After finishing our search of the manor house, we proceed to the check the manor grounds. Beldar quickly discovers a set of tracks leading back towards town, a trail that we hope will lead to the mayor and the rest of his cultist cronies. The tracks come to a dilapidated farmhouse, covered with vines and with windows boarded, belying the light coming from within. As we stealthily approach for a better look, the seemingly innocuous Desna-shaped scarecrow in the front yard animates, and we are under attack!
Beldar and Fezzik make short work of the guardian, and we proceed around to the back of the farmhouse for further exploration. There, a group of stirges rush out of concealing foliage and these ones are definitely not looking for a hug! We smash them to bloody pulps, but in the meantime a group of misshapen humans, villagers reformed as mongrel men, use the distraction to move into assault position, and once again we are set upon!
The mongrel men are still no match for our might, and fall quickly. They appear to have come from the nearby barn, and so we check it out. We find some sort of shrine littered with moth wings, and a weapon likely belonging to our missing tax collector, as well as assorted items from other victims of the mongrel men. We move on to the farmhouse.
A secret door on the back side of the farmhouse leads to an old kitchen, which has been re-purposed as an herb garden and possible alchemist lab. Among the herbs we find some spores that are used to create the creature we fought earlier at the festival. There also some mushrooms in the corner, but we are unable to identify their purpose, and so we move on.
Searching the rest of the farmhouse, we find a statue to Ghlaundr, the God of Parasites, in the basement. We also find that a number of humanoids have been buried in the basement, apparently the victims of our hosts. Our wayward tax collector is present, his husk stuffed with corn husks and dead stirges during their creepy ritual. It looks like these folks have been at their games for quite a while. It’s time to bring things to a halt before any other passer-byes are sacrificed!
Behind the farmhouse, we find a corn maze that leads to the sacrificial altar. The cult has gathered, and a sacrifice appears imminent. Villagers wearing robes made entirely of mosquitoes chant as their cult leader, none other than the mayor himself, appears poised to sacrifice a small boy, none other than Beldar’s three-legged-racing companion.
We of course rush to the boy’s aid, and the priest drops after a few hits from a pack of celestial hounds and Beldar’s blade. His brother, whom turns out to be a faceless stalker, backstabs Cian from ambush, and continues the fight a while. Meanwhile, a horrible, disgusting, giant bug thingy emerges from the remains of the mayor priest and begins an orgy of blood sucking and death against my poor pack of hounds!
Eventually, we drive off the evil mosquito man (because he sucks – ha), and the faceless stalker gets his as well. We are left with a horde of drugged up villagers and a rescued lad. This is a very strange end to our evening. As the sun lights up the sky and dawn arrives, the air in town is palpably less discordant. We apparently have cleansed the town of the taint of Ghlaundr, and we quickly head out towards home.
I think we’ve spent enough time in the country – time to get back to our town and our bar.
The trip to Magnimar is uneventful, other than doing some light reading in the journal we found. Essentially, this journal has been passed down in the family since Iola, and it describes Iola falling to the influence of a druid of Ghlauder and tainting her worship to Desna. She brought back faceless stalker servants and created the cult as it became. Each Kreigler high priest was infected with a blightspawn, which was passed down through the children to each new generation of cultist. The entire town was not involved, but anyone who spoke out about the strange doings in town became the next sacrifice, replaced by a faceless stalker until they could be phased out.
Jeminda is very anxious to find out what happened, and is sad to hear of the loss. We return the missing taxes, and receive our reward for our services, after telling multiple officials the tale of death and deceit. I even make up a wonderful song about it! Afterwards, we head back to our long-awaited beds in Sandpoint.