Curse of Strahd

The Haunted Cabin in the Woods on a Hill: Part I

From the Renown Bardic Adventurer Willy Grinn

Today I began the most extraordinary quest with the most eclectic group of adventurers! It is nearly impossible to contain my excitement over this most prestigious undertaking as it has thus far been filled with drama, intrigue, comedy… and the day has yet to finish! I am taking a moment to reflect upon the events thus far and to write them down in my newly acquired journal so that I’ll have an accurate account for when I recite this most glorious adventure upon our return.

At present, we have boarded ourselves up on the third floor inside a guest bedroom of a most sinister and haunted mansion. Even as I write recapping, (with the group nearly napping), I can hear this tapping – as if someone were gently rapping, rapping at the chamber door. Yet perhaps it’s just the slapping, of mine own foot tapping, tapping on the chamber floor. But let’s not recount the musings of the here and now without first starting from the very beginning – as it’s a very good place to start.

You see, a few days prior I received a * personal * invitation to the great Lady Morrowind’s office to attend the most elegant of hero receptions. Of course, I was delighted to see that my reputation had preceded me all the way to the Mayor of Daggerford, even if she had misspelled my name – I mean, m’s and n’s are right next to each other in the alphabet, so it’s completely understandable. So just like that, with the arrival of the letter came the departure of yours truly from Waterdeep, for there was nothing in the world that would keep me from attending this most elegant of dinners… in front of the most glorious of adventurers… except for maybe the guards.

It appears there was some confusion as to whether or not I was on the guest list. I had to show them my * personal * letter and explain the confusion over the misspelling before I was granted entry. They were apparently expecting someone with a little more “renown” and “experience” in journaling and storytelling the “realities” of life. Thankfully by using a carefully crafted colloquy of opposing opulent orations, I was able to convince them that I was indeed a bard of a certain caliber, and they were indeed in need of one such bard of a certain caliber, and that I was free indeed to fill that need for a bard of a certain caliber… in short as we say in the business… the show must go on.

I soon met up with the courageous group of adventurers that I would be accompanying on this most daring of quests… that is… except for one. I never did get his name, but as the Lady Morrowind explained the nature of our mission with the Durst family’s Death house – I could see the color slowly draining from his face until he was visibly shaken by the time we were ready to leave. I don’t think I even heard him speak once. To me… this all sounded quite fascinating and I have to admit, the journey has not disappointed yet! So there we were… the finest group of adventurers to ever leave for the Durst house: Lupa – quite a daring and intense lady, Despair – a rather brooding magical fellow, Onyx – quite the ferocious beef N’ board, Elodin – a rather holy looking man, Samial – an ominous lad with a background as mysterious as his entrance was, and of course… yours truly.

As we made our way to the haunted cabin in the woods on a hill, I noticed two children standing in front of the house. They appeared to be conversing over the nature of this sinister domicile, so I approached and inquired about said nature in order to get a deeper understanding of what makes this abode so frightening. Needless to say my line of questioning got quite the reaction from the two as the older sister dropped her maw to the ground, quite literally I might add. The two were apparently some sort of apparitions of the late Thornboldt and Rosavalda (the children of this massive dwelling that went missing quite a while ago). I was quite delighted when I saw them disappear right before my very eyes, but not before Rosavalda mentioned something to the effect of “This may be fun after all…” Oh how I do love a good cliff hanger!

We entered the residence and found the surroundings to be dreadfully… horrifyingly… and shockingly… clean. I mean the place was immaculate. We searched the entire ground floor and found some crossbows in a cabinet and quite the dapper top hat in a closet (which of course I procured for future use). The second floor was far more disturbing than the first. It was remarkably unremarkable. That is, until Samial came over with some goodies he apparently found in some secret chest. I wish I was there to witness the master sleuthing, but the spoils were just as nice. In fact, this very book was one of the finds Samial procured from the treasure… along with two other books, some scrolls, and some deeds.

I think it may have been at this moment that I realized Despair was beginning to wander up the stairs again. I followed a little behind and crested the floor (barely) just in time to see Despair start playing with a statue! I do have to admit, I never so armor like that move on its own before. And it sure was putting a hurting on Despair, so I decided to try to distract it with some special abilities I picked up over the years. You see when performing in the many wonderful places I have been, there are always those who don’t appreciate the art as much as others and try to heckle the performance. Needless, to say I may have sharpened my tongue with some quick wit quips of my own.

It was amazing to see how effective mockery can be in battle! The suit of armor kept missing with its attacks while the rest of the party came in to help Despair put an end to the menace. The armor was bashing Despair to within an inch of his life. It was quite the spectacle! He had to receive some healing from Elodin, while Lupa and Onyx slashed and bashed. It was so inspiring to see this level of team work from them that I myself had to send some words of encouragement to them – giving them some of my patented bardic inspiration. I’m sure it was a help for them in battle. Poor Samial sure was trying to help, but he just kept missing. I couldn’t help but let my lyrical mind roam free and penned my first short poem of the adventure… Samial, that Samial. He may be friend, but he don’t fight so well. Note to self – next time I will have to try inspiring Samial instead mocking him. Some people just can’t take a joke, but I should probably save such comments for the enemies.

Turning my attention back to the construct, I saw it grab Despair and bull rush him right over the banister railing. There was a loud bang as the armor crashed on top of Despair and continued falling to the ground floor. The spectacle might have been hilarious if Despair weren’t knocked unconscious. OK, who am I kidding… it was just the beginning of this comedy of errors. Onyx apparently thought the jump looked like fun and decided to follow the armor down as well. And by following him… I mean literally. You see he tripped as he tried to jump and went careening down to the ground floor in a crumpled mess. Amazingly, the beast – meaning our resident beef ’n board – survived the tumble to carry on the fight. That guy is quite the brute! Meanwhile, Lupa wasn’t swayed or deterred by the previous blunders and nimbly jumped her way down to the ground floor to continue the battle.

When all was said and done, the group managed to subdue the armor with a few scrapes and bruises. So we regrouped and went back to the third floor. Upon stepping foot on the third floor this time, I realized that it was nowhere near as clean as the first two floors. In fact, it was a hot mess. There was dirt and grime everywhere. We did find some trinkets in the master bedroom, but we found a lot more in the guest bedroom! A specter. A real live… well dead specter came out of the closet and began to attack us! Onyx of course was paramount to the fight, taking a good number of the blows from the ghostly figure, while the group continued to bombard it with damage. However, the real surprise came when Onyx recovered from being knocked down (for a second time)… He shifted right before my eyes! He grew a snout, his hair elongated and he got significantly more fierce (as if he wasn’t already fierce enough). I had no idea the group had such talent! And apparently, neither did Lupa… for when the fight was over (and Onyx was knocked down again), Lupa crossed her weapons across Onyx’s throat with a line of questioning that has yet to be resolved as I write this. Oh the suspense is killing me! Will he survive the haunted mansion only to be done in by someone in his own group?!? Stay tuned for part two!

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