The day could have gone better. It had started out all right, a nice walk down a forest track after a good breakfast, the promise of gold and adventure on the horizon. Perhaps the fact that they had never heard of the town supposedly only a few hours away from the tavern should have been the first clue that this wasn’t going to be a normal quest. The fog was definitely the second clue. They were pretty certain it was unnatural, it seemed to follow them and close off the path behind. So when they reached the enormous stone wall blocking the way ahead, with a large black gate flanked by beheaded statues they didn’t have much choice except to pass through. As expected; once they had stepped only a few feet past the threshold the gates creaked closed ominously.
Another hour walking in the unfamiliar setting and Kestrel caught the whiff of death. Slightly off the path lay a body, perhaps a messenger judging by the crumpled note in his hand, and about a week dead. Remarkably it was uneaten, despite signs of wolves in the area. The note seemed to be signed from the same individual that had sent the original plea for help to them, but was of a much more pessimistic tone and written in a different hand.
Eventually the party reached a town, deserted apart from two young children outside a house. The little boy was sobbing and being comforted by his elder sister who introduced herself as Rose and told them that their parents were in the basement of the house with a monster, and their baby brother Walter had been left on the third floor in the nursery. Wanting to help out the children the adventurers entered the old house and hurried to the third floor, the two dwarves ahead of Kestrel, who was finding the marble spiral staircase a little difficult. Just as she reached the second floor there was a crashing sound from above. Yurring the wizard had walked past a suit of armour as it animated and begun to attack them. Taken by surprise, and a little dizzy from going up the winding stairs, the dwarf took a heavy blow to the side of his head and slumped backwards. Kestrel finally made it up and struck a hard blow to the armour’s helmet before retreating under a series of gauntleted punches to heal herself and Yurring as Fargrim fended it off. Another blow and the suit of armour tumbled noisily to the floor, dented and motionless. Taking a moment to breath and heal their wounds allowed them to have a good look around the landing they stood on. The house seemed old and unused, dust covering the furniture and floors, even the bed of the large room they searched. Out of every window fog closed in on them, making it impossible to see beyond the boundaries of the house and it’s small garden. They entered another room and saw a woman sat on the bed, her back to them, watching over a cradle. She turned to them and pressed a finger to her lips, pointing into the crib. Yurring didn’t take the hint and went to ask her a question, causing the woman to suddenly and silently rise up as a spectre and attack, mouth open in a silent scream. Both Yurring and Kestrel threw fire towards it, but the flames passed through or sailed over it’s head to strike the back wall. For his trouble Yurring was thrown sideways and knocked out again. The bard decided that this was the best time to sing an inspirational song, which rather angered the spectre and it focused it’s attention on him. Kestrel found this to her great advantage, imbuing her quarterstaff with magic and striking several times until the ghostly woman vanished with a silent scream.
Unsurprisingly the crib contained only an empty bundle, and the nursery was just as unused and dusty as the rest of the house. The adventurers went back down to the house’s entrance to question the two children there. It turned out to be rather unenlightening, with Rose just repeating that Walter was on the third floor in the nursery. Her reply to the question of the basement was to simply say there was a way to it in the Den.
After a brief rest the party decided to thoroughly explore the house and completely failed to find an entrance or even any sign of a basement, though they did find that rooms they had been in only moments before would reset: candles would snuff themselves out, damage would repair itself and to Yurring’s annoyance all the suits of armour rebuilt themselves after he went around knocking them over. One of the few useful things they found were the hunting crossbows in a cabinet, Fargrim taking one of them.
Through persistence they eventually found a key and a hidden door behind a mirror that led up into an attic. The rooms unlocked with the same key and the first one was another bedroom. It contained two beds, a doll’s house and the skeletons of two small children. It was obvious that the two children they had been speaking with downstairs had been dead for a long time, but when Kestrel looked over the doll’s house, an exact replica of the house complete with hidden stairs down to the basement, they both appeared. Rose wanted to know what the adventurers were doing in their room, while Thorn just sobbed. Kestrel tried to explain that they were looking for the basement to help them and their baby brother, but Rose said they couldn’t go into the basement, there was a monster down there and their parents had locked them in the room. Kestrel decided that arguing wasn’t worth it and left the room to walk towards the hidden stairs, when Rose shouted “No! You can’t leave!” and vanished. Kestrel staggered, memories of a past life she had never lived filling her head and a voice saying “You can’t go down to the basement!” She kicked the old door, smashing it out of it’s frame yelling “You can’t tell me what to do!” and started searching for the stairs down. Yurring ran out after her and Thorn vanished the same way his sister had. Suddenly the wizard looked smaller than he had just before, his movements twitchy and his eyes wide as he rushed after the druid, desperate to be close to her for some reason. A perplexed Fargrim followed them out.
The narrow staircase descended back down through the house and below it, opening out into a network of corridors. A strange chanting came from somewhere deeper in the maze. Still angry, Kestrel stormed forwards, ordering Yurring to search any containers they found. The dwarf for his part did everything she asked, sticking to her side as close as he could. Some of the areas they came across looked like sleeping areas, and a search revealed some money as well as a silver short sword. For some reason Kestrel was incredibly eager to press on and led them down a corridor that looked less used. It turned out to be a trap, and the floor gave way under her feet dropping her into a spiked pit. The dwarves managed to haul her out and they decided it was best to bed down for a few hours to let her recover.