Chapter II: Into Destruction Cast Them
Carrion Crown

“Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world." Mary Shelley

Story Synopsis

The long dead spirits of Harrowstone Prison were put to rest and Ravengro is safe from impending doom.

Questions remained: why did the Whispering Way take the ectoplasm amalgamation of Harrowstone's warden? Where did they go next? Was the Beast of Lepidstadt involved as the authorities in Ravengro claimed it was? What happened to the missing Count Caromarc?

Eivan Vasylyev et al. had not divined the answers to these questions yet - instead they found themselves consumed by the interests and squabbles of Lorrimor's colleagues and rivals in Lepidstadt. Lorrimor's townhouse was left to the University of Lepidstadt, which had begun the process of removing his more prized possessions in preparation for using it as off campus housing for students. Eivan was able to convince the movers at Lorrimor's home to allow him and his companion inside where they discovered a grotesque arcane arrangement in the basement that foreshadowed the Vorstag and the Whispering Ways plans for the packmaster of the werewolf tribes in the Shudderwood.

Professor Christine Belknap was a long time friend of Lorrimor though in the past year they had grown apart but even so Belknap was shocked that Lorrimor quit his teaching position to run off to Ravengro with virtually no notice. For the last ten years they had shared research and theories about their favorite pet project, The Beast of Lepidstadt. Together they surmised it was a flesh golem and that there had been at least two of them in the last fifty years; Belknap had even paid handsomely for what she claims is the preserved arm of the second flesh golem. They had developed a theory about who the flesh golems' creator was, Count Caromarc. Their attempts to contact the count had gone unanswered; Count Caromarc had a long standing reputation for being a recluse so this was not unexpected. As a young man the Count Caromarc had studied alchemy at Lepidstadt University, Belknap and Lorrimor had found some of his old papers on the subject in the university's archives. The count demonstrated a clear talent for the craft and yet for the next fifty years the count had published no writings on the subject and had not claimed to produced so much as a bottle of alchemist fire. Still he was perhaps the only person in the entire Vieland palatine who had the knowledge and could afford to build one flesh golem let alone more.

About two years ago something changed with Lorrimor. He had taken months off work without explanation and then again a year later took more time off; this by itself wasn't strange but his secrecy about it was. Lorrimor started to keep to himself and didn't take any interest at all when there were fresh sightings of what had to have been a new, third flesh golem. Belknap continued trying to reason with him even after Lorrimor moved to Ravengro but personal circumstances kept her from being able to attend his funeral. Belknap's wife, Alisa, had been ill at the time and they were both very close to making a break through with their own research project: The Copper Gate, a portal to a demiplane created by Ralzeros the Overwatched, a mad wizard, on the Isle of Kortos centuries ago.

Alisa had found the Copper Gate while on a Pathfinder expedition on Kortos many years ago and they brought it with them to Ustalav where they had spent the last several years trying to open it. Recently they had determined how to open it but neither were in a position to explore it safely. Belknap was surprised and thrilled to met Eivan and provided him some information about the Beast of Lepidstadt and Lorrimor on the condition that he and his companions go on an exploratory expedition into the Copper Gate.

What Eivan et al. discovered was that Ralzeros became obsessed with The Dark Tapestry and sought to use the voices behind the veil to expand his knowledge of magic. An entity from The Dark Tapestry named Corner of Spheres infiltrated Ralzeros's demiplane, trapping him there were Corner of Spheres tormented and probed Ralzeros' mind and body for centuries. By the time Eivan arrived, Ralzeros's body was an unrecognizable lump of inside out flesh and entrails, slumped unconscious on the side of an obelisk. After defeating Corner of Spheres the company performed a ritual to fold the demiplane up, sealing it; they also sent Ralzeros's body back through the portal where it collapsed, dying upon crossing back to the Material Plane. The only artifact they were able to salvage from the demiplane was a book that radiates magic but appears to be blank.

In exchange for this information Belknap told Eivan her theories about what the Beast of Lepidstadt was and who created him. She also told Eivan that the Beast of Lepidstadt had been seen recently in the area; several times at the Upper Well and several times at the Outer Well. The Upper and Outer Wells were what the locals respectively called the reservoirs on the north western side of the fens and the eastern side of the fens.

Embreth Daramid is the Steward of the Lepidstadt chapter of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. She and Lorrimor did not get along well but shared interests and research for a time. Eivan and his companions approached the Esoteric Order to find out if there was any information the Esoteric Order could tell them about The Whispering Way. This turned out to be very bad timing for the Esoteric Order as they were involved in a a violent squabble with the Technic League from across the Ustalavan-Numerian border. The Order illegally imported technological artifacts from Numeria, of which the Technic League claims sole ownership. The Technic League attacked the Order's chapter house and was intent on getting the artifacts back by any means necessary. This put both parties in a political stalemate - the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye couldn't go to the authorities because importing artifacts from Numeria violates the Ustalavan-Numerian treaty but the Technic League killed several members of the The Esoteric Order and took others hostage also in violation of the Ustalavan-Numerian treaty. Embreth offered to help Eivan research what the Whispering Way may be up to on the condition that he help clear their chapter house of the Technic League.

Upon arriving at the chapter house it quickly became apparent that something had gone very wrong with the Technic League's plan. Eivan et al. were attacked by several mechanical monsters smuggled out of Numeria that had killed most of the Technic League but Eivan and the others were able to destroy them. That did not end their troubles, they quickly discovered the Technic League had been searching the basement for more stolen artifacts but had not been able to find them. Eventually all of the Technic League were killed the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye agreed to assist him with his research.

Eivan et al. uncovered a book in the Order's archives called the Tome of Righteous Repose that told the history of an orc tribe called The Black Suns. While the Black Suns served the Whispering Tyrant for decades Tar-Baphon's undead philosophy stood in opposition to their most revered goddess, Dretha; a deity of birth, fertility, and tribal survival. Three devoted orc generals, triplet brothers known as the Wasp Eaters, staged a coup with their shaman wife, Ge-Omsla, against the sitting tribal leadership and prepared to aid the Shining Crusade against Tar-Baphon. They made secret arrangements with the Knights of Ozem to draw orc and undead forces north on the eastern Ustalavan side of the Tusk Mountains, away from Tar-Baphon's seat of power Gallowspire. With his forces weakened the Shining Crusade was able to make a final push to defeat Tar-Baphon. Despite this victory there was much to do in order to ensure that Tar-Baphon could not escape his prison. One of these tasks was extinguishing a tourbillon that Tar-Baphon had created and bound himself to. A tourbillon is a corrupted ley line that is transformed into a vortex of negative energy. Undead spellcasters can bind themselves to these tourbillon to increase their spell casting powers. Tourbillons are deadly; living creatures that come into direct contact with it risk being drained of their life force. Tourbillons are also very unstable and tend to move erratically leaving a trail of dead plants and animals in its wake before extinguishing. Tar-Baphon had bound this tourbillon to the Spiral Cromlech, standing stones arranged by the kellids for ritual and worshipping purposes. By tethering the tourbillon to the standing stones it was able to last indefinitely. After Tar-Baphon was defeated Knights of Ozem traveled north and rendezvoused with the Wasp Eaters and Ge-Omsla. They debated methods of destroying the tourbillon - the knights had suggested several options but all of them were cost prohibitive and would have required weeks of travel to arrange. Ge-Omsla was familiar with blood magic rituals that would achieve the same results as the knights; her ritual would only take hours and cost nothing except the lives of 151 orcs, including herself and the three Wasp Eaters. The Knights of Ozem objected but ultimately there was nothing they could do to stop the orcs. Given the nature of the sacrifice was blood magic and orcs - a group the knights would eventually come into conflict with within months of the war ending - the closure of the tourbillon was left out of all history books with the exception of the Tome of Righteous Repose, written by an outsider to the order of knights, a gnome.

In addition to the history of the orcs and and the existence of a tourbillon in the region Eivan learned other information. There were two locations of significant importance. The first was called Moraste, a death camp for Tar-Baphon's enemies, on the eastern side of the fens. The second was Herstag, the site of the blood sacrifice ritual, on the northwestern side of the fens. After cross referencing current and ancient maps of the region, Eivan concluded that the two areas where the Beast of Lepidstadt had been most recently been spotted matched where Moraste and Herstag had been.

Geographically the land surround Lepidstadt had been quite different during Tar-Baphon's reign. Today Lepidstadt sits on the edge of fenland on the the Lesser Moutrey River but this is a relatively recent development; historically this region had been drier. In fact, there was a plan to drain the swamp to return the palatine to its original dry condition called the Vieland Water Reclamation Project. It involved digging series of ditches and levies to move the water out of the area. The alleged goal was to create arable land for crops, something that Vieland is in short supply of. After cross referencing ancient maps and the swap drainage plans Evian was able to conclude that Moraste and Herstag were in the center of the the Upper and Outer Wells - exactly where the Beast had been spotted and where Moraste and Herstag had been and where the water drainage was most intensive.

The Vieland Water Reclamation Project was being overseen by a half-orc named Nolfini Arroyo, who was the Lepidstadt Master of Sewers.

Opening Song

Ending Song