I’ve noticed you’ve been keeping copious notes on our journeys since Attainment, so I figured I’d scribble out a report on our encounter at the dropbox when Patrick and I went to meet Malcolm, since you weren’t present. I think you’ll agree it was quite the spectacle.
We caught up with Mal on a calm, quiet night. I should say, he caught up with us, as Patrick and I didn’t realize where Mal had hid himself until he poked his head out. He hadn’t yet seen any activity, but as we told him what had happened at the Sigrid River bridge, we heard some heavy wings and footsteps from that direction. Malcolm set himself back in his lookout point, and Patrick and I hid nearby and listened for voices.
We heard a conversation between two members of the conspiracy. Somone important seemed to be meeting with a more local leader. The local turned out to be Richard May, the Cleric of Werrickshire, and his superior was none other than Tholme! But I’m getting ahead of myself. The discussion centered on our escapades, so we should cetainly believe that Gandean agents are keeping tabs on us. The Cleric was asking Tholme for more aid or reinforcements of some sort, since he had misgivings about being able to handle us and our investigation. Tholme however was quite reticent about committing more resources to stopping us, worried about tipping their hand too soon.
Before they could resolve this disagreement, Patrick blow our cover by stepping on and loudly snapping a twig. Tholme began to walk towards us to investigate, so Patrick summoned an eagle to attack him. A brief fight ensued, involving some magical pits, an earth elemental, and Tholme’s pegasus—-that being the wings we heard previously—-which ended with Richard May running from us with Mal and I in pursuit, and Tholme flying away but chased by Patrick’s summoned creatures.
Mal shortly gave up pursuit, thinking he could track Richard later, so I also halted and turned around. As we did so, Tholme came crashing out of the sky nearby, victim of a quite clever trick of Patrick’s. An enlargement spell had made the man so large the horse couldn’t carry him, causing him to fall. You’ll have to ask him how that worked; I am little schooled in spellcraft, as you well know.
At this point, Tholme was quite badly hurt. Malcolm did what he could to aid him, and I bound him so that even injured, he couldn’t escape. We also collected some items from Tholme and from the dropbox, including 50 GP, 100 PP, a healing potion, some masterwork quality equipment including a chain shirt, a longsword, and a heavy steel shield, and some lesser quality works including a dagger, shortbow, and arrows. There was also a bundle of papers in the dropbox that I have not yet begun to search through, but I’m sure we’ll find some interesting tidbits within.
Malcolm woke Tholme with some smelling salts, and we began to question him—-more humanely, I must say, than certain other recent interrogations, though of course not without some of Patrick’s usual shenanigans. It was at this point that we learned his identity, although I had realized after losing him in the woods that I did recognize his companion. It took a bit of time to get Tholme talking, but in time and with some coaxing, he had quite a bit to say.
Tholme was quite critical of our fair Sherrif, the Antistitor Primoris Bernard Corson. He seemed to be trying to indicate that Corson is using us in some way, although I strongly suspect he was trying to grasp at anything to put me off guard.
He confirmed Richard May’s identity, and noted that he was likely running up the Cow Path toward a safe house—-one hidden in a literal pile of dung, somewhere ten miles to the east. I suspect we’ll be able to find him there once we all meet back up (which surely has already happened if you’re reading this).
He gave his justification for the conspiracy, claiming that Styness is turning in on itself and not producing anything of value to the world. He noted that his agents offer Gandea necromancy technology in exchange for information about the world beyond the Stynessian sphere of influence. While talking, he seemed to indicate that he was a believer in Lorr, the “God” of Gandea.
I was able to ask him what he know about the goblins that attacked us initially on the road to Rholv. It was his belief that they had acquired their amulet and phylacteries as a result of some experiment of the Gandeans. I’m not fully convinced this is the whole story, but it also seems that Tholme does not know or control everything his Gandean allies do.
Significantly, Tholme did indicate that the conspiracy currently has no agents inside the clergy, and so they do not yet know the ritual that makes Stynessian skeletons special. They know that it involves prayers and spells, as well as a material component, the phylacteries. It seems they get phylacteries to experiment on from captured skeletons [I had written “capt skelts” in my notes and was trying to remember who this captain was until I figured out what I’d actually meant]. However, they have not been able to fully reverse-engineer the process of creating and endowing them.
At this point, we had no further questions. I was of course unwilling to kill Tholme in cold blood, but he was not healthy enough to travel with us and we weren’t quite equipped to take another prisoner, so we decided to leave him and let his ancestors decide his fate. Patrick suggested taking some hair clippings from him, seeming to think that you might know a way to use this to learn whether he lived or not.
As we prepare to sleep for what’s left of the night, the healing potion seems to have gone missing. My suspicion is that Malcolm gave it to Tholme to ease his final hours, but I didn’t see for sure. In any case, I’m not going to confront him about it, as it was probably the right thing to do. Mal wanted to try to track Richard through the woods as soon as possible, but I suspect it may be better for us all to regroup first, since we’re quite confident we know where he is.
I know you and I previously had misgivings about the nature of our mission and the motivations of the Sherrif, so here’s my current thinking (so that Erik doesn’t overhear). There still may or may not be something nefarious behind his sending us out here, but whether he’s involved or not there certainly seems to be something that some important people want to hide from the public. I don’t yet advocate any deviation from our current mission, but is it possible that we’re fighting on the wrong side? Just some food for thought for now, and we should certainly be careful in discussing it as I don’t want to risk sacrificing the relative autonomy Eric has given us so far, nor the friendship of our more explosively nationalistic friends.
Once you’ve had a chance to read through this, I’ll of course be happy to fill you in on any other details you have questions about. I’m also sure you’ll want to perform whatever wizardry you do to integrate my report with your own notes, since I know how much you like to cross-reference information.
Until then, I am as always, your faithful friend,