It’s been a tenday or two since an earth tremor opened a sinkhole in the centre of Red Larch, revealing ancient Dwarven passages and rooms apparently repurposed for use by a secret cabal of locals calling themselves “The Believers”. The tunnels below contained evidence of cult-like activities including several recent dead bodies, offerings to dwarven statues, and ancient skeletal remains guarding magic floating monoliths.
A few prominent members of the cabal were captured; Albaeri Mellikho (female, human, owner of the local stone quarry), Baragustas Harbuckler (male, human, retired carpenter), Rotharr Hatherhand (male, human, farm hand) and the simpleton known as Grund (male, half-orc, pickle-maker).
Although efforts were made to round-up other notables thus far implicated, Ilmeth Waelvur, Marlandro Gaelkur and Elak Dornen (male, human, noble/quarry master) have disappeared.
Constable Harburk questions the prisoners.
The Believers are a group that has been in existence in Red Larch for several generations. The Dwarven stone-workings and artifacts beneath Red Larch were uncovered generations ago, but were kept secret because of the development of superstitious beliefs about the moving stones and The Delvers (the bodies arrayed around the moving stones). The Believers felt that the stones moving foretold future events. A long-standing local conspiracy formed around weekly meetings watching for movements in the stones, and the interpretation of those movements.
The Believers, through mutual promotion and subtle undermining of outsiders, cemented their positions as leading members of the Red Larch community – a secret town council, at least in their own minds.
Several months ago, everything changed. An “earth priest” calling himself Larrakh appeared, sent by The Delvers. He was able to fully interpret the messages of the stones. In response the stones moved more often and more fully – revealing greater and deeper secrets to The Believers. Larrakh started consulting with the upper hierarchy of The Believers and became central to Believer policy and activity.
Grund confesses that several times in the past months he was asked to move dead bodies into the underground complex for Albaeri Mellikho and Ilmeth Waelvur (male, human, cartwright). He did not witness or participate in any killing. Grund also confesses dropping the cages on top of the party members. He was instructed to trap anyone approaching his door without the right pass phrase and then seek help. Constable Harburk believes Grund too simple to be able to lie.
Baragustas claims to have known nothing of any bodies or killings. He is scared and pathetic, freely revealing general information about The Believers and worried about what The Delvers might do if their wrath is provoked. He seems scared of reprisals from The Delvers and “The Earth Priests” and cannot be convinced to reveal who else may be a member of The Believers.
Albaeri Mellikho loudly proclaims her innocence and blusters. She claims that Ilmeth Waelvur and Marlandro Gaelkur (male, human, barber) were in thick with Larrakh and, no doubt, responsible for any killings. The Constable believes Albaeri was involved, but only has Grund’s testimony and his own gut feeling.
Rotharr Hatherhand (father to a boy called Braelen found undergoing a “punishment” in the underground complex) is unapologetic about his parenting and unashamedly devoted to The Believers. He believes the killings have been faked to take down the most worthy of the Red Larchers and sow chaos. He blames the party for the collapse and recent kidnappings and butchery and refuses to reveal any of The Believer’s secrets.
The sinkhole and subsequent scandal have shaken the Red Larch community. Stone masons and carpenters are in good supply and the dwarven tunnels and chambers are quickly shored up and secured from further tremors, although Constable Harburk bans access to them during his investigation for safety and posts a watch on the remaining unlockable entrances.
It is clear that there are other members of The Believers in the town, but gossip, false accusation and suspicion quickly cloud the waters. Given the rough nature of Constable Harburk’s handling of the prisoners and the severity of the cult’s activities, nobody steps forward to claim membership.
Of the “Earth Priest” Larrakh – there is no sign found.
At the request of the party, one of the the town’s priest’s Imdarr Relvaunder (male, human, priest of Tempus) takes a clean-up party of armed village workmen to Lance Rock. The priest returns satisfied that the place has been cleansed of undead and disease, but the workmen are clearly shaken at the sheer bloody and fiery destruction wrought by the PCs. Unable to distinguish between the evil and twisted labours of the Necromancer Oreioth and the noble, glorious defence of the PCs, the sight of dismembered corpses, beheaded young men, blood spray, bone and burning decaying flesh has clearly turned many of them against the PCs.
Upon their return to town, gossip and talk amongst the good townsfolk are also turned on the PC’s activities and motives and dark glances from corners of the inn, and children being ushered to the other side of the street as PC’s pass by becomes more commonplace.