Cast of Characters:
Garstred [Stevie] – Thug looking for a score
Heinrich [Davy] – Burgher
Red [Ken] – Protector of ladies of the evening
Alexander [Keegan] – former coachman and aspiring guard
Markus [Hank] – Student of life
Gilda [Julie] – collector of debts
Alexander made his way to one of the district city guard headquarters and met with a captain of the guard. He inquired about joining the city guard. The captain said he had to serve in the city militia for a year before being allowed into the guard.
Alexander signed on to the militia and was given a five silver signing bonus.
Red had a recurring dream about the strange manor house in the Burned Over District. She kept dreaming about entering the house through a coal chute. When she related the story to the rest of the group at the second table at the Green Door Inn Markus asked, “Are you sure this is not a subconscious left over from your previous career?”
“Quite certain,” Red haughtily replied. “We have to go back and find a way into that place.”
It was agreed by the group they would head into the Burned Over District that evening to seek the manor house once more.
The Burned Over District
The group made their way through the Burned Over District that evening. They came to the place where they were certain the manor ruins were a couple of days previous. They found nothing. Scouting around the area they eventually found the familiar ruins, but everyone was certain they were at least a block over from where they had found them before. The entire experience was disorienting and confusing.
Red spotted a lone figure walking towards the ruins. She signalled for everyone to take cover. Red watched carefully as the figure approached and discerned that it was clearly a woman. At each intersection as the figure approached she would hesitate, look around, and then continued moving forward. As the figure approached it was clear to Red she was quite young, perhaps somewhere between ages 14-16. As the girl began to pass the group Red called out to her.
The girl admitted she was lost and was looking for a place called Troy’s. Red knew the place. Troy’s was a flop house that rented beds by the hour and it was at least a mile and a half away back in the Dregs. Red offered to escort the girl to Troy’s and she readily agreed. Red learned while they walked that the girl’s name was Helena and she had been indentured to a Madame Leuphon. Red knew Madame Leuphon by reputation, and that reputation was not good. Red promised the girl she would meet with her Madame and negotiate paying her indenture off in the near future.
As they were conversing Red noticed a large group was heading their way and Red and Helena took cover in some nearby ruins. Red at first thought it might be a city watch patrol, but as they drew closer it was clear these folks were way too rough around the edges to be city watch. They also had three good sized dogs that were sniffing through the ruins. The men were sifting through heaps of rubble and occasionally pulling an item or two and throwing them in bags.
“Those dogs are going to catch our scent,” Red whispered. Red and Helena snuck out the back of the ruins and gave the thuggish group a wide berth.
Gilda saw them coming first. She whispered a warning to the rest of the group, “Take cover – four with a trio of dogs coming this way. Look like bonepickers.”
The group hunkered down in nearby ruins as the bonepickers and their dogs made their way sifting through the ruins as they approached. As they came near Markus called out to them, “Stop right there. Throw down your bags and go away.”
“Says who?” a burly-looking fellow in the lead called out. He was scanning the ruins trying to figure out who had called out to them.
“We’re tax collectors and you got to pay the tax,” Markus answered. “Drop the sacks and you won’t have to pay in flesh.”
“Like hell. We’re just picking. We owe no one,” the big thus called back.
“Last chance. Drop the sacks and back out,” Markus threatened.
“Maybe we will collect taxes from you,” the big thug retorted.
“I did say last chance didn’t I?” Markus whispered to Alexander.
“You did,” Alexander answered.
“Let them have it,” Markus said.
“Yes!” Alexander hissed.
There was a massive BOOM as Alexander unloaded his blunderbuss on the bonepickers. The big man in the front took most of the shrapnel, but some hit one of his companions too. The rest of the group swarmed out of the ruin and attacked. Very quickly two of the bonepickers were down and the rest were in full flight.
Only their poor loyal dogs continued fighting and were quickly put out of their misery. The bonepickers’ bags contained mostly scrap metal, but a few more valuable items were cherry-picked for selling later.
Red had at last returned from her escort and was searching diligently for the coal chute she saw in her dreams. She had to convince the group to continue searching despite most were voicing disbelief that the coal chute even existed. Red eventually found what she was looking for – a two foot by two foot chute leading down below the base of the ruins.
Markus removed his armor and weapons and tied then to his waist. He took a length of rope from Gilda and holding one end slid down the coal chute. It descended a few feet before he found himself in a dark room.
“Want me to toss you a torch?” Garstred asked.
Markus hesitated and tasted the air. “Gods no!” Markus exclaimed. He had realized the room was full of coal dust. Employing the rope, Markus shimmied back up outside of the chute.
Markus emerged from the chute and was covered in coal dust. He clapped a dark cloud of dust from his clothes. He grabbed the torch Garstred was holding and tossed it down the chute. FWOOMP! There was a muffled explosion as the coal dust ignited and a lick of flame came curling up out of the chute. The burst of flame was followed by a column of smoke. Markus waited for a couple of hours for the smoke to clear and then descended down into the chute. “Now you can toss me a torch,” he called up.
The coal bin was fairly large and the group was easily able to fit in the vault. There was a reinforced metal door that the group managed to open and a long corridor stretched away into the darkness. The group began travelling down the corridor and it seemed to stretch for hundreds of feet. Through their labored efforts they could tell they were on a slight rise and were ascending. None of the dimensions made any sense. The corridor terminated at a stout wooden door.
The adventurers forced their way through the door and found themselves in a dusty spare bedroom. They found a few trinkets of value, but no evidence of habitation for many, many years. There was a regular door leading out of the room.
The door led into another bedroom. This bedroom was more ornate, but also appeared unoccupied. As soon as Marcus entered the room a candle on the bedstand flamed to life and a skeleton appeared on the bed.
The candles flames leapt to unnatural heights and Gilda saw two skeletal hands closing around her throat. Only through pure force of will power was she able to disbelief the powerful illusion. Many in the group had to overcome the intense fear of the undead and as the candle flared occasionally another person would find those skeletal hands at their throats.
Garstred tried to hack the candle apart while the rest of the group concentrated on the skeleton on the bed. Hacking with his blade, Garstred could do virtually no damage to the candle. Only when the rest of the group hacked apart the skeleton was he able to cut the candle in twain and blow out the flame. A search of the room yielded a few trinkets, but no egress.
Markus moved over to the bed and standing atop it, rapped on the ceiling. Using his blade, Markus removed some of the aged plaster from the ceiling and called for Alexander to come over. “Blast a hole through there,” Markus directed pointing at the ceiling. Alexander did as he was told and following a resounding BOOM a cascade of plaster and bit of wood tumbled down into the chamber. It was not a wide open hole, but the blast had perforated the ceiling. The group cleared more of the debris away and created an entrance to the second story.
The group emerged in a hallway with several doors. In the first room they found garishly painted walls and three inter-locking pentagrams. Deciding not to mess with this scene they went to the next room. This simple bedroom was the home of a friendly ghost, a former manservant of the wizard who had owned the manor. He told a sad tale of how his master had experimented with the chaotic stuff of magic and it had consumed him. He directed the adventurers to the attic to put his master to rest.
The group entered a long chamber and at the far end of the room was a pentagram half with a door in the middle. They were concerned because it would be virtually impossible to open the door without stepping inside the pentagram. Garstred stepped confidently forward to head towards the door. Suddenly, two hideous mutants jumped down from the ceiling and attacked the group.
Although surprised, the warriors managed to quickly dispose of the horrid beasts. Garstred then stepped into the pentagram and opened the door with no effect.
The room beyond held the other half of the pentagram and an ascending set of stairs. The group began climbing the stairs and after five minutes of climbing they began to wonder if they would ever stop. After ten minutes of climbing the group found itself at a door. Opening the door they found a room with three ornate chairs, three white robes, and three golden bowls.
Suddenly, an apparition appeared. At first the terrorized adventurers could not make out what the ghost was trying to say to to them. Then they realized it was the spirit of the lost mage Ludovicus. He was warning them about some ‘haunting horror’. His body was then squeezed by a massive claw of an unseen beast and his spirit vaporized. As this happened, a pair of double doors at the far end of the chamber opened and the party was whooshed through the door by a gale force wind. The force of the wind even knocked several of them off of their feet. The wind pushed them down a great hall lined by strange paintings.
At the end of the hall was horrifying supernatural beast. It was a bulging mass with flailing tentacles. The bulging mass seemed to have faces pushing to get out. The adventurers even recognized some of the faces of dearly departed friends and relatives. They had little time for grief, however, as the beast attacked.
The beast’s attacks were dangerous enough, but any time its flesh was pierced a spray of fiery acid issued forth scalding the front row fighters. Several went down and were only saved by the grace of the gods (Fate Points). The battle was a near thing, but the party finally prevailed. As it died the supernatural creature ignited into a fireball lighting the chamber on fire. The adventurers began fleeing the scene with the hot flames licking at their heels!
The group emerged from the structure just as it mass collapsed under the fiery destruction. They dusted themselves off and found themselves right back at the cold ruins they started at in the Burned Over District. They now had an amazing tale, which absolutely no one would believe!