Carrion Crown

Journal of the Shadows
Adventures Within Ustalav

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The Betrayed
Meeting Sedeptra

The heroes had just finished an encounter with the werewolves in Shudderwood forest. Suddenly a terrible fog rolled in from nowhere. The fog was so dense they lost sight of each other and had no indication of their whereabouts. Anathema, K’avron and Domino become separated from the others in the fog and found themselves in a darker, more malevolent forest. As the fog lifted they heard sounds of battle and rushed towards it. They found a woman who was battling for her life from some Festrogs. The party defeated the Festrogs and sat and talked with the woman for a while. Her name is Sedeptra and she is associated with the church of Pharasma. They decided to journey with her after they discovered they had been transported several hundred miles from the Shudderwood, and now found themselves in the southern county of Barstoi. They came upon what seemed to be a graveyard filled with ghouls and were attacked by them. After defeating the ghouls and doing some exploration they realized that the graveyard was a farce, a cover up for a village that had been destroyed. Within the “graveyard” was a cathedral structure. Once they entered they were attacked by Allips. After defeating the Allips they discovered a flayed body by an altar and a spell of Undead Control that was active. They dispelled the undead control and found a note by the body.

The note read,
“To die at the hands of those that pose friendship… the slaughter of innocence of careless whispers and pleas. To this end bring forth the betrayal of life in death. This is the ingredient needed. This you will find by the Furrows. The last element is the most important. A betrayal of your own, a sacrifice. Do not fail…”
Also, on the back of the note was a symbol of the Whispering Way.

They traveled down stairs into the catacombs of the cathedral and fought some skeletons. After the skeletons were defeated, and after realizing that they were Barstoi knights, they went back upstairs and cast Speak With Dead on the flayed body.

They discovered that he was part of the Whispering Way. Whispering Way was recently at this site and he was killed and betrayed by them.

The current leader of the whispering way is Adivion Adrissant.

The Whispering Way came here for an ingredient for the Crown.

Sedeptra used her powers to try and see what happened at this site. She saw a prosperous farming community. Men in black armor, presumably the knights of Barstoi, with a general showed up. The knights were ordered to kill the villagers and buried them in mass graves. Some knights rebelled against the general, feeling remorse for what they had done, and they themselves were killed and buried. Later workers came and demolished the village and set up a mock graveyard instead. Armaments and balista were brought into a bunker and sealed away under a building looking like a cathedral. Then several people brought the body of the general into the bunker and threw it in haphazardly. The building was then sealed and partially buried.

The heroes ventured further into the catacombs and found the bunker with all the weapons and ballista. Sedeptra used alchemist’s fire to start burning things. A carved skull floated in the center of the bunker beneath a necrotic shadowfell rift. Suddenly the skeleton of the general “Barnibus” manifested and attacked the heroes calling them “betrayers!” He summoned skeleton troops to fight by his side, which was summoned from bone debris that that littered the floor throughout the bunker. The heroes defeated Barnibus and thereby closing the rift and cleaning the undead taint from the area. The heroes burned all the ballista and armaments causing the bunker and cathedral onto to cave in itself.

Epilogue:
The heroes discovered that some atrocity had occurred at this site during the civil war between Barstoi and Ardeal. Somehow the Church of Pharasma was involved. The Whispering Way came here to collect an ingredient for some diabolical thing called a “Crown”. Whispering Way are willing to kill their own people to this end. It may have been Whispering Way that stirred up the undead in this place, however it was already ripe with the conditions to foster undead abominations.

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The Deciever: Part One

Day 7: Tamravena

Following their harrowing misadventure with the Sandman the party ventured onwards towards Tanraenva. On the way the party encountered several wall guards who were fending off a group of undead Orcs. The party intervened to save the desperate guardsmen, successfully defeating the vile undead. The guardsmen were thankful, but the party felt that they were being shifty and holding something back. Grimriver attempted to intimidate the guards into revealing whatever secrets they were keeping, but guards remained close mouthed. Bodine did, however, notice that the guardsmen were infected with spores from a native plant that would slowly kill their victims and eventually raise them from the dead. Bodine tried to warn the guards of the spores, but they did not listen and continued on their way back to the wall. Frustrated by the guards’ lack of cooperation the group moved on towards Tanravena.

The party arrived around midday in Tanravena, and headed to the nearest inn. While getting supper at the inn the party overheard some rumors that a local Duke’s wife and daughter had gone missing. They pressed a few locals for more information about the Duke, who was identified as Duke Tenenbrae, and learned of even more strange happenings: one of the Duke’s sons had been seen for strange burn wounds late at night at the church of Pharasma, and the Duke himself was seen at the local magic shop purchasing large quantities of sleeping potions. Intrigued, the party decided to investigate Duke Tenebre and the disappearances, and headed to the local magic shop to question the shopkeep about the sleeping potion purchases.

At first the shopkeep was uninterested in “sinful gossip”, but when Grimriver revealed that he was an inquisitor of Pharasma the shopkeep was eager to impress the Dwarf with her devotion (a bit too eager, thought Grimriver). When asked about the sleeping potions she confirmed that Duke Tenenbrae had indeed purchased many sleeping potions from her recently, and Duke Tenenbrae said that they were for his son who was having problems sleeping. The shopkeep also told the party that she was suspicious of the missing Lady Tenenbrae, and believed that she might be a witch who used crystals to weld otherworldly powers against her foes.

The party decided to visit the Duke later and inquire about this strange affair, but Kendra noted that they could not visit the Duke unannounced and would need a noble to request an audience. Bodine revealed that Lucian had connections with nobility and might be able to get an audience with the Duke, and tried to convince Lucian to make the arrangements. Lucian agreed, but only on the condition that Bodine spend some personal time with his partner. The two of them spent a romantic evening shopping for a proper outfit for Bodine’s audience with the Duke.

The party reconvened later that evening at the inn. Just before the party retired for the night Lucian announced that he was going to go midnight stroll to “attend to some errands”. The party thought Lucian’s behavior a bit odd, but didn’t question him about it.

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The Deciever: Part Two

Day 8: The Duke

That morning in the inn there were rumors that the Duke Tenenbrae himself had been assaulted just that night, and was wounded in the battle. The party suspected that Lucian might have had something to do with it, and speculated that he might be a secret vampire.

The party split up, with Grimriver heading to meet with the Mother Superior at the Church of Pharasma and the rest of the party going to meet with Duke Tenenbrae.

Kendra, Bodine and Lucian arrived at the Duke’s manor, and Lucian introduced the party to the Duke. Immediately after introductions Lucian awkwardly left without a word, leaving Kendra and Bodine to covered for Lucian’s rudeness. The Duke was very sickly, and could barely stand by himself. The party asked about the attack but Duke Tenenbrae was not forthcoming with details, stating only that he had been attacked by a hooded figure and that the Duke was barely able to fight him off before the assailant fled out the window.

Bodine wasn’t buying the Duke’s story and suspected that something was off about the man. He went up to the Duke and feigned a trip as he inspected the Duke’s wounds, placing his hands upon Duke Tenenbrae’s shoulder. The momentary contact with enough for Bodine to detect that the Duke was infected with Vampirism! Bodine politely excused himself and Kendra and the pair of them made to leave the manor.

As Bodine and Kendra left the Duke’s bedroom they both heard some banging coming from one of the side bedrooms. Kendra opened the door to investigated the noise, and caught Lucian fornicating with one of the Duke’s maids! Lucian seemed unfazed by the interruption but left in a hurry, leaving the maid unsettled and unsatisfied. Kendra consoled the maid and asked her about the Tenenbraes, and the maid was very forthcoming with information about the Duke and his family. The maid talked at length about the strange daughter who often sleep-walked late at night with her creepy, eyeless doll, and that the Duke’s son was tormented by nightmares and that the father tried unsuccessfully to treat his son’s condition with sleeping potions. The maid also noted that she was constantly cleaning the daughter’s room of sand. Bodine convinced the maid to provide the party with information about the Duke and his family in return for a promise of convincing Lucian to return to her for some fun.

Kendra and Bodine noted that the description of the daughter strongly resembled the Sandman that they had fought in the village the previous day, and both strongly suspected that she might be the spawn of some unholy union between a Sandman and the Lady Tenenbrae.

Meanwhile at the church of Pharasma Grimriver met with Mother Superior Agnis. When asked about the disappearance of the Duke’s wife and daughter, the Mother confided in Grimriver that a younger Lady Tenenbrae had sought to become a nun at the church, but she was rejected and instead married the Duke. The Mother further suggested that the reason the Lady had been rejected from the church was because she was tainted with evil, but the Mother was reluctant to go into further detail. Agnis asked Grimriver to investigate the Lady Tenenbrae and her daughter, and destroy them if they were indeed as evil as she feared. Grimriver agreed.

Session: 2017-04-06

As Grimriver exited the church several town guards approached him and asked for his aid, mistaking him for a cleric of the church. The guards asked if Grimriver respected the secrecy between the town foreguard and the church, which Grimriver found odd but nodded in agreement. The guards brought Grimriver into the fort and to a guarded room where two guardsmen lay, unconscious and gravely wounded with claw marks. Grimriver quickly set to work and closed their wounds with magic, but the two guards remained feverish and unconscious. Grimriver asked the captain of the guard what had befallen his guards, but the captain refused to speak of what happened and ordered that Grimriver swear on the Pharasmin bible that he would speak to no one of the wounded guards outside of the church. When Grimriver balked at the order and asserted his authority with the church the captain threatened to arrest the inquisitor. Grimriver reluctantly swore himself to secrecy in front of the captain, and left the fort in a bad mood.

Back at the inn Lucian stated the he was bored with the town and the he wished to leave, but Bodine and Kendra convinced him to stay for a while longer to investigate the strange goings on with the Duke. Lucian talked at length about the nobility in town and how they had lost most of their wealth, and were borrowing heavily to maintain their appearance, and that the town is full of overzealous militia. Lucian also let slip that his family was nobility, but that he had little to no contact with them.

Lucian and Kendra speculated that the Duke may have contracted vampirism from one of his lenders who was using him as a “feedbag”. Lucian also suggested that the master vampire would have a psyonic link with the Duke, and that a psionic user might be able to tap into their connection.

After some discussion, the party agreed to stake out Duke Tenenbrae’s manor. Grimriver met the party back at the inn, and they informed him that they determined the Duke was a vampire. Grimriver was eager to destroy the vampire, but Kendra convinced him to take the stealthy approach in order to route out any other vampires.

That night at the inn Kendra and Bodine noticed that Lucian was attempting to slip out into the night. Bodine decided to trail Lucian and followed him into the market square and then to an abandoned building. Lucian ducked into the boarded up building and shortly afterwards Bodine heard some crashing inside. Bodine entered the building and ran headfirst into a group of ghouls! A battle ensued in which Bodine and Lucian deftly dispatched the group of ghouls, but the two of them were gravely wounded in the process and were forced to retreat down the street and back to the inn.

Lucian and Bodine made it back to the inn and tried to sneak up to the rooms without attracting attention, but Kendra and Grimriver both noticed their wounds and attempted to question the two. When Lucian refused to answer the party’s questions about why he was galavanting around at night and fighting ghouls in abandoned buildings Grimriver confronted the man, and even broke down his inn door when Lucian refused to open it. Lucian reluctantly consulted with the party and revealed that he was following up on a lead and that he did not want to involve the party for fear of their safety. After Grimriver and Lucian resolved their differences the party, minus Lucian, went to stake out the Duke’s manor.

The party camped outside of the manor late into the night, becoming drenched and chilled in the storm. Just as they were prepared to give up and leave they saw a figure exit from the Duke’s bedroom window and escape into the night. The party attempted to follow the figure but lost him in the storm. They went back to the manor and found that the room was empty and the door was locked from the inside. Grimriver and Bodine examined the bed and found that it was covered in shedded skin, pus and bodily fluids, suggesting that someone, or something, had undergone a metamorphosis here.

The party waited, hidden, in the bedroom for the figure to return, preparing to fight a vampire. The figure returned a few hours later, and turned out to be a foul, shape-changing vampire doppleganger! A fierce battle ensued between the party and the creature, but the party prevailed in striking down the beast.

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The Deciever Part 3
Day 9

Day 9: The Morning After
 
Surveying the situation after the battle, the party noticed that there were empty trays outside of the Duke’s room. Fearing the worst, the party searched the manner and found the bodies of several of the manner staff, including the body of the maid the party had spoken to just the prior day. Searching further, Grimriver found the body of a young woman in a wedding gown. When Grimriver removed her veil, the body sprang to life and grew fangs! A battle ensued in which the the Vampire Thrall fed upon Grimriver, draining him of vitality, but Grimriver managed to slay the creature with his magical mace of undead bane! Searching further the group found another body and an undead cat, which Grimriver slew with impunity.
 
Searching the study room the party found the Duke’s journal and letters addressed to Lady Tenenbrae from Captain Quin of the town foreguard, the same captain that . Kendra found the letters odd since they covered only droll topics, and worked out that the letters were actually coded and revealed that the Lady and the Captain were having an affair. The letters further revealed that the Captain believed that the Lady’s daughter was his, and the Captain requested that the Lady visit him in a hamlet to the south. The party deduced that the hamlet was likely the same hamlet where they encountered the sandman.
 
The Bodine and Kendra ventured back to the inn to rest, while Grimriver made his way to the church to speak with the Mother Superior about the issue with Vampires and Dopplegangers, as well as Grimriver’s grudge against the Captain. Grimriver reached the chruch and inqured for the mother, but was told that she was in a meeting. Grimriver waited for several hours, and eventually the Mother emerged but accompanied by Captain Quin!
 
Quin orders that all innkeepers deny room and board to the Dwarfish Inquisitor, and the party seeks room at the church. Grimriver requests room for his party at the church and is granted it by an acolyte, but the acolyte requests that the party attend mass that evening at 8pm. The party agrees, and rests until mass that night.
 
After mass Grimriver sought a private audience with Mother Agnes and dined with her, expressing his concern about the disappearance of the Duke’s  and the Captian to the Mother. The Mother professed that she trusted the Captain and had known him for decades, and that she trusted him to protect the town. Grimriver cautioned the Mother about the captain and told her about the two guards that he had healed and been sworn to secrecy by the Captain, but she dismissed his concerns. Frustrated, Grimriver bid the Mother goodnight and left to join the rest of the party.
 
Later that evening the party reconvened and Kendra stated the she believed that the Duke’s doppelganger had visited a local, abandoned manner and the party agreed to investigate the manner that night.
 
At the manner, the group encountered a pair of dogs with unnatural glowing red eyes. The group dispatched the fiendish dogs, and found a mound of corpses in one wing of the abandoned manner. Exploring further the group encountered a group of ghouls, vampires and their thralls lead by an ancient Nosfaratu vampire! A fierce battle ensued with the battle, with the nosfaratu summoning a horde of rats that crawled over and .
 
Having defeated the evil Nosfaratu, the party explored the abandoned manner and found Duke Tenenbrae unharmed along with a group of five women, several of whom showed signs of having been fed upon by the vampires.
 
The party freed the Duke and the women, and upon further inspection found notes that suggested that the Whispering Way had conspired with the Vampires to take over the crypt under Fort Villad. The notes also stated that the Vampires had drained the life force of Wallguard Captain Rhasrakin and used it to “feed the ghoul pits underneath fort Villad”.

From teh letters teh Party gleaned the follwoing information:

From Oprexus (Necromancer)
The process has begun I have made the necessary arrangements in the crypt beneath fort Vhiled.

From Zurem (Vampire)
I have taken care to charm the guards and several ar enow thralls and will bring you needed supplies

From Oprexus (Necromancer)
once the spawn are prepared they will be at your disposal.

From Oprexus (Necromancer)
The town will be ours

They have no idea the magnificent experiments that took place beneath them by the Whispering tyrant. the crypt under Tamrevna Fortress has never been reclaimed.

I have taken over Rhasknins essence to fuel my experiments. His life force will feed the Ghoul spawn pit

I have deciphered form the Voices of the Void the needed components

The ghouls are creating problems some have escaped and maybe in the populace. I believe some have attacked the guards. We may have speed up our timeline.

From Zurem (Vampire)
The Duke has been subdued Xarcus (Doppleganger) has embedded itself in the Manor and will begin infiltrating the council.

From Oprexus (Necromancer)
Can Xarcus be trusted ?

From Zurem (Vampire)
He is a thrall and will do as I say.

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