Tidefall

The Trial of Grindol Farmoor

In the wee hours of the still-dark morning, Baat and Khamul are awoken by strange sounds from the room next door — Taelyn, Tasi, and Kemina’s room. Khamul has neither the energy nor the patience to investigate what eventually becomes recognizable as sobbing, but Baat has plenty of both. Baat goes to see what’s wrong, and finds Taelyn just absolutely heartsick in her sleep. He tries, gently, to wake her, to no avail… and so does the only thing he can think of: Retrieves a healing mushroom from his pack and places it on Taelyn’s head. Satisfied, he leaves.

When morning truly dawns, Taelyn is weary and troubled from her unrestful night, but the party gathers with the quickly warming rays of sun and go to the trial. Kemina is noticeably, and mysteriously, absent, but the party continues on; assuming she’ll return in time for the trial.

The trial unfolds to some interest of our intrepid party of foreigners, and some nerves. A dozen villagers volunteer to testify, most seemingly against Grindol – though Baat manages to intimidate away one of the number. Grindol’s social awkwardness is brought under fire, as is his status as an outsider from the community of Nettleton. Lise in particular stands up for Grindol, putting blame on whatever evil there is in Nightwall Cottage – reminding the village of her husband, Dale, and his uncharacteristic action and subsequent trial a few years before. She points out that the party are Kings Own Knights who investigated and found reason to believe there WAS evil in the house at work. Jalessa (the butcher) also briefly testifies that Grindol “did not act like a guilty man”. However, counter testimonies besmirch the trustworthiness and intentions of the party – revealing to the village that they are NOT, in fact, Knights of the Kings Own, but are only trainees and just let everyone believe they were fully fledged Knights.

The party, though, have their own pieces to say. Taelyn goes first and explains how Grindol was not like himself the night of the attempted murder, and also laid the rational groundwork of what they found in the caverns. Tasi not only cut off one of the nay-saying testifiers with a logical smackdown, but he also explained the intricacies of the notes and experiments that had been found and the not-very-strenuous logical leaps to conclude the nothic/Randall was forcing people against their will to his ends. Khamul describes the deep unholiness and wrongness of the caverns, vouching from his position as a paladin of Tanfana. Then Baat rounded out the group with a heartfelt plea that just because Grindol was different in behavior than other villagers, and just because they (the party) were outsiders from the village, that their hearts were still pure and they should be considered for their intent.

In the end, Imdarr and the magistrate brought out the recovered skull of the nothic – Randall Nightwall – and questioned him. This final testimony sealed what the party had already quite handily laid out, and the magistrate publicly proclaimed Grindol Farmoor an innocent man.

Once this was finished, the party returned to the tavern to seek Kemina, who had not shown up at the trial as they’d assumed. With some help from Sable, missing all morning until then, Taelyn was led to the woods outside town where she found Kemina’s deeply meditating form. Concerned for her companion — for Kemina’s body was as if it had been sitting there for decades, with roots and moss and lichen and other plants growing up over and onto her — Taelyn tried to wake her. But her first attempts were to no avail, until she removed one of her elemental dice and severed a root growing on the die. Kemina awoke, none the worse for wear or awareness, it seemed, and Taelyn caught Kemina up on the morning. Kemina, given a moment, seemed to remember what she had just experienced and the two rushed back to the tavern and inn. Kemina sent off a letter to her Druid circle while the others planned logistics.

Baat flew off to seek out Gundren, and the under-the-weather Khamul took a nap while Tasi, Kemina, and Taelyn went out to restock crossbow bolts and buy horses and a cart. Successful despite some unwelcoming shopkeepers, the party (minus Baat) reconvened at the tavern.

Baat, on his own, arrived at a large estate at the end of the day, having not found Gundren during his hours of flight. The butler of “the lord’s manor” turned the aarakocra away… but while Baat was setting up his own treetop camp, he spied something strange a ways off… and discovered a badge of authority from the King’s Own Knights pressed into the mud, amidst the wreckage of a recently-former campsite.

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Gathering Wits and Also Hats

[in progress]

session 6: getting intel and going shopping

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Scattering Shadows

[in progress]

session 5: they fought a nothic and won

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Ruffled Feathers

Our adventurers spend the night split between the comfier rooms they have at the inn (paid for in advance by the King's Own as they wait for Gundren to arrive) and the back room of the butcher's. During Kemina's watch, a small group of townspeople advance on the lockup. Kemina wakes Khamul and the two confront the angry citizens. An argument ensues, but Kemina's sensibility and Khamul's intimidating presence soon sends the would-be lynch mob packing — but not before Kemina overhears them making plans to "just try again tomorrow night."

Back at the inn, Taelyn and Baat learn from Sylvia that Gundren had arrived at Nettleton earlier in the day. However, he had decided for some reason not to enter the village, and instead sent a messenger to let the party know to meet him on the road as he continued ahead. Baat was of a mind to fly off then and there to catch up with Gundren, but some caution from Taelyn and subtle collaboration from Sylvia convinced him to stay the night. Still concerned about this unexpected change of events, though, the party went into the village and hired a willing man to act as their messenger to Gundren; carrying the message that they would not be leaving immediately, due to responsibilities and circumstances that had come up as they'd waited in town for him, but would be delayed two days.

Morning dawns, and the party decides to return to the cottage and continue their investigation from the day before. Kemina, Khamul, and Tasi go ahead to the cottage while Baat takes a detour to the temple, and Taelyn stops by the general store. Baat is distraught by the state of Eli, and offers a prayer to Ortessa and Tanfana for help. Taelyn stocks up on light sources, drops off her pet Sable to help watch Grindol while they're out, Baat sells a surprising quantity of feathers, and the two then rejoin their waiting party members.

Reluctant but determined, the adventurers descend again beneath Nightwall Cottage. They quickly notice, however, that things are not the way they left them the night before… Items are missing, or tidied up. They continue cautiously, their friend Tasi growing more and more agitated and disconcerting the further they go, and along the way, Kemina discovers the seeming purpose and power of the elemental dice she's been carrying. 

The group comes across an obviously cultivated part of the cavern where the stone floor is covered with tiles, and braziers (which illuminate as the party approaches) sit in the walls before a large wooden door. Taelyn touches the door as she seeks traps, and the door opens automagically. They enter a simple room adorned with a bed, desk, and worktable. The shelves on the walls bear horrifying items of study, and the worktable is covered in tubes, vials, burners, dishes, mortar and pestle, etc. bearing chemicals and pieces of flesh for terrible tests. Tasi investigates the writings and books on the desk, and determines that whoever has been studying them is utterly mad.

The group crosses the room and sneaks a peek through an opposite, smaller door. The room opens to another large cavern, filled with even more worktables and a pile of gathered filth (some of it recognizable as having previously been scattered throughout the caves) in one corner. As they enter, they are surprised by a group of four skeletons standing and staring at them from beneath a tall stone statue of Bane. The skeletons do not attack, or even move as the rest of the party enters. Kemina casts detect magic to investigate the room, but can't find the tiny "shooting star" effect she had seen before. Unnerved, the group skirts around to an exit in the cavern that continues another direction. 

The tunnel in the cavern ends abruptly as the group discovers they've almost come full circle, standing over the sloshing, wave-like effects as the river they'd seen before comes to an end. Kemina's spell alerts her to the feeling of something related to abjuration nearby in the cavern, and the group decides to continue exploring forward. They climb down and walk around the edge of the river, and wind up back at the bankside where Khamul had first seen the cleric's body. They continue down the tunnel they'd never explored before, finding evidence of some long ago fight, and at the end, they discover an abandoned greathammer. Kemina realizes this is the magic she'd been sensing, and Tasi identifies it as a magic weapon. Baat goes to grab it, but snatches his hand back at the feeling of stone-cold metal. Khamul takes the greathammer, not minding the cold. 

The shaken, uncomfortable group takes a short rest beside the river bank, and Khamul gets familiar with the new magic weapon.

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Growers and Breakers

Our adventurers take a moment to catch their breath after the sudden and faintly disturbing clash with long-dead, severed hands which had leaped of their own volition out of an old, open crate. With the dark question of the cavern, and the uncertain fate of both Eli and Grindol on the surface, hanging over them, they decide to delve deeper into the caverns.

Taelyn scouts ahead; discovering an even larger chamber with a river of running water and a fork with two directions. The party takes the smaller, left fork — and soon find themselves approaching a faint, welcome light in the darkness. They come upon a surprising, even wondrous, arm of the cavern that is brimming with bioluminescent fungal growth. The end of the cavern has a stagnant pool of water and an old, stone statue peppered with fungus. As they linger in the space, Khamul notices a figure poised between the large mushroom growths, watching them. A tense moment that nearly gives way to conflict instead breaks into a curious, cautious conversation. The party has a – literally – meeting of the minds with a couple of what look like strange, humanoid mushrooms, and make unexpected and welcome allies.

The underground dwellers have some knowledge to share with the party. Namely that the caverns are very old, and have seen many visitors. All only in passing, from the perspective of these fungal humanoids, except one… An angry-faced, dark-haired human man they must have seen a lot of. They warn the party of a great wrongness deeper in the cavern, somehow related to the dark-haired, angry man, and give them a glimpse of the original statue in this cave before its fungal graffiti and wear-and-tear. From this, the group identifies it as an icon of the god, Sire; the epitome of evil — the god of madness, cruelty, and chaos. Some even realize it as the iteration of Sire known as Bane; the side of the god which glories in dominion over others, and particularly necromancy.

When the adventurers do part from their new allies, they are too soon again beset by the dark dangers of the cavern. They take down a flock of hunting stirges, and retreat again to the fungal cavern to lick their wounds. After this, a shaken Baat stays behind with his new mushroom friends, not ready yet to face the deep, enclosed dark too much like the mines he had so eagerly left behind.

The rest venture onward. Though Khamul spots another natural arm of the cavern across the river, the sight of a long dead body in holy vestments does not sit well with him and they continue on. Once more, a stealthy Taelyn takes point and scouts the cavern ahead, and unknowingly the party is separated further. Taelyn discovers a terrible torture chamber, and sadly identifies one of the hanging, mangled bodies as an elderly halfling man, wearing a locket etched with "For My Dear Dale, Love Lise". Tasi investigates a larger cavern room, full of tables, tools, and dozens of cages, and nearly walks right into the mouths of a waiting abomination. Kemina, Khamul, and Tasi do battle with the creature - a gibbering mouther – and Taelyn rejoins them to give aid. They fell the horror but by now are much more the worse for wear.

Recovering their aarakocra friend from the fungal cavern, the whole-again party returns to the surface and make their way back to the town as evening becomes night. They remembered their duty from constable Aleena just in time, it seems, as they take up the night watch of the lockup from the butcher once more — but this time with rather more to think about.

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Into the Dark

Night passes uneventfully, and dawn brings a final visit from constable Aleena as she warns the party about unrest in the village, and that many citizens had to be talked down from immediately hanging Grindol the night before. She takes her leave, assuring her return in three days' time, and the group passes watch on to the butcher and fetch their breakfast at the nearby baker's.

Their breakfast is interrupted by a hurried, harried Imdarr (the local cleric), who is distressed to have missed Aleena before she left. It seems Eli is not doing well; something preventing him from fully benefiting from magical or mundane healing, and he is not recovering as he should. Tasi and Kemina follow Imdarr back to the temple to see what they can learn, while Khamul and Baat question the baker about Grindol's history in the town. Khamul, Baat, and Taelyn then decide to take a detour and question the carpenter, himself, at the lockup. Together, the trio learns that Grindol recently moved into an abandoned cottage outside of the town center: a so-called Nightwall Cottage, named after the man who built it. Grindol intended to repair and renovate Nightwall Cottage, but it has been slow going since he became plagued with nightmares and unrest. He is distraught and horrified at his crime the night before, but does not deny that he did it.

Meanwhile, Kemina and Tasi find Eli rather worse for wear in his cot at the temple. Upon inspection, his body is not recuperating normally, and in fact he seems to be suffering in his unconscious state. Kemina casts a spell to look for magic in the area, and discovers that the knife wound from the night before, though healed, is difficult to look at in this gaze… and that there is some strange, external magical effect targeting and piercing Eli's mind.

When the party regroups, they decide to investigate this Nightwall Cottage – especially after discovering it is south of town (the same direction Eli's strange, mind-piercing effect was coming from). The place is dingy when they arrive, though signs of Grindol's efforts are obvious. They discover a trap door to a carved out basement which, upon their descent, reeks of decay. The only landmark of this room is a storage chest – which rattles and jerks of its own accord when Taelyn begins to approach. Khamul uses divine magic to diagnose the surroundings, and immediately warns the party to leave after he detects undeath within the chest, and the earth beneath corrupt and desecrated.

Ignoring a secret door discovered by Taelyn, the party retreats to the front yard of the cottage and discuss their next move. As they do, a one Lise Blackthorn approaches from the direction of town. The elderly halfling woman explains that she had been seeking the party since she heard what happened the night before with Grindol, and how they'd been put temporarily in charge of the situation. Wanting to give them something to consider with their investigation, she tells the story of how she and her husband, Dale, had moved into Nightwall Cottage themselves… briefly… three years ago. They, like Grindol, had begun to experience nightmares and unrest while there. And, like Grindol, Dale had attempted a horrible crime… except he succeeded. Dale had been tried, and set to be hanged, a year ago, but he had fled before his hanging and Lise had not seen him since. She swears that Dale had been a kind, gentle man before his sudden, horrible crime. All she knows, she says, is that the house is what's wrong. Very wrong.

Much to Tasi's disconcertion, the party returns to the house, into the basement, and lower still. The secret door Taelyn had found opens to a deep, dark, and dripping cavern. The descent itself proves treacherous, as Kemina and Khamul slip on the slick, aged iron bolted into the rock wall, and fall to the ground. There is a brief panic as the conscious party members struggle to tend and wake their broken compatriots — which they are, thanks to a healing draught from Tasi and some deft herbal aidwork from a recovered Kemina.

A brief rest is called for the two to recuperate fully, during which Taelyn and Baat explore further into the caverns. They don't get very far before they are nearly ambushed by severed, but somehow very animate, rotting hands. The party rallies together and quickly handle the problem, but not without ending up more frazzled than they began… and beginning to realize where they must have wandered.

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Blood under the Sun

Five individuals of widely varying origin gather outside the small northern city of Rector, answering a wide recruitment call to join the local chapter of mercenaries under the King's Own Knights. They meet Captain Westwind, a Knight, and a dozen other hopefuls. The captain takes a day to test their mettle, and weeds out the less than capable; leaving Baat, Khamul, Kemina, Taelyn, and Tasi remaining. He names them a team, and begins to train them up. After a couple weeks of this, Captain Westwind gives them their first, trial assignment before answering a summons of his own. Turns out, the captain has an old friend, Gundren Rockseeker, in need of a simple escort retinue to bring some cargo through the nearby woods. They are to await the dwarf in the town of Nettleton.

Our story begins there – with the five new "rat catchers", so called, spending another day of manual work, killing time, and waiting for the bearer of their first assignment to show up. But their still-slightly-awkward-and-unsure-of-each-other evening takes a turn for the strange with the arrival of a few unfamiliar faces to the Daystar Tavern, a messenger from a neighboring lord, and a familiar local acting a little odd. But with the tear of a scream suddenly silenced, strange becomes horrific.

Grindol, the local carpenter, has just mortally stabbed a man as the party turns to get their bearings of the scene. Stunned for only a moment, Grindol attempts to sprint from the tavern. Sylvia Starsung, the owner, cries out – "Somebody stop him!" – and together, Kamul, Kemina, and Baat succeed in doing so. While Tasi and Kamul tend to the fallen man – a one Eli Brighten -Taelyn urges Sylvia to send a couple of her bartenders to fetch the local constable.

While the party attempts to confront Grindol and investigate the weapon of attack, Grindol is nonresponsive… but Tasi does have an unexpected "vision", it seems, of the dagger's recent history as he settles into his usual, mundane system of investigation and identification. It seems Grindol did, undoubtably, carry the blade into the tavern and, by his own hand, drive it fatally into Eli. Though the blade was not Grindol's own, but rather one he recently found.

The constable, Aleena Ironsky, arrives (Indarr, the town priest, in tow) and takes command of the situation; formally (albeit temporarily) deputizing the party so that they may legally aid her in resolving the crime. Indarr takes responsibility of the fortunately stabilized Eli, and the party follows Aleena, leading Grindol, from the tavern to "the lockup."

Which, it turns out, is merely a narrow shed behind the butcher's shop, locked with heavy chains and a padlock. After securing Grindol within, Aleena informs the party that a crime of this magnitude will require her to leave town and fetch a magistrate from the city to officiate a formal trial. Calling on them as minor representatives of the King's Own Knights, she asks for their aid in keeping watch on the prisoner until her return. The party agrees, and Aleena sets off to make arrangements for her journey.

Night is well and truly fallen as the party divvies out their watch assignments, and Taelyn takes up her position of first watch as the others settle in for some rest until the morrow…

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