Heironday, 14th of High Spring, 211 I.Y.
The following morning, Grax awoke in his own bed for this first time in what seemed like months. Although it had only been weeks, he could barely remember the last time he had risen before dawn to help with the chores around the Shrine. During this time he had an opportunity to speak with Cleric Lodin about the spirit from the night before. After some in depth discussion they begin to believe that the spirit they faced was different to the spirit they had faced previously. This, of course, was contrary to what Hoatzin had come up with the previous evening.
After finishing the morning chores, Grax then heads off to find his companions and pass on what he and his entire had been discussing. He was soon able to find them all down at the Hillbottom Tavern, where they had gathered together perhaps out of habit.
Together they decide to return to the Shrine to ask Cleric Lodin if he has learned any more about spirits in general since they last encountered one. As it turns out, Cleric Lodin has indeed learned more about spirits, including some details which are of great import. He has learned that, to defeat an undead spirit you generally cannot just destroy them in combat; you must instead find what it is that is holding them to this place and resolve that issue. Additionally, he has found that animals, either domesticated or wild, often can’t stand the presence of spirits and can barely be driven to be near one; they can apparently sense when an undead spirit is close by and will react accordingly.
Kara asks if there is anyone else who knows more about spirits that they could speak to (I’m sure she didn’t mean to question Cleric Lodin’s accuracy), to which Cleric Lodin mentioned the learned Cleric Narthun who can be found in at the Great Temple of Pelor in Feneris. Hearing of this the heroes contemplate seeking out this Cleric Narthun, but decide against it as Feneris is many days travel away. They thank Cleric Lodin for his assistance and leave him to his work.
Following up on laying spirits to rest, the heroes decide to find out if there have been any traumatic events in the history of Rannon’s Hill that might have caused spirits to rise, so they head over to the Temple of the Mind to check out the books concerning local history.
Well, that was the plan, except then Hoatzin ran off ahead to speak to Rag’azzahd at the Temple of the Mind. Of course, Rag’azzahd isn’t at the Temple (no-one living is currently at the Temple of the Mind) and so he runs back to the Shrine of the Old Gods, passing his friends on the way. At the Shrine he asks Cleric Lodin about where the hobgoblin is, but Lodin hasn’t heard about the hobgoblin yet and so he can’t help. Hoatzin thanks him anyway and then runs off around town for almost an hour before he happens to see Rag’azzahd inside the house of Elsa Strongwillow. When he is admitted to the house by the elderly elf, he almost immediately asks Rag’azzahd (who was speaking to Garl Heatherblossom at the time) what he knows about ghosts and spirits. After Rag’azzahd has determined that hoatzin seeks information about undead spirits, he admits to knowing little about them.
At the Temple of the Mind, Kara and Grax had settled down to studying the local history books, not noticing when Nortrix decided to go gather information back at the tavern. Realising that Nortrix was missing, Kysmer went off to find him and soon found him at the Hillbottom Tavern. It was at this point that Kysmer realised that, if the original spirit was still around, then his family might be in danger. He immediately left the tavern and made all haste to the farm.
In regards to Nortrix’s information gathering, he couldn’t find out anything useful at the tavern, although the town drunk did imply that the halflings staying at the Greenthumb farm were to blame (somehow) for just about everything.
At the Greenthumb farm Kysmer found that there had been no further spirit activity, for which he was profoundly grateful. He tried to talk to his family about the possible dangers of the spirit returning, but no one would hear him out except for Lorne, who then promised to keep a keen eye out in case the spirit returned. This was the first that Kysmer had seen his brother look energised since arriving back in Rannon’s Hill.
Back at the Temple, Kara and Grax had discovered that roughly a century ago there had been a horrible accident, resulting in a barn burning down with seven people inside it. As far as they could tell from their book searching (or possibly researching), this was the only horrendous event that had occurred in the town’s written history. They decided that this location bore further investigation in case the spirit was originating from here. Hoatzin, who had finally caught up to them at the Tempe of the Mind, was happy to carry word of this to Nortrix and Kysmer. Knowing that animals could sense the presence of spirits, they also decided to bring some along.
They find the rough area of the barn burning easily enough, as the farm it belonged to lay to the west of the Western Orchard. Reaching the rough location they decided that they should then spread out to cover more ground, taking some of the animals with each of the three search parties. Kara (with her mule Markus) went one way, Hoatzin (with a sheep from the Greenthumb farm) went another way, and Kysmer, Nortrix and Grax (with a duck from the Greenthumb farm) heading in a third direction.
Kara’s search leads her to a small farm shed, within which she finds two rough men lurking. The men demanded her silence and surrender, but she refuses and manifests her psychic weapon instead. The men are not overly fazed by this dramatic display of supernatural might, as they then proceed to attack her. A heavy crossbow bolt slammed into the door beside her, momentarily distracting her (and startling Markus who quickly scuttled away a few feet) before a wickedly curved slaver’s sword tore open her abdomen. Somehow the second attack, which was sure to finish her, missed the mark and Kara was able to stagger away from her attackers while also raising the alarm for her companions.
From that point the battle was short and furious with the remaining heroes rushing to Kara’s aid. Kysmer also took a severe injury from slaver’s sword, whose wielder was quite skilled, but Grax was able to see both of his companions swiftly healed. Nortrix managed to fell the crossbow wielder with a well placed rock as the man was exiting the shed and, finding himself surrounded, the sword wielder then surrendered (having already taken a blow or two from Hoatzin).
Following the attacker’s surrender, Kysmer realised that the leader was the half-orc bandit Alan who had captured them several months earlier while they had been wandering through the Northern Woods. The others also soon recognised him, remembering all to well how easily he had captured them. Although Alan initially refused to answer any questions they posed to him, he eventually explained that he and his men had been attacked by an evil spirit a couple of nights earlier. They had made camp and then, late at night, the spirit had come out of the woods and began killing them all. During the attack several of his men were slain; seeing how the fight was going, he and Betram (the crossbow wielding man) had unintentionally fled towards Rannon’s Hill and had then hid out in the shed until being found by Kara.
With a new spirit attack to investigate, the heroes quickly decide to take Alan and Bertram to the town sheriff, Arval Zannis. Sheriff Zannis recognised Alan on sight as the wanted bandit leader Alan Hardt and was more than happy to lock both of the captives away in the single cell that he had on the side of the guard’s house. Sheriff Zannis was also happy enough to confirm Hoatzin’s query that there was indeed a reward for the capture of Alan Hardt (a nice 500 GI to be exact), which would be paid when a representative from Lanarell arrived. He mentioned that he would send a rider to Lanarell that very afternoon with the news.
So, with the afternoon already upon them, the heroes set out to try and find the location where Hardt’s men were attacked, somewhere to the west of Rannon’s Hill…