Calistril 20th, 4711
Back to the Prison
The next morning, the party awoken to discover that the night was uneventful. No crazy stirges or bloody statues awaited them this chilly morning, and after a fortifying breakfast, the group decided that the best course of action would be to return to Harrowstone prison and continue searching for clues.
Arriving at the prison in the early morning, this time it was decided to investigate the western balcony further in hopes of finding an alternate way inside. Solid stone steps led upward where a large, rectangular block of stone rested on this weather-beaten stone balcony. Ruined wooden benches lined the eastern wall under a row of tiny, barred windows above and a stout wooden door sat in the wall near the northern end of the balcony.
Moving forward to investigate the stone block, the party was surprised when a rusty scythe wielded by two skeletal hands arose from the debris and started slashing at everyone! Haza went down under a terrible blow, his arterial blood spraying and splattering through the air. Torquemada used the powers granted him by Iomedea, while Celaphelia’s powers were useless against this enemy. Ryszard fought valiantly, and finally the monstrous undead construct splintered and shattered into dust. Haza was patched up, and an attempt was finally made to open the stout door. However, even though Celaphelia enlarged Ryszard, the door proved to be too much to open.
Giving up in frustration, the party returned to the front door, but noticed that the balcony over the front entrance appeared to have a door leading inside also. Rather than face the haunted foyer, they opted to climb up to the balcony and try the second story door instead. Torque slowly clambered up the ruined entryway to the balcony proper, but Celaphelia noticed that the balcony’s main support beam was badly cracked and did not appear safe. She shouted up to Torque but while they spoke about the issue, the very thing they feared happened. The main support snapped and the balcony collapsed on the party below. Everyone was a bit dinged up from the collapse, but no one suffered any serious injury. Unfortunately, the door above was still intact, and even as Torque again climbed up to the second story, it was clear he would not have enough leverage to force the door should it become necessary. As it was, although Torque was able to ensure the door was not locked, it still would not budge, and that route inside was also abandoned.
Forced to go the straight route again, the party reassembled and entered the haunted foyer once again.
The front doors stood closed, but Torquemada shoved them open with a shoulder bash, and the entrance hall lay before them. One by one they entered, looking around at the other doors leading from the room. A quick glance behind revealed that the front doors were mysteriously closed…
Finally, Haza tried to open the northernmost door, and as last time, it burst into flames and slammed shut in his face. Burning faces screamed seemingly from within the wood itself, and the smell of burnt flesh filled the air. Torquemada decided it was time to confront the spirits behind this haunt, and used the brass planchette spirit board to question the haunted spirits, but received no information particularly helpful for his efforts. Haza racked his memories for an answer to this curse, and remembered an old tale in the seminary about “haunts.” Haunts were hazardous regions created by unquiet spirits that react violently to the presence of the living. The exact conditions that cause a haunt to manifest vary from case to case—but haunts always arise from a source of terrific mental or physical anguish endured by living, tormented creatures.
Haza decided that the best course of action would be to confront this unholy terror with holy power. Remembering some old rituals intended for laying the undead to rest, he started a ceremony, sprinkling holy water around the door and upon the doors, while chanting prayers to Sarenrae to banish this evil. Ten minutes or so later, the room palpably felt “lighter” and Haza attempted to open the north door one more time. This time, as the portal opened wide, nothing happened. The haunt had been destroyed!
The group entered the prison proper again, passing through the hallways leading to the collapsed basement stairs and the once spider-infested chapel. Retracing their steps, they continued further north, with Celaphelia investigating a secured blocked door, while Torquemada found an entrance to what appeared to be the prison’s infirmary.
In the infirmary, several moldy cots lay strewn around this room, while doors to smaller, more private sleeping cells hang askew to the west. Old ragged linens and medical supplies littered the floor, and ruined furniture lay broken in pieces around the room, as if shattered against the walls.
Searching through the debris, the group found a number of useful items:
As they gathered up the abandoned supplies and started to leave the room, a ghostly figure appeared in the midst of the party. Shrieking, Ryszard fled the room heading for the prison entrance, while Haza also ran for his life. Undaunted by the evil spirit, Torquemada and Celaphelia fought against the undead spirit, striking out with magical power and hexes, stymying the poltergeist as it turned invisible and continued to telekinetically assault the group. Ryszard and Haza recovered from their fear, and Haza returned to help defeat the spirit as Ryszard finally rejoined the group in the infirmary.
The Ember Maw
Moving to the northeast, the party entered a broken section of the prison. A huge stone furnace dominated this room, large enough for a man to climb inside. An ancient fire had burned away the entire east wall the room, providing a panoramic, if eerie, view of the lake beyond. That same lake had gradually expanded into the room, flooding its eastern half.
Approaching the old furnace, Ryzsard was able to make out Aa soot-caked copper plaque over the furnace entrance that read “Ember Maw.” Suddenly, the furnace front seemed to melt, and a leering skull of metal and bars formed, as a huge roaring fire burst into being inside and a long tendril of fire shot from the metal mouth enveloping Ryszard in a sheath of burning fire!
The party leapt into action, but it proved almost impossible to physically damage the metal furnace, but the party’s magic seemed to take a toll. The burning tongue lashed out at Ryszard again, and he was forced to take cover as the attacks continued. Finally, the mystical powers of the party were successful, and the room went quiet as the furnace resumed it’s normal shape. Torquemada examined the furnace, but only ashes were found inside of it.
However, Ryzsard still could detect evil lurking within the furnace, and investigated further. He found a number of human bones, curiously hot to the touch, even though the furnace and ashes inside it were now stone-cold. Using tools, he was able to retrieve the bones, and soon an entire human skeleton lay on the floor. Pouring holy water upon them, a great cloud of steam arose, and a flickering darkness seemed to rise from the bones to dissipate in the air.
The Way Down
Even though they were now battered, bruised and running low on energy, the party decided to continue onward. Entering a southern room, they found a room where the northeast wall had also partially fallen, revealing the dark, murky waters of the pond outside. Moldering training dummies and other similar equipment hinted that this room may have once been a training area for the guards. In the northeast part of the room, the floor around a dark, jagged hole was surrounded by black scorch marks.
The room seemed deserted, and the faint smell of old ashes drifted up from the pit. As the party peered over the edge into the darkness below, three flaming skulls rose from the pit and attacked! They slammed into the group, setting clothing ablaze as they pummeled the already weary party. As they mustered a final effort, the skulls were smashed to bits, but the group was even more vulnerable than before. Now they decided it would be prudent to return to the town and rest up.
The quickest way seemed to be a door to the southwest, which should have led back to the foyer. Upon opening it, however, another room was revealed. Several rows of wooden benches, all spotted with mold and sagging with neglect, faced a stage walled off from the rest of the room by a wall of iron bars. To all appearances, the empty room seemed to be some sort of auditorium, but Ryszard again sensed evil lurking in the supposed empty room. Another door led to the southwest again, and taking that route, the party returned to the foyer, and thence left the prison and returned to town.
It was still afternoon when the party returned to town, and they decided to rest up and continue to research what they could about the obviously haunted prison.
Ryszard set off to question the garrulous Councilman Gharen Muricar again. This time, he learned much of the ways of drinking coffee and making pastries, but as far as town information was only able to learn that the Warden’s wife’s name was Vesorianna Hawkran.
Ryszard had an encounter on his way back from the Councilman’s, however, that shook him to his core. A couple of little girls were jumping ropes, and were singing a children’s song. It was the words that attracted Ryszard’s attention though, and he was able to convince the girls to recite the words of the Skipping Song to him.
Meanwhile, Torquemada had discovered some interesting information in the Church of Pharasma. He had requested an audience with Father Grimburrow, and was granted one. The old man seemed to be quite knowledgeable about the area, but did not have answers to all the questions that Torque posed. He did offer up use of the Church’s records, which while not as detailed about the prison as the records in the prison offices would have been, did reveal a number of important facts about Harrowstone:
- Harrowstone was built in 4594. Ravengro was founded at the same time as a place where guards and their families could live and that would produce food and other supplies used by the prison. The fire that killed all of the prisoners and most of the guards destroyed a large portion of the prison’s underground eastern wing, but left most of the stone structure above relatively intact. The prison’s warden perished in the fire, along with his wife, although no one knows why she was in the prison when the fire occurred. A statue commemorating the warden and the guards who lost their lives was built in the months after the tragedy — the statue that still stands on the riverbank just outside of town.
- Most of the hardened criminals sent to Harrowstone spent only a few months imprisoned, for it was here that most of Ustalav’s executions during that era were carried out. The fire that caused the tragedy was, in fact, a blessing in disguise, for the prisoners had rioted and gained control of the prison’s dungeons immediately prior to the conflagration. It was only through the self-sacrifice of Warden Lyran Hawkran and 23 of his guards that the prisoners were prevented from escaping—the guards gave their lives to save the town of Ravengro.
- Finally, at the time Harrowstone burned, five particularly notorious criminals had recently arrived at the prison. While the commonly held belief is that the tragic fire began accidentally after the riot began, in fact the prisoners had already seized control of the dungeon and had been in command of the lower level for several hours before the fire. Warden Hawkran triggered a deadfall to seal the rioting prisoners in the lower level, but in so doing trapped himself and nearly two dozen guards. The prisoners were in the process of escaping when the panicked guards accidentally started the fire in a desperate attempt to end the riot.
No further information seemed to be available in the Church concerning Harrowstone prison. so Torquemada returned to Lorrimor house.
Torquemada vs. The World
However, Torquemada was not to be denied. Thinking back on the recent desecrations at the Harrowstone Memorial, he decided to use the Spirit Planchette and “converse” with the spirits in that area. Leaving the house, he walked down the river to the statue and began to use the spirit board.
Concentrating on the board for an average of 7 minutes seemed to give good results, so Torque focused his thoughts and soon asked his first question.
“Are you Vesorianna Hawkran?”
NO was the response on the spirit board.
“Are you Warden Hawkran?”
NO once again.
“What do you want?”
KILL HER spelled out the brass planchette.
What happened next was hazy and dim as Torque would later recall.
Back at the house, Celaphelia answered a knock at the door to see Torquemada standing there. Suddenly, his weapon was in hand and he was attacking her. Celaphelia tried to defend herself, and Haza heard the commotion upstairs and came to assist. He saw the two fighting, and Torquemada screamed that “she has betrayed us!” Haza was not sure what was going on, but Celaphelia dropped her weapon, yielding to Torquemada. However, he continued to press his attack, and seemed out for blood. Around this time Ryszard returned from his coffee break and attempted to grapple Torquemada. While the two burly warriors struggled ineffectually against each other, Celaphelia disappeared back into the house while Haza conjured create water on the combatants, trying to get them to break up. Finally, Torquemada was somewhat subdued, but then it was discovered that their charge, Kendra Lorrimor had disappeared along with the witch Celaphelia. Torque again starting ranting against her, but Haza was not to be fooled, and would not agree to allow Ryszard to let him go. Torque’s struggles to free himself continued, when along the road from town a number of figures came running.
It was Celaphelia and Kendra and Sheriff Benjan Caeller with a couple of his deputies, all demanding to know what in the Nine Hells was going on.
Torquemada looked around in surprise, wondering aloud what he was doing here and why was Ryszard sitting on his chest holding him down…