The Awakening

A Party, Lit by Holy Flame

It was Lit, Fam

SOMEWHERE ELSE, The Second

Leo’nel, just now realizing how many books he has been carrying around, decided wisely to lose a few of them. He gave this one to me, and it looks like it hasn’t seen any better stewardship in other hands since I last had it. Skipped pages, big gaps, scrawling writing; it’s like these surfacers think paper grows on trees, or however that phrase goes.

Mezla has decided, against my recommendation, to consume the… thing he plucked from the remains of that hag I cast down at his feet. He claims it has healed him, but he still looks pretty messed up to me. Always has, of course. This lighting isn’t helping – the moon, not yet full, is casting a bit of a gloom on everything. The mansion has some nicer lighting on, but the whole place is otherwise eerily dark, and warm, ever since we left the regular world behind and stepped through the coffin.

The witches are telling me that it’s something about a magical false image. I guess they would know best. The good news is that maybe we haven’t traveled to some terrifying other world after all, and are just across the lake in a magic field. Not that this is making me any more comfortable, and now we’ve heard some rusting in the bushes, and I’m heading out to investigate.

Well that was exciting! As we approached a fountain, something big knocked me down and then vanished again, eventually revealing itself to be one of three shadowy ‘dogs’, or at least that’s what the others called them. Brotrillisk tried to roar at them and scare them off, but it was more than obvious that he was scared pantsless himself, and eventually made a run for it. In any case, we managed to save him from the beats that chased after him, though I did lose one of my throwing axes in the process.

As we headed closer to the door, I’m able to see through the window that there are a fair number of guests, dancing and enjoying the music that comes from within. These vampires, whatever else they might be, can throw a party. I made sure the let the others know that the party was a “Litfam”, which is what we used to call those sorts of group dances back home. And they all laughed! People say dwarves don’t have any humor, but that’s obviously not true. Not that I intended it as a joke, but I’ll take what I can get.

Mezla, in his usual manner, decides he’s going to knock on the door and convince them to let us in, since he didn’t think I was the right person to do that. Not that I agreed, but once I saw him lying through his teeth about how we were there by invitation, to perform a traveling dance for the Lady of the house, I’ll admit I was a little impressed. It definitely reinforces my determination to never trust the knife-eared little shit further than I can throw him, but it did the trick and got us into the Litfam.

He did entertain the idea of offering us up as food for the party, but apparently they had already finished dinner so we wouldn’t be needed as food. So, whatever vampires are, they eat people? They didn’t look like the sort that would do that to me, too well dressed for that kind of savagery. I’ve seen goblins cannibalize before though, and any group that smells even the least bit like a goblin is no friend of mine, so I’ll make sure to stay on my guard. I’ll write more soon, they’re having us come over and dance now. I hope Mezla has a plan.

Safely on the road back to Aelford, with a bounty to collect and talk to have with the good Deacon afterward. What a story! How do I best describe what all happened? I suppose I’ll start with the dance itself.

Once we got inside, it was clear that we didn’t belong – for one, we’re not vampires, which seems to make you superbly tough-bodied, but for two, we didn’t have masks. Somebody said something about a masker-ade, which is I guess a kind of Litfam that rich people like to have. No skin off my back, but we did stand out a little more than I had liked. We were trying to get Marceline alone to kill her discretely and get back out, but with everybody’s eyes on us it was a little difficult, at least at first.

Mezla, deciding to pretend he was Sadron, led us all in some honestly ridiculous dance, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. They even went so far as to gossip in groups about having the Great Sadron come to their next party. This not only incensed our poor Mezla, who ought to not lie as often as he does (so I can’t feel sorry for him), but was quite funny considering how little I imagine a vampire would like to have Sadron at their next party, if they saw what I saw him do later in the evening.

Anyway, after seeing that our dance went over much better than anyone could have hoped, I spoke to the doorman about having a private showing for Marceline, thinking it might get us alone with her. No luck, of course, but she did want to come down and dance with this Sadron everyone was talking about, so I let Mezla know he needed to try and get her alone after he wooed her with his dancing. He replied “I always try to do that”, so I left him to plan his mating ritual and went to enjoy the untouched food, restraining laughter when I saw Glim being wrenched about by his dance partner. I decided to toss him one of my shielding rings, just in case she got any more aggressive with him than she already was. The poor gnome is a fragile soul!

Brotrillisk later decided to try some of the wine they were giving out, which was a surprise because I have yet to see him drink. Maybe ale isn’t to his liking. Then again, maybe wine isn’t either, since he just poured the whole glass on his shoulder and walked off. I still don’t know what to think about that one. At the very least, he directed the party’s scoffing attention off of my eating habits. Apparently it’s not good manners to use your hands? Not a Litfam I want to be a part of if that’s how people are going to act.

Around this time, I noticed that Mezla and Marceline were heading up the stairs together – the plan had moved into the next phase, but we weren’t coordinated at all! We all were in different places, not everybody was aware that Mezla had made his move, and none of us were going upstairs with him. While I bandied about, trying to quietly gather everyone together and figure out how we were to rejoin with Mezla and finish the job, Marcelle burst into the room again, demanding that we all leave, as the party was over. This was a bad sign, I thought – Mezla must have done something boneheaded again – but it was good, because the other vampires were leaving! All we would have to do is reconvene outside and force entry once the coast was clear. I headed outside, already drawing up assault plans.

Of course, none of the other Knights were outside – it wasn’t Marceline, but Glim, magically disguising himself as our hostess. He was waving his stick at me, trying to give me a sign to his identity, but all I knew was that the lady was waving a stick at me, and it would be wise to leave. I’ll have to talk with the whole gang about having a more coherent and coordinated strategy in the future.

No matter, as we all did manage to get upstairs and to the room Marceline and Mezla had gone to. Her three servants, who took us there, were nearly as surprised as I was to see that Mezla was in the process of some sort of horizontal elf dance, on the bed no less! And without his clothing? And Marceline was unclothed as well – none of it made much sense to me, but elves never do. Regardless, a fight broke out as it was revealed that our friend Glim was an imposter, and I set to making sure the Halfling Rime stayed buried this time.

It was not as easy as I had hoped. Marceline vanished in a cloud of smoke, and I struck Rime seven times, cleanly, and it was as though I had done nothing at all. I spit in his face and scared him into cowering before me, but my hammer seemed as if it could not harm him. It was all a bit demoralizing, if I’m being honest. It was then that I heard a curdling bellow from behind me, and some form of divine force rocked me on my toes – as the wave passed through me, Rime’s face peeled open in a wordless scream of agony, and his form blackened and fell to ash. Looking back, I saw Sadron, holding aloft a carved symbol of… was it Treesus? I forget the name. In any case, he decided to use that instead of his sword, which was lodged in the wall halfway across the room. Maybe he would have been better off using his magic to begin with.

As we debated what to do, looking for Marceline’s whereabouts, we noticed that Son, the pirate, was hung up on the wall, nearly dead. We’ve seen him this way quite a few times now, and I honestly don’t remember him in any other way by now. Which I suppose will stay true, because we did leave him there. Didn’t seem like there was much we could do to revive him. During the search, the doorman came back in, took in the scene, hissed (weird), and attacked. Sadron threw fire at him, but it did nothing of consequence, and when he used his holy symbol once more, the doorman did not crumble, but fled instead. Immediately aware that we weren’t going to be able to fight him if we couldn’t harm the lesser vampires, it would be best to leave. Immediately.

I ran down the stairs to the front door, trying to come up with ways to convince Enderdas that either the bounty couldn’t be done, or that we had slain her (without evidence) – I opened the door to see the acolyte from Aelford’s temple of Pelor about to knock and enter! And he was carrying a leash, chained to our old acquaintance Safeir. Some conversation occurred, but the short of it is that our Werewolf friend is cured, and the acolyte intended to sell him to Marceline – then threatened to kill him if we didn’t get out of his way or pay for his release. I, eh, made it clear that his price was too high, and he fled after selling the cleric to me for a much more reasonable price.

Leo’nel shot him through the back of the throat. I suppose it’s fair, since I promised that I wouldn’t kill him. Somebody else letting him live was never part of the deal. And besides, he was probably breaking a good three dozen laws or rules of his city, his church, or both. And he forgot the most important rule – don’t insult the Champion of Moradin. And the second most important rule, don’t turn your back on a half-elf.

After the others looted his corpse, they found some wooden stakes, which inspired everyone to give this vampire hunting thing another go. Supposedly, stabbing a vampire through the heart with a wooden stake kills them, which would have been really good to know before I tried crushing their skulls for a good ten minutes with no progress. Wouldn’t hurt these buffoons to tell me things like that every so often, but I suppose that’s what I get for being late to dinner the other night.

We headed downstairs, where the acolyte claimed Marceline would be residing, and once my hammer was given magical light, we ventured into the darkness of the basement. We saw several candles and a coffin, and I stabbed down with my wooden stake into that coffin once the lid was removed, intending to drive it through Marcelle’s black heart and finish the task that Thrash had bound me to. Fat lot of good he was, getting us into this mess and running off with his share of the coin. I’m sure he will conveniently be with us when it’s time to collect the bounty, of course.

She wasn’t in there. But I stabbed right and hard, and kicked the coffin over into one of the candle sets. This lit a tapestry aflame, and Marceline revealed herself then. The Vampire queen can apparently be bothered by fire. As I readied the wooden stake again, preparing to end her evil, Sadron roared out some incantation or other and she was consumed utterly in holy flames. The others grabbed up her gems before I could get to them, but I managed to scoop some of her ashes into my empty flask as evidence, and her fancy green dress as well. Maybe Aglid would like it? I don’t know that it would fit her, being some much more shapely and beautiful that this aberration was in life. But the material is nice, and maybe somebody in Aelford can tailor it for me, should we ever head back to Fort Gallant.

Eventually we gathered the rest of her ashes into the coffin and loaded it up on the acolyte’s wagon he had ‘conveniently brought here for us’. I don’t know where the doorman went, but we didn’t have time to worry about him as we spend off down the road, making for Aelford. Eventually we passed through a portal of sorts and the true depth of winter was felt once again. The zone of magic, however it came to be, was behind us, and we continued on.

A day or two later, Glim noticed a bad smell coming from the coffin, and as we opened it up to take a look, it appeared as though her body was beginning to reform inside. Leo’nel placed his stake where her heart would have been, and the smell ceased. I guess holy flame isn’t quite enough when it comes to vampires. It was somewhat nice, though, since now she’s recognizably herself again, which will make collecting the bounty a little easier, along with the portrait we stole on the way out.

We should be at the square in Aelford by this time tomorrow. I’m going to have to have another talk with the Deacon Orrin – firstly to let him know he’ll need to find another acolyte, but also to determine what exactly we’re supposed to be doing about all this Neelos business. I don’t think vampires were the right kind of supernatural evil, but unless the jobs board says something about awakening demons and returning ancient warriors, the end of the world, etc, I’m probably out of luck on my own.

Besides, he has to grant an audience to the Feud Champion, right? Even if I did execute Aldur against his wishes. I suppose I could always inquire at the Anvil-Altar again, in case the Allfather sees fit to provide more concrete guidance for me. Anyway, my hand is tired from all this writing, and I could use some sleep. I’ll see if Glim wants to carry this tome for me, as he was nice enough to do it last time.

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