The Nightmare Plague

The Stone Woman's House

another page of the mystery unfolds

Travallian woke to an odd sequence of events. As his consciousness first scanned the room, the appearance of normalcy might have eluded him. However, Esmiere and Hasingstoke were standing and staring at Rabbit who seemed to be making a big commotion about something. In front of the little gnome, Gillian was standing in a defiant way with her arms crossed:
“No. It could be evil. I won’t let you open it.”
That drew his sleepy eye to a large cargo box that hadn’t been in the room the night before.
“But, I just want to see what’s in it!” Rabbit demanded.
“It wasn’t here before. No. It’s like the barrels.” Gillian chided.
Who really knows why the young wizard wanted inside the crate so badly. It could have been that he was hoping new spell books or clues may manifest if just he could peak through the lid. Whatever the cause, the young girl in front of him seemed to be making a dent in his valiant efforts.
Stumble was standing in a sleepy daze beside the desk.
“What’s going on here?” Travillian’s groggy voice echoed.
Rabbit handed Travillan a gold harp which had no strings. Travillian handled the thing for only a moment, and then pulled out the strings and began expertly piecing the instrument together.
Rabbit then charged back toward the box, where he was met by an obstinate half-elf who happened to be just a tad stronger than himself.
“Rabbit is trying to open the strange box that just appeared here” Gillian explained, trying to recapture Travillans attention. It seemed to fall on deaf ears as he was engrossed in the harp.
“But the Lady Miranda sent it!” Rabbit begrudgingly explained.
“Oh. Well, why didn’t you just say that in the first place?” The young girl turned in a huff and drew her sword. In a smooth motion she had sunk the blade just under the lid and popped the crate open.
A familiar blue mist began to fill the room. (That is, familiar to everyone except Travillan.) Gillian’s sword put her on guard toward the formulating creature. The air tensed.
In moments a tall man in long robes stood before the crowd; Gillian’s sword threatening slightly at his chest.
“Who are you? Where’d you come from?” Gillian questioned, trying with all her might to keep her wits about her. It was then that the Man’s long white beard shuffled to the side to reveal an emerald ring on his finger. Trivallian, noting the commotion that Gillian was making, looked up from his harp and offered assistance. Mainly, he coaxed the girl away from the startled man and encouraged Esmiere and Rabbit not to offend the gentleman… too much. Gillian’s sword arm fell gently to her side and she thought it best to let the others question the newcomer for the time being. She got a funny feeling about him and wasn’t sure of his intentions. She sauntered over to Travillan who was studying the massively glowing object in his hands with great fascination. It then occurred to her that Travillian wasn’t even seeing the objects glow because he didn’t have the circlet on. So she removed her hat and the circlet and placed it around Travillan’s large horn (the circlet, not the hat). He could now see it’s magic and became engulfed in trying to learn what it does.
The rest of the party began narrowing in on the stranger, asking him questions about who he was and where he was from. They had just enough time to gather that he was probably friend, rather than foe, before the blue mist began pouring out of the box again: they had an open portal.
Gillian raised the scepter (which had replaced her sword when the strange gentleman asked if we’d had a scepter in our party).
Esmiere ran past Stumble and flanked the beast from behind. Stumble remained sluggish and off to the side. He must still be in a sleep-trance.
Travillan leaped upon the desk and drew his crossbow.
Gillian grabbed a book off the shelf and lunged at the creature. She missed and nearly faltered, but regained her balance.
The creature turned his attentions to Esmiere, who had now been joined by Hasingstoke, as they seemed to be the most imminent threat. As the boys entertained the beast, the old robed man’s hand started to glow a bright orange fire.
The distraction bought Gillian enough time to regain her balance, jump up on the crate in front of her, and touch the scepter to the monster. With a slithering ‘plop’ sound, it was gone.
The old man claimed that he was an expert with the dreamfaring world, and requested the scepter. Gillian looked at him as if he was foolish. The scepter wasn’t needed in order to return things to the dream world, what was he prying at? She clutched the scepter tightly in her grasp and replaced it in the front of her bodice where she had taken to keeping it since they’d left the Vastini camp.
Rezak (the old man), then remembered himself and sat down with the monster book in hand and touched the crate. “Now, if someone could help me with a sleep spell…” Travillan and Rabbit looked at each other with empty expressions. They knew their magics probably wouldn’t work on a man of such experience, even if he wouldn’t resist it. Gillian laughed a moment to herself.
“Do you mind if I try?” She said, somewhat spitefully.
Rezak stood up and handed her the book. Gillian laid down and put a hand on the crate as well. In a moment the crate and book were gone and the girl appeared to be ‘sleeping’.
While in the dream world, Gillian (who had the scepter pressed against her) was surprised by a visit from the Lady Miranda.
“Have you received both my gifts?”
“Both?”
“Did you fix the one that’s broken? And break the one that is whole?”
Gillian had to think for a moment about this one…

Does that mean did we fix the box so the guy could come out? Well then yes. We got that part. But breaking the one that is whole. Does that mean we’re supposed to beat him up?
Now, oh wait… the harp. That was the broken thing. Yeah Travillian fixed that and let me help! That must be the thing that was broken… so the Box must have been the thing that needed breaking. That I had done. Ah, now it made sense. No need to beat up old flamey-hands after all.

“Um… yes. We received them and broke and fixed them as needed.”
“Good” and then she disappeared and Gillian was out of her sleep trance. She looked up at Razek, nodded in approval, and then went to help Travillian with whatever he was doing at the time. Just then, she stopped and turned back to Razek “Hey, Lady Miranda said that you would help us fix this” Gillian held up her hand which, while it had gotten much worse overnight, was slightly less extreme. There was a collective check-in with the monster symptoms, and a range of agreement that they were all slightly less since the open portal went back to the dream world.
“Where is the urn?” Razek asked.
“Upstairs. That’s where all the trouble started, upstairs.” Esmiere chimed in.
“Stairs?” Razek questioned, puzzled.
“Yes.” Esmiere said.
“I don’t know what that is.” Rezek stated.
Gillian tried to think of the words that would explain what stairs were. This action involved a lot of violent hand gestures and some shifting of balance which almost landed her flat on her back when she realized she could just show him.
The party un-barricaded the library door and made their way back through the household to the main dining area and up the grand staircase. Gillian was taking point in this particular endeavor, which meant that she tried to open each door and if the door was locked, she moved on toward the next. Travillan, while still studying the magical harp, followed at Gillian’s heels to make sure she stayed out of too much trouble.
Esmiere, on the other hand, found that it may be more helpful to try his new masterwork thieves’ tools (in loving memory of the dearly departed Lucien) on the doors which Gillian could not open.
Rabbit stayed by Esmiere’s side to see if he could be of any assistance.
Gillian then came to an alcove that appeared to be a sitting area. In the back right corner there was a door. She approached and opened the door. Inside there was a single, huge, ornate bed. In the bed there were three sleeping figures. But they were not Sleeping; they were stone: Two young boys and a woman.
By this time, Stumble awoke from his sleep trance and swept past Esmiere and Rabbit to check on the wandering girl and the distracted bard. As he came in an idea struck: the stone-to-skin spells.
After brief discussion on whether to use the spells or not, it was decided that Rabbit was the most skillful and had the highest chance of success. Rabbit cast the first spell on the Woman.
It must have been a strange sight in front of her: so many monsters. Gillian’s hands were talon-like and black. Stumble’s skin was stretched to it’s limits, red, and veiny. Travellan had ram-like horns sprouting from his skull (and was still wearing the elegant gold circlet draped from one of them). But the first face the woman saw had eyes so white they looked blind. She was highly frightened. It was Razek who was able to calm her, as he had no odd appearance about him (rather, no outer-worldly, no wait… rather, a more ‘human’ look about him).
The woman appeared to be the boys’ mother, and the lady of the house. She would take no food or drink from the party, no matter how calming and subtly they attempted to persuade her. She went on and on about how her daughter was safe. That no one would find her daughter, her daughter was safe.
It was about this time that the party started musing about urns. Where would there be urns out of place? Gillian thought perhaps the status in front of the house was a person in stone holding the magic urn. Rabbit handed the rest of the stone-to-skin spells over to the woman to keep safe, and the party locked themselves out of the room as they left.
Esmiere, who had been diligently working on the lock, with Hasingstoke guarding his back, had finally picked the lock! Only to find that the door would still not open.

The party was now on the search for the missing urn. The urn had to be taken back to the dream world for all of the corruption to go away.

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