We stood nearby Captain Skarrow as he spoke to the town, attempting to bolster the morale of Barrington’s townsfolk. A shot rang out from a distant dilapidated building and a bottle exploded beside Skarrow. Soldiers of the Skorne empire caught our attention as they made their way over the nearby bridge into Barrington. We moved to intercept and engage them before they could progress any further.
Though their numbers were only a half-dozen, these Praetorians were quite resilient. Zakhar engaged the majority at great peril to himself, affording the rest of us much-needed time and space to dispose of them. It was a hard-fought win over what appears to have been little more than a scouting party for the 200 or more that were soon-after reported to be marching upon us.
Curiously, no further shots were fired in our direction after the first bottle-shattering surprise. One can only assume this was a warning, but from whom?
With scant resources and barely a dozen able soldiers, weary as they were, there was little choice afforded to us other than to recommend the evacuation of the town. Captain Skarrow advised the town to pack light as we were to move out for Corvis. Only a few days travel awaited us.
Alerted by an upset child we set out for the town healer Granny Mosley who had wandered away from camp on the first night. Though no relations of her were amongst the townsfolk, she was lovingly called ‘Granny’ by all.
We tracked her to a nearby forest clearing where she had come upon some Iosan Mage Hunters, and they had their crossbows aimed at her by the time we arrived. These Iosans had found her picking some White Willow Bark and made accusations of sorcery. Mathias assured them that she was merely a healer and the herbs were supplies to prepare salves, poultices and the like. Although I was aware that these particular herbs could also be used in ritual magic, I reiterated Mathias’ statement. Strangely, this appeared to be enough for these Iosans as they lowered their weapons and left without saying another word.
A plundered merchant cart was discovered the following day. The lifeless bodies of those that escorted it were found strewn nearby, littered with arrows – later discovered to be of the kind used by Bogrin. Nothing of value, interest, or otherwise remained.
Up ahead from our position and out of sight, Father Decklan was blessing the recently departed when we heard him cry out. Racing to his aid there was naught that could be done for him. Father Decklan was suspended in a pit, impaled on many sharpened spikes. To our surprise, he still lived. With what little time he had left, he passed on an old relic – a golden frame contained the image of Morrow of unknown age or origin – asking for its delivery to the Cathedral of Morrow in Corvis. He expired moments after.
It’s hard not to think, as we dismantled those spikes and filled in the pit and buried Father Decklan, that such a trap could’ve been intended for us and those that traveled with us. Perhaps the merchant travelers were merely targets of opportunity, or they were mistaken for us by those that ambushed them. Unless the perpetrators were desperate for food and other basics, general goods don’t seem like a high value target.
Once again that evening, Granny left camp and we were alerted to this by some very upset children. She had left a letter behind, addressed to Captain Skarrow, as she had no intention of returning this time. Her intentions were to return home and avenge the fate of her father, brought upon them by the Skarholt family. Fortunately, as we investigated the ambush site earlier, some of us heard her muttering to herself as she stood in front of a long-disused trail leading off to “Dorshep”.
We set out to this path and followed it to its end, where Granny Mosley was performing some kind of dark ritual. She was chanting as an object in her hand shined intensely. We tried to get her to stop what she was doing, but she was having none of it. There was little else that could be done after she produced a ritual dagger to cut herself with. If she spilt her blood, surely the ritual would be complete and release something terrible.
There was no way to close the gap between us and bring an end to her ritual without causing harm. Lucian acted quickly and fired. Knocked to the ground and still writhing with purpose, Granny was working the dagger in her hands in an attempt to complete her task with what energy remained in her. Lucian fired again, killing her instantly.
While it is a shame that she died in such a way, it would have been worse for her and others had she completed the ritual. Rereading her note, it seems she was willing to sacrifice her soul to pay for whatever she summoned forth. Surely Morrow will forgive her transgression; it was an act born out of love, but twisted by the pain from the loss of her father. At least her soul is not forfeit and Morrow will see Granny reunited with father once again.
I recovered the object that was shining during the ritual. A very old ring, with markings that are so worn as to no longer be legible. My guess is that it is a family heirloom, either from her father or passed down by someone before him. I do not think it is evil in itself, merely used as link to her father in casting the ritual. As she has no living relatives or anyone particularly close to her, I will keep it as a reminder of that day and the many lessons it has taught me.
Captain Skarrow and the townsfolk of Barrington were incredibly upset at the news of her passing. He doesn’t seem to believe that she could or would do the things we witnessed and reported to him. After knowing someone for so long, it can be difficult to accept that which goes against everything you believe. Of course, the rest of the townsfolk were told that she wandered off to revisit the town where she grew up and was attacked by wild animals in the attempt. There was no good reason to upset anyone further and sully the image of someone they held so dear and had nothing but fond memories of. Interesting, however, was the fact that even the oldest members of the town only remember Granny as an old woman.
It was this event which inspired me to learn more in the way of Infernals. Never again did I want to be caught unawares like I and my companions were that day. The thought that the White Willow Bark she picked have such a wide range of uses, including the ritual she attempted, and that there were no other signs of what she was planning doesn’t comfort me.