“I thought this place was burned.”
My skin crawls as I wonder the same thing Vyke said. The outside of this manor is black, burned from a fire long cold. Dying trees surround it and monsters we can’t make out howl in the woods.
The inside is in perfect shape. The four of us walk into the entryway of the manor. There’s ornate furniture lining the walls. Swirls and serpent designs decorate the woodwork. The far end has a painting of a family. Two nobles and their three children. No one appears to be home and the roaring we heard ceased.
“What is that?” Bree points to a table in the middle of the room. A large, blue fuzzy thing is laying on it. When Vyke and I edge closer to it, we hear snores.
“It’s alive.” Vyke glances at me, his voice a whisper to not wake the thing. “Any idea what it is?”
I make a face. I don’t have to get too close to this thing to smell the stench coming of it. It smelled like blood mixed with trash. “Whatever it is, it reeks. I say we put it out of its misery.”
Vyke obliges and summons his sword. He pokes it into what we assume is the creature’s back for a quick run through.
“Ouchie!” The blue fuzzy suddenly lurches and twists toward Vyke before the sword can penetrate. By the fineness of his face, I can tell he’s a half-elf. He pulls a pistol from his cloths and aims Vyke’s head. “What was that for?!”
“Who are you?” Vyke looks as taken aback as I am. He keeps his blade pointed at the half-elf.
Confusion softens the half-elf’s face when he takes a look around. “Uh…where am I?”
“We were going to ask you that.” I can hardly believe what I’m seeing on this half-elf. He’s dressed in a bright blue, fuzzy onesie and is that…? Yeah…it’s a unicorn onesie. Not to mention he’s wearing flashy yellow bunny slippers. The katana on his back and the pistol in his hand tell me he’s some sort of adventurer, but why–in the moon’s beautiful light–is he wearing that. “Why are you sleeping on that table?”
“I was sleeping in my bed.” The half-elf glances down at his perch. “Did you guys summon me here?”
“It wasn’t us.” Vayne steps forward. She rifles through her pack to pull out her crimson letter from Strahd. “Did you get one of these?”
The half-elf nods. He and Vyke lower their weapons at the same time so the elf can show us his letter. It’s wadded up and I think I see the corpse of a spider in it. “All of you got one?”
I nod to the elf and look at the family painting at the end of the room. “We should search the house. The four of us heard some type of roaring coming from underneath this place. Maybe that can give us answers as to why we’re here.”
The others concur and we move to explore the house. While Bree heads upstairs to scout ahead, the rest of us explore the main floor. I find the kitchen and my skin crawls. Everything inside is nice and tidy. There’s even a table set for six. The family only has five members.
I bolt back into the main room when I hear the shout, my morning star ready to draw blood. Yet, annoyance boils within me. The half-elf is still by the table hopping on one foot.
Vyke had been investigating the serpent designs in the woodwork, but came rushing over at the half-elf’s shout too. “What happened?”
“I dropped that stupid paperweight on my foot!”
A growl escapes my throat as the half-elf points to the paperweight under the table. “You need to be more careful!” I snap. “We don’t know what else is in this place.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Stupid paperweight.”
I roll my eyes at the half-elf’s careless response. He shakes out his foot and walks over to where Vayne is investigating a food pantry. I head to another door and find a hunter’s den. The stuffed wolves inside sadden my heart. I’m all for hunting, but wolves should be left alone.
With nothing interesting on the first floor and Bree reporting nothing interesting on the second floor, we all head to the third floor. I shiver. The higher we go, the colder it gets. The third floor is another hall with a couple more doors and a suit of armor at the end. Vyke goes for one door and Bree goes for the other, but no one gets the chance to open anything. I should’ve been paying attention to the stupid half-elf. He walks right up to the suit of armor and tickles it under the chin. When he goes to lift the visor of the helmet, it clamps down on his finger.
“You idiot! That thing’s alive!” Bree darts forward. As a tiny halfling, she slips behind the half-elf to sneak attack the suit of armor, but her two daggers slip harmlessly between it’s cuirass and tasses.
Vyke and I move next. I pound my morning star down on the helmet while Vyke blasts it with magic. Both of us create good, sizeable dents in it while the half-elf screams. His finger is still stuck in the visor. The half-elf pulls his pistol and fires it point blank into the helmet, but it doesn’t even penetrate. “Let go. Let go. Let go!” He yells.
“I got it!” Vayne, still back on the staircase, pulls her javelin from her back. With a mighty throw, she sails it at the suit of armor. The half-elf screams again and manages to get out of the way. The javelin pierced the armor right in the heart.
Piece by piece the suit of armor falls apart. The half-elf’s finger is freed. I can’t help but howl in victory. It was just a measly, haunted suit of armor, but these new associates of mine–not including the half-elf–make a pretty good team. We have don’t have a clue as to why we’re suddenly in this haunted and eerie mansion, but if things keep going like this, I know we’ll be alright.