Clan Rumbleseed, played 4.11.20 IRL (in real life) and 10/22/2121 IG (in game).
- Miraeg Dunn (Jonathan) Leader, Performer, Mechanic.
- Ivo Flynt (Imre) Support, Gunsmith, Engineer.
- Cagroot Hopstrider (KC) Skirmisher, Brewer, Delver.
- Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
As morning light filtered through the trees, they prepared themselves to heft the corpse of Baroness Elenor Rennet back to Rennet Hall. Carrying it all that way, or dragging it, seemed unpalatable. They remembered her carriage, and a horse, in the stable. Miraeg and Ivo headed to the stable, and Cagroot went into the servant quarters to look for some basic supplies for the day’s trip.
Cagroot was startled to find a badly injured masque attendant sprawled in a chair at the table, masked, trickling blood, and surrounded by empty wine bottles. The drunk and dying man slurred at Cagroot to tell him a joke so he could die laughing; Cagroot quickly thought of one, and the man chuckled at the edge of death. Summoning in Thoreson for his healing abilities, Cagroot eased the man down, and Thoreson staved off death, bandaging the still-bleeding circular hand-sized cuts on his torso from a vicious alien attack.
Cagroot’s sharp senses also heard a sound under the cupboard, so he flipped it, further terrifying a human child who had been hiding there since the incident. Miraeg took over dealing with the child, gently breaking the news that his mother was dead, resolving to take the sober child to safety.
The Long Road
Supplied with food, drink, and passengers, the dwarves rigged up some sort of connection between the horse and carriage, and stowed the corpse, lashed to the luggage rack. Thoreson kept the nobleman alive. The road back to Rennet Hall was long, but they did not get lost or run into curious humans who would likely react poorly to their young, injured, and dead passengers.
It’s a Party
Twilight approached as they rolled up to the outskirts of Rennet Hall, debating how to break the news. Thoreson was sent ahead to talk to Casic, the butler. He noticed tents pitched on the grounds with heraldry for the entourages of several nobles, visiting for the harvest festival that was about to begin. Heraldry indicated that both Marchionesse Kreshka and Count Vandov were present. As Thoreson approached the back door, Casic was ejecting some servants for misbehavior; she was supervisor of the staff, handling all the preparation for the party.
Thoreson took her aside for a brief update that she took with a measure of stoicism common to war time. Of course Rennet Hall would take care of Sir Marl and Jimmy, the child. She sent the dwarves around to a back gallery with the corpse, and met them there to prepare the body somewhat. Baron Rennet came to view his wife, bordering on unresponsive. He also called in his wife’s uncle, Lord Nyalt Terragnis, who brought along his priest, Father Reginal Baird.
Friends Like These
Terragnis wasted no time suggesting the dwarves were handy at solving a problem that they likely caused, and noting they could have visited Lebrim Manor and inflicted this damage before coming here appearing innocent. He also rebuked the dwarves for destroying a noble’s house, regardless of the context; it was not their place to interfere with the rulers of human lands.
Baron Rennet dismissed Terragnis’ concerns, and the dwarves managed a heroic feat of diplomacy and even temper in the face of the old man (humans age so quickly!) and his accusations. The baron was left alone with the body, and the dwarves were invited to stay under his roof for the celebration as it transformed into a wake. On the back lot, woodsmen began building a pyre, the best method for disposing of the unclean dead with decorum and a measure of surety.
Miraeg met the Marchionesse and her husband in the hallway as they headed to their suite. Kreshka was still somewhat wan and using a cane as she recovered from being stabbed through the torso at her wedding ceremony, but she was pleasant enough to Miraeg even though she seemed worn down and overshadowed in an unhappy marriage. Harking back to their conversation months ago, Kreshka noted she had not shaped the Count into a palatable partner yet.
Ivo secured maps of the lands from Casic, and hunched over them, determined to suss out what dwarven territory would be underneath Lebrim Manor, so they could see what underneath problem burrowed up to afflict the surface and make sure they were not liable or affected by the corruption. Visualizing the three dimensional layout, he determined that the Tayga family lands, first generation territory under the entry to the Delve, was below Lebrim lands.
Thoreson and Cagroot began cultivating a buzz, consoling themselves under the shadow cast upon their host’s hall.
A large black raven flapped up to their window, and they let in the shape-shifting wizard, Master Delter. He spotted them and checked in with the esteemed guests before visiting the host. They filled him in on their strange story of assaulting the risen dead of Lebrim Manor, and he was disturbed by their story.
They took him to the baroness’s body, and his examination revealed there was no brittlestone in her wounds or her aura. That was unsettling, as brittlestone is the main component of almost every form of reanimation of the dead. The unsettled wizard concluded this was a mystery that needed solving.
As they discussed the matter back in their guest room, Cagroot saw a spectral woman in the corner, and he hurled his mug at the figure as it vanished.
Since Cagroot was part of the mystery, Master Delter conducted a peculiar magical ritual to get a better look at what haunted him, creating a circle of rare components and candles, and delving into the dwarf’s energy. Once the ritual was well begun, the candles burned high and snuffed out, and after a moment of silence the room returned to light with a new and awful rotten stink hanging in the air.
In that moment, Cagroot had dropped into a filthy forest of intestine-like squirming tree things, and seen the spectral woman he had glimpsed a couple times now, calling to him silently but trapped by some invisible force and drawn deeper in, away from him. He carried the stink of that place back out to the waking world.
He recognized the spectral woman. It was Baroness Elenor.
A Dark Fate
Master Delter concluded that some supernatural force had devoured the baroness’s spirit, and when Cagroot’s spirit touched on that supernatural force and was infected by it at Lebrim Manor, her spirit had somehow escaped into him, where it would not be digested. She was between, unable to move on but unable to come back.
At breakfast, Fr. Baird approached the dwarves, having heard about the investigations of the night before. He explained he was sympathetic to their situation, and asked them to accompany him to see the baron, and the Fellowship agreed.
Casic took them to an audience with the baron to explain the situation. Rennet demanded to know if she was still suffering, and of course she likely was. Apparently her uncle had demanded the ashes be returned to their home town of Azarumme. But physical remains were often key to resolving unfinished business. Rennet secured Fr. Baird’s cooperation in securing the baronesses real ashes and sending other ashes home with her uncle.
When Rennet married the baroness, as part of the arrangement he agreed to refurbish the Gilded Tower, a mausoleum built in the Painted Valley long ago and allowed to lapse into ruin decades ago. The Terragnis family had dealt with ghosts for many generations, and they built the Gilded Tower in part to serve as a door on a doorway, controlling access both ways; if she could be freed anywhere, he would want her freed there, her suffering ended as swiftly as possible. He also was given a measure of agonizing hope that perhaps she could come back somehow, if she was not truly gone. He would do anything he could for her, now that it was too late to fulfill his promise to restore the tower in her lifetime.
The Fellowship had other responsibilities before bearing the baroness’s ashes to a mausoleum. They needed to get word back to Dunn Hall about the potential threat to the Tayga family holdings, and to update Torala Dunn on their activities. In addition, Ivo was determined to get back to the ruined foundation of Lebrim Manor and see what else they could discover about the threat there before time erased more traces.
It would take 3-4 days to get a message the long way around to the entrance to the Delve if the humans took a message, and one of the dwarves would have to leave to take the message via the back way they used to leave their lands. Master Delter offered to carry the message as the crow flies, he could get there in a day–but he would need payment in strange spell components from their deep lands. After some consideration, Ivo agreed to pay him his peculiar fee, and the wizard took their message and flew away.
Baron Rennet had no authority over Lebrim lands–but Lady Kreshka could authorize their expedition to the ruin.
Miraeg Tells a Story
Nobility created barriers to conversation, so Miraeg tracked down Hen, Lady Kreshka’s agent. He asked for an audience, and got an invitation to the lunch table with other nobles trying to be close to the marchionesse.
Not wanting to be blunt or overheard in his request to excavate the Lebrim Manor foundation, Miraeg spun a story about digging for threats, and Kreshka was grimly amused. All by herself, she had the bright idea of authorizing them to take a look at Lebrim Manor, from an architectural standpoint of course, and she had some authorization papers drawn up and signed. Lebrim Manor was in her lands, and she could give them permission to be there and interfere with a noble’s holdings.
That afternoon, the remains of Baroness Elenor Rennet burned on a pyre as the Fellowship prepared to go digging for answers.