There’s a hollowness in the air as we stand in front of Rose and Thorn’s coffins. None of us want to open them. They are–or were–just kids after all.
Vyke lets out a heavy sigh. He’s holding his hand out toward the coffins. “I’m detecting a lot of necromancy magic, but its coming from everywhere not just from the kids.”
Blue Onesie backs behind Vyke. “If we open them, they could be trapped.”
I take a step forward. “I want to know what happened. The nursemaid’s body I found upstairs was freshly killed. The parents of these kids have been dead a long time. We saw the kids’ spirits. They need to be reunited with their parents if they’re going to have peace. I want to know how long their spirits have been tormented like this.”
Vayne and Vyke nod in agreement. No one protests when I push the stone slabs partly off the coffins. The air feels colder, but that was due to my dread of looking inside. The bodies of Thorn and Rose are there. They’re nothing but bones. I sigh. “These poor kids.”
Vayne shakes her head. “So, they’ve been dead a while and the nursemaid is freshly dead. I guess she left at some point, tragedy befell the family, and when she returned, whoever hurt the family killed her.”
Bree nods. “That’s my best guess, but who hurt the family? Why?”
I shake my head and look around. If necromancy magic is everywhere. There’s no telling what we’ll find down here. “I get the feeling we’ll find out soon enough.”
Vyke steps over and grabs the stone slabs. “We should leave them to rest.”
“Wait.” I stop him before he can pull the covers back over the coffins. I dig through my pack and pull out Thorn’s favorite toy. Thanks to it, we found this crypt in the first place. I lean into Thorn’s coffin and lay it by his hands. “Thank you for help,” I whisper softly.
Vyke gives me a soft smile, approving of my actions, before I help him cover the kids back up. “We should keep moving,” I mutter.
“Ugh!” Vayne throws her hands up in frustration. “I swear, I’m going to kill him.” When the rest of us look at her in confusion, she motions around. “Where’d the guy in the blue onesie go?”
I try not to groan when I realize she’s right. Blue Onesie is gone. “Forget him. If he wants to get himself killed, he can. We need to find the spirits of the parents so we can free the kids from this limbo.”
Vayne grumbles incoherently, but we move on. A few corridors later, we come across a little dining hall. Blue Onesie is over by the corner with a sword in hand. Just as I step into the room, I catch him stabbing down at something.
An ungodly scream echoes through the crypt and a grick jumps out of its hiding spot. Blue Onesie’s sword stabbed into it’s tail. The beast is worm-like with a beak at its head and four tentacles surrounding it. Vayne calls Blue Onesie an idiot before leaping to action. She scores her dragon claws across it’s body, Bree slips under her and stabs it with her daggers, and Vyke jumps from one of the tables to stab down at it with his sword. The grick lets out a screech and thrashes its tentacles at them, but each avoid it with a simple dodge. When Vayne backs up, I spot an opening. I run forward, and bash the grick right in the beak with my morning star. It’s beak cracks and it falls to the ground.
Blue Onesie places his hands over his heart. “Aw! You guys came to my rescue. I knew you would, but you could’ve come a little faster though.”
Vayne rumbles with a growl, but Vyke gets between her and Blue Onesie, he frowns at the elf. “Do you just go around stabbing random things for the fun of it?”
Blue Onesie perks up. “Yup!”
I roll my eyes and walk over to a corridor on the opposite end of the dining hall. A horrid stench caught my nose. “Something isn’t right down this passage.”
Bree raises her eyebrow. “How can you tell?”
“The smell. It’s…” I shook my head. “Foul.”
Vyke scoffs. “This whole place smells foul.”
“From this direction is different.” I glance back at the others and they’re all staring at me in confusion. I can’t blame them. A human having a nose like mine isn’t very common. “I think we should go this way.”
Vayne walks up to me. “We need to be careful about it, though. We don’t know what else is down here.”
I nod in agreement. Making sure Blue Onesie is with us, we continue on.
I take the lead, and I found out what the foul smell was when we reach a hair pin in the corridors. Four ghouls dig themselves up from the ground like zombies. One grabs me by the ankle and lashes out. Like the spirit of the nursemaid, I feel my lifeforce sucked out of me. I manage to smack it off with my morning star, but another lashes at me from behind. I grit my teeth. I should’ve been more careful, but I got myself surrounded.
I’ve lost sight of the others. Our fighting echoes through the tight corridors and I grow too weak to fight at my top potential. One by one, the ghouls hit me, and drain my lifeforce with each cheap shot. Curse this crypt! I swing my morning star at one of the ghouls but it bends it’s spine backwards in a direction it isn’t supposed to go. “Stupid thing, just die already!”
A bull-rushing blast destroys the wall to my left, and the ghoul blocking that direction gets buried under the rubble. Blue Onesie stands where the wall used to be with a kid-like grin on his face. “Ha! Now, I can fight!” He had two swords in hand, but he looked down to see the ghoul under the rubble, he slumped with a pout. “Oh…he’s buried.”
I let out a huff. It was about time I had some help even if it meant structural damage to the crypt. I raise my morning star to the last ghoul, wincing in pain from my wounds. Yet, a little blur shoots past me. Bree uses her daggers to cut the ghoul’s spine and when it’s torso lands on the ground, she stabs it through the heart.
“Is everyone alright?” Vyke and Vayne round the corridor, their own blood leaking from their wounds. Vyke gives the collapsed wall a frown. He looks at me.
I shake my head. “Those wretches got a lot of my lifeforce. I need to rest.”
Vayne points ahead. “There might be a room up ahead we can rest in.”
Vyke takes the lead. “As long as nothing else is waiting within it.”
Vayne’s suspicions were confirmed. We find a small room with an alter within. The statue on the alter catches all of our attention. It’s made of wood and finely painted. It’s of a tall man with pale skin. He wears a long black cloak and red buckled vest. His clawed hand rests on the head of a white wolf. His raven black hair is pulled back and shiny, and his eyes are red. A growl escapes my throat as soon as I see it, and the dominating way the man’s hand rests of the wolf’s head royally ticks me off. The man’s other hand holds a crystal orb.
Vayne steps up to the plague under the statue. “It says ‘Strahd, the Dark Lord of Barovia.”
Vyke pulls out the letters each of us received when we first came to this haunted land. “Like the guy who sent us these. Who invited us to dinner?”
I round on them. From their tones, I know they don’t realize the mess we’re in. “We are his dinner!” When I’m met with confused looks, I point at the statue. “Don’t you get it? Look at his skin, his fingers, and his eyes. Our generous host, Strahd, is a freaking vampire lord!”