The Dragonlance Nexus

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Linaras, 15th day of Reapember, 432 AC
Waking Hour rising 11
The Palanthas Herald

Murder and Mystery in Southford

by Khaisai, Staff Writer
Last Updated: Kirinor, Gildember 31, 420 AC

Southford – A murder and a mystery came to light in the small village of Southford this week.

Ana Fafrotsky moved into her elderly aunt's smallholding when the widow's health began to fail. She soon noticed persistent scratching noises in the wall of her aunt's bedroom, adjoining the barn. The noises never bothered Marianne, 76, but Fafrotsky worried that the rats, as she assumed them to be, would spread to the rest of the house. Fafrotsky told the Herald, "I couldn't stand it no more, so one day I got a bunch of lads to rip a hole in the wall so we could poison the whole lot of them. 'Cept it weren't rats, was it? Weren't no rats in there at all."

Fafrotsky instead discovered a skeleton packed into the bedroom wall, which was found to be thicker than any other in the house. The lack of damage to the bones and the deep gouges on the inside of the walls led examiners to deduce the victim was interred while still alive. It is believed the remains are of Marianne's son Derwent, thought to have died in the service of the Knights of Solamnia years ago.

Constable Topias Boyce who conducted the initial interrogation of Marianne of Southford told the Herald, "I t'ain't never seen the like. That Marianne must have ogre blood in her veins cause she never flinched once while telling me how she did it. She was long on the details but refused to divulge the name of her estranged husband. Chilled me to the bone it did.". Marianne is being held for trial.

Marianne is quoted as telling Constable Boyce, "I didn't want my boy going away to join up with the Knights. Dying on some field somewhere, leaving me alone like his father did after Derwent was born. There should always be a man about the house. And I made sure there always was!"

But the mystery remains – if the noises Ana heard were not rats, then what was scratching in the wall? Residents say it was Derwent himself, trying to escape his confinement. Their morbid belief is that for 43 years Marianne went to sleep each night to the sounds of her son's futile scratching.

Derwent may not be the only one in this story reaching out from beyond the grave: the night his remains were found, several residents of Southford reported hearing the sounds of marching feet, and the heavy jingle of armor and horses tack could be heard in the streets of Southford. A search was conducted by the local militia, but no armed men were seen anywhere in town. Fafrotsky believes it was a ghostly column of Knights come to claim their brother-in-arms. "He couldn't go to them in life, so they came to him in death. It's a comfort to think that despite his ma, Derwent finally managed to join them."