Anonymous Villager Voice-over…
Things have gotten dangerous strange in the steading of Grimwood. The dead have grown restless. The weather is strange. Why, the other day, purple snow fell from the sky for half an hour — and it smelled like lavender. It’s not all fun and games though. We’re still cleaning up after a full minute when everything became weightless two nights ago. Livestock are starting to turn up dead… not just dead. Half-eaten. Or worse, turned to stone. Do you know what a stone pig is worth at market?
They say it’s all to do with the mansion at Rook’s Roost, through the western edge of Grimwood and past the cemetery: Willowleaf Manor. That place has been going crazy for days. Explosions. Awful noises. Fires that come and go and nothing is burnt up afterwards. Lights in the sky. You name it! The master of the house is the last of a family of sorcerers and alchemists—a strange bunch, to be sure, although he always seemed friendly enough.
Word is, he’s come to a bad end – gone mad, maybe. He ain’t been seen around here for days. And them that’s gone to find him have either vanished or come back screaming.
Well, someone better do something soon, or I don’t know what will become of Grimwood, and its people.
What went down…
Our heroes — Victorius Ravenfriend, the brooding & mysterious Sgt Finn, Regulus the “Law Made Flesh (and covered in Steel)”, and Halwyrrr, collector of arcane lore and eldritch enigmata — find themselves at the center of a town under siege by seemingly random forces of a sort that fascinate Halwyrrr and terrify everyone else.
As if on cue, a clutch of children playing near a fountain in the center of the platz are menaced by a small pack of vicious blink dogs, which our heroes dispatch with wit and grace.
Gratitude! Adulation! Accolades! …and a job offer of sorts. More of a fool’s errand, really…
The town reeve/mayor, Davindra Artus, implores the group to go to Rook’s Roost and see what has become of Bromswell Willowleaf, master of the manor and reputed wielder of strange magicks.
After a little legwork, including an interview with Lorquim Singh, the town’s amateur archivist and friend of Bromswell, our heroes set off, armed only with a handful of rumours and a roughly sketched map. And weapons ‘n’ stuff.
The Road to Raven’s Roost
1. Our heroes valiantly save a family at a farmhouse near the edge of town, defeating a group of Imps who had attacked them.
2. A wolf jumps from the bushes further down the road, but tonight it is more prey than predator… It is quickly followed by more dangerous antagonists: a trio of cockatrices, which the party manages to slay without anyone getting pecked.
- A figure is chasing the party from the direction of the town… friend or foe? Lo! Tis “Grit”, and he came bearing thanks for saving his family, a potion of healing, and a gnarly-looking sword he found in the woods. He offers his services as a man-at-arms to Regulus.
- Grimwood Cemetery – A group of… tourists?… mourners?… grave-diggers?… oh, zombies toils away to release a pair of alpha males from the “Murderer’s Yard.” The terrible ____ Brothers rise again (as Mohrgs), but not for long. Breathing mostly through their mouths, our heroes interrupt this solemn assembly just long enough to re-kill the whole festering lot of them.
- Lights in the sky. Purple rain. A faint whiff of … is that gingerbread? General disorder. Gravity goes out for a few seconds. Oh there, it’s back. [thud]
- The party returns to town to eat some soup and buy ALL THE ARROWS
- Back at the site of the adventure, they finally arrive at the threshold of Willowleaf Manor! They go around back and Sgt Finn susses out the back door…
Finn observes a band of thugs roughing up a pasty-looking character, apparently pressing him for information. After Finn brings everyone else up to date, the party decides to break it up.
In the brouhaha that follows, the man being held against his will undergoes a fiery transformation (into a rat) before scurrying to freedom. Three bandits die violently.
The Dining Room
The party “liberates” a bejeweled, owl-themed teapot in the process. (It never seems to run out of tea!) Victorius is more or less sodden with tea at this point…
The Main Hall
- Here, in the grandest room yet, Sgt Finn quickly discerns a trapped chandelier whose spikes have been coated in Oil of Tagit. The trap can be enabled and disabled from a panel behind an old grandfather clock, which also conceals a secret passage that goes down, beneath the house. Sibel Qi has already run afoul of the trap, and is suspended aloft, snoring lightly.
- Victorius has an interview with the ghost of “Uncle Orso” who haunts his own portrait, upon which the light of the moon reveals the curse of were-bearism Orso bore in life… Orso can find no trace of his nephew Bromswell in the underworld…
- Lights can be seen and explosions heard from up the stairs and down one of the halls; the party decides to leave Sibel to sleep and investigate…
The Master Bedroom
- Bad poetry, excellent biological drawings, a dynamic map of the constellations where the ceiling should be, and an obsequious automaton valet… And the party catches a glimpse of the man/rat from their earlier encounter in the kitchen.
- This room has not been child-proofed. Arcing bolts of purplish energy dancing from apparatus to apparatus, cauldrons and apothecary’s vials bubbling over, the air is thick with strange vapours… Halwyrrr braves it all and comes out with a prize: a book of arcana. The rest of the party doesn’t entirely share his enthusiasm.
- Upon leaving the lab, the party notices a rhythmic “swinging” shadow on the landing of the main hall, and suddenly, Sibel lands in the hall, having shaken off some of the effect of the Tagit oil. Ultimately, however, the party subdues and interrogates her, before mercifully showing her the front door. Sgt Finn, in fact, cuts off her vow of vengeance (or whatever) by slamming the door on her, mid-vow. While her motives for raiding Willowleaf Manor might not have been simple banditry alone, she clearly knew nothing of Bromswell’s fate.
The Secret Passage
- The party steal down a spiral staircase into a set of subterranean vaults that are clearly much older than the old house itself; the air thrums with raw magical energy, like water from a natural spring.
- There are two passages at the bottom of the staircase, one barred by an elaborate door with magical wards, and the other the party took…
- Even a wide passage can seem narrow when it runs between the cages of a red dragon whelp and a starving owlbear… The Ranger narrowly avoids having the latter take off her head before the Wizard hatches a plan. Calling on the concentrated magical powers of this strange place, he casts an extra-strength spell of Invisibility on the whole party. Then they quietly inch their way through the gauntlet, although Halwyrrr almost loses his new book — and an arm — in the process.
Our heroes are now standing past the large caged chambers, hearing the owlbear raging against the already-damaged bars of its portcullis… Before them lies a large dark chamber, filled with smaller cages, barrels, beastly noises, and small shapes flitting among the shadows…