Four days after leaving the Monastery of Montelegron, the party reached Ratikhill. The balance of their journey had been uneventful and they were eager to reach Sampo Masterson’s house. (The party had previously rescued Sampo and most of his family from bandits and the tailor had promised them a warm welcome if they should ever come to Ratikhill.)
The party comprised:
- Krorz (male half-orc rogue 3)
- Hemgor (male human fighter 2)
- Adoven (male dwarf cleric [Moradin] 3)
- Belivar (male halfling summoner 3)
- Klara (female half-orc cleric 3)
Reaching the city, they discovered that great events had transpired over the last six months. It seemed the Sword Lords had desired to send a powerful force south to resettle the Recovered March (a small barony established a year ago or so in the northern reaches of the Bone March) once winter had loosened its grip upon the land. It transpired that this had been the reason for the summons the party had received from the Sword Lords late last year for they had gained some small fame on the border and the lords had wanted them to take up the mantle of Lord Protectors of the Recovered March. Because they had not responded to this summons, the party had not been so honoured; in their place the Sword Lords had installed Sir Valio Ilmonen – an arrogant, sex-obsessed knight the party had shared some small adventures with in the past. Most of the party did not like Sir Valio and with the news of his elevation to the nobility, they seemed to like him even less.
Still what was the loss of an entire barony and elevation to the nobility to carefree adventurers such as themselves? Resolving to one day travel south and tell Sir Valio exactly what they thought of him, they entered the city and searched for Sampo’s house, which lay close to the less desirable areas of the city.
After a joyful reunion with Sampo they discovered that dark deeds were afoot in the city. Something had started killing citizens in a most alarming fashion – entering their homes and slaying them in the dead of the night leaving nothing but a picked clean skeleton the next day. The simple folk of the city had taken to locking themselves in at night and protecting themselves with holy symbols, garlic and so on. They were close to panic. Most of the killings seemed centred around one of the oldest graveyards in the city and Sampo told his friends the mayor of the city was desperate to resolve the situation because the Watch seemed powerless to halt the killings. As reward, he was offering a townhouse and its surrounding garden to those who could capture or kill the seemingly unstoppable killer.
Tired from their travel, the party decided to start their investigations the next day.
First of the party’s list of things to do was to meet the mayor and see if he had any other information and to check that the news of a townhouse as reward was true! This they duly did and then spent some time replenishing their supplies and Klara visited a sage to discover the location of the Monastery of the Fire Opal. Apparently, this information would take several days to track down which suited the party as other events were afoot.
Eventually, they were ready to head to the graveyard. Finding the graveyard was easy and asking around they ascertained its caretaker – Golin – was nowhere to be seen but that he lived nearby. Fearing that he may also be a victim of the strange events besetting the area (or may indeed be the killer) the party forced their way into his house, but found no signs of foul play. They did discover, however, that the house had been unoccupied for several weeks – a time-frame that meshed well with the start of the killings.
With nothing else to do, the party spent the balance of the day searching the graveyard. They discovered it was basically untended. Weeds grew everywhere and rat burrows were much in evidence. Most of the graves held paupers, but several large, old mausoleum still stood here. The doors of two of these structures were ajar and one contained signs of obvious occupation.
By the time they had finished their investigations, dusk was drawing near and so the party decided to remain in the graveyard to see if anything occurred.
As darkness fell, a mist began to form which gave the whole area a strange, ethereal feel. Rats emerged from their burrows to hunt and dark shadows formed between the dilapidated graves. The party moved nearer the entrance, better there to see if anyone used the only gate piercing the rusted iron fence that surrounded the place. As they waited, the darkness grew more absolute and the party were forced to deploy their everburning torches. The flickering lights threw lurid shadowed among the grave markers and as they watched the vines wreathing the fence began to writhe and twitch. Suddenly, a low moan full of fear and despair echoed from deeper in the graveyard. By now, the party were beginning to get “a little concerned” at the events transpiring around them. First they though it was all an illusion (but they could discover no such magic in evidence). Then they thought perhaps a vampiric mist lurked within the mist now covering the whole area, then they thought perhaps a pack or wererats were stalking them. The truth of the matter, still eluded them (or did it…)