Rondeith approached the hovel with caution. It wasn’t that the place looked especially scary, it just reminded him of something he’d seen when he was little. It happened in one of the tunnels just beyond The Community, during one of those games that kids play. He saw a random automoton of Somewhere Else latch onto another. It just sorted of crouched over it for a moment. The one below didn’t react. It didn’t beep or whirr or move in anyway. It just remained still, crouched to the ground with the large four legged creature squatted over it. An then, almost imperceptibly, the little device moved. Barely, an BAM the four legged automaton above it had snatched it up and scurried off down the hall. It wasn’t a particularly sinister scene, but to Rondeith it looked as if the little one hadn’t moved because it already knew what was coming. Like it had stepped in the wrong spot, and thought if it stayed still it might put off the inevitable for just a moment longer. When Rondeith looked at the hovel, he felt the same way. There was nothing truly ominous about this broken down old house. At least, No more ominous than anywhere else in Sparrowtown. An yet, when he looked at it, he felt the same way he imagined that little squat automaton felt. He wanted to be still. To hold onto this moment a bit longer.
As quick as the impulse came on, it was gone. Hermione moved ahead, looked through the window of the hovel, and moved inside. Harrien beckoned Rondeith forward, and the pair followed Hermione into the dark old house. Even as the light dimmed, their own companion lights switched on, throwing illumination about the room in thick bright beams. Every step in that place sent clouds of dust billowing into the air, as if the moisture of the forest just couldn’t penetrate the ages of desiccation this home had gone through. In truth, the hovel had help up relatively well. The walls were built of synth and some form of stone and had held their shape well considering the environment. Inside, the hovel was a mess. The remains of furniture littered the room, and at least two armed men had died here in times past. There skeletons still collapsed onto the floor where they’d fallen in their final moments.
“Gees, I didn’t know folk for Sparrowtown were so into biomedical augmentation. Look at this guy’s skeleton, he has muscle mods, and bone density mods. An here in his skull, these look like nanite pods… why would they put them in the skull??” Hermione couldn’t keep her voice from rising in a question to the others. A medical apprentice to Councilman Jaime, Rondeith knew she was really into biomods. He was pretty sure at least some of that muscle of hers came from modification, but for the life of him he couldn’t work out why she thought she needed it.
“Stop playing with the corpses Hermione, were here to look for supplies an then get home. That was literally what you just said to us outside. Plus, it’s unfathomably creepy when you get excited by bones and dead people”, Harrien looked more unnerved inside the hovel than he had outside. His hands were shaking, and his eyes were wild. Rondeith honestly thought if he touched the guy, he’d smack him in the head.
“You need to relax Harry, it’s just a house. There’s no one here. Nothing that can hurt you”, Rondieth wasn’t sure he’d managed to hide his own misgivings, but he wasn’t about to let the guy run off into the forest without saying something first. “Don’t call me Harry. How many times do I have to tell people that. Gah!”, With that outburst, Harrien kicked a rotting stool. It flew across the room and burst into pieces against the wall. “frick, sorry. This place just has me on edge. Can we just do this an go”, he looked a little calmer now at least.
The three began rummaging through the remains of the house. They opted to split up, and yell if they saw anything. The adventurer’s had been very specific. In their words, “I’m serious, if you see anything even the remotest bit worrying, you run back here as fast as you can”. Honestly, Rondeith figured if they were that worried about the forest they probably shouldn’t have sent three inexperienced and kind of hapless folk off into the forest on their own. Hell, even the adventurer’s had taken four of the Expedition with them. Well, in retrospect it was kind of complimentary. Obviously the Old Man, Esther and Dave thought they could do it. Well, Fletcher probably did too, but how could you tell with them, they were always covered in damnable shadows like a badly fitting cloak.
Rondeith opted to move upstairs while Harrien and Hermione searched downstairs. Truth be told, Rondeith was happy to get away from them for a moment. They stressed him out with all their bickering. He’d been upstairs for about ten minutes before he noticed something odd. The bickering had stopped. It had been going on for ages, so it took him a moment to realise it had stopped. In that time, he noticed something else strange. He was in a bedroom. From the painting on the walls, he thought that maybe it was once a kids room. Now, it was home to a very big, very gross body. It looked like a man but with too much muscle. An it stank. Like a bad cross of rotten eggs and old motor oil. It smelt so bad he’d just tossed a cloth over it an ignored it. An that’s when he realised what was different. Apart from the lack of bickering, the cloth was now in the air. Still wrapped around the corpse, it seemed to have stood up. As Rondeith realised this, he started to back slowly out of the room, his yes locked on the moving body. Standing up with a cloth over it, some other oddities started to rear up out of the dark. It didn’t have hands, but big grasping claws. They were splayed out and grasping slowly. The body wasn’t breathing, but twitching. Slowly, it turned towards Rondeith. He backed up so quick he hit the barrister with an audible bump, and looked down. In the room below the two skeletons that had interested Hermione had also stood up. Harrien was standing in front of one with a look of abject horror. His eyes wide and staring, his mouth opened in a silent scream. Rondeith noticed at that point that Harrien had a sword rammed through his chest. As he watched, Hermione howled from the other room. A bloody, guttural noise. As she howled another skeleton was thrown bodily into the room downstairs. The noise it made as it thunked against the wall snapped Rondeith out of his shock just in time, and he ducked out of the doorway as the horror launched itself at him. He heard it scrabbling about, and then the crash as it fell over the banister to the floor below. Rondeith didn’t have time to think, he just ran. As he left the Hovel he saw Hermione ducking out the back door, Limping with a sword stuck in her leg. The skull of one of these skeletal monstrosities rolled out of the kitchen. Rondeith ran.