Early the next morning, Doctor Asclepis determines that Daniel Glick’s wounds were beast-inflicted, confirming the innocence of the Risen Adventurers. Lumen privately shows the doctor the werewolf bite on his arm, but unfortunately the man has not encountered lycanthropy and misguidedly prescribes simple antibiotics, leading the ranger to stock up on enough of this medicine to start taking double the prescribed dose. Despite the seriousness of his own infection (filth fever), Poobeyr decides to man his way back to full health.
It is here in the village clinic that the Risen meet Keyleth Glick, Daniel’s older sister. She is grateful to Grimlock for killing the werewolf responsible for the death of her brother and for carrying his body into Raylack. The young half-elf accompanies the warriors back to the Slaughtered Lamb to inform Sheriff Brandis of the doctor’s findings. The owner of the inn, Draevek Norn, is concerned that a local farming family has not been seen for over two weeks. When he encounters this formidable-looking group, he employs them to visit the Toulson’s farmstead home on the village outskirts. It is agreed that payment will be given once the welfare of the three Toulsons has been determined.
Keyleth, perhaps a little smitten with the impressive new dragonborn in her life, offers to come along and help. She is training to be a warlock, and promises that she is very capable in a fight. On the road to the property the usual sounds of the country wash over the group – birdsong, rustling tree branches and the steady beat of their own walking feet (a great bass boom in Grimlock’s case). After twenty minutes they arrive at the farmhouse, and Wistark knocks on the front door. No-one answers. As he knocks again, harder this time, Grimlock walks around the side of the house and sees an out house. He has been struggling to hold in a dinosauric level of shit for some time and, after looking quickly through the farmhouse window, goes to do his lizardy business.
Having shouted and received no reply, Wistark tries the farmhouse door and finds it unlocked. He enters slowly with Poobeyr, Lumen and Keyleth, but there are no armed marauders waiting. The group spread across the room and find scattered pages from the diary of Farmer Matthew Toulson. They detail disturbing disappearances from the Toulson’s herd and a strange encounter with a man called Joseph Curwen. Lumen opens a cupboard in the corner of the room, but no Toulsons hide within. Another diary entry reads of the vicious slaughter of the Toulson’s cattle herd, and of Matthew’s son Thomas who was sent on his father’s horse to Raylack village two weeks before, but did not arrive and was never seen again.
While Wistark reads aloud from these diary fragments, Poobeyr loses interest and heads upstairs. He finds two bedrooms – one clearly decorated for a little girl and the other for a little boy. As he tries the third door, Wistark joins him on the landing and they enter together. This is clearly the master bedroom, but that is not what immediately grabs their attention. A man lies on the bed in a pool of blood. It appears to have come from cuts on his own arms. He glances at the two men as they enter, then loses interest and stares upwards. He repeats the words “Bihrast Skalyan”, his breath getting shorter and shorter until he breathes his last and passes on.
Taking the last written diary entries from Matthew Toulson‘s hand, Wistark learns that in his last days Matthew was haunted by whispers in his mind. He deciphered phrases: “Dagon”, “Urlyah” and “The valley is where we rise”, then followed this last hint northeast to the valley known as Branock’s Gorge. By the day of his return he had completely lost his mind. But what of his two children: Thomas and Isabella? Wistark wonders if perhaps they have been taken to that valley.
Poobeyr finds 100ip in a chest at the foot of the bed. Having been thwarted of 2ip the night before, he tries to conceal his find from Wistark, but fails. Wistark is annoyed by the man’s petty selfishness, but is too concerned about the present situation to quarrel about it. He returns downstairs and informs Lumen of the body and diary entry. Grimlock is also present, having finished clogging up the out house. To spite Poobeyr, Wistark also informs the pair of the pess in the farmer’s chest. With the farmhouse fully explored, the group head back outside. The tool shed is empty save for farming tools and a large scythe, which Keyleth equips herself with. Over at the barn, Grimlock kicks open the tall wooden doors and a wave of sick nausea rolls over all present.
Encounter: Psychic Squatters
Isabella’s partially eaten body hangs from a noose inside the barn. All hell suddenly breaks loose, and the group are attacked by powerful psychic monsters. Stunned by the ferocity of the mental assault, the Risen Adventurers take a suggestion from Lumen to barricade themselves in the barn during the fight to divide their enemies. The tactic works and they emerge victorious. Wistark uses the dagger cloud to cut Isabella’s body down from the rope. She is long dead, but perhaps Thomas Toulson is still alive, held captive in Branock’s Gorge.
Since the gorge is a day’s journey away, Poobeyr mounts his horse and rides to Raylack to update the innkeeper. The other adventurers leave the stench of the barn behind and travel northeast. When Poobeyr rejoins the group shortly before nightfall, they are in a forest on the edge of a dark, misty swamp. This swamp lies directly on the path to the gorge and therefore must be crossed. Lumen finds a trail of footprints in the mud which may show a safe path through the bog, and the group follow it into the mist.
Encounter: Lights and Mist
Unfortunately, it is a perilous place, and the adventurers soon find themselves exchanging blows with a large group of swamp creatures and a powerful Will o’ the Wisp, which has the power to compel targets to leap into danger. During this battle the mist lifts and the waning moon is revealed, causing Lumen to have an agonising convulsion. The pain passes and he is able to continue fighting. In the end all adversaries lie dead and the adventurers walk unopposed out of the misty swamp.
One uncomfortable night without sleeping sacks later, the group reach the entrance to Branock’s Gorge. Arriving quietly, they peer down the rocky valley and see that it is swarming with monsters. Floating tentacle creatures and flesh lump demons mass at the valley’s bottom. Sixty feet above them stand stocky crab beasts, looking over the gorge from high cliff faces. Though it looks grim, Thomas Toulson could be alive here somewhere. The adventurers break from routine and approach stealthily.
Encounter: Battle of Wills
They get quite close, but then a teleporting vorpal beast appears in front of Poobeyr and plucks him from the battlefield to dump him in the middle of the monsters, alerting them instantly to his presence. The Risen begin an incredibly hard battle against these fiends, but their troubles have only just started. A huge, mystic wall of tentacles stands at the end of the gorge, and it assaults the group with a constant tide of dizzying psychic attacks. Unifying under the mental fortress of Grimlock Skullfucker, the group are able to temporarily fend off this barrage and concentrate on dispatching their enemies.
Wistark recognises the tentacle wall from ancient tales – a Fini, which can only be destroyed by powerful necromantic arts. A misshapen 12ft giant emerges from the void to lumber into the fray. Lumen recognises its face from pictures at the farm – the monster is an insane, disfigured Thomas Toulson. The adventurers unite against the twisted figure and Keyleth destroys it, enraging Grimlock by “stealing his kill”. The Fini blasts the group with another mental attack, and this time the dragonborn cannot hold it back. The group are overwhelmed and pass out.
They wake up two days later to find themselves in Raylack under the care of Tanis Asclepis, having been rescued by mercenaries of the Iron Circle. The fighting men of the village have accompanied the mercenaries to Branock’s Gorge, and are not expected back for at least another day. With all three Toulsons dead, the Risen rise from their beds at noon to give their report to Draevek Norn, and gratefully accept a substantial reward. Feeling charitable, Poobeyr also shares out some of the Toulsons’ savings. Grimlock’s fierce anger from two days earlier remains, and he spends the mid-day hours killing deer to dispel his foul mood. Everyone else is simply glad that for now the battle is over.