The Hooded Man / The Carter / Kalarel the Vile
Deep Hooded Cloak, Silver Mask.
The Hooded Man, known as the Carter or as Kalarel, has crossed the party’s path now many times. He always seems to be nearby when bodies start hitting dirt, and is more than happy to hand off a Crimson Gold coin for each body that he can cart away. Where does he take these bodies? Nobody knows, but he does so in broad daylight, with a horse drawn cart and all, his goblin henchmen doing all the heavy lifting.
Kalarel the Vile, Scion of Orcus, a Necromancer who was working towards a single, particular goal; to bring his master, Orcus the Undead Lord, to this plane and see this world rendered to a rotting husk fit for his rule.
Kalarel would travel the land, paying for bodies which he would cart off to his Black Tower. For each body, Kalarel would pay one Crimson Gold coin to either the body’s next of kin or to whomever slew the former living person. These gold coins, which he spilled the blood of the slain onto, acted as a beacon to inform Kalarel of any recently deceased person in its vicinity. Appearing at each location, and paying a Crimson Gold for each body, Kalarel soon had a network of Crimson Gold flowing throughout many of the villages, towns and cities of Raedric, exchanging hands with merchants and peasants, liars and cheats, and more commonly with murderers and adventurers.
Each body would then be carted off to Kalarel’s tower, for ritual sacrifice to fuel a portal deep under the tower, through which Orcus would arrive. With each body given to the Black Tower, the tower would grow, until finally it would grow to its peak, and the portal hidden in its basement gained enough life energy to fully open to the Abyss.
The heroes arrive at an inn. It’s a small inn, in a small town, it’s been a long day. The heroes need food and rest. The villagers in the inn take little notice of the heroes, they don’t much like adventurers, adventurers bring trouble.
The heroes notice in the corner of the inn are four unsavory gentlemen, obviously not local townsfolk. They wear leather armor, they have weapons. Bandits? Bounty Hunters? Seth approaches the inn-keep, standing behind the bar. He’s the typical balding butter-ball type of character; he’s fat, he’s balding on top, and if anything were different, he’d probably be jolly. But he is not jolly, he’s terrified. What is he afraid of? Perhaps the men in corner?
Seth asks “how much for a room?” and the inn-keep says, without making eye contact, “We have no rooms, no rooms. You can have food- food just, just please don’t kill anyone.”
This is a very strange thing for the inn-keep to say.
Brienne inquires again “are you sure you have no rooms, that seems, unusual.” The inn-keep, once again trying to avoid eye contact, cowers and says “No, no. No rooms. You can have anything you want to drink, eat, it- it’s on the house. Just please don’t get into a fight, please don’t kill anyone.” This is unusual behavior.
One of the four hooded men in the corner stands up, and tries to leave, without paying, without finishing his meal. The rest of the men at his table follow him. Seth places himself between the men and the door and says “Where do you think you’re going? You haven’t payed, and the inn-keep seems to be worried about you for some reason.”
The man says “I was just leaving, we’d appreciate the cooperation, if you don’t mind stepping aside.” and the man reaches for his dagger. A villager steps between the man and Seth, he tell the men leaving “You won’t be going anywhere. With these ratcatcher’s help, we’ll run you Rabid Dogs out of town.” The men draw steel, as does half the party, the others stepping aside to make room for the inevitable fight, and it’s initiative.
Of course, they’re just bandits. It’s a quick battle, the heroes easily win. They’re congratulating themselves, and there are now four dead bandits in the inn, and the inn-keep is completely panicking. “I told you not to start a fight, I told you not to kill anyone. Why didn’t you listen to me?” The party turn to the inn-keep to inquire what on earth he’s panicking about. Then the doors open, and they find out.
Floating across the floor toward the inn-keep as if the act of walking itself is beneath him comes Kalarel the Vile. Tall, in black and red robes, his pale face hidden behind a mask. From underneath his cloak, Kalarel reaches out a pale hand, clasped in a fist, and says, “As per our usual arrangement.” The inn-keep, shaking, terrified, as though his body is not under his own control, reaches out his palm. Kalarel the Vile drops five pieces of blood red gold into the inn-keeps’ hand. “You are as good as your word. A pleasure doing business with you again, my friend.”
He turns his back on the in-keep, and with that, his goblin minions flood into the room, grabbing the corpses and taking them to the waiting wagon outside.
What kind of fell bargain is there between Kalarel and this inn-keep, and how did he know the moment there were corpses in the inn?