Set to parchment this 30th day of the Month of Sorrows, in 1332 the year of the Standard…
I am overjoyed to report that I am once again returned with Team 37, sans Kypris, of course, as she is returning to Archemaine per her orders. The team seems gloomy and affected by their loss. Also, the prospect of dealing with a potentially criminal sibling gives our good Father a dour disposition. The three day trek to Witheridge is spent in quietude, ploddingly advancing in fog, next rain, and yet another bout of heavy and bone-chilling fog. When at last we espy the town of Witheridge, set as it is at the foot of the Withered Hills, jutting abruptly like some huge swollen toe, exhaustion and cold take their toll on the lot of us.
The next few days, upon this side venture – thoughts of Laedersburg and the orc Degarn, with his unholy Heart weighing heavily on the team’s own hearts – are frustrating for the team, to say the least. Not only is Father Calen’s brother arrested, but he has escaped from the somewhat laxly guarded Gaol, and at the cost of one precious gift from Quarrel Jackobie, the nephew of Bertrand Finesmith, Lord of Witheridge. Gareth Fosseway is a fugitive criminal with a death warrant on his head.
The team’s investigations prove relatively fruitless, leads ending or withering out before they have a chance at fruition. What seems at first glance as a simple misunderstanding, leading to murder and fugitive flight, is now much more complex, and perhaps a darker force is at work in this town.
As I pen this report, these few things seem to ring true, but most are not yet proven:
- Gareth Fosseway and his companion, Richard Brownson find themselves in Witheridge, racing home with the intent of delivering some urgent news to Lord Fosseway.
- They are accosted by the local reeve, who accuses them of some sort of deviltry, of which ultimately they are innocent, but resist the constable in order to carry on their missive.
- Gareth is arrested, imposing himself for capture, thus allowing his companion to escape.
- Later that day, Gareth is broken free from the Gaol, and the poor lad Quarrel is slain.
- The reeve, Sir Anders, assumes Gareth’s companion is the perpetrator of the murder and escape plot.
- The team has uncovered a series of missing persons, leaving the city unexpectedly and abandoning their mounts at the stables. These missing person, all but one, are travelers passing through Witheridge.
- A girl, age 14 summers, is missing. Her family is distraught, but no clues are found by the reeve when he investigates some weeks ago.
- Whoever has slain Quarrel uses Blue Whinnis poison, notable for its ability to render its victims unconscious.
- An unnatural, smelly creature, a small being which flies on insect-like buzzing wings, either is the assassin who kills Quarrel, or accompanies said assassin. Residue from the creature is found on the sill at the Gaol.
- Quarrel does not witness the assassin who kills him, but describes the aforementioned smelly buzzy creature.
- Several ritual sites are found in the near vicinity, directly outside the walls of Witheridge, which have grisly remains and indicate evil cult activity.(Gareth and his companion are originally thought to be associated with the cult, but circumstances prove otherwise, and the reeve agrees to this).
- The team back-tracks the cult member’s trail to a split, an egress, in one of the walls of the city.
- The team is running out of time, for they have barely 8 days before they are expected to return for a meeting with Sir Laeder in Laedersburg.
Iz’Alma again performs the soothsaying she does with her pack of nonsense. She believes, according to her spiritual cards, that Gareth Fosseway (in representation by the Knight of Swords) travels on some mission or journey which is interrupted (I do not recall the card she mentions). Finally she draws the Donjon card, indicating that the man is currently in imprisonment. I find her readings amusing at best, yet if it proves correct once more, I may opine differently next time.
One last note before I send off this report. It seems the Order of the Rose and Cross have a monastery of some size here in Witheridge. The team visits the place and an emissary visits them at the tavern, wishing to converse. This person, one Oberous Mathowny, is a Faun, Fey. Although I trust him not a dram, he is cordial and congenial and has his race’s ever honey-laced tongue, subsequently alluring himself into the graces of the team’s hearts. I suspect this creature is involved somehow with either the cult or the disappearances or both. Luckily I am immune to Oberous’ persuasive talents and charms, hence I will keep vigilant guard against his lies and deceits. I understand that my enmity towards his lascivious race is a bit hypocritical, being fey myself. Yet it strikes me as stranger than strange that this particular creature just now chooses to show himself and address the team as he does. He is all airs of “Yes, I know why you are here,” and “Yes of course, this is not news to us…”, but in the end, this faun knows no more than the team, and they cause him to admit it. But he confesses in such a way as to engender sympathy and trust from the team. It is all I could do to keep myself from wretching, or worse, expose myself in the middle of the tavern there. I keep my head, however, and do not chide him, nor scold him, nor expose him for the fraud I know him to be.
Presently, it is off to bed with all of us. The team seems unsure of its path on the morrow, and I blame them not. This situation is a tangled conundrum. The best of it is, in my opinion, that Gareth is not currently being held in the Gaol for any crime, and my hopes are that he is free and approaching his home with the news for which a young boy loses a gift. Additionally, be this a bane or boon, we are a but a few days from departing once again for Laedersburg to deal with the ninny Sir Laeder. It seems our choices for the next few weeks are poor and poorer.
Your relentless servant,
Master Ervain of Littlehollow
Chronicler Third Class