After informing the refugees of the plan, the group extended an invitation to Tamyra, who joined them on their journey eastward to check on the village of Timberholde. Along the way, it began to rain heavily, causing the party to seek shelter. Jaeden noticed a light in the distance; a second story window lit among a dark mansion in the hills.
Once upon its steps the party noticed leaves from the previous autumn, suggesting that the mansion was abandoned for quite some time. The mansion was also lined with several statues, some grand and gorgeous while others were a dull grey but incredibly detailed. The doors gave way to Jaeden’s tools, letting them escape the rain. After a quick sweep of the first floor hallway, the group ascended the stairs to the second story. There they saw keyholes aglow with light and behind them a lovely gold bedroom. Curled on the bed was a white and grey cat whose ears perked up at their entrance. Though it quickly, and strangely carefully, ran out of the room when approached. Cho guessed it to be a blind cat, and the party sealed the room up to pass the night.
In the morning, they were greeted with animated armor that fought them in the hall. Each of them were cut down into scrap metal with crumbled stone inside. Blackwood detected several sources of magic inside the mansion, and the party set to investigate each of them. One was another animation spell that gave flight to spears, poking the party in hopes of deflating them, but to no avail as Jargar slashed them to splinters. Another source was a conjuration spell that attached a water weird to a bathtub. It hissed and bubbled, but being bound to a tub, was easily avoided. Finally, a necromancy source was located in the library. There, a bowl full of ashes was found. A badly burnt cover of a book told Blackwood that it was magic far too dark and dangerous for the taste of most wizards.
On the third floor, Jargar noticed a room had been broken into and there was blood stains on the floor. The room was small and plain, leading one to believe it belonged to the servants. An adjacent room held a book of shadows, which attacked the party and left the book blank. This seemed to be the bedroom of the butler, whose office was attached. There lie his skeleton and a bottle of poison, along with his journal that detailed his regrets. He had apparently helped Miss Esme in her endeavor to become beautiful, but during the wedding something went terribly wrong. He claims that in order to protect Esme, he had to kill the maids before they escaped to tell others, but he himself could not live with the guilt.
Across the hall was a ballroom that was grand in its day, but now was covered in dust and cobwebs, as well as dozens of well dressed statues. These statues all stared up at a balcony where a lone male statue stood, holding something that was no longer there. This statue was perfectly clean and surrounded by fresh rose petals, similar to the roses found in the golden bedroom.
In the hallway was a small chest with an emerald on top, when opened, swarms of poisonous vipers spilled out. Though Cho made quick work of them, wringing them out like socks. The chest itself merely contained magical scissors whose purpose was unknown.
During the fight, a large machine was seen in one of the rooms nearby. Upon entering, the party saw a woman dressed in a wedding gown resting upon one of the stone benches. In the rising sun, she almost looked like a ghost, until the blind cat jumped up beside her and headbutted her affectionately. The woman spoke softly when greeted, barely turning her head to see the party over her shoulder. The party apologized for their intrusion, but she didn’t seem to mind, simply enjoying the company of people who were still breathing for once. Cho sat down beside her and made her a cup of tea while fawning over the small blind cat named Marble. The woman’s name, as read in her butler’s journal, was Esme. When asked, she explained that she had experimented with various ways to enhance her appearance in order to find love, but only the darkest of rituals had worked. However, it came at a price, and she paid for it on her wedding day when everyone she looked at turned to stone.
Moved by her story, even Jargar felt the woman had been punished enough. The party debated on how best to protect her and those who might stumble upon her, but Esme was more worried about her home and her friends. She feared that if she left, looters would tear her mansion to the ground and possibly smash the statues of her guests and husband, rendering them unrevivable. Faced with this, Esme decided to stay, but the party promised to look for a way to cure her and her victims before setting back out.