We have disembarked at Fauligmere. I almost turned around and swam after the departing barge. What IS that smell? There just seems to be no relief from it anywhere! Sigmar plug my nostrils and save me from this wretched stench; I beseech you!
This place is a gods forsaken end of the world pit of despair. The folk here are kind but very poor and the village, which is a generous appellation for this 2-pig midden in the edge of nowhere, is terribly small. Growing up, my father would likely never have bothered to stop to trade here unless making a delivery.
We were met at the docks by a small flock of village children and led to the center of town. Oh, and they have a temple! We passed it on the way into town. It's dedicated to Manaan, no surprise there. But it's awfully run down and I have to wonder if there's actually a priest in residence. No doubt our Esme will be paying them a visit.
Once in the "town square" we met His Weirdness, The Baron Eldred von Stoefer. He walks about with a pigeon, "von Schnell", riding on his shoulder as if he fancies himself some sort of citified pirate with a pigeon instead of a parrot. He strikes me as rather puffed up and perhaps a bit witless. We are enjoined to settle ourselves into the 3 Hogs and arrive for dinner at his "Manor" at 4 pm. This little place has enough traffic to support an inn?!
As the Baron departed, we made our way to the inn to get settled. The innkeeper seems a very nice fellow by the name of Thomas de Good. He manages the place with his wife, Emma, and their children: Elise, Ingrid, Linda, Miriam, and little Carroll. One boy with 4 older sisters. I fear life really won't be easy for poor Carroll. After a light meal and getting our sleeping arrangements worked out, we decided to explore this little place before heading to our dinner appointment.
The folk here are kind enough, especially after learning that Father Anders has sent us to help with their "witch problem" and while at the inn, we put together a more thorough picture of the events that brought us here.
Apparently some nights back there had been some sort of commotion among the dogs in town well past the witching hour. The townsfolk, expecting a bogtopus or some other swamp creature had somehow made its way into town, picked up whatever weapons they had to hand and ran out into the night to investigate. What they found was a great surprise in the form of a poorly dressed young man with unruly golden hair and flashing blue eyes lurking in a corner of the village in the darkness. When approached by the townsfolk and asked to identify himself and his purpose there, he ignored their questions and began to sing very oddly and lights danced around his hands and his eyes seemed almost to glow. An ill omen if ever there was. When one of the villagers grew restless and advanced upon him, he attacked with magik most foul! An unnatural fire shot from his fingertips and blasted poor young Pirn, throwing him back some feet and leaving him badly burned. Perhaps realizing he was outnumbered, the witch then fled by leaping clear over the village palisade and vanished into the night.
We first visited the local healer, Saskia van Ust, who was caring for poor Pirn ven Bek's burns. Cy was able to assist her somewhat which earned us some more favor among the locals. Pirn's accounting of the incident mostly matched that of the other villagers, but he mentioned the the fire seemed to take the form of a scampering rat as it ran down his arms, jumped from his hands, and shot out toward him.
Also under Seskia's care was Stefan Vassar who is the local leader of the "bog hunters" who provide most of the food and raw supplies for trade by hunting "bog octopus" and other marsh creatures. He has been wounded in an encounter with a particularly large bogtopus. He has taken a liking to us and lent me his fine spear and net to use in our attempt to rid the town of the witch. He warned me that if we met "the Beast" we should either run or stand very still. He described the Beast as a monstrously large bog octopus.
We learned there is a hermit of sorts, "old Sep", who lives in a cave on a hill overlooking the Knochenmere.
We learned that the old priest, Marbad, seems to have died about the same time as the town's troubles began some years now. The current priest, Jacob Sausig, seems to be a drunken wretch, content to spend most of his days at the bottom of a bottle. Esme didn't take that very well and seems to have made reforming him her personal mission while we're here. She's rather aggressive, but that seems to be her way in most things, and I hope she is successful for his sake and ours. Angering Manaan when our primary mode of travel is over water seems quite risky. But she is a Novice of Shallya, so I trust she knows what she's doing.
At the appointed time, we made our way to the Baron's Manor home and were startled to find it not just covered in pigeons on the outside, but that they also had free run, or flight, of the interior as well. Our Esme was horrified to see them perched over the dinner table on the chandeliers and servants stood all around the table with parasol's to ward off the birds from perching or pooping on us as we dined. Amazingly, while the furniture and servants were fairly coated in old droppings, the table and food was miraculously unsullied. Still, Esme, unable to contain her disgust, did manage to offend the Baron somewhat. I hope that wont come back to trouble us later. We are also not his only guests at dinner. He has an elf staying with him! He introduced her as Velluria of Ultham. Also at dinner were his wife, Gwendolina, with raven hair, and his mother Theodora who's hair has greyed with her age.
Velluria informs us she here seeking a rather ancient shipwreck thought to be in what has now become the marshland. On the ship, "Star of Ithlamar", are rumored to be great treasures and she says we can have all we want if we find it for her, but she claims some necklace or amulet must be returned to her.
While gossiping a bit with the help, we learned that "old Sep" the Hermit is actually Linko Sep and was Theodora's servant some time ago. He left her employ under mysterious circumstances and has taken up residence nearby for reasons we cannot ferret out. After dinner, we return to the inn to rest up for an expected busy day tomorrow.