Game Time: Late Fall, 4707
Real Time: May, 2009

Love Letters for Veshenga

It’s been a busy few weeks, as the winter sets in. Balekh has been busily crafting magic items for the party, meanwhile starting up a romance with Shayliss, the girl who approached him previously about her rat problem (this time, the dating is with her father’s permission). Taeva has been practicing her craft as a locksmith. The both of them recently moved to Ameiko’s manor house to leave her a couple of extra rooms to rent in the inn. Haggor, likewise, moved out of the inn and is trying to practice his asceticism by living in a cave for the winter. Veshenga remains in town, spending more time with the other Varisians, gaining more of a role in their culture.

She wakes early one morning to the Sheriff knocking at her door in the inn. He asks her to find Haggor and meet him at the town sawmill to help with an investigation. A deputy meanwhile wakes Balekh and Taeva for the same purpose. Taeva claims that she’s going to ignore it and sleeps in, but winds up joining the other three on the way back down the hill to town as she overhears them being imprecise.

A small crowd has already begun to gather at the sawmill by the time the party arrives, and townsfolk begin to bother them for gossip as they head in. Taeva yells at them to go home in her most intimidating manner, and scatters several of the less-dedicated gawkers. Hemlock takes them aside and out of earshot to explain that he’s brought them here to investigate a double-murder: the mill owner and his assumed lover. Balekh quickly realizes that this is likely the older sister of his own girlfriend; Hemlock gives him the opportunity to bow out of the investigation, but he decides to proceed anyway. The Sheriff notes that this is the second murder in this style in the past few days, and that they should come by the garrison after they’re done investigating to interview the witnesses/suspects and look at the previous evidence.

Hemlock also shows them a note left for Veshenga on the body, written in blood:

You will learn to love me, desire me in time as she did. Give yourself to the Pack and it shall all end. – Yr. Lordship

The inside of the mill is an abattoir. Before they notice anything else, they notice the destroyed body of a young woman fallen across the log splitting saws. Balekh confirms that it is Katrine Vinder. The guard on duty turns their attention to the other victim, most likely Harker, the mill owner. He has obviously been murdered in a ritualistic fashion, hooked to the wall, his face and jaw flayed off, and a seven-pointed star carved into his chest. The party immediately recognizes this symbol as a match for the carvings and magic items found at Thistletop, which Balekh identifies as the Sihedron Rune. Further investigation reveals several clues:

  • The struggle was between the two victims and a barefoot man.
  • The murderer was there for Harker; Katrine arrived unexpectedly, tried to swing an axe to save her boyfriend, and was shoved into the saws.
  • There is a horrible stink to the bare footprints and the axe used to attack the murderer while Harker’s body includes several claw marks made by a humanoid hand; the murderer was most likely some kind of corporeal undead.
  • The murderer waited across the river, watching, for a long while then crossed to the docks and climbed into the mill through an upper window. It is likely he swam or walked along the bottom of the river, because there is no trail away from the site by land.

Confident that they have uncovered the available clues, the party splits up. Balekh goes to break the news to Shayliss about her sister, while the rest return to the garrison. There, Hemlock points out that he has two potential witnesses/suspects in the cells: Ibor Thorn (Harker’s business partner) and Ven Vinder (Katrine’s father). He also has the evidence from the previous murder. Taeva stays upstairs to review this evidence while Veshenga and Haggor go down to question the witnesses.

Hemlock outlines to Taeva that three bodies desecrated in the exact same manner were found two days previously. They were dead in a farmhouse and only discovered because their crazed and delirious bodyguard assaulted guards patrolling nearby. Based on the note found on their person, they were identified as local con-men and persistent ne’er-do-wells. Before today’s murder, Hemlock had simply assumed they had been killed in revenge by someone they had wronged, so had not brought it to the party’s attention. Their bodyguard had been remanded to a local insane asylum. The note on the bodies was written in a similar hand to Veshenga’s letter, though in ink this time:

Messrs. Mortwell, Hask, and Tabe —

A deal has come about that I need capital in. It involves property and gold, and though I am not at liberty to tell you the exact details, it will make us all rich. Come to Bradley’s Barn on Cougar Creek tonight. We can meet there to discuss our futures. – Yr. Lordship