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Old Jan 20th, 2021, 02:19 AM
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Chapter 1: Crimes Not Forgotten

Lorrimor's Will
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Ravengro, Canterwall County, Ustalav
Starday, Calistril 18 4711 AR


The procession and formal proceedings of Lorrimor's funeral had ended with the ceremonial burial in the Restlands and Kendra had thanked and said her goodbyes to the other guests there, promising to see them again soon. She had asked the six who had traveled from afar to accompany her back to her home again, returning to gather in the room that they had first met with Councilman Vashian Hearthmount. He had briefly introduced himself to them, as they traveled the short distance to the Lorrimor house, as the 'closest thing Ravegro had to a solicitor (before Finneaous' presence of course)' and that he was tasked with reading the will of all those who had died in the town.
The councilor watched the assembled six with skepticism, apparently disapproving of them all in some way, though he knew the task at hand had no right being interfered with from his emotional standpoint. Kendra spoke softly but authoritatively. "Councilman Vashian, my deepest thanks for your presence at the graveside today and for your ongoing work with us here. Please, let us start this process and hear my father's voice in his words one more time." Councilman Vashian nodded before reaching beneath his cloak. He produced a scroll case and showed the wax seal to Kendra, who nodded, then broke the wax and opened the case. Immediately a small iron key fell out, clattering noisily on the floor. Undaunted, the councilor cleared his throat noisily and began to read, eager to be done with his business and get back home.

The particulars of the will."I, Petros Lorrimor, being of sound mind, do hereby commit to this parchment my last will and testament. Let it be known that, with the exception of the specific details below, I leave my home and personal belongings entire to my daughter Kendra. Use them or sell them as you see fit, my child."

"Yet beyond the bequeathing of my personal effects, this document must serve other needs. I have arranged for the reading of this document to be delayed until all principals can be in attendance, for I have more than mere inheritance to apportion. I have two final favors to ask."

"To my old friends: Mazak of the Shattered Blade, Zurzam Termian and, of course, Beriton, Finneaous F. Facklebar, Esq., Brother Acrisius, Lady Ashmanaille Teldas and Oseran, the Prisoner, I hate to impose upon you all, but there are few others who are capable of appreciating the true significance of what it is I have to ask. As some of you know, I have devoted many of my studies to all manner of evil, that I might know the enemy and inform those better positioned to stand against it. For knowledge of one's enemy is the surest path to victory over its plans."

"And so, over the course of my lifetime, I have seen fit to acquire a significant collection of valuable but dangerous tomes, any one of which in the wrong circumstances could have led to an awkward legal situation. While the majority of these tomes remain safe under lock and key at the Lepidstadt University, I fear that a few I have borrowed remain in a trunk in my Ravengro home. While invaluable for my work in life, in death, I would prefer not to burden my daughter with the darker side of my profession, or worse still, the danger of possessing those tomes herself. As such, I am entrusting my chest of tomes to you, posthumously. I ask that you please deliver the collection to my colleagues at the University of Lepidstadt, who will put them to good use for the betterment of the cause."

"Yet before you leave for Lepidstadt, there is the matter of the second favor - please delay your journey one month and spend that period of time here in Ravengro to ensure that my daughter is safe and sound. She has no one to count on now that I am gone, and if you would aid her in setting things in order for whatever she desires over the course of this month, you would have my eternal gratitude. From my savings, I have also willed to each of you a sum of one hundred platinum coins. For safekeeping, I have left these funds with Embreth Daramid, one of my most trusted friends in Lepidstadt - she has been instructed to issue this payment upon the save delivery of the borrowed tomes no sooner than two months after the date of the reading of this will."

"I, Petros Lorrimor, hereby sign this will in Ravengro on this first day of Calistril, in the year AR 4710."


Councilman Vashian looked to Kendra again, his formal duty complete. Kendra spoke, putting on a brave face as she continued to act officially for now. "Sincerest thanks once again Councilor. We will now need a few moments to discuss the will's contents, you are free to leave or stay as you wish." Vashian bowed his head in acquiescence, then wasted no time in taking his leave, allowing the seven left in the room to gather their thoughts. Kendra continued to those assembled.

"I will need at least a few weeks to decide whether I would like to remain in Ravengro or to sell this place and move away. Memories can... make things difficult to stay, especially if half the town thinks I am some sort of demon-spawn of a necromancer..." Kendra laughed nervously, trying to brighten up proceedings for a moment, then ploughing on. "Uhh, never mind all that. The farmers were probably just drunk and sad themselves, right? In any case, the house is yours to stay in for the next month. It always was a massive house for Father and I, and I would be glad of the company if you would be happy to stay with me here. Excuse me for a moment."

Kendra disappeared out into the corridor for a brief couple of minutes, before returning holding a relatively small oak chest, bound in iron. She seemed somewhat nervous as she set it down, unsure of what it contained. "Here-this is the chest that Father mentioned in the will. Would someone please take up the key and open it, so we know what sort of 'dangerous' books he held onto?"


OOCSo you each have a separate room in the house should you wish it-there are more options for lodgings though they will not be free. If anyone would like a more detailed description of the house in general, I will add this into a future GM post as you explore the house in general. For now, you have only explored essentially the front room of the house and the short corridor leading to it.

 


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Old Jan 22nd, 2021, 02:09 AM
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Wills. The legal formality of such documents was almost intoxicating to the obsessive Abadaran. Finneaous was more than familiar with the expected verbiage and the sorts of situations that would lead a man of such prestige to have established a process for the handling of his assets both in Ravengro and at the university. It was part of the ordination paperwork of the Church of Abadar that all clergy file a last will and testament with the Church, leaving at least a double tithe to the Church itself, though it was something of a fashion statement to bequeath an overwhelming majority of oneís assets to the Church in acknowledgement of the importance of its mission. Sixty-forty. All liquidated. Finneaous was sentimental about the church, but practicality was a concern. His parents would be well-served by any funds received as a result of his untimely death, and would undoubtedly tithe from it in his memory. All as it should be.

What the Professor had in his intricate mind for the six outsiders who stood assembled in his home was a baffling consideration for the tiny scholar. He would not have summoned such folk for the mere inheritance of property. He just wasnít the type. No, there was something more to this day. As Councilman Vashian read the contents aloud, Finneaousí suspicions were confirmed quickly. Entire estate to Kendra. As to be expected for a non-Abadaran. The lack of a tithe to any church stung, but only so much. Not all of the people of Avistan were as concerned with their deities as he was, and he knew it well. The admonition to deal with the Professorís material effects was even more pragmatic than the halfling expected. If you had given me another decade, I could have made an Abadaran of you.

The councilmanís words then came to the names of the people summoned to Ravengro. Finneaous swallowed hard. Impose upon you. There was indeed more to their presence. Tomes. Evil tomes. No wonder the people of Ravengro thought him a necromancer. The things the common folk of Ustalav would assume were logical after a fashion, but bereft of proof, were no more than vile rumors. Even transporting these things could be problematic. If only I could contact the Church for guidance. Nothing obligated the halfling to return to Andoran anytime soon, and so long as he sent regular messages to the Church apprising them of his whereabouts and purpose, no complications should arise.

And then the hammer dropped. Payment on arrival. Care for Kendra. One month. Finneaous fought to keep an uncouth oath from erupting from his lips, a battle he won with little willpower to spare. As much as he wanted to better understand Canterwall, the encounter with the townsfolk in the Restlands had put the general populace of Ravengro in a certain category within the priestís mind, and one he had no real intention of exposing himself to more than absolutely necessary. He kept his peace, though, and patiently awaited the departure of the Councilman.

Silence was difficult. Finneaous wanted nothing more than to engage with the grieving woman, but he needed to allow her the chance to process the day one moment at a time. He waited for her return with the chest, then looked to the others. "Might it be prudent to ascertain the security of performing such an action before exposing ourselves to any potential hazards the good professorís tomes might unwittingly possess? I am no master of the arcane, and cannot identify the properties of such items, but I do believe that proceeding deliberately might be warranted due to the nature of the research the man was undertaking. Better safe than cursed and all." Full of nervous energy, the halfling stepped away from the chest and circled around to approach Kendra, politely indicating that he would like to speak to her while the others engaged with the books.

"Kendra, I am legitimately concerned by the events earlier. I do believe that a subset of the populace here is convinced that your fatherís activities were not aboveboard. I have genuine worry that his resting place may be disturbed, or that actions might be taken against you for your familial association with him." While the clergymanís words were as multiple as ever, his eyes locked on with the human womanís, a caring expression on his face. "I am no warrior. My skills lie not in physical conflict, but in the battlefield of the mind. I can stand before the hateful and the fearful, but only so much as you allow, and only if armed with all the knowledge available. If I am to speak to those who are misinformed about your fatherís life, I need to be equipped with the truth. I have no desire to divulge secrets or ruin your future, but I would need to craft a fitting narrative that remains true. My god demands that much." His eyes flicked to the motley band around him. "For what it is worth, I intend to remain here as long as is necessary. Please, use me for what I am trained. Your father was a good man, and I count his promise of coin in Lepidstadt as a commission. As long as payment is so contracted, I am your servant until such time as the constraints of the contract are fulfilled."
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Old Jan 24th, 2021, 06:15 AM
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Mazak
The house felt both more crowded and emptier to Mazak as the mourners squeezed back into the room. The orc plodded his way to the table, finding a seat and deflating into it. The reading of the will. Was this part of the same ritual or a new one altogether? It seemed reasonable to assume that this the same one. Human rituals were odd and confusing. They had feasted on the dead and escorted him to his final home. His stomach grumbled and he snatched up a sandwich and more sausage, more pickles and cheese in an unconscious movement; loudly smacking and chewing as he thought. In the Hold it was done differently, but this is where it would have ended. If an orc had desires to be done after his death, they were made known well in advance and said had best hope he died a legend. The forgotten, the weak, were not worth listening to. The humans anticipated their deaths and left written instructions. What a strange place. On the other hand, perhaps his debt would be spelled out. He turned the chair to better face this Vashian; eyes intent and gleaming.

The words... That was the Petros he remembered. Specific and clearly smarter than he; yet not patronizing. It had confused him then and the sensation of a brain overfull was rapidly returning. This house to his child makes sense I guess? It does not seem the way of these people to fight for it. A strange way. He shifted in his seat, bringing his elbows down onto his thighs and rested his chin on clasped hands. The favours seemed overly simple though. Stay in this place for a cycle of the moon, a month as they put it. Simple for the others. Simple for me, if likely boring. I'll grow fat and soft in a cycle. Dobat! On the other hand...

There had not been enough time to demand of Father Grimburrow why he spoke his goddess's name openly, why the wards worked as they did. Kendra had seemed insistent on continuing the rite; one he had assumed over. A cycle would be plenty of time to make these demands. This was good. The first favour was by the simplest. Deliver some books for a payment of coins. Once again Petros demands a favour by giving favours. My debt goes unpaid. Neither of these are blood.

Mazak grimaced and ate another handful of food. The halfling with the flexible spine seemed nervous as Kendra laid down the wooden chest; babbling even. Those were words, but... I see why Petros would have liked him. They babble on the same level. With a grunt, he rose and scooped up the small iron key, the object becoming even smaller in his hands. The halfling was worried about curses. A far younger Mazak would have laughed at him. To be fair, a far younger Mazak would have killed the halfling hours ago. He exhaled loudly. What were the odds anyway? "We don't remember cowards" he muttered to himself as Finneaous spoke privately with Kendra. Jamming the key into the lock with far more force than was necessary, the orc jumbled it around for a tense moment before turning it with a satisfying click. Then he opened the lid.
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Old Jan 24th, 2021, 06:03 PM
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The idea of being included in anyone's final will and testament was an entirely novel one to The Prisoner and Oseran both. While the second worked tirelessly to cultivate a wide array of relationships in service to his camouflage within Calipha's bounds, those relationships ran surface deep. At best. It had been a very, very long time since they had made a connection they expected to survive the death of either party. Such bemusements occupied his mind as he perilously took his seat before Councilman Vashian.

While Oseran was a man of books, the study of the minutea of law had never held any special draw. Still, spend enough time in enough libraries and there's no telling what was bound to rub off. The divestment of Lorrimor's properties, if he remembered the term correctly, seemed pretty standard. Logically that seemed to leave little else for the man to dispose of upon his death. His face a uniformly pleasant mask to hide his impatience, Oseran adjusted his grip on his cane and began to push himself to his feet. The sooner he was done here, the sooner he could start looking into the town's only notable landmark. Councilman Vashion continued, but The Prisoner wasn't listening, even as Oseran pretended to. That is, until two words caught his attention and rocked him heavily back in his seat.

The Prisoner. How could Lorrimor have known? It seemed impossible but the man had been anything but predictable at times. Maybe it was just a way to differentiate him from any other Oserans the professor had encountered in his journeys. It wasn't a completely uncommon name. If that was the case, he could only hope the others gathered hadn't made a note of the identifier. It would make him feel silly for being so reticent to relate the details of Petras and his relationship.

Best not to think about what it meant if Lorrimor knew the true depths The Prisoner represented.

Shortly after, his responsibilities declared, The Prisoner felt a flood of relief. If those tombs dealt with subjects the elf assumed they dealt with, there was no way Lorrimor would leave them in Oseran's care if he suspected nefarious motives. No matter how nicely the skin-mask smiled. The flood drained quickly, replaced by a deadly bog of avarice. If those tombs dealt with what The Prisoner assumed they dealt with, this was his opportunity to finally get ahead. Of course the boisterous orc would be the one to force his hand.

Eying the lawyer and Kendra's private conversation wistfully, the wrinkled, tremor-laden elf regained his feet as spryly as he could. After finding his balance -both with his inner ear and his screeching nerve endings- Oseran grit his teeth against the obvious pain and shuffled across the room to Mazak and the heavy trunk. It was only when confronted with the massive being face to face did he stop to reconsider his course of action. The elf was, admittedly and unashamedly, "the weak". The odds of the bestial foreigner listening to him from a position of dominance were nonexistent. The Prisoner grimaced internally and did what he must.

Oseran's hand came down on the lid just as the orc turned the key and released the catch, affecting a slight stumble. He gasped as if out of breath, then turned on Mazak with an expression very close to fear. "Terrifying one! Iron in the blood! I fell.""Ognir! Ang Gijak-Ishi! Jiak bi." Satisfied that the lid dropped under his sleight weight, he heaped on the deference in his voice. If you can't beat them with strength, beguile them with service."I am sorry Mazak, I could not prevent myself from falling. I do not wish to impede you. Perhaps I can offer my services as poor repayment? If dark magics do haunt these tomes, I might be able to detect them - like so." Finally given leave to act, his personal font filled with the tiniest sliver of Source. With a gesture and a word that felt more like the absence of words, he unleashed his will and studied the effects with avid eyes.

OOCCasting Detect Magic and focusing on the trunk.
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Old Jan 25th, 2021, 12:26 AM
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Lorrimor's Will
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Ravengro, Canterwall County, Ustalav
Starday, Calistril 18 4711 AR


Kendra listened as hard as she could to the sesquipedalian halfling, but his choice of words and round-about way of speaking left her slightly baffled. "I can certainly understand why my father chose you to represent him, he spoke of a mellifluous halfling with a knack for words." She smiled as Finneaous offered his services and aid, whatever it might have been. "I truly thank you, Finneaous. I do not believe those men from before will pose any sort of problem again, but it is best to steer clear of the tavern late in the evening none-the-less. If only Father had been more forthcoming with me about his dealings I would have known what to expect. Necromancer indeed!" She turned as Mazak muttered something just on the edge of hearing-had she not been speaking to Finneaous she might have caught the disparaging words, but her slightly frozen smile as he nearly ripped the chest apart was all that was needed to reflect the tension she felt around the burly orc. "I would appreciate the return of the chest in one piece, if it wouldn't be too difficult..."

As Mazak and Oseran peered into the chest, Oseran utilized his magical talents to inspect the contents within. On top sat a relatively new-looking book, its leather cover bearing a foreboding message.

Leatherbound book
Read Me Now


"That-... That's Father's personal notebook! It doesn't belong in any Lepidstadt library, but what is it doing here?" Kendra was starting to look bewildered by the events, slowly becoming overwhelmed by the thought of what was in the chest, and of those that she was now to house. Undeterred, Mazak and Oseran continued to pore through the chest, inspecting what else was to be left in their care.

Four further, older tomes were uncovered in short time, three of them with a note tucked into them indicating that they were to be delivered to one Montagnie Crowl, a professor of antiquities at Lepidstadt University. The fourth had a different note, indicating delivery to Embreth Daramid, a judge at the Lepidstadt Courthouse, though the note asks for this delivery in particular to be handled discreetly, and includes the apparent address of Embreth's home in Lepidstadt. Oseran's magical sight illuminated one book in particular, the edge of a horrific skin-bound book glowed with fairly strong necromantic energy as it poked out at the bottom of the stack of books.

The ancient tomes
  • Manual of the Order of the Palatine Eye: The rich purple cover contains a brass scarab set with a single eye at its center. The book's cover is rimmed in polished steel and clasped shut with a small but intricate lock, the keyhole of which appears to be for a key with a strange, triangular shaft. The key is nowhere to be found.
  • On Verified Madness: This jet-black book appears to be a treatise on aberrations and other entities found in Golarion that possess remote ties to the Dark Tapestry, the name given to the dark places between the stars in the night sky.
  • Serving Your Hunger: This text is a poor-quality copy of one of several unholy books sacred to the goddess Urgathoa. The cover composes of two thin rusted plates (whoís edges are razor sharp) and the vellum sheets which comprise the bulk of the works is bound in place with tarnished silver wire. Lorrimor's spidery handwriting can be found inside the book liberally in the margins.
  • The Umbral Leaves: This lexicon appears to be a translation of the unholy book of Zon-Kuthn into Common. The book is covered in human skin, It is assumed that the skin was used because of the particularly ornate tattoo of Tien design.


The books sufficiently examined, Kendra cleared her throat again, calling for attention. "Ahem, yes, right. Now that the chest has been opened, you are free to go about your business however you wish. The books can be read, though my father's mind will likely be difficult to unravel, should you wish to explore any of his workings. The Harrowstone Prison is treacherous-should you go up there please, please, PLEASE do not climb anything untoward or..." Kendra looked uncomfortable, as if from some internal struggle, holding back tears. "...Just don't do it, okay? My father's will asked you to stay here for a month to help me-if I have particular need to have you help me with some task I will let you know. Please, head up stairs once you are finished here and claim a room for yourselves. I will be making tea here for myself and anyone else in the house at sundown on the dot. If you should wish to eat with me, you may do so."

And just like that, Kendra turned on her heels and headed further into the house, busying herself with something in the kitchen.


OOCAlright! This is going to be a fairly free-for-all section here. I will need the following from you all next:
  • Who is going to claim which books. The magic-infused book has an active spell on it, but only Oseran will be aware of that. Icereach-a DC 18 Spellcraft check will identify the properties of the item should you wish.
  • What each of you would like to do. Check out the Settlement of Ravengro thread out in the parent forum for information about the town. There are plenty of shops, taverns, townsfolk around that you can seek out should you like, or you can peruse through the books, or head up to the prison, whatever you like. It is not yet midday today, so there is plenty of time to explore the town today.
  • Examining the books is definitely an option, I have some colorful descriptions to go along with them all as is needed.

I don't mind if you split up. If so, I will likely keep all the scenes going in the one thread here, just in different fieldsets or in private threads as needed. Feel free to chat in OOC about what you might like to do, who you would like to travel around with or otherwise. The only book you can't read is the Manual of the Order of the Palatine Eye, since you don't have the key. It can be opened with a DC 23 Strength Check, or bashed open (hardness 10, hp 5), or picked (DC 30 Disable Device), but failing any of these options, the book remains sealed shut. Over to you!

 


 


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Old Jan 26th, 2021, 08:53 AM
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Brother Acrisius
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Still with the sting of guilt occupying his head, Acrisius listened to the reading of Lorrimor's final will. His head turned towards Oseran when he was mentioned as 'The Prisoner', but thought nothing more of it; If Lorrimor saw him as an honorable man, then Acrisius wouldn't judge a man who had clearly passed his punishment. His mind still wandered to the ruined prison of Hallowstone and the circumstances the villagers had found Petros' body. If there were any foul play which resulted in his death, he would find out and put them to justice. That he would do to cleanse the guilt that burdened his mind.

The small chest was placed on the table and Mazak the Ork was quick to grab the key and turn it in the lock. Acrisius said nothing, but was rather impressed the hulking beast was abel to grasp the concept of opening locks. He refrained from sending a remark in his way and after Oseran had used his magics to make sure there were no dangers in the box, Acrisius stepped closer to see what was inside.

"Blasfemous books!", Acrisius spat as the books were laid out on the table for all to see. "I can understand the value of understanding the thoughts of your adversary, but... Writing of Zon-Kuthon and Urgathoa, cursed be their names! I'm surprised Petros had kept these tomes. These books should not be read, lest you are right in your head and know what you are doing. This one I will personally keep an eye on." He looked down at the plated tome of Urgathoa's unholy writings and picked it up protected by his gauntlet. He could feel the loathing swell inside of him, even smell the stench of death reek from the pages. He took a piece of cloth found in the chest and gently wrapped the tome in. Only the gods would know what magics would be birthed if one should cut himself on the sharp edges of the blasfemous book.

"I am curious about Lorrimor's journal. Perhaps they can shred some light onto what he was working with up to his... passing", he said as he found Kendra's eyes. Guilt gripped him again, but was focused more to absolution; to find justice. "If I may?" It was not so much a request, but an order to open the journal so they all could gleam the pages.

"Kendra, I greatly appreciate your hospitality and I would be honored to stay until you have set your mind on what to do. I know the encounter earlier today would discourage you from staying. With your blessing I could seek out to end this ill talk about your father and his work. I reckon this Gibs Hephenus roused the fear of the common villager to get his way. I will take a room for myself before then and settle myself." He smiled at Kendra before he walked upstairs, the unholy book secured under his arm. He was stopped No pun intendedshort by the Halfling Abadarian.

OOC
 

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Old Jan 27th, 2021, 04:25 AM
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The Professor's NotebookBrother Acrisius was the first to approach the books, recognizing them for the terrible and horrific titles that they were. He retrieved the Urgathoa book carefully, whatever purpose he had with that particular book past personally ensuring it didn't spread its evil and blasphemous teachings further throughout Ravegro would be anyone's guess.

The Aasimar cleric also took the time to open Lorrimor's journal. The journal was, for the most part, fairly bland, accounting for day-to-day activities in a small town. The professor had apparently circled several entries in the book with red ink, though, drawing Kestra and Willow's attention directly to them. The final entry, dated Calistril 1, 4711 apparently coincided exactly with the day the Professor's body was found.


OOCMini-update just to reveal the poignant contents of Lorrimor's Notebook.

You can now research the following topics for specific information:
  • Harrowstone (Knowledge History/Local)
  • Whispering Way (Knowledge Arcana/Religion)
  • Harrowstone Prisoners (Knowledge History/Local)

You can do this on your own (free action, but once per topic only), or utilizing the town's resources (spending a day using reference books and other materials - one check per day). Asking around town, or asking Kendra will reveal locations that might help out. One is the Lorrimor house itself-if you wish to use the Professor's library, you gain a +2 bonus to all Knowledge checks made to research the Whispering Way.

Any results of knowledge rolls will appear in your private threads.

 


 


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Old Jan 28th, 2021, 01:28 AM
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Despite sharing the day with the other beings the late professor had seen fit to summon for his memorial, Finneaous did not find himself comfortable with any of them in any real capacity. He had already developed a measure of respect for the orc, the man having managed to quell the fire within long enough to participate in the civilized rituals. The noblewoman amused him, and he held no ill-will toward her. The others, however, were just not people he could readily abide, at least not more than required by the circumstances. While the frail elf seemed agreeable enough, that frailty did not bode well for a journey to Lepidstadt. More worrisome, though, was the Iomedaean. The servants of the Inheritor tended to be well-meaning people, but their zeal sometimes overruled their commitment to order, and that was a huge liability. If he thinks himself greater than the others in regards to that tome, he should be reminded of his capacity for corruption.

Finneaous nodded an apology to Kendra before stepping back over to the others. He looked up to Acrisius, schooling his features to conceal his concern. "A noble sentiment from a noble servant of the Lady of Valor, to be sure." Once more, the halfling lowered his head in a gesture of deference, but only for the briefest of moments. The ego is important. Buoy the manís spirits before suggesting anything that might chafe. Clearing his throat, Finneaous turned to the others. "The good brotherís intentions are worthy, but if even the professor acknowledged that these books are problematic, I suggest that we take exceptional care in their storage and transportation." He smiled sincerely up to the priest before continuing. "While our wills may be strong, we cannot be too proud to admit that there exist powers that would brush such will aside in an instant. I believe that we need to establish protocols for these tomes. As the professor felt they had value, I would not ask that they be locked away, but rather each of us agree on what to expect in their care."

Tiny feet shifted closer to the chest, bringing Finneaous alongside so that he could wave his equally tiny hands over the bound volumes. "Propose elsewise if you wish, but I have three suggestions regarding these, and would be willing to put them all to paper so as to form a binding contract (As a representative of the Church of Abadar, I could almost certainly find a way of defraying the nominal costs associated)." The pint-sized lawyer smiled broadly, bright teeth bared. "Firstly, I would suggest that no single individual be allowed to peruse any of the volumes without another of us present to hold them accountable or to raise the alarm if aught were to happen out of the ordinary." Halfling eyes flashed around the room, making sure that all of the civilized folks could understand him. Mazak was of lesser concern. "Second, I believe it best that all of the books remain in the same room as each other in order to make keeping an account of their presence from becoming laborious." Sighing heavily, his tone went from businesslike to solemn in an instant. "And finally, I would like to request that everyone bring up the existence of these texts under only the most careful of circumstances. As we witnessed the potential of misunderstandings and violence while carrying the professorís body to its rest, I would prefer not to bring such reactions down upon this house any more than is absolutely necessary."

To break the tension, the little barristerís lips quirked into a knowing smirk. "It might be fun to see Mazak put some of the fool townsfolk in their place, but while I trust that some of you have the strength of arms to stay safe in times of trouble, I do fully believe that we should save our valor for times when forethought has failed."
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Old Jan 28th, 2021, 07:44 AM
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The Iomedaean raised a brow as the Halfling spoke. Abandoning his descent up the stairs, he walked over to Finneaous. His armored body towered over him, but Acrisius didn't mean to look threatening. Instead a smile appeared on his lips to disarm any hostilities and he placed the book back on the table.

"I can see your point, righteous Abadean. My train of thought was to separate the books to prevent any with ill intent to acquire them too easily. And on the matter of a contract, I say if we can honor the agreements with our word than our signature." His demeanor brooded however after the first friendly words. "As to the temptation of reading the tomes, I stand by my word. None, and I mean none, should read them. This filth, this blasphemy, belongs locked away from the Sun's light. I, for one, would never stoop so low and sully my soul of even contemplating opening one of these damnable books."

His mailed finger punched the book he had intended of locking away, punctuating each of his words with disdain. "Lock these away and hide the chest! I will humor your suggestions, Finneaous. But I would highly encourage you to hide them well away. Lorrimor had found clues of foul play at the prison ruins, which also confirms my suspicion. These... necromancers from the Whispering Way. If they knew of these tomes we, and at not least Miss Kendra, will be seeing more dangers than a score of dissatisfied villagers."

He let out a long huff of air and took on a more friendly face. "Petros Lorrimor touched each of us in his own way. He left our world too early. I say we take up on his investigation and complete it for him. Find out who or what the Whispering Way were looking for at Harrowstone."

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Old Jan 29th, 2021, 01:14 AM
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The frail elf's features drew into a concerned frown as he peered into the chest, both twisted hands clasping the head of his cane while he leaned in. Perhaps his overabundance of caution was unwarranted but, Care is an investment that rarely fails to pay off. The faintest grin flickered across his serious mien as The Prisoner's mental monologue dipped into an imitation of the Abadaran's voice. His thin lips drew into a tight line once more as his suspicions where confirmed.

Fortunate for the cleric that the Imodaean's prejudices ran deepest against the Pallid Princess.

Despite being loathe to let any of the books out of his sight there was nothing Oseran could reasonably do to halt Brother Acrisius. He started to speak up but Finneaous's intervention proved incredibly timely. So focused was The Prisoner on the jagged treatise in the priests arms he'd missed the halfling stepping away from his conversation with Kendra. The look Oseran cast towards Finneaous was filled with appreciation.

"I agree with you, gentlemen," the elf spoke up in his whispery voice, "On several counts. If I may suggest? One of the interests the Professor and I shared where the contents of these very tomes. He never told me he owned any of them, but I suspected... Well. We both held the belief that forewarned is forearmed."

"I would ask that none of you study these texts too deeply without my assistance. As you pointed out, master Finneaous, the wills behind their penning are wild and terrible indeed. We also run the risk of more mundane harm to ourselves. For instance: all of you take especial care when handling this one," and so saying, he indicated the volume bound in what appeared to be no less than human flesh, a dedication to Zon Kuthon. "A brush against one's skin will drain the blood from your body, likely killing you." Oseran's wasted frame quivered as The Prisoner affected a disgusted shiver. "If I can provide no other service in the furthering of Petros' final request, I can at the very least ensure these volumes cause no harm to any of you. Ideally I would ask that we do such study in pairs only, to minimize the risk involved to all."

Deftly done, if he did say so himself. By focusing on the books' dangers as opposed to their disposition, The Prisoner had both highlighted Oseran's value and laid the groundwork for monopolizing their use. The next step would be forging an alliance with the biggest, baddest, and most morally ambiguous member of their group. As for the step after that... While The Prisoner plotted and schemed, the others laid the contents of Lorrimor's journal bare.

"The Splatter Man!"

The exclamation ripped from the spindly elf's chest with the sobbing sound of a deep wound. Everything about it ran counter to Oseran's carefully cultivated appearance, from its jagged edge to its startling volume. The Prisoner's mental world exploded in a triumphant flash of golden glory. In the Professor's private writings he found validation for his continued existence, the only validation possible for one such as him. Unfortunately, he quickly realized, his outburst was likely to draw attention he'd rather avoid.

"Ah, ahem," he coughed, clearing his throat and scrambling to cover his lapse. "Apologies. As I was saying, The Splatter Man. The Mosswater Maurader. The Piper of Illmarsh. The local prison here was home to several spectacularly nasty criminals in its time. Several years back, a riot within the prison led to a fire that roasted all trapped in its dungeons alive." As if suddenly remembering the silver-limned thrush perched on his shoulder, Oseran reached up a gnarled finger and scratched at the tiny bird's chest. A glimpse of pallid white bone peeked through the disheveled feathers before they quickly fell back in to place. "Twenty four guards perished with them, thus preventing the prisoners' escape."

"Every child born in Ustalava has heard stories of the insidious Whispering Way and their most notorious champion, the Whispering Tyrant. He is the reason we natives keep constant vigil against the forces of undeath in this country. And also the reason for encounters like we experienced laying the Professor to rest." At that, Oseran aped a sad and somewhat apologetic smile. The withered man could feel his voice growing weaker the longer he spoke, exhausted by his own torrent of information. Fortunately he was nearly done. Taking a deep breath, he finished in a rush.

"Harrowstone has stood abandoned since the riot. Necromancers all, if the Whispering Way seek a person within its walls, it is to raise an unholy revenant of remarkable potency. It is said all the Way do is in service of unleashing Tar-Baphon upon the world. This news is more than alarming; it should take precedence over any other concerns. I propose we return to the Restlands immediately, once we have suitably arrayed ourselves, and then return here to further our understanding."
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Old Jan 30th, 2021, 01:20 AM
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Sometimes it paid to be the tiny man in well-tailored garments without any semblance of a deadly weapon on their person. Finneaous knew his appearance afforded him many opportunities that would not be given to Mazak or Acrisius on account of their martial aspect. He could walk among just about anyone and they would assume him to be of no consequence. All the better. That said, there were times he needed to apply incendiary verbiage, and his stature and aspect gave him more leniency. "My esteemed Brother Acrisius, I highly respect your learned position and the fervency you hold for your faithís dogma, but you walk a land devoted to gods who are not your own. I must remind myself of such on a nearly constant basis." Smiling in as disarming a manner as he could muster, he held the priestís gaze. "Do we not serve our churches in whatever manner is appropriate for the place and time? Abadarís law is not that of Ustalav, so I must strive to encourage order where I have such control. If my studies serve me, Iomedaeís will is to root out evil. Knowledge is not evil in and of itself. Evil requires will to apply that knowledge."

Nodding to the frail elf, Finneaous winced sharply. "Yes, knowledge allows that will to bear fruit, but what authority do you have to stand in judgment of knowledge. To do so is no better than the fearful villagers who accosted us in the Restlands. As distasteful as I may find a book of necromancy or a tome devoted to the Midnight Lord, they are just words unless some foul enchantment has been placed upon them, and that is why I advised caution." Drawing a deep breath in through his nose, the halfling closed his eyes for a few seconds, then opened them, looking around to each of the others, trying his hardest to capture each and every one of them just long enough to make an impression on them. "Knowledge is our greatest weapon in the purpose the professor has laid out for us. As unnerving as the words our elven companion has graced us with may be, they arm us. I would ask each of you to think of the tasks we have been given first, and strive to remind yourself where you are and how your biases might hamper your efforts. If you do not wish to participate in some aspect of our mission, I understand. I may be the first to admit that my oaths forbid it. I simply ask that we assist each other as fully as our consciences allow, and only apply our personal constraints to our own actions. If anotherís deeds are so abhorrent, we talk. No one person stands supreme."

His concerns addressed, Finneaous clapped his hands twice to dispel the serious moment. "Now, my expertise lies in the teachings of my church and the other churches of the world. If we must examine a text of Zon-Kuthon, I might be a resource. Additionally, while I hold no love for the undead, I have studied them extensively. As mentioned, my knowledge gives me power, even if I have no intention of using it for evil." With a wink and a smirk, he chuckled and added, "That and I am rather adept at navigating the intricacies of the legal field, so should we need to finagle something with the town council or strike a formal accord with the townsfolk, please let me know. I doubt we will have much use for such things, but one never knows when a contract will be needed."
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Old Jan 30th, 2021, 05:56 AM
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Mazak
Kendra's words fell on deaf ears as he manhandled the chest. There were other sounds that had greater impact.

The Pure Tongue!

The elf spoke it. Mazak gazed into the pale face of Oseran, his own expression one of suspicion and a sharp bark perched on the edge of his lips as his fingertips were caught between the lid and the body of the chest. The physical power in the elf's body was near none. There was no reason that he should have any edge in a contest of strength, but the words... The orc's attention was sucked away as he regarded Oseran. This elf knew, not exactly secrets, but moments he had considered more private. That others spoke his tongue was not revelatory. That this one did was... Mazak wasn't certain.

He rose to his full height as this elven witch-doctor made his nature known with arcane power; the orc's meaty fingers catching the lid and effortlessly flipping it open in a silent rebuke of the other as they cast their spell. The sight of the books themselves continued this pattern of mixed emotions. Dread, wariness, and frustration. Acrisius, Finneaous, and Oseran swirled around him with words and ideas. He reached up and swept his hair back from his face. This was tiring.

Harrowstone and the Whispering Way, necromancers. The Whispering Tyrant. Something clicked and a cold shiver passed through his spine. The name was not unknown in the Hold; a legendary leader who united the Horde, who killed the Horde, did not let them die. That was not the way. A tiny knot began to form in his stomach; unconsciously a low growl. I don't like this. I.

Oseran's sudden outburst startled him, his head swiveling quickly to express pointed concern directly at this strange elf. This story was unnerving. These dead do not rest easy. Grimburrow's power is strong, but it clearly is not strong enough. The human rites do not hold the death that is Harrowstone. He swatted at an invisible fly by his nose, the conversation moving rapidly by him as he made sense of it all. If any of it made sense. If the debt did not demand the delivery, he would have torched the chest; contents and all. Talk swiftly moved to returning to the Restlands. Taking from the Restlands. Would that anger the dead? Mazak scowled at the thought.

"Zemaraum nar ash-hai nen." He looked pointedly at Oseran as he spoke, harshly, before casting his gaze around. "Do not anger the great one below. Do not draw the attention of gods. Loot the buildings, burn the village, kill the men, enslave the weak, don't tempt the dead. This is the way. Uruk do not touch the tombs of legends without the blessings of the shaman. Wise uruk at least. We will demand Grimburrow's blessing. He will perform the rite to quiet the dead." He exhaled through his nose forcefully.

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Old Jan 31st, 2021, 04:55 AM
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Lorrimor's Will
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Starday, Calistril 18 4711 AR


Kendra couldn't say she wasn't curious they discussed her father's treasure trove of books. This part of her father's life had always been kept from her and, if she was being perfectly honest, it filled her with a sense of adventure, diving into the occult, the mysterious, the unknown. So much of the house already resembled a madman's cabinet of curiosities, but she still wasn't really prepared for Brother Acrisius' zealous declamation.

"Blasphemous books? Surely a book cannot be blasphemous in itself, can it? Just a collection of words, yes?" The journal was opened and part of Kendra wished to reach out and take it, the journal wasn't mentioned in the will now, was it? Perhaps she could keep that one? A small part of her father's mind that she could read and tease out, find out the things he never shared, the secrets he took to his grave? Then Finneaous spoke, the wonderfully eloquent lawyer used his words to wend his way into her thoughts, speaking of caution and secrecy yet again. At least Kendra was part of the great plot this time.

"I know the perfect spot to hide the books away. Leave it to me, this house has many secrets..." She paused, glancing over at the back of the house, before returning to address the diminutive halfling. "At least, there are some here that I know about, no doubt Father hid a few other things around here as well."

As she spoke, Kendra moved to collect the books, but halted as Oseran spoke. Her hair rose on her arms and her skin shivered as she looked down at the spine-tingling skin-covered book as Oseran described the horrible fate of anyone who touched it with their bare hands. Then the frail elf erupted in emotion, startling Kendra and causing her to jump back for fear of being too close to the man. Concern and fear consumed her as she addressed Oseran's outburst. "You know the stories then, of the horror of the Harrowstone Fire? There were more, those horrible prisoners supposedly nearly overrun the guards and made it back up to freedom. Ravengro likely wouldn't be here if the selfless Warden hadn't burnt the place to the ground with himself in it. Do you really think the Whispering Way wanted something to do with the prison? What could they possibly want?"

Kendra shook her head, disbelief and fear still gripping her mind. Anger started to creep in too, frustration that there was so much she didn't know about her Father's life. "Father surrounded himself with such extraordinary people. A frail old elf and a fastidious lawyer. A ritualistic orc and a righteous half-angel. Even a gnome with a blue wolf and a bona-fide lady. All coming together to-what? Do you want to explore these books and find out what Father was trying to achieve? Or hide them away and wait out the month while I set myself up as best I can following my Father's death? Will you try and tear Harrowstone Prison apart brick-by-brick, trying to find evidence of this 'Whispering Way'? Track down the Splatter Man's final resting place and, and... And what?" Kendra started to seethe, Mazak had started to speak in strange ways, none of which she understood. "And what in the world do you mean by burn the village, kill the men, hmm? And going on about demanding Grimburrow's blessing-how dare you sir! Surely you haven't come up face-to-face with may Pharasman priests, least of all Father Grimburrow. He doesn't suffer those sorts of requests lightly." Kendra addressed the last to Mazak, the brusque orc seeming to rub Kendra up the wrong way. "Besides, you couldn't go see him today anyway, there is much to be done for my Father before he is properly at rest."

Kendra sighed and rested one hand on the top of the lid of the chest, ready to close it and move it into hiding. "My apologies, sirs. The day is still young, but I am already drained from the morning's work. Whenever you have all decided on your course of action for the day, I can clean up this mess, hide it away and we can forget about these books for a month. Just tell me the code phrase, and I can use it at any time. Father taught it to me - Warden Hawkran Protect Us."



OOCIf you want Kendra to hide the books somewhere in the house she will do so. It is still only late morning, so there is plenty of time in the day for whatever you like.

 


 


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Old Feb 1st, 2021, 06:29 PM
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Lady Ashmanaille Teldas
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Lady Ashmanaille stood to the side, quietly listenting to the rest of the group debate. Her posture was immaculate, back straight, one hand resting on her rapier, the other on her hip. The tomes revealed had unsettled her, especially the one bound in human skin. She had suppressed a shudder at that revelation. While on principle, she agreed that such knowledge could be useful, she felt sullied just being in the same room as such vile texts. She'd leave the study of such things to the others, should it be necessary. As for her goal here now, she would follow Petros' requests as best as she could. She turned to Kendra, smiling. "I think that would be a wise course of action, at least for now. Now, I believe you mentioned some tea? I, for one, would welcome a hot cup of tea after my travels." Her smile turned sad, and she added, "And after this morning's... outing." She quickly fed warmth back into her features. "Let us go to the kitchen. I can assist with the making of tea. And before you protest, I must insist."
 
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Old Feb 3rd, 2021, 08:05 PM
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Having settled in for the reading of the will, with Beriton returning to lay in front of the fire, and Zuram pouring himself a glass of water for the moment for the sober moment of a will reading. What was revealed was interesting. Illegal to have books? What an odd concept, well of course he had heard of places where religions were banned, and so maybe their holy books were as well. Or someone that banned magic, who knows. Still, they were just books. The prospect of staying wasnít exactly thrilling, just because it meant being locked down into this town to help out Miss Lorrimor, but well a favor was asked, and payment was being offered as well. The halfling turned his gaze to the lady, thinking back on what he had seen so far, her response to the villagers when they had appeared. He remembered the venom in those villagers, the fear and anger, and the way she had and was dismissing it, it sat badly with him. He might not be the best judge of character, but he didnít think this was a drinking mob that would just forget it all ever happened.

Seeing the chest in question brought forward, he wasnít exactly sure what all the fuss was about. Surely the professor wouldnít just leave dangerous books lying around, even if his death had been unexpected, he couldnít see Petros being THAT short sighted. When Finneaous started speaking, Zurzam looked in his direction and sentence after sentence caused his right eyebrow to raise higher and higher. Turning his now rather confused gaze towards Oseran and his brow wrinkled. "Could you translate what the lawyer over there just spouted about this here box of books?" As the words left his mouth, he watched Mazak go for the chest and he watched in curiosity. To see the aged elf hobbling to the chest and stumbling against it was an odd sight, but then Oseran had spoken of a ĎSourceí which was not known to Zurzam, so mayhaps he had an interest in whatever forbidden books the professor had possessed. For himself he saw little interest in them other than idle curiosity. Still, he rose from his place and went to stand beside Oseran, ready for the opening. He leaned back a bit as the elf cast his magicks, not wanting to get in the way and he glanced instead over to Kendra. The books werenít going anywhere, or at least he didnít expect them too, but the woman was, well she was clearly having trouble treading water.

Moving around the back of the small chest and a bit towards her once he got past it, he offered a smile, the wild halfling standing in the midst of her cultured house. "I wouldnít worry about it too much, they are just books. I doubt the professor would leave anything blatantly dangerous laying around in a simply locked chest." Spreading his hands, calloused and stained by the rigors of his traveling life in an attempted gesture of comfort before turning back to see what had been revealed.

He stood to the side, barely able to see the table top, and sighed before going to get a chair he could put next to the table and hop up onto, easily holding it off the ground instead of dragging it across the floor. Smiling as he was finally able to see the contents of the chest and he tilted his head, blue-green hair shifting to the side and he reached a hand up to stroke at his beard. The priestís reaction elicited a smile that tugged at Zurzamís lips first before spreading as he looked over the books. "They are just books, and it seems mostly non-magical. One manís blasphemy is another oneís holy words." He chuckled at the group he was apparently going to be spending a month with. Watching the priest handle the book with revulsion and trepidation, the halfing slipped his slender arm in and picked up the black book, hefting it up in his hands and examining it. He eyed the title and tapped the cover, stepping to the side while the others squabbled and opened it. He glanced over what he expected to be a title page and looked up as the ranting of the Iomeaean priest thundered against his ears. "Iíll stoop, it isnít as far down for me." He flashed a wild looking grin as he closed the book again and patted it, slipping it under his arm.

Leaning against the table, he watched the ensuing, argument, conversation, debating match, call it what you like, it was quite the show for a simple country halfling. The outburst from Oseran painted a new layer to the man, and the halfling cocked his head to the side, eyeing him and then listening as Mazak spoke up. He himself hadnít had any dealings with orc, but what this one said spoke some interesting aspects. The poor soul must feel like a fish out of water, in how different a place he stood in now. Then again, he could understand, cause right now he did too. Gods and killers, spooks and fear, it wave a tang in the air it seemed. From the sadness of the funeral to now, a pack of priests arguing over paper and ink. What a funny turn his world had taken. Still, he patted the book and smiled up at Kendra. "Iíll keep this one for the moment, Iím curious to see what tales it holds."

He offered a boyish grin and moved back over to the table of snacks. Setting the book down upon his chair from earlier, he poured himself another round of mead and picked out a few of the pickles the orc had decimated. Sitting himself down, and setting the book upon his lap, he laid out a napkin and started to munch quietly upon the vinegared snack. He watched the rest and waited to see just what it was they would decide. The day was definitely young, and while he had no personal interest in the prison, it being the source of the last moments of the Professor, it did offer a curious destination. The tales of it, as spoken of by the surprising elf, made him wonder. He knew little of the ways of death and undeath, but if any situation would seem to make monsters out of men, that one would, all that death and torment and the anger of a denied reprieve. Such grounds seemed fertile for all sorts of tales and spooks.
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