Dear Illuminated Ones,
It falls to me to provide testimony to counter the slander of this complaint. As a group, we have read the letter and we must confess to some mild hilarity at the misrepresentation of our good characters therein.
To clear up a few matters; at no point was Mathias “displaying an unholy interest in matters of the flesh”(at least not in a way unrelated to the current case) and I, Father Diego, was not “prone to accusation and evangelical hysteria”, any more than this small slug of an individual was prone to good manners and a concern for the bigger picture of thwarting an undisputed evil… which is of course to say not at all.
Allow me to present the actual facts of the matter thusly:
As dedicated investigators of the Morrowan faith, we constantly scan the environment for indications that something… anything is awry and may need our attention. Although often a thankless and demanding task, it is the small things, when puzzled together to form a clue, that when acted on judiciously, eventually saves an entire village from the rot of necromancy – that really keeps us going. As you will see in this very true and unexaggerated, factual report, it is passion in our work that drives us and not (as the complainant suggests) over-weaning egos and a predisposition for grandstanding.
As I was saying, we constantly scan the environment, and I, Diego, fresh from rescuing a dozen orphans from a building fire that surely would have consumed them all and their attractive young nanny, was taking a moment to myself to relax and read the broadsheets. Zakhar had just finished serving tea (I tell him he doesn’t have to, but he does so like to be close to me in the hope that something heroic will transpire and he will be lucky enough to see it in action) and I again remarked on how uncanny it was that for a big bear of a man, he was so gentle with porcelain cups, almost tender. No sooner were those words out of my mouth, when I spied an item in the broadsheet that would set us in motion on a hunt for necromancers most foul.
It seems my former mentor’s grave at the Sancteum had been robbed! A desecration most foul. When we investigated further, it turned out that there was a spate of grave robbing occurring in the local area and the Watch were nowhere near solving the issue and so, we decided that we would lend what meagre heroism we could to the situation. Upon investigating the grave, we saw 2 sets of boot prints. This led Caleb to remark that he suspected 2 perpetrators. We all sighed internally. (This is the way with Arcanists – you have to let them think they’re the smartest in the room or they blow things up.)
After Caleb’s “breakthrough” forensic discovery, we decided it would be appropriate to see the Watch Sergeant in charge of the investigation, Gerber Fencott. Sgt Fencott, despite being a churlish man, prone to delusions of personal grandeur, was helpful in one respect – he was able to furnish us with a listing of the gravesites that had been robbed and when. He was also able to tell us a little about the corpses that had been stolen, information that while on the surface seemed irrelevant, to my finely honed deductive reasoning, was the element that would crack the case wide open.
I will save you a lot of minutiae about “first we travelled here, then we travelled there.” I imagine you get enough descriptive text about the countryside from Mathias’ regular updates. Honestly the man loves narrating the current experience so much, there have been times we’ve had to ask him to maintain secrecy around the colour and composition of his stool. Suffice it to say, we investigated each of the graves and we found some interesting information:
• Wagon ruts at Caenbrook. Caleb cleverly identified the likelihood of two men using a wagon to transport corpses.
• Even had we not had access to the vast intelligence of our colleague, Farmer Pearce, who lives on the Caenbrook cemetery road confirmed that a battered wagon with a tarpaulin covering it had left the cemetery several times that he had witnessed.
• At the Seawheel site, we find that 2 graves had been disturbed and work had commenced on a third. The interesting thing is that the 2 graves were empty, as (had they not been disturbed) they would have discovered of the 3rd. You see an interesting piece of local lore came out of our investigation – 13 women were sentenced to death for witchcraft 20 years ago and executed. They were posthumously exonerated and exhumed so they could be buried on hallowed ground. The grave robbers, not knowing this plied their trade on naught but soil.
• We discover in Morhurst that the stolen corpse belonged to one Virginia Felton. She died in a swimming accident some four years ago. Her husband, a morose man who works at the Order of the Golden Crucible as an alchemist still grieves for her, and has a taste for expensive whiskey.
• It is during our investigations at Morhust that we come across the complainant. One Olsen Tolbert, Watch Constable. Never before in all my years have I encountered a man for whom dereliction of duty was such an art form. If lazy incompetence were a national sport, this man would be a hero to thousands. I must confess that between his constant pathetic bleating about his empty (but sizable) gut and his piteous displays of ingrained victimhood, Lucien may have lost his temper on one or two occasions at the Constable, but never was the man’s life in serious peril as he stipulates in that fallacy of a complaint letter. If it makes the situation any better, I have counselled Lucien on his hot-headedness, the man is a nightmare with a pistol, but social graces aren’t his arena. However, attention should be brought back to the staggering incompetence of the Watch Constable, a man so useless, more valuable creatures can be found lying on their backs in the bottom of ponds. Let us remind the Illuminated Ones that we actually did his job for him, were it not for our presence, his whole town would be overrun by shambolic corpses, but more on that soon.
• As we travel at night, we are approached by a wagon headed for Caspia. It matches the description furnished by Farmer Pearce. Its occupants are Aiden Webb, a slim weaselish man and Dermott McDougall, clearly the brains of the outfit. With no evidence we have no ability to hold them, but at least we now have names. When we investigate their places of residence, we discover they both have a fondness for the same expensive whiskey as our grieving alchemist. Interestingly, those empty bottles are the most expensive thing about their squalid hovels.
I of course, now have enough information to solve the case. The perpetrator, plot and prescription of the felony are all clear in my mind. However, such is the way with mentoring a group of investigators, one has to allow them the experience of solving it for themselves. Even though it may take a little more time, they’ll never learn unless they’re allowed to follow it through until conclusion.
So we continue – we discover that a 5 year old girl was taken from her bed and murdered, dumped on the beach. The town thinks it is the mysterious hobo known as the prowler. We set out to catch this prowler and by fortuitous coincidence, Mathias is not paying close enough attention to the plan (probably busy narrating the sensation of digestion) and is attacked by the prowler. It was a close thing, but fortunately I was near enough to step in a slay the creature before it could damage Mathias too greatly. I say creature, for this thing – known as a “soulless” was a reanimated corpse, reanimated with a combination of alchemy and magic.
Finally, the penny drops for my companions, it is almost magical to see the ‘ah ha’ moment as they dawn upon the answer that you’ve been gently steering them towards for several days. Honestly Illuminated Ones, teaching others, helping them to grow, gently moulding and shaping their minds and characters is a Morrow blessed calling, one I’m proud to hear sing in my heart.
We race for the home of the morose alchemist. A man who puzzled out the unthinkable, who investigated the unclean, who dabbled with the forbidden to bring back a wife lost too soon by his own hand. A man who bribed poverty stricken ne’er-do-wells with expensive whiskey to find him test subjects so he could perfect his unholy rite.
There we discover an uprising of the soulless, those first experiments. Including my poor mentor. Vale Marten Hellam, we remember you for your contribution and the control you displayed even when corrupted by the foulness. To cut a long and gory story short, we dispatched the creatures, and their unclean benefactor, the morose alchemist.
That, Illuminated Ones, is our tale. I have kept it free of unnecessary detail so that it does not seem self-serving, for if you had experienced the full saga, it would seem like a fable from a storybook. But we are modest men, who seek only to serve Morrow, and we trust that you will consider the complaint now asked and answered. Diego.