The Harrows continued exploring the house of corpses, determined to track down whoever it was that was orchestrating these strange displays. The next door they opened revealed a large dining area and around it were a series of corpses. Most of the corpses were still but there were few that sat their spooning at their plate of rotted flesh and shoveling it into your mouths. However, due to their slacked jaws the rotten food just dropped out and back onto their plates. As the doors opened they turned and looked at the adventurers, trying to claw at them.
The group moved into the room with Barilut and Xandak taking the zombies by the door while Jathan and Trigeji took the ones across it. Si'ro ran up to the nearest zombie that was still seated as he placed the pistol at the back of its head and fired, blasting a chunk of its flesh clean off. The zombies struggled to get up from their seats taking quite some time and effort to push themselves away from the table so they could stand. This gave Jathan enough time to sneak behind one of them and plunge his dagger straight through its skull killing it. The zombie growled as it died, its face collapsing into the plate before it. While the group continued to take care of the zombies they heard the sound of laughter once again as a crossbow bolt flew from behind them and straight into Si'ro's back. The gunslinger felt the bolt plunge in deep as he dropped to the ground in severe pain.
Jathan looked over and saw their newest acquaintance fall as he called out to Barilut. "Can you take care of him? We got this." He said as he used the zombie that he had just killed as a stepping stool to vault himself across the table to the other side of the room where another one of the zombies was. With a quick slash of his dagger he managed to kill another one. Meanwhile, Xandak was slaughtering zombies at the entrance as his greataxe was perfect for taking heads clean off. Between the two of them the zombies had been slain and Barilut took to tending Si'ro's wounds getting him back up on his feet.
"Did you see where the bolt came from?" Lumpen asked the gunslinger about the mysterious attack.
Si'ro shook his head. "No. But based on where it hit me I would say it came from behind us."
The group moved in the direction of where the shot came from using that as a point of investigation. They moved through the doors coming to what appeared to be a library. More bodies littered the ground and corners as the books were knocked off the shelves and scattered as well. Jathan decided to take a moment to investigate the bodies a bit further to see if he could get any clues from them. He crouched down near a pile of them, studying the blisters and obvious signs of advanced stages of blood veil. But something seemed off about them.
"Hey guys…I don't think these people had blood veil." Jathan said as he looked over his shoulder at the rest of the party.
"What do you mean? Just look at them! The symptoms are obvious!" Xandak said wondering what the half-elf was going on about.
"Yeah but…" Jathan stood up and turned around. "These blisters and markings…they're too perfect. This isn't natural but manufactured instead."
"What sick person would make bodies look like they had blood veil though?" The pink haired gnome said, injecting herself into the conversation.
"I don't know but we should continue to tread carefully." Barilut said as he urged the group to press on. They moved through the room and continued exploring the manor. The next room appeared to be a small performing area as there was a stage set up and on it was an undead dressed like a blue-winged angel. It was trying to play a harp but the instrument didn’t have any strings as its fingers just strummed the air. Around the stage were 4 chairs with corpses in them dressed like a swan, a castle, and other various costumes. Jathan didn’t like the way it looked as he moved up towards one of the corpses in the chair and stabbed it in the skull with his dagger to ensure it wasn’t getting up. The body didn’t move but the one that was on stage stirred as it saw him and lashed out at him.
Some of the other party members went around to the other door and came in there as the zombie was surrounded on all side. It tried to bite and slash Jathan as it came off the stage at him however it didn’t stand a chance as a quick shot in the back from Si’ro and Jathan’s dagger were able to slice through the creature killing it. A quick wipe of the blade and they continued to clear the rest of the rooms one by one. Every room they ran into had corpses splayed out on the ground showing the signs of the violence that had occurred here. When they came to the kitchen they saw two zombies acting out like they were carving up a pig but in reality it was a corpse. Xandak made his way into the room to slice some heads off as they cornered the zombies and crushed them. It seems that the first floor had been cleared of any dangerous threats and now they had to decide to move on upstairs or head downstairs.
“Let me check upstairs and see what’s going on before we move.” Jathan said to the group as he slowly snuck his way up the stairs to check how it looked on the second floor. The stairs opened up to a large room that appeared to be an art gallery of sorts. Various art pieces like paintings and sculptures lined the walls as well as a corner for musicians to perform. This area was heavily littered with bodies all over as a number of zombies were walking around the room. They seemed to stop at a painting here or there and look at it, their arms waving as if they were critiquing it before moving on. The half-elf made his way down to tell the rest of them what he found before they all moved upstairs as one.
As they got to the second floor the zombies turned to see them, their claws sharp and ready to tear through flesh. The group split up to tackle the attacks coming from multiple fronts as the zombies drew near. Just as they were getting ready to engage another crossbow bolt flew through the air and right into the back of Lumpen, letting out that piercing shriek that they had seen it do so many times before. The gnome fell on the stairs, his vision blurring as the bolt had struck a vital organ and he didn’t have much time left. The rest of the group turned and for once they could finally see the culprit that was harassing them all this time.
The figure appeared to be an Elven woman dressed in a strange but colorful out of yellows and red that were checkered back and forth. The outfit looked almost like one a jester or an acrobat would wear as she smiled at them with a small crossbow in one hand and a dagger in the other. With the face of the enemy now visible at last the Harrows could finally try to stop this threat. But first they had to take care of Lumpen as Barilut moved to the gnome to heal him up and get him back on his feet. While Barilut was dealing with patching up Lumpen, Trigeji and Xandak moved to engage the zombies while Jathan went a different direction to take on a different zombie. Si’ro being the one with the most ranged expertise focused his efforts on the elf as he fired his musket to deliver a shot that hit the shoulder of the woman.
The elf dashed down the side of the room towards where the group was as she stood across the stairwell opening and smirked at them as she began to cast a spell. A beam of energy shot out from her hand and hit Xandak as the half-orc felt some of his strength get sapped from his body. He swung his greataxe as he sliced one of the zombie’s heads off clean and looked back in her direction. “Let me at her! She’s mine!” He moved to start dashing after her. By now, Lumpen had gotten back on his feet and was beginning to assess the situation. He turned towards the woman as he fired out a barrage of Magic Missile towards them. The blasts of arcane energy flew through the air and as it neared her it seemed to hit an invisible force and break apart.
The rest of the party was working on clearing up the remaining zombies figuring that once they were dealt with they could then focus their efforts on her. Jathan moved to another one of the zombies as he plunged his dagger straight through the back of the head, ending its life as its body collapsed to the ground. The rogue motioned for the rest of the party to focus on the elf woman as they nodded and started to move around the stairwell to get to her. Xandak had gotten to her first as he swung his greataxe trying to take her down with one mighty swing. The axe sliced part of her shoulder as it drew blood and the woman winced a bit as she seemed to enjoy it.
She switched from firing crossbow shots to a dagger as she pulled it out and let loose two quick slashes. The first one cut across the half-orc’s chest as the second went into his side. Xandak staggered a bit as he felt the impact hit him hard, the blade cutting in deep and bleeding profusely. It seemed that her dagger was just as dangerous as the crossbow. Si’ro let another shot from his musket fly out and blast into her side as Jathan had moved in from the other side of the elven enemy. They now had her pinched in between them and were moving in to finish her off however she wouldn’t go down without a fight as a quick pivot and she was facing the half-elf. She swung the dagger out and with two stabs in the chest Jathan stumbled as he collapsed to the ground in pain, the wounds bleeding too heavily for him to stand on his own feet.
“I’ll get him, don’t worry about it.” Barilut said as he made his way over to the side that Jathan was on. He would have to hurry as his friend and fellow adventurer was fading fast. Meanwhile Xandek against let out a flurry of swings with his weapon trying to end it as the axe cut into her once more. The woman did a quick somersault off the wall as she landed back on her feet and caught Xandak by surprise as the dagger pierced into his side deeply. The Half-orc groaned in pain as he bit his tongue to hold on and stay on his feet as his vision blurred.
Si’ro saw that the adventuring group he had joined was struggling and needed to do something to turn the tide of battle. He studied the layout of the area as he backed up a bit and started to break out in a run towards the railing. One step on the railing and Si’ro launched himself up into the air across the entire stairwell gap towards the woman. As he neared her he swung his pistol out and struck her face with it to throw her off guard. After the hit though Si’ro had to think fast as he clutched onto the railing and hung on as his feet dangled 20 feet off the ground. The daring act was enough to keep her distracted as Xandak swung his greataxe one more time. The axe dug deep into her back with a violent cut as it was the last bit of energy he had before he gave in to the wounds and collapsed to the ground just like how Jathan had.
With two of their own down they had to go desperate measures to try and subdue this dangerous threat. Trigeji had stepped up and swung her warhammer to try and hit as it struck the woman’s leg. Barilut on the other side extended his flail and swung it out to hit her in the back. The pain from the flail and hammer stung through the woman’s body as she raised her hands. “Alright alright! I give! Let me live!” She said trying to reason with the group. Barilut looked at her as he grabbed the robe and began to tie her up so that she couldn’t go anywhere. As he fastened the ropes around her she giggled a bit and gave him a wink. “Oooh this is starting to get quite fun!” The adventuring group tended to their wounds as they got Jathan and Xandak back on their feet. Jathan dusted himself off a bit as he looked at her.
“So what is your name?”
“My name is Jolstina Susperio.” The Elven acrobat responded.
“Tell us what you’re doing here and we won’t harm you anymore. Did you do all this?” Jathan asked her as the group surrounded her.
“Oooo I love your voice. Reminds me of my beloved Rolth’s tongue. I was just having some fun!” Jolstina said.
The Elven acrobat continued to go on about how Rolth had sent her here to cause chaos and kill everyone here. She was assigned to make it look like that they had died of blood veil.
“You did all this yourself?” Trigeji asked her, shocked that one person could do all this on their own. Jolstina turned to her and smiled. “I did. I hope you enjoyed the display I put on. I probably would’ve got away with it if I just headed out instead of enjoying myself for a bit.” They asked her if she knew the boy Ruan that they were looking for as they described him.
“Ooo I know him. Rolth told me to keep any healthy young Varisians I saw safe and alive. He was just the one that fit the bill in the whole manor.” Jolstina said with a sly smile.
“And what did you do with him?” Jathan asked, wanting to come to the bottom of this all. Jolstina smiled. “My beloved Rolth came the next day to pick him up with his new weird looking friends and took him someplace.”
“New friends?” Barilut asked. “What did they look like?”
“They were odd looking, wore long coats and had these strange bird shaped masks on.” The elf said. The dwarf turned to the rest of the party. “I knew it. Those strange looking doctors didn’t look trustworthy from the beginning. We should let Cressida know about this.” Barilut turned his attention back towards Jolstina. “Where is Rolth now?”
The elf shrugged her shoulders the best she could while tied up. “Beats me. He was going to get in touch with me when he needed me.” Xandak was growing frustrated with her as he moved his greataxe closer to her. “Stop with the games and tell us where he is or we’ll have to hurt you!” The half-orc scowled at her.
Jolstina giggled a bit as she leaned in to Xandak. “I love it when you talk like that.” She licked her lips as she said it with a wide grin on her face. The half-orc wasn’t prepared for such a response as he stepped back a bit nervously. Barilut just sighed, shaking his head as he used the back of the flail and knocked her out.
“Come on. Let’s get her to the Citadel.”
With the psychopathic elf now in control, the Harrows decided to finish exploring the rest of the manor before taking her back. They opened one of the doors on the second floor to reveal a zombie in a large dress and powdered wig being attended by another zombie dressed in an exotic princess garb. Xandak wanting to get some frustration out after dealing with the coy elf as he charged forward and took his axe to them with a violent vengeance. The rest of the party followed up as they were starting to get effective at taking out these zombie threats. Once both corpses laid at their feet, they continued to clear the second floor to see if any more were alive and it seemed that there weren’t. The last stop they had to go to clear the place was down in the basement.
Moving their way all the way down they came to what appeared to be a wine cellar with large casks still full. Jathan slowly moved his way through the cellar to make sure it was safe before coming to a locked door. He crouched down as he began to work on the lock and within a few moments had it picked. He slowly opened the door to reveal what appeared to be a small art room with easels and art supplies in it with a man clutching a painter’s knife as he waved it frantically at the intruder. “Stop! Don’t eat me!” Jathan looked at the older gentleman as he inquired who he was. The man had identified himself as Ausio Carowyn, the owner of this manor. He told them how they were in the middle of the party when the elven acrobat they had hired started killing people, laughing the entire time. He fled down here and hid to save himself, scared to go back upstairs and see what had happened. Everytime the man mustered some strength to think about going upstairs he heard that maniacal laughter and stayed in here. The man asked the group if it was safe and if the lady had been dealt with. They nodded letting him know that the coast was clear as they escorted him upstairs and out of the house so he could go someplace safe.
With Ausio secure and Jolstina in custody, the adventurers headed back to Citadel Volshyenek to talk with Cressida. They handed over the crazy elf to the Korvosan Guard as they began to tell the Field Marshall what they had discovered from her. Cressida was worried to see that the Queen’s Physicians and Rolth may be working together. She told the group that the doctors were using a warehouse as their clinic, naming it the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden. If they were going to get any answers about what was going on here they would have to go there and get to the bottom of it.