The lightning came, and Darvin, Erevel, and Triss vanished, leaving Asakku, Dimweir, and I standing in the dark. We stared at each other for a moment before trying to decide what, exactly we were to do. Should we press on, or should we turn back? After a brief discussion, we decided to press on. In some ways, I reasoned, it might be better what with Erevel having been mind-warped by that beast.
The low, mossy ceiling dripped with stalactites. We gave Dimweir a torch, replacing the one Darvin took with him into wherever. He thanked us and followed us around the bend and down the hallway. We entered into what looked like a strange amphitheater or a church. Benches lined the stepped walls and a throne sat on a raised platform before them. The moment we entered, we heard footsteps climbing up the stairs behind the strange throne and settled there.
The man on the throne was stocky and wore a set of judge’s robes I could barely make out in the dim light. “Please, remove those terrible, clanking boots before you enter my chambers.”
I obliged him and removed my boots before entering the room and addressing him. During our exchange, I learned he was imposing law on the town and believed himself responsible for removing crime from the city entirely. I, perhaps mistakenly, told him that the townsfolk were no more lawful than anywhere else, but that they had simply abolished law altogether.
I offered to go and establish law there in the town, since… I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t think we could do much to stop him by ourselves. Leaving, we paused at the mouth of the cave to discuss what had happened when a chill mist passed us and wound into the forest. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end, and I grit my teeth as the sensation of evil filled my stomach.
I followed the mist, moving as quickly as I could. Asakku fell behind. Dimweir took point since he was able to see where the mist was going, and I followed him. The mist slid into what appeared to be a crypt, and we slid to a stop before it, catching our breath. Asakku investigated the crypt and informed Dimweir and I that someone had been maintaining the crypt. The lock was new, though it had a little rust on it, and the shrubbery was well tended. The word “Belmont” was carved over the top of the crypt, though none of us knew who that was.
I surmised that the mist that slid past us could well have been the vampire. Looking around, I realized we were no longer in the forest. I jotted down its location, and the cave’s. We returned to town and asked the folk there about the Belmonts. Our first stop was the tavern, where the tavernkeep told us the Belmonts had died off a year or so ago. He had been murdered in the middle of the night, and the killer was never found.
The father of the family died a year before the last heir. The family lived in Belmont manor, though someone was now trying to set it up as an orphanage or something. We thanked the tavernkeep and headed to find and talk to the undertaker, hoping he would have more information. And perhaps the key for the crypt.
I asked him about it, and after some discussing, we decided to pay for a year’s upkeep of the crypt in exchange for the key to the crypt. We decided to wait until noon before unlocking the crypt’s gate and examining the crypt. We found two tombs inside a small, stone room, and a spiral staircase heading down into the darkness.
Accidentally breaking the cover of one of the crypts, we checked both crypts. Dimweir, much to his annoyance, noted that both of them were dead for over 200 years. Oops. Well. That was a thing. Hopefully they’d forgive us.
We lit a torch and descended the staircase, discovering a hall full of tombs. I checked the dates of the members in the tombs as we sidled along. At the end we found the most recent member of the family. I focused my instincts, trying to determine if the creature we sought was here. I felt a faint sense of lingering evil on the tomb of the father and a significant stain on the tomb of the son.
After a fair amount of metaphorical tapdancing, we opened the sarcophagi. The stronger presence became obvious as the vampire who ensorcelled Erevel. Dimweir and I opened the second sarcophagus. Asakku yelped when something struck him from behind.
The vampire had latched into Dimweir’s neck, and Dimweir swung his morning star at Asakku’s head, his eyes wild and furious. Asakku forced the vampire away. We exchanged blows in the narrow space with Dimweir hellbent on killing Asakku. I dropped my falchion in the melee and drew my silvered longsword, discovering that it worked better. Perhaps my fumble was a blessing in disguise.
Dimweir collapsed after the vampire latched onto his neck, draining blood from him. At least we didn’t need to worry about him attacking us, but I worried for his safety. Asakku stabbed the vampire in the head, and it vanished into a mist that dispersed above our heads. I scowled and swung my blade at it, certain the mist was the vampire’s presence. The damn thing just wouldn’t die!
We heard a sound behind us, and Asakku threw himself away from a very pale, weak Dimweir reaching for him. My heart wrenched a little. The poor boy. He had no business out here in this mess, yet… here he was. Asakku and I stabbed at the mist. I prayed to Bahamut, and infused my sword with my will, hoping against hope to stop this thing. A moment later, the vampire collapsed to the ground on his face.
Dimweir attacked me and stumbled by, falling on his face with a low groan of frustration and exhaustion. Asakku staked the vampire, and I went to restrain Dimweir but fell to the ground after slipping in something I don’t want to think about too much. Dimweir crawled after me, trying to grab me, and I warded him off.
Asakku grabbed Dimweir, and I slid the stone lid off the sarcophagus to find it was empty. The effigy cracked into pieces as it hit the ground, and I winced. I felt bad for destroying a family crypt, but sometimes the greater good requires sacrifices. Behind me, Dimweir fought Asakku, though he didn’t have the strength or skill to free himself. I sighed, thinking we should get the boy to a cleric since there was nothing either of us could do to help him except, maybe, wait.
The two of them flailed about on the ground, and I watched for a moment before examining the area around us, hoping we could find something of us, but… nothing presented itself. I called back to Asakku that there was nothing we could do from there and recommended we drag Dimweir into the light. Maybe the sun would help him. Where the hell was Triss when you needed her?
We dragged him up into the sun, and he shrieked and began smoking. My gut tightened. Either we hadn’t killed the vampire downstairs, or… I didn’t know what. Hell. Dimweir was one of them now, and we had to find a way to return him.
Dimweir became a mist, and freed himself from Asakku. Asakku and I headed down into the crypt and dragged the vampire’s corpse into the sunlight, though when we reached the top of the stairs, there was nothing but ash where Dimweir had been. My heart tightened. If what I think happened…
Asakku and I stepped out of the crypt and into the sunlight, leaving the shadows behind us. We spoke for a time and decided to write to the Hero’s Guild up north about the vampire situation since I was uncertain we could face this ourselves. We regretfully informed the innkeeper that we could not, in our current state, offer them further aid. Despite being afraid and unhappy, he accepted the news and said he would write the Hero’s Guild, using their ties there, to seek aid. Asakku and I offered our status as leaders of the newly-minted country of Whitehorn.
With that, we traveled home to Whitehorn. During the three-day travel, neither of us talked much. Our hearts were heavy in our chests, and our sorrows weighed on us like lead. What could we say? We had not only failed the town but also Dimweir. Hell, he’d been my charge, and I’d failed him. I knew I had to write a letter to my order, explaining what happened, but what could I say?
Whitehorn didn’t lift my spirits. Tenements filled with ragged, drugged, hollow-eyed people huddled around muddied, foul streets. A tavern, a smithy, and a graveyard. All I could do was keep my focus on what we needed to do rather than the misery around me. Perhaps there was some way we could create change while we are here.
To that end, we met with Ahlset to discuss the development of the city, including the building of a temple, an orphanage, schools, and so on. These would help lift the spirits of our people and provide them with future possibilities. Brightening the future for these people would help stave off the drug problem occurring and improve the lives of our people.
He also mentioned drafting a charter for our kingdom that listed out the roles and powers of each member of the council. Asakku and I agreed to allow him to draft the agreement in order to ensure our council has the ability to sustain itself.
We then heard petitions from people seeking positions on our council and attended state business. A large noble family, the Mortare family, seeks to move their seat of power here if we build them a manor. Which we cannot afford to do just yet, but we expressed interest in finding way to make it work.
((—OOC—Atron as Warden (compassionate but believes in law; wants to see separate laws for adults and children; desires action and wants to make a difference. Tharles and Druis recommended to city guard, Hardur suggested to care for wayward children and teach them if he desires.
General Liandre —Diplomat from City of 1000 nights.
((Gruis chosen as Councilor))