Having burned down the mill and saved a pair of children, the party returned to Vallaki. Along the way they were accosted by some dirty hermit, who appeared to be attended by vicious twig creatures. It was a short fight.
On returning to the Blue Water Inn, the rescued children immediately ran to Ismark Kolyanovich & Ireena Kolyana. They both recognized the children, and with no one else available for the task, Ireena took responsibility for them. Ziggy Bismuth attempted to bait Maiesse Tolivant when he told her of Sigra Ironshoulders’ death, almost getting an arrow for his trouble. It is now questionable if Maiesse would go out of her way to save Ziggy if the need arose.
With all of that sorted, the party proceeded to take care of business: armorsmith, buying supplies, etc. Ruby Silverforge & Brimstone Silverforge ended up in the town square, where they saw guards swapping signs about a festival while under the direction of a strange & unpleasant looking individual armed with an axe. They also saw a number of people in the stockades, wearing donkey masks. Ruby found out that their crime was malicious unhappiness: they basically weren’t happy enough.
The entire group went out to the festival the next day. Despite being the Festival of the Blazing Sun, it was very cloudy and it began to rain steadily. They saw the burgomaster, Baron Vargas Vallakovich, arrive with his wife, Lydia and begin the festival. They also saw the wicker sun fail to ignite due to the rain, and then they saw that the burgomaster has absolutely no sense of humor wen one of the guards had the poor sense to laugh at the wicker sun not igniting.
While the burgomaster amused himself by dragging the hapless guards around in the mud from his horse, Ruby made her way to the wicker sun and managed to ignite it with her magic. What followed was an exchange of pleasantries and bullshit where Ruby flattered the burgomaster and managed to talk him into showing the guard mercy. Ruby also managed to out Ireen & Ismark, and got the group invited to dinner at the burgomaster’s home. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was suddenly much screaming and roaring and yelling about a monster.
As the townsfolk ran around in fear & confusion, the party followed the screams to Arasek’s Stockyard, where they found two hysterical young drunken idiots. They also discovered that the creature that Rictavio kept in his wagon had gotten free. Sending the drunk fools on their way, the party assisted Rictavio in tracking down his pet, which turned out to be a smilodon in plate barding. Rictavio was able to get the cat back to the wagon, and the party secured it. Ricgavio decided leaving town would be best, and Ireena & Ismark, as well as their two young charges, decided it was probably wise to go with him. Rictavio told them where they could find him, hiding out in an old, abandoned tower, and then the group made a hasty retreat out of Vallaki, Maiesse decided to go as well.
Finding themselves with some spare time, the party decided to check out St. Andral’s Church. There, they met Father Lucian and found out that the bones of St. Andral, which provided the church with holy protection, had been stolen and few nights before. Ruby was able to get Lucian’s charge, Yeska, to admit that he had told Milivoj, the boy who took care of the grounds, about the bones. They then questioned Milivoj, who was initially uncooperative. Ziggy was able to get him to talk by throwing money at him, since it turned out the boy had stolen the bones to make money so that he could feed his siblings. It was revealed that the bones had been given to Henrik van der Voort, the town coffin maker.
Armed with this knowledge, the party went off to the coffin maker’s shop. After much scouting, hemming, hawing, and failing to sell their story to the man, Brimstone ultimately just kicked down the door. Henrik immediately fled upstairs, calling for help. Strangely, this didn’t cause a sense of impending doom. Brimstone chased after the man, not paying the very large crates in the upstairs much mind. Until one burst open and Brimstone found himself face-to-face with the living dead.
Four of the living dead, to be exact. The fight was brutal, terrible, and if not for Sterling Silverforge managing to call upon the power of Stryme to cause one of these creatures to flee, it might have resulted in deaths. Once the creatures were vanquished, they questioned Henrik, being told that he had stolen the bones at the request of Vasili von Holtz. The bones were quickly found, and before the party fled, Ziggy made Henrik eat the Dream Pastry that he had gotten from the hags. With that, the fled before the last vampire spawn could return, and ran to the church.
Father Lucian was overjoyed. He tended the party’s wounds as best he could, then began work to return the bones to their crypt. He also agreed to allow the party to spend the night at the church, after they had their dinner with the burgomaster.