…..It was when Janlynn and others began giving the body a proper burial that the Zombie mold dogs attacked. They quickly came charging out of the dark trees around us. These creatures looked as if they may have been dogs at one time, but long since they seem to have expired and been animated as mummified undead mongrels covered in brown mold. Their dark skin looked dry and tightly encased their almost skeletal bodies.
The troupe quickly sprang into action and turned to meet the pack of rotting canines. We had to protect the wagons and horses before we could try to escape these horrors. I called upon what small reserve of power I had to ensorcell the beasts with Faerie Fire to aid my comrades in combat as I climbed a nearby tree to gain higher advantage. The horrors slammed into our front lines like a rock slide, biting and rending with evil abandon.
Akkiir, Nim and Tetsuo inflicted grievous wounds upon the creatures even as Uphir sustained mortal wounds that would have felled a warhorse. I have never seen Janlynn so fiercely fight as she wielded her stout mace against our enemies, moving to help Uphir.It was such a marvelously heroic sight to see her drag Uphir backwards towards the wagons even as she was binding her wounds.
The fight against the beasts was proving to be futile as they seemed to be healing all of the wounds that were given to them. The troupe fought bravely to protect their retreat to the wagons as Silvo got the horses under way. We who could, jumped onto the wagon – Akkiir jumped right on one of the horses. With great effort, even as the wagon began to speed away, Janlynn pulled Uphir onto the back step of the wagon with Tetsuo and Nim helping to keep her from falling.
As the wagon was gaining speed and being chased by these dog-things, the second wagon which was driven by poor Oleg was swarmed. His horses went down under the ravenous maws of the beasts and the wagon upturned, breaking apart. Oleg’s fate was certain. In some sick turn of fate with or without the gods’ intervention – he gave his life so that we could escape. He will not be forgotten.
We rode hard down the narrow track for some time, watching dark and evil looking trees fly past us in a flurry. Uphir was stabilized and properly situated upon the wagon and there was little conversation, even from me, as we raced somberly farther away from the undead pack. After about fifteen minutes the narrow track opened up as we seemed to be coming out of the thick forest into a more open, grassy region.
Right there at the edge of the forest was a narrow, four story farm house with a large barn across the road from it. Silvo quickly reined in the horses and pulled up in front of the barn. The horses had been running full out and needed to rest. As Silvo attended the horses, many of the group went to investigate the barn to see if it would be a potential safe place to gather our wits. Janlynn and I stayed back to help tend to Uphir.
A sound was heard from within the barn so it was thoroughly investigated. The structure was dilapitated and appeared to be ancient and not maintained. A startling discovery was to be found within the shadows of the barn – two children. Both the girl and her younger brother were sickly looking with a grey pallor to their skin. They seemed terrified and spoke of the monster in the basement of the house across the road. They hadn’t seen their parents in a long while and had left their baby brother Walter in the house. The girls name was Rose and the boys name was Thorn.
We took about an hour to catch our breath and while Uphir was resting and tended to by Janlynn and I, Nim continued to ask questions of the children and Tetsuo went to scout out the house. My eastern friend could hear the distant wails of a baby coming from within the house and after circling the building had determined that the sound was likely coming from a third floor window which had a balcony. He climbed up and not only could he hear the child crying, but swore he could see a shadow moving within.
Many within the troupe were becoming very suspect about the situation. To them it seemed like an obvious trap and that the children were not as they seemed. As strongly as Akkiir expressed his concerns about this, I held the position that they were children who needed help. Tetsuo was very determined that the house should be searched and the baby Walter rescued. Unfortunately Akkiir’s wisdom would be proven true, much to our detriment.
Attempts to break into the Balcony doors proved impossible and even I could admit that the doors seemed to be somehow magically resistant to any attempt to open or break through, even with Uphir’s great strength. Janlynn found the same issue with the boarded up windows. We decided that we would have to use the front door. I think all of our minds felt the prickling of danger at the thought of walking into a possibly haunted house through the only entry that was open, as if it was luring us in.
Uphir lead they way into the house into the main hall and then beyond into the house proper. The inside of the house seemed to be very well maintained and lived in. It seemed as though a fairly well to do aristocratic family lived here. The portraits on the wall showed a family resemblance to the children we met outside – right down to the grey pallor of their skin. A sound was heard from deeper in the house, so we continued to explore.
A kitchen; a dining room with place settings and silverware ready for a meal; a clothes closet where I found my new hat: all revealed no monster or any danger. All rooms were very well appointed. No way was found leading to the basement and the cries of the wailing baby beckoned us to go up the grand staircase. Secret doors were searched for and at Nim’s direction we decided we would all leave the house and go back so he could question the children again.
Silvo and the solace of his wagon were gone upon our exit from the house. I was hit very hard by this betrayal as I had become quite friendly with Silvo in the last day or so. Silvo’s duplicitous nature was not a shock to most others as they had been suspicious of him since the beginning, especially Uphir. With frustration, we entered the barn to call upon the children to help us figure out the house and things took a decidedly creepy turn. Nim approached the spot in one of the stalls where the children huddled under their blanket and as he pulled the blanket back it sagged to the floor – the children were gone. All that remained of them was the sound of Thorn sobbing quietly on the breeze.
Our next course of action was to seek shelter – forgetting all about exploring the house. With the howling of the wolves once again growing louder, we settled down for the night in the drafty barn loft and set our watches. It is now, as I pen this, that we sit here waiting for morning. The sounds of movement can be heard shuffling around outside and in the nearby forest. Nim has declared that it is the dead who walk this land in the depths of the night. I must steel my courage and try to get some sleep in this gods forsaken place.
Cast of Characters: