Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ravenloft session #3: Marais d'Tarascon

Last night's session began on the banks of Marais d'Tarascon. While the hour was barely after midday, the storm clouds made the sky seem as dusk. The PCs dragged ashore their raft at the edge of the swamp and proceeded toward the village, noting a sprawling plantation to the east. In the town proper, no people were about, and signs on shop doors read "Closed for funeral." The PCs, with Luc still trailing obediently behind them, soon came upon the village church, where a throng of people was gathered outside, listening to a priest give a funeral liturgy for a poor dead man named Jeremiah d'Gris.

Or was he? As the priest rambled on, banging sounded from inside the coffin, which was bound tightly with chains. Whispered questions to the crowd were met with suspicious glances and evasive answers. After much debate, the PCs chose not to disrupt the interment of the coffin, which was sealed inside a large vault within the gated hilltop cemetery nearby.

Through questioning villagers and particularly Shaman Brucian (the priest), the party learned of strange events transpired of late in Marais d'Tarascon:

  • Villagers have been dropping dead in their places, then rising again as undead and terrorizing the populace.
  • Such deaths are said to be preceded by a terrible odor, like the stench of rotting flesh.
  • Coffins of the deceased are bound with chains to keep the bodies safely locked inside.
  • In addition to the unexplained deaths, Marais d'Tarascon has also begun to be plagued by grisly murders over the past several days.

The PCs also uncovered that Luc and Marcel's last name is Tarascon, Marais d'Tarascon's founding family, which still owns and operates the plantation to the east. Though Marcel is said to have died three weeks ago of unknown causes, a third brother, Jean Tarascon, still resides at the plantation. Strangely, the companions noted that Marcel's coffin was not interred inside the Tarascon mausoleum in the cemetery - the most recent addition was a woman named Claudine, nearly twenty years prior.

When asked specifically about Luc, Shaman Brucian referred to the boy as a "lost one" of the village, which the PCs tied back to the cryptic words of the young gypsy woman, Valana. Brucian explained that Luc had been ousted from the village, but would not explain why, adding only that he had made a few trips to the swamp to check on the boy and replenish his provisions.  Nearly everyone the PCs met, including Brucian himself, was unable to suppress a wide-eyed look of surprise at the return of Luc Tarascon.

After securing rooms for the impending night at the Full Moon Inn, the party returned to the church, and once there confronted a cloaked figure who had been following them since the funeral. To their astonishment, the figure revealed himself to be Elias, the missing boy from Chatain. Elias had arrived in Marais d'Tarascon two days prior, after walking for an equal number of days through the swamp, and claimed the village to be "cursed," recounting much of the same information that the PCs had already learned about the recent murders and unexplained deaths.

Moreover, Elias implicated a town eccentric named Mordu as a possible person of interest. In addition to his bizarre and morbidly upbeat demeanor, Mordu was frequently seen eating red licorice from the bakery, pieces of which had been found by the village constable beside the bodies of murder victims.

At long last, the PCs, along with Captain Rapacion, Luc, and now Elias, returned to the Full Moon Inn to settle themselves for the night, but as they took to their beds, screams resounded from below. The companions ran for the stairwell but lurched and vomited as they reached it, for the rotten odor in the hall was unbearable. Clasping hands to their mouths and noses, they entered the common room to find Duncan d'Lute, a traveler from the northern town of Port d'Elhour who had offered up room and board to Elias the previous night, dead on the floor, with not a mark on his body.

Aginot and Rapacion went for Shaman Brucian, and in their absence the body rose up and attacked Alaric and Leilana, tearing at the companions' flesh and laying Leilana low. Patrons panicked and fled the inn, and just as reinforcements arrived on scene, Alaric decapitated the fiend with a swing of his mighty blade. Brucian could offer nothing but a promise to inter the corpse, stating that d'Lute "may not be of Marais d'Tarason, but he will be buried as one of its own."

When finally affairs were in order with the priest, the companions retired, very much unsettled and their minds clouded with questions.