Gunther's Strange Guest
Across the path from the first house on the left (see the previous installment) is a much larger house with an annex. It is home to Gunther Albonson, a short human enjoying his golden years.
Gunther originally intended to open an inn near the quarry to accommodate suppliers and short-term workers who had traveled far to reach the quarry. His plan initially succeeded, and he built up a fair amount of trade, which allowed him to build a small house next to the larger building. As the only inn and public room in town, he made a fair amount of money early on, and that allowed him to better furnish his private rooms-for-rent and hire a kitchen staff worthy of the name. The cook Ameliera created a new local favorite called marble pie, which contained both chicken and beef and had a hearty gravy that contains carrots and peas. Often, those with no family would congregate in the public room for some marble pie and dark ale in the evenings.
Before the quarry closed, one of Gunther's patrons was the type Gunther expected to have visit the area: a trader specializing in picks and shovels who hoped to sell his wares to the quarry foreman. The innkeeper didn't have any hope for the slight gentleman, however, since by the time this salesperson arrived, the quarry had already been working for a few weeks -- using tools all the while. So it was quite a surprise when after a few days the gentleman walked in with a pouch fat with gold. Somehow, Gunther figured, the little guy had made his sale. Maybe there was going to be an expansion? Things were looking good for the quarry after all.
One thing of note regarding the Stranger was the increase of disappearances that coincided with the slight man's arrival -- not that anyone but Gunther noticed. Indeed, Gunther was the most likely person to notice any change in the population since his business depended on who and how many visited Relmouth. This knowledge became increasingly important as Relmouth residents began disappearing along with quarry workers. Until that started happening, Gunther would have said that quarry workers were an undependable, capricious lot that couldn't stay focused for very long on any one job. But Gunther never had the chance to raise any concerns. He was dominated by the visitor a few weeks after the Stranger arrived.
These concerns were among the last things Gunther remembers as a free-willed man. Since that night of domination, the Stranger has lived in the inn, apparently for free and with no indication of leaving. He was there when the workers died after discovering the tomb, but this tragedy and the closing of quarry operations did very little to change the Stranger's habits.
To this day the Stranger stays at the inn, feasting on the odd visitor and trying to outsmart Relmouth's talking statue (see the previous installment). Player characters who investigate may discover some of these rumors about the Stranger:
- The Stranger came to town to sell some mining picks and the like. He never gave his name in my hearing. He has shown some concern about the wellbeing of those involved with the quarry, which includes everyone here. He keeps telling us that perhaps some friends of his will see to it that it opens again." (The Stranger has, in fact, showed concern, but the part about the friends is not true.)
- The Stranger made a great deal with the foreman just before the tomb was found. He's wondering, though, where part of that statue went to. The broken hand looks like it held something, but whatever it held isn't there anymore. In fact, we're all wondering about that."
- The Stranger mentioned that he might leave soon if too many people in town keep leaving. He doesn't like the sound of living in a dying community."
- The Stranger has been staying at Gunther's inn an awful long time now. Gunther's been kinda odd, too, since the day they found the statue. Not quite sure what to make of that. Maybe it's a curse."
The Stranger's Current Motives
The Stranger is actually a vampire spawn who came to town to find new prey. He used his abilities to (eventually) make the foreman buy his wares, but only after he had had a few days to look around and ensure that the area was what he had expected in terms of prey. When the gargoyle was discovered, the Stranger saw an opportunity to advance himself. He thought -- and still thinks -- that should he can gain control of the gargoyle through diplomacy (his domination power won't work on the gargoyle), the two of them can wreak enough havoc to become rich or stage the bloodiest display of wanton destruction and death the region has ever seen. Either option will do.
He keeps his coffin in the root cellar Gunther had made up, though he pretends to sleep in a room at the inn.
The Stranger (vampire spawn): hp 35; see Monster Manual, page 253.
Bringing the Parts Together
The Stranger's goals currently revolve around Nerilk, but he also needs people to feed upon. As such, he is torn between remaining at Relmouth and trying to use Nerilk to his own ends and moving on to more populated areas where there are more opportunities to feed on people. The PCs may encounter the Stranger when he tries to feed on them or when the PCs notice that something may not be quite right with Gunther.
Coming in Part 3 of the Hamlet of Relmouth
Two happy citizens of Relmouth had their lives planned out around the quarry. When that didn't pan out, the couple were left without a future -- and then one of them died. Fortunately, the other found a way to keep the love alive forever.
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