The Dark Carnival

The Missing Man from Ostrich

May 27

Leave and arrive Ostrich late. We bed down outside of town to enter in the morning.

May 28

Windy, cold day for spring.
We meet the family. Parents and 2 younger siblings of the missing man Hans, family name Gruber.
The Thorp is called twin oaks where Hans moved about a year ago as a lumberjack. Farming and woodcutting are the works in Twin Oaks. Hans has enjoyed a quiet peaceful life in the very small community. He writes at least monthly. The last 2 times anyone has come from Twin Oaks, within 2 weeks of one another both in the last month, through this way there has been nothing. So they are concerned. The 2nd traveller said it seemed odd in town when he was there. People not quite as friendly as normal, like they quietly couldn’t wait until he was gone.
“We aren’t a rich family. We can give you a meager reward if something bad has truly happened. Especially if we can get him safe. What they can provide is travelling supplies.
Yanath “Very good.”
They also give us some basic info on T Oaks:
A small council runs the town. The head member is a woman named Vandra; man named Lobbur, a farmer like Vandra; Hedvynn, smithy; Bumor the tavern keeper.
Hans had mentioned nothing untoward about anyone in town. People tend to hang at the tavern in the evenings. Friendly community.
“If Hans had met with an accident or some such, someone would surely had sent word.”
The thorp is just innside the edge of the forest south of Friedl. A narrow cart track leads 3 miles into the forest to the thorp from the NW, from Friedl where all shipping leaves from and comes into the area. It then proceeds past the town to the lumbering sites.

Yanath and Barleycorn agree to hit Friedl first and glean what info they have on Twin Oaks recently.

May 29

Cut east across strecht of N/S hills then skirt forest north for Friedl. Great travelling weather, 60 with slight breeze and cloudy.
Crazy Wolf and Gerald and his wolf pack become each others new best friend.

May 30

Arrive early evening, Friedl.
The sheriff has heard of no issues in TO. No one has come to town from there for a couple weeks. Its a bit unusual but not totally unheard of this time of year. Things just getting started down there.
At the inns, Iggy and Barleycorn get some word: Barleycorn that about a month ago a small group stopped in Friedl and went into the mts from here. Some kind of adventurers who said they were on a holy quest to destroy some horrible creature living in the mts. Iggy that about 2 weeks ago couple men came into Friedl for supples, soldiers who said they were part of a small group of sellswords, were heading south after they left here supposedly. Struck this townsman as odd. Heard later some people saw the 5 of them moving south.

June 1

First thing in morning, Yanath, Iggy and Barley split up amongst the general stores to ask about what these soldiers bough. Yanath is the one who happens into the right place. The manager remembers them, bought standard travelling stuff. All definitely warrior types. Overheard nothing about their plans other than looking for work.
Not adding up for yanath. Merc work can take you anywhere, but you gain such work along more travelled roads, not out here. Yanath buys a few things. He has heard nothing from TO, when asked.
“Typically by planting season we’ll get orders from farmers for seed, equipment replacements, animals, etc. At least a couple of them every season looking for at least a few things” but this year nothing for at least a few weeks.

Into the wild.

We skirt the high country north of TO then come down toward the roads out to the lumber sites. We arrive to town in afternoon. The wolves and mounts are left at a creek where we all will meet tonight.
Iggy gets into a position to watch the town with a spyglass. The rest of us circle the town east and south to find the lumber trails.
Iggy: each of the 6 houses is 2 stories. Tavern. Smithy and stables are together. There is a large pond just outside of town. A ring of mobile stiles lines the town perimeter. About 3 acres of farmland cleared just south. Little undergrowth around town. Little activity. No one works the farms, nor does anyone go into or come from the lumber trails. Smithy is not operating. He takes note of the fields condition to relay to Barleycorn later, but he thinks they tilled maybe half, could have planted something, then just stopped.

The rest of us first come to the town graveyard NW of town. 6 total graves. 5 old and weather worn. 1 very new, dirt only couple days dug up for certain. No identification yet, just a marker.
We next reach the first log trail. Gerald is left to investigate this path, the others continue on. He goes to logging area and finds no one. Also seems to be no recent logging for at least several days. Like one day no one ever showed.
The rest come upon a man walking down the next trail, whistling going away from town. Yanath at the point lets him pass then follows with Dog, sending Barley and Crazy Wolf ahead. Dog follows Yanath. They find no other paths so finish circling the town looking for anything suspicious then back to the meeting spot.
The man walks to the logging site, same state as Gerald’s, and casually walks around looking at ground and out at the treeline like he’s looking for something. When he loops back to the path he starts toward town again. After he leaves Yanath investigates the perimeter closely. Yanath finds nothing unusual. He snakes further out and wider, methodically, but nothing. Dog picks up no scent that get him growling or the like. The site is nothing special either.
We catch up to the guy to make sure he goes all the way into town, which he does then into the tavern.
Yanath stops and sees Iggy. Yanath is going to get the crew back here to take turns watching the town overnight in shifts.

As dark closes in, everyone we did see in town earlier gets indoors and shut things up securely.
Yanath “All right men, on guard.” Things could be quite dangerous. He gets everyone up now.
Gerald volunteers to circle the town to recon. Yanath sends Crazy Wolf and Barley with him. To Barley “Check out the farming fields closely.” Nothing. Barley confirms they started the planting but absolutely nothing since nor maintenence on what they did do. He figures 2 weeks since.
No activity in town neither, at all. Not even lights from inside buildings.
Barley wants to help their crops, jokes about being there weeding in the morning when everyone wakes up. We half consider the crazy idea just to see how the town would react.
Yanath takes a walk to the log sight he was at before with Barley and Crazy Wolf. Lantern on at the sight as its still cloudy, no moonlight. Nothing. We shut the light down and just look out into woods in total quiet. Dog keeps guard behind us.
Soon enough, we hear noise in the forest! Like something fairly large. Maybe more than 1. We listen intently now and the noise stops suddenly just beyond our sight. Yanath readies to turn the lantern on. It starts loudly again, light goes on, and they come right for us!! Snorting away come 2 huge boars, like Dire huge.
We drop them after Barley takes a couple terrible hits and Yanath takes 1 crit.

We start cut them open and they are indeed standard dire boars. We carve off meat, all we can carry back, to eat while we are here. Then drag the bodies away from the clearing. Disguise the fight as best we can as well.
Back to Iggy.

June 2

Great day for outdoorsmen: 44 degrees, light wind, sky perfectly clear “Celestial Clarity” = plus 4 spot, search, listen, SM; Negates fear and confusion effects

We watch more as morning comes. Windows are opened, townsfolk appear but seem generally nervous. Always looking around and behind them as if expecting something. No work is begun whatsoever.

We walk into town via the trail.
We are hailed friendly enough by a man named Lobbur. Iggy says we are wilderness warriors passing through the area on our travels.
Yanath says we have a friend in town named Hans.
Iggy and Yanath notice that besides the townsfolk, 2 men are walking in town separately but both armored and armed like sellswords.
Gerald sees a field next to the town where obviously they were grazing livestock; none in sight now though.
Barleycorn notices that the only building that seems to have people going to and from is the tavern. Otherwise, people meander, get in small groups and talk, then go their separate ways.
Crazy Wolf realizes he has not seen one child in this town, at all.
Gerald mentions the livestock issue to Lobbur, and Barleycorn adds the garden.
Yanath adds they obviously are having some sort of trouble, we’d be glad to help.
“Oh no, we’re all fine here, now , thank you. We did have some problems recently, bandits came through. Luckily these mercs happened to be in town and were able to chase them off.” 4 mercs, he says. This was about 2 weeks ago. Town was afraid bandits would return, haven’t had a chance to get back to their daily live yet “We’re a very frightened people. Most things scare us. Now, if you’d like to have a meal before you head on your way” he points to the Plow Tavern and “I will fetch Hans for you.”
Yanath “Well, Barleycorn is an experienced farmer,he’d be happey to help you with the fields today, or tomorrow.”
“That would be wonderful, if you have time.”
Y “We have plenty of time, nothing but time, really. We’ll stay around here for a while to help.”
He says they gave the sellswords a small payment, but since they had no other jobs on the horizon they are being paid in shelter and food since. We say we can bring in our own food to start on a spit near the tavern, but we’ll check out the place anyway.
One of the sellswords is here and a few others. Bumor’s wife works here as well, cooks the food. He’s fine with us putting the boar on a spit. Barleycorn goes out to start the spit.
Stairs go up to second floor. By that is another door; a back door goes outside where he says to set up our spit.
Yanath goes to the merc “His next drink’s on me”. Introduce self and asks about the bandit affair. Guthwine says they weren’t tough, maybe a dozen of them. Then didn’t put up much of a fight vs real warriors once they engaged. They have seen tracks of them generally since, that’s why they are still around. Says came from north as we heard before.
Yanath has a strong suspicous he’s lying about something. He also says the bandits took the livestock before the mercs chased them away. Why they’ve left the crops is a mystery to him, he claims.
“They are a skittish lot, though.
Crazy Wolf has been hanging at the bar talking with Bumor as best he can. Wolf is sure he is not being magically driven.
Yanath “So, have you met Hans Gruber?”
“Who? The only people I talk to in this town are the bosses.” He is telling the truth, Yanath thinks.
Y “Well, we need to get this town working.”
The door opens, Lobbur enters with Hans. Crazy Wolf walks over with Yanath to greet him. We get our own table with Hans, who follows. He asks who we are. We tell them exactly why we’re here.
He’s been busy “with stuff”.
Wolf feels he is not being compulsed.
He insists they can’t log because there are horrible creatures in those woods.
Wolf “We’re cooking 2 of them in back.”
Something is wrong in his presentation here, a fool could see it.
Yanath says we’re going to help you all get started.
“Mighty kind, but i think we’re good though but you should go talk to the council. I’m pretty sure we’re all fine here, everything is fine.”
We here too much of “We’ll be fine”.
This is getting us no where.
Iggy sees the merc staring at us the entire time.
Wolf goes out to check on Barley, tells him his plan, then comes in and tells the innkeeper Barley needs some assistance with the pit. The wife goes outside to assist. Barley tries to get her to open up. She insists they are “all fine, all good”. He asks again, she kind of looks around, and repeats the same answer.
Barleycorn scans the area, sees nothing.
Hans has a house in the village here, where a group of the lumberjacks live.
Yanath “So I understand the livestock, and the logging, but why isn’t the blacksmith working?” Hans says he’s been very sick.
We hang for a while but no one shows up to help Barleycorn with the fields. At lunchtime one of the other mercs arrives, the other who was here leaves. Iggy goes to sit out front with a drink to see where he goes: He wanders about for a while, as is another one. A group of a few townsfolk gather together talking. One of the mercs walks up and gives them a stern look and motion, they then break up.
Gerald with wolves and Crazy Wolf goes into the woods to look for this supposed evidence of bandits. They do find evidence of livestock wandering the woods, but no bandits. We start to track down the livestock.
We find a cow first after another hour. We get it back to the grazing field. One of the farmers sees it and meets us “so, where did you find the cow?”
“In the woods.” He’s surprised it wasn’t eaten by the horrible things out there. This guy acts the same as everyone. He takes his leave quickly.
Soon after, a woman approaches with Lobber, its Vandra. She heard we brought one of the cows back and assures us it will be cared for. Lobbur personally will watch it. She wants us to come and have a talk.
Wolf “You should really talk to Yanath and Barleycorn at the inn”. She agrees. We head back into the woods for more livestock.
Vandra meets with the rest of us, right before Yanath was going to send Barleycorn to find her and Lobbur, now all sitting behind tavern at our spit.
More excuses concerning the fields et al. We say we’ll be ready to take them to logging sight and farming.
“That sounds fine.”
She does say the monstrous creatures showed up after the mercs arrived.

Crazy Wolf and Gerald find and return a couple pigs, goats, and several chickens. Lobbur does remain with them.

Yanath goes to meet with some loggers on the street, who give him a blankly surprised look about getting back to work the next day. Then agree (bullcrap) and disperse.
Well, they’re not going to show up.
We let the day go along, eat our boar meat and bed down outside where we cooked. The kitchen has its own stairway to their larger living area. Mercs stay in 2 rooms upstairs, 2 per room. In the evening, there was another rotation of the merc in the tavern. We still have not seen the 4th. Elreden and Norbert are the other 2.
At the boar feast, we meet a woman named Jezzor, a half elf, town carpenter, was in charge of the building of the town. She does mention ‘watch yourselves’. Yanath invites her to come hang out with us here where we will bed down “welcome any time”.
Yanath does see the man he saw out at the logging sight the night before. Another of the wandering sheep. Yanath takes note of where he goes when night falls.

Barley went to see blacksmith with Crazy Wolf. There are 6 horses stabled. Big burly Hedvynn answers. Barley introduces us.
“What are you doing here?”
We say we’re here to buy so he takes us in to his shop. CW checks his coinpurse at the front door just for show. We buy nails and arrowheads.
In conversation we tell him where we are staying. He gives us the “watch yourselves tonight”.
We leave.

We rest most of the evening in prep for staying up late. When night is falling, everying gets inside. The mercs to do a quick sweep of the town making sure everything is locked up tight and the 3 of them sit in the tavern. Tavernkeeper closes up business.
Mercs “We are heading up to our rooms, don’t bother us while we are sleeping.”
Bumor says he’ll leave the back door open for us in case we need to come inside.
He turns in, we all go outside and relax.

Almost an hour later, we hear some noise from around the corner of the building. It’s Jezzor! Being very sneaky, darkly garbed.
“You have to leave tonight. There are horrible things hunting the town.”
She insists the mercs have nothing to do with the hunting things, and are paranoid about it. The things are humanoid, mercs think it may be people from town becoming these things. She thinks worse than lycanthropes. We get on guard around our camp.

At the stiles, Dog’s ears perk up suddenly. A low growl alerts us. Crazy Wolf and Yanath turn in Dog and Barley’s direction. A squeeling from a pig! Like its being slaughtered!
We tell Jezzor to get into the tavern, back door is open. Barley stays with her.
The rest of us rush to the grazing field. On our way we see the livestock scattering. We find the dead pig, throat ripped out. There is not as much blood as they’re should be for having its throat ripped out.
Something drank it? Dog and Gerald’s wolf are put on the scent. That means its not aerial. It leaves town NW to the graveyard! The fresh grave is empty now.
Noooooooo!!!
Now we turn on lanterns and Yanath looks for actual tracks. He finds footprints, shoed, to and from the grave.
Yanath tracks further with Dog into the woods where it disappears. Checking the nearby trees, no evidence of climbing.
Back to town!! Run!!!

Back in the tavern, Barley feels an odd tug at his brain. A feint voice for a moment asking him to go outide, its a nice night, take a walk. He shakes it off.
We get back. Jezzra asks if we found anything.
“We didn’t see it, but have a bad feeling about what it is.” She says the grave is that of one killed in the first bandit raid. A farmer cut down in the raid.

At the Inn:
We sleep inside. It seems the vampire perhaps can’t enter the inn for whatever reason. 2 guards at a time; no one is to leave the common room w/o taking another person and waking more up. That way if anyone wanders off we know they are charmed.

June 3

The mercs come down, followed shortly thereafter by the innkeeper and wife. We tell them we figured out what is really hunting this town at night.
Where is the 4th merc? He comes walking down the steps. Phulbit is his name. Innkeeper makes breakfast for everyone.
As the sun rises, more and more people are active outside. Jezzor goes to check on her house; few minutes later we hear a commotion outside. Bunch of people huddle around one of the houses, that of the lumberjacks. 2 of them exit the building, the other 2 are missing. We go inside to look around and get to their respective bedrooms. Crazy Wolf circles the house for tracks fresh from last night.
Their beds were slept in last night; the shudders in both of their rooms are unlocked and open. The other bedroom ones are shut, for comparison. Yanath yells out one of them for Crazy Wolf to start below there.
Yanath and Iggy check the outside face of the windows, but no marks of climbing visible. Crazy Wolf sees prints! Facing the grazing area. 3 sets, like mingling about the back of the building. But do not appear to go anywhere away, all with footwear. No evidence of a fight. No blood inside nor outside. Shudders were opened w/o force.
Jezzor arrives. In a hushed tone to Yanath and Barley “I got to talk to you outside”. There are other people in the house. She exits carefully; we leave several minutes later separately.
Outside: she has no thougts on a vamp, but someone broke into her house last night. One of her shudders was open. She noticed scuff marks, looked like something was slid tween them to open the latch.
Iggy and Crazy Wolf find no landing impressions as if the 2 men jumped, but no approaching footprints either.
Lots of groups gathering in the town talking. We send Jezzor with Gerald to check on the smith.
Yanath returns to the mercs at the Inn to get his take. Phulbit is gone already “things to take care of”. One of them leaves to patrol the town. Iggy leaves to keep and eye on the jerk who left. We say Barleycorn was in danger last night, so we get up to go upstairs. One of them insists on being our tour guide, not wanting their rooms rummaged around in. The other guy gets up and walks outside also.
Iggy sees the other 3 councilmembers, other than the smith, talking in a group. The merc goes to them first and joins in the conversation.
Crazy Wolf stays at the common room to hold the fort, then follows the other out. He goes to one of the houses. 2 older men stand there, the merc talks to them, pointing at each as he does so. Then walks away. Both of them start walking away from town in 2 different directions. He watches first, both go down a different logging trail. He follows the guy taking the one Yanath tailed before.
First he takes us to their 2 rooms. Yanath, Dog and Barley enter. We find nothing unusual with a fast look around in Norbert/Guthwine. Dog reacts to no unnatural scent. 2nd room is his own room with Philbit. Again, no scent from Dog. Yanath notices possible equipment for 3 different people in this room, not just 2.
Now the empty room. Its unlocked and unused for quite awhile. We find nothing untoward.
Back downstairs, and let the wife know what we are doing and we would like to investigate their living quarters. She lets us use the private staircase. We go up. 2 rooms, we check left first, bedroom, find nothing unusual.2nd room is locked. Barley goes to the wife for the key and sees the other merc relaxing with an ale. She tells him we keep some personal stuff in there, thinks she should ask her husband first.
Dog sniffs at the crack of the door, picks up no bad scent.
Barley keeps trying to convince her its ok. She gives in after looking around “try to not disturb anything in there, and be quick please”.
Barley returns and we open the door to another bedroom. A child’s room and well maintained, yet no signs of being lived in recently. We find nothing.
Noise from downstairs. Downstairs we go, locking door behind us. Bumor and couple other townsfolk are their, he’s talking privately to his wife. When he sees us he turns to us “gentlemen, um, Vandra would like to see you” the head councilwoman. He gets close to his wife, whispers something to her sternly, and leads us to one of the houses. Vandra and Lobbur are present. They respectfully ask that we pack up our things and leave. “Not trying to be rude, but etc; everything will be fine. We’ve been assured everything will be fine by Elreden” and they are sure they will eliminate this horrible scourge upon our town. We say we’ll finish up our business with Hans and the smith.
Meanwhile with Crazy Wolf:
Guy does same thing Yanath saw; looks around as he is walking down the path, glancing into the woods. At the logging sight, walks the perimeter checking the ground primarly, and looks out in the woods, like he’s looking for something, then walks back.
Meanwhile at the Smithy:
He’s at the stable tending to mounts. He turns as our approach “thank the gods you’re still alive” to Jezzor. He saw her window was open and front door open. She questions her door being open cause it wasn’t when she returned. He says it was just after sunrise. She got there shortly after and it was closed. He saw nothing further unfortunately. He mentions how the rest of the council does not heed his advice anymore. The other 3 have stopped consulting him. He still thinks its best we don’t dig into things too deeply. They are the merc’s horses. Gerald mentions the 5th merc we heard of in the northern city. He bold faced lies that he left town. Gerald’s wild side shows and he intimidates him to stop lying! Smithy persists.
Gerald “Speak the truth or be dinner.”
“I can’t tell you anything. No one can, except for her” pointing to Jezzor! She tries to deny. Smithy insists she does know but doesn’t want to say out of her respect and loyalty to the town. But she’s the only one w/o something else to lose “I’ve already said too much.” She says she has no idea what he’s talking about. Gerald can tell she’s full of it. She says because we won’t succeed in this, they will all be punished, is why this isn’t worth explaining.
Gerald heads back to the tavern with Jezzor, meeting yanath and Barley there with Iggy. We exchange information at our backyard camp.
Jezzor recommends to just leave town, she will come as well. She thinks everyone else will be ok and if she’s with us, doesn’t think anyone will give chase.
Yanath “So, where is the innkeeper and wife’s child? And whose fresh grave is out there unmarked?”
The grave is Fredrick, one of the farmers, who died recently. The child is ‘somewhere safe’.
“Where is the missing merc?” Off performing a special mission, being a guard.
Crazy Wolf nods she’s not lying, but something evasive to it.
“Who’s he guarding.”
“I don’t know.”
Yanath asks her what the guy out at the logging sight was looking for: ‘they walk down there a couple times a day looking for potential strangers coming to town.” Yean, right.
Where does Philbut stay? She claims to not know. She barely ever sees him.
Elreden comes out of the tavern. Asks if we would provide a couple expert woodsmen to assist with a search in the woods. They thing they got a lead on the 2 loggers. One of the locals took a stroll in the woods and thought he saw them to the east of town. Alive. We send Gerald and Crazy Wolf. Philbut waits for us at the edge of town to join us. After they leave, Yanath sends Iggy to tail them in case anything happens.
Gerald and his wolf throw out some seemingly random wolf calls, getting his pack in the area to respond.
As they go, they hear wolves, not gerald’s. We see a large pack of wolves approaching from both sides.
Gerald “They are not friendly. Very dangerous.”
Philbut turns and runs!! Looking very scared. Gerald wants to make a break for it as well. We take off after Philbut. Gerald and his wolf loose a warning cry to his pack to vacate the area.
We make it back to town and the inn. We get serious, Barleycorn lays on the intimidation. Eledon says his other man guards a pass to an old castle in the area. They think that’s where the evil comes from. He denies knowing a child exists. Insists the town is completely safe. He says there are no kids here at all. We call the innkeeper and wife in and question them. He says if we go to logging area and into the woods, we’ll come to the trail N/S. Go north and we will find it.
Yanath “So if you’re so unwilling to explain what is going on here, and that the evil stems from the castle, why are you so willing to tell us where the castle is?” He simply stares.
He says the castle is maybe a day’s travel.
We ask Jezzor about this after, she knows nothing about a castle. Only that this town has been cursed. Claims no one can stop it.
Getting to night now. Finally, she agrees to tell what she knows. Yanath notices her pause then shake it off and “if you go to the castle, you’ll find the answers to what you’re looking for”.

She invites Yanath back to her place. He agrees and they leave.
The others know, watch closely. She leads him upstairs, closing and locking shudders. She starts undressing. Yanath uses to opportunity to unlatch the shudder then starts doing the same.
Crazy Wolf and Iggy have gotten onto the roof and down in position to come in through the window. Via rope they lower down.
She lies down in bed, Yanath follows and they go to it.
She is on top, and yanath sees the door to the bedroom open. Both of the lumberjacks rush into the room claws and fangs out. She is starting to put pressure to hold Yanath down.
They rush in and slam Yanath once each. He is able to roll off from under her to a standing position, and assesses vampire, next to one of them. It attacks, as the other leaps upon the bed to attack. One hits. Crazy Wolf explodes through the window screaming bloody murder, moves next to Yanath and hits the one on the floor. Iggy comes through the window and begins firing at the one on the bed.
Jezzor stands up and flees the room, covering her chest with her hands.
Yanath yanks the bedsheets out from under the vamp on the bed, but he deftly leaps and avoids ill effect then attacks Crazy Wolf. The other fails to touch Yanath for a grapple. Yanath moves and grabs his sword.
They both try to dominate Iggy and Crazy Wolf, but fail. Iggy almost succumbed.
Iggy takes the bed vamp to mist soon after. Yanath charges but can’t beat the DR with a poor hit.
It grapples CW! Fangs bared. He fails to break the grapple. Iggy hits it once. Yanath graps it from behind to try to pull it, for he knows what it is about to try to do. It drags him forward nonetheless, biting the Wolf for 3 con!
Wolf panics and breaks out! Iggy aims and fires away, hitting twice. Yanath hits twice, misting it.
Yanath “Light, let’s see if we can follow this mist!”
First lantern we come across we turn on. By that time they are lost. We search for Jezzra but she’s gone, her front door open.
We start searching her house. From the front door we recognize the voice of Elreden “What’s all this then?” Jezzor standing next to him.
She claims Yanath attacked her, which he denies and explains exactly what happened as she weeps over the ‘attack’. Wolf shows his bite mark on his neck.
He tells Jezzor to see the mayor and stay there tonight.
He waits for Yanath to get fully dressed.

We impress upon him the seriousness of the situation, inluding her attempt to tell us more of what has been going on just before all this at the inn before she was mentally stopped. That we need to search for their lair her in town. We know from Mal that they are slower in mist form and have to get to their resting place w/in about 2 hours. We need to search every building in town tonight.

We get back to the inn and regroup.
He gathers his men, we get Barley and Gerald and meet in the common room along with Bumor. Elreden will take Wolf and Gerald, Yanath with 1 of them and Barley. Iggy with his other 2 men.
Iggy and his 2 will be a reactionary force, then the other 2 start south and north ends, move toward each other to meet in the middle.
We hear the howling of wolves close to town. Then closer.
Wolf says we need to regroup back to the inn for safety. We all do so.
Looking outside from the top floor, we see a pack of wolves enter the town in the moonlight, circling the tavern. Total between 10 and 20, for about an hour or so before slowly dispersing into the forest.
He obviously didn’t like us searching the town though!
We get some rest. Morning we will resume the search. Too cloudy to make a rooftop watch worth our time.

June 4

We wake up to a thunderstorm and high winds; start the search again building to building.
We find nothing at the point which both teams gather at the smithy. We find nothing, but we do notice his wife is sick. Yanath offers to check her out. She has been bitten twice on her leg!
Yanath is up front with him but he’s is disagreeing in a very obvious way that he knows its true.
Elreden walks in, talking about not finding anything and taking our search outside of town.
Yanath says we haven’t searched the tavern yet.
He says we’ve all been staying there though.
Too bad, back we go to the tavern.
Wolf and Gerald are keeping a close eye on everybody.
Wolf “Let’s start with the root cellar.”
Its locked.
He unlocks it, subtely reluctantly.
He unlocks it, then suspiciously steps back.
We open the door to dank steps going down. Iggy stays upstairs to keep an eye on things with Crazy Wolf who rests agains the open door.
The rest descend with Elreden. Yanath with torch and Death’s Master; Gerald with lantern.
In one corner we see a box, man length. Opening the box, its about half full, no body. Yanath thrusts the blade in, nothing. He digs around inside, empty.
Elreden “That’s odd.”
Flip it over, nothing. There was an impression in the dirt as if something had been lying in there.
Back upstairs, finding nothing in the rest of the inn.
Bumor is petrified, skin white, when we come back up.
Then realizing we found nothing, he gets more pleasant.

Barley goes back down and busts the box of dirt to pieces.
Elreden “All right Bumor, close it up. Nothing down there.”
Too obvious. Back down we 3 go, sans Elreden, each of us with a lantern.
Barley starts busting up the box while Yanath and Gerald search in detail for any sliding walls and such. Dog is left upstairs with Crazy W and Iggy.

Back upstairs Elreden tells our 2 guys "Hey boys, I hate to do this but you’re going to have to drop your weapons.
The tavernkeeper Bumor pleads for us to listen, step away “so we can close it up”.
Below, Gerald takes his lantern below, and smashes it onto the steps igniting them. Then blocks the way out “Nobody move.” 4 of the mercs in total.
Uh oh, he’s been charmed.
Barley “You @#*$!!^$.”
Yanath “Get him out of the way!” and moves for the biggest plank of coffin left, scooping dirt up to dump on top of the burning oil.

Crazy flips his weapon around to the blunt end “Why do you want to shut our men down there?”
“Because our master is down there and he needs to feed.” They draw their weapons on us. Iggy aims at Elreden “Put them down, don’t make me use this.”

Barley bullrushes Gerald out of the way and Yanath starts dumping. Dog moves down the steps close to the flames as he can, barking worriedly for Yanath.

Yanath “Remember, there’s probably a vampire down here with us!”

Wolf is stoking and ready to follow Iggy’s lead. One of the 4 mercs up here, we have never seen before. The one who kind of showed up out of no where before is not present.
They move for us, 2 on each, all with blunt wpns. None drew blades. The fight begins, they and CW all doing non lethal damage. Bumor runs at Iggy who resists his grapple just barely.
Iggy takes his first shots, at Elreden, trusting his defense vs AoO as CW continues hitting.

Downstairs, it takes a second dose of dirt to put the fire effecively out.

Iggy puts an arrow deep into Elreden 32 “Now that blood’s been spilt, kill ’em boys!” They all start going for the kill now.
Elreden “Keeper, shut the door.”
He goes fast for the door, trying to close it past Crazy Wolf’s who is fighing right in front of it. Wolf keeps it open for now.
Iggy kills Elreden! Then turns to the other merc.
Gerald full on attacks Barleycorn, who turns and rushes up the stairs.
Yanath “Where are you going! I said there’s a vamp down here.”
Barley “Pretty sure he’s upstairs!”
Corn hits his head on the lower support beam on the way by, then slips on loose and falls.
Wolf knocks his first attacker out, then hits the 2nd.
Yanath gives Dog the guard order on Iggy, who turns and runs up and attacks Iggy’s remaining merc. Yanath then turns, readies, drawing Icar’s greatsword.
2 vamps materialize from Mist!! The 2 lumberjacks. Yanath assesses vampire

Upstairs, 2 more vamps appear from upstairs, the 2 lumberjacks! . One is the one we misted before the lumberjacks, and an unknown.
Bumor turns and flees into the kitchen, locking it behind him.

Gerald pursues Barley and attacks the prone Corn. Barley stands up to another hit from Gerald, then trips Gerald.
Wolf to Iggy “Take my man!”
Iggy moves away, toward Crazy’s man and shoots him so that Wolf can step away and block the Vamps and readies.

Yanath takes a step toward the vamps, and readies an attack with Icar’s Greatsword ’Death’s Master’. They charge up and downstairs, doubling Yanath and CW.
Corn trips Gerald AoO as he tries to stand, then steps forward vs vamps.. Iggy’s shots take the merc down KO’d.
Yanath and Iggy lay into his vamp heavy as Barley joins vs the vamps.

Gerald stands up, and flanks Barleycorn, hitting.
Iggy puts an arrow through the last mercs head DEAD.

Yanath hits and mists both vamps!! “Follow the mist!”
Barley “Hey Yanath, you misst! Hahaha!”

Wolf mists 1 then hits the other!! “Iggy, follow the mist!!”

Downstairs, they flow to where the coffin was.
The last attacks Crazy Wolf.
The upstairs mist moves for the front door.

Barley “I am going to beat the tar out of Gerald later.”

Downstairs, the mists seep into the wall.
Yanath “Grapple Gerald down and tie him up.” Yanath finds no secret door.

Iggy follows the mist out the front door, Dog following. Iggy opens the door to a man standing there. He stares into Iggy’s eyes. The whammy doesn’t work.
Iggy backs away “lead vampire, lead vampire!” as does Dog warily. The vamp walks inside “You fools have been a thorn in my side that is about to be removed”.
Iggy misses twice. We do not recognize him.
He calmly attacks Iggy, hitting twice while stating “I gave you ample opportunity to leave me alone.”
Yanath runs upstairs and surveys the scene as Barley is still struggling with Gerald.
Wolf is still battling the last spawn.
Iggy withdraws.
It moves to Crazy Wolf and grabs Crazy Wolf.
Yanath attacks him from behind; Barley gets Gerald bound.
The spawn charges Iggy.
Barley gets upstairs as the fight continues.
Crazy Wolf is furiously resisting his attempts at pin and bite then breaks free!!!
Then we hear the sound of metal on wood from the doorway, and a voice “A ha, I’ve found you again.” We all see a man in plate mail, holy symbol hanging from his neck. Boys, you’re in over you heads, but I’m here to tip the scale."
Yanath recognizes the symbol as major Thorangian sect.
The vamp “Back away from me paladin.”
“Descrin, you know I won’t leave you alive a second time.”
“Ah, but you have no option.”
Outside, this paladin has a small crew of men with him.
He walks inside “And why won’t I have an option.”
Descrin “You remenber my minion, Fulbit, I’m sure.”
“Yes”
“At this very moment, he is in a room in one of the houses in this town filled with all of the poor children. And assuming that I am not there to tell him otherwise, they will be burned alive; and knowing him he will have slit all their throats anyway. Either way, no survcivors. So make your choice paladin. Smite me down, endy my scourge, and leave this entire town childless. Or, I shall be on my way.”

The paladin stands there, surely under his helmit a look of frustration on his face, his hand shakes with the moral dilemma.

Yanath “If you can kill this guy, we’ll find the children.”

The paladin lets the ‘foul beast out’, with his last spawn, who turns into a wolf and flees down the road.
“Twice he’s escaped me now.”
Moments later from the mayor Vandra’s building exits the missing merc, running for the stables where the wolf headed.
Adults run out of the building “There’s a fire!” Oh bloody hell.

The entire town pitches in, and that thanks to the heavy rain, saves the children. But this Descrit and Fulbit have escaped.

Iggy has taken several neg levels, we are going to need to rest here a few days.

The paladin’s name is David Jurgenson. He came across the local castle, where Descrin once lived. David slew all there but for Descrin who escaped. They were the first group we heard that came through town. David has been hunting around the entire region for Descrin since the escape.
Soon as he walked into town, with nothing planted and all he passed acting oddly, he knew Descrin must be here.

We search the area now that Descrin’s wolf pack can’t cut us off, finding a hiding spot in the forest where the other vampires we misted still rest. There, we destroy them utterly.
The Plaladin is able to break the domination on Gerald and Jezzra, and the men who walked down the path. They had been told to watch for the paladin coming from that direction, evidence of mounted men.

June 5-7

Rest, recoup; tactical debriefing is short. While Iggy is resting, Barleycorn helps do what he can to get something growing they can harvest late, with some luck. Yanath, Crazy Wolf, Gerald help with fire repairs while also taking time to explore the highlands north and NE for fun.
The captured mercs were not dominated, they are evil men. David takes responsibility for them, will turn them in to proper authorities.

June 8

Leave for Ostrich, cutting SE directly there, same way we came; rather than west to Brimmin then down the highway.
We talk about cutting through Gretchen’s area to get to the carnival west of here.

June 9

Arrive Ostrich late night, but sleep outside few miles outside of town.

June 10

Enter just after sunrise; deliver letter to many thanks and smiles of relief; well breakfasted by family. Get supplies, a hearth lunch, then we are out of here, across the wild to catch up with carnival.
With only short rests, arrive east edge Lake Woden after nightfall and camp.

June 11

Pass through Walden for a drink and supplies, then right out into wild.

Camp tonight at foot of the central high forest to east of Walden.

June 12

small council runs the town:
head member is a woman named Vandra
man named Lobbur, a farmer like Vandra
Hedvynn, smithy
Bumor the tavern keeper

mercs:
Elreden
Norbert

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