Pathfinder: Carrion Crown
The Log of Carumati
My encounter with the Order of the Indomitable Sea compels me to record, though the pages are bloodied — perhaps because the pages are bloodied, from my “work.”
I was left outside the temple after Viska, Veremo, Ly, Sollen and myself dealt with the Vicar and his minions. Disorientation and fatigue led me to a small copse to the west of the temple to seek refuge under the canopy of a large camphor.
Second after seating against the nearest trunk the snap of a twig alerted me to others in the vicinity and without waiting I made myself invisible. Looking around and UP revealed four followers tucked in the branches overhead. My invisibility potion requires that I take quick action. I had no guarantee that the temple would be more safe, my party had moved on and I had no idea in what direction, I had first-hand information that the followers of the order were hostile.
So, I drew a breath-weapon bomb, infused it with acid, and lobed it at the tree. The branches began chemically degenerating immediately. The priests’ robes caught fire and went out on and off — some warding spell preventing all out conflagration. One after another they dropped from the tree as their perches failed and their skin burned. Their shrieks and groans were horrible. I rushed to end the acid-burning torture – gathering up handfuls of sandy dirt and throwing it on the smoldering. The liquified skin, the blood, and the bodily fluids made the ground slick. More than once I tripped my hands digging deep into an oozing near-corpse to prevent falling face first into the mess. I could see that I could save none of them but hope that perhaps I at least I might gain some information as I spared them some measure of torture.
The largest of the priests remained conscious and I shook him by what was left of his shoulders, demanding information. As chucks of muscle fiber came loose in my hands he spit at me swearing that we would never stop the forces of the Indomitable Sea. He laughed cruelly and yelled that no true authority had ruled Undiomede for 70 years since the Lord was murdered by his own son. As his strength began to wane he kept repeating that Voltario is in The House, that he must get to The Undiomede House.
The commotion of their demise seemed to bring no attention and so I took off in the direction of Undiomede House.
More evidence of surgery. Is the entire area dominated by attempts to bring back the dead. I don’t know if we could distinguish between the Whispering Way and the innocent rubes who serve as their minions without even knowing it. We are on their trail but it seems we will never catch them.
And, in their evil work, the Whispering Way is destabilizing communities throughout Ustalav. The werewolves are at war with one another. They had existed for years in a fragile but stable truce that limited the damage their hybrid nature inflicts on the uninfected. Because of the Whispering Way’s treasure hunt, the werewolf clan power structure is disturbed beyond recognition.
I don’t know how we capture the Whispering Way without restoring the clan power structure to some sort of stability. But, what will doing so cost us? I am gravely worried that one or more of us risk infections
- and then what. I do feel my ward has some sort of power to resist licanthropy. I dare not become cavalier in my approach to the werewolves though. Soon we meet with the Princes’ wolves. I hope that their reputed intelligence holds true. They, I fear, are our only hope.
The Invisibility Elixir works! I have waited with little patience the opportunity to use this new elixir and it finally arrived. Hosteled at Ascenor Lodge it became clear to me and my very learned friend Viska, that the lodge master hid a terrifying (to him) secret in his “private” office.
Viska and I innocently approached his office door only to be unceremoniously shut out. We knew he secreted something in that office and I pledged to myself that I would gain entry to that room and discover the origin of his fear. And, thanks to a powerful Invisibility Elixir I succeeded.
A few eventful hours after first encountering the Lodge Master’s office, I seized an opportunity to imbibe by elixir in the midst of the chaos of Grayden’s death. As servants and guests ran around willy-nilly and the Lodge Master blustered ineffectual orders at the scene of the attack, I ran post haste to his office. Due to the commotion, noise of my work alerted no one and I was able, with a small vial of acid poured into the door lock, gain entry to the office.
After not much trouble I found the source of Lozerov’s anxiety – a private journal and a book of research. The scoundrel. The fool. To not recognize help when it lands at his doorstep. Though interrupted by a minor mishap with the lodge guards and Lozerov, and with the ready research of Gallamir, I was able to convince the foolish man that his fate was much better served by allying with our party than with those who would take advantage of his weak nature.
What am I doing back here? Why, everywhere is there superstition, rumor, intolerance, cruelty, ignorance? It’s no better here in my beloved Lepistadt. My basement closet colored my vision. I only saw the professors at their best. I ignored the petty politics, and the scheming that valued power over principle that is deeply woven throughout the university and the town. It is a history that cannot be separated from its current identity. The souffle is long done – the eggs cannot be removed now.
The Beast pays for the city’s shortcomings. He is its bogeyman and scapegoat. Though Professor Deramid would make some small nod at justice, she does so behind cover while crippling us in our work to set an innocent free. We must find The Innocent’s (for I will henceforth refer to him as The Innocent) maker. He recites poetry, he rejects unjust treatment and does not bend to false accusations. Such a character does not assemble from evil parts. He carries forward the best of his maker and his donors.
I will ask our party if we cannot find The Innocent’s parent – as every creature should have one. And, I will suggest we fight Lepistadt’s grime with a considered dose of rumor.
I have but a few moments to record the events of the last day and night. We rest here in the Warden’s office. I am taking the first watch and this might be my last opportunity to warn those who remain of the threat that plagues all of the Inner Sea Kingdom. Though I will use everything skill I possess to continue the Professor’s work, after what we’ve encountered in this dreadful place I fear I may not survive the night to continue.
This is what we have found thus far. The Whispering Way is active and powerful in Ravengro.I have no reasoned theory to support this thought, but I have profound questions about the tutor Elindroo. The Whispering Way works through the ruins and demonic creatures of the Harrowstone Prison to raise a leader for a legion of undead. The shade of the Warden’s wife somehow holds the line against the conspirators, but she is losing strength. She has set us on the trail of the Warden’s badge of office that, she says, will restore some force of energy to the fight against The Way.
I will move forward as long as I can, with black mark on my forehead, more holy water, and the spells I can decipher from the books we’ve collected. I am charmed by a spell that allows me to take the shape of a beast and am searching for ones that can reverse injury as that is surely to be my destiny going forward.
My companions and I seem to be forming more than a loose assemblage of travelers. I begin to understand the Elf’s exuberance is tempered by keen senses – he understands the workings of Ravengro as though it has been his home always. And, Viska though quiet, cuts through melee after melee with her evil eye. Veremo unfailingly moves first into danger and puts himself between evil and what he and Galamir call “the squishies.” Sollen, the Dwarf exhibits the most chimirical nature. He is barking and gruff one moment and statesman-like the next. But, we are now a squad, stitched together by fear, fight, and a dread consideration of the foe.
Our squad debates plans, the discourse is quite rational to my surprise, and easily resolves points of debate. When deciding whether to follow The Inquisitor to certain death through Harrowstone without investigating the ruins ourselves, the conversation sounded like the debates I overheard you and Professor Milton sharing over tea – deliberate and measured. But when faced with the threat of discovery or ducking the attack of a giant centipede we operate by communal instinct.
There is little talking and senses are everything. As a squad mate turns I am signaled to look and act. In The Restlands there was considerable whispered discussion before entering, but silent action after. A trio of lambie novitiates was artfully distracted by Sollen while the four of us remaining fanned out, initiating individual but still coordinated tasks – all without a word of consultation. The same when the fleshy column of a centipede stood on tail and attacked. When my attempt failed, Viska’s immobilized, and Galamir’s landed.
With the tools the Professor’s journal promised we set out to learn what our fate might be in Harrowstone before it is decided for us by a religious zealot.
I am continuously frustrated by the ignorance of the Ravengro populace. They are either completely unobservant, or operate under a shared delusion of safety. Neither assessment is complimentary, and either places their village squarely in the path of destruction. And, I worry over Kendra’s safety. Her lack of concern over the events in Ravengro seem out of character given the events that have transpired in the past three days. Just hours ago we informed her that the sheriff and two deputies were brutally murdered – in broad daylight mind you – their bodies hacked to pieces. Yet, she maintains that she is safe to walk through the streets alone at night. Galamir is of no help in this, mentioning in her earshot that we have no desire to “jail” the girl. “Jail” her no, spare her eternal entombment in an undead corpse, yes.
I write this not even knowing the depth of damage I have suffered from a broad-side attack across my back. The enchanted scythe wielded by re-animated, re-articulated radii, ulna, and the scores of metacarpal bones, carpal bones and phalanges tore deep into my flesh. I lost consciousness, am weakened, and survive only because of Viska’s healing. Sollen our valiant dwarf hangs onto life with but a breath. And still I hear my Professor’s words in my befuddled brain to “protect Kendra”. And, I wonder how we can accomplish this task fighting whatever fiends wish to raise the dead with a charge that does not even realize the danger that surrounds her.
I MUST remind my party that the professor might have well instructed us (as written in his journal)to acquire a set of tools from the Restlands BEFORE we return to Harrowstone. I know I will not return without said equipment.
I am learning Professor. I have had to re-evaluate all of my scholarship and put it to new uses. Ravengro seems to be over-run with necromancers stirring up all manner of undead. Having only spent two nights in the backward village we have already encountered a barely corporeal zombie, and last night the black magic animated skeletal remains of two unfortunates. We were lucky to survive both encounters, but each time Veremo and Galamir suffered injuries in the encounter – they were inflicted by themselves – but the chaos of battle created the circumstances that someone was liable to be injured.
Because, thankfully, Viska’s interpersonal skills are much more developed than mine, we have uncovered some information that you must have already divined. The events in Ravengro are certainly attached to Tar Baphon and his resurrection. I have consulted my notes from my studies and if the Whispering Way is truly attempting to rise The Lich then this world is in grave danger
The fact that Harrowgate held five of the most heinous criminals to walk all of the Inner Sea Kingdom – I’ll list them here – The Lopper, The Moss Water Marauder, The Piper of Ill Marsh, Father Charlatan, and The Spatterman, is no coincidence. Amassing a cabal of malevolent murderers would be an apt squadron for escorting Tar Baphon back to the world of the living.
It is not clear how the connection between Harrowgate and Lastwall was to be formed but I believe that this was somehow the plan of the Whispering Way. And, after last night’s carnage I am convinced that the cult is continuing its plan apace. I will dedicate myself to the study of the Whispering Way’s practices to, hopefully, glean some means of thwarting them.
Entry Two: Notes on Unfamiliar Substance
Substance: Common Name – Ale, Principle Component and chemical name – ethyl alcohol
Components: Fermented Grain, Water, Various Spices
Appearance: Transparency – various from nearly opaque to cloudy, Color – various from brackish brown to muddy
Ingestion: Taken in large quantities by drink
I have observed the effects of Ale on four individuals of three different races – elf, dwarf, half-elf, and human. Thus these are preliminary notes.Although I had certainly heard of Ale, had passed by many an Ale house, and have heard the professors mention the drink, I have until now been completely ignorant of its use and impact. I frankly have treated it like any other substance those around me consume but which I have not – it is quite dear and seemed something ordinary (I mean those not at the university) people ingested. After my recent experiences in the world however, I have become fascinated by this substance and it’s proto-potion type of effect. I am unsure as of yet how I will quantify my observations, but will keep notes as precisely as possible.
There seems to be a continuum of resistance to the substance. Some can ingest huge amounts two liters or more and others (myself)feel the transformative – somewhat poisonous impact after a few sips.
In general taken in large quantities the target of the Ale exhibits the following:
*as observed in an elf, half-elf, and drawf
unexplained laughter – general silliness
a strong sense of infallibility or invincibility – increased courage
In small quantities (human, myself)
loss of balance
UNTIL the poisonous effects begin
Those having taken large amounts are sickened with extreme intestinal distress leading to copious vomiting.
Sensitivity to light
Swollen soft tissue around the eyes
Though I know you can never read this, my recent experiences compel me to record my thoughts here as I journey to your estate hearing.
I realize now that I have remained blind and ignorant to the forces that act upon the world both good and malevolent. And, these I surmise, are the forces that you faithfully alluded to in our many conversations. And, Professor, I did not listen.
I wish I had.
This week’s end, en route by carriage, myself and four others, were accosted by a “gentleman” and two disciples (or slaves if looked at otherwise) murderously intent on doing harm to even the most innocent of creatures. I was not prepared, professor. My intellectual training, my search for understanding in no way prepared me to do battle with such a creature.
I did harm Professor by not understanding how my skills play out in the real world. The bombs I worked years to perfect are far from such. They are approximate, crude, and wholly inadequate in answering a threat.
My fellow passengers tried valiantly to prevent this devil from harming his prisoner – a young woman taken for unknown but obviously wicked purposes. These hearty travelers were, perhaps with the exception of a medium of apparently some renown, much more adept at attacking evil.
Thanks to their efforts I, a quiet witch in our company, the medium, and the “gentleman’s” victim were saved from harm. And this was at no little cost to what I could only describe as our two heroic avengers. Both were gravely wounded in the melee yet gleefully – something else I do not understand – stepped into the fray meeting out death blows to the disciples.
Sadly, though, the “gentleman” escaped. I am afraid, Professor of what this creature can do. I am afraid of what it will do. I am afraid of what I do not know. And, so I now have a new area of study and it is not theoretical. I must learn what I can do.
I will forever miss your guidance.