After settling in at the Blue Water Inn, the PCs decided to go immediately to the Burgomaster’s mansion and rescue Rictavio AKA Rudolph Van Richten. Perhaps with his help, they could find a way to rescue their compatriots from the curse of lycanthropy before it was too late. The Martikovs bid them farewell and good luck as a gibbous moon rose behind the grey clouds, veiled in shadow like a secret lover… they had only one day left.
Aike and Mahel, as they were the most stealthy, were determined to go behind the house and creep unseen and unheard to find where Van Richten was being held and to free him, while the main group did their best to distract the Baron and his guards. Mahel in disguise, and Aike (suspiciously silent) crept to the back door, noticing that it was guarded by a solitary soldier dressed in purple. The other PCs strode boldly up to the front door and demanded to see the Baron. Leowen said to the guards that she was the “pyrotechnician” who helped light the flame of the Blazing Sun in the last festival. One of the guards retrieved a maid from within the house, who, unimpressed, ushered them inside. Sitting in an overstuffed leather chair inside a finely furnished room with a fearsome bear head mounted on a wall, and guarded by two massive hounds, was the Baron. He did not look overly pleased to see Ulfrik and his companions again.
Mahel, using her mage hand to open a window along the outside wall, scurried inside soundlessly while Aike stayed outside to guard Mahel’s potential escape. Mahel found herself in the Burgomaster’s kitchen, this time inhabited by a rotund, red-faced man vigorously chopping vegetables and huge sides of beef. Mahel opened a side door and moved into the pantry, hiding herself inside. Once there, she awaited an opportunity to sneak past the chef (presumably preparing dinner), to the stairs. Mahel sneaked silently behind the chef and, doffing her original disguise, impersonated herself as a maid, and made her way up the back stairs.
The Baron watched dispassionately as Ulfrik, Leowen, Ismark and Marek entered the room. Without any pretense, he recounted that the last time they met, they had sworn to leave Vallaki and never come back. Leowen spoke up, saying that they had affairs that were worth their forbidden re-entry. Rictavio, or as he was known to them, Rudolph Van Richten, had recently been taken in to the Baron’s custody, and they demanded he be set free. The Baron was surprised by their boldness, although he was willing to make a deal if they wanted him released: kill Lady Fiona Wachter and her daughter. Quite specifically, he wanted their heads personally delivered to him. Without a second thought, Leowen agreed, although Ulfrik was rather uncomfortable with the thought of this assassination.
Upstairs, Mahel ambled past a guard, and seeing two long hallways, she decided to investigate without being detected. She walked to the end of one hallway, found it guarded, then moved to the other hallway, using her deceptive skills to get around being discovered. She opened an oaken door and found a library, festooned with more books than she could count. As a distraction, Mahel summoned Albreth and told him to go in and make a huge mess. As Albreth leaped from shelf to shelf, spilling their contents noisily on the floor, a nearby guard ran in to find the cause of the noise. She then ran and shut the door behind him, stymieing the lock by jamming her thieves’ tools in the keyhole. Using her connection to her familiar, she channeled a shocking grasp and momentarily stunned the guard before he cruelly brought the haft of his spear down on to the skull of the skeletal weasel, crushing it. Turning to the door and finding himself locked inside, the guard started to yell for help, and began to bash his way through the door frame. Hearing the complaints, another guard jogged to the door and attempted to open it from the outside. Hiding in a nearby room, Mahel peered around the corner, and swiftly lanced a knife through the back of his skull and out the front of his eye. The guard from inside, hearing a lack of movement outside the door, whimpered, “Harry?” Mahel frowned – guards were people too, but she did what she had to do. Mahel silently moved down the hall to the last door and finding it locked, pried it it open with her rapier — to find the bedraggled, exhausted form of Rudolph Van Richten.
Having made their deal with the Baron, and unaware of Mahel’s whereabouts, the PCs bowed deeply and excused themselves from the Baron’s study. Marek, having spent most of this time drinking wine from his wine skin, was a bit distracted by the magnificent paintings decorating the halls of the mansion, and had a difficult time following the others out. “Marek, come on!” Ulrik loudly whispered. Once outside, the four skirted around the side of the building to find Aike and Mahel. Aike was still there, and still not speaking, pressed up against the back wall of the house attempting to blend in. “Where’s Mahel?” Leowen inquired. Aike soundlessly pointed inside. Facepalming, Leowen realized their folly – each of the groups had planned a way in, but now that their group was seemingly successful in dealing with the Baron, they had no exit strategy for Mahel, still inside. Suddenly Aike had an idea. He flapped up to the second floor, and hastily bashed in a window, sending fragments of glass fluttering down to the ground. “Welp, that’s it, I’m out!” Leowen said and sped off to the main road, unwilling to be captured at the expense of Aike’s ineptitude. Ulfrik, shaking his head at Aike’s bold move, followed Leowen, loudly whispering that if he made it out alive, they’d meet him at the Inn. He put out his talon and made a “thumbs up.” Marek stumbled after, Ismark supporting him.
Mahel unlocked Van Richten’s manacled hands, and after giving him water, informed him that she was here to rescue him and that they had to leave, now. Doffing her disguise, she and Van Richten ran into a nearby bedroom, when they heard approaching foot falls. She opened a nearby window and prepared to jump through down to the ground below. Aike appeared in the doorway, covered in blood (not his own). He gave a small wave. Open mouthed, Mahel ushered Aike over to the window. Seeing that Mahel’s strength was not enough to carry the weakened Van Richten, Aike picked him up and gently glided out the window to the ground. Mahel followed after, landing with not as much grace.
Aike, Mahel and Van Richten made their way back to the Inn and settled in to rest and heal for the night, unaware that Marek, Loewen, Ismark and Ulfrik were headed to Fiona Wachter’s abode, the Wachterhaus, to fulfill the Baron’s request. For all intents and purposes, they did not know that Mahel’s mission had been successful. They arrived at the old creaking manor and walked to the heavy wooden door. After knocking, a metal plate opened at eye level. A gravelly woman’s voice croaked, “Who are you? Go away!” After stating their need to see Lady Wachter, the person at the door rudely shut the door plate reinforcing the door with additional locks. Sighing, Leowen started to stealthily look around the side of the house for a way inside. Ulfrik, preferring a more direct approach, took a running start and slammed the door down, locks, chains, and all. The female inside screamed and ran further inside the house, barricading herself in one of the rooms. Hearing this noise, Leowen shrugged and pelted the back door with two eldritch blasts, caving it in. Storming the house by force now, the group made their way inside, unaware truly of who or where Fiona Wachter was. Preparing for a potential fight, Marek cast haste on Ulfrik. Venturing further inside the gloomy mansion, they discovered a wiry man inside the kitchen, seemingly having a midnight snack. Declaring, “You will never kill my mistress,” he unsheathed a short sword and flailed away at Ulfrik at one hand and at Leowen behind him. Entering amidst the conflict, Ismark sniffed the air almost in the manner of a canine, and then wordlessly bounded up the staircase. Rolling his eyes, Ulfrik followed, leaving Leowen to deal with the armed servant. Somewhat injured, Loewen cast darkness on her dagger and ran out the back door to gain some distance between her and her foe. She felt a sharp puncture from behind, between her shoulder blades. Surprised that she did not see this invisible foe, she turned around to see a tiny red man with a long scorpion tail and bat wings! A demonic foe!
Upstairs, Ismark remarked that he “smelled cat,” at which the two heard a scratching noise coming from one of the doors across from the staircase. A plaintive female voice, meowing like a cat, said, “Can little kitty come out to play? Little kitty is sad and lonely and promises to be good this time, really she does.” Backing away from the creepy voice at the door, they opened another nearby door to find a library littered with cats, all ill-tempered. One of them had a key hanging from its collar, which Ulfrik dexterously purloined. Bolstered by haste, Ulfrik sped downstairs, and Ulfrik used the pommel of his greatsword to knock out the servant. Seizing the opportunity to defeat her diminutive enemy, Loewen shocking grasped the demon, which, shrieking in pain, turned invisible again and flew around the other side of the house, escaping through a yet to be discovered entryway. The battle seemingly over, Ismark withdrew and forced open the door to the room where the woman had earlier barricaded herself. Dressed in a servant’s outfit, this was clearly not the lady of the house. Shivering with fright, she introduced herself as Amalthia.
“Where is Lady Wachter,” Ismark growled.
“I…. I don’t know,” quivered Amalthia, avoiding his gaze.
Ismark, sensing her prevarication, grasped the woman by the front of her gown. He seemed to have gotten physically larger, and his nails had sharpened, taking on the appearance of cruel claws. Snarling, he yelled, “YOU WILL TELL US WHERE SHE IS, NOW!”
Screaming with fright, the woman cried, “She’s in the basement!!!!”