The naked party entered the House of Usher for warmth and protection. They met the caretaker and the butler, who didn’t seem too strange except that they didn’t know what area they lived in or what their names were. They supplied the party with ill-fitting clothing, and set up rooms for them to stay in until the next day.
The party went through a worn and tired looking house, filled with frayed rugs and torn couches. Suits of armor stood in some of the corners but they were all worn out, bearing only spears. Unsafe staircases bore them upstairs where they met their first ghost.
The ghostly woman in a brown dress stood in the staircase. Her eyes bled a black ichor. She implored the party to follow her. The butler didn’t seem to notice her as he led the way. She continued to wave them forward, up and to the north wall, which she then passed through and vanished. Was there something up north outside the house?
The butler divided the party among five bedrooms. They found more worn and wrong-sized clothing but made do. They cannibalized some of the furniture to make clubs and pocketed butter knives for weapons.
Most of the party then went on to the library where they found little satisfaction in finding any answers. They learned about the Usher family line but the details were either vague or omitted. Rah found a very rudimentary map. The library also had a bizarre, twisted gallery of original paintings. There were also drawings done by hand, set out on the table. Spooky stuff.
Then the party went to sleep only to be woken by horrifying dreams. Each person had a different dream, but in the end, each dream had the same antagonist, a strange, ghostly woman in a white dress. She was angry and in some cases violent, eyes burning. None of the dreams sat well with the party members. Maka actually thought they were messages from the gods. It was time to leave.
With quick notice, the party members tied sheets together and climbed out their respective bedroom windows. They didn’t bother telling the butler or the Usher’s but did ransack their outdoor shed. They grabbed a wide variety of old, worn, garden tools to use as weapons. K’em picked up an ax. They also found a set of oars, probably for a raft seen outside near the lake.
They decided to try the road first traveling its cool, dark path for about an hour. They heard nothing for most of the trip but then heard a large thing crashing, and malevolently laughing, through he dead trees, coming toward them. They started running away from the sound, unhindered by armor. They lost their pursuers and came upon a light, set back from the road. Approaching they found the familiar scenery of House Usher. The exact same house rose before them. So either they were traveling in a circle, which did not seem the case, or…
They decided to try the boat. Seeing little else in the near pitch darkness, the party piled into the boat and pushed out into the tarn. The water looked black, and the stars were hidden behind a sheet of grey clouds. They traveled by torchlight. They made their way toward the northern beach and unloaded. Then they saw a light up the hill and hoped that it wasn’t Usher house again. They started making their way toward the light and found a straight path, opened up for them. The ground was churned up as if the trees along the path had all been pulled up. The hill climbed steeply and the loose dirt slowed travel but the party ascended directly toward the house. As they approached, they heard thrashing sounds from behind them. Something pursued them up the hill but the party didn’t wait to find out what it was. Then a woman’s voice rang out, calling the party inside the small hovel – the source of the light.
The woman’s name was Lucy and she ushered the party inside and blocked the door. The movement and sounds outside lessened and eventually stopped. The house was apparently some kind of safe haven. Lucy told of being there for months on end without attack. She listened to the party’s tale, how they came to be in Xura. Then she gave her own tale, which was different from theirs’ except that she was also brought there by magic.
She then told them of other travelers, a couple, that came searching for answers. They were looking for a “woman in the north.” Lucy said that by her own dreams and experiences, that these people were actually looking for a particular tree. She led the people to the tree and then they apparently left. The party expressed interest in seeing the tree as well, and so, led by Lucy, the party braved the outside once again.
Bearing torches, the party followed a thin, wavy path to the west. Half an hour later they came upon a clearing with an ancient tree in its center. Lucy went around and started lighting torches. Threep approached the tree and noticed carvings on the tree but then saw bones at its base, including two human skulls. Looking back at the carvings, Threep saw one that looked like a woman’s face.
The face started taking on color, started looking like a real woman’s face. The party feared a Dryad but sensed no evil from the tree, or the woman whose full form became more apparent.
“Do I know you?” The She-tree asked in a loud but pleasant voice. It then gave a sad face and said “Pleae, do what you must.”
It was now that Lucy interrupted, telling the she-tree that she wanted to “leave this place.” She complained about how unfair things were and that “these creatures” referring to humans, received special treatment.
“You stay,” The She-tree said to Lucy. “You must face the consequences.”
Lucy then turned on the party and revealed her diabolic reality. She raised her clawed hands and the skin of the adventurers began to vibrate and tingle, as if millions of small pins were pricking their flesh. Several thin, wispy, crimson strands floated out from their own bodies. The strands floated through the air like thin ribbons and collected in Lucy’s outstretched claws. Their own lifeblood was being siphoned off through hundreds of small holes in their skin. They were being drained. The blood pooled in Lucy’s hands and flowed down her arms into her open mouth.
The party began literally losing strength. They started attacking Lucy with fire and weapons, gaining meager results. Lucy was very powerful. Many of the party’s crude weapons broke, as their attacks grew feeble.
The She-tree turned to the ax-wielding K’em and said, “You have the tool, use it… use it now.” The party quickly reached a consensus and K’em struck the tree with a heavy blow. What looked to be some kind of white goo shot forth from the wound. More blows produced more goo. It looked less like a substance after closer examination, having no shape, shading or shadow of its own. Threep attempted to gather the stuff in his hand, only to be held fast; the slightest contact with the White held matter in an unbreakable hold. K’em too was held fast as the White covered his feet.
Meanwhile the fight against Lucy sputtered and the smaller party members faced impending doom. Even the forest had turned against them, sealing off any escape.
As Threep and K’em began sinking into the expanding White, others decided to join in the milky bath, diving in. All party members then followed suit. All were enveloped in the white until there was only the white. Everything else faded. Their last sight was seeing the white spray hit Lucy, and fall off.
For minutes the only thing seen was white. It was as if their eyes had been plucked out still seeing, then dropped into a vat of milk. Colors started forming then shapes. Bam! The party fell upon the hard wood floors of their room in the Inn, back in the City of Giants. All of their prior equipment, and the equipment of other adventurers, fell upon them as well.
It took days to regain their strength, and so the party waited there at the Inn. Miridon Identified all the new items and the party divided the loot. Perhaps in the future the party will be blessed with fewer life or death decisions.