Carpe Diem, Page 24

You’ve come too far now to risk being compromised, so you decide it’s best if you take a silent approach. As you make your way closer to the manor, you notice an open window on the ground floor, just wide enough for you to get through. Creeping in its direction, you keep your eyes on the guard in front of the granary. If he ever so slightly looks to the left, you’ll be caught.

And, just as you’re thinking about it, he shifts to the left!

Then he shifts back to the right, giving no indication he spotted you. You got lucky. He was only cracking his back.

Once you manage to climb through the window, you end up in a random hallway of the estate. Seeing as you’re unfamiliar with the layout of the rooms, you pause to assess your surroundings. To your left is a long hallway that eventually curves around, and to your right is a stairway that descends somewhere unknown. At the end of the stairs, you can see light radiating, and you reflect that where there’s light, there’s most likely people.

Unwilling to risk being spotted, you go to the left. As you make your way through the hallway, you sense an unwholesome darkness filling the air; the feeling is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. When you pass the curve of the hallway, you see another dim hall opening before you, with a chamber door at the end, ever so slightly ajar with light visible through the crack.

The darkness feels all-consuming, and as you get closer to the door, you start hearing muffled chanting and incantations. “What the grel is going on in this mansion?” you mutter.

 When you get a little closer, you’re able to discern the chants. It’s one line being said over and over again: “I offer you this feast, my lord. I offer you this feast, my lord. I offer you this feast, my lord…” You debate if you should proceed, but your curiosity overcomes you, so you peek through the chamber door.

The sight on the other end is unsettling. A single lit candle sits in the middle of the room; behind it, the baron kneels with his hands in the air. A peculiar shadow, like a horned demon, is projected on the wall behind the baron, a malicious grin oddly visible on its dark, shadowy face.

So, this is the truth about the baron: he is being possessed by a demon! Thoughts bombard your mind. Could this be the reason for his vicious attitude toward his subjects? But why would a demon need human food? No, that can’t be it — the demon is probably feeding on the suffering of the people. Is that the feast the baron is referring to? You cannot bear to watch any longer though, lest you draw their attention, so you turn to go in the other direction, your pace increasing as you distance yourself from the profane ritual.

You make your way back to the junction of hallways. It seems you have no other option than to try your luck down the stairs.  Carefully descending them, you can now see where the light is coming from. A firepit still burns in the corner of the room closest to you, even though the servants have long abandoned the chamber and retired to their quarters. It’s a kitchen.

A thought comes to mind. Perhaps there is something here you could use for a diversion. You make your way through the different pots and pans, hoping to find what you are looking for, and then… jackpot! You find a single pot that still has some porridge leftover from the day’s lunch. You stoke the fire, bringing the food to a slow boil, and then open the window. Surely the guard must be hungry; it’s nearly midnight after all.

As you’re leaving the room, you notice a key ring with many keys beside the door. That will probably come in handy, so you pick it up. You then make your way back up the stairs and out to the window you came in, positioning yourself on the window sill so you can just see the granary guard. There, you wait.

A minute passes, then another. Come on… Come on… you think to yourself. And finally… he moves! This is your chance to get in. You quickly hop down and sprint to the granary door… only to find it’s locked!

Chit! No! Think… think… Right, the keys! You grab the keys you had snatched and try them one by one on the door. Ugh, too big… too small…  wrong shape… Come on!

And suddenly… click! That’s the one!

You enter the granary and are amazed by the sight. Rows upon rows of grain, corn, flour, butter, and the many different kinds of produce from the peasants lie in a mound before you. Grabbing a torch from the door, you steel yourself. The time to strike is now!

You cast the flames into the middle of the pile. As the fire begins to engulf the supplies, exploding once it hits the flour, you make your daring escape, snagging a rope from a nearby crate and throwing it down the side of the wall. As the townsfolk begin to rally, calling to each other in a panic over the burning granary, you disappear into the night. Mission accomplished!