“This is ridiculous,” Kutch tells himself as he approaches the dilapidated building. “What could Alish-whatever have possibly been doing in a place like this? The merchants I spoke with have obviously mistaken her for someone else. Even if she is here, what am I supposed to do? Barge in and demand the ‘evil cemetery-dwelling count’ release the untouchable’s daughter?” He laughs at the foolishness of the idea, pauses, then strides up to the entrance. Kutch starts casting mage armor as he mutters “I’m sure it’s perfectly safe inside.” He stops again at the door to listen for a moment, then staff in hand, senses alert, he enters. “I sure hope this amulet is worth it, Johann…”
AC: 17 (mage armor)
Listen: 11 (d20:9+WIS+Half Elf)
Spot: 3 (d20:1+WIS+Half Elf)
Dust swirls around your feet as you enter the foyer of the abandoned building. The smell of rot and mildew hangs in the air. A steady rhythm pounds in your ears, but it’s just your heart. Shadows fall all around you, the darkness almost reaching out.
A shimmer of blue catches the corner of your eye. You turn to see a figure! Just a mirror. Stairs lead up, you can hear the wood creaking before you even approach it. A quick glance at the mirror reassures you that you are alone.
Holding your breath, you start up the stairs. Just as your foot lands on the first step, you catch the soft sound of breathing coming from the room to your right.
Kutch freezes in place, then slowly takes his foot off the step. “You fool,” he tells himself, “it’s only children playing hide and seek.” Even with the reassurance, visions of troglodytes, goblins and zombies flash in front of his eyes. He conjures a quick plan, and slowly sneaks over towards the door that leads to the room on his right. After positioning himself flat against the wall just to the side of the door, he points at the mirror, flicks his hand, and whispers “Dvigai,” willing it to topple over with the mage hand spell. “That’s it, come running out to investigate…”
Move silently: 16 (d20:13+DEX)
As the mirror sways and falls, it crashes into a thousand pieces. Something, you can’t quite tell what, runs out of the room and jumps onto the now broken mirror. Claws scrabble over the ground, searching for whatever made the mirror fall. A few more moments pass, and the thing crouches dejectedly on the mirror’s remains.
Outside, a light passes in front of the window. In that brief moment, you get a look at the thing living in this house.
Kutch is surprised at himself for not even considering the value of the mirror before knocking it over. Oh well.
He recoils as he catches a glimpse of what seems to be a… “doesn’t matter,” he decides. It’s obviously connected with Alicia’s kidnapping. Kutch takes a step forward, and trying to look more threatening than he feels, declares: “I am Kuchegar Kastyora of the law guild (formerly, he remembers). I demand you reveal to me the whereabouts of a certain girl Alicia, daughter to Johann of the… tannery.”
Intimidate: 12 (d20:8+CHA+ranks) OR
Diplomacy: 19 (d20:14+CHA+Half Elf)
“Silly man with silly laws while I’ve got not-so-silly claws. Would he still want her pretty head If I told him that she was dead? Was left here by men of the king, could see the marking of their rings. This is my house, but they came in. What was their flesh in now my skin. And little girls where do they go? I tell you now she is below.”
After he’s done with his little poem, he turns around and nods his head back, deeper into the house. His fangs glisten and he eyes you warily, but doesn’t make any moves.
“Teach me something, teach it fast, and I will kindly let you pass,”
My patience, boy, you wore it thin, and now you’ll feel my claws sink in.
Clawy gets a 3.
He is standing a bit more than 5 feet away from you.
What? Sorry, I’ve been crazy busy! Fine…
Kutch gets a 14
“I’ll teach you something, little liar: you shouldn’t ever play with fire.” Kutch jumps back five feet and curls his fingers into his palms, then shoots them forward as he yells, “Plamya eez ulichkach!” A torrent of flame shoots from his fingertips, towards Clawy.
Burning Hands. 4 damage. Reflex half (dc 14)
(I’ll keep that in mind next time. The rhyme popped into my head and I went with it. I’ll be more conscientious in the future.)
Before Clawy can even move the flames reach his flesh, his skin instantly blistering in scattered patches. (Ref 3)
He drops to his knees, the corners of his lips turning into a terrible smile. Or is that a grimace? “You taught me…pain…” He pants, his breathing labored. “Your prey…survives…I have but one…unlike her…lives.”
Clawy closes his eyes.
Kutch curses. “I didn’t think that would kill him outright.” But after a moment of contemplation, realizes that he’s never really used that spell except when he was trying to kill someone. Even when he didn’t know it would actually work…
Why is he screaming at her again? How can she let him strike her like that? She’s too perfect for him to do that. Her movements are so graceful, her features so sharp, her hair so…red. Fiery red.
The moment passes. “At least I know Alicia’s alive. The creature said she was below. As in, below the ground, or below us?” He glances over Clawy’s body to see if anything useful may have survived the blast, then starts searching for a way to get “below.” “Perhaps there’s another staircase that leads to a cellar or something…”
As you look over Clawy’s torched corpse, you realize there’s only one place the naked thing could have hidden something. You decide to look anyways.
Nope, he didn’t hide…wait. The light from the broken mirror shines on him and you catch the glint of something golden. As you retrieve the key, you wonder how it must have felt having it shoved in there.
Key in hand, you look and see a small doorway on the side of the staircase. What little light illuminates this floor is eaten by the darkness in that doorway. A children’s fable of a young man eaten by a Grue pops into you head. Old wives’ tales, but there’s something about that darkness that’s more than just unsettling.
Kutch vows to replace the glove he used to “retrieve” the key at the earliest possible opportunity. “No reward is worth this. You’ve reached a new low, Kutch. Being kicked out of the guild was one thing, this… this is another matter entirely.”
Approaching the staircase, Kutch casts Light on his staff to get a better view of the doorway, then, assuming he can get in, enters.
The dull low of your staff softens the edges of the house around you. As you head down the stairs, a strange weight begins to press down on your shoulders. It’s all in your head, right? About halfway down, the atmosphere changes. The walls turn to slate gray stone and the wooden stairs turn to solid flagstone. The air down here smells fetid. You see pools of still water in the stone floor. A light draft flutters the edges of your cloak. The taste of mold wafts over your tongue.
Whoever built this house here knew he was covering this up. Sure, the building is close to the graveyard, but you’re at least 20 feet below the surface. You stand in a small chamber. A closed door sits in the western wall. Another door is in the northern wall, slightly ajar. The draft must be coming from there.
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