After being introduced to our new adventuring partner, Diego, we set out to visit Professor Weston for an update on events and his progress on researching further information on the remaining artefacts. No further progress has yet been made, however we are assured that it is being keenly pursued.
Although myself and Zakhar have offered our skills to aid in his research, the Professor believes it to be best if we were to apply them out in the field. Rumours have found their way to Corvis that the road north to Hampstead has been the host to some strange occurrences worthy of investigation. A guard detail had previously been dispatched to do so, but nothing has been heard from them since their departure. With little else to be done in town, we prepared for departure the following morning.
Town guards were turning away all travellers leaving via the north gate, for fear of what may befall any who travel that road. A detour via one of the other town gates would have been quite the nuisance, but I must say that Diego is quite the persuasive fellow. Some kind words and a generous handshake goes a long way when delivered from a skilled individual like him.
The road was devoid of any activity aside from our own. It was eerily quiet aside from our footfalls and conversation, though it wasn’t long after the skies had darkened when we saw hints as to why. A near-empty camp on a clearing just off the road showed a recently extinguished fire and a body slumped nearby in what appeared in the dim light to be a pool of blood. Upon closer inspection of the body, it appeared to be covered in claw marks and a gaping wound in the stomach area. This wound turned out to be point from which all the internal organs had been removed—a telltale sign of a Hollowed.
Zakhar decapitated the corpse to ensure it didn’t rise again. One Hollowed is already one too many.
Further examination of the campsite revealed drag marks leading away from it, indicative of two bodies which had been removed. As Hollowed feast at the site of a kill, they are not responsible for the removal of these two campers. Unfortunately, it was too difficult to follow where the drag marks ultimately led after a short distance so we continued along the road.
We came across a farmstead a little further along, so we thought we’d stop by and see if anything could be gained from talking with the owners, and if they were alright. Upon knocking, the voice of a distressed man begged us to stop and get inside. We obliged. As we did so, a loud screeching rang through the night air. Unsurprisingly, the civilians inside with us howled in terror as a great number of Hollowed swarmed the building.
The Hollowed were dispatched with some difficulty and only a little damage to the farmstead. It’s worth noting that a mere scratch from a Hollowed is as unpleasant as the sight of one. There’s a seemingly insatiable thirst and pains of hunger that overcome you, surely similar to that which drives their behaviour.
After we and the family were safe and accounted for, we managed to learn something of what created such a great number of Hollowed in one place. The father informed us the town was assaulted, with a great deal of fire and screaming. It was likely to now be overrun with these beasts. The only possible safe locations ahead were a tower, said to house Christoph Tiren, an arcanist of some power, and a chapel of Morrow may also have held strong. After this discussion, we escorted the man and his family to the road so they could safely make it back to Corvis and then continued on our way.
Passing by the farmstead once more and sneaking our way through an open field, we made it through the town. The screeching and wailing was easily heard upon our approach. The sight was something else entirely, with much viscera and pools of blood before our eyes. The arcanist’s tower was visible from our location, but it was on the other side of town.
With careful movement and keen eyes, led by Lucien, we made it past the wandering horde of Hollowed and onto the doorstep of the tower. The door had been smashed in, the interior was severely damaged and many scorch marks decorated the walls. The amount of blood that painted parts of the walls and floor would’ve surely been fatal. Christoph Tiren appeared to have fought fiercely here, but ultimately succumbed to his wounds. Since no body remains, it is likely he now walks as a Hollowed or was dragged away. The last rumoured safe location of the Chapel lay further ahead, past many more hollow beasts.
Their numbers were no less thin out the front of the chapel. This time, it took very little to alert them to our presence as the heavy armour of Zakhar rattled just a little too loudly as he attempted a speedy approach. Thankfully the buildings between us and the Chapel provided adequate cover and enhanced our tactical advantage to quickly dispose of them. Unfortunately, those within the Chapel weren’t so lucky.
Upon disabling the lock on the Chapel door, the scene that met us on the other side was particularly gruesome. A number of altar boys had been eviscerated and their remains were strewn about the room. Their bodies looked nothing like that poor camper we first discovered. No survivors remained and every single door was locked, so whoever or whatever did this had locked their victims in here as they left.
We did manage to find some notes/a journal left behind by Father Brellac Monsen, saying they felt that these Hollowed were somehow connected to a man named Darien. He is said to live on the other side of the Black River.
After doing our best to collect the remains of the poor souls who were slain here, we blessed and buried them in the catacombs below. The chapel was a strong and safe location, so we spent the night there. At worst, there was intermittent scratching at the main door.
Darian’s house on the other side of the Black River was our destination the following morning. As expected there were many Hollowed to be found along the way and on the bridge, but we managed to slink our way past them. Thankfully the bridge wasn’t too much of a hassle to cross as the alternative of swimming across was far from ideal, especially considering previous attempts on my part.
Approaching the house of Darien as described in the Father’s journal showed it to be in a serious state of disrepair. Great amounts of damage had befallen the two storey place and many carvings and markings adorned the interior. Shortly after our entrance, objects within the house began to frost over as if caught in an ice storm. The presence of something evil could be felt within these walls. The giggling of a young girl was heard emanating from the floor above.
Standing in that house, I could reach out with my senses and affect the evil within. Mere moments passed before I felt that I had weakened it. As I did, the house shuddered. Mathias and Diego performed a ritual to achieve a similar effect. It seemed they succeeded when a great shriek rang out and they both fell to their knees. It was then the giggling girl presented herself at the top of the stairs, clearly a corrupted version of Elisa, Darian’s daughter. As she did, Hollowed began to swarm the house, no doubt as some form of defence mechanism.
Myself, Mathias, and Diego continued our mental and spiritual battle with the malevolent entity. The Hollowed relentlessly assault the house and completely surround us. I manage to further weaken the entity, swiftly followed by Mathias and Diego who deliver the final blow. Right at that moment, Elisa and all of the Hollowed collapse to the ground.
The feeling of triumph was short-lived. No sooner does the malevolent entity dissipate after its defeat, another seems to take its place.
With the house far from a safe place to be, and the need to dispatch Darien, we head back towards town. Darien and Brellac, the priest, cross our path with many Hollowed in tow. Although their undead support were kept out of sight, the movement of the cornrows lining the roadside gave their presence away.
Whatever it was that Brellac brought to Darien’s aid, it certainly wasn’t fortitude. Little more than a stern look was needed to dispose of him. Darien fell shortly after.
A search of Darien’s body revealed a bone shard amulet etched with runes, much like the bronze skull amulet found previously. Attempting to carry this amulet, even while well wrapped, was enough for its effect to take hold of you. It was much like the wound caused by the claw of a Hollowed, only much stronger. Carrying it in a sack tied to a hobo stick was the best means to mitigate the effects of the amulet while transporting it back to the Corvis church.
Upon our return to Corvis, aside from the safe storage of the amulet, recommendations have been made for dealing with the aftermath of events at and around Hampstead. We have also received word that Professor Weston has news.