I was still very tired, so I went upstairs right after dinner. Sometime that evening, a conversation was held with Old Mother Eberhauer. I got the story the next morning at breakfast. She was exactly as cryptic as you expect an old lady who was nearly a hermit to be. José said she was a witch, with a cat for her familiar. The upshot is that she believes we, as a group, bring chaos wherever we go. Once we leave, she believes, Kreuzhofen would gradually return to normal. She mumbled about the mysterious workings of fate, but I don't believe in fate. Life is more random than that. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Right after breakfast, we left to investigate the Reichenbach mansion. Goldrim, Son, and Omi stayed at the inn.

We didn't get very far before we met a woman, stumbling erratically towards us. I made my way to the front of the group, but didn't get there before she fell to the ground. I dropped to help her. She was young, tall, and strong, and poisoned. I had suspicions, but little time, so I asked Ash to smell her breath. He confirmed: manbane. She wasn't unconscious yet, but was immobile. We had to get her back to town for help quickly. She was clutching an empty vial that had held an antidote for manbane: not enough to cure her, but enough to keep her alive long enough to get more, I hoped.

We carried her to the doctor's, and José knocked and shouted at the door. There was no answer and we were in a hurry, so José kicked the door in. Once inside, I rummaged through the doctor's shelves and found a jar full of the antidote for manbane and I gave it to her, carefully placing a little in her mouth at a time and massaging her throat so she swallowed it. As far as we knew, the doctor hadn't left town. While I cared for the young woman, Jason and Prestley searched through the house.

They didn't find him, but it also didn't look like he'd packed and left: all his important stuff was still here. In fact, José found stuff he said looked like the items sorcerors use to cast their spells. Things like he carries with him.

I finished giving her the antitode, and I watched her anxiously. She stirred, then grabbed my shirt and pulled me to her, and whispered "black stump", then passed out. Her breathing was steady, and I knew she would recover after a long sleep while the antidote battled the poison in her system.

Prestley told me about a chest they'd found, full of strange books. I looked at them: they were an odd collection. Books on death, bodily decay, embalming, theory of medical necromancy, discussions of elemental magic, general science, and a book on composition. Carefully wrapped in a cloth was a beautifully leather-bound edition of the infamous Vital Forces by Francois Enfertier. I had never seen it: the monks certainly did not keep such a tome amongst our books on keeping people from dying in the first place. He'd bookmarked perhaps the most rumored page in medical circles. I'd never really believed it existed. There it was: how to cause a dead frog too jump, as if it were alive again, with the mysterious force of electricity. And how to harness the power of lightning to do the same thing.

Add the invoice from Hugo Glasbecher for a very large quantity of glassware and other equipment for 297 crowns, an undertaker with a bad reputation, and missing corpses from the cemetary, and it led to a very creepy conclusion. And the map circled where it was likely taking place: the Reichenbach mansion, of course.

José caught on at once. He had everything he needed: elemental magic to call lightning, equipment to harness it, dead bodies to animate. He suggested we call in the dorfrichter and the watch captain immediately to take charge of the woman and the doctor's house and then head out to the circled spot on the map and look for the black stump.

We showed the dorfrichter everything we'd found. He was reluctant to believe the village's talented doctor could be involved in something so perverted. He pointed out that the evidence was concerning but there was no real proof. The watch captain suggested that we put everything back as it was for now, and Prestley did that.

The dorfrichter and the watch captain had heard of the Black Stump. We would find it just inside the ghost wood, close to Weilerburg. It was an old tree that had been hit by lightning years ago. They didn't recognize the woman, but Ash said she was the one he smelled at the site of the fake vampire attack. Whoever she worked with probably tried to murder her because she knew too much.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~