On its way to the citadel, Tuo’Rath, for the Festival of Spirits, the caravan gets attacked by bandits as they make camp for the night. The caravan is comprised of families; craftsmen, women, children, their cats.
The only men trained and equipped to fight the bandits aren’t exactly men…
Dragonborn, the Saurian Paladin from the northern badlands.
The Nameless One, an orphan Saurian Mage who travels with Dragonborn.
and Merlin, a Revenant Wizard and womanizer.
The three of them took a defensive stance between the bandits and the caravan, and as the thieves approached Dragonborn moved in on the left as the Nameless One flanked them on the right as Merlin assailed them head on.
Thrust into the mix, they had almost cut their way through the bandit ranks and to their leader, but the of the bandits, Wiley Kurt, sounded the retreat and escaped with most of his men, uttering an oath of revenge under his breath.
The rest of that night passed uneventfully and on the evening of the next day the caravan safely arrived at Tuo’Rath.
As they strode past the gates of the high walled city, Dragonborn, the Nameless One, and Merlin, the hustle and bustle of the marketplace hit them full force. People were everywhere, buying, selling, eating and drinking. Merriment was the face of the city.
The Festival of Spirits was well under way with people in masks and costumes parading about the blue-lamp lit streets. Games and attractions were on every corner and booths were lit with colorful lanterns.
They sifted through the crowd, all but ignored for their strange appearances, for Tuo’Rath has always considered itself to be the hub of trade and knowledge, and many visitors have come here from across the world, and not all of them human.
Whilst Merlin flirted with passing wenches, the Nameless One overheard murmured gossip about a haunted mansion open in the upper town residential district. Dragonborn, aware of the light weight of the group’s coin purse, kept his eyes peeled for job opportunities, as the pay off for escorting the caravan to Tuo’Rath hardly paid for the risks taken, and had even less of a chance of landing them all a separate bed for the night. And Dragonborn wasn’t about to share a bed with that rotting corpse, Merlin.
As the evening wore on, they noticed a few posters here and there, thinking nothing of it at first, but eventually their numbers grew until curiosity overwhelmed them and the wanderers took a gander at the posters.
As they read their eyes grew wide; the posters were asking for someone to help rescue people who had gone missing during the festival. One was posted by the sister of a young red-head who had gone off to work and never came back. The other was posted by a group of friends whose fourth member had gone missing in a haunted mansion attraction. The three adventurers read both posters and realized that the haunted mansion and the place where the girl had gone missing were one and the same.
They decided to head off to the house where the people had gone missing. Dragonborn was concerned about the missing persons, the Nameless One remained stoic but aware that there may be some occult reason for their disappearance, and Merlin was eager to meet this red-headed woman.
As they knocked on the door to the Crowsworth residence, uncertainty and fear crept into their hearts. Slowly the door opened and the butler, a large and imposing man answered, bidding them enter.
As they followed, they glanced down the hallway and noticed two maids standing there, their faces expressionless, eyes staring past the four of them as they walked down the hall.
And one of them had red hair.
At the end of the hall, the butler opened a thick door, and gestured for the three adventurers to enter. After several moments of hesitance, one by one, they did enter the small damp cellar. In the center of the room they spotted a glowing blue crystal, floating on its own and rotating very slowly. Behind them the door closed shut and locked, and as soon as it did, the blue crystal began to spin faster and faster till a bright light flashed before them, and the crystal disappeared.
As they searched the room they found that the way they came in was not only locked, but unbreakable. For all their pounding, the door would not budge. On the opposite wall, they saw a rotted, moldy tapestry depicting a small, white rabbit trotting down into a hole under a tree. Perhaps a forerunner of what was to come?
As they searched behind the tapestry they found a door, which opened. As they each passed into the dark room beyond, the door slammed shut behind them, and they were cast into darkness.
The moments passed briefly as they searched the room in the dark finding nothing, and unable to open the door. As they began to panic, the room shook, and the sounds of two or more creatures slithering into the room were heard.
In the darkness, two bodies could be felt moving about, their serpent like forms rippling silently in the inch of water covering the floor. Merlin was the first to feel one of them brush up against him, and he lashed out, cutting at the creature with his sword. The resultant hiss that screeched back at him told him he had somehow hit his mark, even though he felt only slight resistance to his blade’s edge.
The next one went after the Nameless One, and dealt him a solid blow, while Dragonborn rushed to his friend’s side, lashing out at the darkness in desperation to hit what could not be seen.
After a few moments’ frantic struggle, all was silent except the panicked breathing of the two Saurian adventurers. Merlin, the revenant wizard explored the empty space where the wall opened up and found some small herbs growing there. Recognizing their healing potential, he took them with him.
Finding that the door was now open, the three of them moved on to a room dimly bathed in a blue light, the source of which was a large cluster of mushrooms growing around a fountain set in the east wall. The adventurers took several mushrooms with them as a source of light, and drank their fill from the fountain’s waters, finding, to their surprise, that their exhaustion and soreness dissipated and they were filled with renewed vigor for what may lie ahead.
Seeing a solid wooden door leading to yet another room, they could find no way to open it, for it had no handle and no lock. The Nameless One searched around the room and found an odd knob protruding from the western wall, and when he pushed it the door opened.
Entering the next room, the door closed behind them yet again. By the light of the glowing mushrooms, the three of them observed a large gap and a door painted bright red with gold trim decorating it. The walls were earthen, and the ceiling crumbling dust on them as they stood there. Along the walls were old beams which appeared to be holding the ceiling in place.
As they stood there, the room began to shake, and the dust from the ceiling turned to pebbles, then to stones. Grabbing a loose beam from a corner, Dragonborn lay it across the chasm and darted across, with Merlin close behind him. Hesitating but for a moment, the Nameless One saw several creatures crawl out from the pit below.
Their appearance was as darkness itself, but wet, glistening with a shimmering light that seemed to simply bend around them rather than reflecting off of them. Their bodies seemed serpentine, but without a solid physical form, and in the dim glow of the mushrooms, evanescent.
With a sudden burst of energy, the Nameless One felt a slight wave of his power return for a moment. Seizing the opportunity, he let loose a magic wave of energy, jolting the creature from where it stood on the beam, blasting it into the earthen wall.
With great haste and death on their heels, the three of them escaped through the red door, and found themselves in an altogether different place than expected.
The three travelers enter a round room, and as they do, the door behind them closes gently and disappears.
The room is dimly lit by candle light, but bright enough to see. They notice a small window, and as the Nameless One sticks his arm out to try and squeeze through, something slimy brushes past his hand and he withdraws quickly.
With nowhere to go, the three of them examine a large book shelf that strangely contains only three books.
The first book they open reads as a journal, with many entries regarding a man’s son going off to the University of Magic to study. As they read they find that this son fell in with a bad crowd and was betrayed to death by them in their study of Animatus magic, only to be brought back to the world of the living as a Revenant.
The second book they opened contained a spell that activated upon its opening and summoned into the room two black creatures of shadow. Visible yet indescribable in the dim light, these creatures moved about swiftly and silently, their bodies disrupted by the blows of the three travelers till they became so disseminated that they simply ceased to be. Yet the three companions knew that their foes had not truly been banished.
Reading the second book magically lowered a stairwell down from the ceiling, and the three of them ascended the stairway.
Up the stairs they found a nearly barren room, containing only a small chest and a mirror that cast no reflection save that of the room.
As the Nameless One struck the window in the room he knocked loose some bricks and a small key fell to the floor. With the key they opened the chest and found three items. A lamp, another key, and a bag of gold coins. They also found that if they took two items that the third remaining item would disappear from the chest, so choosing carefully, they took the key and the lamp.
Standing in front of the mirror, Dragonborn found that he now cast a reflection in the mirror while holding the key, and upon touching the mirror, his hand passed through it, and upon retracting his hand from the mirror, the key had disappeared from his hand. No sooner had the key disappeared than the stairway down slowly slid its way up to the ceiling above them, and they could now move up to the next floor.
Stepping out into the new room, the travelers were startled to see six crimson robed figures standing around a bubbling cauldron chanting some spell. They found they could not interact with the six sorcerers, and stood helpless as the events played out in front of them like some sort of dream.
As the six sorcerers chanted, outside the window a blood moon rose into position, and the sorcerers became agitated. Loud thumping on the walls permeated the air, and suddenly a giant, rotted hand swept through the room, crumbling the walls and clutching the six sorcerers. The walls collapsed and the ceiling rushed down upon the three companions but stopped suddenly as the un-damaged section of wall rested firmly on the floor. Now a ladder that had been broken off half way up the wall was accessible, and the three continued their journey ever upward.
Finding themselves in what appeared to be the final chamber, they beheld a glowing blue crystal, exactly like the one they had seen in the basement of the old Crowsworth residence. Thinking this would be an opportune time to put an end to the madness, they struck the crystal, causing it to shatter, and as it did another creature of shadow appeared. This one appeared alone, but was enormous in size, towering above the eight foot Saurian Paladin, Dragonborn. Filling the room with its dark mass, the creature lashed out at the adventurers, and they fought back vigorously, their magical powers now restored.
Upon slaying the creature, the room spun around them and they woke up in a strange library, back in the Crowsworth residence.
As the three companions came to, they saw a young man, huddled in the corner, seemingly on the verge of insanity. When questioned, he would only utter the words: “no… no.. no… won’t leave… staying here.. not safe!”
They asked the student his name he responded: “Mik… Heel… must… find brother… Daavid!”
Merlin remembered that some of the missing persons’ posters around town were posted by a student named Daavid, looking for his brother Mik’Heel. So at last, they had found one of the missing persons.
Convinced that Mik’Heel would not leave, they thought it safer for him to remain there.
Examining the room before they left, the party found a letter, with their names on it.
“I am sorry for what you have been put through. My son has become a monster, an abomination. I wished to put him to rest but could not bring myself to do it. I believe he sensed my intentions however, so the only way i could put an end to his plans was to bring someone else in to do it for me. Even then he blocked me, using the people who came here for his experiments. He even put you in a magic trance, you’ve been in this study the whole time. Please, stop my son from destroying the lives in this city! Signed~ Andre Crowsworth”