"Then let us tie off the ropes we discussed before, so that we won't be lost as easily as it seems we could be," Tenacity replied. The hour had passed slowly, full of tension. She had hoped that the elf's magic would have granted the group greater insight, but decided that they must make the most of it.
The rope she wanted surfaced in her pack as she reached for it and she started tying it around the trunk of the nearest tree.
"I hope that fifty feet is enough of a lead to get a good look around inside. From what you said earlier, it must be more capacious than it seems."
"You know, I don't think that rope is going to be long enough..."
Chiron had spent the majority of the last hour staring at the repaired front door, praying to The One Who Endures. He wasn't asking for anything specific, other than comfort. The paladin knew that great evil lurked behind that door and he wanted, needed, to feel the presence of his god as closely as possible before venturing onward.
Seluumiel finished her divining but the house followed its elusive nature and offered nothing useful, so Tenacity was producing a rope from her pack to try a more invasive means of discovery. After tying her rope around the nearest tree Tenacity walked a few feet toward the house.
"...It might get you to the door, but I doubt you'll be able to explore much inside without untying. Here," Chiron slung his pack down and pulled it open as he spoke, "You can add my rope to the end there and you'll have more than enough."
I thought about it at the time, now I realize it matters.
Standing at the end of her rope and still a good way from the door, Tenacity accepted Chiron's and began tying the ends together.
"The clearing is larger than it seems," she said. "Didn't you say something about what you'd done to the door on your last visit? Whatever repaired it might just cut the rope, leaving us to the whims..." She trailed off.
Diligence would have to come inside with them, and Chiron's massive horse as well, to prevent that dreadful separation. Returning to town wouldn't take long, if she removed her armor and ran. It would sound like frenetic worrying to them, probably, but ensuring against the worst would be worth it. Sending a scout into the house while the rest waited outside would be reckless, since there would be no way to protect whoever went ahead if something did go wrong.
"We need our horses here, too. What happens if we're inside the house and it does close on us? We don't know if returning would even be an option. I need to have her closer than this. I think maybe, now that Seluumiel has attempted her divination and we will truly be exploring the unknown, we should prepare for a much longer trip.
"If no one else needs anything of that nature, running to town and riding back should take no more than half an hour," she said, letting the tightened knot drop to the ground.
"I can make that trip even shorter. If I call Prajna," Chiron offered, "We can ride back to the stables to get Diligence and the whole thing shouldn't take more than fifteen or twenty minutes."
This expedition had suffered many delays already in trying to return to the house, and he was bothered by the idea of leaving the others with nothing more to do than twiddle their thumbs. "Perhaps, before we run back to town, we could open the door and check that the first room is still clear. Then, while Tenacity and I retrieve Diligence, the rest of you can again remove the door from its hinges. That way it won't be able to slam shut and separate us when we're ready to venture inside. Is that an acceptable plan?"
Seluumiel shook her head as Chiron and Tenacity made plans to head off to retrieve their horses. The house before them confounded the senses, both banal and magical, she had little faith they would find one another again should they separate.
Taking a step closer to the pair she began, "You are right, we go forward into the unknown and I cannot ask you to abandon your horses." She paused to rest her sapphire gaze on each, "I do, however, believe it will be dangerous for us to separate while so close to the house. We may not be able to find one another again in this mists that twist perceptions. If you must return to town let us all leave this clearing, we can wait for your return just outside the forest."
"Moving away from the house before we split up is probably a smart idea." Chiron replied to the elf as he began to gather his things for the short run back to town.
As soon as the group broke the edge of the forest the paladin whistled for Prajna, who appeared from behind a nearby tree and trotted up to her friend. "Tenacity and I will be back before you know it," said Chiron as he pulled himself into the saddle, then offered an arm to pull Tenacity astride the horse as well. "Stay here and keep an eye out for any trouble that accursed house might spawn."
Seated behind Chiron on Prajna's back, Tenacity looked around to make sure she remembered the surroundings.
"Let us make all haste," she said. "I feel the sooner we venture into that house, the sooner we find answers. No matter how long it takes, I want to get started."
She held her tongue for the rest of the trip, thinking about how strange these concerns of hers were. How could she be afraid that a house would take her away from Diligence, like an ethereal ferry boat? The only thing that made sense to her was to bring the horse inside as well, which would be inconceivable in any other circumstance.
The comfort of being in her own saddle once more would restore order. "I don't know what's truly in store on the other side of that door," she said half to Chiron. "But it feels like something big. New."
Things aren't always as they seem. The house is just like that. Tenacity was only half right. The house was big, but old. Older than Leaphaven and its inhabitants. It seemed to have an intelligence of its own.
Chiron and Tenacity, riding their respective steeds, rarely spoke, but both either knew what the other had on their minds, or they were thinking the same thing. The anticipation of the upcoming confrontation weighed heavily on their minds for one reason or the other. Chiron Po, because of the first entrance and the confrontation with the dragon and close call of being trapped in the house. Tenacity, just for the simple fact that she has had very little experience with magical happenings such as this and the cautious proceedings of Seluumiel can be quite contagious adding to a sense of forboding surrounding the house.
Seluumiel, Xavier, and his sister waited at the entrance to the forest trail for the return of the two warriors. All the while, they were close enough to the forest to hear the ferral sounds coming from the woods behind them. Some of the noises sounded unnatural, putting the small group on the defense the majority of the wait. Finally they see some activity from the gates in the distance and two horse riders coming towards them. Chiron Po and Tenacity were on their way back to rejoin the group.
At the edge of the forest Seluumiel stood staring out towards Leaphaven. Her sapphire eyes sought out the return of Chiron and Tenacity, but all the while her mind raced. The strange house that had pulled them all together confounded all definition, even magical means had yielded no insight. If any divinations could pierce the veil that shrouded the house they were beyond her power to wield.
In all her life Seluumiel had been cautious. The life of a priestess to the Lady of Dreams was one of contemplation before action and she loathed to go against that which had become her nature. There was little choice but to do so and the moon priestess whispered a silent prayer in hope that the Seldarine would guide she and her companions through this quest.
As the last words of her whispered recitation left her lips an unnatural rumbling and rustling emerged from the wood. The moon elf snapped her head in the direction of the disturbance focusing her gaze on whatever might lay hidden in the shadows of the trees. From her periphery the elf could see Chiron and Tenacity approaching fast on horseback, but she paid them little heed. Her attentions were held by the wood before her.
Instinct guided her as she at once reached out to the magical weave and drew on the power of Sehanine Moonbow. With power both arcane and divine flowing through her Seluumiel spoke a word of power and focused her mind on the forest before her seeking out the source of the strange noises.
((OOC: Casts Detect Thoughts 1 MP. Focusing on the forest and the source on the unnatural noises.))
The paladin urged Prajna forward upon hearing the eerie sounds coming from the forest. "Ho, Seluumiel!" he called as he neared the group, "Has anything yet shown its face, or do they merely mock us from behind the trees?"
Chiron angled his horse so he would pass by his waiting comrades, then drew his sword and scanned the edge of the wood while Prajna circled the group. "I am a paladin of Ilmater and, as such, abhor needless pain and suffering," Chiron shouted back at the noises emanating from beyond the trees, "So if you step forth from your hiding places to attack any of this group, I shall ensure your death is a quick one! Stay in your dark holes this day!"
With one more glare out at the tree line, Chiron sheaths his sword and slips from Prajna's back.
"I do believe that if anything had happened in our absence, the evidence would be clear."
Tenacity dismounted and walked Diligence to the front door of the house. Whatever Chiron was doing, with his taunting the shadows, she felt it was time to get everyone and everything inside. No matter what might be inside or out, the whole group would need to stay together now.
If that meant walking two giant horses through what now looked like an incredibly small doorway, so be it.
She drew her sword and shield and, with the reins trailing behind her, walked to the door and knocked.
Xavier's ears perked up at the sounds which began to surround them. These were always fun... And who knows, maybe he could even get the jump on them... Well, his friends definitely wouldn't like what he was about to do, but they would thank him for it in the end.
Looking around frantically, Xavier begins to looked panicked "Ah! The voices! They're after me! Sorry, but I need to leave. Tootles!"
With that, Xavier scrambles to the nearest tree and clambers up it, escaping into the foliage. Once there, he stays silent and hidden, watching the scene from above.
Seluumiel let the power of her divination wash over her. Awareness of the animal minds cowering in the forest underbrush, hiding away from the house. From within the woodland vale a cacophony of ethereal voices swirled in her mind.
"Beware and take heed, YOU WILL BE LOST AND AFRAID!" a warning spoken from many points in the forest overcame her.
The moon priestess stared at the phantom house searching for some sign of the ghostly voices. A wild scream in the air above her pulled her eyes to the trees above. Eyes narrowed and alert Seluumiel readied magicks to unleash on whatever hostile being had come for them.
((OOC: Sorry for the delay, thought this had been fizzled out, glad it's still going))