Dharmachakra

Walking Scarecrows

The Skinsaw Murders: Part Three

After returning with news of nefarious activity and discovery of Habe’s unethical experiments on patients, the Owlbear’s first priority was to report to the Sheriff. Sheriff Hemlock at first was skeptical, and of course alarmed when the party began relaying tales of Necromancers, zombies, and the slaughter that ensued at the Sanatorium. He immediately stated that they would need to return to the site of the battle to investigate as well as collect evidence. To further complicate matters, one of the rescued patients, Wald, began shrieking that the druid was the cause of all the wonton destruction and murder. Sheriff Hemlock, already suspicious of Zoltan’s escape from house arrest and foray into Ashen Rise, decides to jail Unn Graaht. This is for his own safety as well, since word of the raid on the Sanatorium was somehow already spreading throughout Sandpoint. The Half-Orc already drew suspicion from many due to his race, and if word got out that he was responsible for a crime it could get ugly in the streets very quickly.

Sheriff Hemlock sends word to the Mayor, Kendra Deverin, that he will be taking four of the Sandpoint Guard as well as the Order of the Owlbear members (sans Unn Graaht) back to Habe’s Sanatorium to conduct a sweep and determine the truth of what happened there.

They mount up in the late afternoon and arrive to find the scene outside the facility much the way it was left earlier. The Necromancer’s body lay in the doorway where Zoltan felled him trying to escape, the four zombies lay on the veranda, and the Tiefling orderlies were still as they were left, dead on the veranda with one pinned to the wall by Samo’s arrow. The party insisted that there were actually five zombies, but another could not be located.

After thoroughly searching the interior, the Owlbear’s discover that they overlooked the cellar stairs, and missed searching the lower lever completely. The door was askew, and upon entering the chambers below surmised that the area must have belonged to the Necromancer. A large map was found marking out points of interest, mostly in the farmland area to the south of Ashen Rise. They also found a spellbook, emblazoned (actually tattooed) with the name “Caizarlu” on the human skinned cover, which Hemlock took into evidence. It was filled with pages of notes as well as spells, chronicling what appeared to be a study of ancient Thassilon magic, complete with a detailed drawing of a Sihedron rune.

The Sheriff concludes that these clues quite possibly point to a haven for the murderer, who now may or may not be laying dead within or escaped in the foray. He decides to leave his guard retinue at Habe’s to secure the grounds, and heads back with the Owlbear’s to brief the Mayor.

Upon returning, the Sheriff gets more bad news, which he shares with his deputies (Zoltan being reinstated after the revelation that he was right all along about the crimes being committed at Habe’s). A local farmer, Maester Grump, was brought in by a patrol just before their arrival. Apparently, he was hysterical and quite adamant that “walking scarecrows” were on a rampage in the southern farmlands, and had killed or driven off all the farmers south of the Soggy River. “They even ate the dogs!” is heard over and over again as Grump works himself up into a hysterical frenzy. After getting Grump to calm down a bit, mostly by allowing him to dip into the jar of moonshine he was carrying, Sheriff Hemlock turns to the heroes with a request. Grump is apparently the lone survivor from a group of farmers that had approached Hambley’s farm earlier. Seeing that he had an already thinly spread city watch, including four guards at the Sanatorium, he could spare none to investigate the farmlands without leaving the town exposed to the sudden influx of murders and now strange creature reports from the Hinterlands. Hemlock further confides in the Owlbears that the noble they were attempting to question earlier, Titus Scarnetti, had been found slain along the road from Magnimar, and his body defiled similar to the those at the barn and lumber mill. Additionally, Titus’ corpse had a note pinned to his tunic which read:

“Zoltan, You’ve let them all die! Their lives could have been spared, but your foolishness doomed them all! Just as you let my dog die on that goblin’s blade, I let them die upon my own!” The note was signed, “-Your Lordship” like the others.

The Sheriff reassures the party that they were again mentioned as suspects, but again had a solid alibi as all were raiding the Sanatorium at the same time as Titus was being murdered on the road.

The Owlbears agree to make their way to Hambley’s farm, the southernmost farm in the Hinterlands, mostly because that is where Maester Grump said all the problems started, as well as the final resting place for the mob of farmers who were attacked by “walking scarecrows” during their march to Hambley’s farm.

Mounting up as nightfall quickly approached, the party rode south along the Lost Coast road, stopping at farms along the way and asking if the families were all right and if they could shed any light on the “walking scarecrows”. Most of the farms north of the Soggy river had not understood or believed that the stories were factual, but those farms closer to Hambley’s did. First hand accounts began to surface they closer the Owlbears got to the edge of the Whisperwood.

The mounted Owlbears make their way around the cornfields, and discover that some of the scarecrows are indeed not just scarecrows but ghoul fever victims bound to posts. They dispatch most from ranged attacks using Samo’s amazing bow or Zoltan’s magic spear. They eventually end up at the farmhouse, overlooking a large barn across the path, and dismount to search the dark home. Leaving Gorton outside with Onca, the black jaguar, to guard the horses, Zoltan and Samo move up to the door and knock. There is no answer, so they enter the open door only to be surprised by a ghast dressed in noble servant’ finery. Slaying the creature, they discover a key around it’s neck which is stamped with a seal of flowers surrounded by thistle. Zoltan immediately recognized the pattern as that of the heraldic noble house crest for the Foxgloves. They also find a badly decomposed and mutilated corpse, apparently farmer Hambley, who has been murdered and marked with the Skinsaw man’s gruesome sidhedron symbol carved into his chest. And upon his overalls they find a note pinned to him which reads:

“Zoltan, You, and you alone have brought this fearful harvest. They are dead because of you, and more shall join them soon”. It is signed with the familiar, “-Your Lordship”.

As they continue searching the house, Samo comes across a loose floorboard with a stout wooden coffer underneath. Using another key they found on Hambley’s corpse, they open it to find (34) neatly place leather pouches containing 100sp each. This was apparently farmer Hambley’s life savings. Then chaos as Gorton begins screaming for aid. Rushing out, they see that the gnome is engaged with a half dozen ghouls, but has already dispatched two with his flaming short sword. Samo, Zoltan, and Gorton eventually prevail, but not after Gorton takes serious wounds.

Gathering themselves up, they complete their search of the cornfields, killing the remaining ghoul scarecrows as they ride through the tall maize tunnels of stalks and darkness. They then set out back to Sandpoint to make their grisly report to the Sheriff, warning some of the farmsteads along the way to be wary and lock their doors in case there are other undead lurking in the area.

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