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Turn 108 For whom the bell tolls

Wulfgar directs the party towards to the temple, finding it all but deserted. Heading for the stairs, Wulfgar leads you into a tower. At the top of the steps, you find a crowd of priests, as the bell finally stops ringing, you push your way through the crowd to the bell to find all is not well. A hand dangles down from inside the bell. A body has apparnetly been tied to the bells' ringer. On the side of the bell, 'Penance is Done' is written in red liquid.

Wulfgar steps forward and looks to see who the body was. "Does anyone know what all this is about?" He addresses the priests. A concerned look crosses his face, as he seems deep in thought about something.

Gareth, and Caohimin enter behind the rest of the party, and view the scene before them.

Nervously Cole addresses anyone listening "wereisCaoihminishestillhere." looking about the room to make sure the hand is not his.

Caoimhin sleepily enters the tower. When the party reaches the bell, his eyes widen (yes, both of them) and he covers his mouth. A moment passes, and he removes his hand. "We must get him down and give him a decent burial. Whatever his offense, nothing merits such a death." He looks around at the party. "If I knew Clan Cuilean to be in the area, I might think they were responsible -- that he had perhaps run afoul of one of their hot-headed young princes. But I have seen no sign of any of the Folk here. I know not who is behind this."

Within minutes of the parties arrival at the murder, Brother Anselm, and Brother Bernadino arrive. Anselm greets the party, before ordering all the priests but 2 back to their cells. The remaining 2 are asked to cut the body down for identification.

Caoimhin steps over to stand next to Cole, then reaches out to clasp his shoulder. "Easy, old friend, I'm alive and well. After Brother Anselm finished healing my eye last night, I had dinner with Wulfgar, Arilyn, and the priests -- you must have missed us when we returned."

Looking a bit embarrassed Cole nods an acknowledgment to Cao and watches nervously as the priests cut down the body.

As you await to find out who the body is, Arilyn joins you following behind a wide eyed anxious young man.

Wulfgar stands still and silent as the brothers move to cut down whom ever it is that is hanging in the bell. Then quickly he steps forward to help and get the body down quickly. He looks very serious and there is a fire in his eyes.

Kay looks up while the priests take down the body and cringes, "What a way to go.", She turns to Caoimhin, "I think that's out of our hands. They'll probably want to fully check out the body, and if it's possible in this one-tavern-town, do a 'speaking'. I've heard of clerics who can speak to those who are recently dead. And I'm sure whoever enforces the law around here will want to look into it as well."

The knight, being careful not to hinder the priestly efforts, steps forth and examines the manner in which the body was strapped to the bell, then calls Cole over and speaks to him for a moment. After the corpse has been removed, he steps over to Wulfgar and the brothers for a moment before returning to stand and silently watch over the party.

Gareth comes up to the four brothers and Wulfgar. "I wish not to intrude upon events on your holy ground, but if their is anything to which I may lend aid, I will do my utmost to assist you." The paladin pauses for a long second. "I notice that you are very calm about this - situation. Is it a common occurrance or are you simply men of such discipline?" After talking for a few moments, the knight returns to the party and examines the manner in which the body was strapped to the bell, then calls Cole over and speaks to him for a moment.

Keldar, still grasping onto Cole speaks, "OK, you folks can take cara this and see us un the mornin. Fer now, I gotta go ta sleep. Me stomach's bad as it is and this sorta site's not helpin'."

Silently Cole produces a wrinkled piece of blank parchment from his pocket and scratches out the message as close to the original as he can then hands it to Gareth.

"Penance is done??" Barbaxle reads aloud "Do we know who this man is? We might be able to find out a little more of the situation if we can find that out. He must've had enemies if they wanted to display his body like this. It was left here for a reason, so everyone would notice that he is dead. They could have took him and killed him some place that no one would find him. I think that there is some investigation that needs to be done. Do you have a Constable that handles these matters?"

Wulfgar looks at Gareth with a steady and calm look on his face. "We all face death every day so why should this bother us? It is not pleasant but I get the feeling that something evil is afoot! I am not convinced that Brother Randos's death was as they have told us. I think this has something to do with it, although I am not sure I have a feeling in my bones that there is something going on here in Heron that is not right." He turns away and continues to help cutting the body down.

"You have a feeling that something is going on here?" Jahl asks rhetorically. "What gave it away? The body or the message in blood?" Seeing the look that Wulfgar passes me Jahl quickly takes a half-step back and raises his hands defensively, palms out. "My apologies friend Wulfgar, I only meant a little levity which I agree was badly placed. I agree. Something is amiss here, but now is not the time or place for all of us to stand around gawking and getting in the way. I suggest that many of us return and finish getting our much-needed sleep rather than crowding this small room. I expect that Wulfgar and Gareth will stay behind and learn what they can and we can talk with them in the morning."

Wulfgar looks at Jahl, "I suspected something was wrong the moment we found Brother Randos buried beside the road! You make light of the death of two men, two men I knew one my mentor!" His hand flashes to the hilt of his sword as his eyes flare with a burning fire. "Gugliemo!" Wulfgar states in a low voice as the body is cut down, he then turns back to Jahl.

Jahl continues "Might I question the current safety of the book that was left here before I go? And as usual, if I can help in any way, please do not hesistate to ask." After his empassioned speech, he exits the tower.

Vincas stands and watches the scene unfold, the nights drinking obviously still having it's effect on him. "I'm heading back to the room." he says softly, "to keep an eye on Keldar and our gear."
He stumbles slowly back toward the room, arms crossed over his stomach.

The body is cut down, the head a bloody mess having banged against the side of the bell countless times. Looking closer, you note 10 ovular shaped bruises encircling his neck, each ranging in size from a bit smaller than a dime, to the size of a nickle.

Keldar, hearing the object he brought to the group being discussed pipes up, "Yeah.... where'd ya keep that silly thin' anyways? We killed the owner, so doubt we need the town guard sleepin' on it, but where'd ya keep the book? still guarded good?"
The gnome seems quite distraught about being removed from discussions on the fate of his property, and appears to be trying to subtly trying to annoy those who took possesion of the book. He is however far too drunk to hide his intentions.

Arilyn looks at the bruises. "I wonder if he was wearing some type of collar...or was he strangled first by something that would make such marks?" She looks over to Wulfgar. "Do you know anything about this? I don't mean to cast blame...but i don't think a god/dess would allow this in their own sanctuary...unless they were involved...or at least had his/her blessing. Callus is known to be a bit...how shall I say... egotistical and short tempered."

The paladin looks away for a moment... painfully, obviously, looks away... "Strangling was the first thing that came to my mind also Arilyn. As for the evil occurring lately Wulfgar, we know much of the land still struggle and heaves beneath the evil that strove to wipe mankind off this world, and it does seems obvious that evil has stepped within these sacred walls and left behind a very vivid and painful footprint. Arilyn does raise a valid point, though what I know of Callus suggests she is more immediate and less... decorative than this style, but Wulfgar is by far the better expert than I. There is, however, the matter of the gods distancing of late; their absence most likely weaken the defences of a holy place and allow evil to break in and create havoc."

Wulfgar spins again this time his sword leaves it's sheath, "You talk to me about Gods!" He spits at Arilyns feet "Pah! What know you of Gods? You know nothing about Callus and I doubt very much if she would stand for this but something here or hereabouts is blocking her from communicating with me so I will say this if as some of you had suggested Callus was behind all of this do you think I would be helping you? Rather would it not be a good move for a follower of her to kill you all in the middle of the night at a secluded camp somewhere along the lines. There have been many opportunities!" He turns back to the body "Perhaps it would be best if you all returned to where ever you were sleeping and I shall contact Gareth if the need arises."

The paladin steps between the offended priest and the elven fighter. His blue eyes very flat and warning, Gareth pushes down Wulfgar's sword with a couple of gauntled fingers on his right hand. "And perhaps a certain priest will remember that not everyone knows everything about every god... and will ask questions. Bringing truth into the light of understanding is only done through questions. You, priest of Callus, have spoken to the party of how Callus is a goddess believing in revenge when affronted. You and I appreciate that this is not her style, but the lay person has not our background, yes? Threatening subterfuge and violence against companions is not the way to solving this mystery Wulfgar, so accept the question as a question, and put your righteous action towards this murder and not flailing out." Wulfgar's firey anger is met by Gareth's immplacable calm; the brighter the priest seems to flare, the more solid the paladin becomes until the stone around the duo seems soft in comparison. "By Pikahl, Wulfgar... we have work to do, friend."

Arilyn looks at the 'liquid' by her feet and then at the drawn sword. She moves her hand to her sword...her patience with Wulfgar's rude behavior, stretching her patience. "Perhaps I know more about gods and goddesses than you think. If we didn't have more important things to do...I would teach you a lesson in swordmanship." The fire in her eyes dies down...and she smiles at Gareth listening to his calming, wise words.

Cole moves himself between the two and speaks to the two as best he can, he seems a bit nervous "Wulfgar is right, it is a fair assumption that none of the gods are causing these murders or the magical disruptions. I have a feeling that we are being led blindly by some higher power,and none of the gods are saying much about it. I too have heard little from Balin and I can assume that the rest of you have had less than normal communications with your dieties." Moving back to the wall he turns away as the body is brought forth thats one less dead body that he will have nightmares about.

Wulfgar turns away from Arilyn and re-sheaths his sword, he steps forward as the body is brought forward. "You shall be avenged my brother, for it is the wish of Callus!" He speaks softly and smoothly.

Arilyn looks up to Wulfgar. "I am sorry if I offended you. This must be difficult for you to see this manner of death in this special place." She shuffles her feet. "Perhaps I was being a bit insensitive." Arilyn gives you a warm, genuine smile.

"Perhaps vengence was already had," Jahl says as he enters the room once again. "I happened to notice a peculiar set of footprints leading to, and away from the temple. The tracks seem to start from and return to the grave site we found just outside the town. The grave looked disturbed too. Just what were the incidents that lead to brother Randos's death? What items did Randos have buried with him? Any beaded holy items or something similar? I know little of Callus, but from what I know, it would be her hand that would allow Randos to avenge his own death. Or perhaps I am being mis-lead with the tracks that I had found... it is late, and I am tired."

Caoimhin listens to the news from Jahl, and sighs. "Well, that settles it. I'd been thinking I was too tired to think clearly about this matter, especially considering the healing I received yesterday, which has tired me more than I realized. If we're heading to a grave in the middle of the night, then I have just enough reason left to say this: I'll be happy to join you all in the morning, when I've had some sleep and there's some light to work with." He turns and heads towards the room, muttering as he goes, "Angels and ministers of grace defend us! Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd..."

Wulfgar turns to face Jahl as he enters at tells of the footprints to and from the grave of Brother Randos. "Perhaps we should take a look at these footprints and see what you have found Jahl, this could be a valuable clue you have found. I thank you and perhaps you are right that Callus is taking some sort of revenge through the spirit or body of Brother Randos. I do not believe that he would do the things I have been told and therefore I am very confused and unsure of whom to trust completely." Wulfgar does not wait anymore and walks outside to check the footprints Jahl spoke of.

"That is very interesting Jahl," Barbaxle responds "something is definitely going on that we don't know about. I would like to have a quick look at the tracks before they get destroyed or tampered with." Barbaxle turns to Gareth and says "I would like to check on the book quickly, then head to bed."

Keldar sags against a nearby wall. "I know this is troublin' an all, but I thinks I gotta sleep now. Sumone take me to a place ta sleep. No offence your holinesses, but I'd rather not sleep in a place where it seems the walkin' dead are stranglin' folks in the night."

Arilyn turns to the group. "I am going to stay here (the temple) tonight. Will we meet at the tavern in the morning, or at Wulfgar's house?"

Cole looks around at the others and has no intentions of chasing walking corpses in the middle of the night so he again helps Keldar and possibly Vincas back to Wulfgars.

Arylin and Caohimin retire to their cells, while Vincas, Kay, Reggie, Keldar, and Cole return to Wulfgars house. The rest retreat to the grave of Randos.

"Jahl," Barbaxle asks when they arrive "did you see anyone else walking around here when you followed these footprints earlier? This looks very weird, I've never heard of anyone coming out of their grave to kill someone and then go back inside. This is not like any undead creature that I have heard of."

"No. I did not see anyone or anything walking around. I found the tracks and discreetly followed them to here. I have heard of only one kind of undead creature that routinely returns to its grave, and I pray we do not run into one of those." Jahl stands back and allows the others to look about.

Wulfgar steps forward quickly and kneels at the side of the grave and examines it closely to see if he can make out any markings from a shovel or was it paws that made the digging. "I feel that I should stay here for the rest of the night!" Once he finishes at the grave he will scout around the surrounding area for tracks.

The knight smoothly dismounts, allowing Emperor's reins to hang loose. "She is well-trained Jahl, and knows not to stray save that her life is in peril, but your thoughtfullness is noted and appreciated." Gareth turns to examine the ground and the method of digging - does it look pushed out or simply dug up? "Wulfgar, as this was a priest of your order, I would suggest that you ask for Callus' blessing and understanding on this matter. Since we know not if the thing within this grave is dead or undead, we must exhume the body. Does anyone possess a shovel? We also require torches there and there [the knight points at each end of the grave]. If we are going to stay here for a spell, let us put the time to good use. This grave has been defiled in some manner; let us find out and put the issue, and two souls, to rest."

Wulfgar looks to Gareth "Well I guess if no one here has a shovel we do it the old fashioned way!" He plunges his hands into the disturbed earth and starts to pull the earth to one side. He prays quietly to Callus as he does this.

After digging by hand and with knives and such for a bit, the coffin is unearthed.

Wulfgar taps on the outside of the box. "Looks like this is it. Now let us see if there is anything inside?" He continues to clear away the soil from the top to see if the box is damaged.

Jahl takes a few steps back from the grave. "I mean no disrespect for your friend Wulfgar," Jahl says as he pulls a dirk out from inside his cloak. "But he is dead and we are not."

Gareth stoicly alternates between scanning the surrounding land and checking on the digging, in between his digging shifts.

"Ok, let's open it up." Barbaxle says "Everyone stand ready, we don't know what is going to happen. I hope that we find a rotting corpse in there and not something that is going to not like getting woke up."

"Wulfgar, I'll leave it to you to examin the body. I would be interested to know if there are any signs that it was indeed Randos that committed the murder, or act of vengance as it may be. An examiniation of the hands may reveal markings or ropeburns or such that would signify his involvement. Perhaps there are markings that would better explain his death too. A knife-wound somewhere vital?" Jahl steps back from peering down the hole.
"In any case I think that we should hurry. Disturbing the dead is not a good omen."

There is indeed a body in the box, and Wulfgar recognizes it as his mentor Randos. All signs present (like no pulse or breathe) concur that the body is indeed dead. You see no signs of tampering in or on the box.

"The suggestion, then, is that either this murdering corpse was able to float through wood and earth, kill the other brother and return here, and all without disturbing anything non-superficial... or there is something else afoot. Remember, it was difficult digging - recently disturbed earth is rather simple to move." Gareth thinks on the matter for a time, stifling a yawn though his eyes water slightly. "To me it suggests either someone wishing to conceal their murderous activities and blaming it on a deceased brother, or someone who wished to dig up Randos' remains for some ill purpose, likely tied to the grisly death of the other brother we encountered. Wulfgar, have any of the brothers here left recently on poor terms with the temple?"

Wulfgar looks up at Gareth "I know not of any brothers who have left here lately. That does not mean there have been none though as I have not been here." He looks back to Randos "Forgive me my friend!" He examines the body for any marks or wounds.

Discovering whip marks upon the body has the group in an uproar.

"These marks are most unusual!" Wulfgar looks at the others "Why would Brother Randos have whip marks on his back? There is definitely something afoot here.!" He stands up and flexes his shoulders trying to relieve some of the stiffness from them. "I think we are finished here, we can fill in the grave and go get cleaned up there are some people who have many questions to answer." He starts to replace the lid on the box. "Do not worry my friend your death shall be investigated and anyone guilty of anything brought to swift justice!"

Gareth suggests that the group get some sleep, it's been a long week.

Wulfgar nods agreement, standing a little weary after all the execise "Yes we should return now and get some sleep and continue this in the morning when we are all fresh and fully recovered.!" He pulls a wineskin from his belt and drinks deeply from the wine contained within. "Arhhh! Anyone else?" He offers the skin to the others.

"I will take some of that water Wulfgar." Barbaxle says "Is everyone going to go to bed? That's where I'm headed. It looks like we have a very big day ahead of us. Come on everyone let's go." On their way back Barbaxle will say "I don't think that everyone will be able to watch the destruction of the Book, so why don't the rest of the group investigate the happenings of Brother Randos."


Turn 109