Clan Rumbleseed, played 4.18.20 IRL (in real life) and 10/24/2121 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.
Return to Lebrim Manor
The Fellowship was granted a mudwagon coach and two Sinlayan guards to smooth out any misunderstandings that might arise along the way. They prepared to return to Lebrim Manor by loading up on a few tunnel supports and excavation supplies, as well as some pitch and torches, equipping themselves at the baron’s expense in town before resting and heading out fresh as the cooling ashes of the baroness were collected from the pyre. The trip was uneventful enough.
Dusk was falling as the Fellowship arrived. Much to their surprise, the burned skeleton of the manse was a work site with a mass of peasants handling excavation. Some rough guards challenged them, and were surprised to hear they had the Marchionesse’s authorization in writing to return and excavate the site. They took the Fellowship to Baron Lebrim.
The slender young baron was sobered by their story and their admission that they detonated explosives in his basement while he was not home. As he introduced them to Magistrate Lyrin and they noticed Justicar Trays in the background, along with more soldiers and justicars, they began to suspect that the narrative wasn’t coming together in their favor.
Magistrate Lyrin thought bandits were behind it, but with the admission that the Fellowship detonated a bomb, that clarifies some of the puzzles the investigation was wrestling with.
The Baron’s Story
According to Lebrim, he went on a hunting trip on his lands with the visiting nobles, but on the way back his horse threw a shoe, so he sent them ahead and took his time gentling his horse back. Upon his return, the house was in flames and everyone was missing; in town, emissaries from the families of those who were missing awaited word of their fate.
This story did not match well with the dwarven account of an empty house with corpses that had been dead for days, but rose to fight, and wild tales of echoes and heartbeats and ghosts. The magistrate promised to dust for brittlestone to see if any traces were present. Cagroot had a chilling moment as he looked into the baron’s eyes and saw the flat soulless eyes of a cave moray staring into his soul. Then the baron smiled, and the moment was past.
Fed up with the frustrating questioning, Thoreson reacted towards the smell of the spitted deer cooking on spits to feed the guards and work crews. He bustled in to the cooking area and told the people they were cooking the deer wrong, then he expertly adjusted the cut of the meat on the hot spit and added custom spices and vegetables in the carcass, creating a mouth-watering treat out of the gristly corpse. While most of the peasants were overawed and frightened by the dwarf among them, an old woman named Hetty thought he was great (and she was basically in charge.) The spiced venison was a hit with the workers.
As he returned to where the rest of the Fellowship was answering questions first to the magistrate then to the justicar, he smelled an underground predator, cave pouncer, boiling. You never boil cave pouncer–and you also don’t find them on the surface. He investigated, and found a foolish peasant cook who insisted it was cream of bunny stew. Disgusted, Thoreson left him to it and returned to the Fellowship.
Not only was the magistrate questioning each of the Fellowship, his justicar duplicated the work so they could cross-check the stories. They also dispatched a couple riders to Rennet Hall to verify the story on that end as well. The Fellowship was generally cooperative, except Ivo, who ran out of patience with the questioning as though their word was questionable or their story would change.
By the time the Fellowship had a chance to have a private conversation in grim tones about what to do next, it was almost midnight. Justicar Trays continued monitoring them from a distance, unobtrusive and everpresent.
Into the Foundation
In the pre-dawn bustle, the dwarves approached the foreman, Carwyn, and offered him beer in exchange for a chance to look through the rubble in the foundation. Reluctant, Carwyn allowed them access, as long as they didn’t get him in trouble with Baron Lebrim.
Thoreson and Cagroot looked for monster sign in the rubble while Ivo and Miraeg questioned Carwyn. Carwyn explained that there had been no corpses found, and he didn’t have specialized skill; he was a carpenter, not an engineer, so he wasn’t much help on discussing structural issues. In the foundation, the corpses were gone; the fire could not have reduced their bones, the bodies would still be in the rubble, so their absence was a mystery. The area of the cellar with a hole going deeper was still buried under the collapsed sitting room.
Cagroot found a charred bit of monster meet and some carmelized slime–proof enough to satisfy an expert, but the ignorant humans were unlikely to find it compelling. He had a dizzy moment, hearing the heartbeat again, and sensing Baron Lebrim’s eyes flicking open. The dwarves responded to Carwyn’s plea that they take off before he was reported to the baron for letting them poke around, against orders.
The Woodsman’s Bounty
Hetty was waiting for them, and she had Elyes the woodsman with them. She heard about a story he told, and made him tell the Fellowship as she punctuated the story with swats from her wooden spoon. Elyes confessed the stew was not rabbit meat, he found a creature and used its meat. It’s all protein, right?
Elyes led the Fellowship into the woods a short walk, up the shoulder of the hill overlooking the mansion. There was a cave entry in the hill, and inside is where he found the cave pouncers, ambushing one with his shortbow. The Fellowship approached Justicar Trays (who had followed them) and asked him to go in with them; Elyes was not willing to go in. The justicar agreed, and the Fellowship lit torches and headed into the vent.
Under Lebrim’s Hills
The woodsman had butchered a couple cave pouncers just inside where the cave opened up; he shot them from ambush. The Fellowship continued deeper in the chasm corridor, and they were attacked by cave pouncers. They boldly slew the ambush predators, who were first repulsed to follow up with another attack.
At the end of the deep corridor, they found a pit that dropped over sixty feet down (they tossed a torch and measured.) The pit stank of cave pouncers, and something worse; and Cagroot felt that damned heartbeat throb again. This time, in this context, it clicked and he realized part of what he was feeling.
As a delver, he knew of feardrinkers, horrible spidery monsters that were slow and weak but manipulated mood and infected victims with echo fever. That’s what he and Ivo had suffered from at Lebrim Manor the first time, and what twisted in him now; but it had merged with something else. Feardrinkers were symbiotic predators, working with super predators to make prey sloppy and fearful, easy pickings; they were content with carrion and leftovers. Cagroot felt the pale, empty eyes of a feardrinker somewhere below. But the echo fever was twisted through something else; the fear drinker had found a partner, and it was somewhere below.
The Fellowship had not brought climbing gear, and they were not sure this was the moment to go after what was below; no one knew where they were, and the justicar was with them. They withdrew, resolved to arm up and return with gear to drive this threat away from the surface and clear their names.
They earned 2 Ledger (deferred until they could Tell the Tale.)