Continuing Through the Manor
Room after room, the voices growing louder and louder; the party begins to think they’ve just fallen into an elaborate trap. There are no signs of Korag or Booyah. They continue to wander into rooms with slamming doors and odd objects. One room has a scared, womanly voice begging them to get out, with the same voice Kat had heard telling them loudly, “If you go in this room, you will surely die. Please, do go in…” In another room, which turns out to be a closet, they find nothing, but Hahn enters only to disappear from the group. Vanishing into thin air, the group quickly starts to yell out for him. “I’m fine! What are you talking about?” Hahn answers. As it turns out, he hasn’t vanished, only turned invisible from the party. He steps out of the closet, assuming that he’d return to his visual self, but to no avail. The group stays in communication with Hahn as they continue to wander through the hallways.
They come upon a bathroom. It’s dirty, moldy, and flooding. There is rain pouring from the ceiling, which has caused all kinds of moss, algae and mold to breed within. After determining that there is nothing abnormal about the greenery in the room, Hahn searches and finds yet another skull in the water-filled bathtub. Not wanting to cause any more problems than the group has already found this evening, Malark again uses his Mage Hand to collect the skull. It seems like they might be able to walk out of this room unscathed, but then… a small frog hops out of the tub. At least, it appeared quite small, before growing, and growing and becoming a Voracious Toad. It catches Malark with his tongue… and swallows him whole. From just outside the room, Rissa curses loudly. “Why must everyone go into these rooms?!” she proclaims. Hahn and Kat attack the toad, and kill it in two blows. Cutting the toad open, the party is relieved to find Malark alive and not worse for wear other than a strong stink coming from him.
Attached to the bathroom is a rather large closet, filled with beautiful wizardly cloaks. Unlike everything else in this place, the robes look well kempt, lightly worn, and very costly. These are valuable to someone, and perhaps this wizard is what is causing all of the chaos? Perhaps this is the one creating noises and voices and causing doors to slam into their faces? In a moment of rage, Kat pulls out her rapier and threatens to “kill these robes!” hoping to provoke the one who owns them. Instead, Kat turns her rapier towards Hahn and is mere centimeters from thrusting her weapon into his belly. Hahn, in turn, threatens to stab Kat with his rapier as well. Rissa feels the deepest desire to chop off Malark’s head with her battle axe. As each member of the party is staring down another, the tension is high and palpable. Malark turns his weapon on Hahn and actually stabs him, though pulls back before doing any severe damage.
The small wound to Hahn awakens the party from whatever compulsions they were fighting against. Thankfully, no other damage was dealt and the group rushes out of the room before they can be tempted to turn on one another again.
They finally reach the master bedroom. The room is well-lit, with a large bed, dresser and chairs, like any normal bedroom. However, on the dresser sits a glass sphere with a glowing inferno within. Above the bed is a painting of an elven and goblin battle scene. There is also the final skull they need to complete the collection of eight. Malark tries to use his Mage Hand again, but this time, it cannot pick up the skull. Again, the voice is egging on the party: “Your friends will be dead once the ritual is completed.” This is the first acknowledgement that someone does in fact have Korag and Booyah, or, at least someone is being held prisoner within this place. Everyone hears this voice; it’s not a random whisper in an ear, or a small moaning voice in the corner. This is a voice of authority, loud and assured. “I can’t wait to kill you all…” he says. Kat begins to argue loudly with the voice; she will not be dying this evening, nor will her companions. The voice just laughs, as if there is nothing that can be done to stop what has already begun. Malark goes over to the dresser and retrieves the skull, tempted to grab the inferno within the glass sphere, but decides it best to leave it be. They then notice a trap door in the ceiling, there is no magic within this door that they can detect, and Kat is lifted by Malark, for surely she can pick the lock.
However… she can’t open it. No matter how hard she tries, using every secret of the trade that she’s learned over many years of practice and study, the lock will not budge for her. Defeated, embarrassed, and deflated, Kat lowers herself and goes to stand back by the hall. She has had enough, and if she cannot pick this damned lock, what is her worth as a rogue? Rissa attempts to break the door with her axe, but even that won’t do the trick.
So instead, the group decides to complete their initial mission within the manor: the phases of the moon cycle. Knowing full well that they might actually be helping to complete the ritual the voice had spoken of, the group sees no other choice but to head back down to the dining room. Their trip back has no secrets, no mysteries, no voices nor whispers. There are no traps to dissemble, no butterflies, rats or large toads to fight. This, if anything, seems to assure the group that completing the moon cycle might ensure the death of their comrades, but what other choice is there to be made?
They arrive in the dining room, and place the skulls in their appropriate places around the table. Once the final skull is placed, the painting on the wall, the one of the moon starts to turn and move as if some invisible hand is repainting it before their eyes. The painting stops on the black new moon, with a small hole in the center. Kat reaches in and finds a small silver key and knows that this key will open that trap door in the master bedroom.
Rushing back up the stairs, again the group has no issues nor comes across any strange happenings. They make it back to the bedroom unscathed. Sure enough, the key fits into the lock of the trap door, and they help one another up into an attic. As they walk further into the attic, they find many strange objects. There are stone cuneiform artifacts along one wall, strange books on desks portraying hellish creatures, small spherical dodecahedrons littering the floor along with bottles of all shapes and sizes, their contents unknown. It’s as if they’ve entered a museum of the marvelous and strange. As they are momentarily distracted by the wonders about them, they start to feel… odd. While Malark loses some of his constitution, feeling as if his body has turned into fluid, the rest of the party shakes off these feelings of loss, confusion, death maybe?
Eeeeeeh heee heee heee heee!!!! A screeching sound comes from above them and they see a tiny little imp flying about. An imp, for crying out loud: those stupid little creatures that cause such trouble. Before the imp even gets a chance to speak, Kat starts throwing daggers and Hahn starts shooting arrows. With hardly any trouble at all, the imp falls to the floor, dead. Again, stupid little creatures and the trouble they cause… hardly difficult to kill though. Kat breathes a sigh of relief. Surely this was just a stupid imp, nothing more, who was able to trick Korag and Booyah and has them tied up somewhere in the adjoining room. Surely there can’t be more to this stupid place they’ve been dealing with for the entire day. A wasted day, for sure. They could have made it to Mawcrag castle by this point if they weren’t out searching through an imp’s playhouse. Maybe Kat could teach Korag on how to better defend himself against the imp race when they had the time to——
“Come in! Come in!” an excited voice yells from the other room. Kat is pulled out of her daydream about stupid imps and follows the group into the next room. “Come in and get ready to die!” Inside of the room is a wizard, standing atop a pedestal, in beautiful robes like the ones they found in the closet. In front of the wizard on both sides of him are two stone tables. On each table lie Korag and Booyah, bound tightly against the stone. “You may kill them,” the wizard demands, and two demons walk out of the shadows, looking greedily at the party.
Fire… Fire…. Fire. From every direction a fireball comes flying out towards the party, and the wizard dives two knives into the hearts of Korag and Booyah. The flames are too vast, the armor too insufficient to fight off such a blaze, there is no stopping death this time as Rissa, Hahn, Malark and Kat all fall, burning quickly into ash.
Not one of them is left alive and the wizard and demons cackle. The ritual is complete and the door to hell begins to open. Demons come pouring out into the world, and there is no one there to stop it. The medallions will not be returned to Passage. There will no longer be a Passage as it was once known. No more Aundair… no more Khorvair. Only hell will be known on this earth for the remainder of all history. There will be no revenge, no one will find their families, no one will be able to prove themselves, and no one will become heroes in this tale…
The night is still. No surprises, nothing lurking in the woods outside. Korag is keeping watch, as he should be, looking out the window in case a zombie or twig blight, maybe even the dragon decides to go on an evening hunt.
All is quiet until: Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!! Hahn shoots up and looks around. He sees Korag staring at him with wide eyes. The scream wakes up Malark, Rissa, Kat and Booyah as well.
A dream. It was all… a dream? As Hahn starts to explain this nightmare, yellow gemstones begin to appear and gently fall into each of the members’ hands. It’s the same yellow gemstone from the dream, which was in the jar with the butterflies. But… if this was a dream, where did these gemstones come from? Why does everyone have one, but only Hahn had the dream? What does it all mean?