Having been commissioned by the King (by way of Princess Nephelle) to investigate the reports of the Walking Dead to the North, Rothelar, Davik Windblade, Dreyhan, and Fiona set out on horses taken from the royal livery. As they traveled along the road, they couldn’t help but notice the abandoned homesteads, unmended fences, and the overall empty feeling of the countryside. That feeling was only amplified by the darkening sky and the wind whipping around them. Soon rain began to fall and the cold sank past their layers of clothing and armor. Dreyhan’s senses soon began to inform him that something else was amiss. It took a while before realization dawned upon him….he wasn’t smelling any animal life. Try as he might, he could pick up no fresh scents of any kind, and that worried him. What had driven the inhabitants, sentient and not, to leave the area?
He voiced his concerns to his group and they stopped to rest. Davik wanted to see if there was an end in sight to this strange happening, so he got off his horse and climbed a tree to get the lay of the land. It was slow going, for he was still fully armored. Those waiting below smirked at the ungainly movements of a man climbing a tree in chain mail, but their smirks vanished when he reported sight of a village, likely to be Agramir, not too far away. After his slow decent, they set off, desperate for some sort of warmth and maybe some answers to the question of ‘what was going on in this area?’
As they rode into the village, they saw the villagers going about their business, scurrying to and fro a bit faster than normal. When they caught sight of the newcomers through their drawn cowls, they moved all the faster to get out of the street and back in their homes. Looking curiously at each other, the four Agents made their way to the Broken Lance, a tavern with an actual broken lance fastened to the sign above the door. They stepped inside to find there were only two other people present: the barkeep and a patron seated at a table. They approached the barkeep and paid for a drink, asking why everyone was acting so nervous. He supplied them each with a pint of ale and a grunt for an answer. Davik showed his Empirial credentials and demanded an answer, but the man just shrugged and walked back into the kitchen.
Quiet laughter draws their attention to the other patron of the tavern and they approached him. Introductions were made and Salibard, the former mayor of the village, said, “Don’t pay Hiram much mind. He’s especially unfriendly to those of the Empire. Seems they don’t give a rip about us out here anyway.” Further explanation was requested and Salibard explained that several weeks prior, farmers started finding their livestock slaughtered in their fields with no apparent explanation. The wounds appeared to have been caused by some sort of animal, but it wasn’t something that an animal would have likely done. The cattle and sheep had been eviscerated, but not eaten. As the weeks went on, the number of dead animals skyrocketed. Then farmers started disappearing, followed by a couple of villagers. Yadirik, the current mayor, sent off the town guards to track them down, but no one had seen or heard of the guards since. Messengers were dispatched to Cyntyr to ask for help, but there had been no response.
In addition to this, there had been reports of something moving through Agramir at night. People were hearing footsteps and door knobs rattling. There were also rumors of a man in gray carrying a large staff, walking through the village at night. One of the sightings seemed to have coincided with the disappearance of one of the villagers, but Salibard scoffed at the notion.
The weather also seemed to have made a turn for the worse, unseasonably so. They hadn’t seen the sun in a long time, and their crops were suffering for it. The villagers sought the council of Baleron, the town Treen Priest, but after an especially stormy night, he too had left town, claiming to be searching for the missing guards. He hasn’t returned.
After a bit more small talk, the Agents thanked Salibard for his time, bought him another tankard of ale, then left the tavern. They paused outside the door and briefly discussed what to do next. Rothelar suggested visiting the temple and seeing if Baleron had written anything down that might provide a bit more guidance as to what was taking place. The four made their way to the temple, following Rothelar through the small sanctuary and into the living quarters in the back. As they started examining the room, Dreyhan noticed four books on the bookshelf. They were religious texts, but his keen eyesight noticed a break in the dust on the shelf where a fifth book should have been. Attention was drawn to an empty armor stand with a shelf for a mace below it…also empty. The group concluded that the priest must have left armed with a mace and likely a spellbook, headed to who-knows-where.
Rothelar went to the priest’s desk and rummaged through the papers until he found a letter. Holding it up to the light, he read another accounting of the events of the town with additional mentions of the unseasonable rain and thunderstorms. There had been a particularly bad storm with many lightning strikes to the North, in the direction of Janick’s Tower. What was especially odd about those lightning strikes was that they had been almost rhythmic in their concussions. This letter was to be sent to Cyntyr asking for advice and aid.
Not finding much else of interest, the group sought out Lady Tilina to get a first-hand description of the Grey Man. She greeted them amicably enough, but the questioning stretched out as she continued to misunderstand what was being asked and kept getting distracted by Dreyhan’s fur coat. When all was said and done, she accepted clippings of his fur in exchange for a description of the Grey Man. According to her, something seemed ‘off’ about him, especially his eyes. She had locked gazes with the man and as she looked into his eyes, she saw…nothing. It had given her the shivers. The next morning, the Sebrilask child was missing.
Hearing nothing else useful from her, they sought out the cobbler. They knocked on his door, but he refused to budge from behind the barred door. Upon hearing they were sent from the King to seek out the mystery here, he cracked open the door and demanded proof. Davik once again displayed his seal and the elf let the group inside. As he led the way into his store, Rothelar noticed a very fine dagger tucked into the belt of the cobbler. Both Davik and Rothelar took their boots off and requested Vebrin to repair them. As he worked, he answered their questions. He had been the first of the villagers to actually see the Gray Man, and he had taken his concerns to the Mayor who did not believe him. The rest of the villagers also refused to believe him, especially once Lady Tilina vouched for his story. Vebrin too thought there was something ‘off’ about the man as he was seen wandering through the town. Vebrin told them that as soon as the Gray Man noticed the attention given him by the elf, the elf’s lantern immediately went out. The encounter scared him enough that he has decided to stay inside until this whole thing blows over.
The group paid him for his efforts, Rothelar providing an extra gold piece, “Gotta watch out for my fellow elves.” was his only explanation. They then made their way back to the Broken Lance and paid for rooms for the night. They would set out for Janick’s Tower at first light.