This one is kind of long; the list of the stuff we found is at the end, along with the explanations.
Day Four: Harrowstone (Continued)
[Here did the Hand of the Gods resume time, whereupon our party was at the Professor’s home.] Having rested overnight, we left Celique to guard over Kendra while the rest of us went into town. Our goal was to find a pub where local gossip, aided perhaps by liquid courage, might yield more clues to help us in our quest. As we neared the town square, however, we began to hear distant music and the screams of children, who were to be seen running in fear. When three of the children fell rather unnaturally to the ground, I immediately found a place from which I could shoot at whatever our opponents might prove to be. My companions rushed forward into the midst of the children to aid the closest that had fallen. It seemed stirges had shown themselves unseasonably and were attacking the children. I managed to take one out with quite an impressive long-distance shot, if I may say so myself. Kor plucked one from the back of another child without getting stung, and Alexi killed it without so much as a scratch to Kor’s hand. Meanwhile, Vlad rushed to aid the child furthest from us and slashed at the last stirge. It was still attached to the child, of course, so striking it was difficult without also striking the child. I moved sideways from my spot by the building to gain better aim and dispatched it from a distance. Stirges are best dealt with from afar.
Once the stirges were dispatched, the music faded away and we began questioning the townsfolk. Most had not heard the music, and neither children nor adults could identify what began the music or the attacks, nor could any recall what they were doing when the attacks began. With such fruitless questioning, it seemed wise to simply continue to the pub. Once there, we did a bit more questioning, but to no avail. Vlad and I took one more look about the town square, but again, to no avail, so we returned to the pub. Emboldened by drink, our party at least managed to give the barkeep more ideas for his haunt-themed pub fare. I am as certain that the Professor would have approved as I am that my own Queen would not. She, however, was not at the pub.
Having ingratiated ourselves somewhat to the pub owner, we spotted some men playing cards. It seems Vlad is a bit of a gambler, and what better way to hear gossip than to sit at cards? His attempt to join them was thwarted, however, by a sudden burst of flame from one of the cards on the table that reached all the way to the ceiling. Vlad was blinded and driven nearly mad by the burst, so much so that he resisted my attempt to take him by the arm and lead him from the burning pub, convinced I was some demon dragging him to the darker planes. In an attempt to bring him to his senses and not leave him there to burn, I slapped his face. As gratifying as it was after his comments about the roughness of my hands, it did not calm him. Merrick cast some sort of enchantment on him that calmed him, after which I was able to lead him out while the others tried to get the villagers out of the building. Strangely, after a few moments, the fire and all signs of it disappeared. Even the ceiling, table, and cards were uncharred. Some of us recalled hearing screaming from below the floor, but the pub had no basement, no below-ground tunnels, no place for anyone to have been screaming down below. After some discussion about loading up Merrick’s new ass with a balanced load of beer, we returned to the Professor’s house to await darkness and ensure no one from the town saw us return to Harrowstone.
Upon our return to the prison, our first effort was to have another try at the great locked door near the front entrance. With some help from Vlad, I was able to open it, thought it took some doing. Within that chamber, we found a number of valuable items, to be listed below. Further in, I found a smaller, secret chamber. Within the smaller chamber we found more items, mostly weapons, which I suspected might be cursed. Those items will also be detailed below, along with the details we learned later.
Moving on from the secret chamber, we moved past the chambers we searched earlier and again found the large privy, which Vlad insisted on checking for signs of magic. None were found, for which I was grateful. Given the other ghastly inhabitants of the place, I should have hated to encounter some vile creature made of the contents of the privy.
Next, we entered a chamber filled with benches, rusted chains, and rotted rope; clearly a holding cell for the wayward. The wayward were not to be found this day, however; instead, a pair of empty manacles began moving on their own. We discerned it to be another haunt, which was handled very efficiently by Lexi. The next room had a bed, a bench, and several flying branding irons which propelled themselves into the walls with only minor injuries to our party. Neither of those chambers contained any items of value, and certainly nothing worth the small battles against the haunts. Disappointing, but one must carry on. After all, it is likely that the items we found in the room near the front entrance comprise the majority of any valuables in the prison other than the coins from the safe.
The next room we found was the laundry room, wherein we found a skeleton which grew a ghostly figure around it and began to stand. Rather than attacking us, however, she spoke. It was the spectre of Vesoriana, the late warden’s wife. It seems her husband’s spirit was keeping the haunts of the prison at bay, but very recently a group of robed figures (presumably the Whispering Way) performed a ceremony, after which she could no longer feel his presence, and the activity of the other spirits increased. Notably, she watched them kill a man and then put bits of a stone gargoyle upon him to cover up the murder. That at least explains the true manner of the Professor’s death, as well as providing some relief that at least we should not encounter any living gargoyles.
As to her reason for being in the prison, it seems the lady had heard of the uprising in the prison and went to see her husband. The guards, however, locked her in the room in which we found her skeleton. Presumably they locked her in the room for safety, where she died of fumes instead. Human logic is ever rife with irony. In any case, she bade us retrieve her husband’s badge of office and return it to her. With the symbol of authority in her care, she believes she can keep the remaining spirits in check.
After our conversation with Vesoriana, resumed our search of the building. Having completed searching the first floor, we headed up the stairs. We entered a balcony sort of room mostly closed off by bars, where we were attacked by a straitjacket. It fell to the floor after we cut it, but we had to admire the quality and strength of the fabric briefly before continuing down a hall of cells. As we walked, an odd music began playing. [There, the Hand of the Gods did pause our adventure.]
Items found in large locked room:
• Masterwork thieves’ tools; given to Vlad
• Bronze war medallion from the Shining Crusades, est. 40GP (I believe Merrick has this)
• Wand of Lesser Restoration, 12 charges (Merrick)
• Unframed Caldan painting of Stabian (sp?) the First, est. 100GP
• Masterwork punching dagger (me)
• Pouch containing 12 masterwork shuriken
• Masterwork Silver War Razor
Items found in secret room, along with explanations from Vesoriana:
• Magic hand axe, belonging to Vance “The Lopper” Saetressle; known to stalk his prey for days then behead them with his axe.
• A collection of holy symbols wadded together, belonging to Sethyk “Father Charlatan” Corvan; not a murderer, but considered so blasphemous as to land him in Harrowstone. A con artist who claimed to have been ordained a priest of many faiths, which he used to control others. Apparently there was a mishap leading to several deaths.
• A masterwork smithy’s hammer, belonging to Ispin (sp?) “Mosswood Marauder” Onyxcudgel; apparently a doting husband and father who killed his wife after finding her unfaithful, then went on to slaughter another 20 people.
• A masterwork silver flute, est 30GP, belonging to the Piper of Ill Marsh (name uknown); taunted his targets with mournful tunes and consorted with stirges.
• A thick leather spellbook, very molded, belonging to Hean “The Splatterman” Feramin; a scholar and professor of anthropology who was obsessed with the power of names and wrote his victims’ names in blood to slay them.
It is worth noting that Vesoriana believes using the objects in the presence of their original owners might weaken them.