10 Theob 2787
(DM’s note: There was no game on 19 July as two players were missing. Also, this adventure log will become more brief as summer draws to a close and my free time is diminished.)
The party waited until the barge pilot had finished his meal and returned to the barge to sleep before setting off for the ruined tower that frowned over their camping place. Access to the hilltop was via a ruined, mud-covered stairway that once served the inhabitants of the tower. As the group negotiated this half-path, they were assaulted by a number of thorn-backed toads that hurled their spines as the party encroached on their territory. One was slain and the others wounded and driven off; no one in the party was seriously injured.
The hilltop tower proved to be attached to a large, rambling, burned out mansion. The place was clearly once beautiful, but a tremendous fire had gutted the building, leaving only a crumbling shell. The roof had collapsed, allowing plants and rain to wreck further havoc on the ruin. The crumbling tower was actually one of the better preserved portions of the house, as it at least retained a high, intact wall. When the party scrambled up the last of the path and entered the courtyard of the ruined building, they experienced the first of a number of disturbing events. The scene seemed to blur and they felt as if they were transported back to the night of the fire; the house in front of them was ablaze and they could hear screams of those that did not escape the flames. The fire was so intense that it actually burned the skin of the party. In moments, however, the house returned to its present state of collapse and the entire event seemed an unreal dream, and would have been, except for the burns and blisters the party carried with them. Shortly thereafter, the party spotted a a shadowy figure staring down at them from atop the broken wall of the tower, but it melted away into the night before anything further could occur.
The party moved into the interior of the place but the rubble and plants made any real investigation difficult. They experienced a freezing drop in temperature that numbed the bones and saw an ephemeral, glowing figure moving outside the house that vanished into the underbrush. They pressed into the base of the ruined tower, but discovered nothing of importance save a once grand though now thoroughly ruined fireplace. Fritzmaul then decided to call out to any spirits in the place, for it was clearly haunted – and was stunned when the glowing figure of a man materialized immediately in front of him. The man was human, older, and was clearly the victim of a mindflayer attack. He raised his left hand in warning and with his right pointed deeper into the house before fading from view. In doing so, he revealed a curiously real-looking ring on his left hand.
The party once again entered the shell of the house, moving in the direction the spirit indicated. As they did so, Pearigren experienced another horrific vision, this one of an ogre murdering a young serving girl. Eventually the party found themselves in the overgrown garden. Here they found the insane spirit of a serving woman, babbling and weeping uncontrollably. It lashed at the group with its smokey tendrils, stealing the sanity of all those that it touched and leaving in its victim’s minds a feeling of overwhelming grief and terror. It was eventually slain with magic missiles, but many other attacks simply passed through its shadowy body.
The ghost of the old man briefly appeared to the party as they explored the garden, but it vanished before they could reach him. They searched the spot where he was last seen, and discovered the shattered skull of a child. As Pearigren touched the skull, the party was subjected to the most horrific vision yet as they saw the rape and murder of the family members and servants that once lived in the mansion at the hands of a mindflayer and its ogre guards. Understanding now why they had been guided to this spot, the party gathered the few remaining bones and moved to a peaceful place in the garden to bury them. When the deed was done, the ghost of the old man appeared before Pearigren and reached toward her. She let the old man touch her shoulder, where she felt the slightest tingle of contact. As she looked into the ghost’s eyes, she saw a sign of relief as the old man faded from view. His ring, now solid, tumbled from his fading hand and fell at Pearigren’s feet. The events thus far had been so disturbing that the party debated whether or not they should just return to the quay. The ring, although elegant, was not magical and it seemed there was nothing else to be learned in the ruins of the house. Pearigren suspected that there were secrets left to uncover, and led the party back into the ruined tower where they first saw the ghost. There, they found a trap door that was buried under ash and dirt. The door would not open, however, until they touched the ring to its surface. The trap door opened slightly at the ring’s touch, revealing a wavering light flickering up from below.
The party entered a small passageway that led to a hidden alchemical lab and a couple storerooms. The area was not wholly free of guards, however, as a skeletal snake with a human skull attacked the party as they explored the place. This was some kind of constructed guardian designed to kill thieves and it very nearly killed Simba before it was destroyed. In the alchemical lab, the party found a cache of potions, books on alchemy and the planes, a spellbook and a book that detailed the process needed to construct a necrophidius, the skeletal snake guard. The spellbook contained a custom spell, Portal Ward as well as other spells. One of the storerooms contained a mannequin that held a number of magic items: a dagger, shortbow, ring of protection, cloak of resistance and bracers. The group guessed that one of the members of the household was once an adventurer, but they had no way to learn if this was an accurate guess. The same storeroom held a number of masterwork, though rusted, daggers and bracers. A small chest held a couple pieces of high quality jewelery. These finds led the party to speculate that the wizard that once lived here planned on making some of these into magic items.
The party left the ruined mansion, sealing the various doors behind them with the intent of using the place as a base in the future. They returned to the quay where they passed the rest of the night uneventfully.