Witness at Ungor Pass

The murders that changed a nation.

A royal escort seeking refuge from a storm.   Six guards.
One wagon master.
A nervous witness.
  No survivors.
 

Background

The vicious murder of Modrid of Dubail created a violent backlash from the commoners of Andilain against many Lords who openly opposed the beloved leader. Yet
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Lydric of Dubail
while the nation mourned the loss of Modrid, his son Lydric was already investigating his father's death.   An exhaustive search uncovered a witness. Someone who had actually overheard the detailed plot to assassinate his father.   ...within the walls of Castle Andilain.   Using his position, Lydric dispatched a royal guard to locate, capture and then escort the witness back to the capital for questioning.   Unfortunately, the witness never made it to Andilain.   Neither did the escort.   Two months after the original dispatch, a military force was sent to retrace the route of the missing escort. Growing reports of Vallen skirmishes along the borders of Humär demanded a larger accompanyment.   This consisted of fifty soldiers under the leadership of Thayl Bailstrum, three of the kings trackers and Corrum Elderst, a mägo of the Order of Spirit.
Had this not been connected to the murder of Modrid of Dubail, these deaths could have been covered up and hidden from the people, the blame laid upon a raiding horde from the east.
Thayl Bailstrum
 
"After conclusive reports from both our military and Corrum Elderst from the University of Magic, Ungor Pass is hereby quarentine. Citizens of Andilain who venture through the pass will do so of their own accord and will suffer the natural consequences without official aid."  
King Robert III
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Corrum Elderst
I performed päljästääkuö (revealing of the dead) at the behest of Captain Thayl.   The spell revealed the pain and shock of those who sat about the table.   It also revealed a whisper, still calling for mercy within the kitchen. The voice narrowed down to the cooling cauldron, still hanging over the coals.   Yet the whisper eluded me.   When the Thaumaturgist signs were brought to my attention, I realized a powerful mägo was involved.   My recommendation was the immediate retreat of our party and the removal of the victim's bodies.   I will also be reporting my findings to the council at the University of Magic upon my return.  
Corrum Elderst

 
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The Murder

THE CRIME   The missing escort was found in Ungor Pass. The horses and travel wagon were unharmed in the stables of the Boar Lodge. The victims were found within the lodge, sitting about the main table, all in the act of eating a meal.   The bodies of the six guards and wagon master sat with hands upon the table, palms down. Joining them were the bodies of the tavern owners and their teen son. The eyelids had been removed from each victim, while only three of the victims: the tavern owner's wife, her son and one of the royal guards,...had their eyes removed.  
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Thayl and his command never found the body of Corbin Tolbin, the alleged witness.   His clothes, however, clean and folded, were found on the kitchen butcherblock, along with Tolbin's personal effects: A gold ring, necklace, and pair of wire-rimmed glasses. Each item was placed in the center of the folded clothes.   Beside the pile of cloth, a single scroll.   The written testimony of said Corbin Tolbin.  
THE SCENE   Further investigation revealed no sign of struggle.   Each of the soldiers, including the wagon master, were in off-duty attire--their personal daggers were also present, set to the left of their bowls, as was customary.   Each room revealed the same setup:
Neatly folded clothes centered on each bed. Personal effects gingerly laid on top.   Beds never slept in.   Outside, fresh tracks overlapped between the lodge and the two large stables making up Ungor Pass.  
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The horses had been recently fed, brushed, and covered in winter blankets.   What disturbed Thayl more than finding his fellow countrymen slain and put upon display, was that he noticed the one vital key:   The food was still hot.   It was then they heard the whistling.  
 

The Whistling

R eports described a 'whistling' within the tavern building. Some attributed this to the intense wind pushing through the cracks in walls and windows. But others were not convinced and acted upon what was deemed an immediate threat.
"The moment I realized the food on the table was still hot, I heard 'whistling'. It was an odd tune that immediately caught my attention. The murderer was still on the premises and obviously hadn't noticed our presence. I silently dispatched my men to surround the tavern and investigate."
Thayl Bailstrum
THE KITCHEN

"Armed with club and knife, I entered the kitchen as silently as I could. The murderer was whistling an odd tune, off-key, just out of view.   There was something about it, that...just wasn't right. Put me on edge and raised the hair on my neck.   The moment I dashed to the other side of the hearth--the place where the sound was coming from--it stopped.   No one was in the kitchen."
— Soldier
THE STAIRS

"When I heard the odd tune Captain Thayl motioned to the stairs, which is where the sound came from. Someone was walking about and hadn't noticed us.   I drew my dagger and made my way up the staircase, my soft leather boots masking any sound.   Just as I reached the top of the stairs, the whistling just...stopped.   All the doors in the hall were closed, as were the windows at each end."
— Soldier
THE STABLES

"Three of us investigated the stables and found the horses recently fed, brushed and newly covered with winter blankets.   That's when we heard the whistling. Creepy too. Just off enough to hurt the senses.   Drawing our weapons, we surrounded the area where we heard the whistling--a feed room at the end of the stables.   The whistling stopped right as we rushed the doorway.   The room was empty."
— Soldier
 
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Disturbing Discoveries


An exhaustive sweep of the settlement was made using five-man teams as Corrum Elderst performed intricate magical spells to assist. Though no suspects were found, soldiers gave varied reports consistent with accounts from those of other teams.


Six of the soldiers report noticing a figure in the upper window of the lodge. None could describe the figure--only that it appeared in the corner of their vision, peeking out from the edges of the window.   When investigated (repeatedly), no one was found in the room.
Runes were discovered at six key locations around the outer perimeter of the settlement. The intricate symbols were carved into each tree and then burned black.   These symbols were later identified as part of a complex spell used by Thaumaturgists in Gate Lore.
Preparing the bodies for transport revealed the six soldiers all sitting around the table with winter blankets wrapped around their legs, were missing their lower extremities.   Each body had legs removed to the hip bone, the skin both sown and cauterized shut.
 

A Nation Changed

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The events of Ungor Pass could not be hidden.   As a major route between the Kingdoms of Andilain and Ambasere, the closing of this vital waypoint soon spread among the wealthy merchants of the land. Whispers of mutilated bodies, dark magic, and cannibalistic specters also escaped the lips of disturbed soldiers.   All to the detriment of the nation.   Tales of 'The Whistler' were born, spreading among taverns and around caravan fires. Fires which dwindled as long-distance trade routes waned.   At home, Lydric of Dubail had assured the people that his father's murderer would be brought to justice. Yet all his promises came to naught. His suspicions of foul play among the lords who opposed his father was left to collect dust as theory.   The written testimony of Corbin Tolbin had proven useless. Though the document was relinquished, the official seal untampered with,...every name seemingly mentioned within the statement had been removed. No ink saturated the paper, no crease could be detected.   A great deal of effort and skill had been exerted to cover up the murder of Modrid of Dubail.   In the end, a dozen murders would remain unsolved.   The confidence of the commonwealth in their leadership would wax thin.
  ...while Lydric, the new steward of Andilain, would never know who he could trust among the lords and ladies he served with.

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