With many of our number injured and weakened, our little group returned to civilization in order to exchange some of our hard-earned treasure for the services of the local clergy. Socialized medicine at its finest. As I had been mercifully spared in our last series of engagements, and as both Nasah and Mavrikos had indicated their desire to return to the Academy, I took this opportunity to escort them, and the kobold Xiao Hu, out of the city and back to the Academy via portkey.
I had hoped to learn the Disrupt Undead cantrip from one of my colleagues prior to heading back to the haunted house, but their errands took much less time than I had anticipated. We hence returned to our old haunt (see what I did there?) and proceeded to the western courtyard, where a giant centipede had established domicile. It felt a bit surreal as Samir and I pelted this out-of-place abomination with Rays of Frost and Snowballs while Hasdrubal and Rhialla‘s summoned giant ant kept it at bay. It seems our team really can handle itself when we act as a coordinated whole. Too bad it didn’t last.
After a round of supporting spells from Orfée, we entered the house from the west gate. Samir was the first into the breach, encountering what initially appeared to be a sentient statue in the middle of the inner courtyard. Hasdrubal followed, and disturbed the rest of a dozen of so tiny flying heads, which quickly surrounded us. Thinking fast, and acting ever faster, Eydan cast a Burning Hands spell that fried most of our enemies, and singed a number of our friends.
Having dispatched the immediate threat, our group turned to the inner courtyard, its inhabitant, and its hidden treasures. I noticed too late that the creature was not the spirit of the house it claimed to be, being made out of sand, not stone. It let out an aura that would have us fall into a mystical slumber, but my brethren and I remembered our lessons and managed to focus our will to counteract this effect. All but Hasdrubal who, thinking the danger had passed, rushed headlong into the affected area.
With our front line gone, with me still uninjured, and with my prescient level of understanding of sleep effects offering me a bit more defense against this particular foe’s ability, I attempted to gather her attention. Conveniently, I seemed to remind her of someone she had disliked in a past life, and she focused all her attacks on me. This allowed my companions to wake Hasdrubal, summon a mighty eagle, and concentrate fire on the sand elemental. Hasdrubal finished her off with a mighty punch. And then, everything went to hell. As usual.
While I attempted to scatter the remains of the elemental, and collect a sample, our group scattered throughout the house. Samir picked up a strange ring, Orphée and Hasdrubal picked up the magical crossbow and armour in the inner courtyard, while Rhialla followed her summoned bird into unexplored parts of the house and woke its inhabitants.
The next bit is a bit of a blur. I see Rhialla run back towards us, with a half-dozen skeletons on her tail while two news hauntings take place almost simultaneously: something about securing the front door, and something about a couple of lovers stuck in a story of Capuletic proportions. I think there was something there about the young man being sick. I do not trust my memories here, as it turns out our little elemental friends was simply playing possum and takes this opportunity to blindside me. I am dazed, I am blinded, my concentration snaps and I fall into Morpheus’ arms.
I awake only to be paralyzed by an inhuman shriek. It would seem I owe Samir a great deal of thanks both for dispatching my attacker, and for allowing me to be conscious for the next little bit. It seems a pair of winged heads (I sense a theme) has joined the fray. In front of me, I see Rhialla on the ground, bleeding and Orphée, who seems to have suffered the same fate as me. From behind, I hear only Samir and Eydan. I would later learn that Hasdrubal and Rhialla had also been paralyzed. One of the flying heads approaches the immobile Orphée and kisses her in manner both intimate and gruesome. I try to scream, but no breath leaves my lips. I see the creatures fly towards me, slowly, slowly….
We all owe our lives to Eydan, but I am doubly grateful as he allowed me to be spared the fate which befell Orphée. Gathering his remaining strength, he cast a near-perfect Flaming Sphere which dispatches our remaining foes with supernatural ease.
While we regroup, three more flying heads descend from the top floor – one of which is clearly their leader. It offers us a truce: leave the house and no more blood needs to be shed. We exit, regroup, and heal up. I propose going back and finishing the job, but am outvoted. We hence turn our attention to the crypt.
At the bottom of the stairs, we are ambushed by a pair of misshapen humanoids, one of which grapples with Samir. Orphée has the right idea in casting her Sleep spell, but mistakenly includes Samir in the casting area; fortunately, he saves. I follow her lead with a scroll, but encounter unexpected resistance. I burn a second scroll to get the desired effect, leaving us with but one foe. Dispatching this second threat is humiliatingly difficult, but the universe finally takes pity on us and we succeed.
We continue to explore the crypt, only to be beset by swarms of undead mummified cats. And I thought the giant long-tailed centipede had been a ridiculous foe. They have the advantage of numbers and we can only thin the herd a few kitties at a time. We might have met our match: the Mewling Quims defeated by a bunch of meowing pussies.
However, the killing blow comes from an unexpected source: Hasdrubal. My companions have turned against me! Fortunately, my powers of prediction allow me to turn a killing blow into one that is merely debilitating. I cast a spell of Invisibility I had kept in reserve and return to the entrance of the crypt, where I use my portkey to make my escape back to the Academy.