17th of Tarsakh 1483 DR
My Dearest EB
I hope that I am able to get this letter to you, but I have my doubts as to when it will be delivered.
As I’ve previously related to you, after the defeat of the Black Spider and his nefarious scheme and the god-like shot by Fletch Mcgonagal that killed the green dragon plaguing Thundertree these past fifteen years I spent some time apart from my companions.
I was able to advance my Spellbook and acquired several more spells. Keeping two books current has proved to be a bit of a drain on my finances, but as our master always said, nothing worthwhile comes free!
One of the ways I’ve been making a few extra coins has been to act as Fletch’s agent in Neverwinter and Waterdeep. He is trying to restore his homeland to its former glory by drawing settlers back to the town now that the dragon is dispatched.
On this latest visit to guide the most recent batch of stalwart settlers to Thundertree, Fletch informed me that his loggers have been reporting some Owlbear sightings. The territorial natures of these foul creatures make them a threat to be swiftly eradicated. With this noble thought in mind, I set out with Fletch, Hazadad Brightaxe (a most noble dwarf cleric), Dr Ian Malcolm (a learned half elf hailing from The Lady’s College, a satellite campus of the great University of Silverymoon), Dagnal Fireforge (a dwarven ‘acquisition specialist’), Gracekahn Eaglescar (a human barbarian from the Icewind Dale area I believe, most likely from the Tribe of the Elk), and Therensian Nodel (a Moonelf Bladesinger). We traveled swiftly to the area where the foul and unnatural Owlbears were said to be hunting and began OUR hunt.
After several days hunting, we awoke to find that the forest had changed. Indeed I do not know where I shall find a courier to carry this letter to you as none of us has recognized the area we now find ourselves in. This is a strange, haunted forest and all of us have seen impressions in the trees that convey a horror and fear. Dagnal even thought she saw ghostly images of people and animals in the fog as we settled in for the night prior to awakening here. Fletch attempted to climb a tree but I used Bird to get a higher vantage point and gain the lay of the land. Bird showed me a wagon trail not far to the north of where we now found ourselves. Grace and Fletch were able to locate wagon tracks and determine which way they had been heading so with the notion to find some sign of civilization we set out along the track. After about half a day’s travel, we came to a stone and rusted metal gate attached to a huge wall that stretched off into the fog. This structure was created using a style of stone work unknown to either of the dwarves. There were flanking statues, cast down and beheaded, on either side of the gate. Fletch started to climb up the wall using climbers tools, while I sent Bird up and over the wall. Bird saw a continuation of the fog shrouded trees and the road which continued past the gate and bent off to the left. We attempted to force open the gate, but with a blood chilling squeal they swung open, almost as if pulled by unseen hands.
Passing through the gate we found a human corpse, several days old clutching a letter sealed with a stylized raven. The author claimed to be from a land called Barovia (I do not recall our master ever mentioning a land, duchy or kingdom with this name during his geography lessons). We traveled onwards, surrounded by close set pines with a strangely tortured look to them accompanied by the howl of a wolf in the distance. A short walk and the trees opened up to a misty clearing, within a decaying, abandoned village. Traveling through the few, boarded up shacks, we came to what was probably the mayor’s house. Imagine our surprise to see two human children a girl and a younger boy, I would put the girl child at maybe eight years, perhaps younger, it can be difficult for me to tell with the young of your race, and the boy, her brother, perhaps two or three years her junior. The children claimed to have been scared out of their home by a monster within, they could not specify what it was, only that they had heard the growls and scraping of claws from down in the cellar. The urchins, strangely dressed and remarkably clean, claimed not to know where their parents were, but only that they were probably within the house somewhere.
Hazadad, taking the lead as is wont of his noble character, opened the door which revealed a foyer, within which was a coat of arms, a golden windmill on a red field. Beyond the foyer was a hallway, apparently running the length of the house, woodland scenes covered black stained wooden paneling along the hallway. We found several rooms off this hallway including a dining room, set with service for eight, a kitchen in which no food was being or had been prepared for some time, a den or study decorated with the preserved and stuffed heads of several normal woodland creatures and an arms cabinet, which held several crossbows and bolts, and a cloak room where Fletch attempted to steal a top hat, but at the group’s vocal objections he relented and did the right thing. One must not abuse a host’s hospitality, even when said host is absent.
There was also a stairway leading up the second floor, to which we now ascended. Near the top of the stairs, we found a faded family portrait, in which we recognized the sister and brother whom we had spoken with outside, although the painted was from several years prior to our encountering them, although if the age difference was accurate then I would suspect the children of having elven blood in their veins (clearly not the case from my visual inspection of them). The family portrait included the parents the father holding a newborn, still in the swaddling clothes typical of your species, although the mother’s face conveyed a look of disgust and abhorrence towards the newborn, perhaps the child was not hers.
The stairway opened to a hallway, similar to the first floor, running the length of the house. In the hall were four doors, two of which were flanked by decorative suits of armor bearing spears. We found some bedrooms, a library (none of the titles were of any I recognize) and a conservatory which had the most peculiar looking dulcimer. Finding nothing of interest we proceeded upwards to the third floor.
At the top of the stairs leading to the third floor was a dusty, cobwebbed black suit of armor, similar to those below save for its coloration and obvious years of neglect. But as Grace went to pass it by it sprang to life striking her and drawing a small gasp of pain, gritting her teeth Grace, along with Therensian, struck the animated armor, causing but minor damage to it. But remembering our master’s advice on combat with constructs, I cast Felthig’s Disjunction and shattered the bonds holding the suit animated at which point it fell to the floor with a crash and clatter. The suit of armor appeared to have been guarding a bedroom, from the looks of it, the master bedroom; there were two stained glass French doors which opened out to the front of the house. The doors were opened, but the children were no longer in sight, nor did they respond to our calls. Another door on this floor opened to a nursery within which resided a black shrouded crib. Peering from the entry way we could see a bundle as if of a babe in swaddling clothes within, I used the Wizards Handy Assistant spell to open the bundle to see what might lie within, but naught was to be found, save a long piece of cloth, wrapped into a bundle. At this point an incorporeal, long haired female came screaming into existence and made to strike at Fletch and I. Evading the creature’s horrid touch, our party surged forward and swiftly struck the creature down where it evaporated into a noisome mist. Grace, looking for action, opened another door which revealed a linen closet, complete with broom. The broom was enchanted to animate, which it did, striking at Grace but failing to land any substantial hits. The broom quickly succumbed to the flashing blades my companions wielded. The final room was a double door bedroom which appeared to have been untouched for more than 50 years. Finding no obvious means to ascend to the fourth and final floor, we re-searched the third floor and Fletch found a secret door that led upwards.
The stairway leading to the final floor was filled with dust and cobwebs, looked to have been unoccupied for every one of the 50 years the bedroom downstairs had been untouched. At the top we found a short corridor, filled with dust and cobwebs in similar fashion to the stairway; two doors were the only thing apparent in the corridor. One door was secured with a padlock, the other merely shut. Grace opened and looked into the unlocked door and found a creepy doll, similar to the one clutched by the little boy from outside, but looking much older and worn. Dagnal was able to jimmy the lock to open it, revealing a small, mean looking bedroom with two small skeletons inside. Skeletons about the same size as the children from outside,,
As we approached the skeletons to inspect them, the two children suddenly appeared and spoke with Doctor Malcolm briefly, then burst apart with a whoosh and disappeared. It was at this point that Fletch started insisting that we leave and Doctor Malcolm started acting, almost childishly. I fear that these two have been possessed but Hazadad will be the final judge of that.