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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The Morrick Monster... under the stairs
Be careful little eyes, what you see!

They gathered the horses and rode back around the mansion toward the front gate; meanwhile leery of the garden foliage that it would not leap out or munch at them inopportunely. When they arrived, they tied the horses to a nearby tree (after checking for any sign that they would likely be eaten). Travillan approached the gates first, with Esmiere and Gillian flanking him on either side. Gillian saw something out of the corner of her eye move and swiped her sword ineffectually toward a still vine on the wall. Travillan opened the door and a flower shot something at him. A familiar nub of a plant began to burrow its way into his skin, but Esmiere was there to pluck it out for him and the plant nub flew against the gate to it’s demise.
Travillan kicked open the heavy gate doors and the party gathered around to stare into the wide garden. Gillian shuffled in toward the mansion. As Stumble passed by the gate there was movement from a statue by the gate. It could have been a trick of the eye, but the party couldn’t take any chances. Stumble raised up his hammer and struck true: and the statue crumbled into small insignificant pebbles.
No one could be sure of themselves. Eyes kept playing tricks. Or was it the mansion. There was no way to tell.

As they approached the mansion, there was a massive fountain featuring a fifteen foot high bronze statue of a woman pouring water from a vase into the surrounding pool.

There seemed to be a library just behind the window. Rabbit, too, snuck up to take a gander at the window. He tried to break it with a stick, but the window did not break. “It must be magic windows” he said, and the party headed toward the door. Which was locked, of course. Esmiere stepped forward and gave it a shot.

Above, however, there were gargoyle status that started to move. A short battle ensued that ended with large pieces of crumbled stone all over the ground. Of course there would have been a welcoming party, that was just our luck.

Inside the mansion there were many doors. To the right there was a library. Rabbit ran ahead looking for any fun magic-looking books. Gillian walked over to the stand in front of the window she had peered in earlier. She thumbed through the pages. Trevallian seemed over cautious of the space, taking great care with each step. Esmiere and Trevallian made their way over to a large desk at the opposite side of the room. One of them found a locked drawer. Upon opening said locked drawer, two suits of armor sprung to life and struck an unsuspecting Gillian who happened to wander up between them at that time. A battle ensued which rendered both suits into shambles, but not without taking a few chunks of health from our party. Stumble gave what help he could and everyone was feeling much better. Upon looking into the magically locked drawer, there was found several ‘Flesh to Stone’ spell scrolls and a journal from Morrik himself. He had locked himself in this very library for several days until he died of starvation. His body was found curled up under the large desk.

As the party continued out into the mansion, they came upon the music room. Esmiere found the red sash that must have belonged to our mystery person from the note. He had been here, that was a good clue. Also, another letter was found. This gave instruction to make sure the urn was “completely submerged in the place we spoke of” and offered additional payment if the secret Morrick brandy-making methods could be discovered.

The next door that was opened revealed a large dining area. The party was not able to enjoy the well-lit floor to ceiling windowed room, because six corrupted creatures emerged and reined in on them. Battling them from two entrances into the hallways. When that battle had finished, all were wounded. Stumble gave what help he could, but we were running out of medical assistance.

Gillian ran into the dining hall and up the stairs. She found a locked door to the left. The others searched the dining area and looked out the back through the windows. This was where the reception was held. Lucien ran into a dark room under the stairs which lead to a kitchen area, but it was dark. Gillian (who has since ventured to the right upstairs until she was almost past the overlook) heard that Lucien had found the kitchen and came running as that must be where we would find the urn or the wine or some other clue to find next. The girl rushed through the door, not heeding the warning or chiding she was getting from both Travallian and Stumble.

Lucien followed her.

It was an ordinary kitchen. Gillian ran toward the casks of wine piled in the corner. They looked closed and usual. She then ran over to go up the stairs, as she heard a sound she had never heard before: Lucien seemed distressed. A huge monster jumped forth from under the stairs, from the door Lucien had been standing next to. The rest of the party worked their way into the tight kitchen quarters as the mosnter attacked Lucien. Travillian tried to attack the creature, to no avail. It lunged at Lucien again. Someone had the sense to call Gillian to come and see if the monster was a dream creature, so she dropped her bow and jumped down from the stairs to the cabinets and across the table.

Alas, she had not come in time. Just before Gillian could touch the creature with the dream scepter and trap him in a fork, he lunged one final fatal blow toward Lucien. As the creature disappeared, the elf’s body slumped limply to the ground. The silent archer was no more.

Wisely, the party remembered that a fallen Dreamfarer can be dangerous to the waking world. Travillian volunteered to transport his comrade’s body to the Dreamscape… but not before the dead elf’s belongings were distributed among the group.

Battered, exhausted, and grieving, the company took refuge in the fortified library, hoping that Lord Morrick’s safeguards in that room might help them pass the night in peace.

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House that is not a House
with a Horse that is not a horse

As the wagon reluctantly approached Morrick Mansion for a second time, no one noticed that Gillian had literally ‘fallen asleep at the wheel’. When she ‘awoke’ the two hour journey had nearly passed by in what seemed like an instant. “Well, that’s one way to travel,” she thought to herself.
The clopping of the horses’ hooves was a monotonous drawl as the daunting house came into view just past the gate.
Suddenly, Lucien had his bow drawn and Stumble and Travillian were looking skyward as if they had heard something.
Moments passed as the tension in the air grew. No one knew what to trust anymore. Only half of the party heard the noise; but, they could not quite identify what it was they thought they’d heard. The horses trod on hesitantly and ears were perked in every direction.
There! Again! Esmiere, Travillian, and Lucien heard it this time. Though, it sounded more like the flapping of wings…
And a third time, this time everyone saw as the large body swooped across the sky above them. It had the body of a horse, but the head and wings of bird. This was not a creature of the natural world. It wasn’t quite a horse…
That’s it! Stumble got it first and then shared the news: “The horse that is not a horse… that’s the second part of the riddle”
“Go to the House that is not a House, with the Horse that is not a Horse.” Gillian repeated from memory, like a good school child would.
“So, if that’s the horse that is not a horse, where is the house that is not a house?” Travillian chimed in.
“It must be the mansion” Stumbled asserted
“Or a barn.” Rabbit suggested.
“I thought it was a temple,” Gillian tried, but got a disapproving glance from Stumble, and went back to minding the horses.
“What’s over there?” Travillan prompted.
It was then that the party realized that Lucien was actually coming back from the direction Travillan had pointed. Apparently he had snuck off to scout out the area while the rest of the party had been formulating ideas.
“A carriage house” Lucien offered.
There was a unison of understanding among the party…. Except one: “A carriage house is a house that is not a house!” the excited female voice then quietly retreated from the bothered looks of those that hadn’t needed it to be spoken.
The party headed towards the carriage house.
As they approached, the looming urgency not to be caught by the flying horse-like creature was causing everyone to be overly cautious. Finally, they agreed that Hasingstoke would stay with the horses a bit back while the others went in together.
The carriage house was large with a lofted area above the stalls. There was a disturbing animalistic smell that was not entirely livestock. Trivillan and Gillian caught sight of the carriages just outside. They let the rest of the party explore the interior of the stables if they’d like, but they went to check out the stage coaches. There were several of them that had been turned over or torn at with large talons or claws.
Gillian hopped up in the first coach and started searching, while Trivillan’s hand reached for another.
Suddenly there was a terrible scream and then the harking squawk of a bird too large to be just a bird. The creature descended upon the party inside of the carriage house. Trivillan ran to assist and they battled the terrible creature. Lucien shot at it from the doorway as Rabbit cast a spell which disoriented the creature, he appeared to be blinded. This gave Esmiere and Stumble (and Travillan when he had time to catch up) time to attack the creature. Stumble had it pinned against the wall about to give the final blow to end the thing.
Meanwhile, out in the stage coach, Gillian was desperately trying to find some trace of a clue. She hopped down out of the first coach and went toward the one Trivillan had tried to search. As her hand touched the knob there was another terrible screech and the young girl let out a blood-curdling scream.
Travillan and Esmiere shot around the opening of the carriage house to find out what had caused the disturbance. Low and behold there was more than one of the bloody creatures. And this one had it’s talons all over Gillian’s fragile elvish body. Stumble, in a fit of dwarvish furry pound his way clear through the stone wall to come to the girl’s rescue.
After the creature had been disposed of, and Stumble healed all those who needed healing, Gillian, being the stubborn creature she is, went to search the last carriage. Inside, she found a letter to a spy who would have made his way inside the wedding party. She emerged triumphantly and passed the letter around. It was mentioned that the spy would have made his way to the music room and in there he would be give an urn. He would be wearing a red sash.
It was agreed that the party would need to head to the music room inside of Morrick mansion in order to find their next clue.

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Hasingstoke's Tale
A mystery revealed

Believe it if you will, but this is not my first visit to the Dreadlands, even if I did not know it at the time. It was years ago when I first saw these shores, although my manner of travel remains a mystery even to this day.

You see, I had the unpleasant task, a few years back, to oversee the expansion of the crypt of House Hasingstoke. An unfortunate necessity as a particularly ghastly pestilence swept the family. The workers, for all their good intent, unwittingly opened a new passage into an ancient vault. The tombs we found there dated back centuries. Some of the cover stones were cracked and crumbling, and an eerie light shone forth from one of the sepulchers. One curious digger leaned in for a clearer look when, with an unnatural suddenness, he began to be pulled into the very stone itself. Instinctively, I grabbed his leg, trying as I might to still his tumble when I, too, felt myself falling.

In the next moment, the laborer and myself were in another place. A circle of ancient stones surrounded us, and the air was damp and chill with night. Scarcely had we come to realize that we were, impossibly, out of doors when we became aware of the beastly eyes around us. Low breaths, akin to growls, issued forth a visible mist outside the circle. My companion, awash with terror, tried to flee and I shouted to stop him, but too late came my warning. The beasts were upon him, tearing at his flesh and consuming him even as he yet lived to see it.

My escape was as improbable as the rest of my story, I assure you. Before my eyes, one of the standing stones around me began to smolder and glow with the same light I had aforeseen in the family crypt. Unthinking, I moved toward it, drawn I suppose by the very unnaturalness of it. I felt compelled, I know not by what force or will, to touch the thing. Almost at the same instant did I feel pulled in two directions. Forward, falling as before into the cold stone and at once rearward, pulled by the jaws of the monstrous creature that had ensnared my leg. My eyes clamped shut with the pain of it all and, when again they were opened I was back where I began, though dazed and bloodied for my part. I ordered the archaic vault sealed with stone and plaster so that no other soul might suffer the fate that I did.

It was weeks before the full implications of my adventure were known. At the full moon next was I, all the gods curse it, transformed in some way, becoming a beast as hideous as the ones that tore my companion to pieces before my eyes. Dimly, I remember wandering the hunting grounds of the Hasingstoke estate, sating my thirst for blood on a great number of stag, which I myself killed with a force of rage.

I confessed my situation to one of the Queen’s wisest advisors, a certain Sir Norville Smedley, during Her Majesty’s next progress through the seven houses. He heard my tale and returned one of his own. From him I learned the meaning of the word “werewolf”, and all the horror that beast brings with it. The stones I had described to him he recognized from lore to be a “Druidic Circle”, and he knew at once that such shrines were common amongst the ancient and superstitious folk of the Dreadlands. Sir Norville pledged to me what aid he could offer, along with his silence.

After consulting many ancient tomes, and locking himself away for many days, Sir Norville presented me with the brooch you see me wear now. Through some combination of magicks, far beyond my ability to comprehend, it stays the horrific transformations. Have no doubt I am quite safe to my company. If you will recall, it was by the light of a full moon that you first made my acquaintance on the docks in Southport. You need have no fear of me.

When I learned that Sir Norville intended to send you to the Dreadlands, the source of the cause my vile state, I asked to serve as escort. It was my hope that I might discover some way to rid myself of this foul curse forevermore.

Lord Markham Hasingstoke, Guardian of the Emerald Order

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When Rats Attack!
All roads lead.... back to Morrik mansion.

Rats descended upon the party from the outlying woods; many of them larger than believable. There were such large numbers of them that it was difficult to tell that they were attacking the Vistani first. An epic battle bore on as rat and humanoid alike wrestled in mortal combat with blades and teeth threatening at every turn.

The first rat tampled in and took a chunk out of ‘Susan’. In retaliation, Rabbit tried a sleep spell, but it only got one Vistani man and one rat. Stumble summoned a glowing floating war hammer to fight with him and it struck true…. At least when it struck it was true. Esmire poked them from behind (as per his usual style). Lucien also held true to his nature and took them out from afar. Travillian proved his heroic nature and dove into the midst to save those needing the most help. Hasingstoke ran to the outskirts, and then worked his way inwards. Slowly. Gillian and two Vistani men ran toward the horses. Gillian had the cart horse hooked and reigned in no time and charged the cart toward the battle. The horse did not like this idea and the cart came to a stop just before trampling Stumble and Esmire. Meanwhile the battle wore on.

Rabbit ran to the aid of an old woman, but jumping on a rat’s back. He was flung and bitten and went down. Travillian knocked another rat down and started to make his way towards Rabbit. Stumble, knowing he was our group’s healer, headed over as well and got to Rabbit first. He was able to stabilize the lad, but things did not look good for the small one. Esmier, Lucien, and Hasingstoke finished off the last of the scurrying rat creatures, when several of us noticed a curious figure setting fire to the big tent. Gillian jumped down from her pointless cart-attack and ran toward the source. Travillian and stumble saw it and headed over as well; Travillian towards the tent to check on the Vistani Giant and the crystal ball, Stumble toward the strange rat-man figure that Gillian was trying to corner.

The rat-man was trapped between a flaming cart, Gillian, Stumble’s glowing floating hammer, and Stumble himself. Rat-man swiped his torch at Gillian and tried to set her on fire. She pointed at the torch and a ray of frost flew from her hand at the fire. She missed, but it did hit the flame on the cart behind rat-man and lessened that. Stumble’s floating hammer struck the rat-man true, and he fell. As he lay still, his body morphed back to that of a normal naked man. Stumble thought to himself the only possible conclusion: corruption. Others weren’t so certain.

Gillian ran toward the burning tent with one goal on her mind: the crystal ball.

As she lifted the flap she quickly realized that Travillian was also in the smoke-filled entrapment looking for something. Together they searched the best that they could and found that neither giant woman nor crystal ball were in the burning tent. As they ran out, Gillian realized she was on fire. Stop, drop, and roll would have been effective, but her party members came to her rescue and quickly put her out.

Lucien and Travillian quickly took to scanning the outskirts of the camp for any traces of the vanished giant, or more trouble. Nothing was found. Looking upwards, they saw the frantically whirling swarm of bats begin to move off. They headed eastward, over the elder barrows and deep into the wilds of Barovia beyond.

As the party gathered together again they walked through the carnage: Vistani and rat alike. Rabbit seemed stable for now. Any other serious injuries were being looked at by Stumble. Gillian and a Vistani man gathered the horses and calmed them down.

There were discussions with the Vistani, but everyone was pretty set on clearing the area as soon as possible. Travillian and Stumble talked with the Vistani man and came back to the party saying that we were to take the Vistani’s four horses, and they were going to take our two corrupted ones. The party loaded up in the wagon and on the horses and headed north….. once again toward Morrik Mansion.

Lord Hasingstoke seemed to become more and more uncomfortable as Gillian stared at him. There was some discussion among the group as to the nature of the rat-man who, in death, became fully human. It was pointed out that old tales and songs mentioned something called “were-creatures” that would change from human to animal form under certain circumstances.

“But…”, said Gillian, eyes locked on the noble lord, “No one here would know anything about that, would they Lord Markham?”

The Third Earl of Hasingstoke cast his eyes downward. “Very well,” he sighed. “I shall tell the tale…”

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The Vistani
Curses! And stuff...

The decision was made: we would carry on through the night without rest or stopping.

It would be over two hours on the journey toward the Vistani camp. Trivallian navigated as Gillian handled the cart horse. Hasingstoke and Stumble took the other horse. The others rode in the wagon. Early on in the trip Gillian remembered the magic items she’d been trying to read earlier. She handed off the reins to Trivillan and studied the woman’s cloak. It wasn’t long before she was able to decipher it was a Cloak of Resistance (+2). Thinking this garment would be more harm than good on it’s current wearer, she began to untie the woman to remove the cloak and then retie her. Lucien watched menacingly. She offered the cloak up to the group and Rabbit was the most in need of it’s protection. It was much too big, but the bright young bloke took up the challenge and fashioned it to fit him.

Glancing at him reminded Gillian that she also had Halfling armor that had been left by another shriveled body from Morrik Mansion. She studied it and found that it was armor made for Halfling spell casters. Rabbit hesitantly put that on as well.

As the party approached the Vistani camp (they could see the light of the bonfire in the distance and hear the light melody being played), Trivallian struck up his instrument in the same tune. “I know one of them has been following Gillian, but if it’s alright with all of you, I’d like to make first contact” Trivallian offered. The party agreed and steered the cart parallel to the camp on the outside of the brush. Trivallian hopped off the cart and continued playing and humming to the Vistani’s song.

Upon entering the clearing, he was greeted with the music dying down rather abruptly and suspicious looks from all assembled merry-makers. Trivallian, undeterred, finished out the verse and applauded the Vistani’s music. He introducted himself as a traveler who needed help. Then he took off his hat to reveal two horn-like bumps on his head. The Vistani collectively slinked back a few feet and a large man with a work hammer approached Trivallian, with purpose.

“What I mean is that we need help and we’ve come to you for your wisdom…” Trivallian attempted to dig his way out of the potentially sticky situation. “My friends and I have come for your help.”

The Vistani man barked out some words in a language Trivallian did not understand. A little old woman came forth from the large tent and approached Trivallian. She looked at the horns and then said “You come. All come. Come.” In broken-Common. Trivallian walked back toward the woods to gather the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, back at the wagon. After hearing the music stop abruptly, Stumble began his own jaunty dwarven melody. Gillian tried to harmonize, but gave up after the first song as her light ethereal young voice did not seem to mesh very well with his baritone harking. Lucien, always suspicious, drew his arrow and scanned the area around them. Rabbit got curious and hopped off the wagon to disappear into the brush.

Trivallian came back to the wagon to let everyone know we should join the Vistani camp. Gillian started to hide the dreamfaring septer in the back of her bodice, but was advised that it may offend our hosts and cause them to want to steal it more. So she wrapped it up and shoved it deep down into her bag. The bag she kept very close to her the rest of the night. Trivallian gave instruction not to seem too cautious and to try not to offend our hosts. He then almost asked where Rabbit was, but shrugged instead. Lucien made an off-color comment about ‘besides, if we run into trouble, we’ll just kill them all…’ Which caused Rabbit to appear out of no where and pipe in “No, we’re not!”

With that, they drove onward toward the Vistani.

The large man with the hammer greeted the Cart horse. He looked over it’s weird falling out hair and mangled sharp teeth and nodded. He then, to the chagrin of Gillian, who was still holding the reins, unhooked the horse and led it over to be tied up for the night. The others had already hopped out of the cart. Lucien was keeping a close eye on the sick, unconscious woman.

Trivallian introduced the group with flourish. Another old woman came out to join the first. The second old woman asked if the uncouncious woman with our party needed help as well. Trivallian named the woman ‘Susan’, and said that yes, she did need assistance. The first old woman went over to the side of the Vistani camp and marked out an area and chanted and blessed and spat on the area. She then turned to our party and said “You sleep there. In morning you will meet Madame Eva.”

Gillian needed no further prodding. She threw her bag in front of her, and curled up in the center of the area so as to be surrounded by the men she travelled with. The rest hesitantly strolled over to the area. Stumble demanded that watches be set up. He and Lucien took them.

During the night, Gillian, Lucien, and (one other player who I don’t remember which one) had a disturbing dream: they were buried alive in a wooden box, when suddenly the box is ripped open and large glowing red eyes in a pale white face with large fangs is standing right in front of them. Then they wake up. Lucien was the first to wake up with this and shookenly kept it to himself. However Gillian woke up screaming in the morning and shared the disturbing dream with the others.

Upon awakening, the party found the man with the hammer still keeping watch over them as well as several other Vistani milling about the campsite and making breakfast. Our hosts offered us food which we graciously accepted. However, once each of us had woken up enough we began to realize our symptoms had gotten worse. Trivallian’s horns has poked through the skin. Esmire’s skin was turning a reddish color. Rabbit’s hair went white. Gillian’s black nails were more pointed and poking through her gloves….. etc…etc…

The two old women came out of the big tent. They ushered the party toward it. The second old woman told Lucien to leave ‘Susan’ outside with them. Vistani attended to her.

Inside the large tent there were rugs of all shapes and colors. There were throw pillows and two tables. One had a ball-like figure with a cloth draped over it. The other had several cards laid face up upon it and behind that table sat a third old woman. However after a moment the party realized that the table was not small, it was of average size…. The woman however must have stood at least eight feet tall and was mildly spherical in girth. Her haggard voice demanded to know who the leader of the group was. Gillian and Lucien immediantly pointed to Stumble and cleared way for him to walk forward. Surprised, he conceded and stepped toward the table. It was around this time that Gillian noticed that the ball and cloth were glowing that tingly magical glow. So as stumble passed her, she mocked falling into Travillan which allowed her to scoot closer to the magic table. She wasn’t able to study it quite yet, but she did keep an awareness of it.

The old woman told Stumble to pick a few cards. She did some magically looking signals with her hands and then looked up from her table. “You have brought great evil here” she said as she pointed to each of us. Then she told us that help is coming (per Stumble’s prod for assistance from the dream world). She couldn’t tell us when help was coming but that we only had “three days”. She said we should seek the “horse that is not a horse, in the house that is not a house.” Gillian assumed this to be some sort of temple with a symbol of a horse as their holy symbol. The rest of the party was not so sure, and so they all gnawed on that information for a moment.

It quickly became clear that it was time to leave, when some of the party began hearing hissing sounds coming from the table with the ball and cloth on it. Stumble shoo-ed most of the party out, but as Gillian was turning to leave, her new claws got snagged on the cloth that had been covering the ball. This revealed a crystal ball filled with black smoke. Stumble tried to grab Gilli to get her out of the tent, but she shifted the wrong way and ended up falling instead. Stumble’s glare at that moment would have been something to have been frightened of had Gillian not been paying so much attention to the smoke filled ball. For, before Stumble was able to pick the young girl up, she witnessed the same glowing red eyes, pale skin, and fangs that she’d seen in her dream staring up at her from the smoke of the ball. The words “You have failed me.” were all that was spoken before Gillian went into frenzied explanation of how the face was the same from the dream. Lucien overheard the commotion from inside the tent and drew his bow. Rabbit had been checking with the Vistani who were tending to Susan. Esmire and Hasingstoke mulled around outside until further instruction. It was Trivallian who re-entered the tent to try to help Stumble and Gillian. Gillian had seen enough and ran from the tent toward the horses. Trivallian saw the figure in the ball and grabbed the silk from Gillian’s claw to toss it magnificently back over the ball as he ran out of the tent as well.

Trivallian joined Lucien and Gillian as the three of them grabbed the horses to resaddle one and retie the other to the wagon. Rabbit was still musing over the Vistani near Susan. Stumble had exited the large tent as well and was now staring with Hasingstoke, Esmire, and the rest of the Vistani toward the rapidly darkening sky. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of screeching, whirling bats were circling above the camp and, in defiance of their nature, blocking out the noonday sun.

To say that danger was upon us would be quite the understatement….

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Morrik Mansion through Search for the Vistani
.....Actually working together for once. Only now it's made us freaks.

After the attack, the party was quite shaken. However it was decided they should carry on through the woods to Morrik Manor in search of their lost Sable.

As they came upon the south east wall, they found two mutilated bodies. Behind those was a wall with large overgrown leafy substances upon which the flowers looked rather odd, almost as if they were moving. Rabbit hopped down and went over to investigate the body parts and noted two black crystal type rocks lying beside them. Stumble, the ever loyal, searched further down for Sable. Gillian followed Stumble. Not too far off (but somewhat difficult to see due to the waning sunlight) they came across two more bodies. One was not so mutilated, but shriveled as if something had sucked the life right out of it. The other was the body of the strange creature that had initially attacked Sable, then disappeared into the trees with him. The monster had been torn in half by some thing that was obviously more vicious and powerful. Beside these bodies was another crystal-like rock but this one was red, and eerily glowing.

Stumble bravely flipped over one of the bodies and to everyone’s horror, the shriveled face of Stable stared back up at him. Gillian gave an affrighted girlish gasp and Stumble filled the rest of the party in on what was happening.

It was time to leave. They decided to bring Sable back with them so Stumble dragged his body over to the cart. Gillian had noted the eerie glow of the red crystal and decided to study it’s meaning. Obviously if it was laying next to Sable, it must give us some answers just as soon as she could figure out how it worked. (She secretly hoped it wasn’t what killed him in the first place.) She picked up the crystal and headed back to the cart to study for a while.

Esmire, filled with a roguish curiosity, came over to investigate the foliage. But as he turned his back he was suddenly struck with a sickening pain in the back of his neck. He began to run in terror of something no one could see. Trivillan, being quick on the uptake and having a keen understanding of terror, ran after him and was able to head him off at the path in the woods. Trivillan noticed a green wiggly thing at the back of Esmire’s neck and without thinking twice quickly grabbed the creature and plucked it from his friend’s skin. Esmire quieted and passed out. Sensing oncoming disaster, Gillian encouraged Rabbit to strike up the wagon and get ready to run. Gillian reached down and helped Stumble heave Sable’s body into the cart and then Stumble ran to help Trivillan with Esmire. Rabbit pulled the wagon around to get closer and Gillian reached down to grab Esmire, but her hands slipped and Esmire’s limp body fell back on Trivillan and Stumble leaving his pack in Gillian’s hand. She threw the pack into the cart (Notice how Hasingstoke was so influential in this particular scenario when everyone else is pulling their weight? Huh. I guess he’s with the horse…. Not to mention Lucien. What was Lucien even doing? Possibly watching the perimeter for any trouble. He has that elfy paranoia going for him.). Stumble and Trivillan man-handled Esmire’s body into the cart and Trivillan jumped in while Stumble hopped on the back of the horse with Hasingstoke.

Along down the path the road broke into two directions, but before the party had time to decide which way, Lucien noted a woman in a black cloak with long white hair. She was singing. None of the party could make sense of this, especially when she turned around and her face was ghostly pale, with white eyes. Suddenly, Trivillan had a disturbing notion that he could recall the tune. She was humming one line over and over again. It was a local children’s song that he had heard in this town. The line went “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily…”

Everyone tensed up.

After Stumble determined her to be evil, Lucien shot an arrow into the woman. She wavered for a moment but stood up straight again, with an arrow sticking out of her.

Gillian jumped out of the cart and ran to the woman, trying to pull the cloak from her (it was glowing which told her it was magical). She nearly got a hand on the woman, but was knocked away and she ran back to the cart.

Trivillan took over the reigns as Rabbit decided he’d had enough of this and cast ‘sleep’ on the creepy woman.

The party decided that it was a good idea to bring the woman with us. So they loaded her in the wagon (Esmire had come to by now and was available to help).

The party all agreed that this woman had been taken by: the corruption.

The night was growing dim. Lucien suggested again that the party stop and make camp before anything else could come upon them. He was outnumbered by those who felt it would be safer back in town. So they headed down the road toward the town.

It was not long before they came upon a blue mist that the horses refused to pass through. Lucien fought not to give the ‘I TOLD you so’ face, in his gracefully smug way.

They noticed the blue mist was very farmiliar. Much like the blue mist in which dream creatures had escaped from the barrels back in Ashenport. This did not bode well.

Everyone tensed a little more.

Gillian grabbed the dreamfaring septer from her bag and grabbed a rock from the ground. She approached the blue mist and attempted to capture the essence into the rock. However she was met with merely an icy cold feeling. She put the septer away and scurried back to the wagon. When asked by Stumble what was wrong she replied “That’s not the way to go. It’s cold.”

Curious, Rabbit jumped from the cart and ran into the woods.

The party mulled over potential options. Lucian suggested setting camp. Esmire threw a rock.

From the other side we heard a tiny voice yell “Hey, that almost hit me!” And realized Rabbit was on the other side of the mist. The party questioned if it was safe and Rabbit assured them that it was, if not a little cold though. So Esmire tamed the horses with his magic wand, and then walked through the mist.

On the other side he began to flail around and act very funny.

Not thinking too much more than that, Gillian slapped the rear of the horse leading the wagon. At some point someone had decided to tie the second horse to the back of the wagon, so this meant an entire caravan and the rest of the party (except for Gillian and Lucien who had both jumped off of the wagon) were driven through the mist.

There was a battle between Stumble and Hasingstoke involving a war hammer and some very damaged armor. It was then that Gillian suggested that perhaps she and Lucien should wait until that had subsided before going through, so if they too were caught in this fit of rage that the mist was causing, they wouldn’t add to the chaos. So they waited until Stumble and Hasingstoke duked it out.

Eventually they did enter through the mist.

The party all reloaded onto the wagon and heaed back toward town. Gillian now handled the reins.

As they argued about the plan of action, Esmire suddenly noticed that Gillian’s fingernails were turning an unusual shade of black. He then looked down and noticed an unusually veiny texture on his own skin. In fact, in looking around, each of the party members seemed to be exhibiting unusual transmutive traits.

It seems the corruption has gotten us all.

Suddenly our plan options have slimmed out a little. Gillian suggests requesting help from the Vistani person that had been following her previously. Travillian remembers approximately where the Vistani camp was supposed to be located and offered his help in navigating there.

The party was torn again. Some didn’t want to separate, but the chances of staying together in their freakish state and getting through town without trouble were looking slim. Stumble suggested that we take Sable’s body back to the guardian temple. Gillian had figured out that the crystal was Sable’s heart. Apparently whatever attacked him sucked his life essence out and channeled it into his heart… presumably to be consumed in one tastey bite. However, something slashed it down before it could get to dinner. So Sable’s life essence was resting in Gillian’s small hands.

The party decided on a plan: They would sneak up the side of town directly between the two watch towers, so as not to be seen in the still cover of night, and Stumble would drop Sable’s body off with the guardians. Then they would head back out to the perimiter of town and search for the Vistani camp, who they hoped would help them. There was still the potential danger of the Vistani being a superstitious people.

We hoped they would help anyway…. We were running out of options.

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Magicky compendium entry 1

There appears to be magic both magical and not quite so magical in this world. I propose to make a thorough study of both. In this entry, we will examine the effects of blue mist on the living.

Blue mist is encountered in connection with dreamscape phenomenon. It was encountered by your humble author’s adventuring party once before, when they released some large, scary beetley things from wine casks.

In the party’s second confrontation with this so-called “blue mist,” the mist took on a form similar to the auroral borealis, a shimmering curtain that fades into the mist. Horses were frightened by it, and it was identifiably evil, at least according to Stumble, our party’s cleric.

After some deliberaton, curiosity overwhelmed the author, who went to examine close at hand the blue mist. It stretched seemingly indefinitely but had no more width than that of a hair. Taking a deep breath, I passed through the fog and, except for a chill, felt no ill effects.

This of course led to me convincing the party that all was safe.

Dear reader, had all been safe, you would not now be reading this entry, as it would have been nothing but an idle curiosity, a footnote in this compendium.

Esmir walked through firm; being a roguish character, the sort who are of notoriously low self-control, he immediately began to blather and spin around in circles for half a minute. Then the horses were driving through with a slap on the rear. Now things indeed got interesting. First, I caught a horse’s hoof in the stomach and was thrown to the ground. When I lifted my head, I discovered that Stumble, an otherwise goodly and godly Dwarf, was fighting with Lord Poncypants, our protector and benefactor. A mighty blow from the dwarf’s hammer and the clang of sword on plate mail convinced me that swift action was needed to immobilize them, and so I cast Color Spray. However, it appears that Stumble, at least, was still in good control of his mental faculties, for he did little except curse up a storm. Lord Poncypants sat immobile.

The distraction was sufficient time for Trevelan to leap from the cart and dehorse the dwarf, after he managed to bring the lead horse’s fear under control.

Shortly thereafter Gillian, our herbalist, stepped through the mist and began to curse up a storm in Elvish. (The discovery at this stage of her elvishness appeared to cause the young lady some distress but was nothing more than a moment of curiosity and what’s-the-big-dealiality with the rest of us.)

Strange effects, these, indeed, but the most curious bit was yet to come. For we all began to suffer physical defects since our passage through the blue fog. To wit:

personage | effect | cause for concern?
Esmir | prominent veins on forarm | none; long sleeves are in fashion
Gillian | black fingernails | little except in polite company; gloves may be worn
Trevelan | horn nubbins | little except when indoors; the bard wears a hat
Lucien | lost nose | great; a mask might hide the physical effects but is equally a cause for concern!
Rabbit | whitened eyes | possibly; appears to be blind

I developed a scheme to melt some of the colored powder I use in my color spray illusions to fashion some rose-tinted glasses to hide the nature of my eyes until we found a cure for the corruption.

As of this writing, we do not yet know completely the effects of the blue fog or whether they are reversible. We are seeking the guidance of some mystics who have set up camp near town.

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Bits and Pieces
From what I remember... please add!

So after everyone was healed and equipped, Travillian (Dave’s character, butchered name spelling) and Gillian went off to secure horses and a cart so that we could travel faster. We ended up with three horses, Thunderbolt (Gillian’s), Lightfoote (Esmier’s), and Warhammer or something sparkly (Travillian’s). And a cart where the rest of the party rode.

However, before we left, we went to speak to Lady Sheila Eldoran at her house. It was believed that she was the daughter of Lord Kyran Eldoran, business rival of Lord Morrick. Lord Eldoran may have used the occaision of Morrick’s daughter’s wedding to somehow cause this corrosive sickness. The party split in half. One part stayed behind at the tavern to wait for the horses, while the other part went to question the lady. Trivallin had a plan and asked for Stumble & Gillian to play along. But, before the lady answered the door, Gillian was distracted by a figure dressed in strange clothes that was watching them. Gillian had seen this same figure twice before. The most recent time was just the night before where the figure made a narrow escape through some trees. So Gillian decided to sneak up behind the figure by going around the other side of the house. The figure got away… again.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Trivillan convinced the lady that he was there to help her. And THEN, when she asked which Noble House sent him, he gave a name of one of the seven, “Von Zarovich”. She reacted abruptly, “Leave here. My father should never have had dealings with that evil Count!”, and shut the door. This caused the party to believe that Noble House was indeed part of a plot against this woman.

With that knowledge, Trivillan, Stumble and Gillian rejoined those waiting for the horses and the group began their journey. Stumble had consulted with a local cleric who, through the use of sacred rituals, determined that Sable might be found near the southeast wall of the Morrick mansion grounds.

Anyhow… ON THE ROAD! Spears began being hurled at the party. One went through Gillian’s horse and she was dismounted. Her horse ran off. One grazed Esmire’s horse (he may have voluntarily dismounted and ran off to fight the beasties, I don’t remember). His horse ran off too I think. Everyone was in a tizzy cause it was hard to see the giant things hurling sharp pointies.

But we defeated them! (I remember that we won.)

and now we’re all like “dude… wtf… that was creepy. But then again, what’s new.” but trudging on ahead.

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Night at the Tavern
A glimpse through Gillian's eyes

She sat across the table, staring down this new addition to their party. Gillian was never one for being rude, but there was something in her that just didn’t trust him. That didn’t stop her from liking this feeling, but still!

She sipped at her mead as she stared leerily. The stranger looked over and caught her eye and then smiled at her. This caught her off guard and she found herself smiling in return. Then she remembered herself and the smile turned into a forced scowl…

So much had happened in the past few days that it felt good to be sitting in a safe tavern surrounded by people. In the morning the party would continue their adventures to rescue their ordained leader, Sable, from the clutches of a very angry clawed green monster from the trees. For now, it was their duty to rest and conserve their strength.

The gentleman who had recently joined our ragged band of travelers had been performing in the tavern as the party arrived. Stumble was the first to notice the large emerald ring he wore and the dwarf waved the man over. We’d been informed that this newcomer was sent by Norville Smedley on a quest to find strings to a magical harp. However, the lackluster lad had yet to make progress in that venue and decided to take up safety in our larger numbers.

Around the table that night, the travelers retold stories of their recent adventures. The most recent involved a band of ghostly pale humanoid creatures who seemed to plague the forest outside of this current city. As the party rehashed the tragic loss of Sable in battle, the bard then stood and shared, quite charmingly, the tale of “the corruption.” The root of which could be dated back to about six months prior, just before the plague of dreams begun to haunt them.

Weary and worn down, and still not all in the tip of health, the party bunkered down in a local tavern for the night. In the morning they would once again begin their adventures after regrouping supplies and paying another visit to the two temples located in the Village for healing and information.

Gillian had finished helping Stumble off with his armor and then found her way to her own bed. Sleep was not a welcome function to the young woman anymore. She longed for a time where the simple act of closing her eyes didn’t frighten her. But she was getting better and more skilled at controlling herself in both this world and the dream world. Besides, now she had friends in both.

And she drifted off to sleep, she thought about each of the members that made up her party. She was grateful for their company, no matter how tense and difficult traveling together seemed to get. Traveling through this life is difficult enough without knowing that the nightmares are real and coming for you. This was a journey no one should have to take alone.

She promised herself that she would find Sable soon. If he was still alive, he would be all alone. That was a thought she couldn’t bear.

She forced her eyes closed and thought of tomorrow.

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