The Cottage in the Mountain Meadow

The first kick caused the door to fly open, slam against the wall, and swing violently shut again. The second kick followed, and a heavy shield blocked it from closing. The adventurers looked at the scene before them and began to enter the small one room cottage to see what was inside. Their senses were on high alert because of who they believed the owner of this cottage was, and yet the entire group entered and poked around. The fighter who was clearly the leader of the group, the paladin who served as their moral compass, the rogue that wanted to get out of the cold, the half-elven warrior girl who hadn’t been having much fun on this trip, and the elven necromancer who was entirely too perky for her profession. The five of them filled the cottage as they took stock of what they had found.

In the middle of the room was a small table with two chairs. In the center of the table sat a skull that looked to be human in origin that had been fashioned into a candle holder. A large white candle sat atop it, with wax having been dribbled down over the skull. On one side of the table was book, bound in red leather and trimmed in gold metal. Another book sat next to it, a dark green tome with inlaid carved bone decorations. Across the table from these books was a collection of glass vials and bottles containing various powdered substances. Labels on the vessels were written in an unknown language which consisted of unusual symbols which none in the group recognized. On the part of the table furthest from the door was a silver bowl with more strange symbols engraved along the wide rim.

Along the far wall of the cottage was a bed which looked to be both overstuffed and wide. It had the appearance of a nest more than a proper bed. There was only one huge, ornately woven and embroidered quilt that was purple, red, blue and gold. There were no pillows but the bed itself seemed to be some sort of soft fur stuffed with feathers. The frame of the bed was made from a dark wood that had been ornately carved with swirling patterns. The four bed posts were all different heights, and while made from the same kind of wood were carved with patterns that set them apart. Over the bed a wrought iron oil lantern swung from an iron chain that was bolted securely to one of the rafters. At the foot of the bed is a trunk for clothing, much of it heavy woolen garments in drab greys and earth tones.

On the righthand wall as one entered the cottage was the stone fireplace and attached oven. An iron arm was fastened to one side to hold a small cauldron for cooking. The smooth stones of the hearth and the surrounding fireplace were stained with black soot. The cauldron itself was extremely well used and had been used to cook more than just food. Traces of magical essence were evident to anyone with a sense for sorcery. The ashes in the fireplace were as cold as the dirt outside in the meadow. The windows of this cottage had been left open a few inches, so the fireplace had not been used primarily for warmth. It was likely that the occupant of this cottage had no concern for the cold. Over the fireplace was a large mantel hewn from a reddish colored log. On it sat three small, bejeweled boxes large enough to each hold one or two pieces of jewelry. One was made of silver and was decorated with rubies. Another was gold and was decorated with emeralds. The third was made of copper and was decorated with diamonds.

On the wall across from the fireplace was a cupboard filled with mismatched dishes, bowls, and tankards. A single drawer contained a motley assortment of flatware and cooking utensils. Nothing seemed to match anything else, almost as if each item had been stolen as a souvenir from a memorable setting. From the rafters over the table hung a variety of food items. The plucked carcass of a medium sized bird. A ham shank. Two different lumps of cheese in string nets. Dried herbs and vegetables that lent their aroma to this strange abode.

The group paused and looked at each other with puzzlement. If this was the night hag’s home, where was she? Was any of this useful? Is this…. all there was?