Mark W Henshaw
It is a dark and stormy night. The investigators are lost - they have been travelling and the storm has blown away the roadsigns. Eventually they arrive in a backwater town where the church and other buildings are in ruins. "Destroyed by a storm last year which killed Reverend Maynard, and Pauline's daughter Sarah," they are told, and are warned repeatedly about going back on the road since, "the weather can be very ugly in these parts."
Instead, the investigators are directed to a retired widower named James Barbarow for lodging; he has three beds in an building he built separately from the main house. Mr Barbarow shows them the place, which consists of a single large bedroom and a bathroom, readilly explaining that this was for his children, now gone. Mr Barbarow implies that they are deceased; if pressed, he says only that they died in their sleep.
The place is run down, although attentive investigators will notice a fire extinguisher. There's no electricity and the lock is broken; James offers to lend them a lamp, and to put a padlock on the outside door to keep out animals or prowlers. The last casual remark he makes as he closes the door and leaves them for bed is, "Sleep well--I just hope nothing happens to you in the middle of the night."
1 The most worrisome investigator can't sleep--he or she hears scratching outside. It's just a racoon or other animal; nothing dangerous happens that night, and the next morning Mr Barbarow won't recall having made any ominous remarks.
2 The house is built on the edge of an ancient Indian worship site to Cthuga (the church was built at the centre of the site). Just before midnight, investigator awakens having just dreamt of a door opening in the corner, spilling lights and voices into the room. At midnight, this door opens for real, releasing fire vampires into the room! The next morning, Mr Barbarow admits that whenever the moon is as it is now he has a disturbing dream, but is always too frightened to investigate--his children died in that place from horrible burns, though the walls were untouched.
3 The village is being destroyed by ghouls. They have ransacked the church graveyard and torn down the church, killing Reverend Maynard when he interceded. The girl, Sarah, was carried off in the middle of the night some days later. Now, these creatures have struck a bargain with the villagers: in exchange for peace, the humans offer any travelers or new corpses to the ghouls. Mr Barbarow will contact the ghouls about the investigators, show them back to his land, and give them the key to the padlock.
Copyright (c) 2001 Mark W Henshaw