A quick walk south and west of the small walled town of Cairun stands a dilapidated mansion near an overgrown pond (the location probably selected to provide a fine view for those who once lived within). Built at the order of a wealthy trader, it was obviously once an opulent home, but is now little more than a nesting place of several nocturnal creatures and a prison for the tortured ghosts of the family that once lived here.
The story of the mansion is simple, and one heard all too frequently in these dangerous times. A merchant by the name of Firenze, successful in business (running a trading company on the outskirts of the Kingdom) and happy in his family life, decided that the time had come to build a proper home for his wife and children: a place befitting his success, a place to truly be at home and comfortable, a place to grow old in...
Such was not to be the case.
Firenze built his home; not far from town, but far enough that he and his family could be sure they would never be bothered by troublesome neighbors in the foreseeable future. A nearby pond provided water and a relaxing atmosphere, servants were hired, a garden was planted (something Firenze had dreamed of while he and his wife had lived in their cramped town house), and Firenze looked at it all and smiled.
Two years passed before the raiders came.
Pushed out of the northern mountains in search of prey following two harsh winters and dry summers, several orc tribes had been encountered around nearby villages, but Firenze was hardly worried: if raiders came within striking distance of his home, they would first have to circumvent the town of Cairun to the north, giving him ample time to evacuate his family and seek refuge within the town's walls; they still owned that small townhouse, after all.
But the raiders came out of the woods to the south. Firenze and his family died quickly, and none escaped. The house itself escaped most of the damage, since outriders from Cairun discovered and drove off the orcs before they could finish the job they had started. The story should have ended there, but it did not. Soon stories began to circulate the Cairun taverns of lights and sounds coming from the Firenze mansion: strange lights and horrible sounds -- the sounds of a family being put to death, again and again. The Firenze family had risen as restless spirits -- which was odd, given that while the family had died violently, they had not died suffering; but Cairun is a busy town, and Firenze had never been a man to favor the local temples with much patronage, so none felt morally compelled to investigate the mystery, and those who felt the stronger pull of merchant's gold and decided to visit the mansion... suffice it to say that no local will go near the place.
The secret to the mystery is that the Firenze deaths did not cause the family the sort of grief and trauma that commonly results in restless spirits; the cause of the strange haunting is a powerful evil artifact that the merchant had hanging on a wall for the last two years of his life -- dormant, in fact dormant and nearly undetectable for thirty years, until it was awakened by the death and destruction created by the orc raiders. The Firenze family walks the abandoned halls of their home because of a painting known as the Soulscape.
For 3rd level characters