It’s a new day and our heroes awake in their respective rooms at the Bright Maiden Inn, but not all feel refreshed from a night’s rest. Bug wakes feeling incredibly nauseous from their adventures in the sewers the previous day and is exhausted from spending the night tossing and turning in agony. However in the middle of the night his precious pet mouse, Pickles, has returned to him with a note from his master that briefly states that she feels she’s seen the strange symbol Bug described to her but she can’t place it. She says she’s headed to Valta to gather more information and that she will get back in contact with him when she has more to tell him. The note is dated two days prior.
Rhogar, in a bout of kindness toward the half-orc, heads downstairs to grab a pitcher of water from Mary to give to Bug to hopefully help the stomachache. Ferari, sitting in the main dining area, is very happy to see him and cuts off Rhogar from his escape route back upstairs (causing him to slosh half of the water onto himself in the process) asking how Bug is doing. Rhogar starts to tell Ferari that Bug is very much under the weather when a loud groaning is heard upstairs. Ferari, being the kindhearted soul he is, runs up and loudly knocks on the door to Bug and Rhogar’s room…. to which Bug is not appreciative.
He comes out of the room and Bug looks horrible, dark circles under his eyes and pale from exhaustion. He turns down the water Rhogar offers and Ferari insists that they see someone to heal Bug. Since they want to check on Starflower’s progress anyway, they decide to head towards the temple of Pelor, Rhogar taking the pitcher of water with him despite Mary’s very meager attempts to stop him.
They enter the temple to be greeted by one of the acolytes, who recognizes them and allows them to see Starflower. She’s still unconscious, but she seems to have regained a lot of color and appears more like she’s in a deep sleep than dying. In a sick bed next to her is Kristi, the head cleric, apparently exhausted by her attempts to revive the elf. Rhogar “accidentally” nudges her in her sleep and the acolyte that allowed them entry chastises him for his rudeness.
Seeing that there’s nothing they can do at the moment for Starflower, Ferari asks the acolyte to look at Bug. They tell her about having been in the sewers the entire day prior and she is appalled at this information. She does a cursory physical on Bug and heals him of his nausea though he’s still tired from lack of sleep.
After healing, Bug and Rhogar discuss what to do about Starflower. Bug brings up the point that after what happened in Padstow, he feels that they shouldn’t just abandon her here in Riket, that they can find a way to Valta sometime in the future once Starflower is feeling better. Rhogar agrees and Ferari is incredibly moved by this show of affection on Rhogar’s part. Their bond of friendship reinforced, Ferari exclaims they should seek out adventure, free of the sewers and in the clean air of the outdoors as a way of further strengthening the kinship between them.
Ferari’s first order of business is to try and find a stall where he can get his face painted, Bug’s is to keep a close eye on the half-elf to make sure he doesn’t get lost and Rhogar is along for the ride and eager to watch this train wreck of a man wander the city. After some searching in market square, Ferari is disappointed that all that seems to be available is a booth that does face paintings for children. Rhogar offers to pay for Ferari to get his face done, but Ferari is incredibly insulted on the inside and exasperatedly demands they just find a help wanted board to seek the adventure he craves.
They find what they’re looking for and begin searching the flyers posted on it for anything interesting. Bug finds a few flyers about a gardening club and takes one for himself for his retirement dreams. Ferari, after some digging, finds a listing for a house that’s up for sale in the richer district of the city— but what catches his eye is that on the listing is scrawled (in several different hands) the words “HAUNTED”, “CURSED” and “MURDER HOUSE”. Seeing this is just the thing that “Team Destiny” (as he has dubbed them) is looking for, he leads them to the site of the listing.
When they arrive, they see there’s a small gathering of people near the front gates and two guards are trying to break up the crowd by loudly telling them to go back to their business and that there’s nothing for them to see. The group approaches two older women who were quietly gossiping to ask what they knew about the house. The women eagerly relay what they know to the group, saying that they had heard shrieking from the house on many nights and they’d seen objects being expelled from the windows. They inform the group that at least four people have gone missing or have died in the cursed house and they’re confident it’s haunted.
With this information, Ferari approaches the guards and attempts to persuade them to tell them more about what’s happening, saying they are interested in buying the property but they want to know more about it first. The guards, persuaded by Ferari’s charms, quietly tell them that the body count is much higher than the public is aware of and that they can’t get into the house to recover most of the bodies, only being able to grab those that are found near the entrance or that are expelled from the windows. They also tell them that the captain of the guard is offering a reward on the down-low to anyone who can help solve the investigation.
Bug and Ferari decide they need to speak to the Captain and Rhogar tells them he’s going to hang back and check for clues outside the house as best he can. Bug and Ferari are suspicious that Rhogar may try to ditch them, but with some inspirational (yet vaguely threatening) words from Ferari, they decide to leave him to his searching while they ask the Captain for information. As soon as the two of them are out of sight, Rhogar sits down a bench nearby and contents himself by sipping from the pitcher of water he’s still carrying.
The other two adventurers arrive at the guard house and after speaking with an elf behind a desk, they are ushered into a side room by a human woman with dark brown hair pulled into a tight bun behind her head, scars on the left side of her face and the emblem of Riket holding a dark blue cape on her shoulders. Bug recognizes her as Captain Vermillia, who’s in charge of the guard in Riket.
They explain that they are here to help the guard solve the problem of the house and that they were told of a reward by the guards there. Captain Vermillia is clearly upset about her guards telling civilians about the reward but she sighs and says that she’s out of options anyway so she might as well allow them to help. She tells them that more bodies have been lost to the house than publicly disclosed and that ever since the owners of the house, the Del Marrows, disappeared along with the servants, no one has entered the building and lived.
Ferari loudly exclaims to the Captain that they are clearly the group for the job at hand, persuading her quite easily to hand over the key to the house. She wishes them well on their job, though she’s clearly worried that they aren’t prepared for the task. The two leave, key in hand, to meet back with their dragonborn friend at the abandoned manor.
They find Rhogar rummaging through the bushes near the mansion, intently looking for clues (though in reality he’s pretending to be hard at work). Together again, the party approaches the front doors and unlock them, stepping inside.
The foyer they enter is dimly lit, the front windows having been boarded up after being broken, columns support a balcony that wraps around the foyer on the second floor. Broken furniture and objects are strewn about the bloodstained floor and their footsteps echo as they walk in.
In a sudden stroke of uneasiness, Ferari suggests to the rest of the party that they tie themselves together in a line with the rope they have on hand with ten feet of rope between each of them in case someone is attacked by the supposed spirit. Bug and Rhogar are hesitant to commit to a line formation and instead hold their parts of the rope, Ferari tying the first section around his waist. Tied together, Ferari begins to lead them on a room-by-room inspection of the manor.
Each of the rooms they enter is similar to the foyer— all of the windows are smashed, the furniture thrown and broken and dust over everything. They enter a dining room, destroyed, then the hallway on the west side of the manor, wrecked with its paintings slashed by what appears to have been large claws.
Rhogar tries to open a set of double doors in the dining hall and they appear to be locked, so he gets out his crowbar to attempt to force open the doors but Ferari sees this and convinces him that maybe it’s not the best idea to be making a lot of noise. The party instead continues to search rooms along the west side of the house, finding a destroyed storage closet and a wrecked sitting room that has a locked door to the north. Ferari figures the door might lead to a room connected to the other locked doors and asks the party if they would like to explore the rest of the house first or try and open the locked doors. Bug and Rhogar agree that they should try and unlock the door and Ferari begins to pick the lock.
It’s unlocked quickly and opens up to a dimly-lit library, though what’s odd about this room is that while the rest of the house is in shambles, most of the room is intact. Bookcases line the walls, though one of them is knocked over with its contents spilled out across the floor and most of the furniture is also broken and strewn about the room. Upon closer inspection, the upright bookcases are filled with books about history, fantasy, tales of high adventure and other such novels. The books from the overturned bookcase appear to be romance novels. They go to step into the room and hear the faint sound of wood scooting across wood… the party is startled but press on with their inspection.
As they look at the books on the shelves, Ferari notices that one of the books appears to be fake and made of wood. As he lifts it from the shelf, it pivots and the sound of grinding stone is heard in the upper-right corner of the room and a hidden door is revealed in the stone floor with a spiral staircase that leads downward. Suddenly, Ferari sees movement out of the corner of his eye— one of the broken chairs begins to move across the floor of its own accord. As he calls out to his friends to warn them, the chair lifts off the ground and hurtles toward him. Out of sheer luck, all three party members manage to duck out of the way as the chair sails overhead, smashing into the wall behind them.
Objects begins to levitate and the party readies themselves to combat a seemingly invisible foe, Rhogar throwing his crowbar at the nearest object, missing it, and it clatters to the ground. He goes to retrieve it and the object he was aiming for flies toward him and misses. Bug drops the rope tied to Ferari so that he is more agile in case of further attacks and Ferari moves forward to see if he can discern anything causing the levitating items. AS he does, a wave of force slams into him and throws him over Rhogar and against the back wall of the room.
The party continues to combat the invisible enemy but can’t seem to find a source to direct their attacks, being hit by floating objects (like a metal-bound, heavy collector’s autographed collection of romance novels that careens into Ferari’s forehead) and slammed into walls by a massive wave of force time and time again.
Rhogar manages to peek down the spiral staircase and sees that it opens into another room, but as he looks down, Ferari is thrown back against the back wall again with such force (smacking his own face with a chair leg he had armed himself with) that it pulls Rhogar backwards as he is still holding the rope that’s tied around Ferari. The party is then pelted with romance novels, Rhogar and Bug dodge and deflect theirs but Ferari takes a direct hit. Rhogar decides he’s had enough and he uses his crowbar to exit the locked double doors and head into the dining room.
Rhogar and Ferari cross the ruined dining hall, Ferari stopping halfway to inspect his surroundings, and Rhogar enters the door on the far side, revealing a destroyed kitchen. Seeing the cooking ingredients scattered about the floor, it gives him an idea and he shovels some flour into the empty pitcher he took with him from the inn.
While the two of them are out of the room, Bug suddenly feels spectral claws slam into him, a very different sensation to the walls of forces that had been attacking him earlier. Bug punches the air to retaliate and feels himself make contact with some sort of invisible form, that yells “GET… OUT!!” at him in a thin, male voice. Bug shouts that he’s managed to hit the creature to the rest of his party and rushes out the open door to the dining hall, shouting “Why don’t you get out of my face?!” to the invisible form.
Hearing Bug yell this and seeing the damage Bug took from the claws, Ferari heads back into the room to engage it in combat (he briefly considers trying to douse the invisible creature in oil and lighting it on fire, but then reconsiders as he would be doing this in a room full of very flammable, old books), Rhogar dropping the rope to allow him to do so. He re-enters the library and closes the door behind him, leaving him alone with the invisible creature. He slashes out with his rapier, hoping to make contact with it, and actually manages to run his weapon through it.
Rhogar exits the kitchen, passing the pitcher of flour to Bug, who carries it to the library. Bug and Ferari, joined shortly by Rhogar, then begin to toss flour in all directions, hoping to reveal the creature. They coat the surrounding area and it seems to be safe, so Bug and Ferari descend the staircase, leaving Rhogar alone and clutching the pitcher of flour yet again.
Alone in the room, he looks down and notices the flour getting disturbed slightly in front of him and casts thunderwave as a reaction to the movement, the force of thunderous sound slamming into the invisible entity. Rhogar throws flour in the direction of the creature, managing to reveal its hands, allowing a nice visible target for him to spit acid on. The creature shrieks in pain as Rhogar runs down the stairs, yelling that he found it to the rest of his party.
Bug goes up the stairs to peek into the library and see if he can see the creature, but Rhogar’s acid unfortunately washed off what flour was on it and so the room appears empty once again. Meanwhile Ferari attempts to unlock the mysterious door in the basement, but as he sticks his lockpicks into the lock he feels the metal begin to heat up. Luckily, he lets go just in time as the metal of his picks melts— revealing the door to be trapped.
It’s about that time that Ferari feels a sharp tug around his waist and he realizes very quickly that the rope that he left tied to his body is partially upstairs with the monster that uses telekinesis to throw objects at high velocity. He’s pulled off his feet and up the spiral staircase, Bug nimbly jumping over him as he tumbles, bloody and beaten, back into the library.
Rhogar regards the incident with mild interest and decides he’s going to attempt to use his crowbar to force the trapped door open, but he can’t seem to get enough strength mustered to open it. Ferari gets up and hands the end of his rope to Bug and tries to run around the room with the rope to catch the creature in it. The attempt is, predictably, unsuccessful but Ferari does manage to feel where the creature is and the party throws flour on it to reveal its visage… right before Bug punches it to re-death and dissipates its form into a fine mist.
The party catches its breath and decides they are going to open the mysterious door in the basement. Using a crowbar they manage to bypass the trap and they enter the room beyond. The door opens to reveal a single chamber with large paintings and tapestries hanging on the walls depicting heroic images of people slaying dragons and other fantastic beasts. Also in the room are four pedestals with items under a crystal case and a larger display table at the far end of the room with more items under crystal and a nice rude in front of it.
They each begin to inspect the items on the pedestals, the first contains a jar with some creature’s dead eye floating in a preserving liquid, one has four semi-precious gemstones set on a pillow, one has a rusted dagger with the words “To Del Marrow, Our Hero” inscribed in draconic on its blade and the last has more creature parts suspended in another jar. The party decides to break open the crystal case containing the gems and they each take one, saving a gem for Starflower.
Upon realizing the larger case is the only thing left to inspect, both Rhogar and Ferari go to see what’s under the crystal. Ferari approaches first, but before he can get a good look inside the case, the rug under his feet suddenly comes to life and begins to wrap around his body, covering it entirely and beginning to smother him. Seeing this, Bug runs to his aid and manages to rip the rug off… before it immediately wraps back around Ferari.
While being squeezed, Ferari is able to get his rapier out and make a small hole in the rug and seeing this, Rhogar attempts to stick a dagger in the spot along the blade of the rapier where the hole was made. He succeeds and cuts a hand-sized hole in the rug, allowing Ferari a bit of breathing room. Bug once again rips the rug off of Ferari, freeing him and it then decides it will target the dragonborn and tightly wraps around Rhogar.
Seeing his friend trapped, a sudden wave of inspiration hits Ferari. He remembers the discussion he had with Bug and Rhogar the day before about Rhogar being a dragon and makes the logical conclusion that all dragons are immune to fire (for any readers who thinks this is the case, it most certainly isn’t.). Ferari pulls out a flask of oil and attempts to hurl it at the rug to douse it in preparation for ignition, but the lack of oxygen to his brain from nearly being suffocated has him so dizzy that he spills the entire flask on himself on accident.
Trapped in the carpet, Rhogar realizes there’s really only one course of action that makes sense and he spits acid, burning a hole large enough for his snout to poke through and allow him air. It’s at this moment that Bug’s fist connects with the carpet, Bug hoping that the rug is thick enough to absorb the damage being dealt to Rhogar but being very wrong in that assumption and the wind is knocked out of him. Bug apologizes and Rhogar flips him a bird through the rug.
Feari sees Bug attack the carpet and decides to abandon his fire plans and follow suit— he pulls out his rapier and attempts to stab a part of the carpet not occupied by Rhogar. In his attempt, he stabs Rhogar directly into his shin and Bug and Ferari see blood begin to well up on the outside from the wound. Rhogar flips Rhogar a second bird and tries to cut himself out from inside the carpet but the blade of his dagger just scrapes uselessly from inside.
Bug, yet again, manages to yank the carpet off of his teammates and the carpet goes to grab him but Bug snaps the rug out and away from his body, rendering its attacks useless. With the carpet now off of Rhogar, the party deals a hefty amount of damage in a short amount of time, Bug finishing off the rug with a shot of fire from his fists after Ferari douses it in oil.
Free of the creature, Rhogar notices Ferari covered in oil and makes the logical leap to deduce what his plans were going to be while he was trapped in the rug and begins to give him a very loud lesson on copper dragonborn resistances and weaknesses. Ferari commits the lesson to memory and the crew inspects the table.
Under the glass is a very finely-made set of leather armor, a worn leather satchel and a cooking pot, its outside enameled with the image of farmland and chickens painted on its side. Bug breaks the crystal case and they divide the spoils inside: Ferari takes the satchel, Rhogar takes the armor and Bug takes the pot. Seeing nothing else in the room, the party explores the rest of the manor.
They head to unexplored east wing of the first floor and find several long-dead bodies in the servants’ quarters under a bunch of broken furniture. They head upstairs and find a set of rooms filled with taxidermied animals and artwork, all untouched like the basement and most of the bookcases. They find another body on the second floor in the guest chambers, this one belonging to a member of the Splitcloaks, apparently killed by the poltergeist while attempting to loot the house. Rhogar takes the emblem off their body and they head into the master bedroom.
Inside they find the room destroyed like most of the other rooms in the house and they also find two skeletons near each other, one holding a dagger. Inspecting the room, they find a leather journal that belonged to Roberto Del Marrow and Rhogar reads it aloud to his companions. The entries start several years back and talk about how elated he is to obtain the various artifacts that are in his trophy rooms, but as the years progress the entries get more and more irritated in tone, Del Marrow frustrated at his wife who doesn’t appear to share his hobby. It ends abruptly, as if the owner had planned to continue writing in it but never got the chance.
The party looks around the manor a bit longer, Bug grabbing the thick book that gave Ferari some trouble earlier (a hardcover, metal-enameled collector’s edition autographed compendium of trashy romance literature) to give to his master and Ferari spouting theories as to why the ghost even attacked them in the first place, but it seems the mystery is not to be solved by them.
Confused, the party decides it’s time to head back to the captain and let her know what they’ve found…