Death and Harvest

The castle begins shifting back almost as soon as Lord Tepish and Stephen leave. Several of the group go on a mad dash to see what can be salvaged before it all disappears. They return with weapons, armor, money, and a couple floating stones. This seems wrong, I wonder if the castle will reappear whever he’s going without these things. I wonder if he will be upset with us. Perhaps I won’t ask for my boon right away.

We all take a well-earned rest and in the morning, we begin to plan the recovery of mine and town. Dalish thinks he knows what Stephen was on to with Great Grandpa Skull. Klyce plots up ways to cover the hole I apparently made in the mine roof. And the rest of us head into town.

I help with setting up for the Harvest Festival, especially making the Green Witch for this year. Making a quick stop by the seamstress to pay her more for her trouble, and ask she make me matching masks and a black velvet one to cover my hideous face. Nat goes to the grieving families and recruits the dead, or performs the funeral for them. Remy helps with organizing and rebuilding destroyed homes and buildings. Gerhardt stays up at the castle, working to refine mana through his alchemy.

Three days before Harvest Eve, townsfolk find Nat and bring her to the Green Witch. Someone has stuffed a dead body inside with a dagger in her chest! There’s a note on it, that Nat sends HeyHey to go look at for her. “Break the Bones” Nat tries to calm the crowd, assuring them we’ll find who did this and bring them to justice. Some of the crowd wonder about cancelling the festival, but We Can’t Do That!

Offerings to the Green Witch cannot be removed. I offer to stay with the body and the Green Witch until the festival, to keep anyone from adding more. Nat casts a gentle repose on the girl, and Klyce stays nearby, guarding as well. I sit and pray, first to the Dawnmother, but only recieve a sense of anticipation in response. The Green Witch is even less responsive to my pleas.

The all return to the Green Witch with no good information. No one saw anything except a woman in a cloak moving around at night. The girl simply got out of bed, got dressed and walked out. Nat offers to try asking the gods more forcefully than I can, and goes into a trance. When she awakens, she says they were vague as always.

They told her Natalie Rathbone is responsible, could it be an ancestor? Conflice when we go below to Old Town is inevitable, but victory is not. It is not how we can survive, but whether we will. It may or may not be connected to the ritual we intend to perform. And the safety of her people is uncertain.

The group heads up to the castle to rest, drink orange juice, and divy up what is left of our mana. Klyce and I continue standing guard through the night, but it’s no use. The next morning, three more dead bodies are found, not in the Green Witch, but around town. There is even bloody graffiti saying Break the Bones. People are even more upset, convinced the festival is cursed. I try to convince them that the Green Witch will bless them if they just carry on. The festival is not cursed, and we will prove it, if they just wait a little longer.

Nat and Remy come back from the three murder scenes and fill us all in. One looks like a ghost did him in, white hair and terrified expression. One had his throat ripped or blasted out in the street. Another is just dead, not a mark, except for lingering necromancy, on him. Nat also tells us she had a dream of her and Stephen at the Festival, and then him stuffing her into the Green Witch as it was set ablaze. We’re fairly sure, now, that the one behind all this is the one burned all those years ago, come back for revenge.

Klyce and I take a daytime nap while the rest of the group researches the Rathbone family line. They don’t manage to find many records of that time, even ripped out pages in the family library. In the early evening, we go with Nat into town to talk to her people, encourage them, and let them know we are going to help. We break up into groups to patrol the town. Klyce and I stay up all night while the others take shifts. Dalish stays by the Green Witch since he still cannot walk.

In the night, I come across a young man wandering in a daze. I wake him up and help him back home, after taking a knife from his hands. Not long after, HeyHey comes flying up and I follow him off to find Mummy Dalish, Nat and a badly bleeding child. The boy has apparently bitten his own thumb off when MD took away his bucket of paint. I heal his thumb back on, but it looks a little funny, and Nat takes him home.

Come morning, we all have breakfast and a short rest before gathering up everything we need, and heading down to Old Town. Klyce makes quick work of the blockage he had put in place, and quickly morphs into a giant scorpian once we get inside. The boys throw up light and we walk into a darkness even more opressive than last time.

In the center of town, we toss up more light and spread out to allow Dalish to work. He has to repair the ritual circle before we can do anything else. Klyce’s scorpian body is helpful in clearing the space. Nat and Gerhardt help him redraw damaged sections. Remy and I offer magical guidance in making the necessary alterations. It takes some hours, but the circle is ready in plenty of time.

As it grows darker, and dusk settles outside, the time has come. Dalish and Nat will perform the ritual while the rest of us must protect them at all costs. Angry, restless voices whisper all around us. Nat appears to be arguing with herself, but I’m too far away to hear what is going on. Then a ghostly outline dives into Nat’s body, and a smoky blackness coalesces into an inky, large humanoid form.

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