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Finn’s Journal #3 – The Choking Mist

Entry #7 – Day 2

It was a very fitful night of sleep that we all endured, some of us more than others. Uphir, Tetsuo and Akkiir all suffered from some strange, supernatural affliction while they slept. It appears as if they each had such unspeakable nightmares that they were being physically affected by them – slowly dying before our eyes! Frantically Nim, Janlynn and I tried to find a solution to their ailment, but not even Janlynn’s knowledge of healing and power of her deity could help them. Thankfully Squeakers, my regal squirrel friend was not ill effected by dreams. It was suggested in a moment of desperation that we should bring them into the house to see if they improve.

First Uphir was brought in and it seemed to have no noticeable effect on her condition. It was thought best that we should move all the inflicted in the house and we sat our watch in the entry hall, with its grand stairway leading up into the dark depths of the house. Just as we thought we were going to lose Uphir, she awoke with a start and a feral growl. She sprang up, grabbing Janlynn by the throat and crushed her into the wall by the fireplace sending an explosion of aged plaster and dust into the air. Janlynn was completely shocked by the ferocity of Uphir’s reaction. It took Uphir a moment to come back to herself from her dazed, fugue state.

With much concern, we tried to console her and as she calmed a bit, she told us some of her nightmare – she was being attacked and devoured by rotting undead. She looked shaken to the core and my heart felt heavy for her, the mightiest warrior I had even seen, suffering so. Just then Tetsuo and Akkiir woke up with similar reactions. The usually unflappable Tetsuo screamed in despair in his strange language and backed away from everyone. After a few wide-eyed moments, his mask of calm returned to his face and he quietly settled himself down and avoided looking at any of the others. Akkiir woke up screaming in terror and collapsed on his side looking wildly about the room. He lay that way for some time, not responding to any attempts to console him.

Things settled down after a while but neither Akkiir nor Tetsuo would speak of their fevered nightmares. Tetsuo went to sleep again and much to Akkiir’s distress some of the others did as well. Akkiir could not stress enough the dangers that awaited us in our dreams and seemed desperate for no one else to go to sleep. During our watch through the night we could hear the odd sounds from upstairs – small children running across the floor and laughing; bangs; and at one point a child’s ball came bouncing down the stairs to roll across the floor and finally coming to a stop at our feet. It was disturbing to think that some child ghost living upstairs wanted us to come and be his playmates. No thank you! Was it the ghost of Walter? Perhaps Thorn and Rose? Or something else entirely?

In the cold morning, such that it was (Even daylight is dark in this place with those self-same cursed storm clouds obscuring the sky), Janlynn and Nim went outside to pay homage to their deities and perform their morning rituals. In true faith to Lathander, the Lord of the Morning and Patron of New Beginnings, Janlynn planted one of her saplings into the desecrated soil of this place. Perhaps in some small way this gesture will begin the healing of this land. I rather like to think so….

While such austere proceeding were taking place outside, I decided I would have a look around this floor of the house. I managed to plunder some wine, foodstuffs, a hand crossbow, a new pipe, and holder to replace my worn cob pipe, and a pack of playing cards in a fancy box. The foodstuffs were redistributed amongst everyone’s rucksacks.

It was decided, at Akkiir’s suggestion, that we leave this cursed house and make a break for this town of Borovia we’d heard about. Perhaps we will find succor there, or at the very least a foamy pint of beer in a cozy Inn! It was already noon but we began our trip in earnest. After only travelling a little way we came upon a familiar sight – Thick mist completely blocking our progress along the road. All in the group felt that this strange land was telling us that we needed to finish our business at the house before we could leave, as if the fog itself contained some dark intelligence.

Just to be sure, we headed back and past the house in the direction of the great gate. Sure enough, that way was blocked as well. We made our way back to the house with grim resignation. I piped us back with an uplifting tune, uncaring if the dark trees or their denizens heard me or not. We were off to war, or so it felt.

Then the investigation of the house truly began. We carefully crept up the grand stairway with Nim and Tetsuo in the lead with their practiced stealth and grace. The hallway on the second floor contained two ornate sets of doors on opposing walls, each flanked by two ornate suits of armor posed with spear in hand. At the end of the hall was a family portrait of the Durst Family -With both Rose and Thorn, their parents, and a young baby being held in the father’s arms. Intriguingly, the mother was shown to be looking over at the baby with distain on her face. As a precaution, the suits of armor were relieved of their spears.

There was a small door on the stairway that led to a servant’s quarters with not much of interest in there. The door on the right opened into a library! It contained hundreds of tomes along its shelves. Unfortunately, I was unable to spend any time reviewing the books. Soon a secret door was found that opened into a small hidden room. This room contained more books (Which seem to relate to some dark ritual) and a chest with a skeletal corpse laying half into it, the victim of the poisoned darts that once protected the chest.

Inside the chest was found a letter from dread lord Strahd von Zarovich to Gustav Durst (See below); Three black hard-covered books with blank pages; Three clerical scrolls with the following spells – Bless, Protection from poison, and Spiritual Weapon; a deed to the house; a deed to a windmill; and a will from Gustov and Elizabeth Durst leaving all their wealth and belongings to their children Rose and Thorn. (No mention of Walter).

We pocketed the papers and vowed to spend more time looking through the library when we had more time. We still had to scout out the rest of the house and find some clues to this mysterious place. The room across the hall was a richly appointed room with musical instruments including a harpsicord and large harp.

We then quickly decided to ascend to the third floor. Low lying mist could be seen slightly pouring out upon the stairs from the landing above giving all of us that prickly sensation of waiting for the unknown to spring upon us. As Nim and Tetsuo ascended the stairs they found another landing with a black suit of armor. Just as they set foot upon the landing the black suit of armor came to life and began attacking! At the same time the four suits of armor below came to life and rushed to grab their weapons and began attacking from below.

Akkiir made his blade sing as it slashed and pierced wickedly at the enemies. Janlynn was at the bottom of the stairs as well and attacked with her heavy mace. Uphir sprung from the stairway and knocked over one assailant as she landed heavily among them, her black scaled skin glistening in the low light of the landing. I once again used an evocation to outline our enemies in bright green faerie fire so that they would be easier to hit. As I understand it, this spell is most appreciated, so I will describe its use often.

Both Akkiir and Nim took hits early in the fight which bloodied them. Nim moved down the stairs to leap upon the lower landing as well to help against the four armored ghosts……