Misgivings

After clearing out the last of the ghouls, the party investigates the ransacked farmhouse, skirting around the rotting form of the enruned farmer in the center of the living room. Thinking that the ornate key might go to something in the house, Taeva eventually finds a locked strongbox under a floorboard in the bedroom. They try the key, and it doesn’t fit. Taeva goes ahead and picks the lock, finding several thousand silver pieces obsessively arranged into uniform bags of coin. In her professional opinion, this is the hoard of a miser.

Finding it odd that there was no key, eventually Balekh decides to search the farmer’s rotting corpse after all, and finds a key that does go to the strongbox. Considering the ghoul’s key, he thinks about the crest and eventually remembers that it’s probably something to do with the Foxgloves. For now, they discount that even if the guy is creepy, it doesn’t make sense that someone they had to save from a goblin would be the threat that was stalking the streets of Sandpoint, leaving murder in his wake.

Making a sweep through the farms, the party checks all the remaining scarecrows and then obliterates any ghouls they encounter. Very soon, they come across a victim that has not quite succumbed to ghoul fever yet, a young farmer that Haggor recognizes from town. As they’re carrying the feverish man further down the path, they happen across a large mass of ghoul scarecrows struggling to get off their posts and attack. As the party deals with them, the three ghouls that had fled earlier make their move and emerge out of the skeletal fields to attack Veshenga from behind. A tense fight ensues, as the “healthier” ghouls attempt to eat the ranger and rogue while the cleric and monk deal with the wave of ghouls ripping themselves down from their posts. Eventually, the ghouls are dispatched, but not before they’ve left a few more wounds on the party.

As the sweep continues, a few more lone ghoul scarecrows are easily dispatched, and the party finds another living survivor: the other survivor’s girlfriend. The two of them were apparently captured together recently, and the party arrived just in time to save them from ghouldom. As the party is tending to the girl, several more ghouls nearby manage to rip themselves down from their posts, and come charging through the rows, only to be put down one by one via arrows, crossbow bolts, and a charging wrestler.

Satisfied that they’ve cleared the last of the scarecrow ghouls, and with the light failing, the party recovers their horses and begins to ride back to town. They arrive late in the evening and barricade themselves in the garrison. They have two heavily infected survivors, a madman still in danger, and three party members who have been bitten and who aren’t feeling too well. Veshenga uses her healing skills throughout the night, with Balekh and Haggor doing what they can to assist, and when dawn breaks they’re convinced that everyone is out of the woods (with the two farmers still in a bit of danger, but nothing the local priests can’t handle). Everyone passes out for some much-needed rest; except Taeva, who slept soundly while everyone else took care of the doctoring.

The sheriff comes in and receives a brief description of the previous day. He asks Taeva if she wants to see if they can’t work together to figure out what’s going on, and the two of them hit the taverns for breakfast. It doesn’t take long before they find someone who remembers the story of Foxglove Manor—the Misgivings—and the terrible murder-suicide 20 years past that left Aldern and his sister orphans. Though it was widely considered haunted, Aldern had come back recently to try to renovate it, with the help of a caretaker whose description matches the lead ghoul at the farmhouse. Taeva decides to go wake and inform the party, while Hemlock follows up on the Scarnetti lead.

Just as Taeva is finishing telling her groggy friends the news, Hemlock returns to the garrison with a grim expression and another love letter for Veshenga:

You continue to ignore my invitations, my love. Did you not sense my need for you that evening after we hunted?

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