Rasennan Summer

74 - Entering Lucovol Villa

The blades reach the haunted villa of House Vargari.

“You don’t want to take them out all at once. You want to savor it.” —Vesper Sespech

The White Hollow villagers are happy to see the group return safely, but the celebration is quite conservative. Like most townsfolk in Maviolo, the locals are careful to remember that there may be further threats out in the night. Mistress Pelorin offers them some of her better vintages as part of the town’s thanks; Vittorio selects a few of the best vintages to save for later, while Brosetta drinks more for quantity.

The group rests the night and recovers their strength. In the morning, Barcolo goes out on patrol to look for more ogres. Vesper recommends that the group not leave until they hear back from the huntsman. They wait for Barcolo’s return, and learn about the ruin at the crossroads to the north. Apparently troops often camp there when traveling to and from the border fort. Barcolo returns after a couple of hours, and reports that he could find no sign that more than four ogres haunted the town.

The group leaves in mid-morning, their bags weighed down with extra gifts of food and drink. They reach the crossroads in the afternoon, and make camp there; they have no desire to push on and visit the haunted villa after sundown. Vittorio casts a peculiar ritual, summoning invisible eyes to watch over their camp. They set watches as well, but are unmolested that night.

The next morning Vesper draws a map of Lucovol Villa, marking out the rough placement of structures as best she could discern from her studies. With the threat of blood-fevered ogres, it seems best to avoid the main gate. They discuss the possibility of entering the walled villa through one of the sally ports that the Vargari were likely to have built. They decide against the northern tower, as it’s too near the graveyard, and Vesper suspects the anger of the dead will be strongest there.

They set out shortly thereafter, determined to reach the villa while there’s still sunlight. The road to the villa is poorly maintained but not fully overgrown, shaded as it is by the thick Maviolan forest. Eventually ivy-covered milestones adorned with eroded wolf carvings tell them they’re drawing close. The forest grows increasingly quiet, and it’s easy to imagine the smell of blood.

From a hill they’re able to look down into the Lucovol valley. Though the forest obscures many details, the gatehouse is visible down the road. Even at a distance they can see the body sprawled in the open archway — too large to be human.

They decide to move around the north wall, pushing through heavy forest to avoid detection, and search for a way in at the eastern tower. Carenza’s study of fortifications pays dividends — although sheltered by a tree’s roots and half-covered by earth, she swiftly finds a sally-port. She and Brosetta excavate the door, and force their way in. It opens a musty tunnel to the bottom of the east tower.

They ascend the old stone stairs to the top of the east tower and look out over the villa grounds. The signs of bloodshed both old and new dot the villa, bits of bone and rusted metal in thick grass, and a few more recent corpses — including an ogre that seems it has been partially butchered for food. Signs of movement come from the nearby stable.

Despite Brosetta’s size and general inexperience with subtlety, the group manages to sneak up on the stables. There they find more ogres, in a strange state of glassy-eyed fatigue. The four move quickly to engage, and start scoring hits before the ogres can react.

Brosetta holds the center of the stable battlefield while the other concentrate their fire, picking off the closest one. One of the larger ogres leaves the stable, slips around the building, and attacks Vesper from behind. But Vittorio comes to the necromancer’s aid, toppling the ogre with an enspelled quarrel. Vesper leaps over its awkward weapon swing and darts out of the stable, and Carenza helps pin the creature down. It rises to its feet, it doesn’t hold them for very long before the group finishes it.

Vittorio dashes past the fallen ogre, scrambling up a ladder to the second-story hayloft. From there he fires more bolts into the fray. Even fighting defensively, Brosetta takes a fair amount of punishment before the remaining ogres fall. The death of the last ogre gives the group a moment to bind their wounds and regain their focus before exploring further.

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