The Rise of the Maleficarum
Arising refreshed, my companions and I set out to continue our investigation into the disappearance of the townsfolk in Eveningstar. We met up with Gunthar and Lord Winter, who were trying to calm a group of angry townsfolk. It wasn’t quite a mob, but I could see that it was on its way to becoming one. We asked Gunthar to introduce us to the townsfolk and tell them that we were investigating the disappearances and expected to have answers soon. Having prevented a riot, for now, we headed to the temple of Lathander, where the high priest used a Speak with Dead ritual so we could communicate with the recently departed Tomas.
The ritual was successful, and the spirit of Tomas appeared to us. His answers to our questions led us to head towards the mill down by the edge of the river. An isolated place, it seemed at first blush to be an ideal front for any shady dealings. We found the mill guarded, which immediately put us all on edge. The two guards were obviously not city guards or Purple Dragons. They looked like a couple of ruffians to me. The mill’s owner, Deltar, was also an unpleasant sort. He seemed spooked, twitching and stammering nervously throughout the conversation. He refused to answer questions or let us into the mill. The only good thing at the mill was the guard’s mastiff, for which they wouldn’t even entertain an offer of gold.
Deltar pointed us to the town garbage dump, across the river, explaining that he’d heard tell of some shady doings there. At the dump, we were ambushed by zombies an an evil cleric! I believe the cleric was a Banite, but the coward ran once we had dispatched her undead minions, and we weren’t able to question her.
Fed up with the wild goose chase, Kalin and Gildean resolved to head back to Deltar’s mill and force their way in. I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of forcing our way into a private citizen’s business, but my objections were ignored by my companions. At the mill, Kalin walked right between the two guards and opened the door to the mill. The guards attacked us, and several other thugs poured forth from within the building. In a moment, we were thrown into pitched battle.
These human goons were nothing like the orc warriors that I’ve battled previously. They attacked haphazardly and were ill-equipped. Speaking of equipment, Kalin still wore no armor and carried no shield. Seeing that Gildean seemed to be handling himself well, I moved to back up Kalin. During the fight, he took a dreadful wound. The grace of the All-Father was with us, and I was able to heal Kalin’s injury and get him back into the fight quickly. Cas flitted like a bird throughout the battle. I lost track of him from time to time, but it seemed the enemy’s ranks thinned every time I caught a glimpse of him.
As we cut a bloody swath through the ranks of these uncouth humans, their battle cries turned to cries for mercy. I thought we might try to negotiate a surrender, but then a one-armed gnoll emerged from the mill and attacked us. The beast’s appearance seemed to rally the humans, and we had no choice but to slay them all. Once the battle had ended, a tearful Deltar apologized to us for his deception, saying that the gnoll was holding his family captive. In the basement of the mill, we found Deltar’s family, securely trussed, and several of the missing townsfolk. We found enough paperwork to prove that the gnoll had been part of some kind of slave trade, selling kidnapped townsfolk into damnation. With part of the mystery solved, my companions and I decided to report back to Gunthar. Perhaps he would have some idea as to where we should go next.