22/03/19: Butcher Farm

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Time to get some answers and some payback.

Score 1429

03/23/24

12/13/1212. night of Darktide.

Moments ago, the boy in the tree started coming to the party when threatened by Odin. He climbed back to the tree, went around the tree, out of site.... and has not been seen since. The party rushed up 18 seconds after last seeing him.

character ex ac hp kit   details
Odin 1 16 17/17   hd: 2/2; spells: 0/3 lv 1; beast shape: 2/2
Wen Mei   18 16/22   hd: 1/2; lay on hands: 0/10; divine sense 1/3
Kasma   15 14/14   hd:2/2; spells: 1/3 lv1; ring -mage armor, identify, burning hands; wand: 2/5; -arcane recovery; mage armor in effect
Jordian   14 15/15   hd: 2/2; spells: 0/3 lv1; healer's kit doses: 11; eyes of the grave: 1/4; staff: 3/5
Es’tonza   14 17/17   hd: 0/2; spells: 3/3 lv1; beast shape: 2/2
Taeleen   15 15/15   hd: 2/2; 

The party discusses their situation, then begins to search around the tree. Finding a tunnel entrance, Odin shifts to a slinker and chases off down the tunnel. Passing a few forks, with the slinker's nose he is able to keep on track. Eventually, he comes up near an outhouse that is in turn near a house.

He returns to the party and they continue down the trail. Once they come over a hill, they see the house another hundred yards away.

You finally reach the crest of the hill where it levels out… the trail continuing to the north. About fifty paces further on, the Butcher Farm finally comes into view.

The farm squats in a small dell below a hill, half-obscured by the unkempt woods growing around it, and set, perhaps, a hundred feet back from the trail. A ramshackle stable juts from the west side of the dilapidated house. The bottom half of the building looks to be the ruins of an old  stone structure, while the rest is aging wood, with haphazard boards nailed here-and-there to fill gaps and plug leaks. A rough wooden shed that serves as a latrine sits in the open a few yards away from the front of the house.

Orange light glows in the small, mismatched windows that look out over the dell, and escapes around the poorly fitted door. A single lantern sways in the night breeze casting shadows that dance in the yard. You see smoke puffing from the crooked chimney, as well as from another pillar that rises from a second structure that is largely hidden from sight by the main building.

A stinking pig-yard stretches around the east side of the farm, encircled with a haphazardly erected fence. A handful of emaciated hogs, undoubtedly the source of the potent stench, grunt and dig through the filth there. You see no one, though the feeling that you are being watched from the windows of the house – and perhaps from the depths of the woods around you – is difficult to shake.

Odin, in slinker form, talks with Kasma, who in turn translates to the party. He heads to the roof, looks around, then returns to his natural form. Dogs inside begin baying and barking as he moves across the roof. He sticks a blanket in the chimney to trap the smoke within.

15+ minutes later, smoke is beginning to come out of the house, but no one emerges. Eventually the party opens the front door; Kasma uses mage hand... and a pair of dogs begin to attack. They go down quickly, but Jordian spares them from dying.

Once the dogs are dealt with, Odin pulls the blanket out of the chimney and they head into the house.

 The interior of the house is lit by a candle chandelier and hanging lanterns. The place looks reasonably swept and dusted, but nearly everything within is worn and faded. The floorboards sag visibly where the foot traffic is naturally heaviest. The windows are not curtained, however… though that is what you thought when looking from the outside. They are frosted over with a semi-opaque coating, which is something typically only seen in nobles’ homes.

The center of the room is dominated by a long table that is missing one of its six legs. It is surrounded by a wobbly assortment of mismatched stools and chairs. On its top are more of the moonshine jugs and some cups. Beyond the table, a stained counter-top stretches along the east wall, crowned with several piles of battered tin plates, cracked wooden cutlery, and chipped ceramic bowls. A dying fire sputters in the hearth on the northern wall; a badly stuffed pig’s head is mounted above, with two dry bundles of grass crossed behind it and a green glass bottle in its mouth.

Two hallways run off from the room… one in the north, and another in the west. The corners to either side of the halls each have a few chairs set nearby. More candles are scattered around the room on the windowsills. Just inside the doorway is a wooden pillar with several hooks; a dark yellow scarf with the Butcher Clan emblem embroidered upon it hangs from one, and a large, iron key from another. Even after the commotion caused by the hounds, no one emerges to confront you.

Odin initially checks out the hallways

The hallways stretch to the north and west. Both are dimly lit. Neither hall seems to be level, as the far ends of both appear several inches lower than where they meet at the main room of the house. Long, dirty rugs run much of the length of each hall – the north rug bunching up a bit at the far end. On closer inspection, you can make out a strange mixture of hybrid Human and animal figures decorating the rugs, along with twisting vines and long stalks of grain, though most of the details have been lost to long use. Two doors open on either side of the north hallway, each with a small oil-lamp fixture hanging on the wall beside it.

Both lamps are turned down low. At the far end of the passage, a back door can be seen. In the west hallway are two doors… one on the north wall and a second on the south wall. Another lamp hangs next to the southern door. There are no other distinguishing features in the dimly lit passages.

Then he joins Kasma and the others as they explore the kitchen.

The small room smells of stewing meat and is obviously the kitchen for the house. A candle chandelier hangs from the ceiling casting low light in the area. To the south, a large cauldron bubbles over the low-burning fire – a large metal ladle hangs from a hook next to the cauldron. In the east, beneath a frosted window, is a counter covered with pots and dishes that appear to be much in need of washing. Across the room, against the west wall, is a set of upper and lower cupboards with a stained, wood  counter-top placed on top of the lower set of cabinets. A large knife is embedded in the wood with a fresh-baked pie sitting nearby. In the northwest, a thin staircase descends into darkness. There is little of value in the room other than the modest-quality pots and pans. These could be sold for a few silvs.

The stairway descends to a larder. The pie is a porcupine pie (deee-lishious!). 

Odin begins to eat the pie as Es'tonza leads Kasma into the larder.

The stairs groan as you descend into the larder. It is little more than a dark hole dug into the earth, though the Butcher Family has hammered several wooden shelves directly into the dirt walls. Jars, jugs, sacks, and other assorted containers for preserved food line the shelves or sit in piles on the floor. A few bundles of herbs and strips of meat hang from the ceiling to dry

In the larder, Es'tonza, Kasma, and Taeleen are attacked by rabid racoons. Es'tonza and Kasma are bitten before the raccoons are killed.

Back up on the main floor, they head down the hall. The next room is a bedroom where a pair attack the party.

Over Jordian's objections, Odin takes their heads once they are defeated.

Searching the room, under a floorboard, they find a chest. Taeleen picks the lock but is nearly killed by the poisoned needle. Inside the chest is:  40sp, 19gp, 11pp, and a healing potion.

While Jordian works to save Taeleen, Odin, in bear form, checks out the next room and is shot by a granny with a crossbow.

She puts up quite a fight, but is finally subdues her. Three other arrive and begin attacking the party.

After they are defeated and their heads taken for proof of kill, the party ties up granny and searches both rooms finding a silver, in addition to some other treasure.

The room beyond is fairly large, though it feels cramped by the four sets of rickety bunk-beds crammed within – one against each wall. A squarish, crooked window with frosted glass is in the northern wall. Rectangular chests sit at the end of each of the beds. A hook has been hammered into the wall beside the door… a small, silver key hangs from it. Several sconces around the room hold burning candles, providing a reasonable amount of light.

The party rests [short rest], then deals with the rats in the stable, collecting several unspoiled wheels of cheese and some coin hidden in the hay.

The last area to investigate is a hall closet. Odin moves with a purpose, opening the door, and while not surprised is slightly ahead of the party as he is attacked.

At first the room beyond this closed door looks to be dark, but after a moment you see the slightest flicker of light dancing beneath the door.

The door creaks loudly as you push it open. The small space within looks to be a closet, with uneven shelves stacked against three walls, mostly holding linens and clothes, with other knick-knacks stuck between the folded stacks of cloth. A broom leans in the corner, and a feather duster has fallen from one of the shelves onto the floor. Standing against the far wall, a short, broad-shouldered woman in a paisley dress and apron holds a candlestick in one hand and a fire iron in the other. Hunched defensively in front of her is a large mastiff, which begins a low growl as you open the door.

“Sic ‘em. Ripper!” she yells, and on command the hound lunges toward you with a snarl. Soon a afterwards she joins in, swinging the fire iron in dangerous arc.

The hallway turns out to be a tactical advantage to her, keeping most of the rest of the party away. It does not afford her enough advantage to save the life of either her or her dog.

With her is a mismatched collection of silverware is badly tarnished, but if polished up is worth about 25gp altogether. There is also a rather nice porcelain tea set with one cup that is chipped in a box (5gp value). Joan also has Joan’s Letter, on her person.

As Odin, in bear form, starts to take her head, Jordian tries to restrain the bear. Odin eventually adds her head to the collection, but they realized the floor beneath creaked too much. Moving the rug, they find a locked trapdoor. Looking at their two keys, they find that the silver key unlocks it.

They discuss the attic access, just down the hall, but decide to check out the tunnel.

A rough tunnel has been dug here. The uneven dirt walls have scraggly roots sticking out along the entire length, and the passage is only four and a half feet tall, requiring most of you to stoop to pass through. The air is moist and cool, and virtually no light escapes through the cracks of the trapdoors to illuminate the dark corridor. You can see that the Butcher Clan has stored a number of broken pots, old burlap sacks, rusty meat hooks, and other extraneous items of little value down here in small alcoves
dug into the earthen walls.

Shifting to slinker form, Odin leads Kasma down the tunnel. Others follow, crawling or stooping and waddling. Less than a hundred feet, the tunnel ends with another door, also locked, and also opened by the silver key.

Wen Mei steps up, then climbs up into the room.

The interior of the shed is a single large room dominated by a big copper Still that sits against the eastern wall, opposite the door. The glow of the fire beneath it joins the light of several lanterns that hang from sturdy wooden pillars along the center of the room. They provide dim, yet adequate lighting throughout the windowless, stone-walled shed.

Numerous large, storage barrels sit beside the still, and corroded metal tubes extend from it into the bungholes of four of them. A small table sits beside it with a number of items carefully laid out upon it, including several that look familiar to you. A long table against the southern wall holds dozens of ceramic jugs, with even more stashed beneath. Two of the barrels sit at the end of the table, where they can be drained into the jugs for easier distribution and consumption.

Beside the table, near the entrance, is a trapdoor in the floor. All along the western and northern walls are rows of large, filthy meat hooks, many of which hold hog carcasses. A table in the northeast of the shed is covered in blood and an array of sharp tools for butchering meat. The floor is dirt, with a layer of molding hay strewn about to catch the worst of the bloody mess.

At first you don’t see anyone in here, but a muffled groan draws your attention to the northern wall. To your horror, you see that two of the carcasses are not hogs, but men, stripped naked, beaten bloody, and hung by fetters on their knees. One of them does not stir, and is so covered in lacerations he must surely be dead. However, the other periodically twitches in pain.

Before you can move to assist the groaning man, the still lets out a deafening whistle, and the pipes start to shudder from over-pressurization. To your bewilderment, the mass of metal and pipes begins to move, uprooting from the floor to stand in a vaguely humanoid shape – with pipes for limbs, barrels as feet, and balled fists made from pipe. With another ear-splitting whistle it begins to lurch towards you.

he mechanical creature is flanked by a screaming, wild-looking woman with meat-hooks on her arms
who jumped out of hiding from behind the animated still!

Wen Mei straps on her shield while Lyla casts a spell causing swirling mists to encircle her like armor. The still begins lumbering across the room and other party members pile into the room.

When Jordian looks at Lyla's holy symbol, he recognizes it as being of Ufluns.

The battle is fierce, with Taeleen knocking Lyla out and the party fighting hard against the monstrosity that is the animated still.

Just when they think the battle is over, they learn that it is just beginning.

With a final blow the animated Still comes crashing to the floor of the shed, falling to pieces in a pile of bent pipes, splintered barrels, and dented sheets of copper. Boiling liquor gushes out, and great banks of steam rapidly fill the room.

Rather than dispersing, the hot mist from the broken pipes begins to condense around the ruined Still, while the puddle of hot wort rises to meet it. An amorphous pool of distillate forms and hangs in the air, before flowing into a bodily shape that turns its attention to you. With a hiss of steam, it flies at you.

  • Taeleen, Wen Mei, and Es'tonza all fall fighting the moonshine elemental.
  • Odin and Jordian get the last remaining guardsman, Jonus, off the meat hooks. Kasma gives Taeleen a healing potion.
  • Jordian uses a healing kit on Jonus. Odin ties the hands of Lyla, waking her (having been knocked unconscious by Taeleen's critical hit). She commands him to untie, then she inflicts wounds on him. He shifts to bear form and ends her, continuing to rip after she stops resisting.

- end of session -

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