The night is still, all is calm. Hahn wakes up for his turn to take watch. It’s a very foggy early morning, hard to see very far in the distance. There may be another hour or two for Korag to get some sleep from his part of the watch…
Korag… where is he? Hahn looks around the camp, the party is sleeping soundly, nothing to note, except for Korag. And…Booyah. Hahn wakes up the group. “Korag and Booyah aren’t here,” Hahn tells them. They all start up. Booyah running off wouldn’t be surprising after what Cauf pulled the other night, but even so, he seemed so keen to stay and prove himself to them. Korag, however, he would not have just left them. He was too honorable, a military man, he wouldn’t just leave… would he?
Hahn starts to look around the camp and notices some tracks leading out from the camp, definitely humanoid tracks. The group gets their belongings and follows Hahn following the tracks. They lead through some woody areas, out of the town of Thunder Leaf, no signs of a dragon, zombies or twig blights. If it weren’t for the missing member of their party, it would seem that good fortune was looking down on them this early morning.
Hahn follows the tracks into a clearing, and the party sees a large, three story manor house sitting behind a large stone wall. Manor and wall alike covered with ivy. Other than a murder of crows sitting atop the wall, the place looks abandoned and there are no signs of life. But that’s where the tracks lead them to, inside the gate, up to the ornate double door entry way. The doors are covered with ancient looking runes, and aren’t covered in ivy like the rest of the house. Could this be arcana protecting the entrance to this once grand house? Or are these just decorative doors? Malark casts his Mage Hand to open the door, but it will not budge. As Kat goes up to attempt to pick the lock, the door slowly opens before she even touches it.
As the group steps inside the house, they see a long hallway with multiple doors, and a large staircase to the right. Before they get too far in—BANG! BANG! BANG! coming from the doorway under the stairs. Hahn goes to open the door, and it slams back shut. After many unsuccessful tries, Hahn finally gets the door to open and he finds a human skull sitting on the floor of this small closet. Malark notices a mark on the skull that represents the waxing crescent of the moon carved into the forehead. As there is nothing else to note, Malark puts the skull in his backpack. They do not yet know if or why they would need this skull, but better to hold on to it in case they do.
Malark and Kat agree to continue to check the next room in the hallway, as they step inside the room, the door slams shut with them inside. Kat goes to open the door, and to her surprise, it opens right back up. Kat notices a small needle trap in the door and dissembles it before anyone in the party can be attacked. They walk into a parlour room, complete with ornate furnishings, a beautiful vase, and an unfinished chess game. The door slams shut on the party again, and this time, with all party members inside the room, the door will not open. Malark stares at the chess board, “We can finish the game,” he suggests. Easily enough, he makes one move to check mate. Almost simultaneously, small cigarette boxes come flying off of the desk and one hits Rissa on her forehead. Rissa, visibly uncomfortable beforehand in this house now looks angry. However, also at the same time as the cigarette boxes flying, the check mate causes a small drawer in the desk to open. Again, they find another skull, with another carving of a phase of the moon. Upon determining there is nothing else to find in this room, the party continues on across the hall.
Again, the door starts to open and then begins to slam shut, stopping just before hitting Malark in the face. Maybe the doors are operated or attached to some device they cannot see, or maybe there is arcana in this place after all. Before the group can enter the room, Kat hears a voice whisper in her ear: “You will DIE tonight.” Aware of Rissa to her right, Kat swings her rapier above Rissa’s head and says aloud, “I shall not!” Realizing that there is no one else in the hall, other than her companions, who are now looking at her like she has been possessed, Kat put her rapier back in the scabbard, and asked the group if they heard the voice as well. Of course no one else did, but she swears they are now being watched by someone, possibly the owner of the manor?
They continue on and get the door open to the next room. They find a traditional dining room. Not so traditional are the eight chairs around the table with eight skeletons sans heads sitting in them. Each place setting has a large dome cover over the plates, with one skull underneath one of the domes. Again, there is a carving of a moon cycle in the forehead of this skull, and there is a large painting of a full moon on the wall. At this point the group determines that they must need to find the remaining skulls to complete the sequence of the place settings.
As they continue to examine the room, they notice a door on one side and decide to continue searching within. This room, a pantry, contains six statues of large rats, approximately three feet high apiece. As Kat, Malark and Hahn enter the room (with Rissa standing just outside the doorway), the six rats come to life, and the three are equally and simultaneously turned to stone. Rissa sighs, “Dammit! This is why you don’t just go running into rooms in a haunted house!!!!” Although whether or not she is heard is anyone’s guess, as the other three cannot move, cannot speak, and cannot express emotion. The rats run towards Rissa, and she is able to kill two of them before the other three come back to life. “Get out of this room!” Malark yells to them. As Kat and Hahn rush out of the room, Malark begins to craft what looks like a gloomy, rolling cloud from his hands. Once they are in the clear, a thunderous wave emits from Malark’s hands, hitting the rats, and he backs out of the room before he can again be turned to stone. The remaining rats follow out of the room, no one or thing becoming stone now, and the party continues to attack. Malark successfully cuts one down, followed by Malark and Rissa. With all the rats dead, the party starts to slowly breathe normally again. “What kind of a place is this?” Hahn wonders aloud. “It’s a HAUNTED HOUSE!!!” Rissa screamed, not impatiently. She was obviously rattled, and it wasn’t going to take some statue rats to rattle the dwarf. This place made her uneasy, and she wasn’t her usual self, willing to rush into battle at a moment’s notice.
Again, the party continues down the hall and checks the next room. Rissa, again, decides to stay out in the hall. “Let the bard go in,” she declares. This room is a collector room. Filled with mounted butterflies on all of the walls, it seems a lepidopterist’s dream. There are also three live butterflies, flying around in a large, clear jar on the desk in the middle of the room. At the bottom of the jar lies a glowing yellow gemstone, a beautiful gem which brightens the room. Malark opens the jar, and tries to catch one of the butterflies with his mage hand to no avail. Kat reaches in the jar and grabs the gemstone. Whether it is the opening of the jar or taking the gemstone isn’t clear; however, the dead, mounted butterflies start flapping their wings. A small fluttering noise turns into a larger and larger beating of wings as the mounted butterflies start to fly off the wall. The three butterflies from the jar start growing and then start attacking the group. The smaller butterflies that came off of their wall mounts are not only causing chaos, but are so fluid and fluttering so quickly that they almost blind the members of the party. While the four attack and defend one another from these ridiculously large butterflies, Malark lets out a cry and goes down. Rissa, however afraid (can she even be afraid?) she might be, rushes over to stabilize him. During the confusion, Kat swings at one of the massive butterflies, only to swing the butt of her rapier into the back of Hahn’s head. Malark, angry at near death by butterfly attack, starts insulting and cursing one of them. It must confuse the butterfly just enough, for Rissa rushes in and slices it in two with her battle axe. Kat, recovered from hitting Hahn, swings her rapier back around and skewers one on the edge of her weapon.
With one large butterfly, and hundreds of small ones to go, Malark tries again to insult the one remaining, but to no avail. Kat tries to succeed a second time in killing one of the other large bugs, but misses the body, her rapier getting stuck in the wing. As she quickly pulls it out in hopes of making another attack, she is blinded by the horde of small winged creatures, and instead lightly slices herself in her neck. The butterfly retaliates and knocks Kat unconscious with the wing she tried to attack. Despite Hahn rushing over to help Kat regain consciousness, Kat stays on the floor, constantly throwing daggers at the remaining butterfly. Malark, in the same way as Kat: recently healed from nearly deathly butterfly attacks, stands up in an attempt to strike the final one down. However, he also seriously misjudges his strength, or current weakness, and hits Rissa in the back. Finally, Hahn hits the final butterfly monster with an arrow, and the remaining regular sized butterflies all fall down, as stiff and dead as when the group entered the room. Believing that the group has defeated any known opponent that this particular room has to offer, they decide to take a short rest, nearly having lost two more of their party.
The group continues down to the final door of the hallway. Within, they find the kitchen: tables, clay jars on multiple shelves, a large fireplace and another door adorn this room. On the center table lies a wooden bowl with three apples, one red, one blue and one yellow. There’s a stairwell that leads up to the second floor as well as a door to the left of the fireplace. Malark again uses his Mage Hand to grab the apples. Nothing happens to his hand, but as he reaches out and grabs them, he starts turning the colors of the apples; first red, then blue, then yellow. Despite his change of appearance, nothing else happens to Malark, and so he throws all three into his backpack; and thus, becomes a tri-colored Malark, turning all three shades upon different areas of his body. Seeing no damage to their comrade, Kat and Hahn sneak into the kitchen to check out the extra door that they assume is a pantry. It is pitch black in this room, so dark that not even Hahn with his dark vision can see within it. As the two slowly attempt to look around, the various pots and pans in the room start to visibly shake. Kat and Hahn notice in time to rush out of the room, before said pots and pans begin to fly across the room. Malark calls upon his Mage Hand another time, and sends it into the pantry, feeling around for anything that could be of use. Successfully, the Hand finds yet another skull and the party is keen to continue moving on. However, Malark sends the Hand back into the pantry, just in case they missed anything of importance. Again, the hand comes back unscathed, this time with a jar of preserves. One last time, Malark sends the Hand in; one last time, to check to see if anything was not discovered that they might need. The Hand comes back empty, but it is followed by a skeleton. Thankfully, Hahn reacts quickly with his bow and arrow, and hits the skeleton right in the neck, popping its skull off of its body.
Continuing on the search for their friends, the party decides to stay out of the kitchen, too many knives that could decide to fly at them at any given moment, and go back to the first staircase they saw in the main hallway. Kat notices a trap a few steps up, and instructs the party to skip over this step to prevent possible harm. At the top of the stairs is yet another long hallway with a door at the end and two other hallways that seem to branch off. Kat sneaks down to the first hallway, searching for traps along the way. As quickly as Kat steps into the hallway, a gust of wind pushes down the main hall, but she easily finds the lever to stop it.
They move along to the first room, and Kat opens the door. It appears to be a type of guest bedroom, with a small bed, and yet a very fine, ornate chest. Kat decides to go in to check it out, and as she walks up to the chest, she gets disoriented and trips, standing up to see a large wooden wall in front of her. As she stares at the wall, she hears these loud, almost ginormous voices calling to her. Hahn, Malark and Rissa watch her walk towards the chest, and all see her shrink down to the size of a small bug! As Kat realizes she’s shrunk down to the size of an ant, she turns back to the wooden wall, well… the chest, and a very large centipede comes running out from under it. Although it’s a normal, small looking centipede to the rest of the group, to Kat it’s the size of a large horse with a hundred legs. Not one to shy away from any fight, Kat readies the attack on the creature, but the centipede bites back and poisons Kat with its pincers. Hahn rushes into the room, hoping he can just step on the centipede to rid Kat of this needless battle, but he also shrinks down to Kat’s current size. He fights alongside Kat, gets his rapier stuck in one of the hundreds of legs of the bug and they are both saved by Malark and Rissa, throwing their axes and bolts at it until it dies. Hahn runs back out of the room, and regains his size. However, Kat knows that they need to know what lies in the chest. It could be another skull, and apparently, that is what they need to help them find Korag and Booyah. She quickly climbs up the chest and pokes her tiny head into the keyhole. She does see the skull, but it’s a normal size, not as small as she. She climbs back down the chest and scurries back across the room, growing back to her normal height. Hahn and Rissa decide to tie their two ropes together and lasso the chest, slowly pulling it towards them in the doorway. They get the chest to the door, and pull out the skull, along with some gold pieces that were hiding beneath it.
The group continues on down the hall, not knowing what they might find next…