While still continuing to mull over the tricky riddle carved into the tower wall Lars requests that his fellow companions relate the adventure which took place during his study time:
The day had dawned glorious and sun-filled, not a single wisp of a cloud to be seen within the blue sky shimmering above the city of Roshtar. Thinking to explore the city a little more as they await for Lars to complete his studying the companions begin to meander the streets, finding out soon that there is in fact a faire going on! The streets of Roshtar bustle with activity as the faire engulfs the main street through the city. The street itself is narrowed by the carts and booths lining its sides; artisans, entertainers, and merchants can be heard calling out to potential customers and trumpeting their wares. Fine pastries, meat pies, ales, and wines are being served up and down the street by the local bakery and tavern owners.
Suddenly a shout from the middle of the busy faire spreads into an expanding ripple of cries and screams, accompanied by loud crashes that could only be carts and booths being overturned. These ripples of screams and cries immediately transform into a wave of people as bystanders begin to try to surge by in an attempt to escape whatever is wreaking havoc behind them. Wanting to reach the source of the destruction Tamull and Ragnarok quickly close up next to one another and begin forcing their way through the crowd, allowing a path to form behind them for Ornith, Sasha, and the newly acquired druid Nadraya to follow. With a final ferocious roar Ragnarok is able to intimidate the last few citizens out of the way, allowing for the companions to stumble out onto a scene more disturbing.
Several merchants lay on the cobblestone ground in various stages of injury while several more dire rats and some strange creature that can only be described as a “monkey-rat” wreak havoc around them all. Blood suddenly spatters the ground as the throat of one of the merchants is torn open, causing the companions to leap into action!
The battle is short, but bloody, with Ragnarok pulverizing several of the creatures at once and spraying brain bits all over both himself and Tamull. Soon after the last rat body drops several city guards come sprinting down the street and immediately demand to know what exactly is going on. Nadraya calmly explains all that had transpired while the others ensure that the remaining merchants are alive. Seeming only mildly disturbed by the dead creatures littering the ground the captain of the guard orders his guardsmen to begin cleaning up; the faire must go on!
Ornith quickly begins motioning for the companions to join her at the mouth of one alley, silently pointing to a fast retreating shadowy figure. Not waiting to see what the decision is about pursuing the figure, Nadraya takes off after the figure, easily clearing barrels and crates in her way. Unfortunately the druid just can’t seem to gain ground on the figure and eventually stops as the figure slips around one final corner, disappearing from sight. Hearing her companions noisily coming up behind her the druid turns to rejoin them. Obviously curious about the shadowy figure and why there came to be dire-rats in broad daylight in the middle of the city the companions return to the faire in order to begin questioning people.
Sasha begins attempting to gather information immediately, but can find no real leads. One seemingly rather drunk guardsman went on at great length about the Count making an announcement in regards to what occurred and also mumbled something about a fellow guardsman disappearing a few days ago. It wasn’t until she entered a tavern and spoke to a rather flirtatious barmaid that she received some truly intriguing information. The barmaid spoke of a ghost called the “Ghost of West Hill,” which roamed the city streets making strange cackling noises. Thinking this something similar to what the companions seem to be rather good at checking into the group decides to set off for West Hill and this supposed “ghost.”
Walking down the street to West Hill the companions suddenly feel very disoriented, as though for an instant the very fabric of space seems to warp. Distances stretch to infinity or close to nothing, straight lines warp and weave, vertigo assaulting their senses. Then, before their very eyes the air in front of them seems to open up and a pool of thick blue slime oozes out onto the cobblestone street. As things seems to snap back into place a huge worm-like creature rises up from the gelatinous pool; its translucent, purplish skin revealing strands of pulsating organs beneath it, a ring of hooked tentacle-like limbs surrounds a gaping lamprey-like mouth.
Wrinkling their noses in disgust the companions once again enter the fray of battle! With the creature’s attention mainly focused on Tamull and Ragnarok, Sasha is able to deliver a devastating sneak attack while Nadraya lets lose a flaming sphere of fire! Tamull moves forward to assault the creature with his mighty warhammer when suddenly the creature lunges forward and engulfs the paladin in its maw, beginning to consume the man! Taking careful aim Ornith fires an arrow into the creature’s body, causing the creature to collapse and Tamull’s body to come spilling out of the giant maw…covered in the creature’s body slime. As before the town guards come rushing to the scene after the danger has passed. One looks with dismay at the dead creature and asks aloud:
“I wonder why Elayne is not here. She’s always the first to appear when something of this sort happens.”
Curious as to who this Elayne person is and thinking that perhaps she may be able to provide them with more information the companions question the young guardsman as to where they might find this Elayne. The young man states that she is usually found in the Shrine to Culan and points off down the street. The companions leave the guards to clean up yet another mess and hastily head off in the direction pointed out to them. As they approach the shrine however, a strange heavy mist begins to form up and surround the shrine. Suddenly a woman’s voice cries out from behind the shrine, words can not be discerned, but the tone suggests urgency! Opening the shrine door the companions find it to be empty, but with the back door slightly ajar. Running through this back door the companions emerge out into the mist to find a woman lying on the ground and clattering sounds coming from the mist itself. Leaving Ornith and Nadraya to assess the woman’s the vitals and keep watch over her, Tamull, Ragnarok, and Sasha dash off after the retreating noises. Ornith and Nadraya soon discover that while the woman is alive, she appears to be under some sort of sleeping spell, one of which Nadraya is not skilled enough yet to lift.
Tamull, Ragnarok, and Sasha eventually run out into a clearing of the mist to find a circle of men wearing dark clothing with white ribbon tied around their waists, formed up in a circle surrounding a seemingly asleep woman.
“Stop right there!” Tamull calls out strongly. The acultists pay him no mind however and simply call out:
“She must be out of the way for the gate to open!” and “The Blessed will lead us in singing the praise of the Ones Beyond, even as our bodies are consumed and our minds lost to madness!”
Thinking that clearly these men are already lost to madness the three companions attack in hopes of rescuing the woman they have captured. The three companions make quick work of the men however, Sasha deftly slicing one’s jugular open and Ragnarok cleanly severing another’s arms from his body. Within moments the fight is over and the woman lying on the ground begins to groggily awaken. It is then that Ornith, Nadraya, and the woman they now know as Toria find the others. Seeing that her mentor, Elayne, is alright the two clerics soon begin to fill the companions in on what exactly happened.
Elayne explains that the men had approached the shrine, but had not answered her calling out to them so she had left and approached them. After that she remembers nothing, Toria however was able to fill in the rest. Hearing her mentor clatter to the ground Toria had rushed out of the shrine as well, but had stumbled to a confused halt as she recognized one of the men from the city’s well-known bookstore, Yar’s Books. After that moment she only remembers one of the men pointing at her and nothing more.
Unsure as to what exactly go on the companions merely look at one another…perhaps this bookstore is now next on their list of investigations?