They split up.
This is how it always begins.
The Witch Hunter went to the wall and fired a white-feathered crossbow bolt into the teeth of the storm toward the finger. Then he and Jack went to the Winter Wolf Inn and spoke long and low in their dark-ceilinged room until their minds were one. Jack gained an indescribable sustenance.
Illyria went between the rows to the elvish bookseller. On her way, she passed Elain’s greenhouse and noticed the garden was in disarray, and the glass had been broken atop the greenhouse. Another body, a small, dark-haired woman was inside, lying in her blood. Her tongue and eyes had been removed. Illyria went on.
Ahriman, in his neatly ordered shop. She asked him again, with short time remaining, who the workers of the Gift were in Fahran’s Outpost, and what was going on with the ancient tunnels under the city. He was unnerved enough not to fully complete pouring the tea correctly. Reluctantly, the bookseller told her how he thought the Prospectors were strange. They were out among the Wolfen – a thing Ahriman had come to do, but lacked the experience or perhaps the nerve to complete. He asked the Prospectors to interface with the Wolfen, to ask questions, to find out cultural information, but they … just didn’t. They spent time at The Finger that spire outside of town. They disappeared into the wilderness. They didn’t seem to be prospecting or selling goods…. He didn’t want to get anyone accused of anything, but ….
As for the history of Faran’s Outpost, it was built maybe a hundred years back by the Eastern Empire. To stop the Wolfen. But why this site was chosen, the bookseller was also curious about. Clearly it could not have been without knowledge of the tunnels below. But in spite of all the time the Outpost had been here, no one had before reported (to the bookseller’s knowledge) finding them or anything like them. Like the Ley line that clearly ran diagonally like a slash across the Outpost, it seemed almost like they had recently sprung into being. Which was impossible. Finally, Ahriman said he thought there were two other lines of weaker geomancy that aligned with the 2 broad streets that made a + across the center of the Outpost. They seemed to be sealed somehow against use or access, which the bookseller did not pretend to comprehend.
Reeling from discoveries, Alain meant to make his way directly across town. He made an unintended stop. He investigated. He played Captain of the Guard. He dispatched men.
In the Winter Wolf, downstairs, a prim and plump blond townswoman named Clara came in and recounted how the Widow Whitecoffee seemed to wander a lot at night. Had been the first to discover Elaine’s body. Seemed to know an awful lot about a lot of unsavory things in town. How her husband had died mysteriously after they moved here to the Outpost. She made sure the Witch Hunter knew where she lived.
The nervous Undertaker stopped by, said he had news, and could be found at his shop.
They gathered. They discussed.
That is how they spend their time. They talk, and outside, the storm begins, and the fires begin to burn.
They returned to examine the 2nd body in the greenhouse, and found it missing.
All the ghost peppers had been ripped out of the earth. There was one set of tracks in the blood. Small boots. No sign of magic.
The headed back to town.
They found a massive party beginning, spontaneously, at an unopened alehouse run by a Warrior from the Western Wolfen Rebellion. Probably he was going to call the place, “Slaughtered Wolfen” or something equally charming. There were many men there – including many army men, having the night after the wolfed attack off and blowing off steam. There seemed to be no leaders. Eventually, Alain waded in among them on his extremely disagreeable horse, “Faran’s Pride”. He commanded them to disperse. He convinced with a glance the amiable and reluctant Sgt. Miller to take his men and go back to the Army Compound.
When a junior officer, drunk, dissented, the Captain convinced him to shame himself, to call himself a fool, and set off at once. The air grew chill with resentment, and the partygoers began to depart.
Across town, they gathered at the Prospector’s house. All was dark. The wind was rising. The rain had begun, like hard pebbles hurled from an unamused Heaven.
The door handle had been broken forcefully off its lock mount.
The inside of the Prospector’s shop had been sacked. Someone had come looking for something and not found it. One someone, judging from the tracks.
They had a visitor outside, in thick leathers, slick with the rain. The Witch Hunter grabbed her and demanded to know her identity and purpose. Her empty eye sockets rose and fixed on his face. She slashed with nails grown like white talons.
Battle ensued. There was a great deal of stabbing and slashing and Baen-blood splashed the clapboard floor. Illyria kept guard over the undisturbed, magicked-up door at the back of the shop. Eventually, her flashing daggers caught the thing in the face, and splashing ichor, sent it out through the door, into the mud with a smack. It lay unmoving in the mud and its hand stopped crawling toward Jack who had severed it. The nails melted away like light snow evanescing on a hot morning.
A stillness stole over the Prospector’s shop. They had been told her name, this female Prospector, but couldn’t care what it was in that moment, since she had found her way home in such a way.
Another good session. Much more roleplaying, sinking into the characters. Very nice!
There still seems to be a bit of nudge-nudge wink-wink about things the players know that the characters don’t. I recommend finding out what happens when you don’t do that. When you let yourself settle into the uncertainty, the fear, the dark curiosity these powerful people must be having as they wade up to their necks into the unknown.