In this episode, Cam vanishes and the rest of our heroes investigate the village of Tallfield. Jiutou sets off alone to the nearby farms and soon comes under attack...
Investigating the MurdersEdit
Picking up from last time, as Trellimar finishes talking with Vixanis, Calvin the marshal approaches stating he needs to bring the drow woman back to her hold for now. Vixanis exchanges a look with Trellimar as she is lead away to reinforce his promise to free her.
Meanwhile, Jiǔtóu and Elora exit the temple just in time to see Vixanis being led away. The townsfolk are also watching carefully, they also keep an eye on Trellimar. Jiǔtóu decides to go find the blacksmith Dahnna, the burly woman who was holding the crowd back earlier, so Trellimar and Elora follow. As they reach the blacksmiths Elora has no hesitation in going up to Dahnna to ask her questions about the attacks. She says the town is being torn apart, people telling stories, and accusing each other, and when the drow turned up it was easy for them to accuse her, however, Dahnna herself says she doesn't believe in accusing anyone without evidence. After Elora reveals that they think the attacks are being caused by sorcery instead of a creature Dahnna is surprised since it is not something they would be familiar with in the town. They are used to attacks from wolves or bears, but not sorcery or magic. She also says she is willing to help if there's anything she can do, and will even make weapons for the group.
Tiring of the conversation Jiǔtóu walks off, only saying she will join them again soon. Trellimar and Elora notice that Cam seems to be missing, but decide to leave him and head to the inn. Inside it seems much quieter than it should be but it is well kept. A small male halfling Finny is running around clearing up as Elora and Trellimar come in and introduce themselves. He is delighted to hear they are willing to help and says he can help with supplies, and even happily clears out his own room for the group to rest in since the inn is full, because he believes they are best to hope the town have to solve the mystery. He also goes to get a friend of his by the name of Cune, who cursed with deafness and does not speak but is a bit of an alchemist.Jiǔtóu goes to talk with Calvin to find out more about the fields where the bodies have been found. He produces a crude map and marks off a few fields. He states that some of the outlying farm families have made it to safety in the village, but other families have not been heard of for some time. They have tried to go further themselves to investigate but constant attacks from wolves and bears drive them back. He offers to send some guards with Jiǔtóu but she refuses the help. Calvin also tells a short tale of an abandoned farmstead that may have ghosts, because some time ago a boy that was a cursed killed his family there and then himself.
Back at the inn, Finny returns followed by a nervous Cune, who watches Trellimar warily. Since Cune cannot talk Finny acts as an interpreter by gesturing to him with his hands to communicate. Elora asks for healing potions, and Cune produces 3 long vials of slightly glowing healing potions. However these are the only ones he has as he cannot make any more until gets more materials outside the village, so he asks 50 gold for them. With no gold to pay Trellimar brings out the urns he robbed which are worth roughly 25 gold each. Cune takes a great interest in the urns and trades 2 potions for 1 urn. He also hands a leather pouch with herbs to Elora. Finny warns them to be careful around the locals given how they treated the female drow.
When Trellimar asks about the Priest of Pelor, Finny says he was away at the time, but some 10–15 years ago a number of hobgoblins raided the farms and a lot of the townsfolk died. Their anger turned to the Priest since they believed him responsible for the Lightfall that had awakened the monsters in the first place. Being a peaceful man he left at the town's request, moving to Briarcrest. Trellimar also asks if Finny has seen any dwarves about lately. He can recall one with an eyepatch, but he didn't stop at the inn when he passed through the town so he knows little about him. He heard he was a merchant, selling trinkets such as mechanical birds, and that he had also gone on to Briarcrest.
Jiǔtóu has since reached the farms outside town. She can see more giant crops of wheat in the fields around her. Following the map she was given by Calvin, she makes her way to a field where the latest death occurred. After an hour or two searching, she finds a trail of dried blood leading to an area where wheat is trampled and it is evident a scuffle occurred. Shutting her eyes and listening, she meditates to extend her senses, but all she is able to conclude is that something unnatural was here disturbing the area. Jiǔtóu heads to the Kingswood Farm since this one of the families Calvin said had not been heard from.
While Elora is happily talking away Trellimar manages to talk with Cune telepathically. Cune is shocked at Trellimar's power to speak to him in his mind. Cune tells Trellimar that despite the fact his hearing is gone his eyesight is still good, and he has seen locals become very agitated and wanting to kill the drow woman. Since he and Finny are the only other non-humans he fears for his life also. Elora wonders why Trellimar seems to be off in a trance and snaps him out of it, unaware he was communicating with Cune. They decide to leave to find Jiǔtóu since Elora worries that Jiǔtóu will get herself in trouble. They also continue to wonder where Cam has gone to. As they leave the inn they barely catch part of a conversation going on outside. All they manage to hear though is gossip about lost children across the country.
Battle against the RavensEdit
Jiǔtóu crosses over fields until she reaches the Kingswood's large farm house. However, there is no-one around, discarded equipment and the caw of ravens. The front door is open so she goes in. Inside is very still and quiet, the dining room table is set with a meal but it is now rotten and spoiled, and odd things around the room are disturbed or tipped over as if the occupants left in hurry. In the hall, she notices faint drag marks near the front door. even though the food in the dining room is no longer edible Jiǔtóu does manage to find some preserves which she takes as rations. As she exits the house to investigate the barn she is suddenly aware that there are now dozens of ravens sitting in the trees, on the roofs, and on the fences around the farm, watching her.
First Round of Battle
Suddenly the ravens swoop and attack, forcing Jiǔtóu to take evasive action. She dives back into the farmhouse and kicks the door shut. Noticing some windows open, Jiǔtóu runs upstairs as she hears the ravens slam against the front door. She hears a rush of feathers behind her as they enter the room downstairs and pursue her upstairs.
Second Round of Battle
Jiǔtóu runs into the nearest bedroom and bars the door with a trunk before stepping back against the window with her weapon ready. The ravens now start attacking this door but they have no effect against it. Elora and Trellimar hear the door slam and emerge from the treeline to see the swirling mass of ravens around the house.
Elora casts Speak with Animals to allow herself to communicate with the ravens. Through their caws and laughter, she hears them mention how the one with bones makes them kill more and more people. As Elora tries to intimidate them they switch their focus to her and swarm around her. Trellimar risks hitting Elora with an attack so instead casts a minor illusion of a big cat, but this does not trick the ravens, so he rushes in to pull Elora out, taking hits as he goes, and drags Elora free towards the barn.
Third Round of Battle
Jiǔtóu can see Elora and Trellimar outside the window being attacked, so she sets the trunk on fire in the hope that it will hold the ravens that are attacking the door back for a little longer, before she leaps out the window, landing perfectly outside.
Elora closes her eyes and her body transforms into a massive dire wolf. She attacks the swarm of ravens easily killing individuals with a single bite, but the whole flock remains quite strong, surrounding her once again and pecking her. Trellimar fires an Eldritch Blast at the flock, which takes out half the swarm. As he moves towards the barn door he can see it is shut but blood is coming out from under it.
Fourth Round of Battle
Jiǔtóu runs up and, leaping over the dire wolf, strikes with her guandao, swiping through the flock and taking out another few individuals from the mass. The dire wolf continues biting through bringing the flock down to last 5 or 6 as the rest lie dead on the floor.
The remaining few go for Jiǔtóu as the second swarm that were inside the house escape from a downstairs window. The fire has taken its toll on their numbers also, but they engulf Trellimar and attack his face and neck until he is badly injured, knocking him out.
Fifth Round of Battle
Jiǔtóu disengages from the remaining few she was fighting and goes to defend Trellimar, conjuring a gust of wind with her guandao which knocks half the second flock flying. As the ravens try to escape the dire wolf, she gets a final hit against them and finishes them off. Jiǔtóu makes another strike with her guandao and with one final roundhouse kick takes out the last of the ravens attacking Trellimar.
The dire wolf shape-shifts back to Elora to cure Trellimar's wounds. As Trellimar comes to he finds himself in a familiar situation, looking up at Elora staring down at him having revived him for a second time.
End of Battle
Jiǔtóu attempts to kick the barn door in however this has no effect since the door opens outwards, leaving Elora to open it slowly. They are immediately met with the stench of death, blood and bodies lie on the floor making for a very gory and disturbing scene. A male is hung by his wrists from the rafters of the barn, all his insides removed. The wife and teenage children are left in a similar state with pieces of their bodies missing. Jiǔtóu tells Trellimar and Elora she saw similar amounts of blood back in the fields. She also suspects these bodies are being harvested for their organs to create some horrific creature, based on the fact she had previously sensed something unnatural back at the first kill site. Elora mentions that when she spoke to the ravens they talk about killing for the woman of bones. Trellimar suggests that if she is skeletal she might need to rebuild herself with the harvested parts. Jiǔtóu mentions Calvin's story about the local legend of the cursed boy who experimented on his family before they died and he killed himself. Even though Jiǔtóu is not into human fairy tales she still thinks there may be some truth in his tale.
The group take a short rest before leaving the barn and heads to the abandoned farmstead, following Jiǔtóu's map. This farmstead is surrounded by thick woodland which is very overgrown. A bit of the roof has collapsed in but the house is still mostly there since it is not an old structure. There is an eerie silence around, not even animal noises from the woodlands. Jiǔtóu and Elora head around back of the building, while Trellimar opts for the front door. As he enters he can see broken furniture and plant life invading the rooms from outside. He can feel a residue of strong arcane energies that may have existed here once upon a time, but not anymore.
Round the back Jiǔtóu and Elora find the back door lying on the ground so they easily make their way into the kitchen. As they do they see a faint blue soft glow between two stairways, one that leads upstairs and another that leads down to the basement. Elora can tell this light is magical and spiritual. Trellimar can also see this faint glow from his position, and so opens the door between him and girls. As he does this he sees the glow recede upstairs, and a sphere of light now hovers right at the top of stairs. As Jiǔtóu heads upstairs the light drifts even further back further into a room. The floor upstairs is uneven and dangerous, but there is no blood or damage visible aside from the general ageing of the building. The orb reappears again between Trellimar and Elora, and it now moves downstairs to the basement instead. Trellimar lights a torch and stealthily moves down steps after the orb. Elora whispers up to Jiǔtóu to inform her that the light has moved, and then follows Trellimar, though slightly less stealthily.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs it becomes apparent to Trellimar and Elora that the basement is not just being used for storage. In one corner there is a desk, a shelf with books, and a bed, all of which seem to have strangely gone untouched. Elora can sense some sort of magical power around the desk, which may be some type of ward. A drawer in the desk is slightly open.
After hearing Elora call to her Jiǔtóu turns and sees the ball of light float up in front of her. She moves her hand to try and get a reaction from it, but it doesn't react. Jiǔtóu tries to talk to it, asking if it is the ghost of the boy from the tale. This time the orb bobs as if to answer her. She then asks if it is harmful, to which the orb responds by suddenly attacking, shooting arcs of lighting, which narrowly miss Jiǔtóu and hit against the wall instead. Elora and Trellimar hear this attack and Elora runs back upstairs suspecting Jiǔtóu is in trouble. Elora, now seeing ball crackling with energy, realises that it is a will-o'-wisp, a very evil and usually very powerful magical energy that attach themselves to places of sorrow. Jiǔtóu goes to grab the ball but her hand goes straight through it, only being met with a very slight resistance. She then strikes it with her guandao but once again finds it hard to hit properly since it has such little resistance. The ball then passes through Jiǔtóu to avoid being trapped between where Elora and Jiǔtóu are positioned, and as it emerges from her it charges again, hitting Jiǔtóu hard with another lightning attack.
Meanwhile, Trellimar approaches the desk drawer, but suddenly feels himself make contact with a protective ward, and an energy pulse blows him off his feet, knocking him way back to the other side of the room. Hearing this upstairs, Elora feels the situation is getting dangerous and so shouts for everyone to get out. Jiǔtóu disengages her fight with the will-o-wisp and both she and Elora run outside. Trellimar also turns and runs up from the basement but is met with the orb waiting at top of stairs. He makes a leap at the window but can't manage to break through, so he casts Arms of Hadar, which knocks the orb back and takes out the shutter barricading the window. Elora seizes the opportunity and pulls Trellimar backwards out the window. This inadvertently rips Trellimar's cape a bit. All three make a run back to town before nightfall. As they reach the town they realise they are not being chased by the will-o-wisp anymore and the guards let them in.
The group decide to head to the marshal's office to report their findings. When they reach it they see a large crowd of angry men and women brandishing clubs, pieces of wood, farming forks, and burning torches, trying to get into the office, shouting for the drow woman to be killed. Jiǔtóu pushes her way to the front of the crowd and shouts at them to listen to her. She tells them her group have been investigating and now know that the deaths in the town are not the work of the drow, and if they harm her she will give them something to worry about. With Jiǔtóu's voice booming and her eyes glowing, the angry crowd instantly back off. Just 3 men and 1 woman stand firm, asking how do they know they can trust Jiǔtóu's group. Elora pulls Trellimar up to Jiǔtóu, to show off how badly injured he is after the day's fighting. Gesturing to Trellimar's wounds Elora tells the remaining four that they would not be willingly taking this level of damage to themselves if the deaths were their fault. The four seem to understand and the momentum in their anger subsides. Elora places her hand on the arm of the woman who is tearing up, and she tells Elora how they are just frustrated and desperate. Seeing the woman crying the men drop their weapons and the remainder of the crowd move off after Elora says they need to speak with Calvin.
Calvin who had been looking out at the angry mob at his door is thankful the group returned when they did since the door was just about to be broken down. The group tell him about their findings, that the Kingswood Family are dead and they had their organs taken.
The adventurers also ask about the woman of bones that the ravens spoke of. Calvin doesn't recall any woman of bones but at this point, the drow woman who is in a cell near to them reveals that she might know, and tells them about a folk tale of Nanny Bones that eats children. Calvin passes it off as nothing more than a crazy story to scare children. Elora then asks about the children who had been taken from their homes, which they overheard the townspeople talking about earlier. Calvin tells them that has been going on longer than problems in their town and so considers it to be a separate incident they don't have time for.
Jiǔtóu asks who owned the manor house they passed by outside the town. Calvin replies that before the Lightfall, nobles lived there, until it was burned down, and has always been a ruin for as long as he can remember. He does mention rumours of a vault under the manor, however, stating people used to go there in search of treasure but never found any vault.
When Elora tells him about the will-o-wisp they fought, Calvin quickly starts writing notes about their encounter. Trellimar mentions the forcefield in the basement he couldn't pass, leading Calvin to suggest sending someone from capital to deal with it, but hesitates when he realises they could take weeks to arrive. He suggests the group ask the families and children in the village about what they have learned.
Suddenly, the adventurers and Calvin hear a cry echoes out from the village. Calvin grabs a sword and runs off to investigate. Elora and Trellimar follow behind. Jiǔtóu chooses to stay behind with Vixanis.
- Unnamed dwarf merchant
- Kim's first Natural 20: Kim rolled her first ever natural 20. She rolled another a short time later.