The elven ranger from before returns to Sandpoint and mentions that there has been strange activity in the area. Possibly necromantic. After some discussion, the party decides to investigate the nearby town of Poplar River where graves have been robbed. Before leaving the party has dinner with Aldon Foxglove and borrows horses for the journey. In the morning Albion again smells the same strange smell she noticed in town and again in the chamber with the beacon. She attempted to follow it but to no avail.
When the party arrives in Poplar River, they find the tavern crowded and the citizens seem frightened and on edge. All the inns and stables are full because residents on the outskirts of town are afraid to stay there. There had been five murders in town recently. The party seeks out the town’s sheriff who becomes very happy to see us when he learns that we were the ones who helped in Sandpoint. The sheriff is found at the lumber mill where one of the murders took place. There are signs of a struggle and the room is covered in blood. The victims was the owner of the mill, Benny Harper. His face and jaw had been removed and he had a sihedron carved into the back of his neck. The party determines that he was likely killed by a ghast in the middle of the night. They find tracks leading to the river. The party also discovers a second victim that had been killed in the log-splitter. She was the daughter of a local store owner named Karina.
The other murders were at a farm, and a campground on the road. There were no connections between the victims, but the murders were moving in a line toward the town. All the victims had been strung up in some kind of ritual. It appears the one at the lumber mill was interrupted. Erik was very successful lightening the mood in the tavern and got everybody talking. The grave disturbances had happened 2 weeks ago; the bodies hadn’t been removed. The graves were old: ~75 years ago. Two of the graves belonged to members of an adventuring group that mostly settled the town. One wore a ring that he never took off and had some kind of star on it. The other had a necklace with the same star on it with a red gem and a blue gem. There were two other adventurers in that group, an elf and a dwarf who moved on. The dwarf was named Falgor. There is also a Thassilonian expert in town, but he’s widely considered to be a bit of a nut.
The party hired a local hunter named Grethan to help them track the killer. They follow the tracks from the lumber mill across the river and through through a marsh to Dr. Habe’s Sanitarium. The tracks appear to have looked around and then moved on. They lead to an abandoned farm. There were no crops in the field but twenty scarecrows. The party hailed and one of the scarecrows screamed like a ghoul. The scarecrows closest to us tried to shake themselves loose and attack the party but were defeated. When we get to the next group of scarecrows, we shoot first, but tragically that scarecrow was still a human who hadn’t yet succumbed to Ghoul Fever and was killed by the party. After that, the party is more cautious in dealing with the remaining scarecrows. All but one are ghouls and defeated. The last was a human with Ghoul Fever. He said that he and his wife were taken 3 or 4 nights ago. We left him with Grethan while we cleared the rest of the farm.
In the barn, there were more ghouls and a large amount of gore and bones, some human, some livestock. In the house, the party fought more ghouls and a ghast. The ghast had a key that opened a hidden coffer. They also found another body killed and marked like the others. The tracks they’d been following continued past the farm, but the party decided they needed to take the survivor and his wife’s body back to town.