Setup for Carrock’s joining the party
- Originally written by Oson the Unsound; November 20, 2012, Moved by Bravado from the forum; January 29, 2013
As the surviving party was congratulated for having broken the curse and began to rest after their ordeal, a man in a cloak and a long, strange mask rose from his chair near the fire and approached them. He cleared his throat as he approached their table, their food having just arrived, his notoriously bad sense of timing becoming immediately apparent to any who cared to note it.
???: “Greetings, adventurers. In inquiring in the inn about aid, I’ve heard that you’ve just successfully broken a curse and saved the region from a dire threat, all within the last few hours. I wonder if I could beg your assistance on a task of some level of importance? I promise you that you will be paid for your trouble, probably more than what you received here.”
His talons clicked on the floor and he nervously threaded his fingers before him. He was covered in black feathers as far as one could see, but wore the holy symbol of Pharasma proudly upon the breast of his black cloak, visible under the turned collar. He moved with some sharp twitches occasionally, his feathers ruffling at times along his neck.
He croaked on: "My name is… Carrock Redfeather, and I am an… agent of the goddess Pharasma. I am on a mission investigating claims of a necromancer in a nearby town, and have been seeking some aid in dealing with whatever will be found there. I cannot promise you that I know any more than you do at this point, except that there are further claims of a unique undead creature that may be a servant of said necromancer, or perhaps of a more sinister origin.
“I hope to arrive in Falcon’s Hollow 12 days from now, as I’ve several other things to do in the area and the timing of it is… important. Obviously if you come with me we can spend the time allotted to finding heroes relaxing in the area before making our way, getting to know each other or whatever. I heard you had a companion be taken into the arms of the goddess…”
He looked uncomfortable for a moment, hesitating, then continued: "You could perhaps use that time to grieve, if you feel such a thing necessary. I will be around if you would like to discuss that topic, or any others that you feel necessary.
“What say you?”
=Encoded in a cipher and hidden on his person, the dreadmasque agent calling himself "Carrock"’s private journal details his work, providing a side story for what happened while the party was searching for the missing children from Falcon’s Hollow, and more details on Carrock’s motivations for being there=
1- Barely inaugurated into the order before I’m sent on the road, but I like that. Get to the task. The only thing that troubles me is how vague the task is: a necromancer reported in a town full of people who spit upon justice and law. The head of the local Skete of Black Friars of the Fateful Church branch must have sent the request for an investigation; I don’t blame him for his worry. I just wish I knew more before visiting the accused, it’s impossible to tell what he’s cooked up, how long he’s been at it, or what. I mean, my presence is always an indicator that I’m not going to shake a person’s hand; people know what the dreadmasque is for. I just wonder if perhaps there was a more subtle approach, at least to determine if, necromancy aside, he’s been raising the dead or something. He could have built up an army and was just biding his time for all I know! And wouldn’t that be me in the middle of it, then! These friars and I would be overrun, not to speak of the town… no, I mustn’t let my imagination get the best of me. I have no data, I am there to gather some. I didn’t have sufficient time to do it as I’d have liked to, according to The Lady’s guidance, so I shall work with what I have, keep a low profile, and do my investigations covertly.
I’m told by the Skete’s head (what was his name again…? Duncan something, doesn’t really matter) that there is something happening in the surrounding community, but what it is, they couldn’t guess. I kind of hate that about these “Fateful Church” branchers, order stance of “we all work together” notwithstanding: they keep to themselves too much. I feel that the church should intertwine with the community; to understand the people completely, to guide their passage in and out of the world, and to maintain watch over the graceful dead. They seemed content to only do the latter two, and thus, are out of sorts about the unknown, and the secrets the people hold. Well, no matter. I shall find out what is going on. We’ll see what this “necromancer” is up to.
2- I suppose I forgot to note what led me to this crazy town… I met some so-called heroes in an inn on my way here… timing is everything, as I always say. I was told by The Lady that morning to remain a while, so… remain I did. While reading The Text before the inn’s hearth (and enjoying the time off my feet, to be honest), in stumble these people looking at once both distraught and satisfied, and I overhear them discussing many things; death and fighting and villains of a sort… yes, so this was what The Lady wanted me to wait for. I asked Her for assistance with this investigation that morning; and just in time, here is assistance. I had to make up some kind of lie to get them to come with me, though… these types never work for free, or the satisfaction of putting restless undead in the ground (or the even greater satisfaction of learning about new types and thus helping the order’s reference guides grow), so I figured the promise of coin would entice them. Thinking of that, I need to actually collect some while I’m here… I’m sure I can collect the tithes that the Skete have gathered over time, they’ll understand the importance. If not, I suppose they’ll just be surprised when it goes missing. They do recognize my authority though, I’m sure there’ll be no problem. Anyways, they need me for this task, so I figure it’s fair trade. The church requires money to run; all aspects of it.
3- Yes, I now possess irrefutable proof of the necromancer being thus, after tonight’s harrowing ordeal.
I decided to set a trap for him, as he’d been very coy since I arrived in town; he must have been warned by an accomplice. My timing was poor, as usual, so I decided I’d draw him out with the possibility that I’d leave the very next day, my presence simply a result of me passing through en route to another nearby town. I exited the town by the north road that evening, bidding farewell to the Friars and so forth and urging them on both “vigilance and temperance”, etc etc. I’d given them private instructions to go out into the town that night though, on pretence of aiding with a birth (which actually happened, apparently! In rushed a villager just before I left, asking for assistance… either The Lady knew my lie needed truth, or it was the necromancer’s ploy to draw them away, or the true thing, praise the Lady!), and then circled back around the town in the dark, going off the road a mile out and skulking back to observe the graveyard from a blind I’d set up. Sure enough, at probably exactly the witching hour he appeared (the man has impeccable timing!), sneaking into the boneyard and making for a grave I’d helped dig and perform rites on earlier that day (the timing of such being another part of the plan, as he should have been in the ground the day before), a young man that The Lady decided was needed in Her realm more, and so took him after an accident out felling trees in the forest.
So, the necromancer stole up to the grave and began to dig. He seemed unused to the task… perhaps he had an assistant normally, or something. … No, wait, yes, he does have an assistant, it’s one of those children who’ve gone missing; those adventurers I’d entered the town with went off on that trail… I sense some dark cloud over their task as well; what would capture children? I understand that they’re supposedly tasty or whatever, but many dark rites call for children as well. Some ill will is at hand in this town, and it shall be set right.
… To that note, the morning of my trap I’d asked The Lady for Her guidance in which of Her divine aspects were most appropriate to the day’s tasks, and She’d been hesitant, and gave me two very different options to choose for myself, but nothing more. I was taken aback, as it’s never left with a choice, as She knows best the path I should take, but I believe I understand now: She was saying that I either deal with the necromancer, or work with those heroes on whatever it is they’ve gone out there to deal with. I suppose I didn’t understand at the time, so I went forward with my plan… I trust they know what they’re doing. I also trust that if they need help, She will send someone else in my stead. Her timing is absolute.
Anyways, yes! The necromancer. He gathered the body after quite a while of work, cursing about our work on it and the blessings I’d placed on it… see, he didn’t know that they served to suppress his ability to perform his rites. Sort of counter-magic, I suppose, a little something the masters taught me, to make my job easier. But perhaps he did? Regardless, he dumped the lad’s corpse in a wheelbarrow and started home, so I followed him to his house and watched his actions, drawing my blades for the task that would be required of me.
Suddenly, and this is just too much, the local sheriff is behind me, absolutely quiet. Thank The Lady I don’t shriek when I’m surprised, but I yelped when he grabbed me, and thankfully he’d done so, or I would have been spotted at the window I’d been looking in. The necromancer burst from the residence almost immediately thereafter and spent an hour searching the wood for the source, and the sheriff and I were incredibly pressed to remain unnoticed in that time. After the necromancer was satisfied that it was “just a bird” (haha) and retired back in to continue his (now difficult) ritual, the sheriff explained his presence: the Skete had run into him en route to the requested delivery and the younger among them, Friar Hank Ruge, drew him aside and quietly told him what I was there for, feeling the sheriff was able to be taken into his confidence. So… he came to help me. Just as well, but he was saying the necromancer was not allowed to be killed. I stated that The Lady demanded it, and so did the just universe and all things good and holy. He insisted that he would handle it, and then stood and marched to the door, my protests to the contrary going unheeded.
… Needless to say, he encountered the lad, arisen, and the madman standing behind him, laughing maniacally. Stating that the man was under arrest, he moved inward while I arrived at the doorway. When I saw the creature I immediately jumped into the fray, and the sheriff shouted that he would handle the necromancer, deftly leaping over the creature and making for it’s master. Before it could turn on him though, I threw my wakizashi, embedding it in it’s chest, causing it to turn back toward me. It screamed, and charged, and time itself seemed to stop.
… Well, the resulting fight was one I was mostly prepared for, though the strength of the creature was out of my abilities. The sheriff took about a half-minute subduing the necromancer before rushing to my aid, and in that time it seemed almost impervious to my attacks, being both agile and strong, probably moreso than it was in life. Thankfully my rites and counter-spells were inhibiting it somewhat, so whenever it would be restricted in movement or have a spasm, I would take my strike at the opening, but it still pressed me sorely, even with the sheriff’s eventual aid. Finally, we were able to put it down, and he took the man into town after helping me re-bury the creature, my own rites completed and the necromantic texts and implements confiscated for destruction.
I don’t know what “justice” they will mete upon the man, but I know that The Lady is very clear about what justice necromancers must face. I shall have to look into his trial and sentence with vigilance in the coming days, as I’ve heard about this town’s… peculiar… trials and jury. For now, though, I shall await the return of the Skete here in the quiet dark of the rectory, nursing my many wounds and thanking The Lady for the strength of body and spirit She had granted me this day.
… I hope they return soon.
=Notes on terms used are in the comments=