8 Pharast, 4715 – Day 3: House of Pentheru: 0800
Approaching the back door in the outdoor pantry where Xenya encountered the spider, the Scarabs prepare to enter the house. Based on the encounter at the gate the group checks the door for all manner of traps and magic but find nothing. Elsin opens the door and there is no reaction so the group enters what appears to be a kitchen. There is a skeleton with a rusted dagger wedged in its ribs, but the group determines it is one of the helpless souls who died when the rioters attacked the house and is not undead, so the group does not disturb the body.
Proceeding from the kitchen, the Scarabs slip through an entry foyer and into a small dust-filled dining room. Beyond this room is what looks like a larger dining area and off to the group’s left appears to be a large central courtyard which has collected the remains of a collapsed roof. The group decides to check out the larger dining room and enter to find a large polished marble top dining table across from the eastern door while a smaller simple stone table sets slightly off to the right. Any chairs have long since rotted away and is now part of the dust and debris scattered about the room.
For the first time the Scarabs get a sense of dread and unease as they lay eyes on a truly horrible scene. On the large table are six silver platters, each holding a silver chalice. Balanced on each chalice is a clean, polished skull, the horrid visage of each severed head staring straight at the party as they enter. If the sight alone was not frightful enough, they are taken aback as each head levitates from its perch to hover midair, teeth chattering as the jaws chomp in anticipation. The party draws weapons and prepares itself for an anticipated attack, waiting to see what the skulls will do.
The wait is not long, as the first head flies across at Elsin, who barely ducks the attack causing the rotted skull to shatter against the wall behind him. Rising back up Elsin fires his bow but misses and the fight is on as the floating heads attack in a continuing swarm, but the heroes are able avoid their bites and effortlessly swats them from the air, destroying the flying undead. With the skulls defeated, the party claims the plates and chalices as a reward.
The party sees a large room up ahead with a staircase leading up and decide to investigate. Sand and dust coat the floor while the perimeter of the room is littered with decay wood, disintegrating fabric, and shattered pottery. The group splits up and studies the various corners of the room and in the back corner Elsin finds a ring. As he picks it up, it sets off a haunting vision which the entire party witnesses. A scene of a distraught young man and a beautiful young woman. He is distraught because he has lost an engagement ring. She tells him that it not the right time to tell her family of their engagement plans because of the plague. He pleads for her to come with him to safety but she refuses to leave her family. The last image is the sight of the woman touching his forehead and saying that he is feeling very hot and seems to have a fever.
After the vision plays out the others find a silver anklet with gems and charms, a tarnished silver serving tray and a small ornate gold-plated vase which seems to have escaped the fate of the pottery in the room. Xenya also warns the party that the next room over seems to be the main entrance to the house and there are four immobile skeletons standing in armor as if on guard. The party draws weapons and prepares defenses. Farek enters the room and at first nothing happens but as he reaches the center of the foyer a female voice suddenly calls out as another haunt is activated. The voice cries out in Ancient Orsiriani, but oddly is understandable by all, “They’re inside! Protect the family!” With that the skeletons animate and attack.
In addition to dealing with the undead creatures, the Scarabs also face a more troublesome danger, a lesser confusion spell effect is active in the foyer and the party has to avoid attacks from other party members who are under the effect of the spell. The battle is a struggle but eventually the skeleton guards are defeated and Farek is able to escape the effects of the spell long enough to channel enough positive energy to neutralize the haunt.
In the midst of the battle in the foyer, Janisa stumbles into the inner courtyard at the center of the house and a sand spirit rises up and introduces herself as Heshsharu, the lady of the house. She asks the party who they are and laments her fate as she longs to know what it feels to be mortal, after a mere pause she adds “again.” Xenya who has finally shaken the effects of the confusion from her mind senses something odd and speaks to Janisa in Auran, Although she does not understand what is said, Heshsharu recognizes another elemental language and cries out in frustration and unleashes its sleep aura, causing Farek and Janisa to fall to the spell.
Elsin immediately moves to wake the two sleeping adventurers as Xenya tries to deal with the elemental creature which has transformed its appearance from a beautiful maiden into a horrid medusa. Xenya activates her elemental assault ability and attacks the sand elemental, dishing out significant damage with her fists. With the sleeping heroes now awake everyone joins in the fight and the sandman is surrounded and killed, largely by an onslaught of elemental fury from Xenya’s hands. With the creature defeated, the heroes find several pieces of treasure buried in the piled sand throughout the room.
Leaving the courtyard, the Scarabs next find themselves in a small shrine which appears to have been defaced by someone. By studying the hieroglyphs on the wall, the party determines the shrine is dedicated to Abadar, Pharasma and Sarenrae. Farek convinces the group to clean and restore the altar to its undamaged positions and setup. After restoring the altar, the group cuts through a indoor privy to examine the last room on this level. In the privy they find a headless skeleton sitting on one of the seats, but they determine it is non an undead and leave it be.
The final room the Scarabs investigate on this level appears to be a ancient bath as there is a large tiled pool in the center of the room. The room is decorated with images of running water and aquatic creatures and a tarnished bronze spigot juts from the wall of the northeast corner. Although once a luxurious room in the days before the plague, now the room is much like the others of the house, filled with sand and debris and centuries of neglect. A lone stone door in the southeast corner seems to lead back outside and Farek quickly confirms this by opening and closing the door. Janisa discovers that the spigot radiates magic and further investigation finds that the spigot creates water for the pool which in the past allowed the residents to bathe or relax, but now only serves to create a muddy sludge in the tiled basin.
With the first floor completely searched, the party moves back into the staircase room and note that this time there are no visions or haunts. They prepare to ascend to the second level, by taking healing potions for those who are seriously wounded.