Following the fire, we have spent every night following that event in search of creatures and specters that prowl the dark moments between the setting of the sun and the break of dawn. We take rest when we can in the church, as we hope that sacred ground will help to keep the spirits and nightmares at bay. Unfortunately this precaution has not stopped me from having a dream that seemed all too real. I awoke in a start one day after the fire, with my body paralyzed, unable to move, yet one of the hands was wrapped around my throat choking me, and the feeling that this was my end washed over me. I couldn’t breathe, as my own body betrayed me, however just as I felt the dark edges of unconsciousness close around me, the grip released and I had full control of my body again. This was not something that I planned on telling any of the others, as they each seemed to be taking great comfort in the new accommodations we have secured here in the church.
Seeing that we had a great deal of information to collect and not a lot of time to do it, we each took turns searching for information, for what one person views as irrelevant, another may see as the key to a puzzle. Experiences from our past and the unique perspective that each of us bring to this endeavor will prove to be the key to our success, of this I am sure. Instead of seeking out the means of entering the prison immediately, I suggested that we attempt to find out about these other spirits that are haunting the village; The Starving Spirit, The Saphron House, A ghostly carriage that moves through town, and most recently A Headless Horseman, that kills people on the road outside of the village. Some suggested that we look into the horseman first, yet I felt that our energy, and likelihood of success, would be better served by looking into some of the more passive haunts first, not on that actively seeks out and kills people.
Ultimately we were split as a group over what direction to go, so we all worked on both projects at the same time; The Starving Spirit, and The Headless Horseman. We found a good deal of information about the spirit, and I was certain that we could put him to rest without destroying his soul, if that is what spirits truly are, and the good doctor and Sir Hollander managed to find a lot of information about the Headless Horseman. Some of the information about the Starving Spirit we would not have been able to find out without the contacts we have made over the past week in the village. We had to contact the head priest, the sheriff and a councilman in order to piece together all the information about the dead grave keeper.
Seeking help with the Starving specter however turned out to be low on the priority list of the town, and we would be seeking out a vandal who was writing letters in blood on the town monument was to be the first event tackled. Spending the night prowling in the darkness looking for the vandal, each of us took up positions as far from the monument as possible, while Skeevin took up a watchful eye on the memorial. It did not take long before Skeevin saw the culprit, and as I suspected it was a flesh and blood person not some ghost. From what I understand from Skeevin and Hollander, they managed to subdue the man with relative ease, and Skeevin followed the tracks back to his base of operations (a small shack on the river) to see if he could find any other evidence that this man was in fact the vandal. As the town would likely take his side over ours if all we had was our word against his. Sir Hollander and Skeevin did mention something that struck me as odd, he mentioned that we would not be able to stop them from killing her again.
While Skeevin and Hollander were stopping the vandal, Khaluu was attacked by the horseman on the road. Hearing the pounding hoof beats of the horse in the night, she tried to hide in the tall grasses lining the road. Unfortunately for her, the grass was not tall enough. The headless rider saw her try to hide, yet did not push into the underbrush, even after she shot at the horse. And in an instant the rider was gone, he had sensed another soul upon the road, and hopped to that location, an unfortunate guardsman wandered back onto the road, and was beheaded by the horseman. The information that the horseman did not seem to be able to leave the road proved useful, something we could exploit if we have the means of stopping the haunt.
Back in town, the sheriff and the group gathered to discuss the vandal, and he was not convinced that this man was in fact the person responsible for defacing the monument. If it wasn’t for the fact that Skeevin keep the blood filled waterskin and razor the vandal was carrying, chances are they would have let him go. Take a proactive approach to this it was suggested that we trace his steps, and an analysis of the blood was conducted by Dr. Joston. The good doctor found that the blood was elvish in nature, and Khaluu remembered that the only elf in the village recently was a trader that left town the other day. So Khaluu and the sheriff left to track down this elf, while Skeevin and Hollander escorted the guards to the shack to conduct an additional examination of the location for more clues. After a great deal of searching they found what they were looking for, proof that he was in fact the vandal, with an added bonus that the man was also a killer. They found the body of the elf trader in the river next to the shack, drained of his blood.
Keeping our word the Sheriff agreed to help us with the Starving Spirit, as the we needed to gain the original grave plot from the councilman, as he had bought it from the grave keepers brother, forcing the body of the spirit to be buried in the no-man’s land area of the graveyard. Moving up through the graveyard, it only took as single sighting of the spirit to cause the sheriff to turn tail and run, heading directly toward the location he knew the councilman would be, sharing the bed of one of the other councilmembers, the same woman who put Khaluu on the spot the other day. After a short discussion, and some threats by the sheriff, we were given the deed to the grave plot and moved to put the spirit to rest. We started digging up the grave and she spirit arrived, and we told it what we intended to do, give it the burial it deserved and planned for, and to my surprise it seemed to understand, allowing us to transfer the remains from one grave to the other. Once we put it in its proper place, and Dr. Joston placed two gold coins over his empty eyes, the spirit vanished. Leaving us covered in mud and grave grime.
The next day we redoubled our efforts to find a means to eliminate the Headless Horseman, as he was a major threat, and we found a few things that spoke to us that may end this threat. One was that the horseman could be destroyed by placing a holy weapon in the ground, and causing the horseman to ride over it would banish the spirit forever. Another was that the warden of the prison at one point in time served at the worldwound, and he could very likely have had a holy weapon of his own. Deciding to take a chance, we went to the prison to see if he did in fact have a weapon.
Searching through the rubble of the old prison, we found some strange markings on the walls, part of a ritual spell was our guess, but that is all we could glean from the symbols. Inside the compound we did find what used to be the home of the warden, and seeing the state of disrepair it was in, none of us were looking forward to exploring the deathtrap. Yet it was Skeevin who stepped forward, and offered to do the exploring, as he was hired by the professor in the past for just this sort of purpose. After a few tense minutes, Skeevin emerged, holding the same cudgel that was depicted on the memorial to the men who died in the prison fire. Seeing as how it was almost nightfall, we hurried back to town to lay a trap for the horseman.
With little effort we were able to coax the horseman to ride over the weapon, it took only Khaluu and a well-placed shot from her pistol to cause the horseman to charge over the weapon, and the research we conducted did not prepare us for the explosion of energy that emerged from the combination of positive and negative energy. The fountain of light and shadow that emerged awoke everyone in town, something that I was not prepared for, but has proved to be a boon, as they have all witnessed the lengths we have gone to in order to protect the town.