Oathday, 13 Lamashan 4707 AR, late afternoon
[GM’s note: At this session, we welcome two new players: Matt (Charrone) and Theresa (Durrok)!]
Declan, Halfred, Charrone, McGregor, and Zandu saddled their horses and rode south to Doctor Eric Habe’s asylum, The Saintly Haven of Respite (which most locals called “Habe’s Sanitarium”), to try to talk with the hospital’s newest patient. Sheriff Hemlock gave the party a short letter of introduction, in case Doctor Habe proved to be uncooperative. The day was unseasonably warm, and rainy. They set out south along the Lost Coast Road, as the rain got a bit heavier.
After an uneventful, though soaking hour, the party found itself approaching the sanitarium. The hospital was a squat stone building on the top of a hill, looking across Cougar Creek to the Ashen Rise plateau. A small but well-maintained wooden cottage stood near the road at the bottom of the same hill, which the party had been told was Doctor Habe’s home. Zandu knocked on the door of the cottage, but no one answered.
At the top of the hill, the party hitched their horses and knocked. It was about five minutes before anyone answered the door. A peephole slid open, and a voice said, rather gruffly, “We’re very busy right now and are not taking new patients. Please come back tomorrow.” The peephole slid shut. Zandu knocked again, and the same man answered, looking angry. “Now see here,” the man said, “this is not a good time to check anybody in. Please come back tomorrow.”
Zandu held up the letter of introduction. “I’m Zandu, a Sandpoint town watchman, and we are here at the request of Sheriff Hemlock to see Grayst Sevilla.”
The man opened the door a crack and took the letter. He frowned as he read it. “Very well, come in. I need to tell you that Mr. Sevilla is extremely ill, both physically and mentally. He’s not responding to either treatment, and he’s not very coherent. You would probably have better luck questioning him in two or three days, once he’s better.”
“We don’t have that kind of time,” said Charrone. “We believe that Mr. Sevilla is the only living witness to a murderer who has killed at least five people over the past week. We need to stop the killer before he kills again, and Sevilla may have information we need to catch him.”
Habe signed. “All right. But only two of you in his room at a time, and I will be there too.” Everyone agreed.
Sevilla’s room was on the third floor. As Habe was unlocking the door, he said, “Again, Mr. Sevilla has undergone a great trauma. He is not coherent, and is sometimes prone to outbursts.” He swung open the door. “Grayst,” he said in a soothing voice, “Some nice people from Sandpoint are here to see you. They would like it very much if you would talk with them.”
Grayst was sitting on a crude stray mattress on the floor of the cell-like, windowless room, mumbling to himself. Halfred noted that all of the walls of this room were stone. Sevilla mumbled to himself while banging the back of his head against the wall. Sevilla did not look well at all: his skin was gray and pasty, his hair seemed to be falling out in clumps, his lips and guns were cracked and bleeding, and most creepy were his eyes: they seemed to be covered with a milky-white film. The room smelled like he’d soiled himself. Habe, Declan, and Charrone entered the room. He mumbled, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Too many teeth…he has too many teeth… and a razor… razor cuts all away… all away… The Skinsaw Man! The Skinsaw Man is coming! Master is coming!”
Habe bent down and said, loudly, “Grayst, some people from the town guard are here. They want to talk with you. Can you hear me?”
At that, Grayst looked up at the party. As soon as he saw Charrone, his expression changed, becoming very serious. He gasped, and struggled to his feet. “It’s you!” he said, “Lady Charrone! You came! He said you would visit me. His Lordship said so when he unmade me! He has a place for you. A precious place… but not for me. Nothing for me.” He sobbed for a moment, then continued, “He has a message for you. He made me remember. Let me see… what was it? Yes! He said that if Lady Charrone came to see me to say this: Come to his Misgivings! If you came to his Misgivings and joined his pack, and then he would end his harvest in your honor! In YOUR honor! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” He then collapsed onto the floor half-laughing, half-sobbing.
Habe bent down again, “Grayst, I think they might have more quest…” Cutting the doctor off mid-word, Grayst screamed like a wild beast, and then sprang up in a burst of speed, ripping free from his straightjacket. He lunged at Charrone, screaming, “Master loves you more than me!” Before the paladin could react, he pounded his fists against her, but he only bloodied his fists on her armor. Declan, Charrone, and Doctor Habe subdued him again, as two orderlies ran in and fit him into another straightjacket. This time, they tied his arms with ropes as well, then fixed a metal collar around his neck and chained him to the wall.
“I’m so sorry, my lady. I knew he was having outbursts, but I had no idea he would get so violent. I think he needs to rest, and we’ll continue his treatment.”
“And just what, exactly, is that treatment?” asked Declan. “To my eye, it would appear that he has an advanced case of ghoul fever, and he’s slowly dying from it. When he dies, he’ll rise again as a ghoul. But I think you already know that. I didn’t see any signs that you had actually done anything for him.”
“He hasn’t been responding to the treatment. Plus, his mind is gone. That’s not a symptom of the disease.”
“Again, what are you actually doing for him? As far as I know, only divine healing magic can cure a victim of ghoul fever from the malady. Brother Zantus can perform that ritual— yet you haven’t called him, have you?”
All eyes gazed at the doctor. Looking around the room, he suddenly seemed very nervous. “Very well. No, I wasn’t treating him. I was documenting his transformation. This hasn’t been documented in the medical literature in decades. I was advancing medical knowledge. From what I gathered on Mr. Sevilla, he’s a murderous, thieving, thug, with no family in the area. No one will care one whit if he passes! He’s far more valuable as a research subject.”
“And, what would you have done with him when he transformed?” asked Charrone.
“That’s one reason we’ve been keeping him restrained. When he finally transforms into a ghoul, we’ll use holy water to destroy it. That’s the planned end of this experiment.”
“Doctor Habe,” said Zandu, “there are other patients here that seem to be doing okay under your care, but what you are doing isn’t right. We are transporting the patient back to town, to be cured by Brother Zantus, and I will be reporting this to the Sheriff.”
The party worked with the orderlies to load Grayst into Doctor Habe’s patient transport wagon, and hitched up Habe’s horses. One of the orderlies took the reins, and the party headed back north to the Lost Coast Road.