The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night

The Ravenloft Files, Vol. 23, Chapter Six, Arisen from the Dead

When the magic of the rings was enabled, a ghostly entity rose up from the badly mauled woman, wearing an expression of great sorrow and perhaps some resentment at having been killed in such a grizzly manner. With some trepidation as evidenced by the barely discernable quiver in his voice, Ladislav steeled his nerves and began posing questions directed at the disembodied spirit…

Excerpts from

The Journal of Jareth Ambrose

(Continued from) Thursday, March 16th, 745 B.C.

It has been almost seven weeks since we left the comfort of the manor house behind, though to be honest it feels as though it has been much longer. And while I left this place with high hopes of somehow returning to my home world, I will admit that when I once again set eyes upon this creaky old manor, centered in this dismally gloomy bog, I was truly filled with a great sense of relief. And yet, I find myself still wondering if this is only a dream, some kind of delusion, or an elaborately cruel hoax played upon us by the capricious and sadistic nature of the Mists.

Nevertheless, after seven hellish weeks spent in the realm of G’Henna, I will gladly take what I can get of this place, and no longer will I be so eager to abandon its meager accommodations, which by comparison are undeniable luxuries. I realize now that perhaps my expectations were far from realistic and that, considering the possible alternatives, I would be fortunate to call Mordent my home for the remainder of my days.

I also feel confident in stating that my companions, at this time, are of the same mind as me and are truly glad to be back at the manor. And, indeed, the servants we left behind, and our two dogs, were also very delighted to see us once again. Unfortunately, we left them in a rather precarious situation when we began our most recent adventure, with little idea of when or even if we would return. I am sure there is much to get caught up on concerning local events. But after such an eventful day, and a lengthy entry into my journal, which I felt so compelled to write down while my thoughts were still fresh, I am quite exhausted and feel the comforts of my own bed calling out to me. So I will now gladly turn in for the night, and pray that in the morning when I wake, I will still be here in my room.

Friday, March 17th

All in all, it has been, for the most part, a rather pleasant first day back in Mordent. Most of us slept in late I believe. But when we finally got up and around, we began to hear of how things have been going in our absence. The servants informed us of some much needed supplies around the manor as well as a few minor items that need our attention.

But after taking inventory of these things, we turned our attention to the one grim task we knew we had to deal with as soon as possible – the two dead bodies in Ladislav’s portable hole. Remembering how superstitious the residents of Mordent are about such things, including our servants, we informed them of the situation and immediately took the appropriate steps to follow the local customs. Once we had done all that was necessary to avoid upsetting the servants, which included storing the bodies in our cellar, Ladislav used a set of magic rings that we had taken from the deceased necromancer, and used them to cast a spell that allowed him to speak to the departed spirit of the dead woman…

…It lasted for several minutes and I must say, it was indeed a most unsettling experience, though one, I suppose, we should by now be somewhat mentally prepared for. Still, the disembodied spirit answered all the questions put to it and we learned that she was simply the wife of a baker in the city of Zhukar and her name was Olga Petrovna. We assumed she was of no direct relation to the High Priest of Zhakata who once ruled the realm of G’Henna and was likewise named Petrovna.

Ladislav’s final question, one that in hindsight he may have regretted asking, though he tried not to show it when he heard the response, was whether or not she had any last requests. The woman’s spirit answered by asking Ladislav to inform her son what had happened to her. Considering the fact that the domain of G’Henna had apparently broken apart and we had no idea what became of its residents, this request was one that would be difficult to fulfil if not impossible, and thus the reason for Ladislav’s momentarily pained expression.

Once the ordeal was over, and the woman’s spirit returned to wherever it had been summoned from, we discussed what to do next with the bodies. Obviously with the necromancer’s body, we would give it a proper burial in the small graveyard we had begun near the manor. But the band was somewhat torn on what to do with the woman’s body. We knew that it was within our power to bring the woman back from the dead and one of the main reasons Ladislav had done the speak with dead spell was to see if the woman was of any importance. Presumably, had the woman been of any importance, it would have made our decision to resurrect her that much easier. But after having learned that she was essentially a “nobody”, some of us now found ourselves in a moral dilemma, since we could not easily justify not bringing her back simply because she was a mere commoner.

The sense of growing guilt in my companions was palpable, and when they began to apply their conscience and reasoning to the problem, saying things like, “We could have saved her,” and “It will only expend a small amount of power from the rod of resurrection”, it quickly became quite evident what the final decision would be. So it was just a short while later when Ladislav used the rod of resurrection to bring Olga Petrovna back to life.

We realized, of course, that poor Olga would likely be traumatized by the whole experience. So Ladislav did his best to explain things to her and offered to help her and watch over her as she came to terms with all that she had been through and all that she had lost. We had a room in the manor prepared for her and we told her she was welcome to stay there as long as she liked. We even tried to come up with some suggestions on what she might do with her second chance at life. Though I also have some concerns on how the servants might react to her in the coming days, considering their superstitious beliefs and their fear of ghosts.

As for the body of the necromancer, we will have a simple burial for it tomorrow. Once all of this had been settled, a few of us took a trip into Mordentshire to tend to some business. I, of course, headed directly to my shop to see how things were getting along there.

To my disappointment, I discovered that in the last month or so, the book keeping there had become disorganized and poorly managed while some of the inventory was missing or unaccounted for. As a result, my shop had made no profits whatsoever during this time. But I suppose that is to be expected if I am to take such an extended leave from the business without a proper manager in charge. Still, I was not too terribly upset and, in fact, I rather enjoyed spending a few hours about town visiting and chatting with friends and acquaintances. By the end of the day, and following a pleasant ride in our carriage back to the manor, I was in a fine mood when we all sat down for diner, and afterwards had some nice conversation by the fireside.

I think we have agreed to spend some of our recently acquired wealth on refurnishing several of the rooms of the manor where the previous owner had sold off quite a bit in order to make ends meet. Some of us are also considering spending some money on businesses in town to further strengthen our ties to the community and give us something more to fall back on in times of need. Redwald has also proposed building a gunsmithy near the manor as well so he can fashion his own guns and ammunition.

Friday, March 31st

It has been two weeks since our return to Mordent and during this time we have accomplished quite a bit. Several of the rooms in the manor have been refurnished and I must say that the place has undoubtedly regained much of the grandeur it once certainly had. Redwald’s gunsmithy is nearly complete. Soon he will be spending much of his time there, I am certain.

Vance has also purchased an alchemist shop in town. So, when he is not busy training with Sir Isaac, he spends much of his time at the shop learning what he can of the business there. We are told that Sir Isaac has accepted Vance as Knight of the Shadows and a candidate for membership in the Circle. But he must wait until the annual meeting of the Circle in mid-summer before it can be official.

We were all pleasantly surprised tonight, when Sir Isaac appeared unannounced at our door with an unexpected guest. It turned out to be Vance’s sister Shayla, whom we had not seen in more than two years. It was in Il Aluk that the rest of us briefly met her as she helped us to escape a band of shady characters we believed to be members of the Kargat. She had suddenly appeared from out of nowhere and a short while later she was just as suddenly gone again.

This time, however, we got to spend more time with her and learned that, perhaps not so coincidentally, she too was a Knight of the Shadows. This fact explained much about our brief encounter with her the first time we met. She told us that most of her efforts have been in dealing with the Kargat and so most of her time is spent in Darkon. She, of course, being a native of that land does not need to worry about the memory altering effects of the land. Naturally, when she heard about Vance’s application to the Circle, she had to come visit and lend her support for Vance’s induction.

During Shayla’s visit, Scar and I also made the announcement to the rest of the band that we have made an offer to the owner of the Beached Mermaid Inn in Mordentshire, to purchase his establishment. He wanted some time to consider our offer, but we feel confident he will not turn us down. Assuming that all goes as planned, we have begun making further plans to make a few changes that we hope will improve the business. Among those plans is to offer a job to Olga as a barmaid.

She has made progress in her recovery, but we believe it would do her good to find work and become more active and useful once again. Perhaps if she does well enough, she can be trained for a managerial position at the inn, which would be nice since she has shown herself to be very grateful for what we have done for her. I feel she is someone we could put our trust in.

Wednesday, May 31st

At last, it appears we are ready to set out on the road again. All our preparations, I believe, had been dealt with and the time is right. My businesses are doing well, both the shop and the inn. Vance’s alchemy shop is likewise doing well and Redwald, of course, has been busy making firearms, both for himself and others, in addition to all the ammunition they need.

Olga has come along nicely and there are several regulars there who have grown accustomed to seeing her and look forward to it. They have become for her like a second family and I feel that at times she can almost forget about the loved ones she has lost. Still, I know, she often wonders what has become of them and dreams about seeking them out someday. But she would not know where to begin and she is definitely not the adventurous type. So it appears she is starting to realize that she will have to make do with what she can find here.

Tomorrow then, we will all set out together, including Sir Isaac. But along the way, some of us will go our separate ways for a time. Redwald will stop at Port-a-Lucine and visit with family, while he tends to some business. He plans to spend about a month there.

The rest of us will continue on to Il Aluk where Scar and I will spend a couple of weeks. I need to search for spells there and Scar hopes to sell a few magic items.

Ladislav, Vance and Sir Isaac will then go on to the misty borders of northern Darkon where Sir Isaac will show them where to find a particular Mistway that will lead them to an island domain called Nidala. Once in Nidala, Ladislav will visit a city called Touraine, while Vance and Sir Isaac continue on into the domain of Avonleigh, where it is said the sun never shines. It is there in a dense forest of perpetual gloom, known as the Phantasmal Forest, that the Circle meets every year on Midsummer’s Day. And it is there that Vance hopes to be officially accepted into the Circle.

Tuesday, June 27th

Vance and Ladislav finally retuned today and told us of their interesting journey to Nidala and Avonleigh. As expected, Vance is now an official member of the Circle. I won’t bother to write down much of what they told us, and in fact, there was much that Vance was not allowed to talk about concerning his first meeting with the Knights of Shadow. But he did mention a few things worthy of note. He told us that the current leader of the Circle is a man known simply as Caesar, though I am certain that is not his real name. Apparently he is an old man and is not expected to be around for much longer. So there has been some talk of who might succeed him, and many seem to think it will be an Outlander by the name of Gondegal.

Tuesday, October 3rd

Today we received a letter from Vance’s sister, Shayla. She has requested our assistance in a matter concerning an old man named Hans Defoe and his daughter Annabelle, whom she and Vance are acquainted with. Originally from the city of Nartok in Darkon, where Vance and Shayla grew up, they fled the land, believing their lives are in danger, and are currently hiding out at an inn in the Lamordian village of Neufurchtenburg.

According to them they are being stalked by a band of insane killers for reasons unknown, although Shayla believes it could be the Kargat who are after them. The old man and his daughter wish to flee to the city of Pont-a-Museau in Richemulot where they hope to elude their pursuers and possibly make a new start. Shayla wants us to help them and safely escort them to their intended destination. She explains that she is unavailable to do this herself, as she is currently working undercover on another matter concerning the Kargat and does not want to blow her cover and abandon her investigation.

We, of course, have agreed to help Vance and his sister in this matter, and are sending word on ahead of us to let Shayla know we are on our way. We will be taking our carriage there, hoping it will be easier to transport our two charges, even though the pace will be slow. We will head out tomorrow.

Friday, October 6th

After three days of travel in our carriage, while Redwald rode alongside on his horse, we finally arrived in the village of Neufurchtenburg. In an effort to remain discreet, Vance then used his cloak of the bat and flew in bat form, to the address of the boardinghouse where Shayla is currently staying. There, he discussed with his sister more details about the case, which he later related to us, and afterwards flew back.

According to Vance, Hans Defoe is a respected violin teacher and until recently, his daughter Annabelle was engaged to marry another musician. Unfortunately, Annabelle’s fiancé recently drowned when he apparently fell overboard from a riverboat.

But the Defoes say that this was no accident and are insistent that mysterious assassins are after them as well. They say that they have seen these mysterious men trailing them and claim that someone took a shot at Hans with a crossbow. Shayla says that the local constabulary investigated the matter and were unable to uncover any evidence of such a threat. They have ruled the death of Annabelle’s fiancé to be accidental. But Shayla, who has known the Defoes since childhood, believes their story.

She told Vance that the Defoes were currently staying at the Broken Horseshoe Inn and gave him the room number. So we came up with a plan to sneak them out of the inn with little chance of being detected. After parking our carriage about a block away from the inn, Vance and Redwald walked to the inn, while I followed behind invisibly. Ladislav and Scar stayed with the carriage. When we got to the inn, Vance and Redwald kept the front door open long enough to allow me to follow in behind. They then went to the bar and had a couple of drinks, while I went upstairs and found the room. After dismissing my invisibility spell, I knocked on the door and when someone responded, I introduced myself saying I had been sent by Shayla.

Hans opened the door and let me in. I saw then that he appeared to be a frail old man, while his daughter was young and delicate, perhaps nineteen years of age. Clearly, neither of them was of the adventuring kind. Initially, they were a bit suspicious of me. But I was able to convince them to trust me and I told them to gather their things. I explained to them the plan and when they were ready, I used a dimension door spell and took them directly to the carriage. By this time, Vance and Redwald had already returned to the carriage. So we immediately climbed inside and took off. Before long, we were well outside of the village and feeling quite certain that no one could have followed us.

After a mile or so, we pulled to the side of the road and made camp using the tents we had brought along. Naturally, we will be on watch tonight and as an added precaution I have cast an alarm spell.

Saturday, October 7th

We got through the night last night with no difficulties and no disturbances. Hopefully, no one is aware that the Defoes have left their room at the inn and we have eluded any possible pursuers. After a quick breakfast, we resumed our travels and a short while later crossed over the border entering Dementlieu and were well on our way to Port-a-Lucine.

Along the way, a few of us took the opportunity to ask the DeFoes some questions and hear from them their version of events. While they were able to add some details here and there, it still remained a mystery why they were being hunted. The best that we could come up with was the possibility that Annabelle’s fiancé had heard or witnessed something incriminating and that those who were after them assumed that Hans and Annabelle had knowledge of it.

Whatever the case, we managed to travel the entire day with no sign of any trouble or pursuers. When we were approaching Port-a-Lucine, we became concerned that we might run into trouble inside the city where there could be spies hiding among the populace. So we decided to stop at a country inn just about a mile away from the city. Fortunately, the inn was completely vacant. So we got to choose which rooms we wanted and set up the arrangements to our liking.

We have rented four adjacent rooms, one of which we have given to the DeFoes. Two of them will be occupied by those of us not on watch, and the fourth room we are keeping the door open so we can constantly observe the hallway, while two of us are always on guard duty. We will switch out the guard duty throughout the night as usual. And again, I have set up an alarm spell.

Sunday, October 8th

Well, despite all our precautions, we have allowed our two charges to be kidnapped. As I am writing this, we are currently headed back to the village of Neufurchtenburg to try and rescue them. But let me start at the beginning of the day:

We managed to get through the night last night with no problems and no sign of any intruders. It appeared as if we would be able to continue on our way without difficulty. But perhaps we were a bit overconfident.

In hindsight, we clearly should have gotten the horses and carriage ready before allowing the DeFoes to leave their rooms. But they had been cooped up in their rooms for so many days now and were very anxious to leave. So none of us gave it much thought when, following our breakfast, we all stepped out of the inn together and headed towards the stables.

Suddenly we found ourselves under attack. First, two men shot at us from the rooftops with crossbows. Then several more men came charging out from around a few corners and attacked with swords. Redwald struck one of the assailants on the roof with one of his pistols, and afterwards both of these men retreated and were never seen again. But the men with swords continued to attack.

We herded Hans and Annabelle back inside the inn, while Ladislav followed them and watched as they went and inside one of the rooms, slamming the door shut behind them. I too retreated back a bit to keep an eye on things, while the others battled against our enemies. But then Ladislav and I found ourselves under attack from a couple of more men who had gotten inside the inn. While we dealt with them, some of our attackers were beginning to drop outside in the courtyard.

By the time we had dispatched the two inside the inn, some of our foes outside the inn were beginning to withdraw, apparently having lost the will to fight after seeing some of their comrades fall. I turned to help my companions there, while Ladislav went to check on the DeFoes. When Ladislav got to their door he heard the sound of some commotion going on inside. He called out to them to open the door, but he got no response. The door was locked, so Ladislav ran into a room next door and looked out the window. There, much to his surprise, he saw four men running away at a very rapid pace, and two of them were carrying the limp bodies of Hans and Annabelle.

By the time Ladislav was able to report to the rest of us what he had seen, the kidnappers were already so far away that there was no hope of catching up to them. The rest of the assailants however, had all either fallen by now, or were running away themselves. Redwald chased after one of them and got him to surrender at gunpoint. Of the ten men who attacked us with swords, we managed to capture three of them alive, although two of these men were unconscious. Two of the men got away however, not including the four kidnappers, or the two with crossbows.

We questioned the men that we captured and it did not take much to get them to talk. They claimed that each of the men was paid handsomely to help capture “the old coot and his daughter” as they put it. They said they had most of their dealings with the four kidnappers and that they would meet at an old windmill a few miles northeast of Neufurchtenburg. But one of them said he had overheard the name of their true employer, a man by the name of Emil Bollenbach.

When Ladislav heard this name, he could hardly believe his ears. Emil Bollenbach, he explained to us, was the name of the mad scientist that the orphanage master, Wackford Squeers, had sold him and another kid to when they were just boys. But according to all that he had been able to learn about him, Bollenbach should be dead. In fact, even Dr. Van Richten told him so.

Dr. Van Richten had apparently worked with Bollenbach many years ago in an effort to hunt down flesh golems that were running amuck in Lamordia. But soon after Bollenbach discovered that a professor that he admired was responsible for some of these golems, his mind apparently snapped and he became convinced that the only way to stop these golems was to build a super-golem to defeat them. During a battle with one of these golems, the mad professor’s lab exploded and it was presumed that Bollenbach had died, in the explosion.

Several years later, however, Bollenbach reemerged and lured Dr. Van Richten into a trap, where he then attempted to transfer Van Richten’s mind into a super-golem that he had created himself. Thanks to the aid of some of the good doctor’s allies, Bollenbach’s plan was thwarted and the doctor was rescued. During the battle that occurred, it was again presumed that Bollenbach perished.

Could it be that Bollenbach has once again risen from the dead? There are other questions that concern me as well. We realize now that the four kidnappers used magic to help make their swift escape. But I still have to wonder how the kidnappers were able to locate Hans and Annabelle so quickly when they fled to the room and how they seemed to know just what to do in order to get away. Perhaps some kind of magic was involved there as well.

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