The next morning we were outside searching the grounds when Master Deft came running up to us. The poor Halfling was out of breath, “Headmaster Soldragon wants you…he is in Master Carble’s office.” We left Master Deft in our wake as we hurried back into the academy and climbed the stairs.
Upon reaching the office we found Meritus standing in the door. We asked him what happened. The clearly distressed Headmaster responded, “Look for yourselves.” A ghastly scene was revealed inside the office. The wall behind the desk was splashed and sprayed
with blood. There was blood on the desk and down on the floor next to it. A quick survey of the room showed the empty hooks, which yesterday had held a bastard sword on one wall. Agrent and Rain both commented on it.
We turned out attention back to the office. Bron looked closely at the blood on the wall and the desk. Bits of grayish powder in the blood caught his eye. It was bone dust. Strabo hecked the blood and it was not human. He recognized it as pig’s blood. Strabo looked
up and caught a sharp look from Bron, which was a signal not to reveal his findings just now. Erlig noticed the blood was starting to dry. Looking down out of the window we saw the children gathering in the courtyard.
Bron asked the Headmaster if he had seen Master Carble this morning. He had not. Sampson then asked Meritus how long Master Carble had been teaching at the academy. He responded that Master Carble had been teaching for two years. Bron asked what he had done prior to joining the staff at the academy. “He was a member of the guard in Magnimar until he lost his arm. He is quite good with the children,” lamented Meritus.
Strabo discreetly asked Agrent and Rain if anything else was missing from the office. They shook their heads no.
We told Meritus we were going to check at the stable to see when Master Carble had arrived this morning. We asked him to secure the office in the meantime. As soon as we were outside Bron and Strabo confided what they had discovered in the office. It was agreed that from the amount of blood found it must have been from a good sized pig.
Upon arriving at the stable we quickly asked the stable master what time Master Carble had arrived. It seemed that he had come in at six o’clock, which was normal. Bron asked if he had left. The stable master pointed to a stall, “No, his horse is still here.” Bron asked if any students kept horses at the stable and if any horse was missing. The stable master swept the stalls with his gaze, “Several students do have horses, but they are all in their stalls at the moment.” Bron then asked if Master Carble was carrying anything this morning when he went into the academy. I didn’t notice anything.” We thanked the stable master for his help and told him we were going to look around for a bit.
Parlay checked for recent tracks, but only found those of the party and the stable master. Strabo moved over to Master Carble’s horse and checked it and the tack for signs of blood. He didn’t find any. Meanwhile, Parlay had moved outside the stable to continue tracking,
but had no more luck there. After completing our search we stepped back out into the courtyard. Strabo mentioned that we should check the office for a secret door.
Headmaster Soldragon was on the steps of the main building and called us over. “Carble, God Bless Him, was supposed to lead the kid’s today. They are going to be wearing armor as part of their training.” Rain asked Meritus what the plan was. “I will escort you and the students to the starting point for the hike. It is about two miles to the starting point.” Meritus pointed to a wagon with a hitched team, “That wagon is full of armor for the students along with supplies and water.” Erlig pointed out, “It is imperative that someone from the academy go with us.” Bron asked if Carble’s armor was in the wagon. “No,” replied Meritus, “he always wears his armor.” Erlig walked over to check the wagon.
The rest of the party left Master Soldragon and walked slowly toward the wagon. Bron asked Agrent to “Steal all the shovels and put them in the wagon.” Agrent smiled and moved off. We then discussed the tactics for the morning. We decided that Rain, Agrent, Bron, and Sampson would stay with the children. The rest of us would move off to “lay
tracks for the students to practice on” and then move back to the school. Strabo lamented that a rapier wouldn’t be much use against the ghost. To which Falathar responded, “It worked pretty well for me.”
Mistress Valria approached us. Strabo smiled, “I guess our tea will have to be postponed.” Ignoring him she turned to Rain, “I’m so glad you they brought you in. Maybe you can convince Headmaster Meritus to hire you on as staff.” Mistress Valria then climbed up on
the wagon, which was being driven by the Headmaster. Upon reaching the jump off point Meritus took his leave and walked back to the academy.
Those of us that were going to return to search the academy moved off ahead to leave some obvious tracks “for the students to practice on.” After a short time we carefully regrouped out of the student’s sight. We made our way back to the school keeping alert for anything unusual. As soon as we reached the trees next to the school Blossom waved, “See ya,” and disappeared around a corner.
Erlig cast invisibility on himself and slipped into the academy. He did a quick circuit around the building looking in the windows. He also checked the stable and found the
stable master working inside. Erlig overheard Master Deft talking with Meritus talking on the second floor. “Don’t see how they can find…didn’t give enough credit…that Rain is good with a bow…do you think it’s a ghost…yeah the ghost of Oggun.” Erlig moved past and found the first floor empty. Erlig returned to us, “It looks like the instructors are in the library.”
Parlay leading us was able to see Meritus’ tracks leading back to the academy. He and Falathar stopped a moment to string their bows. We entered the building separated to make our search. Strabo and Falathar climbed upstairs doing their best to be stealthy. It was going well right up until Falathar tripped in the hallway making a very loud thud.
Meritus’s voice issued from inside the library, “Did you hear that.” Falathar moved quickly and motioned Strabo to hide. Meritus emerged from the library and saw Falathar, “What are you doing back here.” “I need some wine,” Falathar replied slowly as if in pain, “hair of the dog if you know what I mean.”
Falathar left the Headmaster climbed to the third floor. He and Strabo checked Master Carble’s office, but did not find any hidden door or panel. They also checked the desk, but did not find anything of interest. Just then Blossom popped in for a moment unnoticed by
them. Falathar turned to take a step and found he could move his feet. Looking down he found his shoelaces had been tied together! He reached down to untie them, “only Blossom could have…”
Falathar hear someone coming up the stairs and motioned Strabo to stay inside the office. It was Meritus carrying a bottle of wine. “Elf, did you find my room. I found a bottle of wine.” Falathar cast ghost sound behind Meritus, “I’m down here.” Meritus talked under
his breath and began humming a little tune. “Can he cast invisibility…I can’t and his is a Bard.” Falathar in an effort to stop him cast prestidigitation on the wine bottle, which caused Meritus almost to drop it. “You just cast prestidigitation didn’t you? You don’t need my wine.” Falathar cast mage hand which Meritus interrupted by humming a song of distraction. Falathar stepped out and demanded of Meritus, “Why didn’t you tell me you were a Bard?”
Meanwhile, back with the students Rain and the other are having a time to get the students to do anything. Finally, Rain managed to get them into a line, which Mistress Valria nodded with approval. It was then a large creature with a huge club stepped into view, “which one of you is M-e-r-i-t-u-s,” he said slowly. It was a hill giant! Rain stepped forward slightly, “No Meritus here,” as she thought I’ve got to keep it simple for him. The giant looked about confused, “Where Meritus?” Rain kept herself between the giant and the students. “He’s not here. Why do you want him?” “I’m hungry,” replied the monster. Rain demanded, “How did you know about Meritus?” “She said,” mumbled the giant, “not happy lady.” Rain asked, “Which lady.” “Tall short lady,” was his reply. “Where does the tall short lady live,” asked Rain, “I want to see her.” “No you no see,” was the firm reply. “Maybe I eat one of you.” Rain pointed over to the trees, “There is a deer not fifty yards you can eat.” This evidently did not satisfy the hill giant. “You lying,” and he raised
his club and swung it at Rain.