I do not know if this message will find you well or even at all, but if you are indeed in Lanarell I must urge you to return home with all haste. Something dark and dire has befallen Rannon’s Hill and I believe that we are in need of you and your companions.
Yondalladay, 13th of High Spring, 211 I.Y.
Having learned the contents of the letter that Kara had received the previous day (see above) the heroes were prepared to leave early the following morning and they did. Though they had stayed in Lanarell for little over a week and half, it seemed so much longer. They left the city through the Highlands Gate after letting Selinda know that they were headed back home.
Their first stop was at the small roadside stop over called Ivan’s Inn, which was where they had arranged to meet up with Rag’azzahd. As arranged he was waiting for them and he was still eager to accompany them to Rannon’s Hill. As he was riding he bid them carry on as he would soon catch them on the road (which he did).
The walk home was pleasant and familiar. They passed through Greenvale and then turned north, treading the very familiar road between Greenvale and Rannon’s Hill with some nostalgia. In total it took them a little over seven hours to walk from Lanarell to Rannon’s Hill, so they arrived back in the late afternoon.
Arriving home they can sense a forbidding around the town. The companions immediately begin to split up to check in on their families and interests. Hoatzin and Nortrix travel to the Hillbottom Tavern, where Nortrix had spent a great deal of time and, of course, where Hoatzin’s family were. Kara and Rag’azzahd made their way to the Temple of the Mind to hear from Garl Heatherblossom exactly what his message entailed, while Grax and Kysmer made their way to the Shrine of the Old Gods to pay their respects, make their offerings and, in Grax’s case, catch up with his mentor Cleric Lodin. After thanking Fharlaghn for seeing them safely home to Rannon’s Hill, Kysmer set off back to his family farm (which they had passed on the way into town). Having caught up with Cleric Lodin, Grax (having learnt from Lodin that the Mayor had despatched missives to Lanarell and Respite) went to speak to Mayor Jhon Twoaxe.
Upon arriving back at the Greenthumb farm, Kysmer is a little surprised to see a halfling woman sitting on the front porch mending clothing while his mother sweeps. He soon learns that the woman is Raimie Merricreek, a caravan halfling whose family has been granted leave to camp on some of his father’s land. His father has always been kindly disposed towards the caravan halflings and this is not the first time a family has been allowed to camp here.
As each of the heroes begins to ask what has transpired in town recently, they all hear a variation on the following (from either Marigold Fairweather, Garl Heatherblossom, Mayor Jhon Twoaxe or Sterryn Greenthumb):
“It began seven days ago. A group of local business people were leaving the Mayor’s residence when, out of nowhere, a dark spirit materialised and attacked Hurn Axebeard. The attack lasted only a moment, leaving the dwarf more shaken than anything else. This was thought quite odd, but aside from the militia being alerted, no actions were taken.
Perhaps there should have been a thorough investigation then and perhaps Alicia would still be alive, for the following night Alicia Greenbough was attacked while she walked through the woods. The poor lass left the Temple of the Mind to go meet someone and was never seen alive again. We found her body the next morning, unmarked but as cold as the grave. Her death was a mystery and was not connected to the spirit until later.
Two nights later young Skip Fairweather was attacked in the Hillbottom Tavern yard. He saw the vile spirit and tried to run and, for some reason, the spirit let him be after its first vicious assault.
After this attack we feared that we now knew what had befallen Alicia and so the Mayor charged two riders to make all haste to Lanarell and Respite. They bore messages requesting the aid of the Imperial Northern Rangers, but as yet we have had no response.
Then, two nights past, the sweet Liana Dale was meditating on the loss of her friend Alicia in the Temple of the Mind when she was assaulted by this foul spirit. In terror she fled the Temple and the spirit did not pursue her.
We fear that we are at the mercy of some evil force.”
Thus informed, Kara also learns that, ever since the attack on Liana Dale, no-one has been allowed into the Temple of the Mind. She quickly has a look throughout the Temple but, aside from finding Alicia Greenbough’s body still laying out to receive visitors, she found it as she remembered it.
Kysmer was also informed that Alicia Greenbough had been secretly meeting with Lorne Greenthumb (one of Kysmer’s brothers) in a relationship that was most certainly not approved of by Sterryn. Kysmer well knew his father’s opinions on having “relations” with humans or half-elves, so the half-elven Liana would never have been an acceptable match for Lorne.
At the Hillbottom Tavern, Hoatzin goes to have a chat with his younger brother, Skip, concerning the attack he endured (while Nortrix gets reacquainted with his favourite seat near the fire). Skip was able to recount what he remembered of the attack as follows:
“I could hear Ma calling out from down near the split fence, which was a bit weird, but I went over to see what she wanted. Then that thing was on me, raking at me with its cold claws. I swear they went right through my arm and then my chest. Next thing I know I’m wakin’ up in the common room with Mister Goldenbraid and Mister Ironarm lookin’ down at me. Ma was in quite a state.”
Recalling that the spirit they had faced and defeated previously in Rannon’s Hill had also been able to imitate voices, Hoatzin soon realised that they faced the same, or at least same type, of evil creature. Thanking Skip for his story, Hoatzin immediately dashed downstairs and out the side door. He knew he needed to go fetch some holy water straight away!
Grax had finished meeting with the Mayor and had gone to meet up with Kara and Rag’azzahd. Hearing what she had to say about the interior of the Temple of the Mind Grax felt there was no need for him to look inside. Together they decided it wold be best to go and speak to Liana Dale about the attack, and so they bade farewell to Rag’azzahd (whom Garl Heatherblossom was going to find some accommodation for) and headed off to Liana’s house. They had made it only as far as the main street, however, when they encountered Hoatzin. He had spoken to Skip and it was clear that they faced that spirit that they had faced before. He urged them to get everyone assembled and then continued running up the hill towards the Shrine of the Old Gods. He hadn’t even paused long enough for them to ask him any questions. Sharing a shrug, Kara and Grax decide to leave talking to Liana until later and then head back down to the Hillbottom Tavern, where they found Nortrix (unaware that Hoatzin had already charged off). Grax then continues on to the Greenthumb farm to find Kysmer.
At the Shrine of the Old Gods Hoatzin explained his suspicions to Cleric Lodin who agreed that it certainly sounded like the same spirit. Cleric Lodin agreed to make up two batches of holy water for them to use that night.
Grax arrives at the Greenthumb farm in time for dinner. Being a generous family they welcome Grax to the table and he enjoys a meal of roasted vegetables, meats and generous amounts of gravy. While they usually eat well at the Greenthumb farm, it is apparent that this is in celebration of Kysmer returning home unharmed. After dinner they head back to the Hillbottom Tavern to meet up with the others.
At the Hillbottom Tavern Kara, Nortrix and Hoatzin have all eaten a hearty meal and enjoyed a mug of ale by the time Grax and Kymser show up. they discuss how best to tackle the problem of the spirit attacks and, not knowing the best place to find the spirit, decide to patrol the town in the hopes of either flushing it out or a least being on hand should another attack occur. So decided they divvy up the ten vials of holy water provided by Cleric Lodin (Grax doesn’t take any, as he points out he will most likely be busy generating light) and head out into the night.
They had patrolled for an hour or so when they hear the scream. Rushing ahead of the others, Hoatzin is the first to make it to the aid on Donal Meers inside a dark, empty building. He finds Donal backing away from a dark, shadowy figure with a swirling halo of hair surrounding its head. Hoatzin attacks and chases the spirit through the building while the others arrive at the darkened Temple of the Mind to find Donal now cautiously standing at the front doorway. He had disregarded the warnings of a spirit as superstitious nonsense, but was now very much convinced of their veracity.
Spreading out through the main chamber of the Temple of the Mind, the heroes tried to box the spirit in (difficult when it can fly through walls) and pour the holy water onto it. Their task was made easier by the light provided by Grax, though the spirit still proved to be most elusive. Faced with the holy light of Pelor it fled through the back wall only to return when most everyone had followed it outside to cruelly slay Donal Meers in front of Kysmer. Within short order they are able to finish the creature off, watching as it dissipates into wisps of darkness in the night, but not in time for Donal.
They immediately report this occurrence to both Cleric Lodin (who had been mystically empowering the holy water from afar) and Garl Heatherblossom, who sets about preparing Donal’s body for viewing. With nothing else for them to do that night, the heroes return to their homes for sleep…