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  #196  
Old 12-14-2017, 03:25 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

"A wraith," Runahildr remarked matter of factly as she guided her horse along with her knees. "Everything from the description of the events that came to pass here speaks of such a specter."

The paladin kept her one eye on the road ahead, seemingly focused on their goal in the distance as they continued on in silence, and only when she dismounted Rook outside of Herstag and pulled her glaive free of its saddle-holster did she continue her briefing.

"A boy went missing, only to return the next night as a ghost. He then lured his former friends out, and they returned the next night as ghosts themselves. At least five children perished this way, and the only discrepancy is when the Dipplemere Horror turned up in town one day with a dead girl in his arms. She, it is my understanding, did not return in any form afterward."

The paladin of the Order of the Lazuline Blade rolled her shoulders and took a few paces back and forth to settle her body after spending time in a saddle, then she spoke a command word - the dwarven word for 'sky' - and small hoops of lightning began dancing up and down the blade.

"I believe this particular wraith to be somehow tied to this village or its surroundings. And if so, its spawn - the ghost's of the children - will most likely be as well."

Placing the butt of the crackling glaive on the ground, Runa took hold of her horse's reins and looped them around a nearby fencepost. Then she hefted the weapon once more.

"Wraiths are nocturnal. They shy away from daylight. If they hide here, they hide in shadows somewhere. Keep that in mind before you go investigating too many houses."

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  #197  
Old 12-18-2017, 02:45 AM
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Allen HouseThe overgrown village beckons, and the group is ready for the task.

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They begin with ground rules: careful around houses, don't go rushing towards any ghostly children, and attempt to establish the nature of the killing spirit here. A wraith seems most likely, that Runa is deadset upon. She's not wrong, from what Fido knows of them. A wraith is an ethereal spirit of death, a wraith is the spirit of a vile being that, upon death, comes back as a spirit that loses much of its humanity. This is often reflected with its altered appearance, which can appear humanoid, or can appear more abstract. Fido has had no experience with them, but he has had experience with this group. They know things, things that seem to help them in their investigation. They interviewed the Beast, it seems, but how sure are they that this is the Beast's only crime?

Wraiths hate sunlight. Any light, really, but sunlight especially. The crimes most likely took place at night, and the new ghostlings, the dead children that came back, their bodies never found. Except the poor girl Sully brought back, though the status of her spirit is unknown. But Runahildr speaks a misstep that both Fido and Pike pick up: there were six dead children, not five. After Ellsa, it seems as though the town was abandoned.

There are signs, of course. The four, wandering past the first few houses, note nothing unusual, nor any sign of life from the house. Further ahead is the first bridge, of two that cross a stream that, unlike Morast, is lively and flowing here, melt from elsewhere in Vieland beginning to get things moving. If they follow the road and get into the more marshy parts of town, there is another bridge. From where they stand, they can see the first house past that bridge, on the other side of the water, with small trinkets on the front porch. Signs of memorialization, most likely.

From where they stand, the same can be said of the first house across the first bridge, too, where the road leads directly before branching out, inviting them to take separate routes. The scarecrow watches from above, though it does not move.

Pike makes a mental note of the houses, from information he recalls from a map Jamir had found of the village and had begun marking up based off of a news article in some local press. Six houses in total, each given the name of the dead child. The closest one is the Allen House; the one near the northernmost bridge is Gaard. Beyond, there's Rachel House, Ellsa House near the water and southernmost, and furthest away are Karin and Maarten; Maarten's family, the newest to the religious community, lived in the swampy land, making the house there somewhat more precarious.

The sky above threatens to betray them with darkness, as clouds, darker clouds, move in. If they want to maximize their time before the wraith is free to seek them out, they had best act.

Allen House, the nearest, is a two-story home with dusted windows, and on the porch, beside candles long since blown out, is a small plush owlbear, its neck opened as if wounded.
Deep PursesThe two guards listen to Mara, one of them growing sheepish at the idiocy of their move. The other one, the one that did not speak, seems more adamant; it does not take much for her to note that there are two coin purses on his belt. And how did that happen, exactly? "S-sorry ma'am, we just—"

The other guard speaks up. "That's all good, ma'am, but we've got new orders. Strange folk abroad; surely you've noticed the likes the trial has attracted. Streets are overblown with oddities. We're to check the carts and saddlebags of everyone who comes through the gate." The other guard almost looks at Mara, but avoids her eyes, instead moving from looking at his feet to looking at his fellow, who offers him a stern glance. The meek guard looks back to his feet.

The other guard steps forward. "Prepare yourself to be searched; or are we going to have a problem?"
 
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  #198  
Old 12-22-2017, 11:16 AM
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Hrani directs the carriage back to Lepidstadt, more than glad to be parting ways with the other portion of their group. Not only does that rid him of the dubious new elements in their party, it also leaves him alone with only Mara, surprisingly the only person here he seems to come close to trusting. And so the pair of them talks. The woman opens up, more so than the magus has ever heard her do in the past...and Hrani is surprisingly understanding. He tells her about his home, among the sloping mountains, covered in snow and in ice. It certainly isn't the same as being underwater, but motion is more three dimensional there as well than it is here, among the humans. You cannot simply go north, east, south or west where the elf is from, without considering altitudes. And many a battle he was in actually happened on slopes. Hrani even goes so far as to explain this is why he holds his sword in one hand and keeps the other empty. He has just always needed a free hand to maintain balance. Putting a shield or a second weapon in it, like many of the 'flat-landers' are prone to do just doesn't feel right.

The magus doesn't dwell on combat or battle long, however, knowing these are likely things Mara doesn't wish to talk about. So instead he listens some more about her home, and her people, and talks about his in return. They are xenophobic to a certain degree, it is true, though perhaps not quite as much as Mara's people. Mostly, they simply have little interaction with outsiders, because they do not wander into the elven lands in the mountains. When a notable exception does, such as when Petros Lorrimor came to them, the initial reaction is mistrust. But of course, the professor eventually swayed most those that encountered him. Because of course he did. Hrani is sure Mara knows how the man tended to have an inspiring effect on people. It was hard to hate him, even for Hrani's people. If Mara wants, Hrani talks a little about his memories of the man that brought their little group together.

Whether it is because he can empathize with Mara feeling like an outsider in this world, or whether her features seem somehow elven to him, or whether his sword has planted more sinister thoughts into Hrani's mind about the usefulness of someone with Mara's talented tongue, Hrani is unusually open, friendly and trusting during their trip back to the city.

Of course, all his paranoia comes rushing back when they are stopped at the gate. As the elf is accustomed to, he gives Mara and her honeyed words the first crack at things, but these guards seem rather persistent. Something is definitely going on here.

"I'm afraid we might have a problem." Hrani says in response to the guards demanding to search them. "You see, we have rather...pertinent evidence concerning the beast's case." In particular, the magus thinks about the face they are carrying with them. He would rather not have to try and explain that to simple guards, Mara's tongue on his side or not. "We cannot risk that being compromised in any way. I really would prefer if this could go peacefully, but as my associate has already pointed out, you know from seeing us at the courthouse that we are here on official business." Hrani's hand moves slowly, but clearly to Orenmir's hilt, though he doesn't draw the sword yet.
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"So this would not be a case of civilians attacking members of the city watch."


Hrani pauses a moment for dramatic effect, before finishing. "Unless you can come to an arrangement more...beneficial to both our sides with my colleague here." The magus shoots a glance at Mara, before looking back at the men's purses, hoping she has seen them as well. And hoping he hasn't entirely misread this situation. He oh so hates having to try and read humans...
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  #199  
Old 12-23-2017, 06:22 AM
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Signy spent the road to Hergstag mostly in silent concentration. Partly so she could listen to what the others were telling about the deaths of the children, partly to make sure she neither fell of the horse nor let the beast just wander off gods knew where. It was both obvious that she wasn’t a good rider or felt comfortable on the beast’s back. As much as she would have preferred to walk to their destination, she did understand that time was of the essence and so just went with the demands of the moment.

When they finally reached Hergstag Signy’s relief about getting off the horse was almost palpable and despite the unwelcoming atmosphere, she seemed almost eager to get about searching the village. "Which of the houses belongs to the first of the missing children? Maybe we should start with that." She looks around at the various buildings, considering the options. "Or maybe the one over there?" she points towards the house less cut off by weeds. "Something seems to have kept the weeds from growing as much there as they did here. I do not know enough about plants to say if it’s natural or not. In the latter case, that seems like something to look into."
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  #200  
Old 12-23-2017, 08:51 PM
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The elf's pointed glance to Mara and to the guard's coin purses does not go unnoticed. Coupled with the mysterious smile from the cloaked woman who fled at their approach, the singer begins to piece together a theory for the guards' behavior. She looks from one guard to the other, silently measuring the dynamics of the situation. The one guard is clearly embarrassed, already cowed by Mara's initial response. The other guard, the one weighed down by a surfeit of gold—that is the one they must deal with, and that is the one to whom she speaks.

“My colleague speaks truly,” she begins, tossing her hair back with irritation, though her voice remains sweet, perhaps even sweeter than usual. “Though he means no offense to a guard so highly decorated as yourself,” she rests her fingers gently upon Hrani's sword hand, “one who is rewarded with so much gold that he requires two purses to carry it all. So unusual. If you will forgive my saying so, is this station not beneath you? Should you not be Captain of the Guard, at the very least? Would that not be a station more fitting for one who so casually displays such wealth?” The songstress flashes a sweet, sweet smile. “Why, I should speak to the Captain himself about this matter, to correct this injustice. Or perhaps to the court—as you know, we have business there anyway—for this is surely criminal, yes? I wonder if a bribe was involved to deny you your true station?
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Perhaps Judge Aldaar himself should be notified, hmm?”


Her eyes narrow dangerously, and her tone, though still as smooth and pleasant as cool silk on a hot day, acquires a firm, threatening edge. “Or you could simply let us pass without hindrance and enjoy your gold ... and our silence.”
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  #201  
Old 01-02-2018, 08:07 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

"As long as we have nothing but assumptions to go by, I'd suggest we move house by house until we learn something - starting with that one," she nodded in the direction of the Allen House, "as it is closest."

Hefting her crackling glaive, the paladin looked at Signy. "I will enter first if you could move in close behind me. Sweep the place room by room to clear it. And if it is a wraith we are facing, be prepared that attacks might come through what we'd consider solid surfaces. That was the case with Feramin's ghost in Harrowstone and I see no reason why a wraith would move in different patterns." Runa did not know what experience the dwarf had fighting incorporeal creatures, so even though she might sound a bit patronizing in her explanations, she would rather be safe than sorry.

Turning to the rest of the group she remarked.
"Anyone not prepared to face this will - probably - be safer outside. At least as long as the sun still shines."
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  #202  
Old 01-03-2018, 08:41 AM
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Pike hesitates for a mere second before he motions Runa and Signy to take the lead. He remembers how painfully ineffective he was at fighting the ghost of Hean Feramin and unless his walking stick and crossbow has suddenly gained some fantastic ghost slaying abilities of their own he'll be just as ineffective now "Good call Runa, we're looking for a room that belongs to a child, since time is not something we have an awful lot of we can't investigate each house from top to bottom so we have to limit our search to places most likely to yield results." he loads a bolt into his crossbow and lights his lantern "Ready when you are."

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  #203  
Old 01-09-2018, 01:31 AM
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A-Tisket, A-TasketA plan is formulated, with a faint wind from the southwest picking up. Runa will go inside, Signy will follow, and they will check out rumor of hauntings. It was said that each of the children came back, haunted their families; this drove the families from their homes, and eventually, every villager from their homes. The children, wraiths or otherwise, were largely bound by their homes, so better to seek them out there, in the little light of day that is left. The map, indicating the Allen House, is before them. It is a wise choice to proceed to it, and they do.

But not without a catch.

At the last minute, Pike sees it: the trap. Just across the bridge in an overgrown patch of grass right as the wood ends, there is something metallic, weathering the elements of the last seven months. He calls out, and Runahildr avoids it. A wise choice on his part: for it was a bear trap. Looking onward, near the Allen House, there are other such traps. Apparently the citizens of Hergstag thought it better to leave traps around, in order to prevent someone—the Beast, perhaps—from coming back to town. Or thieves, perhaps. But ghosts? A trap such as a bear trap would have no effect on a ghost. So the purpose must be that: to spurn the Beast or robbers.

Heading to the Allen House, Pike and Fido wait while Signy and Runa approach. The door is not opened, but it's not very shut, either; it sits unevenly in the frame. Pushing it open creates a creak that is unfortunate but not surprising. There arises whispers, from several different locations but from the Allen House most closely; the other house, the Ellsa House, is similar in whispers. They are children's voices, but what they are saying is not distinct, coherent. A mixture of Varisian and Taldane, the words are jumbled, but seem to repeat like a hivemind of some sort; as if the children are all thinking the exact same thing, because something else is thinking it, too.

Runahildr has no choice but to proceed.

The house looks abandoned, as if the family up and left at the drop of a hat. Nothing of note has been taken; well, a few things. Smaller items, such as portrait's outlines on the wall, have been removed. Clearly there was time for that. A toy, a child's wooden horse and carriage in miniature, sits on the floor near the stairs. The voice comes from upstairs, and Runa hears it clearly. It is a rhyme, from this one, and now, it is completely in Taldane.

"I lost my supper, last night,
And the night before,
And if I do this night,
I never will no more.
I sent a letter to my love,
I carried water in my glove,
And by the way I dropped it, I did so, I did so:
I had a little dog that said bow-wow!
I had a little cat that said meow-meow!
Shan't bite you, shan't bite you,
Shall bite you.
I dropt it, I dropt it,"

Every word takes her closer and closer, up the stairs, and Signy behind her. Unfortunately for them, going upstairs, most windows are shuttered or the curtains drawn. This being one of the more affluent houses, this should not come as a surprise, but as they go upstairs, the voice draws them closer. Three rooms rest before them, the doors open to each: left, right, and forward. Forward is clearly a master bedroom, a large, four-poster bed with dusty, molding sheets upon it, the sun on the majority of the room, providing light. To the right is another room, a girl's, and the left is a boy's. The windows are drawn to both, and Runahildr, being careful, goes to look inside. While she might expect a ghost, a wraith, some incorporeal form, she instead finds a room, a small bed, a box of toys, and an icy feeling upon her. Signy feels it once she makes the landing, a mere five feet behind.

There is no ghost child here, and the song, which seemed to come from nowhere yet everywhere, does not give any indication as to where the child is.

Outside, Fido and Pike pass the time, listening. Pike hears the other children begin to speak their own tones, their own patterns. Ellsa, the nearest house, seems to whisper something, a secret, loudly, as if she has something to show him, inviting him. "Mr. White," she says, but he can't hear much more beyond that. But that is the tactic, both he and Fido know: the children here whisper, drawing people closer and closer, until they can attack. She is enticing him. But he has something more interesting to look into: a scarecrow, not on the hill, but on the road leading to Ellsa's house. Tattered and rusted, the more he looks the more wrong his initial assumption is. Scarecrow typically are made of something. Straw, wheat, weeds. This has nothing of the sort, save faded, sun-dyed hair that has grown out of a head that is not a fruit or a plant of any kind, he realizes. No, the scarecrow isn't a scarecrow at all: scarecrow, being inanimate and not enchanted, don't typically get their legs caught in bear traps.

This a dead body, wearing rotting rags, and necklaces and rings besides. The traps appear to have served their purpose. A thief lies here, dead.

Inside, Signy and Runa ponder the disappearance of the song and the voice as the cold darkness envelops them. It is as if the sunlight in the parents' room means nothing.

Signy sees him first, the boy. He is pale, rotten away but not naturally, yet maintains his corporeal form. The boy is dark-haired, wearing overalls and a white shirt, flickering, floating upside down, as if walking on the ceiling. She can barely see his eyes, just behind Runa's head: they are black, black as night, black as pitch and coal and all manner of voids, with a white pupil.
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The voice returns, finishing the rhyme:

"And by the way I lost it."

At once, inside and out, each of the children sings, a loud hissing cry, a wail like a banshee must sound.

Somewhere, up on the hillside, Pike hears something far, far worse than the sound of a distorted child's spirit.

The child above them flickers, and prepares to defend its home.
Silence is GoldenThe Elf's speaking seems to draw some interest out of the two guards, but that may just be the novelty of the fact he is, in fact, an Elf. They are hard to come by in these parts, after all, and all in all, there is something to be said for the wisdom and grace of Elves. But that in mind, they know who these two are now, who they are helping, and the guards cannot seem to help but let their biases get the better of them. As if egged on by someone else, they cross their arms as Hrani offers his explanation. The presumed bribe is mentioned. The less open in his distaste for them is officially won over, embarrassed at the obviousness of their unlawfulness; the other, however, is not yet swayed away from his payment. "Now hold on just a minute, what are you trying to—"

Mara's silver tongue steps in, and it becomes less a beauteous thing and more a sharp one. Whatever indignation the guard was trying to suggest was being brought up by the implication of the bribe, for the investigators to come into town with their materials, Mara brings up procedure and more importantly, one of the judges. The one they know to fear more than the others. Instantly they go blank faced, and the protests die out. "Hmmm. You make a definitive argument. That's why you're a damned lawyer, I suppose." He places a hand on his belt, as if to cover up the extra purse of coin. However much was in there is not enough to persuade away from fear of, well, torture by bureaucracy.

They had better be on their way, but where to? The day is not yet over, but she is not young either.
 
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  #204  
Old 01-09-2018, 05:09 AM
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"They're awake." the dwarf states, his eyes meeting Fido's, showing signs of unease. He reaches for a vial in his belt, uncorks it with his teeth and pours it down his throat. Cast: Shield (+4 Ac even against incorporeal touch)A slight shimmer appears around his left arm, an arcane shield that should -if Danrose's studies on relative force theories are to be believed- protect him even from the incorporeal.

Next he fishes out a cigar which he lights with the torch in his hands before he offers one to Fido "See that?" he says, nodding towards the body "Thought it was a scarecrow at first, but it ain't. Damned bear trap did its work on this one, caught him before the children did." he inhales a healthy amount of smoke "Stuck with your foot in a trap in a village haunted by dead children.... yeah that would top the charts for terrifying ways to die, any day."

He doesn't have it in him to chuckle at his own remark, there is too much going around him and his keen senses are picking everything up. For his part he's glad to be outside in the remaining sunlight, safe from the whispering dead inside and whatever has awakened up in the hillside.

He hears the commotion from inside, the twisted rhyme and the hissing wail around them. Dropping the torch to the ground at his feet he grips the crossbow with both hands, a cloud of sweet smelling smoke around his head "Runa, Signy....report?"


 
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  #205  
Old 01-10-2018, 03:32 PM
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Hrani does his best to complete his intended setup, figuring it will let Mara step in, offer the bribe which will sound much preferable to the trouble he himself is hinting at, and they will all be on their way. And then Mara goes and screws his plan up by not offering a bribe. Of course, given his inability of reading social situations in general, and among non-elves in particular, the magus assumes he must have misread things here and his plan would not have worked. So it is a good thing Mara is there to 'screw it up' and come up with a better one.

And so she does, and once more the songstress' incredible tongue gets them out of something that words should not be able to get you out of. The pair heads into the city, and once they are out of earshot of the two guards, Hrani gives Mara a smile and a bow, as well as three claps of applause. "Wonderfully done, as always! I'm hope my actions did not make things unnecessarily harder for you, I was trying to help but it appears I misread the situation and predicted an incorrect response..." In the back of Hrani's mind, Orenmir once again marvels at the possibilities possessing such a silver tongue would open up...

"So, where to? Shall we deliver our evidence to the courtroom? Give it to our boss as soon as possible, so he has the maximum amount of time to think about it? Or do you suppose he's still busy with today's proceedings anyway and does not have time to think about tomorrow's hearing yet anyway...?" They could of course meet up with Carlo and Andrzej as well. The Varisians were supposed to be doing research after all. Somehow, Hrani isn't all too sure how much they're actually like to have gotten done in the rest of the group's absence...
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Old 01-11-2018, 12:59 AM
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“Harder?” Mara arches a puzzled eyebrow at Hrani's protestations of ineffectiveness. “On the contrary, if you had not indicated the guard's extra purse to me I would have never realized that they were acting as a result of a bribe.” It appears that the elf is not the only one capable of misunderstandings. “It was you who discovered their weakness; my part in this whole affair was quite minor.” The soprano returns the elf's smile with one of her own. Though she is clearly pleased and very flattered by Hrani's praise, her humility is not feigned, unlike when she downplays her talent as a songstress.

“We should deliver the evidence to Jamir and Barrister Kaple at once,” she responds to the elf's question, “before some other guard or official interferes.” Mara purses her lips as her face assumes a thoughtful, concerned expression. “Speaking of which, the question remains as to who is behind the bribe. I would not have thought that the prosecution would be so insecure in their case. Who do you think is responsible?”
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Old 01-14-2018, 02:24 PM
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Hrani nods, happy to see Mara declare they should deliver the evidence before anything else. He'll be more comfortable once they have handed that over.

"You're right. It seems someone has already attempted to stop us once, there is no guaranteeing they won't try again. As for who placed the bribe...there are several possibilities. But I agree, the prosecution seems so confident in their case I can't imagine them doing this. On the other hand, I'm still not sure who Fido and Signy are working for, but given their attitudes it sounds more like it would be one of the prosecutors or one of the judges in favor of blaming it all on the B-...on Sully." Hrani says, catching himself at the last moment. He still isn't convinced by this whole naming the Beast business, but from the impression he has gotten it is important to Mara, so he will try to go along with it, even if in his head the creature will probably remain 'the Beast' forever.

Another thought occurs to him. "It's possible that Barrister Kaple might know something about...well everything. It feels like something has been going on here in Lepidstadt while we were gone. Perhaps those that were here the entire time caught some news..."

With that, Hrani begins walking towards the courthouse. He didn't fail to hear Mara deflecting his compliment back to him. He still isn't convinced it wasn't all her working, but he doesn't argue the point. Perhaps the two of them really are working well together...
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:12 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

The knowledge that Runa had guessed right based on descriptions alone did not help mitigate the harsh reality of seeing the malicious ghost of what was once an innocent child capering about on the ceiling of the room she and Signy was in.

Instinct almost caused her to offer words of kindness to the wraith - to adopt a stance of affection and warmth and seek to help it to a better place through words and prayer alone - but her training kicked in an stopped her. This was no child. Nothing remained of the young life that had so cruelly been snubbed out other than the recollections of its previous life it had used to spread its pain and malice upon others. It had stopped being the child and instead turned into a cancerous growth that had infested this little community, working to destroy it from within. Not even the memory of who the child had once been had been left unsullied. The paladin felt a white-hot ball of fury blaze into life at the core of her being at the thought that this child's parents would not be able to think of think of their son - remember him with fondness - for even that had been perverted by this thing the boy had become.

She gripped the haft of her weapon, and faced off against the apparition, as she opened her mouth in prayer.

"Inheritor! Even the demons submit to us in your name!” Runahildr moved forward taking care to allow Signy room to maneuver aroud her and brought the glaive around, crackling blade positioned between herself and the upside down spectre and readied herself. “They tumble like stone from the mountains, like lightning from the skies and come crashing to the ground!"

As she spoke, blue flames started to gather around her, coating the head of Runa's polearm and causing the sparks already dancing along the blade to shimmer even more. The flames continued, running up and down her body and armor, as she once again was bestowed Iomedae's favour and took on the mantle as one of her champions against evil.

"You have given us authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy. You are our shield, let us, in turn, be Your arms in the struggle against evil! With You at our back, at our side, above us, we persevere!"

Twisting the blade, Runa punctuated her prayer by stabbing at the apparition above her. Her arms moved with practiced ease,
Dice Attack Child-ghost (BaB 5, Str 4. MW 1, Furious Power Attack 0, Lastwall Defender, Smite 2):
1d20+13sh15 (19)+13 Total = 32
Dice Damage (+1, Lastwall Defender 1, Str 6, Power Attack 6, Smite 10) + 1d6 Electrical:
1d10+24 (5)+24 Total = 29
1d6 6
sending the flame-wreathed polearm surging forward with immense power, before she once more sunk into a crouch, glaive held in front of her and at the ready.



 
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Last edited by Thorsten; 01-17-2018 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 01-21-2018, 07:10 AM
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Signy simply nodded to Runa’s suggestions for fighting incorporeal enemies. She did indeed know all of it already, but did not mind the reminder. They did not know each others fighting well enough to make such a conversation superfluous. Shield and hammer at the ready the paladin moved into the house after her human counterpart. Her eyes had little trouble with the lack of light in parts of the dwelling. Even before seeing the source of the song, it seemed to confirm the guess they had made regarding what they would find in Hergstag.

The warrior’s face was grim when the specter finally made its appearance. An end like that was bad enough for anyone, but especially so for a child. Even worse that here the wraith had obviously picked only children as its prey. It would truly be satisfying to end the wraith itself once they found it. One thing after another, though.

Signy took the offered opening and moved in front of Runa to get into reach of the wraith spawn. The flames on the glaive and on her own hammer made the shadow on wings dance on the wall behind them as both weapons found their mark. "It is time for you to rest."


 

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Old 01-25-2018, 10:11 AM
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PurificationThough they do not report back, Pike can hear the chanting and the words, the high call. It's regretful not to get to see a holy warrior in action, in their field, but perhaps it is better to be safe. Caution is the better part of valor or something or some such.

Within, the pallid appearance of the child is stark, as if the skin is crumbling. It is clearly a child though, and clearly incorporeal. The image will not stay in one place, dancing through sudden, unimagined patterns that keep it in the same relative locations but never precisely in the same place. This is no concern for Runa or Signy, practiced arms of battle and well-worn warriors. This is why they were trained: to destroy the evils that haunt the world. And this is an evil, haunting a lost world. If someone were to wander in here, that song might get them. They might be lured in and would become a feast for the dead.

Not today.

When Runa begins her declaration of war, the boy flickers all the more, as if repulsed at the obvious incantation and summoning of the name of Iomedae, and the presentation of true faith in action is deadly. Her polearm becomes draped in blue flame that runs down her arms to her body, giving her the authority of her goddess: and soon, she lunges forth, catching the wraith in the stomach. Passing through it, the ghost opens its mouth and howls, an inhuman mixture of voices, and all the children scream out at once, outside: the children, and more. As Runa pulls away, Signy moves in for the kill, as the flickering wraith, having trouble manifesting, shows a face of anger and fear; a voice sounds without the moving of parched, pallid lips.

"Mommy, Mommy! The lady is cruel! She feeds me with iron; she beats me with fools! Daddy, Daddy, look out from above: know they are coming, and want to have fun—" The hammer finds its mark, red flame taking the ghost, and as the blow passes through the ghost, it dissolves, slowly, as if melting away; no, burned away: as the wound runs up the neck, it slowly burns away the being. The boy's skin, before the flame devours it, turns to a normal, Human pallor. They are freeing the wraith's trapped soul, and sending it into the river of souls.

Allen is free, but the other children remain.

Outside, Fido and Pike, newly protected via his spell, hear a new song when the howling stops: it comes from the south.
"Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the Sparrow,
with my bow and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin.
Who saw him die?
I, said the Fly,
with my little eye,
I saw him die.
Who caught his blood?
I, said the Fish,
with my little dish,
I caught his blood.
Who'll make the shroud?
I, said the Beetle,
with my thread and needle,
I'll make the shroud.
Who'll dig his grave?
I, said the Owl,
with my little trowel,
I'll dig his grave."


The voice is that of a girl, at a whisper, and pauses the song before laughing, an inhumane, cruel laughter that no child can hold.
New TroublesThe two ponder things as they go, trying to determine the nature of their encounter. Who is bribing the guard against them, and why? Just as the evidence they found in the graveyard, there is more to this case than anyone can imagine. The surgeon's tools, the cut face, everything about it screams that there is another force at work here. If there are two Beasts, and from the sound of appearances, there is, it's hard to deny at this point, then what, or who, is the second Beast, the one that looks wrong in its own skin, that was apparently devoured by a caiman, that still stalks the moors and perhaps Lepidstadt itself?

What use is a set of surgeon's tools to a monster?

Well, how else does one remove a soul's face?

The hustle and bustle of the festivities is still quite pronounced, and the audience outside is even larger than this morning and more joyous. Song rings out, shouts of vendors and merchants. The effigy of the to-be-burned wooden man stands tall over it all, justice to be rendered, and the courthouse itself, that dark, drab place, is surrounded with as many guards as possible. In the streets, the police seem to have been replaced by vindicators of Iomedae; somewhat concerning, but they are to be trusted, if Runa's suggestions are valid.

It takes little negotiation to get inside the courthouse, and soon they are ushered up the stairs. Sully can be heard within, weeping, and the sheer amount of materials might require two trips, though the important parts can be brought up first, the others left and trusted with the guards. But leaving evidence with them, in the world of bribery... now that's no good. They'll have to be extra vigilant.

The smells of a meal can be taken in and enjoyed the moment they arrive in the court room proper, and with the door open, they can spy a large bird of some sort, with a Halfling and stuttering man digging into it while Kendra herself picks through documents. There is a Dwarf among them, his redden beard and mustache taken to extremes as far as excellent grooming; instantly Hrani remembers Myphar, from the University, though beyond amazing facial hair there is no resemblance. He chats with Kaple, who seems in better humor, and indeed, does not stutter at all.

Jamir notices them. "Well, I suppose it went well, from the look of things, unless you're here to tell us the others are dead. Where are Runa and Pike?" Kaple's face drops at the sight of evidence, though he stands, trying to understand what he's seeing. Kendra is busy reading, a book of some sort.

They have much to discuss.

And where are Carlo and Andrzej? Or Samovar?
 
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