2007-01-27


Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Session: 2007-01-14, 2007-01-27
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 5

Dear Kanathas:

Again, I apologize for taking so long to write. Although I intend to finish this letter while I have the time, I expect that I may not send it for a few days. I am on the lightning-rail once more. This time, Indigo is avoiding the small children.

I am still bound by my oath to maintain secrecy in the nature of our mission, but I suspect that much of it has been determined or inferred already from our actions. We seem to leave a great deal of death and destruction in our wake, which prevents us from being the less obvious agents that Viorr Maelak most likely wanted.

Nevertheless, some details are not yet public knowledge. I will tell you what I can; when I can be certain that my spells will not be needed for other purposes, I intend to cast explosive runes on this letter, so that only you, Uthen and I can read it.

Our efforts in Trolanport required gaining entrance to a masquerade ball sponsored by the Aundarian Embassy, and the ambassador, Neya Ir’Krell. Unfortunately, having enough familiarity with home to find the embassy was little help in gaining admission, and I suspected that giving my name would be more likely a hindrance than a help—although I doubt that the ambassador to Zilargo would be aware of our family’s troubles. As such, Xame found admission through the servant’s quarters; as for the rest of us, we purchased costumes. I charmed one guard at the entrance, and made a suggestion to the other, hinting that we were important enough to be let through, even though I had “left our invitations in our rooms.” We had a moment of trouble when I cast the second spell, but I said this was an attempt to improve Anson’s lower-quality costume.

We then joined the party. Malik scanned the area for magic—since he has some talent that permits him to do this easily—and found a number of people bearing items of interest. We also noticed a certain familiar halfling among the waiters. Much of the details of why we did as we did I cannot say; however, we noticed two people whom we had previously met, and attempted to meet them again. Mike went to speak to a known spellcaster. Malik and I took a turn on the dance floor. Despite my disinterest in lessons in deportment and his similar lack of practice, we managed to avoid stepping on each others’ toes. We were able to hear a few snatches of conversation. Then, the person whom we were observing changed partners, and the situation deteriorated almost immediately.

Since Mike had not previously met this spellcaster, although the rest of us had, we had asked him to speak with her. Clearly, he has great difficulty in telling falsehoods; she immediately left her table and went to meet her compatriot. I observed the other person’s partner attempt to charm him. This failed, as I expected; the man is a vampire. He drew a sword he had managed to sneak into the ball. I cast dispel magic on it, to prevent any magic properties it may have had from functioning. His dance partner, and now opponent, we later learned was an agent of the Royal Eyes by the name of Mina. Her guards entered the fray, as did some of the gnome guards. Meanwhile, most of the ordinary guests panicked. Malik avoided them, and began to breathe after the manner of dragons. Meanwhile, Xame and Mike subdued the spellcaster. After escaping the mob of frightened dancers, I cast light of Venya, since I know this spell to be particularly effective against undead. Unfortunately, the vampire was also apparently aware of this, and immediately tackled me as being the greatest threat.

As general advice, do not fight in close quarters with a vampire. They are capable of draining their opponent’s blood if given the opportunity. I would have been in even more serious trouble had Xame not healed me, and had I not cast light of Venya. A single bolt of that spell was sufficiently effective to force the vampire to assume his gaseous form and retreat. We were unable to capture him.

After the dust settled, the Royal Eyes departed. It is a pity we did not have time to speak with them; they might have been helpful. How helpful, it is difficult to say; considering that Mina did not know what the vampire was, I suspect not very. The ambassador seemed very irritated that her party had been interrupted. Since she had been dancing with the vampire prior to these events, we asked her for information; she was somewhat reticent, apparently knowing the man as a man, not undead. In fact, we were fortunate that she did not have us arrested to causing such a large disturbance!

Again, Mike apparently is a poor liar; he believed that learning the vampire’s destination and method of travel merited revealing by whom we were sent. Of course, if ir’Krell had been clever, she could easily have refused, and, based upon the fact that we arrived from Sharn, easily deduce by whom we are employed. However, she did tell us the truth; we left on the airship Cloud’s Destiny, bound for Karrnath, a mere half-hour later. We had to combat a number of uncooperative gnomes, and then bribe the captain, in order to come on board so late and without regular travel papers.

We explored the vessel, and found a number of lockers on the lower deck, one of which emanated magic. This might explain the difficulty that we had in persuading the captain; based upon this, and later experience, he was probably paid by the vampire for safe passage.

Even after resting that night, I continued to feel anemic; the effect of the vampire continued, and was beyond the ability of Xame to heal. Nonetheless, I was able to knock at a locked door, and make Xame invisible, so that he could investigate magic found in one of the lockers. Inside, he reported finding an extradimensional space, a coffin, and the vampire therein. The vampire being more awake than not, Xame left the compartment, which was closed soon thereafter by an alert crewmember. Now that we knew where the vampire was on board, we began to plan for another encounter.

However, we did not have another confrontation with the vampire; instead, just before dawn that day, we heard someone on-deck call, “Sky raiders to starboard!”

Needless to say, the following fight was very bloody. Cloud’s Destiny was boarded almost immediately by a number of skiffs. These people all wore the emblem of the Emerald Claw, and attacked the crew immediately. They said that they would not harm us if we let them pass to the lower decks, but this did not seem credible. We fought most of them off, much due to the dragon-breath of Malik. I tried to defend myself and remain out of the way of the others. Xame cast shield other on me. I find him impossible to understand; one moment, greedy and seeking after nothing but his own interests; the next, apparently being altruistic. He probably felt that helping me would be in his own interests in the long run.

Malik, being most effective, was also a favorite target of the opposing archers; Mike was attacked by the boarding party, and knocked to the ground. Again, Xame’s healing talents were needed. As for me, I stood by the stairs to the middle deck, and did my utmost to prevent them from entering. It was apparent by now that they, too, were searching for the vampire. I managed to prevent three soldiers from going below, primarily by just being in the way. Two of them were sufficiently clumsy that they tripped. Unfortunately, the next simply ran me over, and the soldier after him leapt over me to the stairs. This was quite problematic later, since it seems they were not intent upon capturing the vampire, but on sabotage.

By now, except for those still in skiffs, the attacking soldiers had perished, as had the captain and most of the crew. Something happened on deck out of sight; Xame, helpful as always, said that there was “something interesting” over there. As Anson sent his summoned earth elementals, I had a look; the vampire had come on deck, probably in gaseous form since he would have had to climb over me if he wanted to use the stairs.

What happened next was a consequence of something only Mike noticed at first; the raiding airship coming toward us until it rammed into ours. I lost my balance and my rapier. Furthermore, the elementals that powered each ship escaped; one being fire, the other being air, they began to fight against each other, entirely ignoring the falling airships below them. Upon observing this situation, Mike picked up Xame, and leapt over the edge, flying safely to the ground. Anson transformed himself into some kind of large eagle; his new animal companion, an ape, could not do the same. Malik and I were forced to search the bodies of the fallen crew of the falling airship, and found that they carried potions of feather fall in the unlikely case of emergency. Malik took one, and leapt; I paused to find a second, since I know that timing the use of such a potion can be tricky. I was able to do this accurately at the first attempt; I kept the second, in case of emergency. In the midst of the chaos, a bat flew from the deck. I do not doubt that it was the vampire.

After the crash, we found no survivors other than ourselves. We did make sure to burn the coffin. Anson, fascinated by the elementals, chose to take and keep the Khyber dragonshard that had previously bound it to the ship.

We had crashed near the town of Sterngate. Unfortunately, the House Jorasco facility there does not see many cases of vampire-induced anemia, and was unable to help. From the proceeds of selling a pair of sets of magic armor retrieved from the wreckage, the party purchased a cloak of resistance for me in the hope that this would improve my chances of recovering on my own. Using other resources, we purchased tickets at the lightning-rail station, and prepared to depart.

Our departure was somewhat complicated by a pair of dominated guards and two swarms of bats. We were able to evade them and board before the car left. I do not doubt the vampire’s involvement.

Since then, we have had little trouble. We did meet a young, inquisitive and somewhat naive kalashtar by the name of Nevitash. I do not know how much you know about them. His people originate in Sarlonna and are known for their psionic capabilities. I do not believe my companions recognized him as a kalashtar at first. They can be distinguished from humans only by subtle differences in appearance and manner. Nevitash was friendly and curious; he mentioned almost immediately that he was an egoist and liked to help people. In fact, he was generous enough to use his abilities to cure my anemia. I can only wonder how long it would have taken me to recover otherwise. In any event, I owe him a favor if we meet again.

Perhaps Uthen would be willing to cast some protection on your letters; then you could send more detail about how you and he are faring. Of course, I expect that it will be difficult to reach me, until this mission has ended. My uncertainty about you and Uthen worries me, much as my reticence must worry you.

Your sister,

Antinua

Player’s Notes

I actually had this written up, pretty much, last weekend. Which is rather appropriate, because it was all nicely done before character death. Darn vampires. Antinua never did get around to casting explosive runes on that letter, much less anything else. In fact, that letter is still in her pack… in the Dhakaani ziggurat… very sad.

There was also some mention of what happens when a vampire blood drains you to death… something involving the DM taking your character sheets… very ominous.

In any case, there is one little loop regards the “family” bit that I’d like to tie up—specifically, that Antinua wasn’t the type to go harping on about Uncle Uthen’s peculiarities, and so forth. So, to sort of wrap things up with that character, I’m going to talk to Michael at some point about a little conversation between Antinua and Mike on the lightning rail—since she would never discuss somewhat sensitive matters with Xame (she knows what “commoner” means) or Anson the militant druid (seems destructive and doesn’t know him well), and Malik doesn’t quite seem the type to be on the receiving end. Hm; he’d probably catch her letter-writing while the others were in the lounge, or something like that…

Meanwhile, I have character creation to do in my free time.

Adventure: Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade
Sessions: 2006-12-02, 2007-01-05, 2007-01-14, 2007-01-27, 2007-02-03
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 4-6

Letter Posted to Viorr of the Dark Lanterns by Anethilzair Mykispar from the House Sivis Station at Vathirond:
Sir,

We have failed in our attempt to capture Lucan Stellos, who has become a vampire. We encountered him and his sister in Trolanport (where she was captured and left in the custody of the Aundarian ambassador, Neya ir’Krell). Lucan at this point was compelled to reach Karrnath, and took passage on an airship. We boarded the same vessel and located him. Just outside Sterngate, the airship crashed and Lucan escaped and got on the lightning rail to Flamekeep. We followed him this far and were on the same train. Across the Thrane border, he abandoned the train. Anson tracked him to a ruined Dhakaani ziggurat.

We entered the ziggurat, and searched it. Lucan has established himself in the uppermost chamber inside the massif. When we entered it, he had surrounded himself by rats and decreed that he would serve only himself, “not the Dark Lanterns, not Vol, and not the soul blade.” Malik cleared the rats with dragonfire, and Antinua blasted Lucan into vapor, which seeped into a coffin.

It was then that I did something of which I am greatly ashamed. I fell to the confusion of the soul blade, which is indeed both powerfully magical and powerfully evil, and did nothing to help my companions as they tried to force open the coffin’s lid. When they did, Lucan sprang out, apparently well healed, and grappled the wizard. Over the next minute, he sucked the life out of her, leaving her body on the floor, and then did the same to Malik, in defiance of his breath, the attacks of elementals summoned by Anson, and Xame’s attempts to heal him of being a vampire.

By the time I came to my senses, both Malik and Antinua lay dead and Lucan looked stronger than when we had first entered the room. Xame and Anson had fled as fast as they were able. I managed to get away, although Lucan slammed me. So now Lucan Stellos sits in the ziggurat, free, and two of my companions are dead.

If the rest of us can find a way to destroy or capture Lucan, we will do so, but I do not know what that would be. If we cannot, I at least will return to Sharn. If you have instructions for us, we will be in this city for at least the next day.

Note: Antinua carried the letter of credit you issued us. I doubt it would do Lucan much good in his current state, but you should consider it void.

Mike’s thoughts as the party works its way back to the lightning rail line:
Dol Arrah, I must do penance for my weakness in the temple. I foreswear these offensive magics, which are both blessing and curse. I will carry what I carried on the Walk of Four Winds: no food, none of the luxuries of civilization, only that which is necessary. I reserve your symbol and a single sai.

I feel strength in me. Grant that I will not foresake this vow and your favor.

Player’s Notes
I assumed that the party will head back to the lightning rail line and work south, and that our finances are sufficient to send the message, and to eventually travel back to Sharn.

Mike has now taken Vow of Poverty, with all that it implies. In some cases, his AC may actually pass that of Xame: AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 21, without things like cat’s grace, owl’s wisdom, and mage armor.

Lucan’s fast healing is not a fun thing to deal with: he goes into the coffin as mist and by the time we get the lid off he has healed enough to kill two PCs.