As we ascended the stairs, I noticed the little spirits following cautiously behind. Of course I let them know we’d keep them safe, but all the same Hawky and Roxy were very cautious. And Roxy even a little mean. I doubt she means anything by it, it may just be that the spirits put our Rhy-companions on edge. The upstairs of the mansion has fewer room, four in all. And one is very stand out. Furniture and other debris used as a blockade around one tattered door with the word Traitor above it. I suggested we save that one for last, and the rest agreed.
We found a room leading into the attic, in which we found two live children, one villager boy and one Fen girl. Neither looked as though they’d been fed much, and they were both terrified. But we assured them that we were here to rescue them and take them home safely, and offered some food for them we’d been carrying with us. They came with, sticking close to me and Duran while we continued back to check the second floor.
There was a room the little spirit children were cautious to go in, with locked chests. Duran tried to smash them, but the locks were too strong. I suppose whoever built them didn’t expect a tree wizard to traipse through the house, because though the metal was impassable, the wood was like putty in my skilled hands, and released with ease. Toys. The locked boxes contained toys. The little spirits were terrified at our actions and almost frozen, though certain things piqued their interest. I quickly collected a tea set and gave it to teapot head, reassuring her that it was okay to play with and in a blaze of golden light she turned into a little girl, smiled, and we all felt a warmth before she disappeared. I am pretty sure we helped her pass on. But obviously this was something fettering these kids here, and our team worked to make sure each and every child passed on. I hid the few tears of joy as they passed on one by one. Kind of didn’t want the boys to pick on me. But one thing that was very funny was that Duran tried to get a melon for one of the kids, and came back with a red hand. I guess he wasn’t supposed to take it, and Hawky said Duran got caught red handed. Red handed. Because he tried to steal fruit. And he was caught. Get it? Hilarious.
The next room was something a little more harrowing. Debris and shards of wood and malevolence started whirling around a golden key. At first we though it was arcana or a trick, but it seemed to have a sentience about it, and attacked us. Duran tried to defend us while Roxy ran for the golden key. Hawky and I used our shaping to stall the creature. Hawky pushed it back against the wall and I used it to wrap itself up with its own wood. We decided that closing the door was a good way to keep it from following, and it was.
Finally, the Traitor room. Despite the warning and the dilapidated door, the inside of this room looked immaculate. Silky reds and a massive canopied bed. All kinds of makeup and a gorgeous vanity. But the mirror revealed the true appearance of the room.It was as run down and dilapidated as the rest of the house should have been. But in the mirror I felt a presence. And something… someone, a woman, asking very nicely if she could borrow my body a moment. I didn’t feel a malevolence from her, but all the same, brought it to the group. All she could offer was that she could help us, but she was weak and needed a conduit. Duran was against the idea. I asked him to tie me up, just in case, and I allowed the spirit in. This is where things got interesting. Well, I suppose the whole thing was interesting. I digress. I retained my mind and my locamotive skills, but Erila Qinrel was able to speak. She was a Jarzoni woman, and informed us of the history. How she’d been a nurse, how Gloamhale lied to her about his intentions and conducted terrible experiments on the children in a misguided hope to cure… something. And how his unrequited love festered until he started taking it out on Erila as well. She was very Jarzoni, and it was clear even the time she came from. The fact that I used arcana to speak with Hawky while she was in my body elicited “Leonoth forgive me”, and the fact that I am a girl using arcana no less. And she was even less keen on being around Duran, much less Hawky or Roxy. I think she did her best, but it was kind of evident they were making her uncomfortable. They are, after all, mistrusted in her homeland. But all the same, she recognized that we were hereto help, and that we had already helped the haints, as she called the children, pass on. Also, she told us the gold key was for the toy chests. With all the conjecture the boys were making about what it was for, I thought that was funny. Sorry, hardly the point.
So, Erila told us that Gloamhale essentially possessed the house, and the entire thing was him in a way. Which I kind of had a hunch, but all the same, having it confirmed put things in place. Oh! And there were some more verses written about. We collected them and it read:
By the Stars above and the Star below
The innocent summon and evil fellow
The trap is set, my hope is high
The power of good may yet abide
When nightmares float above my head
May this song wake me in my bed
Erila was worried it was sorcery, between that and the sigils the haints had scrawled in the playroom. But it seemed more like an incantation, and Hawky noted that the circle was for protection and not summoning. But even though Erila wasn’t sure how we could help her pass on, she acquiesced to the fact that only magic was going to stop Gloamhale. I convinced Duran that I had my motor functions and he set me free. I used paint to explain that the writing on the walls was a ritual and we set about conducting it. Gloamhale didn’t want to let us go, or to allow us to stop him, but with all of us working together, we managed to work the ritual and encase him in some strange glass. Shattered, motes of light and darkness spread throughout the house and soon the whole place looked like it should. Erila, no longer in need of my body, was gone too.
Strange motes of light came to each of us. I don’t know what the others were offered, but I can conjecture. It offered me hidden knowledge, but I politely refused. Although I have many things to learn, and the offer was enticing, I know there are no short cuts. I discovered I was the only one who thought so. I rushed back to Erila’s room, to find it looked as it should, but she was more able to speak with me without possession now. We discussed the best course of action and she asked that even if we couldn’t unfetter her from this place, that we destroy it. Duran seemed to be thinking the same since we entered. We set a fire and gathered the children to take them home. Once we got away from that place we returned to our ages. I am happy that I am an adult woman again, and not a child. But I’d be lying if I said my happiness wasn’t tainted.
The children we rescued were visibly shaken and afraid of Duran, Hawky and Roxy. Given his past, I can only imagine the feelings that brought up. Even Chant didn’t want to be near them. We dropped the settler children off, and took the small Fen girl home as well. The Mud Mother asked that we stay, and she put on a banquet for us as thanks for rescuing the child and putting an end to the strange happenings from the drained lake bed. When the Mud Mother asked what caused it, I told her it was Sorcery. We ate and relaxed a little, Roxy fell asleep eating some sauteed snake. The Mud Mother also told us that Janna was engaged to be married, to the very Fen man we took prisoner. I am glad for her, that she found somewhere she can be happy. Duran pulled me aside to ask what I thought those motes of light were. I told him I already said. I think he knew, but hearing it from me made it real for him.
I am disappointed in myself. For not having been able to stop them. For not setting a better example, especially for Hawky. I fear how easily it happened and I am trepidatious going forward. I am responsible for this. I should have been able to do something. Anything to stop it. I have to do better, not only for them, but for myself. So none of them succumb to further sorcerous taint. So I don’t lose any of them. And I will find a way to cleans them. But I don’t envy myself the days ahead.