Inside the gate, The trio noted a row of the unliving men along a central path. They yearningly reached their hands forward, intruding upon the walkway itself. Along this path were a pair of gates the lead to small gardens. The gates had no visible lock, and the interiors of these contained more scarecrows, some flowered hedges, a statue of some sort, and an odd colored tree.
Ahead, the three men could see a figure held on high upon a pole. A feeling of dread and wonderment flowed from the dim outline. Jozan inspected a scarecrow that was nearby, discovering the thing had metal joints. Consulting Avaniel, the hunter said he had known of things called scarecrows that existed in the lands of artificers and wizards, but he knew nothing of them.
Jozan stayed behind while Avaniel moved forward. As he came forward, the eyes of all the surrounding scarecrows flared into brilliant flecks of flame. Avaniel found himself spellbound by the oddity. He struggled to move, but was far to curious about the creature before him to lament and danger. Jozan, fearful of what the blazing eyes could portent, called for the others to rush for the second inner gate near the homestead. Saluhul ran quickly past towards the gate, smashing into the scarecrows as he went. Jozan turned back to regard the main path, and he was in shock that two of the scarecrows now reached through the bars of the side garden gates. They stood motionless at present, but the druid was certain they had not been there previously.
Saluhul reached for the gate. He called back that there was another lock. Jozan called to Talei to bring the keys to the High Archer, and it was done in short order. The second gate was unlocked, and he waved the others forward. As Jozan passed Avaniel, he noted that the hunter made no motions to move with the others. He moved back to shake him to his senses. Avaniel looked around in a daze as Jozan ran past one of the creatures. It was then he was struck with a heavy, club-like appendage of the creature.
The strikes of the creature elicited a primal fear within the two men as they exchanged blows with the wooden creature. It swatted about mercilessly upon them as they mustered the courage to retaliate. Across the yard, Saluhul turned to open fire upon the creature. After a few tense moments, the creature fell, and the men rushed hurriedly to the inner gate. They ran by as they crossed the morbid figure they beheld from afar and crossed the gate. Closing it behind them, they paused for a moment. Avaniel was shocled to note the appearance of another scarecrow, this one prone, on their side of the gate.
The men took a moment to look about, trying to spot any who would pose a threat to them. Seeing none, Saluhul moved to open the front entrance of the villa, but Jozan stopped him. Bewildered by an impaled form on the other side of the gate that they passed, Jozan suggested they take a closer look before entering the building. Avaniel and Zephyrpaw were concerned, but they saw no one follwing them. Much information might await them. Avaniel moved to pull the fallen scarecrow away from the gate. The thing lashed out at him in retort, and was promptly ran through and hacked by the three men until it lie in pieces. They men carefully opened the gate and looked upon the display.
It was upon this mark that all came crashing down. Upon a pike was held aloft the corpse of the man which the men sought. He splayed out, impaled, arms stretched to either side. The man in noble’s clothing wore a simple crown of dirtied metal. The design of dress, the crown, and form of the pitiful creature thus put on display felt innately elven.
The faded green and filthy white of the clothing had showed the age of this body well, but it the body itself was oddly well kept. Bandaging was wound tightly where it could be seen upon the dilapidated nobleman. The body.. woe eternal for the body! It was not sufficient the it be held aloft on such a macabre platform, but through the torso were driven three long shards. The vicious barbs were completely through the flesh of the executed. The whole of the scene was silent, but a resonating power was present in the vision alone.
This was Roland Wildweeper. In his dying breath, hoisted upon on high, how filled with divine inspiration had thou been to condemn all those present so that all may hear through lungs deprived of air and drenched of blood. This was what the people of Mercaeus had done, and whether they were saviors of the land from evil or fiendish bastards that set upon a peaceful samaritan’s home, there was nothing noble to be seen on what was left of the patron of Wildweeper Villa.
To the sides were statues of elven women, shattered and broken. It was common practice to destroy the memory of fallen people. Perhaps these were tribute statues to previous Wildweepers. Regardless, these would stand no more. The men began an investigation.
A quick inspection revealed great magic in each of the three shards, and a more powerful, sinister presence about the pike and body itself. The origin of the magic lie concealed from the men, but a quick thought lead them to believe that the shards might be part of a ritual. This would confirm Deras’s suspicion that the old nobleman was being constrained somehow. Cautiously, Jozan moved to pull the shards from the body to no avail. it felt as though trying to rip a great tree from the ground. The men were determined to continue into the villa for more answers.
The men closed the gate once more and stopped in front of the double doors. Next to the adjacent fountains and flower planters, they spotted a translucent form. The spirit had the clothing typical of a gardener, and he appeared to be attending the brush nearby. Avaniel tried to speak with the creature, but it seemed unconcerned by the workings of the world around it. The ranger thought to touch the creature, but thought it a poor idea given his previous experiences with the touch of the undead.
The villa stood imposingly into the sky. It was indeed rivaling the height of the towers that served as the gatehouses to Fort Mercaeus. It sported the same steep roofed design that had been a popular fixture in the noble houses of Northlight. Along the acute angle of the roof, a series of small stone arches produced a path up to a circular plate at the apex of the facade. Upon it was the insignia of a stark, blue colored arrow. The image cut a distinct line, and was probably of significance to the household in some regard. The arrow pointed skyward.
The first floor of the front of the structure had a multitude of windows the were easily the height of two tall men, but azure curtains that were drawn over the glass prevented clear view of the interior. The white stone of the house was split into two and accented by borders of an earthen brown. The upper floor had a protruding ledge that allowed not enough room to walk upon, but enough to casually lean upon as one could study the surrounding land from the upper windows. These were presented in trios, three arches with the center stretching taller than the other pair around it. The first floor windows had small outcroppings as well, shingled things that gave depth to the whole structure.
The carved wood of the door prominently showed a variety of winged figures about the edge of the wood, and it waited patiently for the companions to open it and venture within.