|Photo by Dario Bronnimann|
Elsabeth, human paladin, played by Anne
Rising Leaf and Raging Storm, human monk, played by Michael
Rufus Clarke, human barbarian played by Steve
Doctor Tobias Wolfe, human sorcerer, played by Dennis
One of the scholars at Creedhall University is currently researching the demise of a mining town called Vermillion, as detailed in a book called A Deep and Creeping Darkness. The characters were given a map to the abandoned site in hopes that they might discover additional books about the town that the scholar could use for their project. From browsing A Deep and Creeping Darkness, the group knew that the town suffered a deadly mine collapse and that following the tragedy townspeople began to disappear one by one in the night. Eventually, those left behind vacated the town, even though the platinum mine was still a going concern.
The group decided to first stop at Maerin, another mining town located a three days' ride from the ruins of Vermillion at the foot of a mountain. Maerin was a bustling, prosperous place. Asking around, the party discovered that two former residents of Vermillion were currently living in Maerin. They found Astra Vorn, a half-elf florist, at their flower stall in the market. Astra's family fled Vermillion when they were a child due to the horrible nightmares that assailed their mother when townsfolk began to go missing. The group bought a memorial wreath from Astra that they promised to leave in Vermillion.
They found Lukas Grosvenor, an elderly tavernkeeper, at The Bored Weasel--his inn and pub. Lukas had been a miner at Vermillion; he had survived the collapse, but his wife had not. He asked the group to retrieve a locket he had left inside a knothole in the large tree in front of the burgomaster's residence--it was a keepsake he couldn't bear to have near him after his wife's death, but now that he's nearing the end of his life he wanted to hold it one more time.
Having gleaned what information they could from the residents of Maerin, the adventurers set off for Vermillion. The town was mostly in ruins, having falling prey to time and neglect. A few buildings still remained, such as the smithy, the stonemason's shop, and the burgomaster's residence, and they could also see the graveyard and the entrance to the mines. They decided to take a look at the graveyard first.
On the way to the burial grounds, they discovered a merchant's wagon that did not appear to be as weathered as they would expect if it had been left behind when the town was abandoned. Indeed, searching the wagon revealed that although its contents had been riffled through by a bear, some of the casks and crates still held potable wine and edible dried food within. Ominously, they also found the skeletal remains of the horse hitched to the wagon in the tall grass nearby.
Within the burial grounds, it was confirmed that the town had suffered a great loss of life during the mine collapse due to many of the markers sharing a common date of death. The group laid their funereal wreath at the grave of Lorna Grosvenor, and an audible sigh of content seemed to waft on the wind.
The group then approached the burgomaster's residence. Lukas's platinum locket was easily recovered from the tree outside. However, the first of several strange occurrences was detected when one of the group saw their collective shadows begin to move in a frantic way that did not map to their current movements. Once inside the burgomaster's home, the odd phenomena continued. One member of the party heard a voice speaking indistinctly in their ear, they all heard a spectral piercing scream, and they could not shake the feeling of being watched.
Inside the house, the group discovered many books (which were, of course, loaded on their cart to be added to the library's collection). One book seemed to be of particular note; it was a volume on the Feywild and a section on malicious fey creatures called meenlocks was annotated with "Could this be the answer?" Skimming the book revealed that meenlocks are spontaneously created during times of pronounced fear in areas where the boundary between the mortal realm and the Feywild are thin. The book also claimed that meenlocks "reproduce" by transforming humanoids into meenlocks through psychic torment, which may explain the unnatural phenomena the group had experienced.
The group also found several letters from the burgomaster requesting aid from nearby settlements, but sadly those letters were never sent. The group also spotted something small and furry and man-shaped underneath a bed. No one wanted to touch it. Eventually it was swatted from under the bed with a staff, but still no one wanted to go near it. They wanted to know what it was, but feared to get too close to it. After much consternation, nerves were steeled and the thing was approached. It was...a teddy bear.
As night was coming on, the group decided to look for a place to spend the night that was emphatically not the mine. The blacksmith's shop was explored as a possibility first. It seemed mostly intact and in order. Underneath a secret panel in the floor, they discovered a shield chased in platinum, a pair of short sword with platinum filigree, and ten bars of quality iron. As the session came to a close, the group was heading to the stonemason's shop to weigh its benefits as a place to hole up against those of the smithy's shop.