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Dolmenwood: The Abbey of St. Clude (Session 04)

Gamelog for my Dolmenwood Campaign written by Maydrid the Rogue.  Rogue’s Gallery:

  • Marj Smith the Fighter.
  • Maydrid the Rogue.
  • Madrid the Rogue (twin sisters).
  • Jackie-of-Many-Colors (Elven Magician).
  • Spruce-Upon-Gallows (Elven Enchanter).
  • Hogrid Weavilman (Cleric).
  • Boone the Hunter (Hunter).
  • Tassain (Minstrel).

The party enjoys their new-found riches in Prigwort – drinking, sleeping, eating and training. Soon enough, the desire for more gold plants itself into their minds, and before long they are searching for more work.

They learn of a noble, Lady Harrowmore, whose daughter is missing. Rumors say that Lady Harrowmore’s daughter was kidnapped by bandits who are hiding in an abbey south of Prigwort. The abbey is supposedly haunted, dangerous, and avoided by many locals.

“We traveled to the Fae and survived,” Madrid comments flippantly, packing her bag and clipping her heavy cloak around her shoulders. “Some bandits won’t even make us sweat.”

.: :.

The road to the abbey is long and winding, the freezing rain pouring down in torrents as dusk starts to fall. The abbey sits atop a plateau, and when Jackie peers up at the darkening crags, she can hear the cawing of distant crows. The shadows almost make the cliff face look like a mountain of skulls.

“It’s too late and cold to head up there now,” Boone yells above the rain, gesturing for the group to follow him. “Let’s shelter here until morning.”

They hastily make a camp, eager for the warmth the fire provides, but the night is harsh and they barely sleep. Marje, stationed at first watch, can smell the smoke from another nearby campfire, and she also notices a flock of ghostly birds fly to and from the abbey during the night. She warns Maydrid upon shaking her awake, who rubs her eyes and sighs, taking second watch.

“Should we investigate?” Madrid asks as the sunlight begins to spill across the snowy, wet ground, causing it to sparkle. “They might know a thing or two about the abbey that isn’t all rumors.”

“Or they could be the opposite,” Sprue replies, shrugging.

Maydrid ponders for a few minutes before nodding. “It’s better to know than to not. Madrid and I can scout ahead, and if it’s bad news, we’ll withdraw.”

The wet snow makes it easier for Maydrid and Madrid to stay undetected, their footsteps barely making any sound. They follow the scent of a fresh campfire and find a clearing in the nearby woods. There are four horses tethered to a pole. A small shed stands to the side, with various silver hunting equipment laid out in the open. A young boy is patting one of the horses, murmuring something to it.

Maydrid raises an eyebrow at Madrid, who shrugs in response. “The hunting equipment looks… unusual,” Madrid whispers.

Maydrid decides to approach the boy, her hands held up in an attempt to appear non-threatening. The boy, obviously spooked, picks up a nearby spear and holds it up, pointed at her. “D-don’t come closer!” the boy shouts, a hint of fear leaking into his voice.

“We’re not here to hurt you,” Maydrid says, keeping her hands up. “We camped nearby and smelt the smoke so thought we’d investigate. I’m Maydrid, and this is my friend Madrid.”

“O-oh,” the boy stutters, lowering the spear, albeit hesitantly. “Um, I’m Ovid, miss.”

“Ovid,” Madrid repeats, smiling. “You’re not here alone, are you?” she asks, tilting her head towards the horses.

“No miss. My father and his friend are out trapping crows today. I’m just here for the horses.”

“Crows?” Maydrid asks, confused.

“Yes miss. These ethereal crows; you can see right through them! My father catches them and sells them back home. It’s how we make a living.”

“Interesting,” Maydrid says, glancing at her friend. “Where can you find these crows?”

“Well…” Ovid pauses briefly before continuing, “They live up in the abbey. Always have, as far as father knows.”

“Oh perfect,” Madrid comments. “We’re about to head up to the abbey ourselves. Can you tell us anything you know?”

“I haven’t been there myself, miss, but my father always says to avoid the tower. He says there’s something spooky about it.” Ovid stops to think. “Father also told me a story about this evil creature called a Bicorn. Apparently the Bicorn destroyed the abbey a couple of hundred years ago, and since then the Church hasn’t rebuilt it.”

“Avoid the tower, got it,” Madrid repeats, smiling again. “Thanks Ovid! If we see your father we’ll be sure to say hi.”

Ovid returns the smile. “Good luck miss!”

.: :.

The tower is definitely ominous – its gray shape stands starkly against the whiter sky. A murder of crows is circling the tower, and it feels as if their beady little eyes are watching them.

“Footprints, too small to be a beast’s; too small, even, to be a human or an elf. They seem like children’s footprints,” Boone mutters out loud, analysing the many dents in the snow. They follow the footprints that run back and forth between the tower and a nearby graveyard sporting hundreds of graves. Many of the graves are dug up, and disturbingly, each skeleton is missing every tooth. “Not by a shovel – they’ve been dug up by hands,” Boone says, pointing at the snow mixed with dirt. “These children also avoid the mausoleum.” Hogrid takes a moment to carefully bless each desecrated grave.

The mausoleum is the only building in the graveyard, standing alone and weathered. The heavy stone doors are cracked open with enough room for a creature to squeeze through. Jackie’s keen ears pick up a voice from inside the mausoleum, and she places a finger to her lips, hushing the party. “There’s something in there,” she whispers. “It keeps saying ‘Must be here somewhere. Must find it!’.”

Marje stretches her shoulders and rolls her neck before gripping her sword. “Let’s go.”

The mausoleum is dark, but enough light is seeping through the cracks to highlight a single elaborate sarcophagus in its center. The lid has been pushed off, and standing beside the coffin is a small, black creature, seemingly buzzing with energy. When it sees them, it turns around from peering in the coffin and claps its hands in joy.

“A Scryke!” Sprue exclaims, raising an eyebrow. “What the devil are you doing here?”

“What’s a Scryke?” Hogrid asks.

“It’s a being from the Fae made of pure chaos. How would you mortals describe them?” Sprue ponders, clicking his fingers. “They’re like…”

“Elementals!” Jackie interrupts. “Just not made of earth or water or whatever, but chaos. Nobody knows why, but they become obsessed with holy things.”

“Teeth! Where are the teeth?! I must complete it!” the Scryke speaks in a small, squeaky voice. It gestures inside the coffin. “The teeth are gone. I need them!”

“What for?” Jackie questions.

“To complete it! Were you not listening?” the Scryke admonishes, shaking his head. “Have you seen the abbot’s teeth?”

Hogrid blinks in disbelief. “Are you the one who disturbs the graves and takes their teeth?”

“No, no,” the Scryke replies, waving his hand. “Don’t be stupid. I have no use for teeth.” He pauses. “Have you seen the abbot’s? Well, doesn’t seem like you have. How about we make a deal?”

Maydrid turns to the elves. “Is it safe to make a deal with these… elementals?”

“They’re not… evil, per say. They’re just chaotic. So it’s a gamble. Scryke, what kind of deal?”

The Scryke giggles and touches the tips of his fingers together in glee. “You find me the abbot’s teeth, and I give you a secret!”

Madrid rolls her eyes. “Secrets ain’t money.”

“Oh no, little lady, secrets are better! Don’t you want to know my secret? Only for some teeth?”

“Fine,” Jackie accepts, shrugging. “If we find you the teeth, you’ll give us this so-called secret. It’s a deal.”

“Wonderful!” Scryke exclaims. “I’ll be waiting!” he says, before sinking into the ground, disappearing entirely.

“No wonder you guys came over to Dolmanwood – imagine dealing with one of them every day,” Maydrid jokes, nudging Jackie.

An unfamiliar voice interrupts them; it is high-pitched and soft. “Mr Raggenbones wants some teeths!” They turn to see three children, two boys and one girl, running barefoot in the snow towards the graveyard. They seem to have come from the tower and are dressed in rags, unbothered by the extreme cold. The girl has fiery red hair – exactly like Lady Harrowmore.

When the children spot them, they stop, the biggest of the two boys holding the younger two back. “What’re you doing here?” he asks fearfully.

“Hi there,” Madrid responds, putting on her friendly facade. “We’re just visiting the abbey. I’m Madrid. What are your names?”

“I’m Willy,” he replies confidently. “And this is Barnaby, and this is Violet.”

“Did you say something about a Mr Raggenbones? Who is that?”

“Mr Raggenbones is a really nice man, and he wears nice clothes all day,” Violet chirps up. “He lives with us in the tower.”

“Mr Raggenbones is a half-wolf man,” Willy whispers. “He takes care of us and keeps out the bad guys. He’s really cool and –” Willy is interrupted as a scream chokes up his throat. He is staring behind them, and once the fear stops gripping his legs, he runs back to the tower, dragging the other two children with him.

A skeleton has risen from a grave. It plucks an imaginary flask from his imaginary belt and lifts it to his mouth, before sighing and saying, “I needed that.”

“What is going on today?” Marje curses through her teeth, readying her sword. The skeleton raises both of its bony hands.

“I do not come to hurt you. I come to plead. I was once a monk here at this abbey before everyone was killed. I can sense an evil from beneath the abbey – an evil that needs to be purged. Please, I beg of you, purge the evil before it’s too late.” The skeleton turns to face Hogrid. “The Church won’t help, so perhaps you can.”

“Brother,” Hogrid responds, “if it will lay your spirit, and the spirits of your brothers, to rest, then so shall I do.”

“Thank you, brother,” the skeleton replies, seemingly sighing, before laying back down in its grave again.

Jackie stares strangely at Hogrid. “This place is freakish.”

Hogrid smiles and shrugs. “The dead are restless, so it’s our duty as the living to help them.” He turns to Marje. “So that Violet is our girl, correct?”

“Yeah,” Marje replies, staring at the tower, not being able to shake the feeling of being watched. “And two other poor children, too. I wonder who Mr Raggenbones is. Whatever the case, let’s search the rest of the abbey for any other clues.”

.: :.

The rest of the abbey grounds consist of an overgrown well, a chapel, and a small house. The chapel is overgrown with weeds and moss. As they approach, an unnerving metallic wheezing echoes from inside. Maydrid peers through a broken wall and watches as two human men, grasping silver cages in their hands, tiptoe up to the giant organ at the far end of the chapel. One of them plays a note, causing the organ to blurt out a strange noise, and a flock of ethereal crows explode from the organ pipes. The trappers catch a few in their cages and leave just as quietly as they came.

“Coast is clear,” Maydrid says, and they enter the chapel. What once were pews are now long destroyed, and the mosaics on the walls are covered in a thin layer of moss. Marje studies them, each mosaic depicting an image of a child, then a young boy, then a man doing something with his right hand – whether it be pointing or raising.

“Saint Clewd,” Hogrid explains, noticing Marje. “It is taught in the Church that Saint Clewd was a man of miracles. He caused lightning to strike the house of his parent’s landlord when they were thrown out on the street, his father ill with a fever. Probably the most heroic of Saint Clewd’s acts was defeating the Bicorn, which was causing havoc to the local villagers, he defeated it on the site of this abbey.” Hogrid points to the seventh and final mosaic depicting Saint Clewd on his hands and knees beside a bloodied and dying Bicorn. The mosaic sits above the altar, where fresh flowers have been placed.

“Nothing much here,” Maydrid interrupts, re-appearing. “There are two doors leading to what we can only assume is below the abbey, but they don’t have any ridges or handles or keyholes. Jackie cast some spell and she says it seems like they were built to keep something in, so best not to crack them open.”

“Speak for yourself,” Madrid protests. “What if there’s treasure down there?”

Maydrid rolls her eyes. “What do I always say?”

“What good is treasure to me if I’m dead,” Madrid mocks, smirking. Maydrid elbows her playfully.

“There’s still the house to check out,” Boone suggests. “We might find something there.”

Everything in the small house has been long destroyed – there are remnants of living quarters, a privy, and a small kitchen, but that is all. The only standing items are the bedframe and an empty bookshelf.

“Well, this was helpful,” Madrid says sarcastically.

“It was, actually,” Jackie replies, pointing down at the floor. There are faint scratch marks on the wood beside the bookshelf. She pulls on it, and the bookshelf swings inward, revealing a hidden passageway.

“Wow, good find,” Madrid says happily, skipping ahead. “Here’s a secret we can tell that Scryke guy.”

The passage winds for a few minutes before ending at another door. There is a lever on the wall next to the door, indicating the method of opening it.

“Hold up,” Sprue whispers, pressing his ear to the door. “I can hear voices – about six, maybe seven. They sound all male, and they sound like they’re… praying?” He glances, confused, at Hogrid. “I thought all the monks of this abbey died a long time ago?”

Hogrid returns the befuddled look. “Yeah, they did… this can’t be right. Purge the evil…” he repeats to himself quietly. “A cult, perhaps?”

“It doesn’t seem like they know this secret door is here,” Marje murmurs. “I say this is beyond our paycheck. We’re here for Lady Harrowmore’s daughter, and nothing else.”

“Agreed,” Madrid says, shooting Hogrid an apologetic look. “Sorry. We can come back, but right now, there are three children waiting to be saved.”

Hogrid nods. “No, you’re right. Let’s hurry.”

.: :.

“And there you have it – a perfect set of pearly whites!” Sprue magically disguises more than two dozen teeth from a handful of pebbles. “Let’s hope this works.”

As they approach the tower, an overwhelming sense of dread fills them, the crows circling them overhead. Sprue knocks at the door, and Willy’s voice rings inside.

“Don’t open it Violet! You know what Mr Raggenbones said.”

“Willy, we have teeth for you and for Mr Raggenbones!”

“They have teeths!” Violet says. “Willy, get the teeths.”

There are a few seconds of silence before the door unlocks and creeks open, and Willy’s dirty face appears. His eyes widen. “Wow, those are good teeths.” He reaches out his hand to grab them, but Sprue dodges his grasp.

“We have to come inside to give them to you, Willy.”

Willy hesitates. Violet appears next to him. “Willy,” she whispers loudly. “We gotta have them. Just let them in.”

Willy hesitates for a few seconds, his eyes flickering from Sprue’s face and the teeth, before he says, “Not all of you. That’s too many.”

“That’s perfectly fine,” Sprue replies. “Only three of us will come inside?”

Willy concedes, opening the door as Sprue, Marje and Hogrid step inside. Willy takes the teeth, and as soon as he does, the three children are grabbed by the three party members. Violet screams and yells, “Mr Raggenbones!”

In an instant, the crows rush through the tower from above and land to form what looks like a tall, pale man in a top hat, wearing a plague mask. “Let go of the children!” he screeches, dispersing into crows again and swarming them, missing Sprue and Marje but scratching Hogrid on his arm. The crows once again form a menacing humanoid.

Hogrid, Sprue and Marje let go of the children and leave the tower. Sprue tries to offer teeth for Violet, at the very least, and Mr Raggenbones rejects it, his eyes burning.

Hogrid notices a single, small black dot on his arm where he was attacked.

“Whatever that thing is, it’s too powerful for us,” Marje says. “Let’s go alert Lady Harrowmore of her daughter’s whereabouts and go from there.”

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons, OSE, The Ninth World

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