Fourth part of the first session, the start of it all you can find here.
There the three stood, outside in the mist and debated their next move (after they had walked a few steps). From what they had learned so far, there was the ruin of an old sawmill at a river; a potential hideout. Johan van Kaus had mentioned a woman near the flooded, former center of Dunnsmouth he had never seen before, and one of the fugitives they were after was a woman (Shelly-Ann, the Witchdaughter). Other than that, they had gained an overview of who else was still living in Dunnsmouth, a total of ten households.
From what they had heard about “those Samsons” they would better leave them alone (they did not seem to like strangers), but neither Johan nor Reginald had said one bad word about “the Duncasters”. Johan even called them “goodfolk” while that nasty, foul-mouthed guy Reginald had not dispraised them in anyway. So, they decided to pay Herod Duncaster a visit, partially because his home was, according to the undertaker, the nearest one around and the only one they could reach without crossing a flooded area. The constant fog, lag of landmarks or orientation lines especially worried Jasper. He had asked Johan, who claimed that he would pick up floating corpses from the swamp, how he was able to navigate the fog anyhow. The fact that the undertaker simply answered that he knew the surrounding area since his birth, and was thereby familiar with it, frustrated Jasper who had hoped for some landmarks or signs he simply had failed to note yet.
Going north, they got into trouble. The description of Johan van Kaus had mentioned some wooden pegs connected with a rope that would allow them to find (or at least: get near to) the home of Herod Duncaster. But there were none. It took them what seemed to be half an hour till they located the missing peg, which had tipped and lay in the murky ground. From their on, they were able to follow the moldy length of rope from one peg to the next.
The home of Herod Duncaster turned out to be a tree house, not unlike the one they had seen early, but only consisted of a single room. As they called out there was no reaction at first, and the only one to peak out under the hides that covered the window openings was a curious black cat. Quickly afterward, a young, bearded fellow came to the window who smiled down on them with a surprised, but friendly smile. “My, my, my… strangers, and three of them! What have led you folks here?” As they introduced themselves and told him that they were after fugitive robbers hey exclaimed “Really? You have to tell me about that. My name is Herod Duncaster, please come up and be my guests. I hope you can handle the rope ladder”. The three could, so Angus´ wound started to bleed again. Their host recognized that quickly and produced some medical herbs from a small leather pouch, and renewed Angus bandages. While his household looked very simple (not to say, poor) there was one very particular feature: a collection of books.
While they enjoyed Herod´s hospitality (dried fish and -STRONG- booze) and chatted about Dunnsmouth, its inhabitants, likely hideouts, whereabouts of the fugitives and “the fog”, Jasper politely asked how it would come that a “seemingly world-open and educated man” like him would stay in Dunnsmouth. Herod gave him an understanding smile, and leaned forward a bit as he explained that ships would not come here often, and that the passage over the mountain would be a dangerous one. Other than that, he said, moving somewhere else would take some money, and despite his ability to read he only knew the life of the swamp people. Even if he would find work somewhere else, he would need some shilling to set himself up. And at that moment, Herod seemed to see a chance.
“You said you are after a bounty. How much do you get for them?” They answered rather honestly, but had not told him about the church or that they already had the heads of two of them already. Herod nodded and proposed a deal “I can help you in finding them, if they are here. I was born and raised in this area and know the swamps here like the back of my hand. And, if you want to look for them you will sooner or later have to talk to the Samsons. They won´t react good to you…” he said, looking over to Comragh “..but if I talk to them there will be less trouble. They know me and have no reason to wish me ill. All I want in return is 50 Shilling (sp) and that you talk to the captain of the ship that brought you here so that I can come along to Spillswick. If we don´t find anyone, you don´t owe me anything. What do you say?” The characters were willing to accept this terms, as they needed a guide, the payment seemed fair to them and all in all, there was no real risk for them. So, they accepted the deal. “Excellent!” Herod exclaimed “let´s seal the deal with a good drink” and filled the wooden cups of each of them with his strong Moonshine like it would be water. Jasper was the first one who tried to make him fill the cup only halfway, but Herod insisted on filling it up to the edge “You all either down this with me in one go or the deal is not a deal!” Needless to say, the booze burned in their throats and exploded warmly in their stomachs, but it was only Jasper who ended up slightly drunk from it. Herod packed up some gear and supplies and once they were down, he readied his own skiff as well. “Your fugitives must have come over the mountain pass. If they would have come over the sea, my brother Obediah would have noted -something- about it. He regularly pays Reginald a visit, and if only to sell the old croaker some booze or when he joins him on the sea to fish with him. That means they might have either visited the Samsons first or they could be at the church. Let´s go to the church first and visit the priest, the Samson´s can fend for themselves.”
Cormagh quickly agreed to this plan, and all of the three kept quiet about the fact that they already have been at the church… and about what they have found there. The first session ended when Herod opened the church portal.