ATTENTION: This story is based on us running a Halloween one-shot called Happy Jack’s Funhouse – available on dmsguild.com for just under $7. If you don’t want to know what happens do not read on but I will include that our DM adjusted some parts of the story to fit our campaign.
The morning after the funeral was bleak. Everyone was still emotionally exhausted from the ordeal. Upon waking, Aleera made her way downstairs to manage the bar and have some breakfast. Kaladrax was already awake and eating in the nook they usually sat at. He looked like he hadn’t slept well. After making sure the kitchen was underway and the bar was stocked, she sat at a different table trying not to intrude. After a few minutes he got up and sat down across from Aleera.
All she could do was stare in surprise.
“You don’t have to apologize Kaladrax. You had, have, every right to be upset. I kept a terrible secret that I shouldn’t have kept. It didn’t even matter, someone still died. That’s the worst part”
They were silent for a while, mulling over what had just been said. Kaladrax spoke again after a while.
“I overreacted and for that I am sorry, I understand now that you kept this for my mother, that you had your own obligations to uphold. I just don’t want any more secrets, look at what they’ve done. I am sorry and I would like to start over perhaps…”
He trailed off and looked down at his plate. Aleera didn’t say anything she just moved her hand over his on the table. He glanced up as she did that but before he could say anything there was a ruckus by the front door.
A man came in, and in his haste had thrown open the double door entrance. He was so worked up he almost fell as he came in. His clothes were dripping with sweat and he was dusty from the road. The others had already come down for their breakfast and Kariss was the first to reach him.
Once they got him fed and he had a healthy drink of water they asked what was wrong. He introduced himself as William and said he was from the town of Brownbriar, just south of King’s Crest. It was on the road to the Oasis. He explained that a traveling carnival had set up in their town a few days ago. Everything was fine at first, the carnival always came by around this time of year to celebrate the harvest. They usually stayed for a week before moving on to the next town.
This time, however, the children in town had started to go missing. They had sent people to the carnival to speak to the workers or even the leader himself, but none of the people who had ventured in had been seen again. They were as missing as the children. He begged for the party’s help. They readily agreed and made to leave as soon as possible. They told William to lead them to the village and set off down the road.
They reached the small town of Brownbriar as the sun was starting to make its way down on the horizon. Aleera took some time, as they arrived and met with some of the village members, to check with her Elior’s Deck about the best course of action. She picked three cards, the drapes of fog, a giant tree, and a grinning clown’s face. After getting her answer, the party encouraged everyone to barricade themselves in the tavern for the night, as they went in to recover the children.
After making sure the townsfolk were secure they walked down the main village road towards the immaculate white tent at the end of the road. They reached the entrance and were met by an old wizened crone of a woman. She just smiled at them as they passed her, never moving once.
They entered the tent but the walls they were met with were wooden inside. They traversed the corridors and found an employee closet with some old uniforms and a bundle of tulip bulbs. They made their way down the corridor and found a hall covered in cobwebs. They were large strings of sticky stuff stuck to the walls in shifting lines. They cut and made their way through the webs, burning where they could without catching the tent on fire.
There, at the end of the corridor, was a room even more full of cobwebs. In the center was a giant spider woman. She was frightening at first but the party relaxed when they realized she wasn’t attacking, only looking at them with a sort of melancholy stare. They tried talking to her but all she could say was,
With that she held out her hand as if asking for something, in her other hand was a crusty, stained sheet of parchment with some things listed on it. She handed them the parchment and they found out that she was a tinkerer of sorts. Given certain ingredients, like the tongue of a wolf, or a dead person’s hand, she could make new smaller magic items. Having a lot of “souvenirs” from Barovia, Aleera was prepared for having her make some of those items. They ended up getting a Venom’s Ward for poison resistance, Song’s Dancer (a musical box made out of a tiny mummy and a box), and Marvaeux’s Silence (a white and black striped jumpsuit that made the wearer completely silent, they couldn’t even speak.
Feeling sorry for the Stichling, as they found out she was called on the parchment, they kept going through the tent thinking about ways to help her.
The Hand of Destiny made their way around a room that was completely black, and came across a few fun things. First there was a room full of small holes in the bottoms of the walls but otherwise empty. The party could hear hissing but couldn’t see anything. They went into the next room and found a balloon board with darts waiting for players. Hepolita and Kariss tried some out. They found out, through trial and error, that every time they hit a green balloon a hiss sounded out from the dark. They thought there might be a snake creature in the dark room so they kept hitting the balloons until all the green ones were gone.
The hissing stopped and they went to investigate. The dark room turned out to be a Hall of Mirrors where a giant Medusa had been waiting, but now all that was left was a corpse. They went back into the empty room but this time the walls and the areas around the holes were covered in blood spatter. This made the group realize that many of the people trapped here had been turned into snakes and had died when the Medusa was killed and her magic wore off. They were trapped in smaller rooms below and were smushed together until they popped.
Feeling like failures and reeling from their own unknowing part in the killing of these villagers, the party pressed on, hoping to find any survivors. They found a couple of things. In another room was a display cage with a baby hippo inside. It was so cute that Aleera wanted to free it. She picked the lock and took the baby hippo in her hands. It bit her and she immediately dropped it back into the cage. She read the plaque and realized it was a were-hippo. She had the were-hippo virus in her now. Karriss, seeing the power in being a were, asked Aleera to bite her. When Aleera refused, she took the hippo up herself and made it bite her, leaving it in cage again afterwards.
They moved on and found a small red dragon. They thought he was a pseudodragon but found out that he was an adult red dragon that had a growth issue and never grew past wyrmling size. He called himself Greystack the Terrible and told them they had to free him or else. The party laughed and after looking around a bit they found a ball pit. The balls were explosive and they dropped the adult red dragon, as he was shouting expletives the entire time. As soon as he made contact with the balls, Karriss put a wall of force over the ball pit and they watched as the tiny red dragon was exploded into oblivion by tiny balls.
They still had to find the children and kept looking, hoping they hadn’t killed them back in the snake room. In a spinning room beyond the ball pit they fought the hag they had passed before. They realized it was Morgantha, come back from Barovia, she was spinning them around but Kaladrax managed to reach out and catch her eye that was among the falling ball bombs she was dropping. Having caught her eye, the party stopped the spinning room and made quick work of the helpless hag, killing her once ance for all.
Reaching the back of the tent that was much bigger inside than outside, they found a wall where some sort of grey portal awaited them. It looked similar to the death fog of Barovia. With trepidation in their steps they made their way through to confront what might await them on the other side.