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Encounters, Plus Entering Karlstadt

The party pressed on from the arcane-phobic environs of Davout, north toward arcane-friendly Karlstadt. They witnessed what looked like witch trials, as a handful of women were being tried out by a pond, by a high government official. The women were thought to be witches and devil-worshipers a guard admitted. The party thought about intervening except for the large number of heavily armed guards present. No one really liked Davout anymore after that.
Further along the way, the party met a hoard of children, abandoned refugees of various cities within the Kingdom. They fed these miserable and dirty youths with generous portions of their own food, and time. They left them after advising them to head toward Davout. Later, the party pulled into Zellingen for the night, about half-way between Davout and their target city.
This village, normally of 500 souls was largely abandoned; its people had fled in the face of the Bastillians. 12 people were found in what once was an inn. The party was hoping to refill from the provisions given to the children, but found the prices to be 11 times that of Selangod, and so declined to buy anything.
The party tucked into one of the larger abandoned houses to rest. At the start of the night, the watchers Cellestine and G’Nash noticed a child approaching the house. He was trying to be sneaky but failed. They confronted the boy and he told a story about how this house used to be his family’s, but that they had kicked him out. Cellestine fed him and allowed him to sleep in her room. How very nice.
But then the kid tried to murder her. The junior assassin continued his streak of failure by missing the easiest stab he would ever have. Cellestine tried to grapple with the child but also failed, getting cut for her efforts. But another sword was eventually brought to bear and the kid was dropped, unconscious. They tied him up and left him with a note telling the world what a murderous wretch he was. Rellim believed the youth to be an apprentice for a real assassin somewhere, possibly one of the 12 local folks. The party left in the morning, wanting nothing more to do with the ghost town.
They saw ten foot high termite mounds… Left them alone.
Journeying farther they met a group of peasant militia, the Citizens Defense Force. These fine folks invited the party into Karlstadt, reminding them of the new laws: no arms or armor allowed in the town, and no religion too. They encouraged the party to part with their implements of destruction and be escorted into town, but the party wasn’t about to comply. They also weren’t keen on slaying a bunch of innocent citizens on watch. They stated instead that they were going in another direction. They secretly planned to go around the city, to its backside where they might sneak in.
They approached the city and noticed the moat and high walls. They would need a means to get across the moat, but also saw that the rear gate was sealed, covered over with crates and pallets. They retreated to a nearby wood, not being seen by very distracted guards, standing atop the wall. Once in the woods, they set to cut long trees down to build a bridge. This would take them well into the night.
A screaming, desperate man came crashing through the trees. He was obviously covered in biting insects for the insane scratching he was doing, yet no insects were seen upon him. The closest examination revealed no insects at all. Stoney tried to rub some salve onto the man only to find that the invisible insects were contagious. Her inching and scratching distracted her to great lengths. Cellestine cast Sleep on the afflicted man and that worked for a while. She kept watch over him while the rest of the party made for the city.
Stoney felt great relief sliding into the moat around Karlstadt. The rest of the party wasted no time in setting up their makeshift bridge. They crossed to the wall around the gate and then Rellim climbed it. He lowered rope for the other members of the party while Lythor sent his cat to inform Cellestine of the situation. They all waited for the Bard and the cat’s return, fighting off a few guards in the meantime. Finally whole the party descended to the busy, filthy streets of Karlstadt.
They found a main road heading to the center of town. On one side they found an inn-turned-hospital, filled with sick, injured and dying folks, receiving little care. Not enough resources to help, so the party continued on toward the center of the city. They saw many people, whole families, sleeping in the streets. The city’s population of 1500 had doubled in the face of the coming Bastillians. Later they saw another corrupted hospital, guarded to keep peoples inside its crammed wards. All of this drudgery was alleviated somewhat when the party entered a courtyard filled with music.
Musicians, skilled and novice gathered – lived – here and spent the midnight hour playing songs and tunes. As nice as this was, the party didn’t stay long, but pressed on to the next clearing where an ancient church had been re-purposed. It had apparently been turned into some sort of barracks for the town guard, for guardsmen came in and out. Party members wondered if they might be able to pass themselves off as guards. On one side of this church was a cemetery.
Some party members approached this cemetery, when they noticed a woman walking and gesturing wildly among the headstones. Was she casting a spell? Lythor was intrigued, and under the watchful eyes of Rellim, he came near the woman who turned out to be one of The Seven. Emma Gabges, “The Defiler” as she was called, spends her nights in the cemetery talking to the dead, imploring them to stay in their graves. She seems certain that very soon the dead will rise from the earth and attack. She is also convinced that the passed members of her family are haunting her.
Lythor learned that Emma was indeed a witch, but she only has two spells in her book. Unlike other members of The Seven, she plays little role in ruling or defending the city – except against the imminent threat of undead attack. The dead are her main concern. Emma named the other members of The Seven during her talks with Lythor, at least by title: The Reminder, The Mother, The Watcher, The Provider, The Joy and The Defender. She doesn’t seem to know them all that well.
The party considered camping for the night.

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