In spite of poor weather, the group made their way along Lake Encarthan towards Illmouth, which sits in an isolated position on the southeastern edge of Ustalav. Just a couple of miles short of Illmouth, the group spotted a fishing vessel with a single crewmember on board being pushed by the wind towards the shore by the wind. The vessel was obviously too big to be controlled by a single person so the crew member’s efforts were obviously in vain.
Harry and Archie combined their magic to create a large sandspit in front of the vessel and it slid to a halt next to an abandoned wharf. The crewman fell into the icy waters of Lake Encarthan when the ship stopped but was rescued by Brother Erebic and Otto using a rope. Felix was firmly in the grip of some mushrooms and played no major part in the adventure.
The crewman proved to be an eccentric elderly inventor named Horace Croon who had retired recently from the University of Caliphas. The fishing vessel was carrying his latest invention, a mechanical fish of somewhat doubtful integrity (the first clue was the large quantity of water sloshing around inside). Horace explained that he had high hopes of exploring the depths of Lake Encarthan in this device and that he had been fairly successful in exploring a small section of the Lake in an earlier prototype that was not nearly as mobile as the fish.
The fish was secured on a wagon using a winch and the rest of the trip to Illmouth was cordial but very wet as the weather, which had been threatening all day, finally broke. Upon surveying the only possible place to stay at night, everybody in the the group except for Harry chose to stay with Horace at his spacious but stripped down home or under the Archie’s wagon.
Harry had his fair share of challenges that night but emerged from the evening victorious. Archie and Otto spent part of the evening at the only other tavern in town but did not learn anything other than the fact that people in the town don’t like strangers. On the way back to Horace’s house, Otto spotted lightning strike something out in the lake.
Illmouth by day was very quiet but somewhat less depressing than it was by night. Most of the men were mostly gone fishing (a cold and daunting prospect in early November) and most of the women were gathered at the surprisingly well-maintained temple of Gozreh. The rest of the town ranged from very nice but very poorly maintained to nearly falling down. The town sheriff spent some time to get to know the group and asked them to keep their noses clean or suffer the consequence of his sawed-off shotgun.
Harry had discovered the previous night that the inn had only 3 other visitors, two were farmers who left the next morning and one was a traveling salesman from Caliphas. The salesman had not been seen for some days but, since he had paid for his room in advance, his stuff had not been touched yet. Otto secured the key for the room and the group quickly searched it. The room was tidy and well-kept but it was obvious that the bed had not been used in several days and most of the salesman’s possessions were still scattered around the room. Archie went over the catalog of goods the man had been selling and realized that the salesman was selling goods for a factory in Caliphas that had burned down several years ago and had never been replaced. The only other noteworthy thing the group found was a note the man left himself about the Undiomede residence.
Illmouth (formerly Baymouth) had been established by Cassius Undiomede about 200 years ago and had been quite prosperous up until 30 years ago when the family line suddenly failed. The town had still done pretty well until about 2 months ago when fishing suddenly turned very poor.
The group toured the temple and Brother Erebic noticed that the temple celebrated creatures under the sea rather than the power of wind and wave which are the more common themes of Gozreh. The group also noticed that boy children outnumbered girl children by about a 2:1 margin and that the guards were particularly feisty with the party. Outside the Temple, Otto spotted a very large reptile swimming far out in the lake but none of the locals were concerned. They told the group that the creature has never harmed anybody and keeps its distance. But one person noted that he thinks it has been getting bigger lately.
A market assembled in the town square in the mid-afternoon sun (the first sunlight of the day because of dense fog) as the fishing fleet returned to town. The group learned the following things during the market:
- The town sheriff has a love-hate relationship with the temple guards
- Today’s catch was poor and the temple guards took the best of the catch for themselves without paying for it. Nobody complained about their behavior
- A rather pretty half-elf female alchemist (specializing in health remedies) has a house in town and a date with Archie in the evening
- Horace Croon is not well-liked by the townsfolk, who fear his inventions will destroy the town. The black smoke and strange noises coming from his house all day did not make the party any more comfortable with Croon’s behavior
- Archie spotted some rocks out in the water with a rusty iron cross. This is likely what attracted the lightning strike the previous evening
- The group learned of the location of the Undiomede residence in the swamp a little to the north and west of Illmouth
The group decided to pay the Undiomede residence a quick visit before nightfall. Archie didn’t want to miss his date. The residence proved to be a very large three story building in the shape of an “L” with a marble dome serving as the roof at the corner of the “L.” The group found tracks made by a horse, a man on foot, and some sort of large lizard that walked erect. The lizard tracks were by far the most numerous and the most recent.
The group took a quick look in the stable and found, much to their surprise, a live horse in poor health due to lack of food and water for the last few days. They eventually identified the animal as the beast that carried the dark rider that they had chased here from Feldgrau. There was no sign of the rider and the group decided to take the horse and saddlebags. Archie searched the saddlebags and found nothing of interest except for a scrap of paper telling the rider to exchange the Sesage Effigy (a strange artifact stolen from the Leidstadt University a couple of months ago for the Raven’s Beak. Brother Erbek and Harry both cried out because they recognized the Raven’s Beak as a mace that is one of the most powerful artifacts of Pharasma that had vanished early in the reign of the Whispering Tyrant. Evidently the Tyrant had hidden this item in the Baymouth area. Everybody wondered why the Whispering Way wanted to possess such a dangerous artifact at this particular moment.
Archie made it back to Illmouth in time for his date and was most charming but did not find out any thing new. The rest of the group had a completely different experience as they were accosted by the Sheriff who told them that the Mayor wanted to speak with them, now. Mayor Earl Greedle was indeed a sight to cause sore eyes but he proved to be an interesting conversationalist. He fondly remember Brother Erbis from his earlier years as a mercenary and surprised everybody by being a devotee of Pharasma. Further, the Mayor admitted that he did not view himself as a leader of the town, maintaining that there was something wrong with the Temple of Gozreh. He also mentioned that he didn’t trust his own Sheriff, whom he believed would turn in the Mayor if he could achieve his life-long ambition to become a Temple Guard.
The Mayor also told the uncomfortable story of how the Undiomede line ended and hinted that there was a good chance that at least one of the family might still be in Ustalav. Finally the group asked about the rocks and the cross and were told that they were called the Tern Rocks were used to punish evildoers.
The Mayor asked, really begged, the group to investigate the Temple and see what they could find. This put a bit of a monkey wrench in the groups plans as they had intended to revisit the Undiomede residence that night. After considerable discussion, it was decided to tackle the Temple first because it was closer and not likely to be haunted by ghosts. There was some fear that the group would bring down the retaliation of the townsfolk on them if they desecrated the Temple and found no evidence of major wrong-doing.