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Party 6

AtomGray

New Member
Ritual Chamber:

Understanding that it wasn't safe here, you start to make your way out of the ritual chamber. Looking for the portcullis that Varis had opened, a couple of you make it through safely when suddenly the gate slams shut all by itself, as if possessed. Although Varis's efforts made it easier to pull the portcullis back up again, it's still a distraction and wasting precious time that you could use to be getting out.

Benson quickly flings his pack from his back onto the dry stone edge on the other side of the portcullis. "Oh, no" he says angrily, like he would if he were correcting the behavior of a riding horse who starts to buck and fight. "This is not how this is going to work -- we are not dying in here."

He pulls the crowbar from his pack, jams it through the rungs of the gate and between the bricks in the wall, and begins to lift with all his might. The door seems stuck, as if held down by an invisible hand, but then slowly begins to lift.

"Go!" he tells his trapped companions through gritted teeth. They have to crawl, but the stunt works and only after the last of his friends make it under does he let the gate splash back down.

"Let's move!" Benson says, grabbing his pack and running up the corridor.
 

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Dungeon Level Corridors:
You come barreling up the stairs -- and find nothing short of a nightmare realm. The earthen walls are alive with roaches, centipedes that fall onto your heads, all getting
twisted in your hair. You turn right in the fork in the road, towards the trapdoor that you know is just around the corner -- but soon enough you're greeted with a rabid snarl as the the familiar stench of rot assails your senses.

There must be another ghoul, a remnant of those you dispatched earlier -- you must find some way around it.

Den of Wolves:
Deftly moving past the ghoul and leaving it to wander around aimlessly in the corridors, you sneak over to the room from before. The statue where the cloak and orb once stood is still there -- but you almost feel like it's watching you as you make your way past to the hidden trapdoor and ascend.

You open the old hinges to be greeted by billowing smoke -- surging forth from the fireplaces in every room. The front entrance to this forsaken mansion is just beyond the main hall, beckoning you -- but just as you grasp your bearings, you notice that the stuffed wolves lining the walls of this hunter's den seem to animate and shake free of their bounds, as if brought to life by the darkness within this place.

Entrance Hall:
After Hazel tells these stuffed wolves to stand down they wordlessly kinda heel and let you pass through without issue. You manage to run through the smoke and pull open the large wooden double doors to find the main hall in shambles. The wooden carvings on the walls are cracked, the chandelier is rigid and half-shattered, and smoke is pouring out from all of the side rooms and even rolling down from the stairs.

Looking for the most obvious way out, you look to the main foyer and lunge for the exit, desperate to escape. It seems you're finally out at last... until you find that it doesn't budge at all, its sturdy doors almost laughing at your futile attempts to force it open. Didn't this door refuse to open before? Why would it now, when the house itself was out to claim your very lives?

A moment after this revelation you notice something something else -- the walls along the foyer are suddenly brittle and centuries rotted away, as the doors between you and the main hall slowly creak shut behind you...!

Jumping back out just in time you watch as the foyer doors shut right behind you, having been too quick for its grasp. You notice that a fetid, filthy smell seems to seep out of the cracks in the door, as the walls to each side of the door appear to have become brittle, barely more than a shell of rotted wood covered by flimsy wallpaper. You hear the skittering of rats beyond, threatening to claw their way out -- but that didn't scare you. Reppip steps up to cast a soothing sleeping spell on the rats, quelling most of their activity though it was clear that others lay in wait within the walls.

With a wild ferocity in her eyes, Hazel launches herself at the front door once more and pushes with all her might as the rest of the party pitches in to help. It's all disorienting -- the smoke filling your lungs, the debris raining down upon you, the putrid smell of plague rats crawling out of the walls and magically sleeping along the rotted floorboards. Despite your best efforts it seems to stay put, as if held by magic... and then suddenly it gives way, causing you all to spill out along the front porch of the dilapidated house. You drag yourself away from the house just in time to watch the door brick up once more, sealing itself up as if by some twisted magic.

The rumbling stops. All is silent. And behind you, the mists recede to reveal the dark cobblestone streets of an unfamiliar village.


 
Last edited:

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Chapter 3: A Village in the Valley

Just as the mists recede there's a slight pitter patter as a soft drizzle begins to descend upon you, masking the sound of your steps away from the accursed death house. There's a chill in the air, rolling down from the hills above and snaking its way through the streets of the village; it's still dark out, but between your own magical light and the soft glow of moonlight above diffused by thick clouds you can make your way through the settlement easily enough. The streets are laid out simply, feeding into a main crossroads at the center of town that has large paths leading east and west out of the village, and smaller footpaths north and south.

The houses are old and rickety, many of them seemingly abandoned or left alone if the rotting wood and boarded up windows could attest to the fact. There's no one walking around the streets, not at this late hour, though you do hear the occaisonal flap of bird wings or a dog barking in the distance. If you see candlelight within the houses, it is faint and fleeting; and as far as you can tell, there are only two fairly lit buildings within town -- an inn named the "Blood of the Vine Tavern" at the center of the crossroads, and a larger two-storied mansion at the end of the southern street. A general store of sorts stands next to the tavern but is locked at the moment.

To the south, you can hear the distant rushing of a river bolstered by the rain. To the northwest, a larger church can be seen atop a small hill surrounded by an iron gate; beyond it, the beginning of a forest surrounds the village, before giving way to tall mountaincliffs whose peaks you cannot see in the dead of night.

You were alive, you knew that much at least. But there were still many questions, and not nearly enough answers.


 

AtomGray

New Member
Benson cannot believe what he's seen. The whole thing feels impossible, like living some kind of nightmare. And as he would if he were to wake from such a dream, he takes out his flask, tilting it upward. Not bothering to hide it, nor even to stand up. His vestments, still being worn from the earlier impromptu funeral, are soaked, dirty, and torn. The flask gives up its last few drops and the cleric drops onto his back, exhausted.
 

ratbot

New Member
Reppip, for a moment is somber, remembering the passed children, the spirits, the sheer pain of that house. He takes a deep breath, giggles, and remembers an old childhood marching tune that his people used to sing in a caricature of human soldiers so eager to fight. Fighting *is* fun. It's exciting. People do *brave* things, and do them for *good* causes, for rescue. Violence isn't bad or laughable, at least not necessarily. He starts to sing, quietly.

"The folks go marching one by one,
In a long old line,
They're there to make heroes of themselves,
Though they have not much time.
Tis nothing to lose a life on the field,
If it's done with valor.
For it doesn't take bright eyes to see
All of the world's palour.
Forward we go, heroes we are,
On we march, to bring the good,
And we all shall go on far..."
 

Chinchster

Junior Member
Varis brushes himself off of the dust and grime clinging to him from the crumbling building behind. All that's with him is the orb and the memories of the people he met. Tucking the orb away he thinks to himself, i'll keep you in here, tucked close to my heart until you regain your flame. As I aim to find the light inside me to lul the darkness, I hope to find the flicker of light for you once again.

Wiping his brow of the sweat and feeling the weight of battle and emotion set in, Varis looks for the nearest place of rest.
 

Locke9558

Locke
Hazel takes a deep breath and attempts to collect herself. She has a wild, almost feral glint to her eye. After a moment though she seems to deflate, and her frame sags under some invisible weight. "Ahhhh... hah. Hah! We done made it out of there. Sure was touch and go for a minute though. I'm... not entirely sure what came over me. I just knew that I was NOT going to let that house defeat me." She shakes her head, "Varis, Reppip, Benson, you guys are alright. I'm glad that you're here with me now. I hate to be a downer, but I get the distinct sense we're not going to find happy people here to greet us. Reppip, you just keep pluckin' away like you do. If we just keep singin', we'll be okay." She casts about for somewhere to go, "Over there, I think that's a tavern. They usually have beds to sleep in for the right price, and we can at least get a sense of where we are and what's going on. We never did find out what happened to ole Stanimir and the other Vistani, we should probably see what we can find out about where they ended up." She picks herself up slowly, but resolutely, "C'mon gentleman, we'll all feel better once we've washed and gotten some sleep."
 

AtomGray

New Member
"Hans," Benson corrects, crawling to his feet. "That was the kid who drove the cart. He said that he knew the roads like the back of his hand, but he never came back. This place doesn't look like it's had a visitor besides us in... well, at least not tonight."

He swipes his hands down his priestly vestments, trying in vain to clear off the muck and dungeon filth. He shakes his head. "Yeah, let's find a room and pray that it's nothing like that gods-forsaken place."

Benson sees Varis carefully handling the orb. Without saying anything he puts a hand on the sorcerer's shoulder sympathetically.
 

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Blood of the Vine Inn:

As you enter through the creaking wooden doors of the inn, you're greeted by a bit of light and warmth from the fireplace in the corner - though this late into the night, it has mostly subsided to flickering embers without anyone bothering to stoke the flames. Slightly more luminous is the light from the oil flasks scattered around the room - one by the bar, the other accompanying an older woman at a corner table next to the fireplace. The rest of the tables are empty, wiped clean for the night with the chairs stacked up.

Swaddled in light handwoven robes and a warm shawl, the woman's style of wear is faintly familiar to that of the nomads you had come across albeit much more dulled and modest. She tilts her head up slightly to survey the new group of arrivals, before continuing to hunch over the small pile of books and records she was inspecting by lamplight, pulling her dark brown hair behind one ear.

At the counter a pudgy man in a roughspun tunic and apron mindlessly wipes down a wine glass in the faint lighting, seemingly more to keep his hands and mind busy at this late hour than to make the shining glass any cleaner than it already was. A passed out man lays fast asleep nearby, slumped over the bar with a small pool of drool having accumulated. Every so often, the apparent bartender reaches over and wipes it clean, then returns to his busywork without skipping a beat. He barely acknowledges your presence with little more than a nod.

After a moment the woman seems to mull it over before she speaks up from her table, adjusting her spectacles. "Erm... can I help you? Looks like you've been through quite the trouble."
 

ratbot

New Member
Strutting into the Inn, Reppip intentionally avoids Hazel's hesitant look as she realizes what's about to happen. Reppip steps into the center of the room and yells "Okay, back it up, please, everyone step back a few feet, we need some space for this."

Reppip whips out his new lute, avoiding the string that doesn't properly tune, and starts strumming rhythmically in a few sweet chords, some cadences, a few nice melodies. While doing these, he starts dancing. Initially just hopping from one foot to the other, but soon hoping in full 360 circles, onto unoccupied tables and chairs, from one to the next, never missing a beat in his chords or melodies. Once he has everyone's attention, he starts singing in earnest.

"From a haunted house come we,
A man of finest divinity,
A fella whose magics are unmatched,
A holy warrior lady whose fists fly like bats,
And what you see before you,
flying from tables, strumming chords true...

After such feats of unparalleled bravery,
Some decent room and board need we,
Some meals quite substantial,
Padded bedding is essential,
So that we can continue

To serve the power of the true!

<c'mon, sing along>
Feed them!
Clean them!
Get them some rest!

These heroes
Among us
And for this we're blest!

Feed them!
Clean them!
Get them some rest!

For we are honored,
To share a roof with them,
The truly best!"
 

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Blood of the Vine Inn:

There's a couple seconds of awkward silence as the last chords of Reppip's song dissipate into the creaky walls of the tavern. The passed out man at the bar eventually shakes himself awake, drunkenly clapping at the spectacle before waving down the bartender. "Mmmmm gimme another," he slurs, pointing to a cask behind the counter. The bartender automatically turns around and fills the glass he was cleaning with wine from the cask, before offering it to the man and holding his other hand out expectantly. The man fishes out a silver piece and begins to sip away, as the bartender returns to his cleaning like nothing had happened.

Not knowing what else to do the woman at the table hesitates for a second before clapping slowly, a rather lonely sound after the razzle dazzle. "That's... very charming," she begins, the older woman slowly gathering her papers as if cautious the small bard would jump onto her table as well. "I guess that was some sort of plea for free room and board? Unfortunately we run a business here and I can't exactly --"

"Do not worry, I will pay for them." A young woman with straight raven-black hair and dark eyes slowly and methodically makes their way down the stairs, their steps lightly tapping across the wooden planks. She wears a simple dark dress and a fur-trimmed jacket and cloak, and keeps her hands clasped behind her back as she walks. "Greetings, adventurers. I presume you are the ones my mistress told me to expect tonight."

The innkeeper at the table seems to open her mouth as if to say something, but is quickly silenced when the young woman pulls out a handful of gold pieces from her belt and places on the table in a neat stack. "That should cover at least a night's stay, and food and drink," she adds coolly, before looking back to the group. "I presume you will have questions."
 

Locke9558

Locke
Hazel's eyes narrow, she appraises the woman with barely restrained suspicion. "Hello ma'am. I'm Hazel, and this is the wrecking crew." She gestures broadly at her team mates. She follows this up with a forced, but polite nod of the head in the lady's direction. "Now, excuse my bluntness but we've had a hell of a day and I'm not in a trusting mood. I'm also hungry. Slaying creatures of darkness isn't easy work." Her yellow tinged eyes flash dangerously, "So will you please explain who you are, how you were expecting us, why you're interested in us, and who your Mistress is? I ain't in the mood for games so please don't dance around my questions."
 

AtomGray

New Member
Benson, exhausted, has made himself comfortable at the bar. If anyone thinks it's odd that a man of the cloth is sitting there, Benson's body language makes it clear that this is no unusual position for him.

"Clear liquor on ice. I'll open a tab," he says, and drinks cup after cup. Eventually his paper-white skin is tinged with red around his nose and ears, and his gray hair hangs over the edges of his face.

Reppip's song seems to raise his spirits a bit, drawing his attention off the ice cubes in his glass. When the woman descends the stairs into the bar, he looks over at her suspiciously, waiting for what reply may come to Hazel's questions. Without letting his eyes leave her, he takes another long sip of his drink.
 

Chinchster

Junior Member
As Varis enters his eyes light up with what little energy he has left going along with the tune Reppip creates. With its final melody, Varis moves to a table putting his chin down on it and slowly rolling his new orb back and forth hoping for a sign.

Through the orb he sees the jet black hair of the woman coming down the stairs, in his exhaustion he believes it's something inside. But then the orb continues to roll and it is no longer hope, but just a standard day. Hearing Hazel respond to his right, Varis rolls his head letting his cheek bone hit the table, "if I may just ask one question, where are we?"
 

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Blood of the Vine Inn:

The stonefaced bartender seems to pay no mind to Benson's current attire, though he seems to stare blankly at his order of clear liquor. The older woman at the table notices this after a few seconds and calls out to him in a foreign language, after which he seems to perk up in understanding. Crouching down below the bar he finds a small glass and slides it in front of benson before trudging towards the back storeroom. Benson might notice in his absence that there is in fact no hard liquor on display behind the counter, only large casks of wine of various builds. Eventually though the pudgier man does return with a dark bottle about three-fourths full with a clear liquid, the label written in a script the cleric does not understand. He does however recognize the taste of vodka, chilled by the midnight air, and the taste is comfortably numbing as every new glass is poured.

"Greetings, Hazel and... 'wrecking crew'. An interesting term," comments the young woman with a slight curtsy, carefully closing the flap on her belt pocket once more. "You said you were hungry? Perhaps the innkeeer would like to take care of that," she says, looking over to the other woman. She in turn glances back and forth briefly before shrugging slightly and reaching out for the gold coins, plucking them from the stack one at a time as she counted in her head. "I'll see if there's anything leftover for stew, don't get another shipment 'til the morning," she replies slowly, shoving the gold into a side pocket and making her way to the kitchen as well.

"I would not dare dance, when you are most likely exhausted from your endeavors," replies the young woman, glancing briefly at the kitchen door as it shuts closed behind the innkeeper. She makes her way over to the table where Varis had gone, seating herself at the opposite end of the large round table. "You also seem on edge, understandably so. Perhaps 'mistress' is heavy-handed -- I am not certain of its connotations in the Vaasi tongue," She notes, clasping her hands on the table. "Would you prefer my 'lady'? Or my 'employer'? Any of those are sufficient for my working relationship with Mrs. Cosovei."

Waiting a moment for Hazel to sit down as well if she wanted, she clears her throat before starting to speak again. "I will attempt to answer your questions in order, though the facts will intertwine. My name is Valeria, and I assist my employer in her personal and diplomatic affairs around the valley and beyond. She is physically ailing and could not be available to entertain you at this time, so I am here in her stead. From what I am aware there was a shifting of necrotic energies in the Durst household, an abode notorious for drawing in newly arrived outsiders with illusions and dark magics, which prompted Mrs. Cosovei's further inspection before finally noticing your presence. Mrs. Cosovei has kept an eye on the cursed abode with divinations, and tried several times to uncover its secrets to varying levels of success. Those artifacts you uncovered were from previous adventurers' attempts to explore the house, all of which either came from Mrs. Cosovei's personal collection or one of her acquaintances," she states, gesturing at the orb rolling around the table then at Hazel's cloak.

"Lady Elena Cosovei is a woman of noble descent, wed to Traian Girghiu, brother to the burgomaster of Zeidenburg, Jacenty Girghiu. She prefers the surname of Cosovei. She is talented in the mystic arts, among other things, and holds a curiosity towards outsiders that enter the domain -- especially those who were successful in navigating the Durst household, a situation that is typically lethal. She offers her arcane expertise and resources -- and by extension, my own skills -- in the hopes of developing a mutually beneficial relationship. This may include work or 'quests' as some may put it, if you are interested." She takes a brief breath before continuing on. "And finally, you are in the village of Barovia, within the Barovian Valley, located on the southern half of the Core. You were drawn here by the mists, and you will not find your way back to your homeland by walking back the way you came."

She pulls out a small notebook from her pack, then a quill and ink bottle, as if preparing to write. "Any other questions?"
 

AtomGray

New Member
"You knew about the house?" Benson asks. "Wait, wait...." He says with a slight slur and closes his eyes and tries to focus his thoughts.

I'm so tired, he thinks to himself and when he lifts his heavy lids again, the curious woman is still there.

"W-we're not the first. Other people have gone through that place? Have others lived through it?

"A-and, no. The mist didn't make us come here, they were wolves. Hans, what happened to Hans?"
 

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Blood of the Vine Tavern:

"The house has stood here for decades, if not longer. The villagers are fearful enough by superstition, though a cursory inspection reveals that it is more than meets the eye." explains Valeria, calm in her exposition though it is clear she holds some interest in the concept. "Clearly cursed, meant to trap the unsuspecting. Rumored to shift or even repair itself over time, and any signs the villagers have tried to put up warning against it have conveniently disappeared after a night or two. Some have escaped with their lives, though your impact has been more... profound. It will be curious to see the long-term effects of your crusade."

At the mention of wolves and of their lost acquaintance she seems to scribble a few notes down, in a foreign script none of you can recognize. "But it was a foggy night, no? All arrivals to Barovia find themselves here after wandering through the mists, whether they be native or outsider. Though if you came from somewhere else in the Core, you likely had a better idea of what was on the other side. I do not know the fate of this 'Hans', I was only made aware of your existence once an anomaly was detected within the house. Keeping track of every person wandering the roads is beyond even my lady's capabilities."
 

Locke9558

Locke
Hazel pauses, and grinds her teeth for a second, completely unsure what to make of the pretty pale woman in front of her. After a brief moment, she lets out a deep breath and takes a seat. More observant people might notice that her eyes seem slightly more blue than they did a moment ago, and less golden. She sighs, and turns back to regard Valeria, "Sorry Vally, it's been a rough day. Though you've been straight with us so far, so I'll be straight with you. This all seems too convenient to me, and I'm learning that suspicion is likely a healthy trait to develop 'round these parts. We get brought here by some Vistani who happen to get attacked by wolves, and happen to leave just us behind, and we just happen to stumble into this evil house right afterwards, where we just happen to find these artifacts, and when we escape we just happen to run into you right away. This is what my folks back home would call a "coinkydink", and they never really meant it." She looks over at Benson, "You better lay off the hard stuff Benson. I ain't carrying you around tomorrow. Don't bother me none if you get plastered tonight, but you're hauling your own ass out of bed in the morning." Smirking, she turns back to Valeria, "Anyhow, I've got a couple more questions. Why was Lady Cosyvosy sending people into that house? What was so important about it? Secondly, you mentioned us working for her. Seeing as how we don't really have much else going on I'm amenable to hear what she has to say, but due to the nature of her interests and the fact that some of her previous hires have been sent to their dooms I'm not committing to anything just yet. 'Sides, I'm good at killing evil stuff and not much else. Never would have gotten out of that place if it weren't for Benson, Varis, and Reppy-boy over there."
 

ratbot

New Member
At the most serious moments of Hazel's speech, Reppip starts (quietly) plucking a martial tune.
 

Chinchster

Junior Member
Varis listens intently at the back and forth chiming in when he deems necessary, "So is this hers?" As he picks up the orb he raises his head as well. The new knowledge jump starting his brain as he tries to read the truths in what is said. "Is what you have stated all of the knowledge your employer has gained of the house?" Muttering to himself, "it seems we are where the Vasanti wanted to bring us at least."

Looking back to Valeria, "So once we're done here, if we can't go back the same way, what's the path back to the Sword Coast?" From the exertion of thinking he slouches back as it creaks, resting his head against the wall.
 

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Blood of the Vine Tavern:

Valeria merely shrugs at Hazel, writing down more notes at a steady and controlled pace. "Perhaps it is a 'coinkydink', as you call it, or perhaps it is simply an interested party making the most of a sudden opportunity. I do not know why the Vistani brought you here as you said, they work in their own mysterious ways. Though, the woods here are generally quite dangerous, and infested with wolves of all sorts -- an attack is not out of the question."

She seems to take note of the alcohol Benson was consuming but doesn't say much of it, idly twirling the quill between two fingers as the ink dries. "My apologies, I did not mean to imply that she willingly sent adventurers to their deaths. There was investigation into the house soon after the apparent disappearance of the Durst family, once a very affluent name in the area; the investigations ceased after it was clear that the abode had become a sinkhole for negative energy. Now it is only passively observed, with the occasional divination and by gathering data from individuals who wander in there by accident. It is not difficult to, as the illusory magics the house conjures up are quite convincing." She glances briefly around the room before continuing. "Based on previous cases, it is not entirely lethal but often those who enter leave without their entire party intact. So to exit as a whole on top of dealing with whatever source of dark energy was beneath the house is very notable indeed." She looks to Varis when he speaks up, eyeing the orb again. "I do believe it was hers, yes, though long-term exposure to dark energies may have altered it slightly..."

As she pauses, seemingly thinking of what else to say, there's a large creak as innkeeper woman from before comes out with a large platter. She comes over and places it on the table, offering out bowls of dark steaming broth and a common plate of stale bread. "That's all I got until the morn'," she says with a shrug, before handing Valeria a crumpled note. "Tell Alenka in the morning that you've paid already, you'll get first choice on the fresh shipment." Giving another tired nod she begins making her way back to her papers and starting to pack up.

"There is... much more to discuss, but I imagine you all will want to rest soon," Valeria eventually adds, stowing the note neatly in her breast pocket before turning back to the group. "I will be leaving promptly in the morning to return to Zeidenburg, you are free to accompany me or to arrive at your own leisure." She starts to get up, glancing back one last time at Varis. "I do not know the path back, but if there is one, my Lady could likely find it."

"How many rooms for all you?" the innkeeper calls out to the group, waving around a ring of rusted keys before pointing at the passed out man next to Benson. "Not staying down here much longer, and I'm charging that fellow extra for the inconvenience of passing out at my bar."
 

AtomGray

New Member
Benson takes a hunk of the stale bread and sops up some of the dark stew with it. The stew is old enough to have reduced and now tastes over-salty, but the bread feels at least a little comforting. He finishes his piece, crumbling the last dry bits of crust between his fingers as the lady Valeria speaks.

Benson turns on the barstool, facing his companions and he begins speaking. "In Sossal, there is often told a tale of two children who are led into the woods by their mother-... father? Step-mother, probably, as they're usually the evilest in these sorts of tales. Anyway, the children are left in the woods to be eaten by wolves with only bread and water to save them from painful starvation, but the children are smart and leave a trail of breadcrumbs, and in the moonlight, they find their way home.

"Us, we've got no crumbs leading back the way we came. The moonlight continues to shine ahead of us, on the path we followed here: to save the land from the prince. Else, we abandon the illuminated path and wander the woods hoping to find our way back home.


He goes to take another drink but the liquid stays in his cup. He looks closely at it to find the reason why and finds that his cup is already empty. He closes his eyes a moment and visibly wobbles before opening them again.

"This place continues to be a puzzle. Better not to strain ourselves over figuring it out while we're stricken with exhaustion and concerns for our well-being. I suggest we rise at dawn with clear heads, and then seek to find some truth in this land of mist and shadow.

"A room for me, and whoever would share it with me, please."
 
Second Day

Kanaxe_Ru

Senior Member
Blood of the Vine Tavern:

"Awfully poetic for someone so drunk,"
the innkeeper comments towards Benson with a yawn, eventually pulling two keys off her ring and sliding them across the table towards Valeria. "Guess we'll go with two rooms then." With her business concluded she gives the group a final tired nod before starting to make her way back up the stairs, trodding up the stairs and down the hall until her steps eventually fall silent.

Valeria soon follows suit, depositing the plates and cups back in front of the bartender who accepts them without question. "Rest well, there is much business to be done," she comments idly, before making her way up the stairs as well. She takes one last look at each of your faces, seeming to memorize their features before she disappears beyond the staircase, leaving you to your own devices. The bartender meanwhile seems to never tire of his duties, still behind the bar whenever you decide to rest for the night.

However you manage to arrange yourselves for the night, you find the rooms to be sparse but accomadating, with the rough beds a welcome respite from the nights you spent sleeping within the Vistani carts. Hearing nothing beyond the howls of the winds outside and the creaking of the thin wooden walls of the tavern in resistance, the relative silence of the night is enough to eventually bring about the lull of sleep.

Within that lull, you feel your strength return to you and almost... get stronger, it feels like. Was it the dark magics around this land? Or simply the bliss of returning to a real bed, after what seemed like an eternity? No matter the reason your dreams were restful and restorative, and the experience of living through such a dark and dreadful experience seemed to unlock a portion of your abilities which you had not seen before. Still, there was that lingering feeling that there was much, much more to come...

---

The morning comes without much fanfare, light dully seeping through the overcast sky. Though the sun can barely be made out behind the thick clouds of an overcast sky, the arrival of daylight is still clear as the silhouette of tall mountains becomes apparent to the east. Atop the closest cliff, it's easy to make out a large castle looming over the village you have found yourselves in.

There's a slight chill to the air, and looking out the window a soft fog can be seen rollng along the hills and woods beyond the village buildings. Nevertheless the day has started, with birds in the air and the occasional early riser on ground level, walking briskly toward their destination. With the morning light the run-down appearance of many of the surrounding houses is more apparent, with many houses seeming to even be boarded up or abandoned. Despite the distance it felt like you had walked, it seemed like this was a very quaint and quiet village, small in size and in excitement.

Coming back down to the first floor of the tavern, the main room is slightly more lively than before. There's a handful of plain-looking villagers scattered about between the tables and the bar, several of whom have farming tools or other equipment laid next to them as if this was a quick stop before getting to work. At the corner table where the innkeeper sat the night before is a slightly younger similarly dressed woman, occasionally glancing around the room as she works on a small knitting project. The bartender is still present, barely looking like he ever left the bar at all last night -- though the drunkard from before is nowhere to be seen. The main door to the tavern is slightly ajar, letting in a slight breeze, and every so often an annoyed female voice can be heard just outside the building.

No matter how early you wake up, Valeria is present sitting at the exact same table which she had been at just the night prior. She greets each of you with a nod as you descent, her expression tirelessly consistent. "Good morning to you all. Have you decided on your plans for the day?" She clasps her hands expectantly, patiently waiting for you but also seemingly prepared to leave at any given moment.


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AtomGray

New Member
Despite the insanity of the day before, the bizarre nature of the town, and how badly the world seemed to spin when Benson laid down to sleep, he still had the presence of mind to set a nail in a candle near his bed and wake up just before the dawn. His roommate would hear him quietly wake up, grab his holy book and sneak out the door in the morning. On second thought, he'd come back for his waterskin to do something about his headache. Though he's likely the first awake, Benson is also one of the last to make his way downstairs, he returns to his room to get dressed. He eats and only speaks when he has to before the rest of his party arrives.

"I thought of something this morning. You said that other adventurers had survived the house but that when we went through it changed the nature of it?" Benson pulls a rolled piece of paper from his pack and unfurls it in front of Valeria.

"The deed to the house. We found it in a secret room inside." He lets Valeria look it over for a few moments before continuing. "We put Rose and Thorn to rest. Their spirits were being used to lure people inside. The Dursts all lie in the tomb beneath the house together. Except for Walter." He pauses to gauge her reaction to Walter's name.

"My hope is that, perhaps, we changed the house forever when we went through. Still, it's obviously a strong power that animates the building as such. Maybe your employer, with the deed in hand, can put an end to it for good.
 

ratbot

New Member
Reppip sits himself a few seats over from Benson and Valeria, and orders a double portion of oats, listens intently while humming to avoid seeming like an eavesdropper.
 

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