Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Zapdos
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After an understandable grieving period from Eliel and a less understandable period of insanity from Magolor, the latter found the former solider girl’s blood where she had been. Without any real proof it had been hers though, the team of three cautiously headed towards the room with the light to see what they could find. Fortunately, there were no traps to speak of around the pit.

When they arrived, everyone saw what was in this room; a formal dining room, complete with a set of sturdy-looking wooden chairs and a table. The centerpiece of the room was a grand portrait of an important-looking man. Evaluating the amount of detail and color that went into it, it was easy to assume it was probably Charles Cornwall himself. Based on the artist’s representation of the man, the nobleman had a commanding presence and commanded respect. The light that had been seen was actually from one candle on a diminished, yet still ornate chandelier. While the detailed metalwork of the fixture still alluded to the former grandeur of the piece, there were holes that looked to have contained gems sometime in the past. Upon evaluation, the team would find that the candle had no drippings or other signs of wear; this piece of wax was only lit recently. There was also a grand wooden cabinet that was a little shorter than Sohn, made of the same wooden material as the table and chairs, with three drawers of equal size.

Besides the direction they came from, there were three other passageways the group could use. To the right was a door that was mostly closed; it had been left slightly open by whoever used it last. The left door was a double-acting door. Interestingly, there was a big scar on the wooden material, as if it had been cut somehow. The middle led to some kind of big room. What was inside this room couldn’t be seen without some investigation, but the size could be vaguely seen through the lighting created by the oil lamp and the candle.
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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Kelewen
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Sohn let Fortuna lead them into the formal dining room. “Find it, Fortuna, find it,” he gave her the command. She wasn’t trained to find people. But she understood the command that they were looking for a lamb and started sniffing about. Sohn could only hope that it translated at least slightly to little girls.

The lit candle immediately made the little hairs on the back of the shepherd’s neck raise in warning. Whoever had lit that surely had heard him yelling for Claribel only a short while ago. And had not answered - which did not bode well for a friendly encounter.

“That is likely a kitchen…” Sohn said in a low voice to his two companions, pointing toward the double-acting door. Not that he knew a lot about mansion designs, but kitchens… kitchens nearly always had easy access to the outdoors, right? It was only practical. “We should find a back door there,” he suggested, prioritizing knowing their escape route over everything else.
Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Zapdos
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Magolor nodded at Sohn and proceeded towards the left door. He pushed it open, looked around, and then fell backwards towards the dining room. The cause of this was a thick kitchen knife whose sharp end had connected with the small man’s neck moments before. He laid on the floor, holding his neck to prevent more blood loss, but deep down the merchant knew his end was coming.

Eliel had been in his sad state over the loss of his father figure, but the strike on Magolor had shocked him out of those emotions. “Magolor!” he exclaimed and ran towards the Halfling with his trademark speed. The half-elf kneeled to try and do what he could for the merchant, but before he could do anything a small furry purple imp lunged at the half-elf and slashed his neck with its claws. Despite the creature being the size of a one year old baby, this imp’s claws were sharp and deadly. After Eliel fell to this being, the demonic creature turned to look at Sohn next. Seeing a new victim, an evil grin appeared on its face.
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Sohn could not help the scream that left him. Not one of fear even though he would likely feel that too in another few moments, but one born of anger and desperation at seeing his two companions slaughtered before him. "NOOOOO!"

It was Fortuna that leapt into action first. A snarl left the dog, then she lunged at the imp in a flurry of teeth and claws. Sohn followed quickly behind. His shepherd's crook was a poor choice of weapon against such a creature. But he jammed the hooked part forward, trying to use it to pin the creature to Eliel's torso to allow Fortuna to tear into the purple devil.
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The dog and shepherd’s instincts were right on the money, in this case. The seamless cooperation born of labor on the fields allowed the pair to assault the demonic creature quite successfully, try as it might to free itself. And it did try, but all it did was able to do was lightly scratch Fortuna before the imp disappeared in a cloud of purple dust.

Now the pair would have to decide just what to do from here. Their companions were all dead and they were seemingly no closer to finding Claribel or anything else worth their time in this building. How would they continue their search of the abandoned mansion?
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Sohn turned in a circle once the imp turned to purple dust. Was it dead? Or was it going to reappear behind him? He did not search long though before he grabbed Eliel by the shoulders and dragged him away from the death door. "Eliel!" he tried, checking the boy's non-existent breath and then searched for a pulse.

A curse word escaped him as he realized his companion was well beyond his help, if not already gone. He did the same then for Magolor. Then fell back on his butt as it became obvious they were both dead.

Belatedly, fear set in. In less than a quarter of an hour, the party had gone from 5 down to 1. Well, 2 if Fortuna counted. "Here girl," he said, stroking her head several times as if he was calming her when in reality it was the other way around. "He get ya bad?"

The scratch didn't look to be that bad. Certainly not bad enough to prioritize above finding a way out of here. He took in a deep breath and then let it out slowly, regaining his composure.

Then quickly searched through the pockets of both Eliel and Magolor. He didn't like to think of himself as a thief. But desperate times called for desperate measures. And if they had something that might help keep him alive, he wasn't going to pass it up.
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Sohn’s search of his departed companions yielded concrete results; the half-elf had a small dagger and a copper piece, likely a loose piece of change he found on the ground at some point. The Halfling had three gem apples and a journal of some kind. While the knife was designed more for skinning animals than for combat, it could come in handy at some point. Depending on how long it took to be safe, the food could be helpful as well. Whatever insights could be gleamed from Magolor’s journal would have to wait though, as the notes were written in some kind of Halfling language. Except for the clothes on their backs, Sohn would find nothing else of value with his formerly living companions.

As he finished his search, the shepherd heard a loud THUNK from above. Looking upward revealed nothing but the ceiling and chandelier, so this was likely caused by something on the second floor.
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Sohn tucked the knife into his belt. The coin was no great wealth, but a small piece of metal might come in handy, so he took that as well. While figuring out how to carry the apples, he heard the THUNK and automatically looked up and grabbed his staff.

It was a strong reminder to not tarry here. Was it Claribel? Or something that had EATEN Claribel?

Finding a way out was still his priority... maybe even MORE so now. After that he would re-assess the risks to continuing his search. Still wondering if there might be an exit from what he assumed was the kitchen, Sohn used his shepherd's crook to fully push open the door that Magolor had started to open. It was hard not to think about the imp's knife (at least Sohn assumed it was the imp's knife) striking him down and Sohn kept his eyes away from the two bodies on the floor.

When nothing happened he hesitantly poked around the doorframe with the lantern to look inside.
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Sohn’s guess was correct; the room he entered was a kitchen. Faded wooden shelves could be seen ahead and around him. There was also some woodwork with a ceramic dishpan in it. Nearby was some kind of pump that could be used to get water. Charles Cornwall (or whoever built the mansion for him) had thought to drill a well next to the dishpan so the house’s occupants wouldn’t have to carry water in to drink or wash their dishes with. Most of the shelves were closed, but one was open; investigation of it would reveal it to contain a silverware divider with sections containing forks, spoons and knives used for eating. One section was empty though and it was the biggest one there.

Looking to the left and right, the shepherd could see two closed doors. The one to the right was a double-acting door, while the one to the left was not. There were no windows or other means of escape, at least not in the kitchen. Thankfully, there were no more imps or other murderous creatures in the kitchen either.
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Fortuna, still attached to the long length of rope secured around Sohn's waist, entered the room first. After the imp, she was as on-edge as her master.

"Easy, girl..." he whispered to the dog as he cautiously entered the kitchen, though he needed the reminder just as much.

He did NOT take the time right now to investigate the shelves or their contents - dishes and cutlery were the least of his concerns. But he did pause a moment to try to formulate the beginnings of a rough map of the place in his mind.



The door to the right seemed more likely to lead to the back of the house and, hopefully, an exit. So they moved cautiously toward the right door. He did not swing it open immediately. Rather he paused and listened. Then put his ear against it and listened again.

IF they still heard nothing, he'd try the handle, opening it only a crack before stepping out of the way and pushing it open the rest of the way with his shepherd's crook. Paranoid? Definitely. But a little paranoia seemed healthy right about now.

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While the shepherd’s paranoia was sensible given the losses he had endured, right now it was merely cautionary. Sohn heard nothing but the wind, so he went into the room, where he saw nothing that would put his life in immediate danger.

However, something had happened in this room in the past; there were big picture windows straight ahead of him all along the wall, revealing an expansive yard ahead. Most of them were intact, but there was one that was broken. Whatever or whoever did this had created a way outside of the mansion. There was a chair laid on the floor next to the window with glass shards scattered on it as well. In fact, there were at least 20 chairs in the left side the big room. Some were lined up as if they had people in them watching a performance, but others were laid on the floor or otherwise disordered from that arrangement.

Near the east of the big room was a grand piano. If Sohn chose to play it, he would know that it still played perfectly. Based on the way the chairs were arranged, someone had played this instrument before an audience at some point.

Finally, on the left and right sides of the room (near the chairs and pianos respectively) were two more doors. The man could also see where the dining room was in relation to this big room, as the straight path he had seen before going into the kitchen led to this room.
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Oh, thank the gods... a way out of this death trap. Sohn made his way across the room toward the broken window, sparing a few glances at the piano, chairs, and other doors along the way. He held the lantern up, checking the window ledge and frame on the inside, looking for rot. Was this broken just recently? Or has the weather and elements had time to start destroying the interior?

Then he looked to see if they were at ground level? Would escaping out that broken window be trivial or was he dealing with a drop that could break an ankle or worse?

He knew he had a decision to make now. And nearly every part of him was screaming at him to just run. Tell the mayor to burn this place to the ground. But what if that 'thunk' had been Claribel? Frightened and alone? If she'd seen that purple devil, she might have just been too scared to call out. Could he really live with himself if he left her to die?

He knew it would haunt him. Cursing internally, he knew he wasn't leaving. Not yet.

First thing first... he'd take the time to ensure getting out here would be quick if needed - clearing away broken glass that could cut someone. And set up chairs as steps both inside and out with the idea that he might be carrying a little girl when he came this way again.

Once that was done, he'd backtrack the way he came through the kitchen and dining room to the foyer (avoiding the hole in the foyer floor) and go up the stairs...
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Sohn noticed a few things as he did his work in the piano room. First was that the window ledge and frame had no rot. Whatever it was that had broken the window, it had been done recently. Second was that it was not far from the window to the ground level. Maybe a little girl would be clumsy if she left that way, but it was nothing that would break any bones. Cleaning the glass and positioning the chairs were still common sense moves, though.

On his way to the stairs, the shepherd noticed something much more alarming; the bodies of Eliel and Magolor were gone. Aside from minor blood stains that had been left on the ground when they were killed, there was no evidence that either man was ever there.

Surprisingly for this place, the stairs revealed no traps or other impediments. Now the shepherd was on the mezzanine balcony which wrapped around the walls of the lobby and had a nice view of it. There were three doors that Sohn could choose from; one to the right, which was right next to the staircase. Attempting to open it would reveal it was locked. There was also a door to the left which was shut, but unlocked. Finally, there was an archway in the center, similar to the one downstairs in the lobby. However, unlike the one downstairs, this one had a big wooden double door inside it that was closed and unlocked. Carved on the door was an ornate script of some kind that looked like none Sohn had ever seen.
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The missing bodies of his companions was, indeed, disconcerting. His resolve wavered, but he pressed on before he could let the wild theories going through his mind stop his feet.

As he reached the mezzanine Sohn paused to listen again as he tries to take stock of which door is most likely to lead to the area above the dining room where he heard the 'thunk'. (Center, if I'm envisioning this right?)

"Find it, Fortuna..." he ordered the dog, letting her check the door to the right since it was closest. Unless the dog made a fuss here, he'd move on toward the archway. Behind here should be where the thunk had come from. His heart beat harder and he took several breaths, trying to mentally prepare himself for whatever he was going to find inside.

Similar to what he'd done down downstairs, he tried the knob, then took a step away and used his staff to push (or pull) it open.
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The dog did not make a fuss, so Sohn moved towards the archway. Using the knob and his staff, the shepherd opened the grand door. What was revealed was a grand library, filled with books and shelves arranged in rows. It looked like there were 12 or so rows of shelves, all parallel with each other, and all in a straight line. This didn’t even include the shelves on the walls, which wrapped around three of the four walls. It was slight, but thanks to the moonlight, Sohn could see that the wall that was furthest away was actually made up of more windows. But the third row from the right somehow seemed a little darker than the others, and then the man realized that someone or something was moving toward him.

What would the shepherd do?
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Sohn took a single step into the room, eyes scanning left and right and ... whoah... what was that? He did a double take toward that row. The deep shadows made it hard to see and he held the lantern up in an effort to cast more light in that direction. Was it moving? Oh... crud... it was moving.

The little hairs on the back of his neck stood up. As did Fortuna's as the dog growled softly.

"Claribel?" Sohn said, though at the same time he was repositioning his grip on his staff and taking a defensive stance until he could make out better what it was.
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Upon hearing the shepherd speak, the thing in the shadows ran towards him faster. A few moments later, Sohn saw what it was; a little girl with brown hair, black eyes, and a worn and dirty pink dress. This was obviously Claribel.

Despite being the one who ran up to him earlier, the girl seemed hesitant, yet curious. “You’re not with the old guy...right?” Claribel looked like she was ready to run back to where she had started if the shepherd gave her the wrong answer.
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Sohn felt a huge sense of relief as the dark figure was revealed to be Claribel. But he wasn't about to let his guard down until they were both well clear of the mansion. Old guy? What old guy? That was worrying.

He shook his head.

"Fortuna, down," Sohn ordered and immediately the dog's demeanor changed from growling to more submissive as she laid down, though was still very alert to their surroundings.

"Your father sent me and Fortuna here to come find you. Ready to go home?" He asked, transferring his staff to one hand and extending the other toward her, fighting the voice in his head that was telling him to just grab her and make a run for it. But, like a lamb, if he spooked her, she might run and hide and then he'd be much longer trying to get her back.
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Claribel looked like she was in deep thought for a few seconds. Finally, she responded to his question, sadly shaking her head. “I can’t, sorry. The old guy’s doing this thing in a few hours. If I don’t stop him-”

She stopped talking when she heard a quiet thud, looking alarmed and checking around her to be sure something dangerous wasn’t nearby. Claribel looked relieved when she realized that it was just a book that had fallen out of one of the bookshelves. After taking a breath, she continued what she was saying, this time in a whisper.

“Dad and everyone else will die.”
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Sohn blinked several times. THAT was certainly unexpected on multiple levels.

He wanted to grab her hand and just drag her out of here. But something about the way she'd stated that made her seem more mature and wiser than her 9 years would suggest. And it sent shivers down his spine that 'everyone else' included his own family.

There was magic at play here. Sohn had never personally encountered magic before tonight, but what else could that purple creature that poofed into dust have been but a being born of magic? Her words seemed to hint at even more of it.

As Claribel's voice dropped to a whisper, he lowered his to match. "What is he doing? How can you stop him?"

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