The companions returned to Wildweeper Villa. After entering the atrium of the mansion, they called to Caretaker Marsley to guide them once more to the records stored at the study. The fiendish counting continued again, and would slowly, arduously continue as Avaniel looked at the records stored. Marsley suggested looking at the records around the birth of Avaniel, and it was no surprise that no Cerellions had ever been guests to the mansion.
It was at this time that Avaniel got the feeling Marsley had noticed something about him or his surname, but he was unable to pry the information from the undead servant. Jozan looked around, opening doors that the adventurers might more easily see danger if it approached. Avaniel asked why names were repeated in the guest log. Marsley replied that guests present at the Villa’s fall had to have their permission renewed to travel about the stairwell. He secretly told Avaniel that the names in both the residents records and guest records allowed the listed people free reign to go upstairs through the alarm turned barrier. He also said that although the family Wildweeper was written in as residents, no Wildweeper truly needed to be marked in the book; their passage was assured through their bloodline.
Marsley asked under what name he should be searching, and Avaniel replied. The mention of Cerellion seemed to draw another odd reaction from the butler, but once again, he dismissed it. In the adjacent room, Jozan opened the door to be greeted by a rotting husk in a faded black suit. The creature scolded the orphans as they ran about, but its attention rapidly turned to the druid. The creature angrily demanded to know why Jozan was in the Villa. Jozan called to Marsley, and the undead assuaged the worries of the newly found caretaker, Ezrahod.
Nothing was to be found in the books. The counting started to get even more unnerving, and the men hurried to the main atrium once more to the taunting calls of the creatures. On their way, Marsley stopped Avaniel, and he whispered to him, “I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but it is your responsibility to fix things at the villa.”
“Eight, a Wildweeper born late, bound in fate,” mocked the voices.
“Nine, heir of a new time. Born of different kind,” it continued.
The men waited, expecting the living shadows to appear, but they did not for some time with Marsley around. The men decided to investigate the door behind the stairwell once more. They asked Marsley to unlock the large, wooden doors. He responded that the keys were held by Ezrahod, much to the dismay of the travelers. They went back to the main atrium, where Jozan thought to hatch an idea.
He told Marsley to wait on the opposing side of a close door. He told the butler to come to them should he call for help. Marsley reluctantly agreed. Sure enough, the shadows came out to do battle, though these were made of the glassy substance typical of weakened creatures. Immediately, Marsley was called. When he entered, the apparitions ran off. Jozan told Marsley to wait on the other side of the door once more, and to come to their aid if he heard fighting.
The shadows appeared again, this time fully to their faculties. The battle ensued, and Marsley joined the fray when the shadows drew close for their first barrage of muscle draining attacks. He clasped a previously hidden amulet and reached out to one of the creatures. Much to the adventurer’s amazement, the creature disappeared completely. The ravenous hunger of the shadows met the determination of the champions of Northlight, and it was only barely that the living walked away victorious. After defeating the three shades in the keep, the men went outside to finish off the last one that had been transported outside the gates. They did not find him, but neither was the last shard released from the body of Roland.
Upon reentering the hold, the creature feebly assailed them and was soundly defeated. The men went back outside and saw the blade upon the ground. Again, they sensed magic in the blade. Lifting up the implement, both Avaniel and Saluhul were pulled inextricably with the blades to strike at the haft of the pike. The black haze enveloping the haft sundered, and the shattered remains of the pike flew back into place leaving the weapon whole once more. Roland’s body slumped. The sword bearers regained their command of their bodies, and Marsley ran off into the mansion to see the fate of his master.
Roland sat upon his throne in the ballroom, and the travelers were surprised to hear the exchange between the caretaker and his master.
“Who are these people that should intrude upon the noble grounds of Wildweeper Marsley?”
“My Lord, these men were responsible for unbinding your spirit; they returned you to this realm.”
“Whom told them to release me from the binding?!” Roland shouted through his ghostly mouth.