Continuing from last session, we’re still down a player, so we decide to follow up on one of the jobs that were posted up in the market. Elsa continues her narrative.
It was decided that we should head to the village of Upville near the mine and investigate the problem of missing persons that had been reported there. The village was offering payment to look into the issue, and it might be related to what the Baron was up to.
We set off towards the mine, turning north just before the village of Florets, and arriving around mid-day. The weather was damp, and the road quickly turned from the decent paved roadway that left Sielzen into a muddy dirt track that headed up into the wooded hills.
The village of Upsville looked like it was in good condition. There were several ramshackle accommodation blocks though that looked rather unused, despite probably being large enough for 20-30 people.
As we entered the village, we were approached by an old white haired man who introduced himself as Francis Stein. When we explained that we were here about the missing people, he was quite overjoyed to see us, which Calthar was suspicious about. He invited us into his cottage, where his wife Susan kindly offered us drinks.
Apparently, people have been going missing from the villages for about the last six months. Most were found to be missing in the morning, the doors to the cottages left open. Most of them were loners, though some have been discovered sleepwalking and were woken up before they could wander off. Due to these problems, most of the miners that were accommodated here have left.
The last person vanished about two weeks ago. There have been a mix of men and women, though no children have vanished. He provided us with a list of names and when they vanished – about 12 villagers and 14 miners over the past six months.
The path to the mine has been used recently, but is currently quite overgrown. Djarin and myself explored as far as the stream where there is a narrow bridge leading across it to the west then headed back to the village.
The villagers had recently made a new path through the bog because they were concerned about the safety of the old path. I tried to ask them why the old path was unsafe, but he seemed unwilling to talk about it. All he would say was that many of the people who had gone missing had used that path. Most of the villagers wore protective charms and seemed very nervous when discussing the subject.
They seemed nervous when talking about the road, and seemed to be unwilling to discuss details. They all have protective charms which they finger nervously. I offered to provide a sermon and blessings at the local shrine that evening, and the village seemed to like that idea.
It went surprisingly well, and by the end many of the villagers seemed a lot more cheerful about things. Maybe I should get into the preaching business full time, since it felt so good to cheer people up like that.
Player’s Notes: I rolled a 33 on Eva’s Charm, which was a critical success. Any roll of double digits is either a critical success or a critical failure, and we got a lot of both this evening.
After the sermon I tried to ask about the events, and people rapidly turned away. Eventually the headman was pushed forward, and I eventually managed to persuade him to talk about things, as long as I treated his words confidentially.
It seems that many here have been having dreams, himself included, though he doesn’t quite remember the details. He knows that there is a place along the path, about which there are some old stories, but speaking about it to others is dangerous, and those that went missing are all those who spoke about their dreams.
All he could remember was one name: The King in the Woods.
We have been given a cottage here for the night, and sitting with Calthar I finally noticed that the vanishings seemed to be clustered around the time of the full Moon. They didn’t only happen then, but there was a definite increase in disappearances at this time, and none at all around the time of the new Moon. We are a few days from the next full Moon.
At any rate, we have decided to lock and trap the door to the cottage to prevent any of us wandering off in the night whilst we try to get some sleep.
We were woken during the night by Calthar trying to leave the cottage. She seemed to have been sleep walking, but fortunately Djarin’s traps on the door made enough noise to wake all of us, and he was also able to stop Calthar from leaving.
We did a quick check of the headman’s hut, but the door was firmly closed. I had feared that given that he had confided in me he may have been taken as well, but it was not to be the case. It was raining hard though, so by the time we got back we had to strip out of our soaked clothes and Djarin was able to start a fire to warm us up and try and dry off our clothes.
Since our clothes are still damp, we have changed and are planning to set out along the path to the mine.
The mine was still in working order when we found it. The upper path was still usable, though somewhat overgrown from disuse. The woods here are keen to reclaim land taken by humans given the slightest opportunity.
The manager at the mine is a dwarf by the name of Noris Stormfather. He seems polite and pleased that we are here to deal with the problem.
According to Noris, the problems started about six months ago, about a month after he received word from the Baron that iron production for the mine was to be increased by 50%. A lot of extra workers were drafted in to help at that point, plus there was the arrival of a fellow named Kelvis, along with Elsa who is currently their engineer.
As well as bringing word of the Baron’s new requirements, Kelvis also took a small team, including several of the miners and Elsa into the woods on some errand which involved moving some standing stones and probably taking them back to the castle. All of the miners that returned from that expedition vanished over the coming weeks. The exception is Elsa, who now appears to be a drunken wreck, and is the only person still willing to stay at the mine overnight.
On questioning her, she was evasive, but eventually after much prompting from Calthar she admitted that she took one of the stones herself and buried it outside the door of her house. Djarin has done some digging and confirmed that it is still buried there, and covered in strange runes which to my eyes look like an arcane version of High Azlant.
Player’s Notes: How many players does it take to calculate the weight of a 3ft x 6in x 6in block of granite? A lot, as we try to convert that into units that are actually useful and multiply by the density. We started at 900kg, then someone insisted it was only a few kilograms, then we finally settled on about 60kg. Heavy, but could be lifted out by a couple of us.
Elsa seems confused and has taken to drink to drown the voices in her head. There are possibly two sets of voices, one the King in the Woods, and another she refers to as “Her”. I believe this second one to be Miss Sulvrezia, the Baron’s new mistress. This would definitely link the events happening here to what is going on in the Baron’s castle. Based on what everyone has said, the King has been searching for something – probably the stones that Kelvis has taken.
Our plan is to wait until most of the miners have gone home for the evening and dig up the stone. It may be acting as a protective ward for Elsa, but if we break that and whatever is possessing people through their dreams takes control of her, we can follow to see where she goes and deal with the problem once and for all.
I am still confused after the events of last night, especially since I don’t entirely recall what happened. After the miners had left, we lifted the stone out of the hole by the door and Elsa immediately reacted. She started talking to herself, possibly possessed by the female personalty, then went for a knife as Calthar tried to stop her.
I managed to push the stone back into the hole, and Elsa immediately returned to a level of sanity she probably hadn’t experienced for a while. “She’s gone, I can’t take it” she said, and then killed herself.
We managed to clean things up, and took both her body and the stone out along the path into the woods. At that point things became hazy – we headed off the path, and I seem to recall antlers and a full Moon, though that couldn’t have been right because it isn’t yet time for that.
I woke this morning after a night of bad dreams that I barely remember, something for which I think I am glad of.
According to Calthar and Djarin we found a clearing in the woods that was full of bones and surrounded by some fallen stones. Elsa’s body was claimed by whatever dwelt there, and we put the stone back in its place. Whatever was there had told us to “Leave now, or stay forever”, and presumably we had left since I am now here to write this. However, I think that I have a hole in my mind.
We are all to be paid 2 gold for our troubles, and we plan on heading back to the town to get away from this place. Hopefully the problem has been dealt with now, and the villagers can go back to their mining. If the Baron has heard of the trouble here, then he may be happy with us having solved the problem, but if my suspicious are true then he may not be happy with how we solved the problem. Maybe we need to come up with a story about what happened.
Myself, I think I may try more of this preaching business – I think I could be good at it. Seeing those words on the stone also reminded me of some of the notes I took from the seminary before I left, and the books of magic I obtained from the witches at the orx camp. Maybe there is more that I can do than just preach the words of the God Emperor.
Player’s Notes: We got enough experience to ‘level up’, and have time once we return to town to do that. In Zweihänder this consists of selecting a new profession, which for Eva will probably be a Preacher, which will give me some magical ability.