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  #106  
Old 04-29-2020, 08:44 PM
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The warm afternoon sun, the cool lake breeze, and the full bellies, all work together to make this a rather idyllic place for you to drone on about your plans. Even the light buzzing of bees nearby add to the ennui.

ooc
I will need fortitude saves from each of you, to avoid falling asleep.
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Old 04-30-2020, 04:32 PM
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Allucard of Amn
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Alucard sits down and leans back against a tree before pulling his hat down over his face to block it from the sun; "I'd do better scouting then waiting to be pummeled by trolls, but I'll do whatever you all think is best my new friends. Right now though, I feel it's time for a nap before our endeavor begins, assuming we plan on going out at night when the trolls are most active."

With that, the man seems to almost instantly doze off into slumber, soft snoring sounds coming from underneath his gaudy hat.



OOC

Disguise: 32(disguise crafting) 27 for acting in character
Sleight of hand(Hidden Daggers and holy symbol): 25

If you want any rolls, just let me know.

 


 


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  #108  
Old 04-30-2020, 09:37 PM
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And ever so slowly, chins touch chest, eyelids droop, and soon, with some mycological aid, the quartet fall asleep.

At times, you feel jostled, like you are moving in a dream, or swimming in a river of thick molasses, but the listlessness overwhelms you again, drawing you back into sleep. You hear voices, snippets of conversations around you in your dreams.

"Darkfire came to Kraggenkrest Castle. Darkfir....ghost. The Tall One.....Elder Gods. Westmoor. Vladiman is not. A ghost. ...went mad. Killed everyone...the castle. The village dead. She did. "

You would swear that you slept a long time. Far longer than a few minutes, hours, even days. Perhaps it was the drugs, or perhaps the villages continued to drug you. People seem to move about you in your dreams, talking as they do. You can't hear, clearly, but it's a if their voices drift through a fog.

"The Baron's mage.......summoned a demon..... Everyone....slaughtered every one. The gods cursed.... The Baron....good and just man."

Westmoor had no church, you realize. That was odd. No church. All villages had churches, don't they? Then you go back to sleep.

"human sacrifice....night of the dark moon. Kraggenrest Castle. Francis.... Evil coming.....Sacrifice others, save... village....Happiness. Tall One approves."


It was days, perhaps weeks later when you finally awaken, and throw off the miasma of the drug.

You find yourself on a dark, moonless night, in a dense copse of sickly looking oak trees. A storm wind blows through the grove and brings with it a heavy vinegary-sweet smell. Overhead, you hear the sound of rolling thunder. You hear a dense sheet of rain falling several miles away and lightning arcs among the storm clouds that obscure the peaks of a mountain.

You jump as lightning booms into a tree less than a mile away and curse as your feet slip on the wet cobblestone hidden under the brush and weeds. In the distance, you hear the howl of a wolf who seems, like you, to be cursing the rain.

In the lightning flashes, you can see it... a castle looming in the night, dark and forbidding. Its tooth-like wall, which looms 30' above you, is overgrown with obscenely purple vines. The vines have large melon pods that gleam ivory white and look disturbingly like human skulls.

The wall stretches like a jagged knife wedged in the bedrock of the cliff it was carved from. You wonder, as you look up into the rain, whether the wall is there to protect the castle from the world, or whether it is there to protect the world from what lurks in the castle.

The gate house is open. Its 20' maw beckons toward you, and you shiver with the cold.

ooc
Welcome to Kraggenrest Castle... your real adventure.


 
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  #109  
Old 05-01-2020, 06:16 AM
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Abel Rhameir
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'Agh, my head!' Abel groans as he slowly wakes from his involuntary slumber. Rubbing his face with hands wet and cold from the rain, he briefly wonders what sort of spirits he had been drinking to wake up with this sort of headache- not the worst hangover he had experienced, but then again, he remembered showing quite a bit of restain back at the village.

'The village!' Angrily, he got up from where he had been dumped on the weed-covered cobblestones. 'Those bastards, they poisoned us!' Drawing his mace, the crusader waved the weapon about angrily. 'Mark my words,' he breathed, his mind slowly clearing. 'The Cudgel is yet to come crashing down on that villainous bunch!'

Only then did he turn around and see the castle. As if stung, he took a step back, and grew several shades paler. 'No...' he breathed. He had meant to come to the castle eventually, to face the ghosts of his past. but this was too soon! 'Loraina, I- I am sorry,' he offered, gritting his teeth.

Turning away from the castle which had taken his family from him, Abel saw his companions nearby, in no better shape than he had been. He shook his head, staring up at the rain for a moment, thanking Saint Cuthbert that at least, they were still alive. 'My friends!' he called out. 'Are you alright? Easy now- those blasted villagers put something in our drinks. Worry not- they'll get what's coming to them.' Granting each of his companions a worried look, Abel tried as best he could to get the three to their feet.

'For now, though, we are stuck here, it seems,' Abel relented. 'Going down this mountain in the dark and rain would be foolish, and at any rate, I would like a word or two with the masters of those poison-brewers,' he said, anger flaring back up in his voice. Staring up at the castle, his eyes narrowed, his knuckles whitening as he gripped his mace tighter. 'The lords of this castle and I have unfinished business, anyway.'

Then he grinned, shrugging, and chuckled mirthlessly. 'Looks like those trolls will have to wait.'




 
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  #110  
Old 05-01-2020, 09:11 AM
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Allucard of Amn
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Alucard wakes up with a start, grumbling something unintelligible in Aklo before jumping up from the ground, his hat falling off of his head as he does so. His hand darts out with great speed, but in the wrong spot to catch the hat, causing him to almost lose his balance and fall as he staggers with the after affects of the poison.

He then reaches down and snatches up his hat, placing it back upon his head, then quickly stuffs a holy symbol, that had been pulled out by the villagers, dc7 perception to notice it is Sharback down his shirt. He then begins padding himself down, checking for his hidden daggers and taking a quick assessment of missing items, but strangely, all that was missing was the small amount of gold he kept in a pouch on his belt. He does a quick look around at the others, who are slowly beginning to rise, then curses out loud; "Bloody bastards! Highway robbers in the town, and slavers at that! I'll bet Thay is behind this mess, which means this castle is an enclave..... damn the luck." The man begins pacing back and forth, his gaudy clothes now streaked with dirt, mud, and soaking wet. He then begins talking to himself softly, but not overtly trying to not be heard; "Need to assess the situation, need more information for that. Scouting a good possibility, retreat highly dangerous. Scouting also highly dangerous. Red Wizard tampering, likely undead, possibly powerful ones. Death knights or mummies are unlikely, though abominations are likely to be found. Incorporeals also unlikely, but not unheard of. Red wizard count, likely less than ten in this backwater, maybe only a few. Entire group here, so cover intact, trolls must be a ruse to capture slaves before sending them to Thay. Tall man, probably the lich in command, hope it isn't the she-bitch."

Alucard continues going on like this for a few minutes, pacing back and forth impatiently as he does so. Then, without warning, his suave bravado returns, and he gives a flourishing twirl of his cloak before removing his hat and putting it to his chest solemnly; "My dear friends, I do fear we have been duped, and likely by the Red Wizards no less. I suspect them as I have seen operations like this in other places around the continent, but our friendly priest here seems to know about this place more than myself, so I will defer to him as to what this place is. If it is them, then we should be very careful as to how we proceed, we should anticipate many magical traps, powerful undead, and of course, the red wizards themselves." He then gestures to the castle; "I have a good bit of experience with stealthy activities, so will volunteer to scout ahead, if anyone else has some ability in stealth, you're welcome to accompany me. I think that regardless of who is in this castle, we need information first, and we can deal with those villagers later..."



OOC



 


 


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  #111  
Old 05-01-2020, 11:14 AM
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Plans both grandiose and futile were being mulled over, examined and passed over. The sunlight drove in through the afternoon with its lulling rays and gentle accompanying breezes and Raven found himself suddenly yawning. His eyes swiveled lazily in their sockets and he saw Shura similarly stifling another yawn. His eyes dropped heavily and he let them fall over his vision like heavy drapes over his world and he felt his head drooping to one side.

Raven's eyes shot open a deep breath sucking into his lungs to strain for some anchor to his consciousness. He shook his head violently and realized, too late, that something was amiss. The peacock was already slumped over the table, his goblet having spilled its contents all over the simple tablecloth the villagers had arranged over the harsh wood of the crude table. Raven's head swiveled heavily towards Shura and he saw that she had slumped to the ground her face inches from those slender fingers which had curled up as a deep sleep took her to some dreamless slumber. He watched in fascination as a tiny bit of drool seeped from her lips and Raven was jolted by a sudden thud behind him.

Abel had face planted into the table and was now sliding slowly underneath it. Raven was a large man and his years as a dead man had shrunken his stomach. He had not yet fully resumed his former prolific eating habits and tended to keep his portions small to avoid cramps in his belly.

"Poison!" he slurred as he struggled to stand up. He saw villagers swim away from him as he finally staggered to his feet, sending goblets, bowls and plates crashing around him as he swept one long arm across the table's top.

"You poisoned us?!"

He staggered around and back from the table, but his foot caught in his chair leg and he stumbled to his knees, one hand propping him up while he reached for one little boy who stood nearby staring at him.

The boy smirked at him as Raven drooled in a long line while the world swam slowly out of focus.

"You..." he managed but forgot the words he was trying to conjure. The world throbbed with the heat and thrum of every slow heartbeat and Raven locked his blinking eyes to the boy's, struggling to remain conscious.

"You're dead..."

Balin laughed at him.




Echoes of the nightmare rang through his head as his eyes opened to the flashing light of the coming storm. In the dream, the boy had killed him over and over while he could not fight back. Raven tasted blood in his mouth and realized he had bitten his tongue. He turned himself over and committed his fist to hard ground and pushed to lift himself to his knees.

Everything hurt, his head most of all.

"Poison," he said. "They used poison. Cowards."

Voices from his fevered dream came back to him and though he could not entirely extricate them from the taunts of the boy, one stood out to him starkly as the darkness gathered around them and the night became a living menace as the skies grumbled their discomfort.

"We're a sacrifice. To what? To this place, I guess. Demons in the dark. They will learn that I am the darkness. I've come home."

Raven stood up to his full height, his hair slowly swinging back towards his face until it covered it like some shield to protect the others from the fire of his low grumbling rage. Raven called towards the darkness with his mind, reaching into himself to tap into the roiling morass within to fuel his dark powers. His eyes gleamed with violet light as his eyes pierced the veil of darkness and the shadows turned to light.

Raven gripped the emptiness before him and a long shaft of power rose from the space between his hands and crackled with purple living darkness. Raven flicked his hair out of his face and turned his head first one way and then the other to glimpse that his companions had all risen with him.

Raven shifted his guard to his right side, the crackling purple energy casting a lurid light upon his haggard face and he marched forward through the gatehouse, ready for anything which might come to greet him.


 

 
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  #112  
Old 05-04-2020, 03:55 PM
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Shura

Shura felt the tiredness overwhelm her as a simple thought crossed her mind... Oh F... ... then blackness and some in and out of consciousness before finally coming too.

Holding the side of her head, Well, I should have known better. Though didn't expect friendly commoners seeking help to do that. Apparently we fell to their ploy. Remind me next time, to detect and purify our food. she comments while looking over her belongings.

Hmm, looks like most everything I had in my magic pack is still there, but they took my coin pouch I use. Perhaps I should have stored that away as well. she shrugged as its a lesson learned.

Glancing at the newcomer and Raven as they "vent" she waits for them to finish. She easily notices Allucard stash his holy symbol, wondering why he hides it, You need not fear us for whom you decide to worship. Myself, I am dedicated to the Kami and specialize with the water spirits. Good, Evil, its all part of the great balance and wheel. she gave him a brief smile, not showing any negativity to Shar.

She then looks over to Raven, Perhaps save some of that energy for the challenges ahead. she grinned and pointed off to the castle. They brought us here, lets not keep them waiting. Are you ready? she inquired and was ready to follow when they began advancing.


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  #113  
Old 05-04-2020, 08:37 PM
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The gate house is open.

Its 20' maw beckons toward you, and you shiver with the cold, perhaps. Or, something else makes your blood run cold.

You walk slowly into the castle, your senses open for any signs of danger, but nothing confronts you. The castle stands 80' back from the gatehouse wall, jutting into the night clouds. It is a large stone building with a single tower that looms over the cliff. In fact, half of the castle seems to hang over the edge of the cliff. The rows of narrow windows indicate that the main building has two floors, and the tower has four floors. The cobblestone road goes past an overgrown garden to the marble steps that lead to the door of the castle.

Within the coach yard, a fountain shoots white water 20' into the air. To your left, you see the squat outline of a stable with an attached smithy. To your right stands a one story building, likely a barracks. On each side of the gate house, stone stairs lead to the battlements.

As you stare up at the castle, blinking to keep the now light rain from your eyes, you ask yourself, as you have a hundred times before, whether you should have listened to your mother who wanted you to marry early, settle down, and give her grandchildren. But you shake the thought away from you, like you shake the raindrops from your hair, and walk into the adventure.


ooc
Your options:
The barracks, the fountain, the garden, the smithy, or the castle. You can try the battlements, but they lead to the top of the wall, and you'll find nothing interesting.
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  #114  
Old 05-05-2020, 10:37 AM
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Abel Rhameir
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Hearing a rather groggy-sounding whine coming from nearby, Abel forgets about the castle for a moment and rushes over to a nearby tree- at the foot of which he finds his wolf companion, slowly waking up. 'Nomad,' he brings out, kneeling beside the animal and putting his hand on her flank. He quickly checks for injuries, heartbeat and the like, sighing with relief as he finds her to be healthy. 'Got you too, did they?' he asks, patting the wolf as she weakly howls her protests. 'Of course they did- poisoned food doesn't get healthier when it turns into table scraps.'

He rises and, with a gesture of his hand, urges Nomad to follow them. Rejoining his companions at the gate, his wolf in tow, he smiles broadly at them. Despite their circumstances, the crusader was happy to be reunited with the animal. The two of them, and the ever-present evil-doers skulking in the dark- that was all they ever needed.

'Right, so,' Abel started, gesturing at the courtyard and the buildings it contained. 'We can deal with the peasants later- right now I want to get at the ones who put them up to their villainy. I believe you said something about scouting?' he asks of Alucard. 'I may have a buddy who'd be able to help you.'

Extending his hand, Abel closes his eyes and mutters a few words, causing a patch of white fog to appear for them, shimmering with specks of silver. The mist evaporates immediately, leaving a hound in its place. Its matted white fur is covered in the same silver specks which permeated the fog it had sprung from, and its eyes beamed with a golden light.

'Lead the way,' Abel directed the summoned hound. 'Keep an eye out for anything that might wish us harm- man, beast, monter or trap.' Smiling at the others, he unhooked his mace and gestured for the courtyard.

'Shall we be off? You want to check those buildings first,' he asked, aiming his weapon at the smithy and barracks, 'or should we go straight for the main course?'


 


 
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  #115  
Old 05-06-2020, 12:05 PM
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Allucard of Amn
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Alucard raises an eyebrow in slight surprise as the beautiful woman picks out what he tried to hide easily, either she was quite perceptive, or he was much more shaken from the experience than he had originally thought. Either one troubled him, but there was nothing to it now, best to be honest about it.

He gives a flourish of his cloak before bowing his respect to her; "Ahh, my lady Shura, you are as perceptive as you are beautiful. You must know though, that my deity of choice is not the most popular among the realms, and with people I only just met, it is much safer to not announce who I lay worship to. But for one who must navigate the intricacies of courts, with stealth, guile, and deceit, she is second to none." He then gives the gesture of Shar's blessing; "May you ever walk in the shadows my lady, so that your enemies may never see you to strike you down."

As they moved into the courtyard, Alucard twirls his hat up in the air, flourishing a dagger before making it disappear once more, catching his hat, and placing it back upon his head; "I would be overjoyed to seek out and report any foul beasties or agents of Thay that may be in hiding, I have been forced to treat with Thay, but I harbor no good will towards them."

He then motions to the buildings around the courtyard; "We should most definately clear the outlying buildings first, then scale the walls and enter the castle from above, no point in going through the front door like they expect. I shall return to report in but a moment comrades!" With that, he flips his gaudy cloak inside out, causing him to blend into the world around him, then launches himself towards the nearest building(barracks or smithy) to begin scouting it, disappearing into the shadows as soon as he reaches them, 39 hide, 32 move silent, 20 spot, 14 listenhis color shifting cloak, hiding the gaudy clothes he wore underneath.




OOC



 


 


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  #116  
Old 05-06-2020, 07:43 PM
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Shura
Shura simply nodded in agreement, Yes, checking the surrounding buildings first sounds good. We don't need something unexpected to surprise us later. she commented as she placed a hand on the hilt of her katana. My old friend... she whispers as she draws the blade, its of rare exquisite quality and perfectly balanced. Celeste, watch over us and lend me your strength... she whispered as the blade seemed to come to life when she called it's name and began to glow with divine holy power. Then with a slight salute and touch of the back of the blade to her forehead she looked ready to move on.

Glancing down at the summoned dog, she gives a brief smile. Very well, lead on then. she commented to the others as she followed behind.

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  #117  
Old 05-06-2020, 08:16 PM
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oocthe smithy is slightly closer


Allucard moved towards the smithy, his form disappearing in the night shadows.

The smithy is attached to the stable and has large crudely made double doors and two large windows. Stacked against an outside wall is a large pile of firewood. The door has no lock but a slide bolt on the outside. The door is warped and has cracks between planks you can peer through. The windows also have slide bolts worked from the inside.

Seeing nothing alarming from the outside, Allucard tries the door, and it opens. He quickly darted inside, nearly invisible.

Inside the smithy, rusty iron tools hang from hooks. The room has two large anvils and three furnaces. A bin in the back of the room has iron rods, and a larger bin has charcoal.

The body of a young man swings from a rafter by a length of chain. The man is simply dressed in dark brown cotton clothing, and a broken sword is in the dirt floor below his feet. The man could not have committed suicide since there is nothing that he could have used as a step. Although the body is stiff, it does not stink of decay or look decomposed.

The others quickly arrive behind the dashing scout, and see the body as well.

 
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  #118  
Old 05-06-2020, 08:54 PM
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Raven Knight
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Raven's head turned first one way and then the other, taking in the grim sight of the castle and its outlying buildings, allowing the others to catch up to him and flank his sides.

He released his breath, realizing for the first time that he had been holding it. The ephemeral weapon in his hands vanished and he curled his hands into fists by his sides. He looked at the stables and attached smithy and could almost hear the clanking of the hammer on hard steel echo through time to reach him. He heard only wind, of course, and the low grumble of distant thunder as he stepped slowly behind Alucard who had decided to sneak towards the smithy. His eyes lingered on the fountain and he wondered at the mechanism that may have kept it flowing after all this time, if the more delapidated state of these grounds were any indication of the breadth of its passing.

He had the strangest urge to scream his battle cry and charge into the foaming waters of the fountain, to splash in it and feel the cold of it on his face and to relish in the sensation of his long wet hair clinging to his body as he lifted as much of the water as he could cup in his large hands.

He very nearly did it, but something told him his companions might not appreciate such inappropriate frolicking given the setting and circumstances, so he followed Alucard instead. He stepped in line beside Shura and as a violent explosion shook the sky, all semblance of levity drained from him and he found himself feeling the cold for the first time since he had awakened here. He felt the shivers travel down his spine and around his buttocks and he had to admit to himself that he was reacting to more than just the temperature.

Raven felt afraid.

It manifested as a slight tightness in his throat and a pounding at his temple which he realized was the accelerated beating of his heart. He felt alive and he was glad.

He looked over at Shura and before he could quite understand why he was doing it, he took her hand in his and squeezed it gently, giving as well as receiving comfort from the contact, but also reassuring himself that she was really here with him. He looked her in the eyes, nodded once and let go of her hand to step into the smithy.

The gruesome sight stopped him in his tracks, nearly causing Shura to bump into him. He caught himself and stepped out of the way so she and Abel could join them.

Death.

He had seen enough of it to be entirely comfortable in its presence but the swinging body had given him a momentary flashback of his own death and it had stopped him cold. He began to pace around the smithy and as he passed close to the hanging corpse, he poked it gently with one of the spikes protruding from his armor, to make sure that it would not animate and attack them.

"Stay dead," he ordered.


 

 
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  #119  
Old 05-06-2020, 09:50 PM
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The corpse swung with the push, but otherwise, stayed dead.
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  #120  
Old 05-07-2020, 07:05 AM
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Abel Rhameir
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'And obedient fellow,' Abel quipped darkly. He was no stranger to the violence men inflicted on each other- more often than not, the perpetrator of such a crime was the object of his hunt. Such was life for a servant of the Cudgel; always looking for the vilest of people, to punish them for their wickedness. Coming across their victims was a necessary evil.

'Dead, but quite recently so,' Abel observed. 'Unless there is magic at work here, to throw us off our trail?' He closed his eyes, opening his senses to his surroundings, Cast Detect Magicsearching for anything that might reveal the killer's method or clues to his identity.

'Strange, though,' the crusader observed, kneeling beside the broken sword. 'Blades don't usually just snap like that- not unless they're very old, or taken care of poorly. Not something you'd expect to see in a smithy, of all places. Sadly,' he chuckled, 'I don't really know anything about working metal- any of you might want to check the blade?'

'Anyway, let's get the poor sod down from there. Give him a proper burial,' he nodded to himself. Even when he had last been here, there had been too much unexplained death, and too little respect for the dead. Perhaps he could at least give this one the proper rites.

Then he hesitated, before turning to Shura. 'I suppose I could do the rites,' he suggested, 'unless there's any sort of ritual you'd like to perform?' Abel knew nothing of Shura's ways, but he knew she was from a different culture, and perhaps things were done differently there. 'Cudgel knows I'm not much of a clergy-man; best I can do is try and emulate real priests as best I can. So if you want to do anything in particular... You may be better suited.'

Shrugging, he added, 'I don't know. Regardless, we should probably check him before putting him in the ground- might find out something about whatever killed him,' he explained, Search check please!before moving to take the corpse down and searching its body and pockets.

'You,' he told the hound, nodding at the room. 'Go check this room, see if you find anything odd.'


 


 
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