The party followed leads to a little town after seeing some very unusual newspaper pictures that showed a couple of girls playing with an invisible friend and some very odd looking, small, gnome-like creatures. Several group members did recognizance on the home of the girls, and Nigel, as you recall, found a photographic plate that proved that the pictures were true and had not been altered. In the morning we went to the home to talk to the little girls. The were very excited about showing off their little friends, and invited us along to meet them on a picnic that afternoon. They said that "It" was invisible. "It" was the leader of "They". Their friends usually don't show themselves to grown-ups, so we had to stay hidden.
We followed the girls to the grove. Those who were a bit more stealthy stayed close, and the rest of us within shouting distance. The girls met "It", who was the invisible friend and the apparent leader. "They" were back at the village. "It" invited the girls back to the village with him. They went to a hidden entrance in the forest and the party followed behind. Bow went in first and he was told by the creatures to leave, that he wasn't welcome there. Bow argued back as only Bow can. The girls were at a table in the midst of several small huts in this hidden cave and seemed ready to enjoy a picnic. That's when Twitch noticed that the food was human body parts and yelled out to us, "They're eating people!"
Battle ensued. There were holy bolts, fighting, and gunfire. Sister Margaret tried to push her way in to get to the girls, but it was Bow who amazingly leapt over a hut and onto the table to grab the girls just before they consumed any of the flesh. He brought them out of danger and gave them to the Countessa who quickly got them cleaned up and led them away and back to their home. The party continued to fight the gnomes who were surprisingly strong given their small stature. Several of the Templars (novice Rippers) were killed. During the battle, we saw several gnomes fly through the air and disappear like they had been swallowed by something unseen. [Dr. Heimlich had also used his telekinesis to fling some gnomes into Bow who thought they were attacking him - and therefore returned the violence to them. I don't know if any characters figured it out.] At the end, Dr. Heimlich got the remaining two gnomes to surrender. They were nasty little things with no remorse for what they were doing. While Simon administered to people's wounds, Bow cleaned up, and Sister Margaret gathered thatch from the roofs to burn the human body remains. Dr. Heimlich explained that he saw the demon-like worm creature again with his sight and that is what snatched up the gnomes. He is concerned that his special sight is actually calling the worm to him and doesn't want to look anymore.
In one of the huts a box was found with a medal that was recognized as something that was awarded to a veteran Ripper. Someone knew it as an artifact that would inspire people around the one who wore it. Also, some notes were found that said these creatures were in collusion with the Cabal and captured humans for them. There was also mention of an association with Mr. Hyde.
We discussed what to do with the remaining two gnomes. After desperately trying to come up with other options, Sister Margaret took it upon herself to slay them so that they would do no more harm to innocent children. Bow warned that she shouldn't, that if she brought violence, it would come back to her. She said as long as it was her and nobody else she could accept that. Before we left, we set fire to the remains to cleanse the place.
Lisa has continued to ponder the gnomes' plans for the little girls (must have disturbed me at some level).
Clearly those girls had never heard the adage to never eat or drink anything you are offered while in Fey! (though the consequences here were a bit harsher than just distorted time passage).
And why just the girls? The gnomes clearly didn't want Bow to share in the feast (though he would have made a potentially more physically powerful monster). Is there something special about converted children? Or just that they'd be the only ones gullible enough to eat human flesh thinking it was normal food? (and were they under an enchantment or an illusion created, like the false doorway, for them to see it that way that didn't affect the adults?).
For that matter, they've been to the village before. Did they feast before too? How sad it would be if our characters ended up having to kill them as well (and Simon to extract rippertech from them).
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