Following is a summarised report of our actions over the past days representing the Order and assisting the Temple of Menoth. While in Corvis following the recent murders and the loss of the Relic, we received a request to attend Potentate Reynard of the Temple of Menoth and he requested our assistance with a task. High Vigilant, given our Church’s efforts to maintain cordial relations with the Menites it was agreed that we would provide what help we were able.
The Potentate Reynard’s colleague Potentate Olsen reported a recent vision, despite his affliction of blindness, that he felt certain was both divine in origin and a dire warning. He saw dark hills near the city, beheld a fey and evil aura upon them and saw step forth an Orgoth bearing a dark artefact, a bronze skull. He felt certain that this divination warned of the vilest of rituals and impending tragedy, and our help was requested to accompany Potentate Olsen, protect him and help him to where he felt the vision led. Once there it was hoped that combining our skills and the fortitude of our faiths we could prevent the impending horror.
We thence travelled, with Potentate Olsen, north-west into the fell Bloodsmeath Marshes taking the little travelled road towards Fellig. In the hamlet of Bransweald we were forced to stop as we came upon a frenzied mob assaulting an aged woman. The mob were seeking to strike down the woman’s step-child, a girl named Autumn, they accused of Witchcraft and many horrors which had beset the village. The woman, Sadel, was resisting, and the rabble were escalating in aggression, we felt such vigilantism could not be tolerated; we stepped forth and prevented any savagery with promises to investigate on the authority of the Church. It must be emphasised that the mob was in such a frenzy that it took considerable intimidation from our group to emphasise our authority to look into this matter properly.
Evidence from the hamlet, which was populated mainly by ignorant folk of the Menite faith, surely indicated that dark events were occurring and that the villagers were wont to take matters into their own hands. Farms had seen livestock slaughtered in a most unnatural manner and one of the villagers, the Baker, remained afflicted by a dark attack of an apparent shape shifter, reputed to be the Witch Autumn. The villagers were suspicious, they had previously executed an accused Witch not some few years ago, and the evidence of the Baker was that while his attack was real, his ‘harm’ was greatly exaggerated. Eventually with the weight of evidence that true black magic was being used and with reports that the girl Autumn was strange, withdrawn and had disappeared following the horrors we confronted Sadel. It required short work to convince her we did not intend to condemn her step-daughter out of hand and she revealed to hiding the girl at an old tin mine nearby.
Travelling to the tin mine we came upon a sight of foul and depraved murder. The Baker’s son, Gailan a ringleader of the aforementioned mob, and some of his stalwarts had obviously found the mine and they had been dismembered. The men, all young and strong, had been massacred and parts had been set forth as trophies displaying the gruesomeness of the deed. The mine entrance also showed recent occupation and had been ransacked. Clear evidence of both human and wild beast was obvious in both the area and in the slayings.
With this crime destroying our chance of finding the girl Autumn we made the decision to find the place of the previous murder of the other villager who had been accused of Witchery. This path of our investigation was supported by finding drawings done by Autumn’s hand which indicated that she had visited the site of the execution. Near the river where the young woman had been burned we found a hut and the drunken hunter who lived in the hovel named Guffrey. From this man, using both threats and bribery, we discovered the exact sight of the burning, an old boat hulk, and proceeded. The river proved perilous as it was home to an aggressive Bull Snapper and we were forced into a vicious battle in order to kill this river monster. However after slaying the lizard we searched the burned out hulk where the accused villager had been murdered and found a still legible map hidden within.
The map was our only further evidence and we followed it to one of the locations it marked finding the ruin of a hut. Exploring this hovel we discovered a hidden tunnel and following this found the bones of many persons, all obviously murdered and eaten. While in this hidden dwelling we were attacked by the crazed occupant a hideous and clearly berserk Hag. The creature attempted to destroy us but we were able to provide a measure of justice to its (her?) victims and destroy it. Further searching of the evil cave found an old diary, apparently once belonging to the murdered woman which indicated she was being seduced by darkness and this dead creature was part of that, it further directed us towards a nearby ruined tower.
Proceeding forth we found the tower and gained entry into the ruin. Immediately we were beset by two massive lizard bipeds, Gatormen, armed and intent on our destruction. A vicious melee ensued but we were fortunate to emerge largely unharmed from the battle, killing both the savage beasts. Within the tower we found stairs leading to higher levels which despite the dilapidated surrounding remained intact and we moved to explore. On the upper floor we found a vile and powerful Hag and with her several massive Dusk Wolves and the girl Autumn wearing a veil and clearly undergoing some dark ritual of transformation. It was evident that the Hag, naming itself Groa, had exploited the young woman’s insecurities and weakness to convince her to participate in a rite of hideous nature and transmute her into a Hag. (Of note I am in my studies uncertain as to whether this process is the sole process of ‘reproduction’ of this vile species of creature, effectively a variety of sexless transformation through black magicks or if they have a more traditional reproductive method also).
We attempted to reason with the girl Autumn and also to demand that the Hag Groa release its charge and end the rite without success and shortly were forced to fight in order to prevent further evil. The Hag Groa clearly possessed magic of the darkest nature and we found ourselves beset by nefarious power, additionally whether by the rite or not the girl Autumn was also able to hurl dark spells towards us. The ensuing battle was quite desperate but we were able to destroy the Wolves and shortly, after some viciousness, struck down the Hag Groa, we also with difficulty managed to subdue Autumn both without permanent harm and before the ritual of transformation had apparently reached a conclusion. We recovered certain valuables and evidence of the infestation from the tower and returned quietly to the mine with the subdued Autumn.
In order to prevent a vigilante mob killing we summoned Sadel to the mine where we made camp and stressed to her the evil which had befallen her step-daughter and that we would reserve judgement provided she travelled to the care of the Temple of Menoth, to which she is a follower. Potentate Olsen, also informed of the investigations results, supplied a letter urging his Temple to both support the two women and to take the greatest measures to ensure the girl was not so infected with darkness as to be beyond redemption. We are given to understand that the girls transformative process is slowly returning to her natural human features and that she has arrived at the Temple and appears to begin to comprehend the horrors she was participating in, I think we can hold careful hope for her soul. Finalising our unexpected interruption we also travelled into the village, informed the townsfolk of the Hags and that this was the source of the evil. We did not mention the fate of the girl Autumn and further attempted, with I suspect minimal success, to emphasise that mob killings of women ‘suspected’ of ‘Witchcraft’ were not to be tolerated.
Following this unexpected delay our group and the Potentate Olsen have since continued on our original task. High Vigilant I hope this report explains the logic and reasoning of the decisions we have made. As always our central task and overwhelming goal is to investigate and eliminate the vileness of dark magic and we feel in these circumstances some justice was achieved.