The group has managed to defeat the strange and deadly toys, and they stop to rest and examine the caravan wagons. True to Volrane’s word, the wagons are filled with foodstuffs, now rotting and useless. Some other trade goods, trinkets, and a well made carpet are tucked in among the rotted food; the carpet, the only real thing of true value, is now worthless thanks to stains and a stench that can never be removed.
Turning their attention to the village, they see that the majority of homes and buildings within the village proper are destroyed and burned. Two buildings to the northeast are still in reasonable shape, as well as one building on the northwest side of the village. To the far north is a very large building, and the group surmises that this would be the theater that Silas built. The group decides that they need to seek out more information before heading to the theater, and so they head for the building toward the northwest.
Despite the building being standing, it appears to be in very bad condition. Entering the front door, they take stock of their surroundings. At first glance, they are standing in what was once someone’s home, with shattered furniture and torn curtains cluttering the floor. Two staircases are immediately visible; the one on the right leading up, the one on the left leading down. A brief discussion ensues, and the group decides to head down into the cellar first. The stairs are worn and rotted; Kevara, the last one down, breaks through one of the middle steps, catching herself before she falls through. The lower cellar is empty; there is evidence that it was used for food storage and curing, but rats and other wild animals have cleaned everything out. As the group inspects the cellar, they hear singing. Caelissa determines that the song comes from the upper floors, and is obviously female.
Confused, since they have been led to believe that the village is empty, the group heads upstairs to investigate the source of the song. Kevara once again breaks through a step, and escapes unscathed. Hurrying back into the main room, Lazan and Dorn spot a human figure limned in blue light moving up the stairs. The group follows as it disappears from immediate view and the song fades away. Fortunately, the stairs leading up are in much better condition, but by the time the group reaches the upper floor, the figure is gone along with the singing.
The room is a disaster area; a cursory inspection doesn’t reveal anything interesting, but on a more thorough search, Dorn and Lazan manage to find a red silk scarf. The scarf itself is worn and frayed, and as they pick up the ends, the two of them can hear the singing again. Lazan suggests that everyone should touch the scarf, and as the last one touches the fabric, a female human ghost appears in the doorway, blocking the exit. She is young and beautiful (by human standards), with hair hanging to her waist, and wearing a simple homespun dress. Her song is melodic and sinister:
Silas Mauvais built a house and filled it with his toys
Bringing smiles to one and all, to all the girls and boys
He was well known and was well loved, brought joy to one and all
Until that fateful day of death, that marked old Silasâ€™ fall.
Silas had a daughter, a beauty, young and fair
With eyes of green and lips of red, with long and golden hair
Her father was away that night, he left her all alone
A noise she heard and off she went to check it on her own
Silas found her the next day, a gruesome, horrific sight
Telltale signs, a bloody mess, told Silas of her plight
Blood inside the closet, blood right up the hall
Dripping down the landing stairs, and smeared upon the wall.
No one knows what happened next. Thereâ€™s no one left to say.
But if you should see Silas Mauvais, youâ€™d better start to pray;
For none will rise, all are dead, here in fair Darkhaven
Doomed in the fall, corpses all, cursed by the Dark Maven.
The song finishes, and the ghost shrieks in horror and pain, exploding in a fountain of blood. At that instant, the group hears a horrifying cackle echo in their ears.
It’s commonly known in the guilds I’ve been in and by many of my friends that I do voices; at the end of Wrath, a visit to the SiB vent channel would have given you a taste of Kermit the Lich King and Hank Hill Fordring making their speeches. These are just two of the repertoire – I also do a decent Sam Elliott, can sing Boris Karloff, and I have a passable Marvin the Martian and Bullwinkle the Moose (along with Dudley Do-Right and Mr. Peabody). You could even hear me talk raid strats with Charles Barkley, Eric Cartman, or mimic the Onyxia Wipe guy. There are two voices I don’t do often, for a couple of reasons. The first is because they really creep people out, and the second is that one of the voices really hurts my throat after a while, and people tend to request it a LOT. These are the Joker voices – Heath Ledger’s, and Mark Hamill’s. That horrifying cackle the group heard? Mark Hamill’s Joker, laughing hysterically. It scared Amber a little bit, and conversation stopped dead for a few minutes while everyone recovered from a minor heart attack.
The group recovers from their brief encounter and begins to head downstairs, satisfied that they will find nothing else in the house. As they reach the middle landing of the staircase, they discover the ghostly image of a young girl’s body, crumpled in a pool of blood an inch deep. The blood is smeared along the wall and running down the staircase, and the group is literally wading through it as they make their way to the door. Once the door opens, however, the vision is dispelled.
The group then crosses the road between the buildings and heads for the nearest building on the opposite side. Eschewing caution for valor, Dorn bull rushes the door, crashing through it and landing in a heap in the middle of the main room. Unfortunately for Dorn, he has landed in the center of a group of dolls, each wearing a pinafore and maniac grin, wielding a butcher knife in each hand. They have the drop on Dorn, and a few attacks later (during the surprise round), Dorn is very badly wounded and in dire need of healing.
The group dispatches the dolls, greatly discomforted by the eerie nature of this place and the enemies they are finding within it. A search of the room reveals a chest. Caelissa investigates, and finds no traps on the box. Opening it, dust explodes forth from the chest, causing everyone to cough and sputter harmlessly. Moving on, Lazan finds an unusual scroll tied with a ribbon and sealed with black wax. The seal is a skull with a dagger through it – Kevara recognizes it from somewhere, but she is unsure where she had run across the symbol before.
Naturally, the group discusses opening the scroll.
Dorn: I’ll open it.
Lazan: Kevara, what do you think?
Kevara: I donâ€™t regard anything involving a skull motif and the color black with much optimism. On the other hand, it could be an important clue.
Lazan: Fine, fine…Dorn, youâ€™re so eager, just donâ€™t tear the damn thing.
Caelissa: Well, the worst thing that happens is we have to kill more things!
Kevara: No, the worst thing that can happen is that we DIE.
Everyone leaves the room save for Dorn, who breaks the seal. The group hears a scream in that same voice they heard before, and they all group together to examine it. Shayla recognizes the script as Elvish, but the words aren’t making any sense. She says that the syllables are strange and guttural. Dorn thinks that perhaps the words are meant to disguise the true speech the scroll was written in, so Shayla begins to pronounce the words phonetically. Dorn and Kevara immediately recognize the words as Draconic, and between the three of them, they are able to decipher the scroll.
It says, “The sacrifice has been made. The Maven will be made to understand-we are forever. We do not forgive. We do not forget. The price has been paid, and He will reawaken in time. Hail the Balar Haâ€™ja.” Kevara remembers something that her mentor once taught her, that the Balar Ha’ja was an apocalypse cult, dedicated to the destruction of the gods.
Leaving the house, the group sees bloody footprints leading toward the rear of the remaining building they have not investigated. Following them, the group finds that the prints end at a rosebush up against the wall. Lazan grabs the lower stems of the rosebush intending to pull it out, but instead the vines lash out, wrapping him up and burying thorns into his flesh. The group hears a slurping sound, and the bush is getting visibly healthier, blooming fresh roses dewed with Lazan’s blood. Lazan shifts into a crocodile form and pulls away, however not before taking a stab from Dorn intended for the rosebush itself. Kevara breathes fire on the bush, burning it to cinders. The ground beneath the bush, no longer supported by the roots, collapses into the empty space below.
Dorn uses a sunrod to light up the newly discovered passage, finding an empty room save for a skeleton. The form is slight and small, most likely female, and a dagger sticks out from the breastbone. Everyone enters the small room, likely a cellar dug out after the building was built, and goes to investigate the skeleton. Dorn removes the dagger from the bones; the blade is rusted and pitted, and the hilt appears to be made from ebony, carved into the shape of a skeleton with crossed arms, fingers pointed outward.
The group hears a whisper behind them, and they all turn to see the ghost of the young girl they saw before. The spirit gazes sorrowfully at the skeleton, shakes her head sadly, and disappears.