In any event, the spells will also benefit from the running they're getting in the Trossley campaign. The intrepid trio met again tonight and tasted first blood.
It all started with an offhand remark that the stew at the inn was missing its usual mushrooms. Why? Because Erle the Carter hadn't been by that day with his mushrooms and kindling sticks gathered from the Tulgey Wood. There were some rebuffed attempts to socialize with the hooded, armed figure in the corner of the inn. Then Lesseig the elf hireling and Cordoon the henchman walked in from their side journey to a different tavern, accompanied by a very drunk Erle. Setting out early morning to his favorite mushroom patch, Erle had found the usual plank bridge over the stream by the old abandoned millhouse flooded out, a huge pool collecting behind the sluice-dam of the mill, which had formerly stood open. As he stood there, a thing with a head the size of a pumpkin poked out of the woods, saw him ... and that's when he ran, abandoning his hand-cart.
A dark history of the millhouse quickly spilled from Erle. The owner, Ric the son of Nic, had been losing business to more convenient windmills, set up closer to the grain farmers to the south. He had been seen consorting with a nameless stranger, a fellow with curious lenses set in wires before his eyes. Pretty soon Ric was buying old animal bones from the town and farmers and grinding them into meal. He convinced one farmer to plow his field with it, and the richness of that field's crops that year soon had all the other farmers paying well for sacks of bone meal. After a few years strange things started happening ... with a whispered word you could buy the "special meal" for ten times the price that led to truly unnaturally lush crops. About the same time, graveyards started being found disturbed. The last straw came when children started disappearing. What they found in the millhouse made the posse from the village drag Ric back and burn him alive in a fire.
That was over a year ago. The party resolved to go out to the old millhouse in the morning, retrieve Earl's cart, see about opening the gate and investigate the millhouse. But the figure in the corner intervened. He was a Warden of the Wood, one Burnsteen by name. What he knew about the millhouse, and the possibility of black magic being practiced there, gave him a bad feeling. He wanted to investigate the doings that very night, but thought it ill-advised without assistance. The party agreed to help, and all set out by torchlight.
|Almost like the set-up, here; imagine the Weir is another sluice.|
Peeking through a crack in a shuttered window with infravision, Grumpka came face to face with something warm and peeking back! The party went around the house to find a door in. The room beyond was cluttered with piles of bones ... mostly animal ... and sacks of bone meal. The door in to the presumed millstone room was blocked firmly, but another door yielded. As it did, a clacking sound was heard all around, as true to form, the piles of bones arose, forming four animal-skulled skeletons wielding femurs as clubs! The party rolled really badly to hit at first, and even with Boniface the Militant managing to turn three of the skeletons, it was a very hard slog to smash them, leaving one henchman seriously wounded, Burnsteen hurting, and Grumpka unconscious at 0 hp. Something to put in the cart on the way back ...
So, a retreat was sounded. But the mystery and evil of the millhouse remain. I guess the moral is ... Never overestimate 3 1st level grunts, no matter how many henchmen, hirelings, and "DM special" characters are with them. Total treasure haul: 10cp (on the silver standard) from the dead bugbear's pouch. Stay hungry...