Pursuit of Horrors

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 photo Scarecrow_zpsmcukp4ac.jpg

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 coppers and a single silver piece 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

Comments

As everyone stares at the scene in silence, Ed removes a slender pocket knife and gouges it into the yielding flesh of a purloined orange. With swift and meticulous cuts, the rind is severed and falls in his wake as he strides towards the malfunctioning scarecrow.

Mindful of his expensive Italian leather shoes, Ed comes to a stop just beyond the reach of the pooling corruption. “Ain’t much a scarecrow issit?” His knife flicks toward the field’s grisly mascot before tucking itself into the fruit’s ripe innards. Moments after the first bite reaches his lips, his arms swing back and he violently kicks the post to try and bring the corpse back down to the earth.

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Aloysius eyes the murder of crows as they ascend away from the group. He observes them for any symbol or pattern to their flight. Ancient man believed that birds told many truths and warned of impending dangers. He stares a little to long in their direction before remembering the pool of blood. At least that’s Aloysius’ first instinct as to what the pool is.

Before approaching, Aloysius takes a few deep, controlled breaths to help focus his prana. He has been doing this for years after reading about it in some ancient Sanskrit tablet. With mild trepidation Aloysius approaches the pool. Much like the birds, he is looking for something. Something familiar. He focuses out everything else in the area and looks for any symbols around or in the pool. Blood has always been an excellent conductor of the magics.

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With a sigh, Serg wanders around to the side of the hanging figure. “I reckon we ought to pull him down?”, he mutters almost to himself. Dropping his pack on the ground several feet from the gore and grabbing his staff, Serg continues his circle around to the back of the hanging form. Keeping an eye out to how the figure is held up, Serg gently prods the thing to establish how tightly it is adhered to the pole. There is no point in wasting energy if it can be brought to the ground gently.

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UPDATE COMPLETE

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“That is no way to respect the deceased!” Serg exclaimed at Edward’s violent action against the dead body.

Serg goes to his pack and returns with a small hatchet, and begins to hack away at the sign post. This is disgusting work, but it is wrong to leave a body uninterred – especially one so horribly misused. The coin purse is tossed to the side and Serg begins his grusome task with a will to see it done.

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Aloysius immediately looks to the blood splatter and placement of the fallen intestines for some sort of message. His brain works through a multitude of potential magicks and soothsaying techniques. A tribe in Papua New Guinea was known to tell how a man passed by running his hand across the small intestine. A small tribe in the middle of the Amazon was known to tell the future using the innards of animals dropped from tree branches. The Ojibwa tribe said that a man’s life force was strong even in the smallest drop of blood, and with the right ritual, could speak to the dead…

Nothing jumps out. May need to brush up on those particular tomes when he gets back to the office.

Aloysius shakes himself from his thoughts and goes for the coin purse. He first pulls it close to his ear and gives it a little shake before opening it.

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Ed scowls and spits an unchristian oath as he backs away from the corpse’s gruesome noodles.

“Nor a fine pair of Torgo Peccati’s,” he snaps at Serg as he bends down to rigorously scrape the bowels off with a silken handkerchief. Frowning fiercely at his efforts, then at the ruined silk, Ed throws the handkerchief to the ground in disgust.

“This had better be worth it,” Ed mutters, his eyes narrowing on the doctor and the coin purse.

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UPDATE COMPLETE

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Aloysius takes a single copper, holds it to his mouth, and whispers “the Prayer of Safe Passage” to Mammon the god of money and wealth. “See him to the other side…,” Aloysius squints under the noon day sun, “where ever he may be going.” He then places the coin into the deceased’s mouth and closes it. “Edward, you seem keen on this,” Aloysius says while tossing the coin purse to Edward.

Still clutched in his other had is the silver piece. There is a lot of power in silver for those that know how to use it. Looking around Aloysius knows that none of these lot would know what to do with it other than use it to buy something. Or on werewolves. But then, that would be silly. Silver doesn’t really WORK on the were-kinds, not really.

“So fellows, what now?”

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As he finishes filling in the shallow grave just off the side of the field opposite the road Serg pockets the small knife and turns to the other items he found. He opens up the waterskin, sniffing at the contents to verify if the flask is still reusable. Then he scans the deck, checking for completeness – long, rainy nights with nothing to do have become a common occurance lately and a little game could help raise spirits. FInally he, looks to the discs. They strike him as familiar – maybe a game of youth, but he can’t quite place it…

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After a final yet intense squint towards the wayward silver, the copper laden purse swiftly finds a new home in Edward’s vest. Following a furtive glance towards his footwear, the cool indifference returns to his gaze which wanders the scene in a studied display of disinterest.

Noticing the mute carny for the first time, Ed meanders over to see what has Cornelius crouching so intently. “The circus-man has found isself a clue?” he muses aloud as he inspects the claw raked ground and sun-dried blood.

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UPDATE COMPLETE

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Serg orders an ale and then approaches a few of the patrons discussing the juggling stranger. “What did this entertainer look like? We just came across someone in one of the fields just outside of the town who had some oranges with him.”

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“Rather quiet fellow if I recall. A listless sort, content to just hang around. Gutless too, I’d wager.” Ed mutters darkly as he steps past Serg on his way to the bar.

“Whiskey, neat, courtesy of the man in the ill fitting suit.” Ed leans against the bar after pointing out the Professor, then turns to the barkeep. “Despite his attire, he’s recently found some good fortune along the road. An’ happiness shared is doubled eh? So make it two whiskies.”

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Aloysius grimaces at the idea of imbibing alcohol. The beverage was only good for booze hounds and the like. If Aloysius was to get intoxicated it would be for a purpose, as per usual. He doubted this place had the roots and leaves he would need for a deep dive into the Dreamtime or to astral project properly. But if there were a bit of opium around…

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Taruwolf

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