the party. Sollen lays unconscious, Gallamir displays disfiguring scars, and Viska is returned from the dead. The portcullises at the mouth of the basement cells repeatedly test the heroes. The magic infecting the Harrowstone Prison plagues the party’s efforts. The Inquisitor succumbs to the attacks before the party recovers the Warden’s badge of office and leaves the five to continue the work on their own.

In the basement cells there is all the evidence of demon prisoners. The murderers were held in basement wings labeled to do honor to their punishment; Nevermore, Hell’s Basement, Reaper’s Hold, Ubliet. The torture devises belie the inhuman gore fest prisoners create in their captives. The devises hold the evil and attack the heroes trapping them, stabbing them, and coming alive to slash and hack. And though one poor soul, Alfie, leads the heroes closer to their goal, and weapons and treasure seems easily gathered, the depth of living dead villainy toys with the party. Each time they recover, the magic resumes – they become trapped, they become paralyzed, they are possessed, enfeebled and bloodied over and over again.

The Piper, and The Marauder, The Charlatan, The Lopper are bested, but The Splatterman still plays with the heroes. He toys with their psyches and works to split the party. Viska, Gallamir, and Carrumati remain trapped behind the portcullis staring into the pit used for gods know what.

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Session Eleven

Harrowstone is no more. The Splatterman came after the party as Sollen awoke from coma. With Viska, Carumati, and Galamir pinned behind the portculis and Veremo shot through the iron bars at the specter. It took several attacks to vanquish him — silver arrows, fire, tackling. Viska falls and Gallamir must revive her. Carumati falls and Viska must administer her own potion to her. Finally, The Splatterman is gone and the party returns to the sewing room in search of Vesoriana.

Vesoriana conducts a last ritual with the help of the heroes. Each in turn relates the killing of one of the Five. The warden’s widow spirit requires the details of their killing and their death. With the last story, Vesoriana screams as a torrent of black ooze pours from her mouth and ruins begin to tremble. And she is gone.

The heroes run for the outside dodging the falling ruins. Carumati and Galamir carry Sollen and Viska part of the way but all ultimately are free of the haunted prison now nothing more that ash and rubble.

In town Viska, Galamir, and Carumati go to the temple with The Inquisitor’s head in a sack so as to return it to Father Grimborough. Sollen returns to Kendra with two priestly guards to watch over her. That evening the party attends, at Councilman Hearthmont’s invitation, a council meeting. In a crowded chamber house the heroes are thanked and congratulated. They are rewarded with a chest filled with 300 gold points.

Their duty now is to protect Kendra for the remaining 20 days.

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