Stenk was at the same time relieved and horrified. Relieved that the matter he is to ask forgiveness of the town for in the annual Festival of Forgiveness is a paltry matter compared to what has been revealed so far; horrified that the crime of murder was so readily forgiven! Stenk knew the ways of the New God, of which he was a street preacher, are all about forgiveness and renewal but really! Stenk resolved to confer with Father Bert later.
Stenk has lived amongst the 200 odd souls of Chuton for the last two years as a monstrous, muscular, youthful Orc. Stenk's profession as a street preacher of the New God and his unshakeable practice of always referring to himself in the third person has raised more than a few eyebrows. Doing what is unthinkable for a changeling. Stenk nearly bellows his confession, more of a challenge than a confession.
Stenk hadn't counted on revealing his true form, a form even Stenk doesn't like. Acknowledging that it should be part of the forgiveness (although in Stenk's mind it's a steeper price than the murderers paid – i.e. none!), Stenk willed his true form to be revealed. Nessus approved of the change, declaring it an improvement on an Orc. Stenk understood, but also understood that Nessus was in the minority. Gratefully Stenk assumed, to him, his natural form. Relieved, seeing only three or four participants left to go, Stenk let his mind wander.
Wait, what's that? Not forgiven? Father Bert is choking..wait I'm choking too! Blindly, Stenk flails behind himself with his staff, a couple of swipes and the pressure is gone. Rasping for breath, Stenk blurrily sees another shadow strangling someone, who it was he knows not and doesn't care, one hit and that shadow too dissipates.
Leaning on his staff, Stenk looks round. Turning, he finds one of the villagers presenting him with a pot, with vines and bones and … things. Is this you, he's asked?
"Preposterous. I reveal myself as a changeling right before I bewitch us all. No, that is not me, I don't think that's even a changeling vine."
In relatively short order the gathering splits in to groups to investigate for clues. Stenk elects to head to the standing stones, where it is said the vines come from. Stenk is surprised and gladdened that the orc hating dwarf is part of the party. Maybe it's Stenk's imagination, maybe they can be friends? That would be nice.
Nearing the stones, we all became aware that we could barely hear. It wasn't that there's no sound, it's that sound around us is being suppressed. Even with Stenk's best sermon delivering voice, he could barely make himself heard to his companions.
We crest the rise, Stenk and the barber to the fore. Stenk notices that the stone directly opposite has what seem to be reflections of him and his companions, all of them staring at Stenk. Tugging the barber's sleeve, Stenk points to the stones then steps behind the barber. All the eyes snap to the barber.
Interesting. Not quite as interesting as the two giant tusks floating and rotating in the middle of the lake.
The barber leads off around the edge of the lake, coming to the first stone. Leaning down, we see that four vines hold appear to hold the stone in place. Gesturing for Stenk to follow, the barber continues around to the next stone, where it can be seen that four vines hold that stone in place too, then on to the third stone of five, which is opposite the crest of the hill. One of the vines has been cut, most likely the one that was found in the pots in the hall.
The oppression is becoming unbearable. With a mix of gestures and charades, we decide to try and snare the horns in the middle of the lake. After several fruitless attempts, including an attempted trick shot with a bow and arrow, the barber loses his patience just before Stenk did, ties rope around his waist which is held on to by Stenk and the apothecary. Swimming out, the barber reaches for and grabs the horns.
Stenk gasps in pain as an unearthly din penetrates his ears. Wincing, Stenk looks up to see a figure floating in to the barber from one of the stones! Desperately Stenk hauls on the rope, pulling the barber to shore. Stenk loses track of the action at that point as he pulls the barber, along with the horns, out of the water. Backing off from the water it becomes clear that the creature, whatever it is, is bound to the lake. At least we can hear now, whatever fell magic was afoot, the horns seemed to have something to do with it.
We return to the town hall to share what we have learned, The other groups have made similarly portentous findings. Stenk is ready for the night to end and is turning to head home when – the grave digger. A shadow, no, a demon! Its head brushing the roof of the hall, it bellows its challenge. Stenk's duty is to the people of the village, he must stand against it. He gets a good hit in on its ankle, seeming to slow it down, not enough! The Lion, that wondrous mechanical clockwork, cops a heavy blow sending it spinning.
Spinning round, Stenk lands a heavy blow on the back of the demon's kneecap. Seeing the demon preparing another attack, Stenk knows that The Lion cannot withstand another blow.
"Over here you big dung heap!" Stenk raises his staff to deflect the blow…and that was that last thing Stenk ever did.