The Rise of the Forgotten

Guild Contract #04

The Mansfield Estate

The group responds to a posting at the Adventurer's Guild looking for "exterminators" to take care of a "pest problem" at the Mansfield Estate — a mansion formerly owned by the late Miss Mansfield. The pay borders on exorbitant, but there are few details. The person who took out the contract demanded discretion, and refused to provide additional information until a vetted Adventuring Group actually took up the contract. After some deliberation, the group agrees and is directed to the firm managing the estate. It is there that they are told that the "pest problem" is, in fact, a haunting. They are promised 3000 gold, plus an extra 1000g and their pick of a single item from the house's impressive inventory if they can complete it before the open house the following day. The estate management company asks that they take care of it at night (to avoid witnesses that could cause a scandal). 

For the rest of the day the group looks into the Mansfields and cases the estate. The Mansfields themselves were a wealthy family. [[Mr. Mansfield]] had started as a sailor. He climbed the ranks until finally he earned enough money to purchase his own ship. Later he married [[Mrs. Mansfield]], whose business acumen allowed them to turn a single ship into a small fleet. They had a daughter, [[Miss Mansfield]] who eventually inherited the company. But Miss Mansfield did not have much of a love for managing a trading company, and so she sold her stake in it later in life and lived comfortably on the profits until she died just under a decade ago.

There was not much mystery around her death. She was of advanced age (she was nearing her centennial) and showed no signs of illness or trauma, so her death was attributed to natural causes. She had let most of the staff go in her waning years, so it was some days after her death that she was found.

That night, the group arrived at the estate. There they found the groundskeeper tending the small on-site cemetery that was home to the remains of the Mansfield Family. He said he didn't go inside the house much these days, but had noticed strange behavior when the estate company's workers came in. He said that they claimed it was haunted, but he noted the house had "calmed down" since then. He corroborated the details surrounding Miss Mansfield's life (and death), and then gave the adventurers a key into the house.

<MAP TO GO HERE WITH DETAILS OF THE ROOMS>

Eventually, they found Miss Mansfield's ghost in her father's old study. She was pantomiming reading something (though there was nothing on the table to be read). Felix reached out to her, and managed to stir the apparition's attention enough to get it to move. They followed it upstairs to a sitting room next to the master bedroom, where the ghost pantomimed writing in a journal. There, they found that Miss Mansfield had kept a detailed (>90 volume) journal throughout her life. But before they had a chance to look into it in detail, the ghost moved onwards even further upstairs. There, she pantomimed fetching something from under an old servant's bed. There, the group found a small box under the floorboards, inside of which was a locket with a lithograph of her and an unknown man. There was also a skeleton key. After that, the appartion went downstairs and into the basement.

The skeleton key let the group into the basement, where they found the ghost seemingly weeping over an empty spot on the ground. It was clear from markings on the floor that there had once been a large heavy box of some kind there. But they didn't have a chance to investigate, as Ander tried to commune with the spirit. This angered it, for it mistook Ander for someone else, and it shouted "you did this to me! why?!" before attacking. The angry spirit nearly took the party's lives, but they manage to subdue it, causing it to dissipate. 

The malevolent force permeating the house nearly brought the entire estate down around them. But they escaped. Then, Scratch noticed the locket he was carrying was glowing softly. It pulsed at varying rates, seemingly trying to show them something. It led them back to the groundskeepers hut. Inside they found no signs that the hut had been lived in in almost a decade. There was a lose compost pile against one of the walls that smelled of decay. Inside Ander found human remains. It was then that they were confronted by the malevolent spirit haunting the house — the groundskeeper!

They prevailed, but only barely. They brought the remains to the family crypt and put them in with Miss Mansfield, but this angered her spirit and she reformed enough to attack. They withdrew the foreign remains and closed the casket, sating the spirit enough that it retreated to the house. After that, the group found a casket buried under the groundskeeper's bed. They eventually brought those remains to Miss Mansfield's crypt. This sated the spirit. The groundskeeper then appeared, observing that "it was over" and he let go of his incorporeal form. The haunting was over.

It was revealed through the groundskeeper and further digging that the mystery man had been Miss Mansfield's lover. They were to be married, but he disappeared. In truth the groundskeeper, who had always been in love with Miss Mansfield, killed him out of jealousy hoping that it would drive Miss Mansfield closer to him. That lasted, for a time, and he had hidden the mystery man's remains in the basement of the house where Miss Mansfield never went. But later in life, Miss Mansfield had grown reflective and had taken to going through old things. She discovered the body, and when she confronted the groundskeeper, he panicked and killed her. With no one left to live for and furious at himself, the groundskeeper committed suicide in his shack (the unburied remains the group eventually found).

With the job done, the group collected their pay. The estate management was dismayed to find that Ander had already taken a suit of armor from the estate, but were satisfied with leaving it to him upon finishing the paperwork. The rest of the house went to auction. Several members of the group attended the auction. Felix, in a ridiculous costume, purchased a couple of smaller esoteric items. 

The group was surprised to find that Mr. Mansfield's desk went for tens of thousands of gold pieces. Curious, Felix and Cordelia snuck into the back to investigate, and Felix found out that there was some sort of magical object inside a hidden drawer. Cordelia picked the lock on the desk, and disabled the mechanism hiding the drawer. Inside was a small book that was magically locked. 

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robcoyne

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