Nim landed, spun, and, with one sure motion, struck one of the assailing suits of armor directly through the visor of its wolf helm with such precision and force that the armor flew apart to land in a jumbled pile around him. Just a few short breaths later, the rest of the suits of armor collapsed as well – as if they were supernaturally tethered together so that destroying one destroyed the rest.
Surprised, but quite willing to accept a gift from Tymora when it is given, the troupe collected the spears and armor and separated them from each other before deciding to continue exploring the third floor. Searching the rooms on this floor, the Master Bedroom was discovered – a well-appointed chamber covered in ages of dust and cobwebs. The armoires and other furniture were searched and revealed nothing of value or importance.
It was when we followed the haunted crying of the baby that we encountered such a bone-chilling sight that I must pause a moment and collect myself before I continue with the description. Investigating another bed chamber which we later believe belonged to the house maid, a horrifying sight appeared before our eyes as the sheets on the aged bed began to rise slightly, taking on the form of a person lying in bed under the covers. As this was happening, blood began to manifest on top of the sheets – a huge amount between the legs of the hidden figure and several other localized places. Immediately I felt that the large blood stain represented a woman giving birth, but the other spots look like stab wounds all over the form.
Nim and the others near the front watched this as they peered through the slightly open door. Soon the bed sheets completed their inflation and with a shocking assault, a ghostly form of a screeching woman rose and threw the bloodied sheets at the door, slamming it closed. Everyone backed up in startled fear of the strange hate-filled apparition in the room. We only had moments to come to our senses, when the ghostly form of the house maid floated directly through a wall and started to assail the group.
This undead creature was met with courage as weapons were swung with great force, but all attacks merely passed directly through the translucent form. Janlynn stepped forward, speaking words of power from her god and brought forth a great light to banish the creature, but it had little effect. Janlynn suffered for her attempt as the chilling touch of the creature began to steal her soul. I used some of my power to taunt the creature into making an opening for one of my comrades, but it worked all too well and the ghost came directly for me.
Unsure how to combat this entity, I lurched backwards into the bathroom just as Janlynn unleashed more power of Lathander and in a flash of energy the being was thankfully destroyed. With more standard weapons having no effect, we were in a very dire situation. Janlynn saved all our lives in that moment. Praise be to Lathander and all the goodly gods of the Realms.
Heading back into the haunted bedroom, we followed the sound of the wailing baby to a room off that room. Nim and Uphir opened the door and suddenly the wailing stopped. Sitting in the center of the mostly empty, dark room was an ancient crib with a black veil hanging from the ceiling and concealing what was in the crib. The terrifying sound of small movements could be heard coming from the crib and the black veil shivered somewhat from an unseen force.
The room was small and only Nim and Uphir could fit in and, I swear by Glyndraal, no one may ever question their bravery at any time hence, for they crept into the room and cautiously approached the crib. The anticipation of what they would find tied my stomach in knots as I and my comrades imagination ran wild thinking of the horror that sat waiting inside the crib. I imagined some terribly disfigured ghost enfant with glowing eyes and preternatural fangs waiting to ravage my two friends.
The veil was held aside by Uphir as Nim leaned into the crib, speaking soft soothing words to a ragged bundle of cloth lying therein. After several tense moments of Nim speaking to the ghost child and seeing what dangers were upon them, he reached in and carefully pulled back the blanket. What he saw defied what our imaginations had brought forth. Inside was a small black stone shaped like a premature fetus. Nim picked it up and could feel this stone silently, eerily shivering within its wrap. Fortunately, no ghost child attacked.
From the information we had learned before from Strahd’s letter to Gustav, we determined that the house maid was the woman with whom Gustav had an affair and he had gotten her pregnant and the child, possibly Walter, was either born stillborn or was killed when the house maid was murdered in her bed. Could Lady Durst be the killer then? A secret stairwell was found that led up to the attic, and the sounds of a tinkling music box could be heard from above. The wrapped stone baby started wailing when we tried to place it back in its crib, so we carefully placed it on it’s mother’s bed and it cried no more.
Taking a short rest to gather our strength, courage, and wits, we ascended the stairs following the sound of the ghostly music. The door at the top of the stairs was opened and we all entered the attic landing. Following the beguiling sound of the music, it led to a door with a padlock on it. The silent Tetsuo produced the key needed to unlock the door; he must have found it somewhere along the way, and the door was slowly opened and Nim and Uphir once again entered.
Beyond was a room that was quickly identified as likely being Rose and Thorn’s room. There were two beds, a toy chest, and a doll house, as well as other things that revealed it to be a child’s bedroom. Sadly, cuddled up together on the floor in the center of the room were the bones and scraps of clothing of two figures – the larger wrapping its arms around the smaller even in death. I felt an overpowering sense of sorrow come over me as I thought of the tortured spirits of the children we encountered in the barn.
The doll house was an exact replica of the real house and, testing that theory, it was decided to see if we could determine if there was a secret stairwell leading to the basement revealed somewhere within. Sure enough, a secret door was found in the attic of the doll house revealing a hidden stairwell leading down through the house. That was one mystery solved at any rate.
No sooner was this revelation presented, but the ghostly forms of Rose and Thorn Durst appeared hovering over their bones. Nim conversed with Rose and we learned that they were locked into this bedroom for their own safety by their parents, who apparently never returned to let them out and they died a horrible death from starvation. Whatever happened in this house prevented the adults from coming back for them. I can only speculate that this house of death still holds a few more bodies for us to find through exploring.
These apparitions did not remember meeting us in the barn and, as opposed to the children we met earlier, they seemed to be aware that they had died. Rose was passionate about us not leaving her and Thorn in this room by themselves again and begged us to play with them. I think to pacify these tortured spirits, Nim agreed to entertain them for a few moments. Uphir was there as well, but seemed uncomfortable with the idea of being Rose’s playmate as Rose tried to give her a dolly to play with for their tea party.
After several minutes of negotiating for their release from “Play time”, Nim and Uphir had to just get up and head out of the room, promising to return. Rose flew into a rage and charged at Uphir – her ghostly form dispersed upon contact with Uphir’s impressive form as she left the room. In a panic Thorn charged at Nim screaming for his sister. As we would soon learn, Nim had escaped a fate that had fallen upon our comrade Uphir.
Almost immediately after leaving the room I think everyone noticed something strange about Uphir’s speech and attitude. She was very anxious to be going and even petulantly so as she pouted that we all needed to do what she said as she was the “Boss”. The terrifying thought began to dawn on everyone that somehow the spirit of Rose may have somehow taken control of Uphir. Tense glances were passed amongst the group as we worriedly followed Uphir’s directions as she commanded us to search the other rooms in the attic.
As we tried to challenge her a little to see what she would do, her behavior became somewhat erratic and soon a scuffle broke out as some tried to subdue her…..