Trapped, like flies in a web… No sooner had that half-elf assassin showed up the house took on a life of its own and locked us in! I’ll forgive him for now due to him being a fellow half-breed, we need to stick together. Then the ‘silt’ on the ground gathered together to take on the form of a twisted old man telling us to get out? Perhaps this house needs to make up its mind, or that was some kind of failed warning, who knows? With little else to do we ventured onwards, hoping to find at least what we came for; that being either the old man or evidence of the cult.
Everywhere we search appears to have been untouched for some time. This doesn’t make sense? Outside servants tended the fields and guards stood atop the towers? Also, Redgar is complaining about headaches. Strange that no-one else is feeling any effects? I guess a Psion is more sensitive to these sort of things anyway. He then suggested that this could be some kind of illusion? Well, that might make sense considering, but its not good either way. For now I think it best not to think about it and move on. Stel thugs and Aarakocra are one thing, but fighting something I can’t see is not something I look forward to.
Searching through the cellar we find slaves quarters and bathing room. The bathing room being significant as the Elf noted the water was covered in a thin scaly film. My suspicions were raised at this point that perhaps not all of these cultists were human. We found the entrance to the Ur-Zola family tomb, and after arguing it out Chuck went ahead, checking for loose panels and other such tricks. The tomb was large, and full of many Urns; most notable in that there was no evidence of the recently deceased whom Sycia is suspected of. To make things stranger after Chuck decided to open the main crypt (or simultaneously its difficult to tell) a choking mist rose from the floor and from it sprang Ezekiel Ur-Zola, ancient founder of the house. He was a little incoherent and a little eccentric but talked about the ‘rightful heir’ to the Ur-Zola house being a man named Brevin. Not someone we have encountered before but the spirit asked us to help restore him to his rightful place by finding the original will of Alejandro Zola, the last legitimate heir before Sycia took control which would show Brevin to be the rightful heir
We aren’t sure whether this is worth our effort, we aren’t doing this for charity after all and have better things to do, but if we happen to cross paths with him or the will and can make something from it all the better. Hurriedly we left the crypt and made our way back to the basement where again Redgar was complaining of the pressure on his head increasing. As if that as an omen was not bad enough, we each received a vision. We do not know who or how this came to us, but it was a horrific experience for all. Each vision seemed to provoke different emotions in us all, but they all seemed very random, almost as if our minds were being played with…
Having little option but to continue, and feeling unsettled by our experiences so far, we delved deeper into the house, passing more slave quarters, until we reached a door, crudely scrawled with ‘Do not enter’. Of course that was the last thing we were going to do? So on we went through the door, and descended a short flight of stairs until we reached another door, this one unmarked. Through this door we found an area of the house that looked suddenly much more recently used and Redgar was feeling the pressure on his head increasing to the point where Chuck, a Psion wilder began to feel something amiss also. Confronted by another set of doors, we decided to open them in unison and face whatever would be beyond them together, rather than risk being attacked from behind, so on Chuck’s command, the doors were swung open and… Nothing. Nothing except a feeling in the pit of my stomach, that this is very wrong, and inside each room were the remains of a rudimentary living quarters for something not human, but in fact of Ssurran kind (Lizard folk). There is one thing we can be sure of and that’s that if they have flesh, then my Axe will find a home there, mark my words.
Past the living quarters was an abomination of a place of ritual to the foul silt cult. There were rows of wooden planks presumably where these filthy lizards waited to make their unwholesome offerings to this long dead beast. There was a bowl of ‘silt’ that seemed to move as we got near, and even tried to lash out at the wily Elf. Luckily for him, it didn’t have the distance it needed, and chuck, resourcefully used one of my oil vials stuffed with straw to light up that silt worm! Light up it did, and sent disgusting Ichor all over Redgar and Abdiel, whilst they cursed. Adjacent to the ritual room were two smaller chambers, each oddly lit and containing either a Silt Cultist symbol or Yarnath’s symbol. A ritual book stood on one end of the Silt chamber with several pages torn away, but we decided best left as it was for anything useful would have surely been taken.
It was at this time that we had our second waking dream. It seemed more intense and real this time, with the majority of us (who chose to share) experiencing some kind of gruesome end and seeing a common theme of two red eyes and jagged serrated teeth. We tried to hide it but each of us were shaken to the core. The intensity of the psychic pressure could now be felt by all of us, so we decided that, as the rest of the house lay yet to be explored, we should check that first before venturing forward, for what lay next was another staircase, rough hewn into the rock and mud, bearing similar scratch marks to that tunnel in the M’ke House.
Tracing our steps back to the storerooms and stairs up to the kitchen, we proceeded up to the main floor of the house, and immediately felt a relief to our minds as we left the pressure behind us. This rooms again looked bizarrely un-used in a long time (this really must be some kind of illusion, we saw servants in the fields, and guards?) and entered the main entrance hallway. The hall was well lit and furnished with several large statues of strange looking ‘snake men’. They looked almost too ‘life-like’ in very menacing poses, so we thought better of lingering and headed across the hall to the other wing of the house. In the next room we found a large dining/entertaining room, complete with throne and huge vanity mirror, partially covered by a drape. The Elf spotted strange marks and an outline in the northern wall, which turned out to be a large false wall, which led into an old library. Carefully we entered and saw this to be a narrow hallway filled with bookcases and a spiral staircase. As we approached the staircase though the books took on a life of their own, coming out of the bookcase and inflicting minor wounds. Not wanting to try to fight a foe we could not see we did not linger and headed up the staircase, which seemed to be out of the range of the books as they stopped once we were all up the staircase.
Reaching the top of the staircase I was able to discern the flapping of wings and distinctive cawing sound of the Aarakocra! Loosening my axe from my back I crept closer to the top of the stairs and found myself in a small room, barely big enough to fit the staircase and us. We rested briefly and Redgar and Abdiel used their psionic powers of far sight and far hearing to gain us a view of the next room. Inside we saw the horrific sight of some kind of alchemists table which an Aarakocra was strapped to with a purple coloured crystal hovering over its head, which was emitting a beam of light directly into its skull. The poor wretches eyes bulged and body twitched as unknown horrors were no doubt being implanted in its mind. Elsewhere in the room were cages filled with other Aarakocra, some whom had already been subjected to this torture and others waiting their fate.
Chuck stepped forward, warning us to be mindful of traps, and proceeded to find and disarm a poison gas trap which would be triggered by the lock on the door. Mindfully we proceeded and bursting through the door with weapons drawn we found ourselves in some kind of aviary where almost instantly the two seemingly conscious birds screamed at us to help them get free, but at the same time the zombified birds broke free of their cages and attacked us, much like before. Whilst we fought the birds Solzak proved his worth as a master of the dark arts, disarming and unlocking the trapped cages and freeing the sane birds who, true to their words helped us to finish off the other critters. We put the tortured bird out of its misery, no use to anyone now and Redgar was drawn to the power of the crystal despite our better judgements picked it up. Remarkably he was safe and actually spoke of an increased sense of focus and power. The crystal seemed to interact with the orb he carries (which seems to have no apparent use) causing it to indicate a glimmer of life! Elsewhere in the room, searching through the documents we were able to find a secret compartment with the original will of Alejandro Ur-Zola! A fortunate find I feel as it seems almost too easy? We notice that this part of the house seems much newer and seems less effected by the psionic pressure experienced by Redgar elsewhere in the house.
From here we found another secret exit which Abdiel jumped to before any of us could stop him and ended up with a face full of poison gas! The door led to what we assumed was the master bedroom, complete with lavish silken bedsheets and a golden marbled bust of what we assume to be Sycia, not bad looking for a tentacle-worshipping witch! In the rear of her bedroom was a bathing area, with fresh milky water and spiced salts. No scales from what we were able to find, so we conclude at least she is or appears to be human. Exiting the room we entered the landing and had to creep due to the huge windows opposite exposing us to the view of one of the guard towers, however it seemed that the guards resisted to turn round, as if they were not supposed to. On the wall was a fresco depicting an ancient fable of Kalak, one which they like to teach noble children of how once Tyr was a place full of barbarians and that Kalak came and conquered the savages, uniting the people and making Tyr the greatest city in all of Athas. Of course, all city states have similar stories, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out what actually happened. On a shelf below the mural were the 8 element statues, depicting Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Sun, Silt, Rain, and Magma. Not wholly unusual to see all 8 here, it is perhaps quite a superstitious household.
Elsewhere on this floor we found empty bedrooms, lavishly decorated but maintaining the disuse found elsewhere in the house. Naraaku then mentioned he remembered seeing more unusual markings in the master bedroom, and on conducting a search we found a further secret entrance leading to a small corridor to the back of the house, and one of the towers. Checking the door again we saw a small guard room with weapons racks and populated by zombie guards playing a card game! We debating leaving them to it, but worried that we may miss something Solzak took the initiative and chose to silently creep into the room. The zombies continued their game, oblivious, and within mere moments the Assassin had taken down one and almost sliced through another! The fight was brief and deadly (for the opposition) and once again all was silent. We turned to one another and looked to the staircase of the tower, going up..?