6. Haunted Hamlet – 14th November 2014
Upon returning to the tavern after the altracation with Master Valthrun, the group, it had to be said, received a somewhat less enthusiastic welcome at the tavern. One could only assume it in response to the intimidation and forced dancing they imposed earlier that day.
Still, some of the group did seem in better spirits, and indeed stories did start circulating. Both Gwenn and Ulrik in particular sharing stories with each other. It seems that Gwenn, having overcome her initial denial of circumstances has come to fully realize and lament her minotaur form, which I am led to believe has not always been hers, much to my surprise. It seems that once she was a human paladin! Not a small change, indeed. Ulrik seemed to pay close attention to this, his usual good humor stilled, and a more serious note coming to his eyes and voice as he pledged to help her be rid of such a curse. He seemed to take it as a sign that he was to help the female (as one might assuredly think a hero of stature would), having been searching for a reason why the Gods allowed him to live through the slaughter of his village. He seems to have taken it upon himself that Gwenn’s plight was one he should offer his aid to.
It has to be said that I was much heartened by this, for I had begun to wonder of the path that this group of heroes (if group it could be called) was going down. But my fears had not been realized, and I look on the situations as being merely the catalyst for change the group was needing. Was this sort of trial and struggle the norm for heroes? It seems to me that it must be, for what if not such dire circumstances how could true heroism ever emerge?
Lord Padraig and the Haunted Hamlet
Later that evening, Lord Padraig came to the tavern. Ever a clever ruler of men, he had likely heard of the unfortunate circumstances earlier in town and, ever shrewd, had devised a way to give our heroes purpose. It seemed that a Hamlet to the north-west had been heard of being still plagued with rumors of undead. Both Gwenn and Ulrik were determined to go and pursue this goal, especially the latter, who had an understandable hatred for the undead. Hesken, who had joined the group on occasion also agreed to join the group in this quest, having need of extra funds that might be brought by the exploration of such a place. A new hero also joined the table at discussion of the trip, a shifty looking woman named Aurora who explained that she would join, looking to explore the region better in search of her brother and could do so more safely within a group.
Journey to the Haunted Hamlet
So it was that the four heroes set out towards the north-west along the roads that would lead to this Hamlet. It took several hours, and although they left fairly early in the day, they didn’t get there until the afternoon. Thankfully the roads seemed clear and they were not accosted en route.
Upon getting to the town, it became clear that the place was acutely infested with ghosts. As I looked around the place, I was struck with a longing for the quiet lives that they appear to have had, for it was the scene of domestic harmony that the heroes found, not the malevolent presence they might have expected. Indeed, the scene before the heroes seemed to baffle them entirely, constantly looking for danger where none existed, though considering their previous battles with the undead that I had heard of, it could not be too surprising.
Their explorations showed a town that was still, on the main, standing, although the forests had grown thick in places, making the part of the town dedicated to the ancestral family tombs inaccessible except for returning to the road and making a route around it.
The ghosts in the town seemed to be somewhat less aware of their current surroundings than I myself am, which surprised me. They would often get confused, and it soon became clear that they were both unaware and likely not able to be made aware of their own demises, continuing their lives, supposedly safe in the knowledge that the local mage, whose tower sat upon the hill beside the hamlet, kept them safe as he always had.
Much suspicion on the side of Gwenn was given at the knowledge of the town’s mage leader, believing him to be some manner of necromancer. Going to the keep, it was clear that the normal procedures of such an important man went on as it had when alive, and the heroes were turned aside when trying to gain access to the man. They went in search of more information, going into a shop and purchasing a small bag of carrots from the ghostly vendor for 10gold. They were however unable to pick up such ghostly produce, and it was left to me to take control of the bag. The carrots, to me at least, were delicious. It had been a long time since I had been able to eat anything, and to me, these carrots were as real as any food to them might have been. Ah, but I only wished they had a fresh bakery as well, but I would not push for such a selfish request when the heroes had more important matters to attend.
In time, they searched the family crypts, but found nothing, other than to notice the faint aura of necromantic magic that hung around the town, one that kept within the borders of the town walls.
Upon returning to the keep, the newest addition to the group, the female Aurora sneaked into the keep and up the stairs, seeing the layout. What was surprising was that all the residents of the keep were ghosts, even the Mage leader of the keep. It seemed also that, for the moment at least, the ghosts could not harm or touch the heroes, for their ghostly forms merely moved right through the woman when she revealed herself.
Confused as to what to do, the heroes devised to wait until dark, as they had heard that ghosts could change sometimes once darkness had fallen. With Ulrik keeping watch, the rest of the group took a nap, only to have a somewhat rude awakening once darkness had fallen, and arrows rained down upon them from the upper floors of the keep.
Once more given purpose, they ran towards the keep, thankfully unharmed, to face their foes.
In place of the placid ghosts of the courtiers, the first floor of the keep had six decrepit skeletons, which the group laid low with much ease. However upon ascending to the second floor of the keep, their luck seemed to turn against them as they took greater and greater damage. Many of the heroes, whose skills were well known and practiced, became somewhat fumbling, almost as if there was some manner of curse that beset them as they ascended the tower. Hesken, usually so skilled with the bow, was taken down unconscious, as the others also struggled to remain alive.
Thankfully the group was able to stabilize the dragonborn and take down the last of the skeletons, whose fiery attacks had put them in such peril. Truly, this trip had become far more dangerous than they had once thought, and as they took a short rest many worried about what lay on the floor above where the ghostly mage had been seen.
Continue to Chapter 7