Open Heart

Excerpt from Lucien's Journal

Excerpted from Lucien's journal:

Having demonstrated it's treachery in luring us down to the beast infested basement, it was time to use the possessed cat to free our captive comrade. I grabbed the creature and carried it back upstairs to the mirror room, where we rejoined with most of the  rest of our party and exchanged the cat for our wayward Eido.

We headed back into the kitchen, where Dietricht was still engaged in some kind of awkward stare-down with the goblins; the things didn't even speak common, how desperate for followers can a god be?

Seeing some futility there, one of our more straightforward companions, Saldo, applied a (frankly, unreasonably large) sum of gold to each goblin to coax them out of the manor house. Eido seems to have joined him in this; if I ever were to decide to part ways with this crew, I should remember them for charity; plausibly they will save me the trouble of robbing them by simply providing their purses?

As the goblins exited the manor, they triggered that same strange curse that set upon us when we entered – an unnatural darkness closed over the house as they crossed the threshold, and dissipated only after they were well away. The place was both literally and metaphorically shrouded in darkness. Ill omens, but we had our job.

We went back into the basement; I slipped downstairs, only to find that the door at the far end of the basement entrance already stood ajar. The corpses in the basement antechamber seemed unmoved, so perhaps something had come out from below? This seemed like a prime chance to investigate.

We advanced into a large chamber; seemingly once a store room, now housing an altar to a dark god. Eido seemed particularly unsettled by the thing, proclaiming things like "This place has been desecrated".

A trio of ravens sat upon the damned thing, and somehow Kalibri got the damned fool idea to try and talk to them? Wizards. Pah. Fortunately, if these birds were treacherous, they haven't shown it yet. They have claimed to be ex-adventurers, transmuted into birds by the dark elf that has been working here. They indicate that one of the doors from this room is where the Drow takes his captives, and that they never exit once they enter.

We look closely at the door; it is entirely too fine of make for such a basement – the dark wizard must have spent a fortune installing it in this place? I swear, these magicians are inscrutable. Fortunately, they are also a bit asinine; while I'm convinced that the ostentation around the door marks it as a diversion or a trap, Quokul seems to have no compulsion to wait for reason, and simply opens it.

Once again I was shown to be over-cautious; while the door wasn't trapped, it did lead in to a dungeon chamber with three unconscious prisoners – a Goblin, an Human, and a Half-Elf, along with a final human skeleton, with each in chains, and a set of four nearby levers.

Eido revived the half-elf, who asked us to pull the third lever to free her. Without much further interrogation, we comply. Fortunately she isn't such a turncoat as that blasted cat, and she tells us more of what has transpired here.

She says that the Drow has been taking their blood, and that the skeleton in the room is in fact undead (not to mention unsettling). The cleric and paladin jointly demolish the unholy thing.

We advance into the next room and find a bloody stone table, a chained up human, a lever set into the wall, and vials of blood. Eido touches the prisoner, who awakes and tells us that the lever summons "the cleaner". Ominous.

We exit the room with the previous prisoners in tow, and find that it leads back into the altar room; once the door closes it seems to meld into the wall – if it's a mechanical trick, it's beyond my discernment.  I'm reasonably certain that it's more of this place's magical bullshit.

We escort the prisoners back to the front door, and send them back towards Open Heart. In case I need to call in favors later, they were called as:

- Yenjion, the Half-Elf
- Willgourd, the human from the stone table room.
- Jamhand, the human from the cell room.

The ravens want to stay and help catch the Drow, who they hope can turn them back.  For completeness, they are called as:

- Nordak
- Wilster
- Xavfalcon

We head back into the house, and find that the Boris has been moved! We re-open the secret door and head upstairs. When we reach the greenhouse, this time we don't hesitate. Dietricht and Kalibri tried to burn out the shriekers from afar, but they simply started screeching. Quokul ran ahead, insisting that they weren't dangerous; damned fool wizards. We killed the things anyways.

We found ourselves on a Terrace with a Telescope, a Sky Map (with fresh ink) on a stone table. Nordak and company took flight and circled the manor, seeking to spot signs of a fleeing wizard, but came back empty-clawed. Unsure of what we would find, Kalibri recorded a message of our adventure so far, and sent it back to town with Nordak.

We went back downstairs to the Kitchen, and entered the door we had bypassed earlier. We found a hallway, lined with suits of armor. At the end of the hallway was another of the unreasonably fancy doors found in this place, but this one was more curious than most; it opened, but directly into a wall! Given the dimensions of the house, and the previous tricky movements, I'm convinced that this is further magical bullshit, and turn that investigation over to the casters.

Seldo thought that there might be a trigger hidden amongst the armor. In his usual straightforward way, he proceeded to simply knock most of the suits down. We didn't find a trigger for the bullshit door, but we did find a passage back into the cursed dining room. Eido did pick up some of the armor bits for his own use; I'll remember that he's got a touch of a thief's heart in him as well – maybe that will be useful later.

The magicians seem to agree that the Drow fled the house through the bullshit door, and sealed it behind him, so we are left with a responsibility to clean out the rest of the house and report back. We go back downstairs to the altar room, and un-desecrate the altar.  (redesicrate?  undesanctify?). We make another pass through the prison chambers, and pull the "cleaner" lever – it turns out to call an enormous jelly beast down from the ceiling. We quickly closed the door on that particular brand of magical bullshit.

We went up to the top floor, and found a disheveled bedroom, with a sarcophagus on a canopy bed. Eido used a device he called a "stick of poking" to open it. (aside: I'm unclear on the properties of this device, and how it differs from a simple pole). The casket was empty.  Eido threw it out of a window, which seems wasteful of an expensive looking sarcophagus.

Having exhausted the top floor, we returned to the dining room with the magic mirror; I traded places with the cat and entered the mirror world, and experienced the strange phenomenon of being compelled to make the mirror place match the real world. Quite unusual; I did manage to convince my compatriots to remove the silverware from the dining room, at which point I was able to pilfer the mirror-silver, including a cup that seems to have some kind of magical properties that the wizard has yet to decipher.

Eido broke a teacup in the real world, and I spent the remainder of my time in the mirror attempting to break bits of a teacup to match. Meanwhile, Kalibri talked to the cat, which turned out to be less treacherous than we had inferred; it was a gnome that had been transfigured by the drow. The cat told Kalibri that the dark elf was a lady.

Seldo found a small woodland creature, and used it to free me from the mirror-world.  Poor beast.

The wizard set some spell upon his eyes to spot magical items, and we did a sweep through the house. In addition to the obvious items (the cup in my possession, the scrolls we had found, the crows and the cat, the front door darkness), we discerned that the statue of Boris was also magical, as were some of the vials from the basement.

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