The days since losing Georgi had passed quickly. With no leads on the vanishing fog and limited funds, the party continued the path laid before them. Rumors had spread of recent murders in the fields surrounding the nearby village of Haven.
It was a less than a day's travel before the scent of oranges was carried by a cool breeze from a nearby orchard. The fields alongside the dirt road are heavy with chicory, beets, and asparagus ready for harvest. Up ahead, a raggedy scarecrow had been erected and was beset by a murder of crows. Despite the burlap clothing and straw hat, the obsidian cloud swarms the poor bogeyman. Angry caws erupt from the birds as the strangers approach and scatter the flock. A crimson pool can be seen coagulating beneath the straw man's dangling feet.
PLAYER ACTIONS – Deadline 5/16/17
Aloysius and Serg move closer to the dangling form searching for some kind of explanation. The aroma of recently exposed entrails baking in the sun quickly sours any thought of a warm meal in town. What previously appeared to be canvas from a distance, was in fact, the remnants of dissolved clothing and flesh with a gaping wound where a living human’s abdomen would normally be. The figure itself appears impaled upon a wooden signpost.
Standing away from the others, Cornelius spots a dull shimmer. Amidst a dusty pile, he notices a small paring knife with several slivers of dirt-smeared orange rinds. Boot tracks appear to be walking away from town until they intersect deep-clawed furrows in the adjacent field. A dried spattering of blood is seen on the ground several feet away. Cornelius looks toward the others to let them know what he has found when he hears a ‘thunk.’
DEXTERITY CHECK (2) – Aloysius and Edward
A well-placed kick from the wiry prizefighter manages to dislodge a small coin purse and a significant remainder of the suspended figure’s small intestine. As if with precognitive awareness, the professor shuffles away from the pool before harm could be done, but the same could not be said for the formerly fine leather of Edward’s shoes. Serg stares intensely at Edward as the gory droplets fall just short of his staff.
The coin purse lies securely in a coil of intestine.
PLAYER ACTIONS – Deadline 5/22/17
The steady impact of Serg’s hatchet into signpost stops with a splintering crack as the post and body collapse to the ground.
“Now that’s how you respect the dead.” Ed comments with a sidelong smirk while still examining his footwear. Most of the splatter appears to have been successfully wiped away.
Ignoring the others, Aloysius delicately works the coin purse strings avoiding contact with the sticky gore. For the effort, a handful of copper pennies and a single silver crown are the only contents inside the pouch.
Serg finishes extracting the signpost from the corpse and tosses it to the side. While preparing the man for a final rest, he finds a deck of playing cards, five wooden orbs poorly painted in a variety of solid colors, a small iron dagger, waterskin, and a couple strips of barely-identifiable jerked meat.
The noonday sun shines brightly overhead.
PLAYER ACTIONS – Deadline 5/30/17
Edward eyes the slices of orange peel and paring knife lying in the dirt. Bootprints originating from the nearby village disappear without a noticeable change in the victim’s stride. The furrowed claw marks indicate the assault was sudden by a large creature such as a bear.
“Bet the poor sod never saw it comin” muses Edward while Cornelius absently nods in agreement.
Serg finishes the burial and makes note of the writing on the maligned signpost. “Edward, you should have honored the warnings at the orchard.” Amidst the blood smears down the wooden post, a warning to stay away from the orange orchard is clearly carved into the sign. A resigned sigh is heard from the Professor.
With little left to do, the group gathers their possessions and completes the trek to the town. A deep rumble from Cornelius’ stomach gives indication that he has not enjoyed being delaying his midday meal for two hours. The four wanderers stroll into a nearby inn to obtain lodging and a bite to eat. Approaching the barkeep, muttering about the traveler that came into town juggling oranges can be heard. It was very apparent that he had been sent on his way before the “guardian” rampaged.
PLAYER ACTIONS – Deadline 6/8/17
“Sounds like the barmy fool that came through the other day.” Grumbled a fellow with a dark sneer sitting at the bar. “There’s signs everywhere and even the illiterate should have been able to understand steering clear of that cursed orchard.” He finishes his drink in a single motion and beckons the barkeep for another.
The barkeep eyes the attire of Edward and grabs a bottle of whiskey from the bottom shelf. Taking note of the Professor’s reaction, he speaks before pouring the second drink. “That’ll be ten copper pence.”
“I’m just glad the demon didn’t follow that drifter into town. We’ve lost too many of our own to the carelessness of travelers.” The sneering man quips giving the party a suspicious look. “A magic orange orchard to celebrate the victory of King William of Orange. How wrong we were.”
PLAYER ACTIONS – Deadline 7/28/17