David shrugged, and opened the door. Runda opened her mouth to stop him, but it was too late. As David made his way inside, Jane smiled apologetically at the old woman and followed him in.
Runda huffed, then looked over to her son. “Well, go on then. May as well see what we can find.”
The four walked into what had once been a grand foyer. A set of stairs, covered with decaying carpet, spiraled up to the next floor. Dust was everywhere, and what little light there was came through grimy, smeared windows. What little furniture was little more than splinters now, someone having gone to some effort to destroy the place.
“Charming,” muttered David. Walking over to the stairs, he waved to Jane, who had just lit a torch she had found in a sconce. “We’ll look around upstairs, why don’t you two see what you can find down here?”
Orson, mimicking Jane, was attempting to light another of the torches. With a grunt, Runda slapped his hand away. “I’ll handle it,” she said. A few archaic words dribbled from her mouth luridly, and the head of her staff came alight with a baleful green glow. “This way,” she ordered, moving towards a nearby hallway.
Upstairs, David and Jane found it as dusty and dreary as the downstairs. A few doors lined the hall they were in, so with a shrug, David went to one at random and opened it.
The room had clearly once been a chapel. Four rows of pews were so much firewood on the stone floor, and strings of cobwebs hung from the corners of the room. Most ominously however was the shattered statue that dominated the room.
“What the hell?” David said, slowly approaching the statue.
It was stone, and had once been easily the size of a large man. Now though it was broken into four or five large chunks, left in a rough pile. It was caked in a flaky, dark substance in spots, which was also spattered against the wall.
“That’s blood.” Jane’s voice was flat, her lips tight. “Statues don’t bleed.”
David looked closer, then recoiled slowly, carefully. “This one did from the looks of it.”
Faint whispers began filling their ears, seeming to come from all directions. Indistinct, or spoken in a langue they didn’t know, neither could make out the words. The tone though was menacing.
“Let’s go back down,” said David, his voice a little shaken.
“Hallways have to go somewhere. Start tapping these walls,” Runda snapped at Orson. The hallway they had entered had no doors or windows, and seemed to go nowhere at all. To taking his maul in hand, he began tapping on the walls every couple of feet.
He was almost at the end when the tone changed. “Mom,” he called.
Runda trundled over and began looking the spot over. “It’s a false wall, but damned if I can see any release. My eyes aren’t what they once were. How about you give it a knock.”
Orson took a step back, then slammed into the wall shoulder first. He loosed a groan, but the wall slid inwards a few inches.
Cackling, Runda slid her staff into the gap and began prying the hidden doorway open. A minute later they were standing in what appeared to have once been a vault. It had been hurridly cleaned out, but a pair of gems glinted green in the light of her staff. A heartbeat later they were in her pouch, quickly followed by a handful of scattered gold that had also been left behind.
Orson put his boot against a rolled up rug in the corner. “Think this rug…”
Without warning the rug flew into the air and tried to wrap itself around Orson. He dodged out of the way just in time, and it flew past him, striking the wall behind him. Without a word, the strongman slammed his maul into the thing, pinning it to the wall. It crumpled, and a faint spark of light whiffed out of it.
Eyes wide, he looked back to his mother. “Maybe we should get the rest of the gang.”
They met back up in the foyer, each group more skittish than they had been before. “We’ll stick together from here on,” said Runda, and no one argued. “I want to see this statue of yours,” she added to David, and set off up the stairs. David looked around for support, his dislike of the idea plain on his face, but the other two were already following.
“It’s an Elder God,” Runda pronounced, after a few moments of inspection. “Like what the Elves worshipped.”
The Elven Wars had only ended twenty or so years ago, and the atrocities that race had committed in the name of their fell deities were still fresh on the collective memory.
David shuddered. “I’d thought that, but hoped it wasn’t the case. If that’s a statue to one of them…”
Runda nodded. “Then yes, our patron’s great grandfather was likely a worshipper.”
Jane squeaked. “Oh.”
Everyone turned, looking at her expectantly.
“I…you saying that, it reminded me. When I was younger, my mother, she told a story of a man, a doctor. They called him Black Revis. He was killed for his crimes, but she never said what his crimes were. Just that if I didn’t behave that Black Revis would come for me.” She frowned. “Funny how I never made that connection before tonight. That Jaccob never mentioned his ancestor.”
“Like as not it’s a point of shame for him,” Runda said. “Nobles only care about their reputations.”
“Well, regardless, a broken statue doesn’t do us any good. Let’s get back to looking,” added Orson.
They wandered through the upstairs, going from room to room. In one, what had once been a nursery, they found strange art, clearly made by children on the walls. But as they stared at it, the subtle wrongness of them became clear, turning their stomachs.
In another room they found the burned ruins of a library. Rummaging through the charred remains of the fired books they discovered a medical guidebook. Upon closer inspection though, they began to suspect it was more a guide to torture than healing, but no one could read the words.
In one bedroom they found blood splatters. In a storage room, a bizarre girls doll, that had been made skeletally thin, with too large eyes. In the servants quarters, they found far, far too many beds, leaving them to wonder why a modest manor like this had required so many workers.
Then, from the windows they saw how the riots had sparked a blaze nearby that was rapidly spreading in their direction. Waiting as long as they could for any more of their friends to show up, they at last reluctantly entered the basement.
“I don’t like this. We should risk the streets,” David said as they descended.
“And get scooped up by Royals?” Runda spat. “We’ll get to the sewers, then down to the docks. Let those of us best equipped to handle the thinking, do so.”
David rolled his eyes, then started lighting himself a torch.