Tanith’s Log: Resting in a guest room, Warren Manor, Brahlin
My time in Brahlin has been a wild ride. While I was initially there to support Pete in his time of need following the death of his father, Pete, his sister Lilian, Piper and I found evidence that Pete’s father might have been murdered and, with the help of Beverly, a colleague of Pete’s father, we set out to explore the old Brahlin insane asylum/prison/college to find the truth.
The old asylum had definitely seen better days; parts of it were crumbling, while others were being flooded by a nearby lake, and still others seemed to be scorched and fire damaged. After finding an entry point, we worked our way through the ruins and eventually descended into the basement levels. In a large central chamber, we were ambushed by a giant skeleton creature, nearly 50 feat tall! It took some impressive climbing and acrobatics by Piper and I, but we managed to take the creature down.
After the battle, the party decided to take a rest next to a fountain; the large rooms only defining feature, (other than a collapsed staircase). I was still trying to catch my breath, when the strange pendant Pete had given me began to glow once more. The world faded to black in front of my eyes, as it had so many times before, and yet this time I did not feel the nausea that normally accompanies my trips in the void, and the void itself seemed different. I could make out dark rolling cloud banks and intermittent flashing lights in the distance.
Before I could examine the void any further, I was whisked away to an unfamiliar forest clearing. I couldn’t see Piper anywhere, so I assumed she hadn’t come with me. While I was trying to get my bearings, a small caravan approached and, after some small talk, the caravan owner offered me a job guarding his convoy to the next city over. I agreed, though I did insist on a meal as part of my payment, (I hadn’t eaten anything since before the funeral the day before). They gave me a stale old sandwich. It was a pretty terrible sandwich and not at all filling.
On our way to the town The caravan was attacked by wolves and a bear simultaneously. It was a tough battle, but I managed to defeat most of them. In the process the bear had a minor case of… exploding… It was pretty messy.
When the caravan finally made it to the town at the end of the road, the town guards promptly locked up the owner for carrying contraband. I guess he was involved with the drug trade and the whole wagon was full of White Adder. The guards let me go with just a warning and I was offered free room and board by a kindly innkeeper who felt sorry I hadn’t been paid for guarding the caravan. But before I could enter the inn and order the large dinner I was craving, the pendant began glowing again, and I was pulled into the void once more, and sent back to the fountain chamber in the Brahlin asylum where my party remained, seemingly not having noticed my absence.
Just as I was about to tell the others about my experiences, as if triggered by my return, Piper’s pendant suddenly began to glow. She keeled over and vanished. Even though Pete, Beverly, Lilian and I had all witnessed Piper’s disappearance this time, the fact that party members blinking in and out of existence had become so common place meant we didn’t think too much of it.
I decided to take a moment to try and clean myself up in the fountain, (The bear explosion had left me pretty dirty). As I was washing up, out of the corner of my eye I saw the silhouette of a man approaching from the direction we had originally come from. I was a little apprehensive at first, but Beverly seemed to recognize him.
The man introduced himself as Adalwolf Dagobert. He said he used to work in the asylum before it had closed down, and was a former colleague of both Beverly and Pete’s father. Having noticed our tracks leading into the building, Adalwolf had decided to follow them, fearing we might be in danger. We told him about our quest to solve Mr. Warren’s murder, and he agreed to join us.
While he did say he used to work in the asylum, I can’t remember exactly what it was Adalwolf did there. I’m not sure why an asylum would have needed a skilled tracker and marksman such as Adalwolf. Perhaps he was a groundskeeper? I do seem to remember him saying he was very proficient at sandwich making. Since I’m very proficient at eating sandwiches, I figured we’d make an excellent team.
The 5 of us ventured north and entered an old cell block, with a single recessed cell in it’s center. Adalwolf spotted a shining piece of metal catching the light down at the bottom of the cell, so the two of us went down to investigate. Turns out it was the blade of a giant axe belonging to a monster inhabiting the cell. He called himself “The Lobster” or something. I’m not sure why, since he didn’t look like one at all; he was more of a 10 foot tall zombie type thing.
Adalwolf and I made short work of him, (with a little help from our friends). Discovering to our dismay that that cell block was a dead end, we started heading back towards the fountain chamber, but not before checking out a guard room just off the hallway. The room was relatively empty with only a few tables and chairs, but we did notice a trapdoor hidden off in the corner of the room. We managed to get the door open and found a small chest full of jewellery. Our best guess was that it was full of contraband that the guards had taken from visitors to the asylum – possibly family heirlooms and the like.
I decided to take the box with me, but before we could leave, we were confronted by a ghostly apparition of a flaming skeleton. I shouted to Adelwolf to run and then grabbed the box and jumped into the recess in the floor, shutting the trapdoor over top of me. I started trying to dig my way out, but before I got very far I could hear Adelwolf talking the skeleton ghost down. I guess they had once been friends, or at least Adelwolf had convinced the ghost they had once been friends by the time they were done talking. The ghost requested we bury his body’s head in the cemetery in town, so we took it with us, (and gave it to Pete to carry).
We returned to the fountain chamber and this time traveled east, down a long corridor flanked by staff rooms on either side. I peaked inside one of the rooms and saw the body of a dead dwarf lying next to a table with 3 or 4 skulls arranged on top of it. I was about to suggest we move on, when the the skulls on the table all began to rattle and shake. I decided this warranted a closer look, so I activated my deanimator, (a device we acquired earlier allowing the user to become spectral). My vision shifted, and I could see the ghost of the dwarf being tormented by several floating spectral skulls circling around him and chattering.
I offered to help him and he said he needed to find the missing piece of his murdered wife’s skull. I have no idea why he was looking in the asylum, since he told me she was buried in the town’s cemetery. I suggested the ghost return to the cemetery and search there, especially since we had cracked a few skulls their the day before, (we had gotten into a bit of a scuffle with the locals while burying Mr. Warren after the funeral). The dwarf seemed enthralled with the idea and immediately flew away towards the graveyard. I’m not sure if he’s still out there or not. Maybe he was eaten by a sandworm.
We pressed on and, reaching the end of the hall, we entered another cell block, this one much larger than the last. I poked my head into one of the cells and found myself face to face with an undead skeleton, it’s empty eye sockets staring back at me almost angrily. Startled, I jumped back, quickly slamming the cell door shut and smashing the lock, trapping the skeleton inside. Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone; cell doors all around the block were being flung open and shambling skeletons began staggering towards us.
I hate skeletons. I’ve been a little frightened of them ever since a large group nearly kill me in the crypt of the Everflame and I was worried the same scenario was about to play out again. My fear turned to anger as they began to attack my friends, and I charged at them like a dragon possessed. Perhaps I was tapping into some primal draconic rage, or maybe… I just really hate skeletons. I don’t remember much of the battle, just that we won, and by the end of it I had ground the bones of the skeleton to dust.
While we were taking a moment to catch our breaths, Adelwolf felt compelled to see the last wishes of his friend the guard fulfilled. He took the head of his former colleague and, biding us all farewell, he set out to bury it in the town’s cemetery.
In the far corner of the cell block lay a large room of to one side, and a locked door, blocking progress further into the asylum. The large room contained an odd mishmash of objects: several cages suspended above the ground by chains, walls with chained manacles, an iron maiden, a table turned stretching rack at the center of the room, and a large furnace in the far corner. It was obvious the room had been used to torture patients, (I mean, why else would anyone keep an iron maiden around). I pressed Beverly about this, asking how he could work in this place and not know this had been going on. He seemed dumbfounded.
As we entered the room we could see the grisly remains of a man on the central table. Though the body was badly burned, it was apparent the man’s hands had been severed. Before we could get any closer though, the man’s missing hands climbed out of a nearby basket and began scuttling across the floor towards us! The possessed hands were very resilient, in spite of their size, surviving multiple blows and kicks from the party while trying to latch onto our necks. I caught one with a bite and, without thinking, I swallowed it down. Seeing as how that seemed to be the only effective way of stopping them, I quickly devoured the second hand as well. I felt a little sick afterwards, less because I had just consumed rotting flesh, (dragons can stomach just about anything without issue), but more because I had just eaten human hands. I guess I was hungrier than realized, though like the sandwich, the rotting hands did little to sate my appetite.
Once the dust settled we started searching the room for a means of getting the locked door open. I walked towards the corner of the room, looking to investigate the furnace, but as I passed by the iron maiden, something caught my eye. I turned to see a bound woman struggling inside the iron maiden; her face was the splitting image of Lydia Foxcroft, the woman who had adopted and raised me. The doors of the maiden were closing, so without thinking, I lunged into the iron sarcophagus, but as I arrived within, the woman vanished and the doors slammed shut behind me.
The inside of the maiden appeared bare at first, but suddenly hundreds of spectral spikes began to emerge from the walls all around me. I cried out in agony as the spikes pierced my body, seemingly unhindered by my thick scales. Just as quickly as they appeared, the spikes vanished and the doors reopened, sending me falling out and collapsing to the ground. The spikes may have been gone, but the wounds they had created remained; my body was covered in aching spectral holes and I couldn’t stop shaking.
Lilian managed to calm me down. She seemed to think I had been cursed by the maiden and suggested we examine the objects in the room to see if there was a way to lift the curse. A simple visual inspection of the objects revealed nothing, so I decided to give the deanimator a shot. As a specter, I could see that each of the objects in the room was possessed by some kind of tormented spirit. I attempted to hit one with my wand of cure light wounds, and that caused it to disappear. The act of banishing the spirit reduced the pain of my wounds and caused some of the holes in my body to vanish.
I struck each of the items in the room in turn, sending the ghosts all back to what ever plain they came from. With the room cleared, my body was restored to it’s original state and all was right with the world. Well, almost right, since we still hadn’t found a way to open the locked door. A quick search of the body on the table revealed the key to said door and the warden’s badge. I decided to take both with me, (you never know when a badge might come in handy), and quickly pressed forward, eager to leave the room behind. Next time, I think I’ll make a point of searching the obvious places first, rather than jumping strait into obscure medieval torture devices.
Passing the formerly locked door, we followed a winding corridor and emerged into the largest chamber we had yet encountered. The section nearest us seemed to be a cafeteria, with old tables and benches strewn about everywhere. I quickly identified the kitchen, intent on raiding it’s pantry, but everything had either been burned, rotted or eaten by rodents long ago. I did manage to pick up a case of small 7 though.
As we came to the end of the large chamber; I could see a large portcullis set into the wall, leading to a balcony overlooking a large underground lake. Two ghostly figures stood beyond the bars of the gate on the far edge of the balcony. One was a woman in some kind of restraining jacket, and the other, a man, who we came to realize was none other than Gilroy Warren, Pete’s father. Both ghosts were missing their bottom jaw.
With some difficulty, I managed to squeeze myself between the bars of the gate making it onto the balcony. This turned out to be entirely unnecessary, as there was a door just around the corner which Pete, Lilian and Beverly used to join me.
As we stood there, Gilroy looked at Lilian, and pointed his hand towards her accusingly. I turned to face Lilian just in time to see her go flying into a nearby wall, her body losing the appearance of a healthy young woman and becoming a rotting corps. In her place stood the spectral figure of a man with strange piercing eyes. Apparently he had been using the guise of Lilian to lure us to the asylum with the help of Beverly, and he was looking for something called the rift stones.
I activated my deanimator in the hopes of getting a sneak attack in on the specter, but as I did, his eyes were drawn to me. The specter noticed the pouch were I keep Pete’s pendant and identified it as a rift stone, but it didn’t seem to be what he was looking for, since he referring to it as ‘unrefined and useless’. The specter, named Resnick, called himself a Rift Breaker and seemed intent on collecting stones like Pete’s pendant and destroying them. He seemed to think Gilroy had a stash of these stones somewhere, but wasn’t able to find them. When I refused to give him my stone, the battle began.
I stood toe to toe with Resnick trading blows, while Pete and Beverly began to duke it out. I managed to get a few good hit’s in on Resnick but he was agile enough to dodge most of them. The damage from my teeth and claws hardly seemed to phase him and he was starting to wear me down with repeated painful blows. I tried to use the Scale of Kassen, attempting to appeal to the spirit of Kassen for aid against the specter. I guess Kassen didn’t hear me, since the scale crumbled to dust and I was forced to retreat. If I ever see Kassen again I’m going to give him an earful about how he gave us a scale from his armor and told us it would help us in our hour of need, only for it to fall apart.
After falling back and drinking a potion to mitigate some of the damage I had taken, I could see Pete was still struggling with Beverly so I rushed over to him. Pete managed to strike Beverly though the chest with his short sword, ending him as a serious threat. Resnick was fast approaching us, so I threw my potion of enlarge person at Pete. It made contact with him, shattering and coating him with the red viscus liquid. Before he realized what had happened, Pete grew to a height of 12 feet almost instantly, and, towering over Resnick, he began to turn the tide of battle in our favor. I was pretty envious of Pete’s new size, but I knew the potion was only rated for use on humanoids. I hope I get to be that large someday.
In my mad dash towards Pete, I ended up next to the corpse of Lilian and something on her body caught my eye. She was wearing a silvery metal necklace inlayed with multiple stones. They looked almost like the my pendant, and I could feel it reacting to the necklace even though it was in my pouch. Feeling I had nothing to lose, I took the necklace and put it around my neck.
Turning my attention back to Resnick,I decided the best way to attack him was from behind, while he was distracted by Giant Pete. I went to move, but before I could put one claw in front of the other, the rift stone necklace glowed and I was seemingly pulled through the void, instantly finding myself in striking distance of Resnick, directly behind him. I lunged at him, catching his shoulder with my jaws, but failing to connect with my claws. Or so it appeared at first, since after missing each strike, the necklace activated and in an instant my limbs found themselves in more favorable positions, allowing me to strike Resnick with impunity. After another round of trading blows with Resnick, between Pete’s powerful blows and my inability to miss, Resnick was completely obliterated.
With Resnick dealt with and the battle over an eerie silence fell over the asylum. Pete slumped next to the body of Lilian, struggling to cope with the realization he was now the last member surviving member of his family. I wanted to offer some kind of consolation to Pete, but in circumstances like these there is usually little that can be said.
Gilroy moved next to Pete, placing a spectral hand on his shoulder. Pete and his father locked eyes, and for a moment they shared a look of understating. Once the moment had passed, Gilroy turned and walked towards me repeating the gesture and placing his hand on my head. In an instant my mind was filled with images, images I came to realize were Gilroy’s own memories. Memories of his work at the asylum, his devotion to the god of graves, his interest in the occult and his quest for answers to the mysteries of the rift stones. Gilory had experimented with the rift stones for years, but was not ever able to get them to work.
Just as Gilroy removed his hand from my head, I felt the familiar sensation of the rift stone pendant – my rift stone – activating, and the world around me faded away, being replaced with the dark swirling mass of clouds and lights I had seen earlier that day. This time, however, I was not drawn down the corridor of clouds; I was instead held motionless as a dark shadowy shape with dim slitted eyes appeared before me and gave me a scrutinizing look.
I was then pulled back to reality and, leaving the void behind, I found myself in the parlor of the Warren manor. Pete was there and he seemed pretty surprised to see me. I guess a few weeks had past in the instant I was floating in the void. Pete, now the only remaining heir to the Warren fortune, decided to stay in Brahlin and try to rebuild his life there. He gave me the remaining shares in Manguana Pete’s and the recipe for Manguanas. I felt sad he wasn’t returning with me, but it’s probably for the best. Everyone who travels with me seems to end up dead or missing.
And so, alone again, I am now left to plot my next move. I should see if I can find the owners of these heirlooms in the jewellery box I recovered. I also want to return to Sandpoint ASAP to check on the restaurant, however, I’m currently not feeling that well. I can feel a nervous energy radiating outwards from the core of my body all the way to my extremities, as well as a great hunger in my belly, (well… greater than it normally is anyway). These symptoms seem consistent with those experienced by dragons undergoing their Dracomorphoses growth-spurts, (at least in so far as they had been recorded by human scholars in the few accounts I had read in my hometown).
At the same time, though, I also feel exhausted, as if I had my energy drained. While it’s been observed that dragons appear more lethargic during their growth spurts, I wonder if this might be a side effect of travel through the void, or my use of the rift stone necklace. Could my skipping forward in time be connected as well?
Regardless, Pete has offered to let me stay at Warren manor until I’m feeling well enough to travel back to Sandpoint. Assuming no more trouble with the rift stones, my Dracomorphosis should only last 4 or 5 days, a week at most. I can’t wait to finally be bigger than a half-ling! In the mean time, I intend to spend the next week resting up and visiting as many of Brahlin’s restaurants and bakeries as I can and thoroughly sampling their menus.