Arriving at the courthouse, the party was soon directed to the barrister’s office (after having a brief altercation with the city guard). At first look Gustav appeared to be an imposing lawyer, but the moment he opened his mouth the party were immediately aware of Judge Daramid’s concerns as his persistent stress and stutter were beyond frustrating.
Toughing it out and offering their assistance, the party had him explain the current situation. He told the party that while he did not doubt the guilt of the Beast, he would do his best to defend him, but is struggling to find any evidence in support of the Beast’s innocence. He explained that the prosecution was using three recent crimes attributed to the Beast to try him for murder.
- He explained the details of each case to the party:
- The key witness in this case is Lazne, the village elder of Morast, a small hamlet in the Dippelmere Swamp about 8 miles east of Lepidstadt – a narrow trail leads from Lepidstadt to the village, a miserable collection of 20 or so woven lattice of wooden strip hovels built on stilts above the swamp and connected by soggy wooden boardwalks.
Lazne is a grizzled, middle-aged man with dirty gray hair and skin the color of swamp mud who doesn’t care much for cityfolk and foreigners.
Lazne claims that at first the Beast only took lone villagers who were outside at night, but soon became bolder and began to attack houses. These attacks only ended when Lazne organized the villagers and set a trap for the Beast. The villagers were lying in wait for the Beast, who attacked just after nightfall. Armed with torches, the locals attacked and wounded the creature—a huge, hulking brute about 7 feet tall. The Beast took to the water, but the swampers gave chase in their boats, pursuing it to the village boneyard, where it was attacked by a blood caiman. The Beast’s blood tainted the villagers’ burial ground, forcing them to abandon it and build another, the swampers thought it a small price to pay for the thing’s death.
- The key witnesses in this case are three sisters in their late forties named Garrow, Starle, and Flicht. The three lived their the bulk of their lives in Hergstag; a small, religious farming community in the Dippelmere Swamp; and were living there when the crimes occurred.
Each has related for the prosecution the tale of how the village’s children vanished one by one, only to return as ghosts. Then one day the culprit, the Beast of Lepidstadt, boldly walked into the village with the dead body of one of the children, a girl named Ellsa. Each recalls seeing the Beast laughing as it carried the child’s broken body. As soon as the locals saw the Beast, they set upon it with pitchforks, but try as they might they couldn’t catch it, and the Beast escaped into the swamp. The poor innocents it killed continued to haunt the village, and before long became too much for the locals, who soon abandoned the cursed village.
- The key witness in this case is Karl, the former assistant of Doctor Brada, the now dead administrator of the Sanctuary. He is the only survivor of the fire that consumed the sanctuary, killed the Doctor, and has left him blind.
Karl’s has told the prosecution that the last image he saw before the fire took his sight was a shambling beast escaping the burning hospital. He believes that creature was none other than the Beast of Lepidstadt.
Gustav explained that he had already interviewed the main witnesses from each of these cases and found that all their stories are very plausible and that he’s found no evidence to the contrary. He explained that the party must move quickly though – as of their meeting all preliminary evidence had already been presented to the three justices and the trial proper would start on the following day, covering the charges related to the incident in Morast – and suggests that if they are to help they should start there, and move on Herstag and then Karb Isle for the subsequent days.
As the party readied to leave, he made to stutter laden recommendations, that the party should meet the creature that they are so ready to help defend, and that if they still intend to help he requests that they also participate in the trail proper to present the evidence.
Agreeing with both of these suggestions, Gustav Kaple escorted the party into the courthouse’s cellar jail to meet the Beast of Lepidstadt for the first time. There a towering abomination sat in an iron chair, bound with no less than a dozen sets of manacles. Wire-like stitching held together the grotesque patchwork of flesh and bone, beast and man. So taut were these wires, they held the poor creatures mouth open in a twisted permanent sneer, and looked as though they could have flown apart at any moment. The creature, a shock of lank, dark hair clinging to its scalp, was slumped in it’s chair, with a despondent expression upon its monstrous face – clearly defeated.
In an attempt to question him, the party found little more than a child in the body of the monster. Clearly upset by the whole predicament, he would barely say more than that he did not do what he was accused of, and begged to be let go. Promising that they would do the best that they could, the party bid the poor thing goodbye, and made preparations to head to Morast.