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September 26, 2007

End of Our Rope

Fortuna's Journal

Reaping 7, 594 CY
Zadrian’s Mansion

I had barely sat down at the table with Munthrek when Elizair and my cousin entered the inn. Janet looked a bit flushed and explained that she’d spent the morning “repenting.” Elizair let the damned bird do the talking. I have no idea what language it uses but heard the word “jar” in there—I think that’s Dwarven for “ugly.” Or Elven for “dove,” but we have determined that it doesn’t speak Elven. We ordered breakfast and waited for a job to find us.

Of course, Munthrek always ignores the job posting board and goes straight for the mysterious robed figure. In this situation, a red-robed figure was attempting to post a job, but that barely registered with my friend as he led our soon-to-be employer over to our table.

The elderly human sat down, and after a brief introduction got right to the point: his employer had not heard from her father for months and was willing to pay us each 800 gold for us to check on him. Timoth Zadrian, an alchemist, has a mansion a day’s journey north. We agreed to the mission and left town immediately after breakfast.

The trip was uneventful; the manor, exactly where we were told it would be. Circling the squat dome, we found a single large door. The lock had obviously been picked prior to our arrival. There was also a small stable. Janet and Elizair wanted to check that out, while Munthrek was more interested in the main building. I was halfway to the stable myself when Munthrek chose to enter the unlocked door. I went to call him and noticed that all that could be seen through the door was a gray mist. A quick look at the windows showed the same impenetrable mist filled the first floor. Elizair reported the stable to be empty, and calling for Munthrek to come back met with no reply, so we tied rope to link the remaing three of us together and stepped through into the murkiness.

After what seemed like forever, we emerged in a semi-circular chamber, where Munthrek stood looking at four statues of women holding goblets. Elizair commented that Babble, who had been perched outside the mansion, was “out of range” now; presumably the parrot would find some way to amuse himself while we searched for Zadrian. We began a search of the room, hoping to get our bearings before investigating the two other doors to the chamber. Using the dim glow from the ceiling to see by, we checked the goblets’ contents, and read the runes carved on each statue:

1: “The First Spirit” contained quicksilver
2: “The Second Spirit” contained a red powder: orpiment
3: “The Third Spirit” contained a salt-like crystal
4: “The Fourth Spirit” contained sulfur

Apparently, this has something to do with alchemy, so we figured we must still be in Zadrian’s home.

Next, we decided to try the doors out of the room. The first door I checked for traps appeared safe enough, though it was oddly warm. Opening it, we smelled burnt flesh and saw a large, red-furred wolf. Unfortunately, it saw us too. The beast inhaled, and attempts to blast us with fiery breath. I had no problem dodging the slow creature’s efforts, but Munthrek was not so lucky. Worse, the thing went after him. Seeing his trouble fighting off the wolf, I planned to sneak up behind it and slay it, but as I passed the open door another leaped out to attack Janet and me. I was able to eliminate this one the way I planned to kill the first and ran on to help Munthrek and Elizair as Janet started healing our injuries. It was at this point that I realized I’d been in similar situations with Elizair before, but not with Janet or Munthrek; I must learn how they react in combat before we find ourselves in a more serious situation.

No more hellish creatures appeared, so we decided to check the room from which they came. We found the source of the burnt flesh smell— it was, in fact, burnt flesh. A charred corpse lay on a couch in the middle of the room. Elizair detected magic on the body and found a magic dagger and some scrolls. He also found some good lockpicks—likely the ones used to pick the manor house’s door before our arrival. So, probably not Zadrian.

We continued through this room to another mist-filled doorway. After securing ourselves with more ropes, we found ourselves in a small room with black walls, no ceiling, and chains covering the floor. There was also a chest on the far side of the room, and beside that, a switch. Checking the chest revealed nothing particularly alarming, so we opted to open it. Before we could even examine the contents though, the switch flopped, and we all found ourselves falling toward a starless sky above us! Janet managed to keep a hold of her rope and so did not move too far, while the rest of us “plummeted” skyward. I grabbed a chain, which thankfully was attached to the floor, and tried to grab Munthrek as he flew past. He already had hold of Elizair and was trying to use his wings to slow their ascent. Now that we all had a tenuous tether to the room below, we were about to haul ourselves back down about 100’ of chain, when a spike-filled pit opened in the floor and we began a rapid descent towards it. Poor Janet fell right in it, perched as she was on the edge, and Munthrek, in spite of his gliding descent, was slightly injured as well. Elizair managed to land on the trunk while I landed safely on the remaining ledge around the pit. Elizair found a folded robe, covered in moons and stars, in the chest, and hastily grabbed that before anything else happened. We got out of that room as quickly as we could.

The next door we checked led down a wooden path into a desert—we opted to save that one for later.

We returned to the main chamber and tried the other door out. This led us into a room full of books on shelves—and 6” of snow. We attempted to read the spines of a few books, only to have them start flying off the shelves and attacking us! I caught one in my net to check later. Finding another door, we ran out of this room as well, straight into a dining room.

While the room wasn’t as dangerous as the last several, I was disturbed to see a kobold and three hobgoblins standing at the table! The little creature began to rant: “You have entered the presence of Gurlzick the Great! Show me respect and I will show you mercy!” I wanted to put a bolt through the hateful little creature, but my companions chose a more diplomatic approach. Fortunately, the kobold turned out to be a sorcerer, and the hobgoblins, nothing more than illusions. He visibly relaxed when I agreed not to skewer him on the spot, and explained that he had been wandering in the desert when he found a doorway just sitting there. He walked through that and found himself in a kitchen filled with flying cutlery, and then came to the dining room immediately after that. We agreed (well, someone agreed on my behalf!) that we should work together. The kobold does not want to go back to the desert, but admits he knows nothing more about this place than we do.

We continued, reptilian sorcerer in tow, to another room, which was little more than a closet. It had the remains of alchemical paraphernalia in it—mostly cracked crystals and empty crocks. That left us with the knife-filled kitchen.

We ran through the room, pungent with the smell of rotting food, and into a room beyond that. We all were immediately struck with a feeling of dread and we stared at the room filled with seven coffins. We decided to ignore the arcane sigils and the book on a pedestal in the middle of the room as well, and ran through to another door….

Posted by Kristin at 14:15 | Fortuna’s Journal