Ristor Dormant was just finishing a thoroughly tasteless lunch at the Shanty when Johann arrived. It had been a bad week for Ristor. No ships had come in and no one was looking for extra help. His purse felt uncomfortably light on his belt. Johann pointed at the young sailor, indicating he wanted him to come into the office. Ristor wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. Johann could be most unpleasant at times. However, Ristor’s purse was getting close to empty and even if this didn’t involve money, he needed the bar owners good will. So he quickly followed Johann into the office. The door securely closed behind them, Johann spoke.
“Well, my young friend, I may have a lead on some good work for you. Are you interested?”
“I’m always interested if there is coin involved.” Replied Ristor.
“Good. A wealthy merchant has recently come to town. I got word that he is looking for few folks for a short job. I don’t know much about it, but a man like that can pay very well. And knowing more about such a wealthy merchant could benefit all of us. So check it out and make sure you let me know what is happening. Do that and we are even for the information.”
Ristor thought for a moment. “I’m in. Where is he and how do I apply?”
“Good man,” Johann gruffly replied as he reached into his pocket for a small slip of paper. “He is staying at the Delicate Dancer. Where else would such a man stay? Hah! This paper will let you get in there. Otherwise they would never let you in. The meeting is in an hour, you should hurry.”
Ristor quickly pocketed the paper and began the hike to the Delicate Dancer. Perhaps today would turn out to be a good day after all.
Anya was deep into her studies when she heard he patron Skandor calling for her. He had asked her to follow up on some theories in summoning faeries that she was pretty sure would not be good, and she was happy for the break. However, if he was interrupting her assignment, that also meant there might be something urgent. So she hurried to his study. She found him at his desk, holding a slip of paper in his hand. It was hard to tell through his thick beard, but she though she detected a smirk on his face.
“Good morning Anya. Very good morning indeed. Something has come up and I think I have an interesting opportunity for you. Yes, very interesting indeed. It seems a member of the Tremont family has come to town. A Tremont! Can you believe it?”
The news was very surprising indeed. Anya had of course heard of the Tremonts. They were the biggest merchant family in the whole kingdom. Their wealth helped finance the army in difficult times, and they had been instrumental in placing the current Duke in his position after the Fall. Most had assumed Fallwater Bay would be too small a place for such a huge operation, but perhaps that might be changing.
Skandor continued in his usual rapid fire pace, “And it has come to my attention that he is in need of some local help for a small project. I don’t know what he wants, but I am sure he could use a resourceful young woman like you for whatever it is. And I am sure he will pay well. And perhaps you can get some idea of what he actually wants with our town. If the Tremonts intend to move into Fallwater Bay, that will greatly affect my business, and I would like to be ready. If not, maybe they want a local agent. But until I know what they want I can’t respond. So I want you to help Tremont with whatever he needs and I want you to find out what is happening to help me. I am sure the Silver and the experience will help you too. Take this.” He quickly shoved the slip of paper into Anya’s hands. “This is the invitation for the meeting about the job. You need to get there right after lunch, so you should hurray.”
When Skandor did not say anything else, Anya realized he was done with her. She also knew giving him a no would be difficult. On the other hand, this did present a mystery, and Anya couldn’t resist trying to figure the mystery out. That had always been one of her biggest weaknesses.
Their arrival at the Delicate Dancer had not been auspicious. The owner looked down at both of them, and even in her best dress Anya still felt underdressed for such a place. The owner had quickly ushered both of them into a small meeting room and told them to wait. Soon, the door opened and an older man was wheeled into the room. He was older, but not ancient. His robes were made of fine silk, and the rings on his finger were made of gold. He was wheeled in by a large man who obviously acted as both a servant and bodyguard. The gentleman in the chair spoke.
“Hello, I am Alexander Tremont. I had hoped for a few more people, but perhaps you will be enough. I have a small problem that I need addressed quickly. The Tremont family is planning on moving into this area. In light of this, I recently purchased property here. I need that property surveyed to make sure there will be no issues before I try to move in. The building is known as the Brighton Estate.”
Anya and Ristor both recognized that name. It was legendary in Fallwater Bay. Brighton Manor was an abandoned mansion outside of town. No one had lived there in 30 years. Rumors had circulated for years that the last Mr. Brighton had dabbled in dark magic. What was known was that after he disappeared, his two sisters had run the family business into the ground. Finally, someone claiming to be a cousin and the closest male heir had arrived and begun legal proceedings to claim the estate and the remains of the families business. Then one day, all communication with the family had stopped. Eventually, the Sherriff had gone out and found all three dead, cause unknown. The house had eventually been seized by the crown, and with its reputation no one had desired to purchase it. Until now.
Tremont seemed to sense their reaction. “I am aware the building will need extensive work. That is not my concern right now. My main concern is to make certain that the building is safe before I begin moving in. That is what I would like to hire you to do. Survey the entire building, locate any possible dangers, and let me know what you find. If you can do that, I will pay you 10 silver each.”
Anya was the first to speak. “Sir, if you need help with fixing the building, I can recommend some good people. How quickly do you need this done?”
“Well, time is short, which brings me to the second thing. I did bring a servant to check the mansion. His name is Prestor. I sent him out there two days ago, and he hasn’t returned. If he is still alive, I want him rescued. If he is deceased, I need to know. He has been with my family since he was born. Return him alive, and I will pay you an additional 25 silver reward. If you must return his body, I will pay a 10 silver reward for that. So, will you take this job?”
Ristor’s response was immediate. “For that money, sure!” Anya was a bit more reserved, but also accepted the offer. With that Tremont quickly made his farewells, giving them a description of Prestor before he left. The intrepid heroes gathered their things and began the walk to Brighton Manor.
The trip itself was uneventful. This was a path both had trod before. Arriving at the manor, they did a quick reconnoiter of the building, identifying a main entrance that was still closed and two other doors that hung open. After a brief debate, Ristor said, “I prefer to go in through the front door” and that decided them. Cautiously, they opened the front door and worked their way in.
The entrance was full of debris. It was obvious that it had long ago been looted of anything of value. Three passages presented themselves. Front, Left, and Right. Deciding on a Left Hand Rule, they headed down the left hallway first. They saw three doors, one on each side and one at the end. Continuing with their left hand rule, they opened the door to the left, revealing an old library. Most of the room had long ago fallen to rot and mold. But Anya was not willing to risk leaving a book behind. Taking some time, she was eventually able to locate six books still in usable shape. Most were basic treatises about nature. However, one was a discussion of magic theory. Lacking time for deep study, she could only get a rough idea of what it was about. But it seemed to be about necromancy and trying to live forever. That book was quickly pocketed for further study.
Not wanting to be caught from behind, they next checked the door across the hall. This opened into a small office. The windows in this room were intact, and the room itself was left mostly unharmed by the elements. Hanging over the fireplace was a large portrait of an old, fat ugly hag. As they searched the room, they kept getting the strange feeling of being watched. Finally, Out of the corner of her eye Anya saw the eyes move. She moved the portrait itself to make sure there was nothing hidden behind it. Upon closer examination, she noticed that the paint itself had some seriously strange patterns worked into it, which she could tell were magical in nature. Although not certain, the patterns did seem to match some of the drawings from the book she found, and certainly it appeared possible that there was necromancy at work. Not wishing to unleash something, they carefully put the picture back, to be examined at a later time. The desk itself was full of mundane paperwork, and they left it where they found it. They did locate a small hidden chamber with a small silver ring. It was the first item of value they had found.
At the end of the hallway, the door opened into a larger room. A door hung open in the back and the room itself was full of piles of debris. Unfortunately, hiding in that debris were 4 wild dogs, who rushed to defend their territory against the intruders. A brief but vicious fight followed. Anya was wounded by one of the dogs, and responded by unleashing electric death on the animals. Meanwhile Ristor held his own against the beasts, avoiding serious injury and dishing out punishment. Finally, three of the dogs were dead and the fourth fled out the open door. Further searching revealed nothing but the dog’s nest, so the party moved on.
Having searched the left wing, the party now decided to check the rear of the house. In rapid succession they found a dining room, meeting room and kitchen. Only cursory searches were performed of these rooms and nothing of interest was located. Finally, they checked the last room, the scullery. Here they found stairs down and a huge copper boiler. Curiosity getting the better of her, Anya tried to climb into the boiler to see if there was anything inside. Suddenly, the staircase erupted in hideous, tortured screams. Both of the party was horrified at the noise, but both were able to grit their teeth and overcome the fear. It did let them know they needed to hurry. Since the sounds came from below, they decided to go down and see what was there. Lighting a torch, they proceeded down the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs, they found a body. Armed and armored, but the man had clearly been dead for weeks. It was clear the body had been killed in battle and left. The warrior’s purse was cut, but his sword and shield remained. Uncertain what to make of this, the party decided to quickly search. The room was an obvious wine cellar. Although they did not find anything of value, it became clear that some bottles had been very recently removed. Just as they were about to give up, Ristor noticed movement from the back wall. Rushing to the site, he realized there was a hidden door, and that someone had been looking through it. Throwing caution to the wind, he rushed through the door.
On the other side of the door was a huge room, which filled out a lot of the shape of the mansion. This room was well lit, with 10 beds laid out and a large dining table. Standing across from them was a stranger, dressed in work clothes and with a machete at his side. The stranger took off running, and Ristor pursued. Ristor, with an amazing burst of speed, caught him before he could make good his escape. A prolonged scuffle followed, with Ristor pinning the man down and eventually subdued him. In their brief discussions, it became clear that he was not alone and that he knew of Prester. But they could not determine exactly where he was or how many people might be around. The two tied him up and decided to rush through the rest of the house. There were still two doors in the basement to be checked. The first was to an obvious small room, which was quickly searched. It because clear that this was the room of whoever was leading the men here, and gave evidence of some sort of smuggling operation. The most important piece of evidence appeared to be a letter from the smugglers local connection, detailing that there would be one final pick up in a few days and that the smugglers apparently anticipated leaving soon. There was also a locked chest, which Ristor was unable to open. Convinced there was nothing left to find, they checked the final door. There was a sign on the door saying “Danger, stay out” which appeared to have been placed there recently. Ristor opened the door and looked in without stepping through. The floor was littered with debris and bones, many of which looked human. Anya carefully examined the room, again finding patterns in the debris that indicated it might be mystical. After a quick discussion, it was decided that they did not have the resources to tackle the room, so they closed the door. The decision was made to very quickly check the rest of the house, then take their prisoner back to town.
A quick survey of the remaining areas of the first floor revealed that there was likely some serious rot happening on the second floor, as the ceiling was falling in and there was mold. They quickly moved upstairs to search. They decided to quickly check the rotted area first just to be sure it wasn’t dangerous. There were three bedrooms in this wing. The third contained a surprise, as they found a man, stripped to his underwear and left unconscious. Examining him, they found a nasty looking knot on the back of his head. His physical description seemed to match Prester, and after waking him, he did answer to the name. With Prester in their care, the party decided it was time to head to town with their information before the smugglers came in numbers and caught them.
One final quick trip to the basement to collect their prisoner and the party was on its way back to Fallwater Bay. Prester quickly got some clothing for himself from the smugglers gear, and seemed anxious to “help” watch the prisoner. All seemed well as the party continued walking back to town. Prester seemed to lag behind a bit with the prisoner. Suddenly, both Prester and the prisoner, now untied, lunged at the party. Both were suddenly wielding daggers and intent on murder. The prisoner badly missed Anya, while Rister barely avoided a serious injury from Prester. Anya, angry at the betrayal, summoned the last of her magic and, with one huge electric burst, reduced the smuggler to a burnt husk. Seeing this, Prester slashed at her, striking her face and knocking her unconscious. But doing so left him open to Ristor, who cut him down. Ristor was able to bandage Anya up and carry her back to town. He brought her to the sea temple, where he was known, and they were able to give some basic healing to Anya that at least let her wake up and function.
Finally, the two made it back to Tremont, telling him all of what happened. After careful questioning, it became clear that the gentleman who represented himself as Prester was not actually Prester. The party was not sure why he tried to fool the, and he clearly would not be available to answer questions now. Tremont sent runners to find the Sherriff. Several hours passed before he arrived. The party again told him the story. He seemed shocked and concerned at what they found until they showed him the letter from the smugglers contact. At that point, he stopped. Anya noticed his reaction, and could tell he saw something in the letter that they didn’t. The Sherriff brusquely informed them this was official business, placed the letter in his pocket, and left.
So the party is left with many questions and no answers. What of the painting and the magic bones in the house. What is happening with the smugglers? Where is Prester? And why is the Sherriff suddenly acting strangely. They will have to wait until the next session to try and find some of these answers. Their only comfort is that they are 10 Silver richer for their efforts.