Honor, Justice, Righteousness, Nobility. Those are the precepts of my faith. And I have failed them all.
I last penned of druids and turtles and disgusting swamps, and that tale is weeks in the past. We left the swamp, bearing gifts from Ranme to help us cleanse the Raven Roost. We arrived back in Harkenwold, to see once again the town had been attacked. The Inn of the Slumbering Serpent had been targeted, and hideous creatures had dragged poor Ollwyn into the night!
We vowed to his wife Belba that she would not be a widow this eve, and mounting phantom steeds chased after the creatures and their captive vintner.
Our magical mounts covered ground quickly, and soon we were upon our quarry – a pack of ravenous ghouls… lead by Priest Abramo! Steel, spell, and arrow challenged venomous claw and tooth, while the priests tested skills of divine grace. More than once paralyzing toxins ravaged our bodies, most noticibly poor Jub-Jub, who seemed to get the worst of it.
In the end however, Abramo and his beast pack were felled and by good Bahamut’s grace Ollwyn brought home to recover.
A Belated Prayer for Priests Abramo and Misha
May you be judged fairly and with even hand
As you meet eternal rest beyond
We spent the shortest time possible in Harkenwold, first to ensure that Abramo was safe (there was a rather nasty mob of villagers wanting possession of him – some rather suspicious if you ask me), and then to update the Baron on our situation. Finally our group was in dire need of rest, which we took at the Slumbering Serpent.
In the morning it was noticiable that something had unnerved Jub-Jub over the course of the evening. He informed us that his missing love Kat, the reason we came to this dreary locale, visited him in the evening. She warned him to leave, then attacked bearing fangs. He believes she is now a vampire – things did not look promising.
They still do not.
In the morning we rode North, on normal mounts, to the base of the Raven Roost. A squarish complex, obvious of military origin; I’ve seen plenty similar in D’jed Thymar and the surrounding lands. What was new and peculiar though, was the thorny briar-like growth which surrounded the complex, including the front doors.
Ranme had warned us of this – ‘Daggerthorn’ I believe he called it, and not native to the realm. Luckily we had in our possession a concoction from the ‘mad’ druid which would weaken and wither the plant, at least temporarily. We decided on a direct attack, through the front doors in the light of day. If vampires were to blame this could be our best chance.
We were wrong.
Inside, we suprised a sorcerous man behind a desk, who had apparently expected someone – just not us. He was not alone however, a pair of wicked zombies came from shadowed corners to assist in delaying our intrusion. As we battled, we noticed corpses crawling out from drainage grates within the complex. A slow steady stream of shambling undead made way towards us as we fought against mage and his fearsome bodyguards.
The sorcerer moved to higher ground, transforming into a misty cloud and floating to the balcony above. We had seen this trick before, while investigating the whereabouts of the local Tanner, whom we also believe to be a vampire. Scales might how many vampires are there in this infested area?!
I may never know the answer – for then… HE appeared…
The wizard fell; by arrow or blade I cannot remember. But shortly after our tiefling screamed, an arrow launched, and then – bats… Countless bats, screaching flapping wings everywhere!
Bats around us, around the zombies (who had unanimously and mysteriously stopped their assault), around the whole room, all combining to form a figure!
It was a man, of average height and weight, neatly dressed, with short blond hair. He was clean-shaven, except for a small patch between lip and chin. His eyes, one blue one brown, and blackened tongue were the only noticable physical flaws. Until we saw the fangs…
THIS was the leader of the nest. Lord Blacktongue, as he introduced himself. He spoke in a style and manner of a lord, or someone accustomed to the rules of nobility. From where, none of us could guess.
Behind his genial facade however, was an aura of death, and power, and misery. He radiated it, and now I know firsthand what my teacher-priests could only reference in tomes and texts.
THIS WAS VAMPIRE!