Codex VI-Chapter 9

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Orensland didn’t sleep all that well that night, worried that Lady Drakh might make her move during the night and catch even the party unawares. But his fears were unfounded, even if it they made his sleep restless. He awoke early and took breakfast, then exited to head over to the main mansion. Two of Captain Gendry’s guards were stationed at the front entrance, but they let him in.

Inside one of the maids escorted him to a waiting room, where he sat and fidgeted until she returned. She brought him to another room where he joined with several of the Maramos coven vampires, including Lord and Lady Maramos. “When the time comes to enter the meeting proper,” the maid said, “head to your right. Your place will be about the middle of the table. You will see your name there on a placard.”

“You have earned your place at this meeting, Orensland,” Lady Maramos said, looking up from where she and her husband were conferring. Lord Maramos was dressed in his fine leather armor, more, Orensland thought, for decoration than practicality. Still, the shadowdancer was disappointed. While he would have found it odd to be the only one wearing armor, it did mean others would be prepared to fight, which would make it all the more dangerous.

“Thank you for inviting me, my lady,” the shadowdancer replied, bowing slightly. He then moved to what he hoped was the back of the room to try to be surreptitious. Nobody paid him that much mind. He was fine with that.

Then one of the double doors opened slightly, and Master Greymantle entered. “My lords and ladies, and master Orensland, we are ready when you are.”

“Let us begin,” Lord Maramos said. Greymantle nodded and exited. After just a few seconds, the double doors swung open and they walked into the main dining room. Orensland found his place at the table with no trouble and noticed that he was virtually in the middle of the two parties. The cult leadership had been escorted in simultaneously with the vampires.

“Please, sit,” Lady Maramos indicated to their guests. The three of them did so, the black dragon disciple at the head of the table, the cleric to his right, Gulnith to his left. Two of the dragon-men took a guard station next to their double doors, and Orensland noted that Captain Gendry and another of the Maramos guards took up place behind Lord Maramos. Lord Maramos sat at the other head of the table, Lady Maramos to his right, one of his sons to his left, and next to his son, Lady Isabelle.

“Allow me to do the introductions,” Lord Maramos said. “You’ve already met my daughter, Lady Isabelle, and my son, Lord Pieran. They have prepared much of our house for the forthcoming move. Our other children will be joining us for that, but are not here for the meeting. May I also present Orensland, one of the mercenaries we hired to help escort my wife through the Deadlands. He is a member of your organization, and took this job to further himself in it.”

Orensland felt like his tongue had grown several sizes, to have all four vampires, the three cult leaders, two dragon-men guards, and two vampire coven guards, all turn and look at him.

“Ah, yes, that is right. I believe in the cause greatly, but have had little contact with others aside from Irina Heppler in Laishtek. I send her a tithe of my earnings for the cause. She was the one that initially recruited me. When I learned of the connection between this job and the Cult,” he paused, “can I call it that?”

The cleric nodded, still hidden behind all of his? her? armor.

Orensland swallowed. “Well, when I learned of the connection, I thought it might be a better way to help the cause than just sending money. I think I turned out to be correct.”

“After my manservant was slain in an unfortunate incident, Orensland served as my source of food for several months,” Lady Maramos said. “His help was invaluable, and I feel to commend him for you for his dedication to your cause. It was above and beyond the conditions of the mercenary contract he had already agreed to.”

Orensland pulled his collar down to reveal the vampire fang marks on his neck. It was apparent by now, according to Khaska, that the scars would never completely go away.

“You have served the cause well, Orensland,” the black dragon disciple spoke. His voice was deep, with unusual harmonics. “I am Rickas Yrthraz, the Supreme Wyrmhead of the Cult of Skyrnyn. That means I am your master.”

Orensland bowed his head in what he hoped was the appropriate gesture of respect, and opted for using his title. “Supreme Wyrmhead.”

“When we are done with our negotiations and reports here, Gulnith,” he indicated towards her with a clawed hand, “will speak with you. For now, be silent and listen. If you speak of anything you hear here to anybody outside of those in this room, I will personally melt the flesh off of your bones, but only after you have begged me for days to end your torment.”

Orensland swallowed, and nodded.

This Mr. Yrthraz was not, he gathered, a pleasant fellow.

He listened to them talk about the work the coven had performed for the Cult. Having looked through the ledger, he was already aware of most of it. Lady Maramos did a decent job of remembering details despite not having access to the ledger. Lord Maramos did have some more recent reports from the living side, and between her memory and the reports had more or less reconstructed the basics of their work.

Most of it was similar to the arrangements the party had broken up in Hammerdine. Vampires enthralled certain key figures to allow smuggling of contraband and slaves and supplies more easily. Orensland didn’t learn much more than he already knew from the ledger from the first hour of the meeting.

Rickas turned to Gulnith. “Are you satisfied?”

“I am, Supreme Wyrmhead.” Orensland was very happy to hear her use that honorific in addressing him. It meant he had done the correct thing. “With their help and the goods we have acquired, we will be able to feed our slaves and armies until well after the Dark Times. The Citadel will remain secure. They have kept their part of the bargain.”

“Then we will honor our agreement,” the Supreme Wyrmhead said. “We have room on our skyship for all of your coven that is here, and will help secure the others who are still on the living side to join us now that their work is complete.”

There was a grunt of dismay from the cleric of Tiamat. Yrthraz glared at the armored figure.

“You have something to add, Hierophant Narvoth?”

“I must once again voice my displeasure at allowing further unbelievers to join us in the Citadel.” A man, then.

Yrthraz sighed. “Your objections have been noted time and again, but I am the Supreme Wyrmhead, and you will obey. You know that these vampires will add to our defenses as the drow have, and their centuries of experience among the machinations of the great houses here in Darkcrest will serve well as we prepare for the Dark Times and the Dedication thereafter.”

The hierophant folded his arms and said nothing.

Come to think of it, Orensland thought, that sentence was the only thing he’d spoken the entire meeting. Gulnith and the Supreme Wyrmhead had done most of the talking, Gulnith the one keeping track of most of the details, and Yrthraz asking clarifying questions here or there.

“Forgive my associate,” Yrthraz was saying. “He has a vision of our organization that is of a more, shall we say, pure than I and the other leadership deem necessary. He yearns for all to worship the goddess Tiamat. His zealousness is simultaneously his greatest strength and his most glaring weakness.” Yrthraz glanced around the room. “Are you prepared to leave?”

“We have made preparations, per your instructions. Our coffins are ready for transport, we have each selected a single servant to accompany us, and have much of our wealth and riches stowed in appropriate magical containers. We can leave as soon as it is all loaded on your ship.”

“Then let us begin loading your things, and we will take you to the Citadel in the Marshes. There you will be safe through the Dark Times, and, I daresay, in a privileged position of power for what will come afterwards.”

“And what is that?” asked Lord Maramos.

“Something we will discuss at the Citadel at a later date. Right now you are concerned with making it through the Dark Times. You approached us, entered into this agreement with us, and are now the beneficiaries of that arrangement. You may join us in our stronghold.”

Just then there was a faint sound, almost like a fizzling. Everybody paused, looking around for its source. Only Gulnith and Orensland, however, noticed the small wisps of smoke coming from under the table.

“It’s coming from the table!” Gulnith shouted, jumping up so quickly her chair fell over backwards with a clatter.

The center of the table began to burn in a particular pattern, a ring with runes and writing strewn about it. This only lasted a moment before the table exploded in fire, sending splinters all across the room, the center virtually vanishing, the two halves falling to the ground, smoke billowing out and filling the room. Orensland was a bit singed, being so close to the center, but didn’t appear to have been injured aside from his eyebrows being singed. He knew that Lady Drakh was about to make her move, but was caught off guard by what happened next.

The arcane circle that had first begun appearing in the table was … still there, hovering in the air, lines drawn with luminescent power, glowing purple, throwing small shadows. It flared and a small burst of purple light flashed just above shattered remains of the table. A winged horror appeared in the light, the arcane magic coalescing into a hideous creature, seemingly a humanoid vulture, but with wicked looking claws and a beak ready to rend flesh. Simultaneously, with a pfft! sound, three more creatures appeared, long and gaunt forms, shrieking and laughing and screaming in a language Orensland didn’t recognize.

Out of the smoke and ash of the partially disintegrated table Lady Drakh appeared, coalescing from her mist form directly in front of Lady Maramos, her sword swinging down and slicing through Lady Maramos’ shoulder, driving the vampire sorceress to her knees. Lord Maramos roared in fury, drawing his longsword, but Lady Drakh just licked her lips at him.

Orensland just had time to draw his sword before pandemonium completely broke out.


Rynn was watching the courtyard from his perch up on the wall of the complex, just sitting with his hood up and observing things. He had sat here a lot during the past few weeks, bored and feeling out of his element in the city. Aside from changes of the guard of the weird dragon-men, nothing had really happened on the ship. He wanted to be close to the Adder Invictus when the fighting broke out. The ranger had designs on burning the ship down and trying to steal some of the skyship crystals before making their exit, whether by stealing the gnomes’ ship back or taking the voidgate route. He liked the parallel justice of stealing their crystals when they had stolen crystals from Captain Botspringer all those months ago.

Orensland had disappeared into the main mansion over an hour ago. Rynn found himself anxious. He hoped Lady Drakh made her move sooner, rather than later. He glanced down to where Ranna was sitting on the ground, down below where he had clambered up.

“I hope it’s soon,” he said. Khaska and Sanjin were waiting in his room, the only one of theirs that overlooked the courtyard. They were ready with spells and preparations for when the fighting started. He glanced up at the window, but the Maha’i and the elf were safely hidden behind the curtains. He was sure they were watching, but they had done a good job of concealing themselves.

A few pfft! sounds brought his attention back to the courtyard, and the ranger smiled. Several creatures had teleported into the area, quickly closing with the dragon-men guards, who drew their swords. One of the dragon-men spat a line of acid, coating two of the creatures in it, and their howls made the ranger’s skin crawl.

But he was already in motion. He drew one of the arrows from his quiver, one he had tied a vial of alchemist’s fire to, aimed at the ship, and fired. The arrow struck the middle of the deck near the main mast, and fire spread across the wood planks. The ranger smiled, and then followed up with two more shots in rapid succession.

“Come on, girl!” Rynn said, and Ranna lept to her feet to follow her master as he dropped to the ground. He moved towards the entrance of Master Greymantle’s guest house, hoping his friends had seen the action start. There was enough shouting and now combat as the dragon men engaged these newcomers … demons, he suspected. A vampire was fighting the two guards stationed at the main entrance to the compound, making quick work of the two of them with his spiked mace.

As Rynn got to the front of the guest house, the door opened. Khaska and Sanjin stood there, several of the servants standing behind them.

“If you leave this place, the vampires attacking can get to you,” one of the maids was saying. “But they have not been invited in here, so here you are safe.”

Rynn glanced back to assess the battle. The guards of the skyship seemed to be holding their own—though two of the ones from the ship were trying to put the flames out, along with the crew. For now, they seemed to be losing that battle.

There was a shout from above them, and the ranger glanced up to see a small figure atop the guest house chanting in an arcane language. Ice and snow erupted in a cylinder around the skyship, centered on where the dragon-men were coming down to join their friends. The spell cut into them, bludgeoning them with hail and slashing them with ice. Rynn looked once more up at the figure and felt his blood run cold.

It was Greydale, the gnome wizard. Lady Drakh had apparently turned him, and now he had joined the attack.

Eryx (DM)
Lady Drakh has made her move, apparently having prepared a summoning circle literally on the bottom of the table in the Maramos’ dining room. She has summoned four demons and in the surprise round got a hit off on Lady Maramos.

Unfortunately, Orensland is the only member of the party in the room. The rest of you have your own problems. The courtyard is also quite chaotic. I know Rynn wanted a spot where he could watch things unfold, but honestly as I’d drawn the situation out in my mind watching surreptitiously from his room was the best option. Without sneaky shadowdancing, there’s not a better place to observe the courtyard.

In the dining room:
Team Maramos
Lord Maramos, fighter.
Lady Maramos, sorceress.
Lady Isabelle, wizard.
Lord Pieran, ??, wearing leather armor.

Team Drakh
Lady Drakh, blackguard.
Vrock demon.
3x babau demons.

Team Skyrnyn
Rickas Yrthraz, ??. (Likely sorcerer.)
Gulnith, sorceress.
Narvoth, cleric.

In the courtyard:
Team Skyrnyn
12 dragon-men. Only 9 are in their full plate. 3 are joining having been below decks and not fully armored up. Two of them are trying to put the flames out on the ship.
Several humanoids of various persuasions that look to be the crew of the ship. They are all running below decks or trying to get the flames out.

Team Drakh
3x babau demons. In combat with the dragon guard.
Greydale. Atop the building Khaska, Rynn, and Sanjin are currently in.
Vampire 1, in plate with a shield and mace. Has just slain the guards at the front gate. Seems to have taken some damage from the fighting.
Vampire 2, atop the wall, with a longbow shooting arrows at convenient targets.

Team Maramos
Five guards remain. Two at the front door to the mansion, three from one of the other buildings. (Two dead near the entrance.)

I would like you all to roll initiative and give me three rounds of actions. Specifically, who would you like to target initially? I know the end goal is to help each side destroy each other, but as the fighting begins, you don’t know who will have the upper hand. It could change as the fighting progresses.

Combat has begun. I need DeltaWolf and Thevarou to make sure their spell lists are updated and finalized. I’ll not allow things to change after this post. May I suggest Khaska have prepared Sending to summon the Bringers (who are nearby and ready to join the fray). Also, if you haven't updated your character sheets to reflect your new armor and weapons, now is obviously the opportune moment to do so.

Also, I’ll need a list of which books/items you wanted to toss into the voidgate for “safekeeping.” I assume all the spellbooks for Sanjin, but what else for him and what for Khaska? I haven’t given you a detailed list of all the books in the library for obvious reasons, but give me an idea of what you’d want and I’ll make some books up (if the dice deem them to have been available) of the variety you desire. After this post, that list will similarly be frozen like your spell lists.

Thev
Initiative: 14

Khaska's first action would definitely be to cast Hide from Undead, touching each member of the party. Would it then be good to cast Sending, to call the Bringers, and Protection from Evil? What do you all think?

One thing is clear, though: we must do what we can to eliminate vampire-Greydale. We can't have a vampire with knowledge of the voidgates and their key out and about.

As for books… Khaska's mainly interested in history and legends: anything about Gallidus, the Knights, the Dark Times, previous Dark Times and the eras in between, the Pressen Empire (if there's anything about it), dragons… in addition to information that might help in a battle against the vampires and other evil forces (information about Darkcrest and other strongholds, etc.). (I'm assuming they pilfered these books away the day before the battle. Khaska would not want to open the voidgate amid a battle unless it were the last resort for escape.)

Eryx (DM)
I assumed that Khaska would be casting buffs on people as they went to exit their building. Assume that those 3 spells you outlined have been cast on Khaska, Rynn, and Sanjin, and that the Bringers are on their way (others may adjust their character stats as needed—everybody except for you and the Bringers are evil-aligned). What are your first three rounds of combat going to be?

Crosis

So, Orensland is feeling pretty silly right now. He's surrounded by big-time heavy hitters, most of which are fortunately on his side for the time being (I assume the "Supreme Wyrmhead" is no pushover). Thinking quickly, it seems clear that the demons summoned are insufficient for taking on everybody in the room. Unless I'm getting the wrong read on the room? The vulture demon guy is probably no pushover either, and the three other demons are likely at about my level, and Lady Drakh the powerful blackguard… against about 5 people that could go toe-to-toe with or soundly trump Manson from our boat fight, plus Captain Gentry, plus another guard, plus… me. So, that being the layout, it seems clear the invaders have one main goal in mind: To take out the Maramos power couple. Once they're gone, other vampires may enter the compound, drastically changing the tides in favor of Lady Drakh. The house hasn't really been invaded yet – this is just the group that is ensuring there CAN BE a full invasion by taking out Lord and Lady Maramos. It wouldn't surprise me if all enemies targeted those two. Which is great for me, because I likely won't be the direct target of any particular demon or heavy hitter.

So. With everything, I think I'll target Lady Drakh, whose focus should be on the Maramos couple (I doubt she'd turn her back on Lord or Lady Maramos to deal with me, it would be suicidal and way too big of a risk for her plan). We have always had one major goal in allowing the coup to occur: maximize the damage to all parties involved. In light of that, I would actually be in favor of the Maramos' being taken out. That would maximize the likelihood that the three Cult heavy hitters face the maximum amount of overwhelming force on the way out. Lady Drakh plans to kill them all, and has minions set on doing that. If she's gone, I suspect they will continue the work, so killing Lady Drakh could well end in us getting what we want: The leadership from all three groups gone. I'd call that a win. Take that, Supreme Wyrmhead. You sound like a jerk.

So, here are my first three rounds. I'd probably shout something like "Kill Lady Drakh so she can't summon more demons!" in the hopes that she becomes more of a target. I may even shout some of my above logic as well should the Cult feel uninclined to participate in the fighting. "Supreme Wyrmhead, this mansion will be swarming with enemy vampires if the Maramos house falls!" Something like that.

Initiative: 17 (rolled 6 + 11)

  • Hit: 21 (rolled 10 + 11)
  • Damage: 6, (1+5) but with fire activated 12 (+6)
  • Hit: 26 (rolled 15 + 11)
  • Damage: 7, (1+2) but with fire activated 13 (+6)
  • Hit: 24 (rolled 13 + 11)
  • Damage: 13, (8+5) but with fire activated 16 (+3)

Great rolls! No crits, but still good. Also note that I am getting ready to bail at a moment's notice. If it looks like death is imminent, I'm shadowdancing and high-tailing it out of there. Given what I said in the last post, with it being my intention to explore the voidgates over escaping via airship, I likely would have stowed my stuff near the library for a quick exit (since I probably don't have my handysack present at the meeting). Would Sanjin have been ok planning on going that route too? I kinda need a spell caster to use the darn thing.

As for the outside stuff, which I probably shouldn't contribute too much to, but to be clear: By Greysdale "turning," do you mean he's a vampire now? Or just officially fighting for Lady Drakh? If the former, someone can stake the boy from behind. Grab some wood on your way up the roof. Or just knock him off with spells, that works too. But yeah, he's got to go. Knowing about the voidgates is dangerous enough, but thank goodness we never told anyone we got them up and running.

Also, I would hope that the destruction of the ship is still a high priority even in the ensuing chaos.

As for what books to pillage, make sure the more up-to-date ley line map is included. It could prove invaluable in voidgate exploration.

BlackWolf
I guess I wasn't clear enough. Rynn didn't care about being in a place where he could watch things unfold. He wanted to be ready to destroy the Adder Invictus at a moment's notice. Somewhere where he could immediately set fire to it, preferably from above and in a location that is advantageous to an archer. Especially after Orensland decided that stealing the ship's crystals wasn't going to happen (definitely when the fighting broke out anyway).

I asked about such positions in the last post, but got no answer. Being hidden would be nice, but not strictly necessary unless it was obvious that he was loitering and not just relaxing or whatever.

Is that possible from Rynn's room? Is he close enough that he could open his window and use the Alchemist's Fire? Or have them tied to arrows to shoot them over (would that even work)? Ideally also alcohol/oil/other flammable material to make sure it catches.

We've been in the Maramos' estate for some time, I expect our characters would know it pretty well by now. But as a player I have no idea. Was there some other location where Rynn could have been waiting? Or, if it makes most sense that he was watching from his room, where is the best location that he could quickly get to?

Those things inform my 3 rounds of actions. If Rynn has to move into position, so be it. How many rounds would that take? Once there, he'll set fire to the ship. That's his first objective: get the Adder Invictus burning before anyone can do anything about it (or even realize who had done the deed). What rolls would be necessary?

What I fear is that one of our high-level enemies will use some spell or ability to put out the fire. Conjure up a wave of water or something. Gulnith used chain lighting when we encountered her before, so she's likely level 12 or higher. Who knows what level her Supreme Wyrmhead is. Lady and Lord Marmos have shown they are no slouches either. The further along the fire is, the better.

I agree with Thev that vampire Greydale should be a major target. He'd go for the turned gnome next after the ship is ablaze. As for the Bringers, letting them know now would be good, especially if they wait a few minutes to let the enemies thin each other out before they join the fray.

Initiative: 17 (rolled 13 + 4 DEX)

Thev
One thought about downing the skyship: if we target its sails and crystal-cases with fire, we could probably injure it enough that it can't escape even if they manage to put out of the fires. Khaska would suggest (or would have suggested) that to Rynn.

Regarding getting the Adder Invictus on fire: would Flame Strike work for that? If so, and if Rynn's efforts fail or are thwarted by some spell, Khaska would cast it at the ship, near a place away from Greydale's ice column, and preferably where the ship's navigation mechanisms are located. (If some of the Cult's guards are in the way, probably for the better.)

Searing Light Rolls:

Ranged Touch: 18 = 12+6
Damage (9d8): 3+6+6+7+4+2+1+2+8 = 39

Given that that's conditional on something else happening, here are some things that Khaska would do or work toward in the meantime:

  • Who would be best to try to go up and stake/de-roof Greydale? Could we send one (or more) of the Bringers and provide cover/diversion for them? If so, Khaska would probably cast Spiritual Weapon to attack Greydale, staying out of his sightline for the time being.
  • Khaska agrees with Rynn's idea to let the other opponents thin themselves out while we target the ship and Greydale.
  • If Khaska needs another attack for Greydale, it would probably be Searing Light.

Eryx (DM)
Given the general layout of the compound and the fact that Rynn and Khaska were going to lay low to avoid being possibly seen by Gulnith, this was the best way to do what you wanted to have happen, I thought. I apologize for not quite understanding what you posted, specifically for not realizing exactly how much Rynn wants to burn that ship down.

Shall I re-wind part of the clock and have Rynn shatter his window and throw the alchemist's fire onto the ship? (It's not that close, but it's easily within throwing distance. You'd have to roll a throwing attack for that. Or if you wanted to use an arrow to deliver it, that would work to. No roll needed—I just assume Rynn is a good enough shot to hit the deck of a large ship that close to him.) The other alternative would be to have him milling about in the courtyard, in which case I'll need a Bluff check from you because someone's going to ask "hey, why are you just sitting around during this high-stakes high-level meeting?" I'm not going to wind the entire clock back, despite my error here, but failure to succeed on the Bluff check will mean Rynn is being watched very closely when the combat breaks out.

Any of the fire-based spells you've mentioned, Thev, will work to set fire to the ship. Assuming Rynn's Alchemist's fire doesn't do the job. It probably will.

There's not a way to get onto the roof directly. You'd have to go out a window on the 2nd story (it's only two stories tall) and climb up if you want to try to stake Greydale. Or toss him off of the roof. (Too bad "defenstrate" doesn't technically apply to that action. It's a great word.)

Yes, Crosis, "turned" means that he is now a vampire. It's daytime on the Death Side right now, so the reflected sunlight off of Pressen poses no threat to vampires out in the open.

BlackWolf
Milling about in the courtyard is the last thing that Rynn would want to do. So I guess shattering the window would be okay. It's unfortunate, since it could make it a bit more obvious that Rynn was the perpetrator, but hopefully he can pass it off as "I broke the window so I could shoot at the demons that appeared!"

I guess my real frustration here is that I've been saying I want to hurt the cult via their ship for weeks now. Several times I've asked questions along these lines, or said that I want to plot it out, but I've never really received any answers or further information. It didn't matter too much before, I guess, because the cult hadn't shown up yet. But now they are here and I'm hamstrung in doing what I want (or even understanding how plausible it is), not for lack of asking, but because what I was asking about wasn't what the DM was interested in replying to.

It's felt kinda like this:

Me: "Is there a good place for a ranger to burn down their ship? Where are they even going to set it down?"
DM: "There is an ancient magic portal!"
Me: "Uh… okay, I don't really care about that right now. I guess it seems important for the long term, but what about setting fire…"
DM: "PORTAL!"

… /end exaggerated rant

I realize that this is a two-way street though; I should have been more clear about my intentions and whatnot. Not trying to heap up blame on our DM… I certainly haven't been as engaged as I could have been.

The DM has also been texting me this morning; I just got one that might resolve things a bit better and allow Rynn to be up on a perimeter wall. I think that best fits what I had been asking for all along, so I'd prefer to go with that. But I also know it's a pain to retcon things sometimes, so if it becomes a big problem narratively, I'd settle for smashing the window.

Eryx (DM)
I apologize for my part in the miscommunications. I'd thought that positioning you here at this point would be sufficient to start the ship on fire, which I assumed would be your first actions now. Rynn is much more gung-ho for that idea than I thought. Part of the problem here is also the nature of this kind of D&D game. One of the reasons I want so much input and what more clear consensus is that I'm wary of moving the timeline forward too much and missing a particular point … which is exactly what happened here. I completely misread BlackWolf's intention ("this is my general goal" vs. "I burn with the hatred of a thousand suns and wish to destroy that ship at the first sign of anything going sideways") and that's on me.

I've adjusted the text above to reflect this better consensus on what Rynn would have done, as well adjusted the "Team Maramos" section for the courtyard. I'm also about to go back and retcon a bit with Lord Maramos to reflect Rynn's having sat on this wall out of boredom/desire to be left along before, to give some context to why he would plausibly be there during this high level meeting.

BlackWolf
Thank you for the updates so that Rynn could do what he most wanted: set fire to the ship. But I have trouble understanding why he'd leave such an advantageous place for archery. Why not stay on the wall and keep firing arrows until such time that it becomes unsafe?

Oh well, I don't want to keep making a big deal about this. Let's just move on.

Rynn's next actions would be to attack the crew. Though you said they seem to be losing the battle against my flames, the ranger is unwilling to leave that to chance. He wants to shoot at anyone who is trying to manage those flames, ideally targeting the weakest of the crew to thin them out (rather than targeting the harder-to-kill guards first).

Here are my 3 rounds of actions. He will be firing with his new flaming burst longbow.

Round 1:

  • Longbow: 32 (rolled 17 + 9 base attack + 4 DEX + 1 magic + 1 weapon focus), 10 damage (rolled 4 + 1 magic + 1 STR + rolled 4 fire)
  • Longbow: 17 (rolled 7 + 4 base attack + 4 DEX + 1 magic + 1 weapon focus), 11 damage (rolled 4 + 1 magic + 1 STR + rolled 5 fire)

Round 2:

  • Longbow: 23 (rolled 8 + 15 as above), 9 damage (rolled 4 + 2 bonus + rolled 3 fire)
  • Longbow: 28 (rolled 18 + 10 as above, 10 damage (rolled 4 + 2 bonus + rolled 4 fire)

Round 3:

  • Longbow: 30 (rolled 15 + 15 as above), 12 damage (rolled 4 + 2 bonus + rolled 6 fire)
  • Longbow: 17 (rolled 7 + 10 as above, 15 damage (rolled 7 + 2 bonus + rolled 6 fire)

If the cult crew/guards flee so he has no targets, Rynn would switch to our gnomish vampire, I think.

DeltaWolf
There isn’t any particular books I have in mind. He will try to direct his attacks towards Team Drakh (Graydale if possible)

Initiative: 20 (18+2mod)

Round 1:

  • Cast Burning Hands: 11 Damage

Round 2:

  • Cast Lightning Bolt: 25 Damage

Round 3:

  • Cast Lightning Bolt: 29 Damage

Thev
Just realized I didn't roll initiative for Khaska! I got 15.

“Killing him is a priority,” Sanjin whispered. “He knows about the voidgates.” He began chanting arcane words and launched a Lightning Bolt that slammed into the gnomish vampire.

Rynn turned to the ship. One of the more finely dressed gnomes, he guessed it was the captain, had come above deck and was shouting orders. It appeared that his leadership might turn the tide of the fight against the fire. Couldn’t have that.

Rynn fired two shots at the dimunitive figure, and they both landed true. The gnome crumpled to the deck. Rynn aimed at another gnome, and dropped him. Then another, who also went down.

Sanjin gave a low whistle. “You’re in rare form today.”

“I just really hate that ship.” Down went another skyship sailor.

Khaska had stepped a few feet away from the building to better see Greydale. The cleric agreed with Sanjin—the newly-turned vampire was a priority. Khaska was holding his hand up and with a prayer, launched a Searing Light spell at the gnome, who glared down at him, red eyes flashing.

Unfortunately for him, they didn’t flash red for long. The spell tore into the vampire’s body, burning it away. With a shriek, he vanished in a puff of smoke that wafted away, moving from the top of the building and out over the wall.

Sanjin gave a low whistle. “You’re in rare form, too, my clerical friend.” The wizard flashed his fingers. “I’d best get to carrying my weight around here,” and then began to cast his offensive spells.


Orensland assessed the situation quickly. It appeared that nobody was really focused on him, which he was grateful for. He felt a little silly, trapping himself in a room with such heavy hitters.

But, he reasoned, all the better for earning the trust of everybody but Lady Drakh anyway. She was the ringleader … it was time to get her! He activated the flame spell on his blade and leapt forward, trying to ignore the unearthly shrieks coming from the demons on the other side of the room. All of them had moved towards the Cult leadership.

“Kill Lady Drakh so she can't summon more demons!” Orensland yelled.

But she didn’t seem to be acting like she would. He and Lord Pieran closed with her as she and Lord Maramos began a furious duel. Though he was not armored as she was, Lord Maramos was more than able to hold his own. However, his wife, curled in pain around the wound to her side.

“I’m not healing!” She screamed. “She’s poisoned me somehow!” Orensland glanced over to, indeed, see Lady Maramos’ veins turning black, slowly moving from the wound she had received.

That must be her plan, Orensland surmised. Kill the power couple of Lord and Lady Maramos. Then … more vampires could enter the house! He shouted his idea.

“Supreme Wyrmhead, this mansion will be swarming with enemy vampires if the Maramos house falls!”

“You dare command me!” he heard Rickas yell. That might have been a mistake.

Just then Lady Drakh landed a blow on Lord Maramos. He shuddered, throwing her off as Orensland stabbed her in the back, Lord Pieran also landing a blow. But Lady Drakh swung around, causing them both to step back for a moment and she slammed her hand into her chest and Orensland watched as magic, a dark, twisted parady of the light from Khaska’s divine magic, wrapped around her body. She healed, laughed, and then winced as a blast from Lady Isabelle scorched her face, causing her to flinch as Captain Gendry landed a blow on her leg.

But Lady Drakh just smiled, and lunged forward, smashing her jagged sword twice into Lady Isabelle. Sure enough. Just like her vampire parents, Lady Isabelle’s skin began to grow dark around the wounds.

“Well,” Lady Drakh said, “That’s about all the poison I could create. Should be enough!” Her gloating caused her to miss another strike from Orensland, even as Lord Maramos again closed ranks. “Now you can’t heal! You’ll slowly die and then we’ll finish you off in your crypt!”

She turned around to see how combat had gone on the other side of the room.

The Supreme Wyrmhead was down on the ground, his head torn off. (At least he wouldn’t get after Orensland for his “temerity,” the shadowdancer thought.) One of the babau was dead, frost coating his corpse from a spell. Another looked incredibly wounded, black ichor staining the floor around him from copius wounds. Gulnith looked about ready to fall over.

“Heal me!” she begged the Hierophant.

“I will heal you if you are not dead after the combat is complete,” Narvoth practically spat at her. “Our master brokers no weakness!”

With that, he waded into the combat, his mace smashing into the winged demon, which, Orensland noted, seemed to be moving slow. Some spell affecting it?

Then Lady Drakh moved to attack again, and he was drawn back into his fight. Her combat skills were amazing, holding her own against Orensland, Lord and Lady Maramos, Lord Pieran, Lady Isabelle, and Captain Gendry and his associate. But she had been wounded much. Her healing had helped a lot, but could she keep it up?

As she laughed, he felt a chill go up his spine. Perhaps she didn’t even care.


The dragon-men guards and the Maramos guards all focused on the demons, who were methodically shredding the dragon-men, their unearthly shrieks and cries rending the air and making the hair on Khaska’s neck stand up. But the dragonmen seemed ineffective, and arrows from the guards flew wide or bounced off the demon’s skin.

There was a whirlwind of melee fighting directly at the ship, and Khaska smiled. Perhaps he could kill two birds with one stone (and he was proud that he think he correctly remembered that idiom). With another prayer to Teresh, he smashed a Flame Strike spell in such a way that it caught a number of the combatants as well as part of the ship.

Unfortunately, the dragon-men were so focused on the demons that the spell completely engulfed several of them, and they dropped dead, charred husks stuck in their heated plate armor.

“I thought we wanted to let them thin each other out?” Rynn said.

“I didn’t think it would do that much damage to them,” Khaska replied, marching forward with Sanjin. Rynn shrugged, and took out two more of the skyship crew. The ship was severely on fire now, and the remainder of the crew bolted, jumping over the side and running away.

However, Khaska’s magic had attracted attention. The vampire wearing plate armor raised his hand and a blast of Searing Light lanced out, coating the Maha’i in its radiance, singing and burning the cleric. He was not undead, so the spell was not as effective as his had been, but it hurt him nonetheless. The vampire up on the wall fired arrows at him as well, but one flew wide and he blocked another with his shield.

Sanjin blasted the vampire with the mace with another Lightning Bolt, and the man took it full on. His face contorted in a rictus of hatred and pain, but then he dissolved into mist and floated away. It was not like Greydale, this vampire was still in the fight, but biding his time.

The 3 dragon-men on the ship jumped off and joined the melee, despite the fact that they were wearing no armor. They were brave, at least, Rynn noted. The demons tore one of them apart in seconds, however. There were only three of the dragon-men guards left, two unarmored.

Sanjin was close enough now to bathe the three demons in a casting of Burning Hands, but the flames seemed to lick around their skin, and the demons chuckled at him. They had taken very little damage from the spell.

Khaska held his holy symbol up and practicaly shouted a command at one of the demons in celestial. “Begone, fiend!”

The creature shrieked and began clawing at the air, as if trying to attack something, but then it moment it vanished, fading back to wherever hell plane it had come from. Arrows from the guards lanced into another, and it was looking pretty haggard.

Just then a shout came from the door to the courtyard, and the Bringers arrived. The party was relieved—with three clerics and a fighter in the mix, things were about to get much better. Then a crossbow bolt lanced towards the ranger vampire, who was still atop the wall shooting (mostly ineffectively, though she had hit once) at Khaska.

It was Greygook. “For my brother!” he shouted.

Eryx (DM)
Here is the situation in the courtyard.

Team Skyrnyn
3 of the dragon-men guards remain, only 1 in full armor.
The ship is in very bad shape. It’s very much on fire. Everybody has abandoned it.

Team Drakh
Vampire with the bow at the wall has taken no damage you are aware of. She’s still firing away.
The plate-wearing vampire has vanished—turned himself into mist and moved into the smoke from the ship.
2 of the demons remain. 1 is in very bad shape. They don't seem that affected by fire.
Khaska basically vaporized Greydale after Sanjin had hit him with a Lightning Bolt spell. Khaska would know that Greydale is now flying away to seek his coffin to regenerate.

Team Maramos
The 5 guards have opted to use ranged attacks and have taken no damage.

Your Hitpoints
Khaska: 47/63
Rynn: Full health
Sanjin: Full health

Give me 3 more rounds of actions. You can direct the Bringers. (3 clerics. 1 fighter.) Greygook is gonna do his own thing, but you know he’s on your side.

Here is the situation in the dining room.

Team Maramos
Lord Maramos, fighter. Poisoned. Slowly losing health.
Lady Maramos, sorceress. Poisoned. Slowly losing health.
Lady Isabelle, wizard. Poisoned. Slowly losing health.
Lord Pieran, ??, wearing leather armor.

Team Drakh
Lady Drakh, blackguard. Alive and well, but pretty wounded and taking on 7 people.
Vrock demon. Slowed.
2 babau demons. One barely alive.

Team Skyrnyn
Rickas Yrthraz, dead. (Not bleeding out. Dead.)
Gulnith, sorceress. Looking very haggard.
Narvoth, cleric.

Give me 3 more rounds of actions. Orensland has taken no damage.

Thev
Besides survival and (eventual) escape, Khaska thinks a primary goal should be making sure Greydale (and, perhaps, the others of the Drakh vampires) cannot regenerate. Perhaps we can direct the Bringers to help finish off the remaining vampire in the courtyard and check in on Orensland (potentially helping to off Lady Drakh) while we run ahead to to the Drakh household to 1) prepare the gnomes' ship for evacuation and 2) destroy all the caskets we can find. Khaska would track Greydale's vapor form, if at all possible, to help locate the casket in question.

Is there anything we'd want to do in Maramos House before we leave?

(After we iron these matters out, I can figure out three next steps!)

Eryx (DM)
On that note, you'd also know that to make sure the Maramos vampires don't regenerate, they need to be similarly dealt with. Merely defeating them in combat isn't enough to permanently eliminate them.

BlackWolf
Rynn feels a sense of relief that the ship is burning. He'd feel even better if he knew what Orensland knows… though if Gulnith could only see her ship now, that would be justice. Or revenge. Those are kinda getting mixed up here. :)

Rynn is all for eliminating the vampires permanently. He'll heed Khaska's advice, but for the moment we must take care of this battle. Seems like the clerics have the means to fight demons. Plus the demons appear to resist fire and the ranger has a magical fire bow, so he'll target the bow-wielding vampire instead.

Also, I forgot to add in my bonus damage for favored enemies last time. Oops, but it doesn't seem to have mattered.

Round 1

  • Longbow: 29 (rolled 14 + 9 base attack + 4 DEX + 1 magic + 1 weapon focus), 8 damage (rolled 1 + 1 magic + 1 STR + 2 favored enemy + rolled 3 fire)
  • Longbow: 24 (rolled 14 + 4 base attack + 4 DEX + 1 magic + 1 weapon focus), 15 damage (rolled 7 + 1 magic + 1 STR + 2 favored enemy + rolled 4 fire)

Round 2

  • Longbow: 30 (rolled 15 + 15 bonuses), 14 damage (rolled 7 + 4 bonuses + rolled 3 fire)
  • Longbow: miss! (rolled natural 1)

Round 3

  • Longbow: 35 crit! (rolled natural 20 + 15 bonuses), 43 damage (8 full damage + rolled 8 & 2 crit damage + 4 bonuses + rolled 2 fire + rolled 10 & 9 for flaming burst fire)
  • Longbow: 22 (rolled 12 + 10 bonuses), 11 damage (rolled 6 + 4 bonuses + rolled 1 fire)

Wow! Getting a crit with this new bow dishes out the damage!

DeltaWolf

Round 1

  • Cast Acid Arrow
    • To hit: 7 (1 +6 mod)
    • Damage: 4 (5, 7)

sigh

Round 2

  • Cast Acid Arrow
    • To hit: 16 (10 +6 mod)
    • Damage: 5 (4, 8)

Round 3

  • Cast Acid Splash
    • To hit: 24 ( 18+6 mod)
    • Damage: 2

Thev
With Rynn so effectively targeting the archer vampire, Khaska will direct the Bringer clerics to help him against the demons (potentially boxing them into combat with the dragonmen, if possible; the more they can kill each other without us getting directly involved, the better). He'll cast Bless to help the newly-arrived allies, but he'll reserve his stronger spells for whatever we might encounter later (in the dining room or in the Drakh residence) and will engage with his scimitar.

  • To hit: 17 = 9+8
    • Damage: 6 = 4+2
  • To hit: 25 = 17+8
    • Damage: 4 = 2+2
  • To hit: 12 = 4+8
    • Damage: 6 = 4+2

Crosis

Sorry about the delay. I'm continuing my attack on Drakh. Also – when someone shouted “Now you can’t heal! You’ll slowly die and then we’ll finish you off in your crypt!” was that Drakh or Lord Maramos? It could be the poison keeps them from healing, or it could be that Lady Drakh has used up her healing opportunities. I'm not sure which. If the poison pushes Lord and Lady Maramos into a gaseous state, in gaseous form do Lord and Lady Maramos count as "dead" so far as uninvited vampires entering the compound goes?

  • Hit: 13 (rolled 2 + 11)
  • Damage: 33, (rolled 5 + 5 + 6 (fire) + 17 (sneak attack/flanking) )
  • Hit: 27 (rolled 16 + 11)
  • Damage: 26, (rolled 4 + 5 + 1 (fire) + 16 (sneak attack/flanking) )
  • Hit: 28 (rolled 17 + 11)
  • Damage: 28, (rolled 6 + 5 + 5 (fire) + 12 (sneak attack/flanking) )

Eryx (DM)
Lady Drakh said that.

They don't count as "dead" until they have been slain in their coffins (or their coffins destroyed and their inability to rest finally gets to them).

Crosis
In that case, I would vote we send the bringers to wipe out Drakh's coffins. I presume, again, that Drakh has a plan for wiping out the Maramos's crypt, but we might want to help take care of that. It seems the Cult leadership is basically out for the count, so that's one down, two to go. Though I guess we'll see in the next post.

Rynn decided that the vampire firing shots at Khaska was his next priority. The demons seemed resistant to fire, and since his bow did magic fire damage. He turned and sent two arrows at her, both of which landed true.

“More intruders!” the Maramos guards shouted.

“No, they’re on our side,” Khaska shouted. He pointed at the entering Bringers, who he was grateful were not dressed in the attire of their order, a dead giveaway. “Attack the demons!” He shouted at them. And the Bringers charged towards the melee fighting, one firing a crossbow as he went.

By the inferno of the Adder Invictus the dragon-men and the demons were still locked in combat, but the arrival of the Bringers turned the tide. With the added help, Khaska also joining the fray, the demons lasted only seconds longer.

The vampire firing shots off looked annoyed that Khaska was so difficult to hit, so turned her attention to Rynn. Her first shot hit him square in the chest, while her second glanced off his leg. The ranger stumbled down under the loss of blood, his vision swimming from the first hit.

But with melee combat in the center paused, Khaska, Bringers, and dragon-men all wary, but not attacking each other, the Maramos house guards turned their attention to the vampire archer. Several shots hit her.

She moved, looking like she’d be exercising her “discretion is the better part of valor” tactic and jumping off the courtyard wall, but Rynn was having none of that. He cleared his vision with a quick shake of his head, nocked an arrow, and released it. It landed right in her skull and exploded.

She assumed her mist form, and began wafting away.

Khaska looked from the Bringers and Greygook, to the dragon-men, to the guards. It appeared his bluff had worked. Nobody of the survivors thought anybody else the enemy. (With the exception of that plate-wearing vampire who had vanished into the smoke of the burning ship.)

The remaining dragon-man still in his full armor began speaking to the other two.

“They want to go find their leadership and report on what happened here,” Sanjin said, translating from the draconic.

“What are your orders, Master Khaska,” asked one of the Bringers.


Orensland continued to press his attack, but Lady Drakh was too well armored. Though she was not wearing a shield, she must have additional magical protection. Even Lord Maramos, whose sword moved so quick it was barely visible, seemed to have trouble penetrating her defenses.

But even armor couldn’t stop Lady Maramos’ Lightning Bolt spell, which blazed into the blackguard vampire with a thunderclap, small sparks of electricity arcing off Lady Drakh’s plate armor.

Orensland felt a cold blast on his back and ducked away, but he could see that Gulnith was channeling some kind of ice spell, but it was smashing into the demons as well as the Cult guards, and Narvoth!

The cleric of Tiamat didn’t seem to mind. “That’s the spirit!” Narvoth roared with pleasure. “Take the initiative! Attack without mercy! Even your allies deserve no mercy!”

“What an idiot,” Lady Drakh laughed. “These are your allies?” Then she smiled. “Well, I came here to do what I wanted to do. Have fun slowly dying. See you in your crypts soon!”

With that, she shoved Captain Gendry aside and sprinted towards the window, jumping through it. Lord Maramos was at it in a flash, but Orensland could tell he was looking for her. She must have flown away in mist form or something. Annoying ability.

On the other side of the room the dragon-men and Narvoth had carved through the babau demons, but the slow-moving Vrock still remained. Making a split-second decision, Orensland sprinted across the room and lunged forward, stabbing the creature in the back.

His sword sliched right through the creature’s head, emerging from its mouth. It collapsed, and he withdrew his sword.

“A good blow,” Narvoth said. “And your tactics were sound to help the vampires first. But come, with Yrthraz dead, I will be the new Supreme Wyrhmead to serve our dark master.” He reached a hand out and divine magic healed Gulnith some. “We will gather our things and leave. I have no interest in continuing the deal with these unbelievers. Leave them to their fate. Come, Gulnith. Come, Orensland.”

“Orensland,” Lord Maramos gasped. The veins in his neck were slowly turning gray, the poison spreading up from his wounds. “At least help Captain Gendry sound the alarm and gather our troops before you go. Escort us to our chambers.”

Lady Maramos seemed to be dealing better with the poison, though with her skin-tight sleeveless dress it was obvious the poison was spreading as well.

“Mother,” Lady Isabelle called. Her skin continued to blacken, the poison having affected her in a greater fashion than her more powerful sires, and the vampire collapsed to her knees in pain. “I can’t … stop … it.” Lady Isabelle succumbed to the poison, her body convulsing on the floor as she slowly dissolved into her mist form.

“Captain Gendry,” Lord Maramos said. “Follow her. Get her to her chambers safely. Orensland, we have bags of gold and gems ready for our departure with the Cult. Ask anything you want, it’s yours, but help get us to our chambers.”

“Come Orensland,” said Narvoth. “Leave these weaklings to their fate. Tiamat does not smile on them today.”

Eryx (DM)
Here is the situation in the courtyard.

Team Skyrnyn
3 of the dragon-men guards remain, only 1 in full armor. There was a bit more damage taken, but nobody went down from the last post.
The ship is in very bad shape. It’s very much on fire. Everybody has abandoned it.

Team Drakh
The plate-wearing vampire is still, you presume, hiding in the smoke from the ship. He’s basically impossible to find.
Rynn’s crit exploded the vampire archer’s head. She’s headed back to her coffin to regenerate as well.
All the demons are dead.

Team Maramos
The 5 guards have opted to use ranged attacks and have taken no damage.

Team Bringer
Nobody took any damage, and are awaiting your instructions.
Greygook is unaware of his brother's fate. When he finds out, he'll want to go finish him off, but isn't stupid enough to do so alone.

Your Hitpoints
Khaska: 47/63
Rynn: 43/64 (Sorry man, she crit you on that first shot.)
Sanjin: Full health

I asked Khaska for a Bluff roll and he got an 18. Currently the Maramos guards and the dragon-men think you’re on their side, as you have only attacked House Lancel vampires and their demon allies so far. The dragon-men want to head into the main house to report the situation. The Bringers are waiting for instructions.

What do you all want to do?

Here is the situation in the dining room.

Team Maramos
Lord Maramos, fighter. Poisoned. Slowly losing health.
Lady Maramos, sorceress. Poisoned. Slowly losing health.
Lady Isabelle, wizard. Forced into her mist form by the poison. Headed to her coffin.
Lord Pieran, ??, wearing leather armor.
Captain Gendry and 1 other Maramos house guard, I forgot to mention last time.

Team Drakh
Lady Drakh, blackguard. Fled the scene.
All demons are dead.

Team Skyrnyn
Rickas Yrthraz, dead.
Gulnith, sorceress. Looking very haggard.
Narvoth, cleric. Arrogant and pleased to be, apparently, the new Supreme Wyrmhead.
2 dragon-men guards I forgot to mention last time.

The Maramos’ are headed to their chambers, apparently to try to rest. The poison continues to spread through their system. They’ve asked Orensland to come.

Narvoth has asked him to join them and leave on the ship, abandoning these weak vampires to their fate. They’re going to their quarters to gather their stuff and then they’re going to take off.

None of the people in the room has any idea that the ship is actually gone, including Orensland, the character, even though Crosis, the player, obviously does. So play it from Orensland’s POV, not your own, Crosis.

Crosis
It is true that nobody in the room knows that the ship is actually gone, but Orensland also knew two things in advance. First, Rynn was ready to burn the ship when Lady Drakh made her move if she made it during the meeting. If he had become aware in some way, the ship should be in flames by now. Second, he knew that Lady Drakh was planning an attack on both the Cult AND the Maramos household- meaning their transportation was likely on her hit list as well. He doesn't know for sure, but Orensland has a good idea that that ship might not be usable anymore.

However, Orensland has learned with his earlier comment to Yrthraz ("You dare command me!!") that subtle manipulation with the arrogant and powerful Cult leaders is… a bad idea. He will ask the new Supreme Wyrmhead/his new "master" for permission to collect his things from his quarters and warn servants/fellow mercenaries as he goes, meeting the leadership at the ship at a time appointed by Narvoth. Basically, He'd try to be agreeable with the Cult and ASK PERMISSION to help the Maramos household in a simple way- hopefully staying on both their good graces and appealing to Narvoth's joy over his recent promotion. Obviously the time is coming up when Orensland can't fake being a Cult member any longer, but he'd hate to lose the social advantage he currently has when it may still come in handy. …Plus he doesn't want to make the burly dark cleric he's standing next to angry. Seems suicidal to challenge or otherwise ignore the authority Narvoth's so happy to have received when he's literally right next to Orensland.

…of course, as soon as Orensland gets some privacy (his quarters are separate from theirs, he'd likely take a different path) he'd try to meet up with the party and inform them of the dining hall issue. I have a couple ideas on where to go from there- attacking Lady Drakh's crypt while she is on the offensive to fully destabilize Darkcrest, for example- but that's something to discuss as a party. He'd pick up his bag where he left it (stashed close to the dining room, out of sight, and probably in the direction of the library) and then head in the direction of the ship, since he knows Rynn is poised to burn the ship if he hasn't already. Orensland would be thinking about how to signal Rynn should it be quiet in the courtyard. Which it isn't, but you asked for some POV thoughts.

Orensland would also legitimately warn the servants that he encounters of the attack on the crypt. The more people that know, the more fighting that will occur, the weaker Darkcrest will be. I don't know what the Bringers are planning should Darkcrest become incredibly weak (head households taken out, major warfare, etc.), but if they're thinking ambitious thoughts, our impact could lead to a victory over one of the darkest cities in the world. Boo-yeah.

Eryx (DM)
Also, a word of explanation. Apparently none of the dragon-men nor the crew of the ship realized it was Rynn attacking them, not the archer vampire. In the hubbub of the fight, with demons teleporting in to startle them and flames already licking at the ship, they didn't make their spot checks.

Thev
Khaska still thinks our primary objective needs to be splitting our enemies and pitting them against each other. Here are a couple options:

  • Dispatch the Maramos guards to the Drakh residence to destroy any coffins they find there (following the smoke-forms of Greydale and the archer vampire) — if they'd take orders, or suggestions, from us. That way, we can continue to split the enemy parties while continuing to accomplish our objectives. We could even suggest this to the Maramos, volunteering to lead the party.
  • Perhaps the party headed to the Drakh household could bring Greygook to commandeer the gnomes' skyship and get it ready to depart. After all, we don't want our mode of escape burned. Once we're in the Drakh residence, and have secured the ship, we could fake our deaths and cover our tracks.
  • Let the dragonmen give their report about the skyship's destruction, which we can then corroborate if needed. Maybe Narvoth, Gulnith, and what remains of the Cult's forces would be enraged enough to pursue Lady Drakh themselves or attack the Drakh household, again doing some of our work for us. On the other hand, if we're able to implicate the Maramos in the destruction of the ship somehow (say, through negligence), that could be helpful. It seems like Orensland is getting a handle on how to manage these Cult leaders, and he figures the ship might be destroyed; perhaps he's the one that could pose the suggestion, demonstrating thereby his higher loyalty to the Cult? (Though who knows how Narvoth and Gulnith will want to escape now the ship's destroyed.)

Crosis
It's possible Orensland would be able to convince Narvoth and Gulnith to attack Lady Drakh. Orensland could run to their quarters and report that Lady Drakh's demons have destroyed the ship, with other dragon men who witnessed the whole thing. Gauging Narvoth's reaction, Orensland would say something like the following: "Supreme Wyrmhead, may a propose a possible course of action?" If given permission, Orensland would say something like the following: "It is clear that Lady Drakh, the vampire blackguard in the dining room, has challenged the Cult by direct assault on the Cult's leaders and their skyship. It appears to me that her intention is to destroy the leadership of the Cult as well as the house of Maramos. While the Maramos household is likely bound to fall, we yet have strength, and Lady Drakh may have left her own estate vulnerable in her mad efforts to end all in this household. If it be your will, we could strike at the foolishly exposed heart of the enemy and eliminate her household for her presumptive provocation if nothing else."

Thoughts? Should this work, perhaps Rynn and Khaska could go with Greygook and Feral to get the skyship away from the Drakh residence while we are inside so the Cult doesn't see the escape route. After all, they are the ones who would be recognized by Gulnith, and therefore probably couldn't help in the raid should we be able to convince the Cult leadership to attack Lady Drakh's estate. If it doesn't work… well, I suspect there will be a lot of texting between Eryx and the players during this particular series of events. It's rather chaotic, and our original plans are probably not going to work out as the chaos progresses.

And Orensland means it- he doesn't see the Maramos household coming out alive on this one. I doubt much help is needed wiping them off the board, Lady Drakh seems to have that covered. The Maramos guard would put the safety of their own masters first, I doubt they would be open to abandoning their mansion for a suicidal attack on the other estate (they're not quite as buff as us). Frankly, Lady Drakh is the only one I see with a clear path to victory. One that we would like to thwart. While taking out the vampire who knows about the voidgates too.

Who has the voidgate key? I would assume that either Sanjin or Orensland would be carrying it – those two are the ones most on board with exploring the voidgates, at least as far as I've seen. We should give it to one of those two if they don't already have it, should Rynn and Khaska need to take the skyship without Orensland or Sanjin. I could see that happening if Orensland and Sanjin aid in the raid on Lady Drakh's estate with Narvoth and Gulnith. Splitting the party doesn't need to happen and we probably shouldn't strive to do that, but I'm seeing the possibility of us being forced into separation. Just in case, we should agree to meet somewhere in several months should we get separated.

All of this depends on how Narvoth sees Orensland's proposal, if Orensland even gets the chance to present it, if you guys agree to that idea, etc.

Although, quick note. These dragon men are an unknown species to us. It may be beneficial to provide a specimen to somebody who knows more about dragons. What do you guys say to chopping off a head from a dead dragon man near the ship and taking it to Captain Bronzebeard/someone who knows about dragons after all this is over?

Thev
I'll post a more extensive passage later, but remember that Khaska has a Hat of Disguise! If we need him to blend in, perhaps as another Bringer in normal garb, we can manage that!

Thev
In terms of more immediate actions: Khaska would support sending Sanjin in to check on the dining room. As Crosis pointed out above, he's the only member of the courtyard-based party that Gulnith would not recognize. The dragonmen should accompany him to deliver their report.

Meanwhile, Khaska would find some pretense to pull on the Hat of Disguise — probably something about not wanting to be recognized when they exit the Maramos complex, as it seems might happen soon, or simply if any more Drakh-aligned fighters show up. (Of course, this would also allow him to operate in the Maramos complex without getting recognized…)

He's open for suggestions on how to deploy the Bringers, though. Help in ending the Maramos clan? Pursuing the dust-form of Greydale, alongside Greygook? What do ya'll think?

BlackWolf
Rynn will be cautious about what's going on inside the mansion. He doesn't want to accidentally be seen and recognized by Gulnith. So depending on how things unfold, he'll agree that Sanjin is the best candidate to check on our Orensland.

If Gulnith comes out to see the ship, the ranger would be very tempted to fire on her, especially if he notes her haggard state. But he'll resist that urge unless combat resumes or some other opportune moment arrives.

The ranger likes the idea of making an attack on Lady Drakh's manor. Ideally we'd send any of our enemies we can (the Cult, if they'll go for it, and any Maramos guards). We'd probably need to send the Bringers too, unfortunately… it would be nice if they could stay behind and help us off the Maramos clan. But better to ensure that we end the Drakh threat.

That also gives us a chance to get the Glittersail skyship. That would be helpful as long as the Cult doesn't try to take it for themselves! (grumble, grumble)

So it seems that a lot is pending now on how the Cult reacts to the loss of their ship and the suggestion to send them against Lady Drakh.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin is willing to look for Orensland and reunite the party. He has Invisibility Sphere prepared… if that changes what we want to do next.

Orensland glanced from the Maramos couple to Narvoth and back.

“Supreme Wyrmhead,” he said, cautiously. Gulnith sucked her breath in. Apparently she disagreed that he would be the new leader—or at least that he was the leader already. “I will gladly join you, but as you are going to retrieve your things, may I go retrieve mine?”

Narvoth nodded. “We will get our things and depart shortly. If you’re not on the ship, you will be left behind. Come, Gulnith.”

Orensland left the way he had come, and he looked at Lord Maramos, whose face was in a rictus of agony as the poison slowly spread. “I will sound the alarm as I go, my Lord.”

Lord Maramos nodded as Captain Gendry and Lord Pieran grabbed him under the shoulders to help him move off.

“To the crypt,” he said, “not our personal chambers.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Captain Gendry said.

Orensland ran. He grabbed his backpack where he had stashed it nearby and took off at a dead run. He was true to his word, though, and alerted guards and servants as he went that Lady Drakh had attacked the meeting. The mansion became a whirlwind of activity as the Maramos servants and milita began scurrying about in response to this information.

He rounded a corner to head down the flight of stairs and almost bowled into a group of dragon-men over. Sanjin was with them.

“Orensland!” the wizard cried out. “What’s happened?”

“Lady Drakh attacked the meeting with a bunch of demons. She poisoned Lord and Lady Maramos and the demons killed the Supreme Wyrmhead.” Sanjin looked at him blankly. “The black dragon disciple.” He looked at the three dragon-men, one wearing armor, the other two not, and all showing signs of combat. “You also get attacked?”

Sanjin nodded. “Demons and vampires as well. We’ve fough them off, but the ship is on fire. It’s not salvageable.”

“I doubt the other cult leaders will be happy with that.” (But Rynn was probably pleased as could be.) “I’m to meet them on the ship.”

“That’s going to be very difficult, since it’s burning down.”

“The courtyard, then. I’ll await the cult leadership there. Then we’ll all decide what to do.”


“Mercenaries that we made friends with,” Khaska said. “When the attack began, I was able to magically alert them. They came to help.”

“Well, I’m glad they came,” the guard was saying. “Saved the lot of us.” He turned to the Bringers and gave a nod of thanks.

“You recognized the vampires that attacked?” Khaska asked.

“Not that one up there,” he indicated the top of Master Greymantle’s guest house. Greydale. “But the other two are from the House of Lancel.”

Khaska pulled out his Hat of Disguise. “Well, I helped repulse the attack, but I’d rather not be recognized if we decide to leave and retaliate.” He put it on, and changed his appearance to a rather average looking human, just as the doors to the mansion burst open. Orensland and Sanjin came running down, and the shadowdancer hurriedly gave his report.

“If the poison works on Lord and Lady Maramos like it did Lady Isabelle,” Khaska surmised, “they will need to return to their coffins or graveyards. I imagine after resting for an hour or so the poison would wear off and they could heal quickly back to full health.”

It wasn’t long before Captain Gendry came out, motioning for the guards to come. He conferred with them hurriedly, sending them all back into the mansion, and then approached the group.

“We have reason to believe that Lady Drakh isn’t finished with her attack. Will you aid us in defending the crypt until our Lord and Lady are hale enough to continue the fight?” He tossed a bag at Sanjin’s feet, he being the closest party member. Sanjin looked in it. It was a bag of holding … and it was filled to the brim with jewels and platinum. He gave a low whistle.

Orensland sidled up to the Captain and whispered. “Did your master and mistress succumb to the poison, as Lady Isabelle?”

Captain Gendry hesitated, but then nodded. “They think after an hour’s rest they will begin to heal as normal. I expect Lady Drakh to attack in the next hour, then.”

But then Narvoth emerged from the mansion’s doors, accompanied by Gulnith and the five remaining dragon-men. The cleric still had his mask on, so his expression wasn’t visible, but he paused for a long moment before descending the stairs, staring at the burning skeleton of the Adder Invictus.

Rynn surreptitiously moved to the back of the group, trying to keep as many people between himself and Gulnith as possible. She was burned and bleeding quite a bit, but he knew how powerful of a magic-user she was. It wouldn’t do for her to recognize him. Luckily, she was distracted by the sight of the flaming skyship and by Narvoth’s walking right up to Orensland.

“Orensland, do you know of any other skyships in the city that we may commandeer to return to the Citadel?”

Orensland blanched, but covered his surprise quickly.

“No, Supreme Wyrmhead.” Gulnith glared at him again for his use of the term, but Narvoth appeared to not notice his deception about the gnomish skyship. “But, um, sir, may I propose a possible course of action?”

Orensland could practically feel the sweat dripping down his back as he waited for an answer. Then Narvoth nodded at him. He tried not to let his relief show as he spoke.

“It is clear that Lady Drakh, the vampire blackguard in the dining room, has challenged the Cult by direct assault on the Cult's leaders and their skyship. It appears to me that her intention is to destroy the leadership of the Cult as well as the House of Maramos. While the Maramos household is likely bound to fall, we yet have strength, and Lady Drakh may have left her own estate vulnerable in her mad efforts to end all in this household. If it be your will, we could strike at the foolishly exposed heart of the enemy and eliminate her household for her presumptive provocation if nothing else.”

Narvoth stood very still for a moment.

“Your plan has some merit. With no skyship, we must wait until tomorrow for me to prepare new spells for us to magically transport to the Citadel. It would be unwise to leave our enemies to return. And an example must be made.” He gripped his mace tightly, and his voice deepened. “Woe betide the vampires who dared strike at us! Do you know the way, Orensland?” The shadowdancer nodded. “Will your friends aid us? We have means to pay them,” he kicked at the bag of holding, “much like the vampires do.”

“If I ask them, they will go,” Orensland said. He was pretty sure that was true.

“Then ask them, and lead on,” was Narvoth’s response.

“Do you really expect me to come assault another vampire house with you with no more healing than what you have given me?” Gulnith hissed. “I survived the combat in the Maramos’ dining room.”

“Do not presume to command your head,” he snapped back at her.

“Heal me, or I’ll stay here and take my chances if this Lady Drakh returns.”

Narvoth hesitated for a moment.

“No, it would be unwise to split our forces at this time. Come, I will heal you.”

Eryx (DM)
I asked Crosis for a Bluff check and Thev for a Knowledge (Religion) check. The bluff on Narvoth (rolled 8 + 10 = 18 total) that he doesn’t know of any skyships seems to have worked. The Knowledge (Religion) check (rolled 4 + 13 = 17 total). will be reflected here in the gray box and in some of the dialogue above.

Captain Gendry wishes you to stay and defend against Lady Drakh. He’s willing to pay handsomely with some of the money that was to come with the vampires to the Citadel.

Narvoth wishes to assault the House of Lancel. He’d accept assistance, and says he is willing to pay.

A few points to consider.

Lord and Lady Maramos will begin healing in about an hour, minimum. (You don’t know their condition, but it seems reasonable to infer that they must rest for at least an hour if the poison reduced them to zero like it did Lady Isabelle.) It’s doubtful you could get to the House of Lancel, destroy it, come back, and make sure they were finished off before they could heal back to full strength. (This information comes from Captain Gendry and Khaska’s Knowledge (Religion) Check.)

Narvoth is about to heal Gulnith. He may be all “survival of the fittest,” but he’s also not stupid. He’s not going to assault the House of Lancel with her mostly already dead.

Gulnith has not noticed or recognized Rynn.

Lady Drakh indicated she was going to attack the Maramos’ in their crypt. That’s probably going to happen while they are weakened and poisoned (in the next hour, you suspect). She would have a similarly difficult time getting back to her place to defend it, then coming back here to finish them off.

In short, all the heavy hitters are, currently, still in the Maramos compound. To make sure the Maramos’ are dead, they must be decapitated in their coffins, which should then be destroyed. To make sure Lady Drakh is dead, you would have to do the same. (Same with Lady Isabelle, Greydale, etc.)

With all the Maramos guards, Captain Gendry, the dragon-men, the few skyship sailors left, Narvoth, and Gulnith around, you don’t really have opportunity for your characters to have a big conference about what to do next. Keep that in mind when you answer my question …

What do your characters do next?

Thev
Some thoughts about what might be good, though of course, as Eryx noted, these wouldn't be matters we could discuss. Therefore, these are just suggestions, and we can figure out whether they'd be things that we'd come up with on our own.

  • Orensland could offer to scout ahead the route to Lady Drakh's complex, taking Greydale and a Bringer or two with him. (He could do this under the pretext, perhaps, of following the evaporated vampire to help locate the coffins.) He could thus smuggle them onto the ship and see them off before the Cult leaders arrive, then meet Gulnith and Narvoth partway. (Maybe he could try to inflame their rivalry, too, ha.) Perhaps the ship could proceed to the rendezvous point outside of the city to keep it away from enemy hands?
  • Rynn and Khaska could stay behind to continue to cause chaos in the Maramos household, subtly making sure that Lady Drakh's attack succeeds, perhaps by diverting Maramos guards, causing problems elsewhere in the residence, and so forth.
  • After the deeds are done within the Maramos house (all that's required is that the vampires be dead, basically), Rynn, Khaska, and the Bringers who remained can head to House Lancel to see about finishing off that House and the Cult (depending on what remains).
  • Not sure where Sanjin would be best!

ADDENDUM: Would anyone in the party be, perhaps, foolhardy enough to just attack Gulnith before she's healed, teaming up with the Bringers to defeat her and Narvoth right now?

Crosis
If anybody did, it would probably be Rynn. If Rynn DOES shoot at Gulnith, I think I'd really have to know how Gulnith reacts before deciding what Orensland would do… if she is capable of reacting. Plus how Narvoth reacts.

If such a shot is not taken, Orensland would take all who are willing to come to the House of Lancel for the mega showdown. Well, who knows, we might have no problem storming the castle with Drakh being on the offensive elsewhere. Greydale would be helpful in locating the Lancel crypt, but he's also our only skyship pilot. If anybody wants to escape via skyship, they would probably need to find him (he's not in the group with us right now, is he? I feel like he would have said something, or sobbed or something, I don't know).

Presuming pandemonium doesn't break out, Orensland would also tell Captain Gendry that vampires they kill may well have a permanent end should we succeed. Drakh's coffin would be our first target. So in their battle at the Maramos crypt, targeting Lancel vampires would be especially beneficial.

Eryx (DM)
Greydale is with you all in the courtyard.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin would volunteer to help attack Drakh -he would be very pleased to see their extinction.

BlackWolf
Rynn was not privy to what happened inside the mansion, but the report of Captain Gendry makes it pretty clear that both sides of vampires are temporarily out of commission. Meanwhile, we still have Gulnith and this "Supreme Wyrmhead" here.

As I mentioned before, the ranger is very tempted to end Gulnith. While hearing Orensland offer his idea and Narvoth accept it, the ranger calculates their odds. If we fight alongside the cultists we will likely finish off Lady Drakh. But by then the Maramos clan will recover (not to mention that Gentry and their guards are in place and wouldn't just let us kill their masters). And it's not clear that we'd eliminate the Cultists in the fight… so that plan seems to indicate that we'd end up with 2 sets of enemies remaining.

On the other hand, if we attack the cultists now… The vampires are going to have at it anyway and surely won't stop until one side is eliminated. 2 eliminated instead of 2 remaining. That's just good math.

With these thoughts running through his head, Rynn will spring into action upon hearing "Come, I will heal you." He'll use his still-drawn bow and fire. But instead of targeting Gulnith… he'll try to take out Narvoth before he can cast any healing spells!

Longbow attack:

  • to hit: 24 (rolled 8 + 9 base + 4 dex + 1 magic + 1 weapon focus + 1 point blank), damage: 13 (rolled 5 + 1 magic + rolled 3 fire + 1 STR + 2 favored enemy + 1 point blank)
  • to hit 22 (rolled 11 + 4 base + 7 bonuses), damage: 14 (rolled 3 + rolled 6 fire + 5 bonuses)

Crap, those aren't particularly good rolls. Rynn's impetuousness might have backfired a bit. But he's hoping that he can rally our team as well as the Maramos guards and the Bringers to take out these cultists. Hopefully this will count as a surprise round, so maybe we'll get a few hits in anyway.

Sorry that the ranger isn't consulting the group on this one, but it doesn't seem like that's a real option given the situation. This just seems like the opportune moment to attack.

If asked later, Rynn would say he attacked the leader in the heat of the moment to stop him from healing Gulnith. But if he was really honest with himself, there is definitely an element of wanting Gulnith to recognize him as the one who ruined her. And just maybe he wants her to survive this encounter so we can interrogate her. After we help the Maramos clan defeat Lady Drakh, surely they'd be even more grateful to us than they were before… perhaps they could help with such an interrogation, especially if it could mean finding out where all those slaves went — and probably Rynn's wife and child among them. It's a dark path, for sure, but when it comes to finding his wife, the ranger may be willing to let the ends justify the means.

This entire time, Rynn had been thinking through the various scenarios in his head. If they went to assault the Lancel coven with Narvoth and Gulnith, they would likely succeed. But there was no guarantee that the combat would eliminate Narvoth and Gulnith. And by then the Maramos couple would have recovered. So, really, only one of their three main enemies would have died—Lady Drakh’s house.

On the other hand, if they attacked the cult leadership now, with the element of surprise and the Bringers with them, they could also likely succeed, but that would leave the two vampire houses still at war, and they wouldn’t stop until one or the other of them was dead. Instead of only one of their three main enemies dead, two of them would be. It was just good math.

Plus, he really hated Gulnith. He wanted her to know that it was him that had ruined her. So he made his decision, nocked an arrow, whispered the command word that activated its fire properties … and fired at Narvoth.

The first shot landed in a nook in his armor, painfully scorching his left shoulder, but the second shot ricocheted off of his right arm. Narvoth cried out in pain and whirled, bringing his mace up. “I will flay the flesh from your bones, in the name of Tiamat!”

Eryx (DM)
Well, Rynn’s gone and done it now. Just as I suspected he would.

This is a new combat, so please roll initiative and give me three rounds of combat. The first round will be a surprise round.

If Gulnith goes down, will Rynn ask Khaska to stabilize her? (Or one of the other cult members, for that matter. There was discussion of attempting to study one of the dragon-men.)

To be clear on the situation:

Team Skyrnyn
Narvoth, a high-level cleric.
Gulnith, a dragonborn sorceress who is quite wounded.
3 dragon-men in plate.
2 dragon-men without armor, but with weapons.

Team Maramos
Captain Gendry
5 guards

Team Bringers (will respond to your commands)
3 clerics
1 fighter

Team Drakh
You don’t know where that plate-wearing vampire went. He might still be around.

Team PC
Rynn 43/64
Khaska 47/63
Sanjin-full health
Orensland-full health

Crosis
Time to drop the facade and be marked as full-blown traitor in front of a madman with a mace. It's been good knowing you, folks. :)

There's still somewhat of a silver lining in this scenario –– Gulnith clearly doesn't like Narvoth or his new status as Supreme Wyrmhead. She may actually approve of a group of people attacking him directly.

Regardless, that's thinking way too far ahead. Orensland would likely rush to Rynn's aid. He hasn't been running through the options of interrogating Gulnith –– we talked about it being a possibility earlier, but that was a while ago, it's not at the forefront of his mind–– so the most straightforward action is to simply attack Narvoth. However, sheer survival instinct kicking in, he would likely not want to be the direct target of a high-level cleric. So he'd hit and hide.

Initiative: 19 (rolled 8 + 11 bonuses)

  • Hit: 13 (rolled 2 + 11)

I'm not even going to roll for the damage on that one. Good thing I'm hiding for the next action.

  • Hide: 33 (9 + 24)
  • Move Silently: 27 (3 + 24)

Orensland doesn't do well with surprises, apparently. Those were all awful rolls. He'd get in position to knock Gulnith out if she isn't down already (interrogation may come to mind after not being the center of violent attention) or Narvoth if she is. I suspect the events won't unfold in a straightforward manner, so am not sure what else to do here until I know more.

Thev
One thought: Captain Gendry was in the room when Narvoth and Gulnith refused to help Lord and Lady Maramos, correct? Might that treachery persuade them to help us fight the Cult? In short: do we have to worry about fighting them, too, or are they our allies in this fight?

EDIT: Eryx just clarified that we have to act without knowing how the Maramos guards will fight. Could Orensland remind them of the Cult's treachery to the Maramos house?

EDIT 2: Khaska will first cast Sound Burst, trying to get Narvoth, Gulnith, and (in case they show aggression) the Maramos guards in its blast. After that, he'll cast Silence on Narvoth — it's important that he be as incapacitated as possible.

Any thoughts on a third round action?

DeltaWolf

  • Initiative: 4

Round 1

  • Cast Acid Splash
    • Hit: 15 (9+6 mod)
    • Damage: 1

Round 2

  • Cast Ray of Frost
    • Hit: 25 (19+6 mod)
    • Damage: 3

Round 3

  • Attack with the Python Rod
    • To Hit: 17 (13+4 mod)
    • Damage: 7

BlackWolf

Right. Time to turn this guy into a pincushion. Rynn will step backward as he fires to keep a good distance. But if forced into close combat, I guess he'd use his magic longsword (which would mean -3 to hit, and +1 STR but -fire damage; otherwise these same rolls would work as is).

Initiative: 14 (rolled 10 + 4 bonus)

Round 1:

  • to hit: 35 (rolled 19 + 9 base + 4 dex + 1 magic + 1 weapon focus + 1 point blank), damage: 12 (rolled 6 + 1 magic + rolled 1 fire + 1 STR + 2 favored enemy + 1 point blank)
  • to hit 15 (rolled 4 + 4 base + 7 bonuses), damage: 15 (rolled 7 + rolled 3 fire + 5 bonuses)

Round 2:

  • to hit: 35 (rolled 19 + 16 bonuses), damage: 13 (rolled 4 + rolled 4 fire + 5 bonuses)
  • to hit 23 (rolled 12 + 11 bonuses), damage: 16 (rolled 8 + rolled 3 fire + 5 bonuses)

Round 3:

  • to hit: 30 (rolled 14 + 16 bonuses), damage: 15 (rolled 7 + rolled 3 fire + 5 bonuses)
  • to hit 27 (rolled 16 + 11 bonuses), damage: 16 (rolled 8 + rolled 3 fire + 5 bonuses)

(If forced to use his sword, that 19 would be a crit… but I'm hoping that he can stay with his bow and some distance given the mayhem that ensues.)

I like the idea of trying to rally the Maramos guards to help us, but I'm not sure if Rynn has enough knowledge of the situation (having been outside) to really be in a position to call out to them. And for Khaska's 3rd round… some kind of damage or healing would be nice. :)

Orensland sighed. Well, the jig was up. He grabbed his sword, ignited it, and lunged at Narvoth in one fluid motion.

And totally missed as the cleric brandished his two-handed mace above his head. He turned to Orensland and roared at him.

“Get Narvoth!” Khaska said to the Bringers, as Sanjin and he cast spells at the enraged cleric.

Then sheer pandemonium broke out.

“Retreat!” Captain Gendry cried out just as a loud cacophonous sound blasted the area around them. Khaska’s Sound Blast spell caused several of their ears to begin to bleed, but unfortunately nobody seemed affected by the stun effect. The Maramos militia members all, as one, began to run to the entrance to the mansion. Greygook merely backed away, firing from his crossbow at random targets in the melee.

As Narvoth brought his mace to bear on Orensland, the shadowdancer vanished. Three of the dragon-men moved to attack Khaska, but he was too well-armored and skilled. Their attacks were ineffective. The Bringers all converged on Narvoth per their orders, one casting a Searing Light spell, and the remaining the dragon-men joined that fray as Rynn and Sanjin continued to back up and fire arrows and spells.

Gulnith shouted some arcane words and a Chain Lightning spell erupted from her outstretched palm. It arced towards the Bringers surrounding Narvoth and one of them immediately went down. The lightning then jumped to the others and then to Khaska, the sparks of electricity playing around all their armor, the smell of burned flesh filling the air.

Meanwhile, Narvoth held aloft his shield with the five faces of Tiamat. It glowed with a black light for a moment, and then the divine magic raced over his body, coating him in a layer of darkness, making him seem as if he were in twilight, seemingly dimmer than his surroundings. The attacks of the Bringers were stymied. Sanjin unleashed a Lightning Bolt, catching Narvoth as well as two of the dragon-men. One of the dragon-men went down, the other was wounded, but the lightning bolt seemed to vanish and dissipate as it impacted the darkened area around Narvoth. He began to laugh …

But the sound vanished as Khaska finished his Silence spell. It was unnerving to see such ferocious combat playing out with no sound.

Orensland, seeing his enemy surrounded by the brave Bringers and feeling a little foolish at having struck and then retreated immediately, jumped back into the fray and began to attack Narvoth, seemingly materializing next to the dark cleric. But his attacks glanced off of the cleric’s armor, and the shadowdancer was dismayed to realize his worst fears. Narvoth immediately began to focus on him exclusively, the large mace smashing into him once, crushing bone and puncturing skin.

Gulnith was left alone, everybody seemingly focused on Narvoth. She grabbed a potion and drank it before running away from the melee combat. One of the Bringers, seeing her, ran after her, barreling into her with his sword, cutting into her arm. She reflexively cast another spell, but by this time they were too far for the Chain Lighting to jump to anybody else. The fighter caught the effect full on, and dropped.

Seeing the combat playing out the way it was, Khaska called upon Teresh with a Prayer spell, blunting the efforts of their enemies and aiding the efforts of his allies.

The sounds of melee combat and shouts of alarm came from the mansion. The armored vampire from before appeared just in front of the doorway, attacking Captain Gendry and the others. Khaska and Sanjin both attacked Gulnith. Sanjin hitting her with another Lightning Bolt, catching one of the unarmored dragon-men as well, and the cleric casting Spiritual Weapon, a Maha’i-style scimitar appearing in the air next to her. Before the dragon sorceress could cast another spell, the scimitar cut deeply into her neck, and she dropped to the ground, clutching it, blood spurting from the wound. In a moment, she collapsed.

Rynn, in the meantime, shot arrow after arrow after arrow after arrow at Narvoth. Between his efforts and those of the Bringers and Orensland, Narvoth, too, went down, a pair of arrows from the ranger puncturing his armor where he collapsed.

The vampire up by the mansion door cast a Searing Light spell through the door just as the militia members all shut it. He whirled, assessing the situation below.

Eryx (DM)
All the heavy hitters are down, thanks to Khaska’s Silence spell. Gulnith and Narvoth are both bleeding out. Two of the Bringers are down (a cleric and the fighter), and there are 4 dragon-men left (two armored, two not).

Up at the entrance to the mansion, the vampire has fought with the militia members, but they have managed to push past him and are now inside.

The Silence spell makes it impossible to magically heal one of the Bringers. The other, over by Gulnith, is also bleeding out.

Your hitpoints are as follows:
Sanjin 26/26 (His actions in this round didn't match his post because I realized that DeltaWolf had inadvertantly given himself less spells to use. I had his permission to correct that and then play Sanjin as I thought he would.)
Rynn 43/64
Khaska 47/63
Orensland 47/60

No, that’s not a typo, both Orensland and Khaska have 47 hitpoints left.

The current make of your enemies/allies:

Team Skyrnyn
4 dragon-men, two armored, two not. The two armored ones are in melee combat with Khaska. The other two with the Bringers.
Narvoth, bleeding out in the Silence spell.
Gulnith, bleeding out.

Team Bringer
1 cleric bleeding out in the Silence spell.
1 fighter bleeding out.
2 clerics still standing.
I guess we’re counting Greydale as a member of Team Bringer. He’s far back by the courtyard wall and firing crossbow bolts.

Team Maramos
All have retreated into the mansion. None went down. Took some damage from Khaska's Sound Blast and the vampire.

Team Drakh
One vampire, by the door to the mansion.

Give me three more rounds of combat. By now your characters would have realized that the dragon-men, despite their very cool and intimidating appearance, are not much of a threat to you. Probably not a threat to the Bringers in a one-on-one setting. You don’t need to blow your big spells or abilities on these guys.

And because I’m quite confident that this last bit of combat will wrap up fairly quickly, what do you all want to do afterwards? As a reminder: You’re fairly certain Lady Drakh will be attacking the House of Maramos very shortly. (For all you know, she may have already begun inside.) Your best chance to “kill” her in combat will be then, when she has many enemies to deal with. Or maybe wait to see how that combat plays out and go after the victor. However, to permakill her, you need to get over to her place and eliminate her coffin. If you want to permakill the Maramos coven, you have to do that before you head over to the Lancel coven. Khaska’s educated guess is that the Maramos’s will have recovered by the time you get there and back.

Thev
Sparing a glance at the vampire locked out of the Maramos house, Khaska will immediately run to the fallen Bringer fighter to stabilize them, while ordering someone to drag the fallen cleric his way, out of the ring of silence. He'll also direct someone to take on the remaining dragon-men.

In the longer term, Khaska wants the Maramos House gone, if at all possible. He'd be willing to help the Drakh vampires gain access to the Maramos compound so that they can do the dirty work. He'd have to debate with himself about potentially helping them, though. Right now, he's leaning towards letting them fight it out and making sure the party and the Bringers escape.

Crosis
Can't someone cancel out the ring of silence?

I vote on going against Lady Drakh, mostly because they have a vampire (possibly more, depending on who he told) who knows about the voidgates. Plus at least we have some goodwill with the Maramos clan if they survive–– I can say I turned on Narvoth because I realized I was more loyal to my comrades. So we finish off the dragonmen first? I actually think we should leave the vampire–– more firepower against the Maramos clan, increase the chances of them being ended. I would vote we get out of earshot before discussing our plans to go to Lady Drakh. If that's what we decide.

As for the bleeding out heavy hitters of the Cult, we have two options. If we want to interrogate Gulnith, we should stabilize her, gag her, possibly drug her, and take her to a place away from all the craziness, probably to one of the Bringer's safe houses. Otherwise, we really should just behead them just in case the Maramos clan tries to revive one of them out of goodwill. Not likely, but not something to leave to chance either. I'm personally voting on the beheading option.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin agrees with Orensland -he wants to attack Lady Drake and destory any enemy that knows about the voidgates.

BlackWolf (via email)
I think Rynn would try to clear the rest of the dragonmen and then the vampire.

If no one else will be helping heal the bringers, Rynn would help with that. But he’d probably be more effective firing his arrows. Carl can make that judgement call and any necessary rolls for me.

Once the courtyard is clear, Rynn would prefer to try to take out Lady Drakh. We should be able to get support from Cap. Gendry (whom Rynn would apologize to, if it comes up). It’s only been a few more moments (a few rounds of combat) so it seems like the plan to take the battle to Lady Drakh could still be on.

I'd rather have the Maramos clan survive than let Lady Drakh win. And it doesn’t look like we’d be strong or lucky enough to tale out both. Besides we have the back door into their coven now…

Plus we could possibly obtain a sky ship if we go fight the Drakh household.

But Rynn will defer to his friends if they feel strongly. He did just put them into a tough spot and has used up some goodwill.

Eryx (DM)
It seems to me the options are:

1.Go after Lady Drakh in person. The Maramos couple are still crippled for about the next 50 minutes or so. Surely Lady Drakh make her move in that time.
2.Go after Lady Drakh’s mansion. Try to find and destroy her coffin/graveyard dirt. This would kill her eventually as she would have no place to rest. But it would take a few days, likely.
3.Go after the Maramos couple. They’re crippled right now. Destroying them would be simplicity itself.
4.Or just escape the city, either via voidgate or by skyship. (I assume you want to do one of the first 3 options, but you could just decide to cut and run at this point.)

We have two votes for Option 2 (Orensland and Sanjin), one vote for Option 1 (Rynn), and one vote for Option 3 (Khaska).

The Bringers lean slightly towards option 1, thinking it will be easier to engage the House of Lancel without the possibility of Lady Drakh showing up, but will defer to you. Are Rynn and Khaska okay with Option 2? (I don't want to move forward if you are vehemently opposed to it.)

Crosis

Would it be suicidal if we split up? Rynn, Khaska and Sanjin(?) could go into the Maramos mansion, Orensland (and Sanjin?) could go to the House of Lancel? I think my mind is still considering how to knock all players off the board permanently. Ensure that the Maramos couple dies/tempkill Drakh in the Maramos mansion, while also trying to permakill Drakh/the gnome vampire?

Orensland and Sanjin (?) could try to wipe out the coffin through sneakery as opposed to a frontal assault. Orensland could sneak in and eliminate the coffin(s)/grab the grave dirt. The House of Lancel is likely ready to directly assault the House of Maramos and are not paying attention to shadowdancing rogues. If the party agrees, Orensland would try to get as much info from the bringers/Greydale/Khaska/anyone who as been in the House of Lancel about where the coffin(s) would be, and about any traps that might be in the way. If the party disagrees… well, I'd like to know the reasons before determining if Orensland would listen or not.

I am worried that attacking Lady Drakh in the flesh first would prevent her from killing the Maramos power couple. For those going into the mansion, I'd almost be in favor of waiting off to the side to see who dies first: Lady Drakh or the Maramos couple. Then gang up on the other. Anywho. Thoughts for those who are going into the Maramos mansion.

Eryx (DM)
It occurs to me that we've never quite worked out how to destroy a large amount of graveyard dirt. Taking a small amount and scattering it, making it impossible to re-gather it, would work, but if it's a crypt sort of situation (like Lord Maramos indicated they have), that would require something more.

By DM fiat, the Consecrate spell will destroy an area, making it unsuitable for vampires to rest (despite the fact that the spell is limited in duration, it renders the area "unnourishing," for lack of a better term, for vampire rest forever after). The Bringers have the necessary components for two castings of the spell. They've been prepared for this eventuality for … years.

Crosis
I'm still down for splitting the party. However, given the circumstances he'd ask for two others to join him (Sanjin included?), at least one of which being a cleric that can cast the spell. Sneakery can still be done, especially if there's a shadowdancing rogue creating distractions for any guards left behind. If a giant suit of armor collapses or an expensive-looking painting falls off the wall in one direction, guards will likely not be looking in the other, you know? :) We may want to cast a silence spell to enhance our sneakery, and just try to keep guards from entering the sphere of the spell via above said distractions/well timed dashes. Also, do the bringers have wooden stakes handy? That seems like something we'd have prepared to have on hand.

Orensland would probably offer to scout the House of Lancel first–– find the crypt/bedroom (hopefully they are one and the same) before bringing in anyone else.

BlackWolf (via email)
Option 2 works for Rynn.

He didn’t like what he saw, turned into a bat, and flew away.

Orensland reached down and shoved his sword into Narvoth’s neck. He wanted no chance that cleric could come back to haunt them. He flicked blood from his sword and moved out of the Silence spell. “Where to now?” He asked, as the Bringers worked to stabilize everybody. Rynn indicated they should do so to Gulnith, and one did. With her stabilized, they had options with the sorcereress.

“If we wish to send Lady Drakh to her crypt, our chance is now, while she assaults the House of Maramos.” Khaska said. “She will be fighting many opponents, with no possibility of reinforcements.”

“I don’t know if I like the idea of taking on the crazy blackguard vampire,” Orensland replied. “She more than held her own against several opponents just ten minutes ago.”

“A surgical strike,” one of the Bringers said, a woman by the name of Sarah Milner. “She knew she had to get in, poison them, and get out. She’s surely healed to full by now, while they are crippled and helpless.”

Rynn looked towards the mansion. “I could apologize to Captain Gendry for fighting them. Just say we were fighting the cult.”

“I don’t know how plausible that will seem,” Sanjin said. “You just started shooting at their cleric. For no reason.”

“Speaking of which,” Rynn said, glancing over to the still form of Gulnith. “I have unfinished business with that one. Could we bring her along?”

“You wish to carry her comatose form into battle?” Sarah said. “That will be less effective.”

Orensland’s face lit up.

“Can we fit her in one of our haversacks?” A quick check showed that no, they could not. But she would fit into the bag of holding! Orensland quickly began dumping some of the coins out, haphazardly trying to keep the platinum and gold over the silver and copper.

“Frankly,” Rynn said, “I’d rather the House of Maramos survive. I vote we move on Lady Drakh’s lands and try to wipe out her coffin and graveyard dirt. Then escape using the skyship.” Greygook nodded at that.

“We can consecrate two areas,” Sarah replied. “Could be the crypt of either coven.”

“What happens to Lady Drakh if we destroy her resting place?” Sanjin asked.

“She would die, eventually, but over a few days,” Khaska replied. “Imagine you were force to go without sleep, permanently. You wouldn’t just die the first night, but eventually, it would get to you.”

“So,” Orensland said, “head over, take out the crypt and coffins of Lady Drakh… “

“And my brother,” said Greygook. “I will not leave until he is at rest.”

“I agree,” Khaska said, exchanging a knowing look with Sanjin. “That is a priority as well.” A vampire wizard with knowledge of the voidgate system would be a dangerous adversary.

“Well,” said Orensland, who was now tying and gagging the comatose form of Gulnith. “I’ll run ahead and do some quick scouting. Just to see if I can get the lay of the land before you all come in to murder them.”

“The vampires there usually stay in the lower levels,” Greygook said. “There is one that stays in the upper levels. If we want to wipe out the entire Coven It might be nice to know how many are there, but don’t push your luck. And be prepared … the smell down there is awful.”

“Don’t forget to assess the skyship,” said Rynn. Orensland nodded, then sprinted out of the courtyard, vanishing as he exited.

Khaska was looking at Gulnith. “How should we go about … ?” He was cut off by Sanjin unceremoniously dragging the bag of holding over to her, opening it, and dumping her it. It was a little weird to see her limp body disappear into the small bag, but it did, and the wizard closed it up.

“We’ll have to open it every few minutes, to make sure she has enough air, but she’ll be fine. And there’s still plenty of money in there, if we care,” he said.

“I’m sure Orensland cares a great deal,” Rynn said, to brief laughter from each of the rest of them. “Frankly, I think we’re good on money with the money that the House of Maramos already paid us. Not to mention the new weapons and armor they procured for us. Now let’s get out of here before the situation changes again.” '


Orensland had quickly assessed the situation at the House of Lancel. The skyship remained behind the main mansion, and seemed untouched. Good.

There were many guards out and about in the courtyard, but he saw no vampires. He managed to sneak into the house itself through a window and first went to check upstairs. He found a vampire strumming a mandolin on a large couch with several different women surrounding him in various states of undress or with scanty clothing. There was a bed behind him. Orensland then snuck away and then got down into the basement area. He first encountered a vampire walking down a hallway. The shadowdancer quickly backed away and waited for him to pass. He found another vampire in a room standing over a dead body (no idea how recently dead), and passed several rooms with coffins in them. There were few guards or others on this level. It seemed most of the servants and vampire worshippers were upstairs.

There was a door that led down to a further sub-basement, but there were two guards stationed by it. He didn’t feel like pushing his luck, so he went back upstairs and went to find the others.


Once he found them, he described what he had seen, and between his recollections, Greygook’s time there, and Khaska’s single visit to the sub-basement, they had a decent idea of the setup. The vampire upstairs was likely Lord Jacen Lancel, a bard, the only Lancel vampire remaining from before Lady Drakh’s purge. The vampires downstairs were in the first level of the basement—where they all slept. Below that were the cells for prisoners and unwanted slaves. Lady Drakh, near as the Bringers had gathered information and Greygook had seen, slept below that first level. Speaking of Lady Drakh, they were on the clock, so to speak. There was no telling when she and the other vampires at House Maramos would be returning.

So they went in, quickly, and with no mercy. Khaska and the Bringers had healed most everybody up, so they were in better shape than when they had started their quick jaunt across town. The guards in the courtyard put up an honorable fight, but between the four members of the party and their powerful Bringer allies, the situation was quickly dealt with. Orensland and Rynn led the charge into the house itself, throwing the double doors open with a flourish and seeing … nothing.

“Welcome,” came a smooth voice. The group looked up to see the vampire Orensland had seen upstairs slowly descending the stairs. He was wearing a robe, and it was open, showing off his lithe chest. A smidge of blood ran down from the corner of his mouth, and he licked it as he held up his glass of red liquid. “I assume you are here in retaliation for my Lady’s attack.” He shrugged, and drank deeply from the goblet. “I’m surprised we’ve lasted this long under her leadership. Though we might prevail with what forces we have left. You’ll find them downstairs in the first level of the basement. Lady Drakh is not my sire, so I have no loyalty to her. I wish you the best of luck.”

Eryx (DM)
Given that the guards in the courtyard would pose no problem to the eight of you, I simply moved the narrative ahead instead of waiting for the tediously easy combat to conclude using our usual method. We're at the first real decision point.

This vampire is making no threatening moves towards you. It is Lord Jacen, and Greygook would have informed you that he’s a hedonist of the highest order, but certainly not a fighter or a major threat. Lady Drakh kept him around for his music. The more threatening vampires will be downstairs, at least the last Orensland saw of them.

Downstairs there is a basement, the first level of which is mostly private vampire rooms with coffins. Below that is the area where Khaska came when visiting to ask about the Codex Demonicus. It is mostly filled cells and a few other rooms, like the one Lady Drakh had used to summon a babau to talk to the Maha’i.

1. What do you all want to do?

2. Also, how much healing would you have done on the way over? Gotten everybody to full health? Mostly full health? At least a certain percentage (75%, 80%, whatever.) The Bringer clerics are also willing to use their healing spells to top people off.

Thev
I think we'd do the bare minimum to maximize healing before heading here, but not overdo it — we might need healing after these encounters, too.

Would Jacen Lancel be willing to indicate where exactly Lady Drakh's sleeping chambers would be? He wouldn't need to come with us, of course, but some directions would be helpful.

As for the vampires… perhaps Orensland, with some backup outside whatever room he's in, could sneak in and try to off the vampires quietly. Meanwhile, others could systematically proceed through the vacated rooms, destroying coffins and scattering dirt. If that won't take too long, of course.

If such systematic destruction seems too involved for our timeframe, Khaska would suggest that we off the vampires present, then immediately proceed to the subbasement, find Lady Drakh's chamber, consecrate it, and then get to the skyship and away as fast as possible. Potentially leaving a pillar of flame behind as a parting gift.

Eryx (DM)
As a matter of fact, Lord Lancel is willing to tell you that she sleeps in the crypt, which is in the third sub-basement. "Disgusting place. I'd not be caught dead there with what she's done with the place." Basically, there is one level of basement (vampire quarters), a first sub-basement (cells for prisoners and slaves), and a final sub-basement, in which the House of Lancel crypt is.

Can I get a Sense Motive check from anybody who wants to know why this vampire is being so friendly.

Thev
Khaska Sense Motive: 18 = 11+7

Eryx (DM)
The hitpoints are as follows:
Rynn 43/64
Khaska 47/63
Orensland 47/60
And the Bringer Fighter is at 5/57.

How many, and which spells, will Khaska cast to heal folks? (You have 3 level 7 Bringer clerics with you as well.)

Crosis
Orensland Sense Motive: 19 = 19+0

Orensland likes the systematic method of offing vampires idea. He could shadowdance in, stake a vampire, behead him/her (otherwise they could just be "unstaked" later), then move on to the next one. I assume that, because everyone is in their private headquarters, that they are not armored up. That should make staking someone much more straightforward. It is also likely that the two vampires we tempkilled earlier (including our gnome friend) are in their coffins at this moment, so there are 4ish vampires to worry about. Would those two be in a sleeping state as they come back to life, or would we have to worry that they would wake up?

I would vote that those of our party not doing the systematic killing move into an empty room on the first level of the basement during this process. Close enough to spring to action, but not waiting around in a hallway where they could be seen.

Also, does the crypt count as all the vampires' grave dirt? That would be handy.

DeltaWolf
I like Crosis' idea. Sanjin would offer to cast Mage Armor on Orensland prior to his systemic offing.

BlackWolf
Sense motive: 20 (rolled 13 + 7 bonus)

At this point, as long as this "Lord Lancel" doesn't interfere with the party, Rynn is more than willing to let him be. He's a bit wary, just in case the vampire might turn on them, but there are fighting foes ahead.

Rynn would have also used the wand of Cure Light Wounds from his backpack to heal people up quickly. Better to use that up and save spell slots for the upcoming fight. Plus we've been carrying it around since Codex I, so we might as well use it. :)

  • 3 castings gets Rynn up to 63/64.
  • 2 more puts Khaska at 61/63
  • 2 more gets Orensland up to 59/60

It's not the best for quickly healing a lot of damage, but Rynn wouldn't leave the Bringer fighter out. If somebody else (one of the clerics, perhaps) wanted to do one bigger spell, Rynn could top the fighter off. Just let me know how many charges he'd have to expend. After the uses above, we've got 10 charges left.

The ranger is also in favor of the plan to off the vampires as we go. Although we have to hurry to eliminate Lady Drakh's grave before she returns, there's something Rynn doesn't like about what Jacen said about "what she's done with the place." Who knows what we'd find down there. So we've got to move quickly, but there's no sense in barging straight there and surrounding ourselves with enemies.

Thev
Khaska thanks Rynn for contributing to the healing effort with the wand; we'll have to get another of those! Meanwhile, he'll cast Cure Serious Wounds (3d8 +1/level) on the Bringer fighter:

22 = 6+4+3+9

Should he cast more?

Eryx (DM)
I forgot you guys had the wand. It seems to make the most sense to use it to get the Bringer fighter up as well.

I asked Crosis for some Hide/Move Silent and Attack rolls. He sent them to me and I'm posting them here.

Hide/Move Silent:
28/38
37/36
44/43
30/25

Attacks (roll + BAB + DEX):
25
29
19
23

Crosis
Also, for preparing to essentially storm the dungeon, Orensland would ask Jacen what guards we might expect to encounter. Plus whatever he means by "what she did with the place."

“Lord Lancel,” said Greygook.

“Greygook,” the vampire inclined his head. “I am pleased you survived the attack on your brothers.”

“I’m here to make sure they have their eternal rest.”

“Well, Greyran has that. Lady Drakh was uninterested in another bard as long as she had my considerable talents at her disposal. No offense intended, of course. Greydale has a coffin on the first level of the basement, but he has joined the Lady in an attack on a rival coven. Such a distasteful waste of resources.”

Rynn noted the melancholy from this vampire, and the way he said Lady Drakh’s name spoke volumes of his distaste for her. If he didn’t know better, he’d say this vampire was world-weary. He wondered what kind of hell it would be like to be eternally trapped by a more powerful and violent vampire. No wonder this Lord Lancel hated her so.

“Well, we’re here to end her,” Orensland said. “Where is the crypt and her coffin?”

Lancel smiled, a happier smile than any of them had seen on any of the vampires in all their months in this city. “Well, that is intriguing. Her coffin is in the crypt itself, down in the second sub-basement. Disgusting place. I'd not be caught dead there with what she's done with it. That’s why I sleep upstairs in my private quarters. She’s allowed me at least that much dignity.”

“What kind of resistance can we expect?” Sarah asked.

“I am unsure how many of our vampires are with the Lady, but there are usually at least six guards downstairs, a pair for each level of the basement.”

“And what will we find in the crypt?” came Rynn’s inquiry. He was wary of what they might find there.

“Nothing dangerous, but you will find all the reasons that I care not to visit. But I suggest you go quickly. If she catches you here, it may not go well for you, and I know not if she will return sooner or later.”

“Traitor!” Two guards appeared from around a corner up above, near Lord Lancel. The first of them fired a crossbow bolt at the vampire, but it went wide. The vampire turned and, with a speed that surprised everybody, closed the distance between himself and the guards, locking eyes with the second, who went slack. His partner was re-arming the crossbow, but just as he prepared to fire again, the second stabbed him in the side of the neck with his sword. The man dropped to the ground, gurgling, and Lord Lancel slowly closed on the other, grabbing his head and jerking it back, exposing his neck. He drank deeply, and in a matter of seconds the other guard collapsed. Lord Lancel wiped his lips with a silk handkerchief from one of the pockets of his robe.

“Like I said, I suggest you go quickly, and now I wish you much success, moreseo than even before.”

They needed no further encouragement.

“So what’s the plan?” Fynn asked as they headed down. “We just going to go barging in?”

“Orensland is particularly good at sneaking, obviously,” Khaska said. “Perhaps we should let him go first to try and stake some vampires. Be prepared to rush to his aid if needed.”

“Sounds good to me,” Orensland said. “There’s a door at the bottom of these stairs. I’ll sneak in like before, but if you hear me calling for help, come get me!”

“Please, if you find my brother,” Greygook said, “let me be the one to …” he gulped, “to do it.” Orensland nodded, listened at the door, then opened it and vanished as he moved forward.

The shadowdancer found the same vampire standing over a dead body. The vampire was … eating it. Absolutely disgusted, Orensland staked the elven vampire with no problems (he was not wearing armor) and chopped his head off with a single blow.

He moved to the next room, and gently pried open the coffin lid. Inside was one of the vampires they had killed back at the Maramos household, the ranger. She looked serene, at peace. He staked her and chopped her head off as well, though that was a little more difficult since she was in the coffin.

The next room had a coffin, but it was empty. The next room’s coffin held … Greydale. He left the room intact, to honor Greygook’s request.

However, a moment later he heard a gasp and turned to see a new vampire having discovered his handiwork with the first. This vampire had red skin and horns peeked out from under his black hair … a tail swished back and forth behind him. Actually, Orensland wasn’t even sure it was a vampire, despite the fact that there were prominent fangs.

“Intruders!” The newcomer yelled. Another vampire came, one that Orensland had seen before, came around the corner as Orensland heard the door to the upstairs slam open. Rynn and Khaska were the first ones to arrive on the scene seconds later.

“There they are!” The human vampire called out.

“I don’t see … ah, a dwarf to play with,” the demonic-looking one responded as Fynn bounded down the stairs.

Orensland smiled. Khaska’s Hide from Undead spell had apparently affected the red-skinned one. But just then the two Lancel guards arrived from their spot by the stairs to the basement. The easy part had ended—they’d have to fight from here on down.

Eryx (DM)
Between getting yourselves back up to near-full health and getting the Bringers up to the same, the wand has now used up all of its charges, but you have more flexible spellcasting options from the 4 clerics with you (Khaska and 3 Bringers, who had to use a few of their spells to finish topping everybody off).

Orensland was able to sneak up on and decapitate two of the five vampires downstairs (Greydale is still recovering and will not be part of this combat), but unfortunately you’ve been discovered. There are two vampires and the two guards, but one of the vampires is unable to see the party thanks to Khaska’s Hide from Undead spell (they can see the Bringers). You are all in a hallway only about 10 feet wide. The two guards are at one end, then Orensland, then the two vampires, then the rest of the party. There are two main hallways on this level that basically make a square figure 8 (like a digital 8), so if you wanted to run around and flank that’s an option too. Neither vampire is wearing armor or has a weapon.

Please roll initiative and give me three rounds of actions. Also, if you wanted to cast any buffs on everybody before Orensland went through the door, I’ll allow that as well. (Bless, or the like.)

Of note, if Khaska casts Turn Undead the Hide from Undead effects will end on the red-skinned vampire. One of the Bringers will be casting that anyway. If the spell fails, another may follow suit.

I almost wanted Khaska to roll a Knowledge (Religion) check to see what species this red-skinned creature is, but with a +13 to that skill, you’ll automatically know that it’s a vampire Tiefling. (You know it’s undead because the spell is affecting it.)

Crosis
Does Orensland get a suprise round, seeing as he's been there the whole time? Also, Orensland would try to stake a vampire first. He'd try to stake the human one first, seeing as he would still be invisible to the Tiefling and possibly be able to flank/stake him too.

Prior to descending the stairs, Orensland would request that someone cast Silence on Orensland. Not necessarily for better sneaking, but more so that he can position himself to mask the din of battle from reaching other guards while being far away enough from our clerics to unhinder their spellcasting. If the party disagrees with that idea (for example, out of fear for accidentally cancelling out our party's ability to cast spells) than continue as planned. (when the Tiefling shouted "intruders," would that have been loud enough to reach other floors? In other words, are we expecting more guards to show up at any moment?)

Also, whoever has the Consecrate spell ready should stay out of the thick of the fight. Just in case.

  • Initiative: 18 (7+11)

Round 1
* Hit: 29 (18+11 mod)
* Damage: 9 (1 + 5 mod + 3 fire damage)
Round 2
* Hit: 26 (15+11 mod)
* Damage: 14 (6 + 5 mod + 3 fire damage)
Round 3
* To Hit: 19 (8+11 mod)
* Damage: 17 (7 + 5 mod + 5 fire damage)

DeltaWolf

  • Initiative: 12
  • Round 1: cast Crushing Despair directed at the vampires
  • Round 2: Throw down the Payton Rod to form Nagini
  • Round 3: Nagini will attempt to grapple the nearest enemy
      • 43 (20 +23 mod)

Thev
Alas, Khaska only prepared one Silence, and we've used it. He will, however, cast several buffs before combat: Bless and Prayer.

Could Khaska cast Searing Light aimed at both vampires? If so, he will, gesturing to Orensland to get out of the way.

  • To hit: 23 = 17 + 6
  • Damage: 23 = 1+1+6+7+8

After that, he's tempted to cast Fire Shield and enter melee with his scimitar; does that sound like a good idea?

Eryx (DM)
Just received permission from BlackWolf to do his rolls for Rynn, who will be using his sword in this combat due to the close quarters. I'll post those here in the gray box before writing up the post.

Rynn's attacks.

  • Initiative: 16 (rolled) + 4 (bonuses) = 20 total.

Round 1.

  • Attack: 12 (rolled) + 9 (BAB) + 2 STR + 1 (Magic) = 24 total.
  • Damage: 8 (rolled) + 2 STR + 1 (Magic) = 11 total.
  • Attack: 19 (rolled). CRIT!
  • Damage: 8 (Max) + 6 (rolled) + 3 (bonuses) = 17 total.

Round 2.

  • Attack: 18 (rolled) + 12 (bonuses) = 20 total.
  • Damage: 5 (rolled) + 3 (bonuses) = 8 total.
  • Attack: 1 (rolled). Miss.

Round 3.

  • Attack: 2 (rolled) + 12 (bonuses) = 14 total.
  • Damage: 2 (rolled) + 3 (bonuses) = 5 total.
  • Attack: 10 (rolled) + 7 (bonuses) = 17 total.
  • Damage: 4 (rolled) + 3 (bonuses) = 7 total.

Rynn drew his sword and advanced quickly on the red-skinned vampire, who was extremely surprised to get hit by an invisible opponent. The ranger’s quick swordsmanship severely wounded the demonic-looking vampire. But with a cry of dismay the two guards closed the gap and began frantically trying to keep Rynn from the vampires.

It was simplicity itself for Orensland to stake the human vampire from behind. That vampire collapsed, completely disabled. The guards didn’t even notice for a few seconds, busy with Rynn and with Sarah, who had closed to fight as well.

Fynn grabbed one of the other Bringers and sprinted away, trying to move around the corridors to flank from the other side, as Sanjin ensorcelled one guard and the two vampires with Crushing Despair, wondering if it would even effect a staked and disabled vampire.

A crossbow bolt from Greygook and Khaska’s Searing Light, however, simply obliterated the tiefling vampire—the cleric knew enough about planar beings that he had quickly identified the original species of this red-skinned vampire. After Rynn’s surprise attacks, the vampire simply didn’t have much strength remaining. The holy light burned the vampire fiend to ash. Its mist form began moving down the hallway, turning into one of the rooms.

Orensland parried a quick attack from one of the guards and then shoved his sword right into the man’s jaw. It jutted out the back of his head, killing the man outright. The other guard, however, managed to pull the stake out of the heart of the remaining vampire just as Rynn stabbed him in the back. The man went down, dead, but the vampire jumped to his feet. Fynn rounded the corner and also blasted the vampire with a Searing Light spell of his own. The vampire wasn’t destroyed instantly, but the Bringer’s fighter followed up with a few savage blows. The vampire couldn’t recover in time, and in moments was also misting back to his coffin.

“Well, that was easier than expected,” Fynn said.

“We suspected the heavy hitters would be over at the Maramos lands,” Sarah said. “Let’s destroy their resting places before they return. I don’t much fancy a fight with Lady Drakh.”

The Bringer’s fighter was already summarily decapitating the vampires in their coffins, each body dissipating into ashes after his strikes. Then he hacked at the coffins until they were nothing but splinters.

Greygook entered the room Orensland had said Greydale was in, and the gnome tossed aside the lid of the coffin. He was all business, decapitating his brother and then dousing the coffin in an alcoholic beverage from a flask. A few sparks later and the coffin was in flames.

He pushed past Khaska, who saw tears in the gnomes eyes. “Let’s go,” Greygook said.

They appeared to have attracted no attention, and it took Orensland just a moment to pick the lock leading to the next basement level.

It was as Khaska remembered, though this time illuminated by Sarah’s Light spell, cast on her mace. There were various cells, some with solid wooden doors, others with bars, leaving them open to the hallway. When it became obvious that there were armed intruders, the people in the cells began clamoring for help. Dirty, outstretched arms grasped at the party from behind barred windows and cell doors.

“Sarah!” Came a voice. A haggard elf, chained and nearly naked, sat in one of the open cells.

“Kivessin!” Sarah cried out, and with a quick few blows she smashed the lock and opened the doors. The elf began to cry and she grabbed him and held him close. The two of them spoke through sobs of joy that made it difficult to understand. The clamoring of the other prisoners grew louder.

“You’re alive!” Sarah gasped.

“I don’t know how long I’ve been here,” he said. “I had given up hope long ago.”

“You’ve been missing for years. A decade!” she said. “Have you been here all this time?”

He nodded. “Lady Drakh keeps me here and forces me to make holy water for her. She takes it downstairs, and I no not why!”

“Greygook,” Fynn said, “could you assist with opening the locks and freeing these prisoners? Sarah, remain here in case he needs any help.” He hefted his mace. “The rest of us, let’s go to the sub-basement and finish this.”

Orensland once again picked the lock and opened the door, and Fynn knocked a sunrod against the wall, emitting more light. The Shadowdancer nodded, asked to go ahead just a bit, and then walked down, vanishing into the darkness.

At the bottom of the spiral staircase was a large room with four large stone sarcophagi, and many different grave niches along the walls. None were occupied. The smell was horrifying—Orensland gaged a little, and wrapped a cloth around his face (though that helped little). Several rotting corpses were on the ground in various states of disarray and decay.

Across from the stairway were two items of note. The first seemed to be an altar, with two large icons on it. One was a lightningbolt, the other a large disk with a disfigured face adorning it. Both were coated in dust and looked as if they had been tossed onto the altar.

The other item was a cross. Hanging on the cross was a naked human woman, her arms cruelly wrenched to hang her from the nail marks in her wrists. Jutting from her chest was a large wooden stake. Her skin bore many burn marks, and at her feet were shattered jars and clay urns. Orensland crept forward and peered inside, but even with his darkvision, he could tell that the liquid inside was merely water.

It appeared that, other than the incapacitated vampire hanging on the cross, they were alone.

Eryx (DM)
I assumed that you would all consent to freeing the prisoners of House Lancel, though you should decide how you want to handle their escape. There is not enough room aboard the skyship for all of them—it will only fit you, Greygook, and the Bringers (including Kivessin).

You have reached the crypt of the House of Lancel, where Lady Drakh rests, after blowing those two vampires and guards away in a round and a half.

Anybody wishing to do a more complete survey of the room should give me a Search check. Khaska would know that the two religious icons on the altar are for Heironeous, a lawful good god of valor, and Erythnul, the god of chaos and slaughter.

There appears to be a crucified vampire, hung, tortured, and staked (therefore incapicated, but not killed). None of the Bringers have any idea who it is.

What do you all want to do?

Crosis
Shoot. I had just assumed Lady Drakh would have a wooden coffin, like everyone else. Would the Consecrate spell render stone sarcophagi useless? If not, any ideas on how to destroy a sarcophagus?

Orensland is intrigued by the tortured vampire. We've been on something of a killing spree for… all the vampires in this mansion so far, but thinks it may be a good idea to interrogate her. We're in something of a time crunch right now, but she's presently staked, how about we throw her into the bag of holding along with Gulnith? Part of me just wants Gulnith to wake up surrounded by gold and a bloodied staked vampire. I can't think of a weirder "what the hell?" moment than that right now, and it would make Orensland laugh. We'd probably have to clear some more money out, but given he wants to loot the Maramos mansion in a moment feels it would be worth it.

If we're running into trouble with the sarcophagi, perhaps we could temporarily unstake this vampire. Aside from asking who she is, we could ask if there are any secrets we should know about regarding this crypt––– which sarcophagus is Lady Drakh's, or is her coffin hidden in one of the crevices or something? We know Lady Drakh's crazy, but she may be paranoid too. On that note, Orensland would be looking for traps. This vampire likely is not a fan of Lady Drakh and is therefore more inclined to inform us of the goodies/dangers/secrets of this room. THEN restake her and throw her in the bag.

If we can think of no way to destroy the sarcophagus, could we fit hers into the bag of holding? We could drop it off the skyship from waaaay up into the sky, that should do the trick. Perhaps right onto the mansion. That would be hilarious.

If we're REALLY in luck, Lady Drakh may have temp-died by this time and will just float in to be peacefully staked and dismembered. That would be nice.

Anywho. Our priority is to kill Lady Drakh by destroying her ability to rest ASAP. If the party doesn't necessarily need Orensland's help, he'd probably just search around the crypt for anything of note, including traps or hidden coffins (including recently upturned dirt), though obviously keeping an eye out for looting potential. We should also check to make sure the sarcophagi are empty, though only after we've done what we need to stop lady Drakh/secure the vampire. If a wraith pops out or something I'd rather we already finished our main task.

  • Search: 28 (rolled 11 + 17 mod)

In terms of escape, not all of us need to be on that skyship. Orensland would still like to explore the voidgate himself (with Sanjin, probably), which would free up two spots. Plus some of the bringers may want to stick around the city––– their covers aren't really blown, and they may want to stick around to report what happens in the city after everything that's happened. Thus, some prisoners could come on the skyship too. I'd assume we'd want to give priority to Bringer prisoners, Kivessin should know who those may be.

Eryx (DM)
The sarcophagi are not movable.

If I could get a Knowledge (Religion) check from Khaska, he could answer some of your other questions. Given that you have 3 Bringer Clerics with you that specialize in anti-vampire lore, I'll give you advantage on the roll. (Roll twice, take the higher roll.)

Thev
Well, Khaska has a +13 in Knowledge (Religion), and I rolled a 20… so what does a critical success 33 get us? A flash of sudden and unexpected genius? :D

Eryx (DM)
Khaska's Knowledge (Religion) check allows him to realize that the sarcophagi would suffer from the same effects of the consecrate spell that the rest of the crypt will. Sorry, a critical success doesn't mean Teresh himself answers your inquiry complete with angelic choirs. You just know the basic information.

You do not need to destroy the sarcophagi. Just consecrate them. The crypt is small enough that you can easily consecrate the entire thing.

Since none of the rest of you can even roll a higher search check than 28, I'll say this: Orensland finds no traps. In one of the grave niches he finds a series of jars, beakers, pots, gristles, and other implements. After closer inspection, he deduces that it is a used combination alchemy set and a poisoner's kit.

In one of the sarcophagi he finds silk pillows and fine blankets. In another he finds a well-polished suit of armor, set up as if on a dead person, holding a jeweled longsword and with a gold-trimmed shield bearing the symbol of Heironeous. Scratched into the inside of the lid are the words, "Here lies Knight Vitoria Moretti of the Order of the Silver Dragons, Baronessa of Cyriest." The other two are empty aside from some old moldering clothing and tarnished jewelry all thrown into one of them.

Crosis
That simplifies everything immensely. Though I'm a bit bummed we couldn't drop the stone sarcophagus from the skyship, that would have been entertaining.

While obviously quite happy to see such a grand display of goods, Orensland would simultaneously feel sorrowful over the implications of this armor. We're not sure if this is Lady Drakh's original armor or that of the women presently on the cross––– regardless, it marks the grave of a what was once likely a noble and respectable warrior. Orensland would want to remove the armor (perhaps by putting it in his haversack) with the intent of returning it to Cyriest for a type of proper burial.

So basically, Orensland would vote we consecrate the place, throw the staked vamp into the holding bag as the second person to interrogate later, grab the armor and alchemy kits (he's curious what she's been doing), and leave while we still can. Between the 7 or 8 of us, we should be able to do these several things simultaneously and get out of there fairly quickly. We could also ask Greygook if he's heard the name Vitoria Moretti.

Eryx (DM)
The Bringers are vehemently opposed to any plan that doesn't involve killing the vampire. In fact, Fynn notes they were deferring to you in the matter of Lord Lancel, but they really want to kill him on the way out as well.

Khaska remembers that Lady Maramos told him that Lady Drakh was once a paladin.

Crosis
Well then. Consecrate the ground, take the goods, unstake her to briefly interrogate her, restake/dismember her, then go. She's on a cross and clearly weakened, she can't put up a good enough fight to be considered a danger. Interrogate to 1) see who she is and why Drakh hates her, 2) see if there's anything of note in the crypt we missed, including the uses of the "used combination alchemy set." By intending to return the armor to Cyriest, Orensland would also want to ask her if she wants anything written over her tombstone/completed in Cyriest while he's there, presuming she is Vitoria.

As for Lord Lancel, I'd be fine with ending him too.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin is also opposed to a plan that incolves bringing a vampire with us.

BlackWolf
When he makes his way down into the small crypt, Rynn will find himself feeling uncomfortable about the naked woman, vampire or not. So when Orensland's search turns up the blankets he will use one to drape over the tortured victim, giving her some small semblance of modesty.

Throwing her into the bag of holding doesn't seem quite right either, so Rynn will end up falling in with the Bringer's plan to kill the vampire. Seems like it would put her out of her misery as well. He's fine with her being questioned first though.

The ranger suspects that the armor belongs to Lady Drakh's former paladin persona. It makes him wonder if her attacks on the Maramos are part of some sort of twisted desire to hold on to her prior beliefs? Or perhaps it's more simple: exacting revenge against those who turned her?

Above all else, he's antsy for the clerics to consecrate the place so that Lady Drakh will be undone. Hopefully we can do that before or during the questioning of the vampire.

Crosis
Bear in mind that we should blindfold the vampire if we unstake her. We don't want her to be charming anyone, that would complicate things.

Thev
He guys! Sorry for the delayed response. It's been a very busy week on my end.

Khaska also opposes bringing any vampires with us. He'd advocate for:

  1. Blindfolding and covering up the vampire (thanks for the tip, Crosis!).
  2. Unstaking and questioning the vampire, after asking Greygook if he's familiar with the name Vitoria Moretti. He'd be interested to learn anything she knows about Lady Drakh's plans/objectives, especially for the Maramos house.
  3. If we learn that Lady Drakh and others in her household (who are still alive) knew about the voidgates, we should make sure to end them. (If Lord Lancel knows, Khaska would acceded to his death; if not, he'd be somewhat conflicted about it, as Lord Lancel apparently let us pass by.)
  4. Consecrating the ground as soon as possible. That's what we came here for, and we don't want to miss our chance.
  5. We should also grab the armor to return to the Knights of the Silver Dragons and/or Cyriest; we could report on Lady Moretti's demise. (Is there any way possible to un-turn a vampire?)

“Everybody come on in,” the shadowdancer said. “I don’t see any traps or anything. We’re alone.”

“Good, let’s consecrate the tomb and then get out of here …” Rynn stopped upon entering the room, just behind Fynn. His eyes went to the tortured vampire hanging across the room. Then his eyes dropped to the ground, embarrassed by her nakedness.

“Do we need to physically destroy these sarcophagi?” Sanjin asked.

Orensland looked at his sword. “I don’t know if our weapons will work.” His face brightened. “Maybe we could stuff them in our bags of holding and then drop them on the house as we fly away!”

Fynn looked at them, inspecting them. “They’re part of the crypt itself. Moving them without shattering them into pieces is impossible.”

“Then consecrating the crypt itself is all that we need to do,” Khaska said. “Anything else we need to do we can do so after the spell is complete, thereby assuring Lady Drakh’s eventual death. Though,” he walked over and grabbed the plate with the disfigured face, “best to get rid of this symbol of Erthynul.” He slammed it on the ground, bending it, then slashing it several times with his scimitar, eventually splitting it.

“Could we unstake and ask her about this crypt?” Orensland asked, looking up at the crucified vampire.

“It’s lucky there’s now an altar here to Heironeous, who I serve,” said Fynn as he straightened the lightning symbol on the small altar, then bowed to it. “It will make my Consecrate spell all the more powerful.” He grabbed out a bottle of holy water and a small pouch of silver dust. “We know Lady Drakh makes her bed here. I don’t know that it’s worth the risk to wake up the vampire. What could she tell us that we don’t already know?” Then he began sprinkling them both around the crypt, muttering a prayer. In a matter of moments, he was done. The area seemed to glow momentarily with a holy light, and Khaska felt his connection with Teresh strengthen.

“Well, then I’ll finish looking around,” Orensland said.

In one of the sarcophagi he found elegant silk blankets and sheets, with down pillows to match. The Bringer fighter whistled. “She sleeps well with these,” he said, pulling them up, and running his fingers over the soft cloth.

Another of the sarcophagi yielded nothing. A third held some old moldering clothes, things that looked like they might have been elegant many many years ago. Orensland didn’t even want to venture how long they had been in there. There were some jewels among the clothing, however, and Orensland retrieved those items and put them in his haversack.

The final sarcophagus was where the surprise lay. Inside was a suit of armor, laid out as if for burial (though empty), with a gold-laced shield with a symbol of Heironeous and an elegant jeweled longsword. The armor was polished and meticulously kept. “Wow,” said Orensland. The others came to look.

“Woman’s armor,” Fynn said.

“There’s an inscription here,” Orensland said, noticing something on the bottom of the sarcophagus’ lid. He ducked down to see it better, then pushed the lid off and laid it on the ground. “Here lies Knight Vitoria Moretti, of the Order of the Silver Dragons, Baronessa of Cyriest.” He became a little quiet. “I wonder if this is Lady Drakh’s original armor.”

“I was told that she was a paladin before she was turned,” Khaska said.

“Perhaps, then, her attack on the Maramos Coven was a twisted way of holding on to her old beliefs,” Rynn said, running a hand gently over the armor’s gauntlet. “Or maybe exacting her revenge against those that turned her.”

“She got all her scars before she was turned, right?” Sanjin asked.

Khaska nodded. “Had she been tortured after becoming a vampire, they would have healed. Those wounds were received before she was turned. But she wasn’t turned by the Maramos Coven, Rynn.”

“I meant vampires in general,” the ranger replied. He reached down to scratch at Ranna’s head, as the wolf was pawing at her nose from the smell of the rotting flesh.

“Ah. I suppose that is possible,” the cleric somberly stated.

“Cyriest is in the Tlerian empire,” Fynn said. “We dwarves do much business through there.”

“Perhaps we should take this armor and return it there for a proper burial,” Khaska said.

“How do we know it’s not her armor?” Orensland said, pointing to the crucified vampire. Rynn was, at that very moment, draping the corpse with one of the blankets from the first sarcophagi, affording the woman at least some measure of modesty, vampire or not. “I still think we should question her? She poses little danger, injured as she is and tied down.” He glanced at her wounded wrists. “So to speak.” He smiled. “Though maybe we could take her with us. Stuff her in the bag of holding. I would love to see the look on Gulnith’s face when she wakes up in a pocket dimension with a dead vampire next to her!”

“You have a very odd sense of humor, my roguish friend,” Fynn said, looking at him sideways.

“We can question her if you want,” came Sarah’s voice as she entered the chamber. Kivessen followed her, moving slowly, his wounds and time in chains still evident. “But she doesn’t come with us—re-stake and execute her when we’re done. And cover her eyes at least. So she can’t try to ensnare one of us with her gaze.” She glanced around. “Everybody upstairs is free, and we’re ready to go.”

“We’ve consecrated the crypt,” Fynn said. “The House of Lancel will perish within days.”

“After we kill that vampire upstairs,” she said. “I suspect Lord Lancel’s coffin isn’t down here.”

“It’s not,” said Greygook, coming down himself. “It’s upstairs in his private quarters.”

“Then we have unfinished business before we depart,” Sarah said. “And if Lady Drakh’s coup against the Maramos coven is successful, we will have dealt a huge blow to the vampire reign of this city.”

“I also want to ask her about this,” Orensland said, indicating one of the crypt’s grave niches. A series of bottles and beakers and pestles sat there. “It looks to me like a combination poisoner’s kit and an alchemy set. I wonder what it was used for.”

“Have you heard of a ‘Vitoria Moretti,’ Greygook?” Sanjin asked.

“Can’t say that I have. Why do you ask?”

The wizard indicated the inside of the sarcophagus lid, now on its side. Greygook inspected it. “Yeah, I don’t know who that is. It never came up in our time here. Sorry.”

Fynn and Khaska lifted the cross up from its base. The bottom was quite rotted, but the wood was still strong enough to keep the cross upright. Upon closer inspection, there were several nail marks on the crossbeam. Either this woman had been recrucified several times, or she was not the first victim of this cross. Fynn made sure the blanket covered her well with a nod to Rynn as Sarah wrapped a torn piece of one of the silk sheets around her eyes. Fynn still had to reach in towards her chest to prepare to pull out the stake, slightly exposing her chest. Everybody in the room readied spells or prayers or weapons. Fynn glanced around to make sure all was in readiness, then yanked the stake out.

The vampire’s eyes immediately snapped open and she began snarling and yanking back and forth, attempting to wrench her arms free of the spikes in her wrists. It became obvious that both arms had long since been popped out of their sockets by similar actions in the past.

“Who are you?” Orensland asked quickly. She snarled more and gnashed her teeth towards him, causing the shadowdancer to involuntarily jump back. “Are you Vitoria Moretti?” At this she got even more enraged and shrieked. Foam formed on her mouth, and Orensland noted that her various scars and wounds were beginning to slowly close up. He held up a few of the jars from the alchemy set and poisoner’s kit and clinked them together. “What are these for? What poison or potion was being made?” She had been struggling to get up, wrenching herself away from the cross and lashing out futilely at those surrounding her, but when she heard those items she grew quiet and pulled away, trying her best to get as far from the items as possible. She began to whimper and babble. “Poison, poison, poison.” She said nothing else, just continued to say that word over and over, while shying away from where Orensland had clinked them together.

“Stake her,” Sarah ordered, “whatever’s been done to her, she’s too far gone, and I don’t fancy an actually insane vampire running around.”

The vampire screamed as Fynn plunged the stake into her heart. The sound echoed in the small chamber for a moment as the Bringer’s fighter brought his sword down and decapitated her in one fell stroke. Her body melted into ashes, turning into a mist form and moving towards one of the sarcophagi—the one that had held the old clothes and jewelry. The mist fell in and as everybody watched, tried several times to reform into a body before it simply disippated.

“That’s what will happen to Lady Drakh soon,” Khaska said. “I don’t know how long it will take, but that’s what will happen.”

“Lord Titanius will be very interested in this process,” Fynn said. “I don’t know that any Bringer alive has seen a vampire die this way—unable to find rest and simply …” he searched for the right word “… dissolving.”

“Then we’d best make sure we can report back to him,” said Sarah. “Let’s go.”

“Let me gather this armor,” Orensland said. “I think we wanted to take it back to Cyriest for proper internment, correct?”

Khaska nodded. “It would be fitting. And may give us some knowledge of the past history of events here in Darkcrest and this vampire coven.”

“You are all more noble than you first seem, Orensland,” Sarah said. “You would make a good member of the Bringers of Light.”

Orensland wasn’t sure what to say, so he said nothing as he gathered up Baroness Moretti’s armor and stowed it in his haversack. He also gathered up the various poisoner’s kit and alchemy set pieces. Perhaps, with study, he could figure out what was being made. With that, the party headed upstairs, bringing the seven different prisoners from the cells on the second basement level. Khaska grabbed Greygook and held him back, letting the others go first.

“The ship can’t take all of the prisoners,” Greygook said. “We might have to divide and conquer a little bit to get them away safely.”

“A concern I had as well. But I wanted to ask if any of the vampires here knew about your research. Had you told them anything?”

“We had not. You are the only ones aware of the work we were doing,” he said. “Obviously I don’t know what my brother did once he was turned by Lady Drakh. But she had been planning on attacking the Maramos coven for some time at the right opportunity. She wasn’t targeting them because of our research.”

Khaska nodded. “Let’s go before the others notice we have hanged back.”

“Hung back.”

At the main level, they found Lord Lancel, sitting on a couch in the front foyer, a young woman with diaphanous clothing cuddled next to him, both drinking from a wine glass. Lord Lancel unceremoniously pushed her aside as the party came into view. She curled up to his leg and didn’t move much, obviously drunk or drugged, contently smiling through the haze of her drug-induced state. He slipped a small open box up to his mouth and sniffed deeply, then snapped the lid shut. He looked at them with wildly dialating pupils.

“Thank you,” he said, “for finally freeing my mother. It has been well over a century since Lady Drakh’s coup against her.” He sighed. “I assume that you wish to dispose of me as well? I don’t suppose I could convince you to destroy my coffin upstairs, like you have the others, instead of killing me outright? Allow me a few days to continue to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh before I pass on?”

Eryx (DM)
The crypt has been consecrated. Lady Drakh will die … sometime in the next few days. You’re not really sure how that will work.

Apparently the tortured vampire in the crypt was the original Lady Lancel. Lady Drakh kept her there for a very very long time.

Two questions. First, this Lord Lancel has proposed that you leave him to die like her, allowing him to live out his last day or two in a bacchanalian celebration. (The Bringers advocate just killing him.) Second, how do you want to make your escape? Will you be splitting up? (I’m not going to let you completely split up, but if some of you wanted to stick around before meeting at the rendezvous location, that would be acceptable.) Leaving the prisoners to fend for themselves? Fynn wants to stay in the city to be able to report on the results of all the violence this day. The other Bringers think that getting out while the getting is good is a better idea.

Edit: I have not made the situation entirely clear, and for that I apologize. The gnomes' skyship is quite small, normally housing only the three of them. Greygook has determined that there is only enough room on the ship for him, the four of you, and five others maximum. There are 5 Bringers (including Kivessin), and 6 other prisoners. This isn't even for a long-term flight, this would just be to get to the rendezvous point. With all 10 "slots" on the ship there would not be adequate room for everybody to even sleep. Fynn would like to stay in the city. The other Bringers would like to accompany you to the rendezvous site, where they would take their leave of you. Feral and the Bringer's officer (the sorceress) are already on their way to the rendezvous point.

And finally … I think we’re coming up on the end of this Codex. So, if you would, please head over to D&D Beyond to make your 5th edition character sheets. When we switch to the new Codex, we’ll be switching to the (much superior, in my opinion) 5th edition rules. If you can’t create the kind of character you want (not all options are available for free), let’s talk. There are ways of opening up the full character options for you that don’t involve lots of money.

Crosis
Orensland would like to stick around the city and do some looting. This is basically his dream come true––– the wealthy fall, chaos ensues, and goods are for the taking. However, that is largely because he can hide easily and escape the city without too much trouble on his own. He'd recommend that everyone get on the skyship, and Orensland will arrive at the rendezvous point (or a better location) a few weeks later. Unless you guys want to do some voidgate exploration/otherwise stick around as well. However, given the fact that Feral is out there likely waiting for us, it is likely that our ultimate goal will be to get to the rendezvous point. Orensland would also make sure a specimen of the dragonmen (such as a chopped off head, something I believe he acquired earlier) accompanied those travelling to Garth Calad.

In traversing the city, his first place to go to would be the Maramos mansion. He'd want to know if Lady Drakh succeeded, plus they have literally bundled up the best of their treasures right there for the taking. I'd assume Oresland would have kept note of any treasure transferance that had been going on in the week leading up to the arrival of the Cult, including where the treasure is being kept. After that, he'd consider coming back to the Lancel mansion. If someone else wants to come back to the mansion as well, particularly a magic user, we could perhaps put such items just inside the voidgate. Otherwise, he'd just use the bags of holding he comes across as well as his handysack. Orensland would ask Lord Lancel if he knows of any bags of holding in the Lancel mansion he could procure while they're there.

Orensland is also interested in knowing what Greygook wants to do now that his life is basically in ruins. Perhaps we could help in some way. We now have connections with some rather powerful people, including the Knights of the Silver Dragons and the Bringers of Light. Some favors could potentially be called in. We should also ask him to clarify some things from their notes, such as what the Pressen empire is historically. Does he care about the voidgates anymore? Should we tell him what we discovered? Would he be interested in looking at the ley line map we found to provide a better estimate of the 15 voidgate locations? As Orensland is likely not the one who will do the talking, these are questions others should be asking themselves.

…and yeah, I vote we go ahead and kill Lord Lancel now. Also, what would we like to do with our Cult prisoner? That would probably be up to Rynn––– it's his wife and child that she may know about. Though obviously we should try to get as much information about the Cult generally from her that we can. Would the Bringers be interested in bringing a prisoner to Garth Calad for further interrogation?

Eryx (DM)
I forgot to answer a question from the other gray box, but no, there is no way to un-turn a vampire short of casting Wish twice, to recreate the body of a dead person and then to resurrect them.

Would the Bringers be interested in bringing Gulnith to Garth Calad for further interrogation? "I don't see the need to drag her all the way to Garth Calad to interrogate her," says Sarah. "We can get the information from her, then slit her throat and throw her overboard. Bringers of Light do not allow such evil doers to live. We never take prisoners."

Despite your recent alliance with these Bringers, you're forcefully reminded that the order as a whole takes defeating evil very seriously, and with little room for moral gray areas.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin is ok with letting Lord Lancel "live" a little longer.
I've made the 5e version of Sanjin to level 10 Sanjin 5e

BlackWolf
Rynn will offer to travel on foot to the rendezvous point to provide a place for one of the prisoners are able to escape. If there is still not enough room, he'd help guide others (prisoners or perhaps better, Bringers) through to the place.

The ranger would be willing to use some of his spell casting power to charge the rod for Orensland (that would work, right?), but he isn't very interested in going back into the Maramos mansion himself. He'd rather help with exiting Darkcrest.

Rynn is definitely open to making friends with Greygook, since his skyship could provide an alternate way to the Marshes (the gates being another option, I suppose). He believes that's the best chance of finding his lost family. He's fine with telling the gnome what we learned, provided that Greygook seems trustworthy.

As for Lord Lancel, the ranger shrugs his shoulders. Seems like Orensland may spring into action, in which case Rynn would help. Given that the vampire didn't hinder our actions, the ranger sees him as more a non-combatant. The zeal of the Bringers isn't something he's fond of, but he also doesn't want to cross our allies.

Eryx (DM)
I've enabled "content sharing" on the campaign in D&D Beyond and purchased a subscription at the "Master Tier." The link to the campaign is here. I appreciate that you made a 5E version in google docs, but I think you'll find the character creation application through D&D Beyond ridiculously simple and much easier to use going forward, DeltaWolf.

Crosis, we're going to have to homebrew some of your abilities. BlackWolf, we'd talked about doing the same for you.

Thev
Sorry for the delay, folks!

Lord Lancel: Khaska's actually wary of him. He's proven to be treasonous, and Khaska isn't sure if the party wants to leave eyewitnesses of their deeds. When Lady Drakh returns, after all, she'll have several days before death, and we don't want her coming after us. He thinks it would be best to let him shuffle off the mortal coil sooner than later. He thus agrees with Orensland on that point.

Khaska wants to get out of the city soon, but he also wants to make sure all the prisoners are able to escape. He'd be up for walking to the rendezvous point, hopefully with a Bringer or two or a party member, so long as at least one party member rides on the skyship to make sure that Greygook doesn't pull any funny business at the last moment.

Regarding further voidgate exploration… Khaska is torn. He wants to leave Darkcrest as soon as possible, but also understands that he doesn't know when they party will next get the chance to explore the voidgate network. Perhaps Orensland can scout out what happened to the Maramos household and report back before the party leaves the city for good; if the Maramos are incapacitated or dead, maybe returning to carry out explorations would be a possibility. Using them to get to the Marshes could be a good idea.

Khaska would also want to discuss the voidgate network with Greygook when he gets the chance, following Crosis's suggestions above; he'd want to ask what the gnomes' interest in the network was, and how they hoped to keep it secret from the Powers That Be; after all, knowledge of a system like that could be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands.

“I don’t think so,” Sarah said.

He sighed. “I suspected as much.” He raised a hand. “There’s no need for excessive violence. Come with me.” Everybody was wary of a trick, but there was none. He led them up to his quarters, an extremely decadent room that was basically one big sleeping area with pillows and blankets and soft furniture all over the place. The smell of various drugs wafted through the air, and to the side was a large bar stocked with various alcohols. There were several different humans, some completely naked, some merely high or passed out.

He dismissed the vampire worshippers that were semi-coherent and they all stumbled out of the room, either too high or too drunk to put up any kind of resistance or even to notice the weirdness of their vampire master bringing in an armed party to this den of vice. He took one look around, wistfully. “Even the pleasure of the flesh grow boring after decades and decades. Perhaps it’s for the best that you will simply end me. Please don’t harm my worshippers.” With that, he lay down in his coffin and removed the box of drugs from his robe. He brought it up to his nose and inhaled deeply for several seconds. The smell of the drugs, whatever they were, wafted over to the party and the Bringers. It was nearly overpowering. “My apologies for the smell,” he said. “The potency must be very high to have an effect on a vampire. But even then I fear,” he shook his head. “I’m still not sure it’s possible for me to … to overdose.” A trickle of black ooze emerged form his right nostril. “That much might have done it, though.”

Orensland walked over and peered down, his weapon at the ready, but Lord Lancel was completely unresponsive. The shadowdancer grabbed his stake and jammed it into the vampire’s chest. Sarah cut his head off right then. The vampire dissolved into mist form and then dissipated.

Khaska was almost as horrified at this den of vice as he was at the torture chambers below. If he never encountered another vampire, it might be too soon. With the vampire dispatched, they made short work of the coffin just in case. The sleeping/high/drunk vampire worshippers didn’t even respond. One looked like he might actually try to interfere, but Fynn knocked him out with a single punch.

It took just a few minutes to gather supplies and to properly clothe the prisoners from downstairs, and then they left the Lancel mansion. Orensland noticed several scouts from other coven militias watching them through the gates.

“Do we need to be worried about retaliation?” he asked Sarah.

“I think as long as we get out of the city soon, we do not,” she said. “The covens have a long history of using outside mercenaries to attack each other. If we don’t attack any other covens, they probably won’t come after us. This whole day will likely look like a war between the Maramos and Lancel covens.”

“Now the question of who is coming with me,” Greygook said. “There’s not enough room for everybody.”

“I’d like to stay,” Orensland said.

“Are you crazy?” asked Sarah.

“The city will begin to tear itself apart with such a power vacuum, right? I mean, you’ve indicated the Maramos and Lancel covens are the two most powerful.”

“Seems likely. I don’t think there are any individual vampires as powerful as Lord and Lady Maramos, or Lady Drakh.”

“Then the wealthy are going to fall, chaos will ensue, and there’s going to be much looting to be had!” The shadowdancer was basically beaming. “Why would I not want to stay?”

“Well, for one, we’ve got a psychopath vampire blackguard who will find out she has days to live,” Fynn said. “Who knows what kind of bang she’ll want to go out with.”

“She has to find me first.” Orensland smiled. “I’m not concerned.”

“I can remain, but to help some of these people leave the city,” Rynn said. “If there’s not enough room on the skyship, they’ll need help surviving in the Deadlands. I don’t expect any of you all want to stay in the city?” Several shakes of their heads were more than enough to demonstrate that he was correct about the newly freed prisoners.

“Then I offer up my spot on the skyship as well,” said Khaska. “But we need to leave immediately. And I would be more comfortable if one of us stayed with Greygook.”

“I have no intention of betraying you,” the gnome said. “I assume you’ve investigated the items that my brothers and I came here to investigate?”

The party glanced at each other. “We have.”

“Then that’s a longer conversation than we want to have here, waiting for Lady Drakh to drop in and skin us all alive.”

After a quick discussion, Greygook took Sanjin, Kivessin, Sarah, and the six remaining prisoners. After a few moments of the gnome barking orders, the skyship lifted up and sailed away.

Rynn, Khaska, Orensland, and Fynn with two additional Bringers all remained. They left the Lancel Coven’s lands in a hurry, but it appeared that they had missed the window where Lady Drakh would return.

Their strike had been successful.

The Bringers were able to grab travel gear from their various quarters and were ready to go. Orensland was completely dismayed.

“Come on!” he said. “If Lady Drakh was successful then there’s gobs of money just sitting around. And in bags of holding! It’s perfect!” He glanced at the two Bringers (Fynn had already disappeared, moving back into the anonymity of being a “homeless bum” after congratulating them on their success and wishing them well) and pulled Rynn and Khaska aside. He whispered to them. “And we have the perfect place to hide it. Nobody else even knows about the voidgates. I can sneak in, scout it out, and if it’s safe, do some looting. Easy peasy!”

Khaska was very wary of the danger Orensland would be walking into, but was seeing the wisdom in a limited scouting run. He pointed emphatically at the elf. “Okay. Go and scout it out. Even steal some loot if possible. But come back to us and let’s decide what to do then. All our allies here are headed to the rendezvous point we agreed upon. Perhaps we can come back to explore the voidgates, but we aren’t going to do so now.”

“I had just planned on using them as storage space,” the shadowdancer replied. “We want Sanjin there when we do our full exploring.”

“Yes. That seems very much up his lane,” the cleric responded.

“Alley,” Rynn corrected. “I agree with Khaska. Be. Careful.”

“Who me?” said Orensland. “Always. Now,” he said, surreptitiously pulling out the voidgate control rod. “I’ll need at least one spell here so I can open the gate in case there is any loot I can toss in.”

“I think I have plenty,” said Khaska. “I was perhaps too cautious with using my spells, but we ended up in one less fight with a major player than I expected.”

“That’s probably for the best,” said Rynn. “If Lady Drakh killed off the Maramos coven, and we killed her off, and together we all killed off the Cult leadership, then we did everything we came here to Darkcrest to do. I also think it would be good to know how Lady Drakh did, and Orensland is quite good at such things. Let’s give him some spells in the control rod and then let’s all meet at the eastern market.”

Orensland made sure that the Bringers weren’t able to see the rod as Khaska cast spells into it, filling it up. Then he took off, vanishing into the shadows as he went.

When he arrived at the Maramos lands, he had to smile a bit at the carnage in the courtyard. Nothing seemed to have been moved. There were no attemps to clean up the blood or clear away the bodies. He saw movement in Master Gendry’s place. There were probably a bunch of survivors in there, hiding out in terror.

He snuck into the mansion easily and took just a few steps before he saw the first body. One of the Maramos guards, burned and stabbed, lying facedown on the ground, his blood pooled around him on the floor. A little ways later he saw another. And then two others. He listened carefully and heard … nothing. He moved carefully, sticking to the shadows (even while blended into them), trying to be silent.

Everywhere he went there were bodies. It appeared that Lady Drakh had not only killed the vampires, but the servants, the militiamen, the cooks, the maids, the butlers. Everybody.

He made his way to Lord and Lady Maramos’ chambers. Their bed and other furtniture was destroyed, the dirt underneath it scattered around the room. He poked through the wreckage of the room and his eyes lit up as he discovered several bags of holding. He looked into them and found that, indeed, they were full of coins and gems. He hoisted two of them and snuck out, still listening for anything.

As he moved downstairs he did finally hear something near the kitchen area. The door had been thrown ajar and, once again, bodies were strewn about. Lady Drakh, he saw, sat slumped on a chair, drinking from a bottle of wine. At her feet was a set of armor. He peered hard, unwilling to get closer, but he was pretty sure that it was the armor of the vampire cleric that had participated in the attack on the courtyard. It was empty. Had she killed him? Why would she kill one of her own coven? If he had been inside the building when she killed him, that would confirm that the building was “public.” Lord and Lady Maramos would therefore be dead.

Regardless, he wanted no part of whatever melancholy victory celebration she was holding. Alone. In a mansion full of her dead victims. He snuck away.

Down in the basement he could either go left, to the library, or right, towards the crypt. His curiosity got the better of him, especially when he noticed bloodstained footsteps leading towards him from the left and up the stairs. He went towards the crypt.

The battle here must have been tremendous. The walls were coated in sprays of blood and the floor was piled high with dead bodies. He saw Captain Gendry's dead body back against the door to the crypt. The door itself was shut. Lady Drakh must have slaughtered the remaining Maramos guards here and then entered via mist form to destroy the Maramos couple. He wondered what it would be like to participate in such a futile battle. The guards had died defending their vampire masters, fighting hopelessly against a vampire lady with prodigious skill with the sword and dark magic besides. It must have been a sight, but in the end, Orensland was glad he missed it.

The library was empty, left as it had been before. He stashed the bags of holding in a corner and crept back upstairs to retrieve the others. In the end, there were five he could find before he decided that he no longer wanted to press his luck.

Lady Drakh had finished in the kitchen and left. She was making no attempt to be silent, and he tracked her by the sound of her clanking plate armor. He watched her examine the courtyard, curious at the situation. She kicked Narvoth’s head several feet and then left. If he didn’t know any better, he would think she was walking slowly out of some kind of disappointment. As if she didn’t quite know what to do next.

Alone in the mansion, he searched all the rooms he could for more bags of holding with money and jewels and art, but the five in the main chambers of Lord and Lady Maramos were all that there were. He also grabbed one of the bodies of the dead dragon-men, one of the unarmored ones with the most intact flesh. He went back to the library, opened the voidgate for one minute, threw the bags and the body in, and then waited for it to close. Then he left, satisfied that the Maramos coven was decimated, the Lancel coven would be soon, and the Cult leadership had been annihilated (except for Gulnith, but that was another matter). They had done good.

He made his way through the streets, listening to the buzz growing about the fighting between the two covens. Many people were scared. Some were excited, playing up the chances that their vampires would rise to power. Some were confused at the presence of the skyship, unaware of who had brought it to meet with the Maramos couple.

Rynn and Khaska (disguised as a human) were relieved to see him, as were the two Bringers. He quickly reported on the Maramos coven, mentioning surreptitiously that his personal objectives in scouting their mansion had more than been accomplished. Khaska and Rynn knew what that meant.

“I think it best that we leave now,” said Khaska. “The city seems to be growing more and more agitated. I don’t like the feeling I’m getting from the crowds here.”

“Agreed,” Rynn said. “To the rendezvous.”

They made their way to the eastern gates, Rynn looking forward to being on the open road again. Ranna grew excited, her magic bond with the ranger communicating his excitement at finally being rid of this city. However, there was one surprise left. As they approached the eastern portions of the city, they began to see several people on horses headed in their direction. Then they began to see militiamen and armored vampires headed in the other direction. Eventually, Orensland decided to ask one of the men running away what was happening.

“There’s some vampire that’s gone crazy and is massacring everybody she can see. She’s set fire to shops and destroyed a contingent of city guards by herself! I’m getting out of here, and you’d best as well!”

“What vampire lady?” Orensland asked.

“I don’t know her name. Got once glance of her crazy eyes from that scarred and burned face and decided to get out. Left my cart of goods there, but it ain’t worth my life.” He pulled away from Orensland. “Now let me go!”

Khaska was horrified. “With nothing to lose, I guess she’s decided to end her life in a rampage of violence.”

“Then I really suggest we leave now,” one of the Bringers said. “Without your wizard and Fynn and Sarah we can’t hope to take her on.”

Khaska looked at Rynn and Orensland. “I feel some responsibility.”

“She’s slaughtering vampires, vampire worshippers, and people who do business with vampire worshippers!” The Bringer replied again. “’By the evil are evil punished.’ You can go on a suicide mission if you want, but we’re leaving and heading for the rendezvous.”

Eryx (DM)
Sanjin is not with the group, and I don’t expect you will, but I feel I need to give you the option to turn back and try to help kill Lady Drakh before she slaughters … as many people as she can. She gone full suicidal "death by cop" rage sort of thing. Pure chaotic evil to the end.

Otherwise, we’ll end this chapter and have a short chapter to end this Codex.

Crosis
Good job, guys. Looks like we got the dream scenario of all three groups being taken out!

While immensely happy that we are basically settled for life financially, note that Orensland would probably grab other items of note as well. For example, Lord Maramos's longbow is incredibly rare, if I recall correctly. He'd probably swipe that and give it to Rynn, who could put it to good use. Other such goods would probably also be left in the voidgate. That includes the suit of armor/goods we want to return to Cyriest, by the way. I'd assume that stuff is fairly heavy, we may just want to retrieve it from the Nikktean Wastes or something at a later date. We also wanted to grab one of the dragonmen for future inspection… perhaps we could throw one in the voidgate as well? The full body may be better than just a head for those who would investigate this new creature.

As for Lady Drakh, Orensland doesn't really know what to do. At the very least he'd like to go and watch the spectacle. He'd try to help innocents escape the path of her destruction. But he doesn't want to pick a fight with her––– it would be a gamble not worth taking. Let's just get to the rendzveous point.

Thev
Khaska's conscience is pricked: he doesn't want to leave such horrific chaos in his wake. He's still got a bunch of good spells prepared, so with the party's approval, he'd want to go back to the city and help where possible. With the Hat of Disguise, blending in with city and coven militias — and sneaking out afterward — would be relatively easy, and he'd want to change between volleys. Meanwhile, others in the party could help civilians and non-vampires to safety.

After doing what he could against Lady Drakh, Khaska would help as he could with getting people to safety, though he'd have to decide how he'd want to appear while doing so. Some potential options: some legendary figure, to orient the people of Darkcrest to proper reverence for good people? as himself, under his own name, to influence the memory of the party? a metallic-looking dragonperson?

BlackWolf
Personally, Rynn would rather just leave. He does feel badly for the people being slaughtered, but on the other hand this is a town of vampires. How are these victims different from people like Captain Gendry and his men who were also slain by Lady Drakh?

However, since he does have some empathy toward these people (and some of them may truly be innocents) and not wanting his Maha'i friend to go alone, Rynn will go along to assist those we can. Maybe he'll even find an opportunity to cast his Entangle spell that he always prepares but never seems to cast; perhaps using it to surreptitiously slow down the murderous vampire blackguard. The ranger definitely agrees w/ Orensland though: he does not want to start a direct confrontation with Lady Drakh.

I love the idea of Khaska using this opportunity to influence the people of Darkcrest… but I think Thev/Khaska has to choose that appearance. I don't want to try to influence your decision too much (just interested to see how you decide to go on it) and Rynn wouldn't know what to say (other than, "Huh. What an interesting idea, Khaska.")

They made good on their statement and turned to leave. “You coming?”

Khaska looked at the other two. “I have many spells prepared still,” he said. “Perhaps we can lend assistance to the efforts to destroy Lady Drakh from afar, but not try to kill her ourselves.”

Orensland rolled his eyes. “I’m more of an up close and personal kind of guy, so I wish you all the best. But I can go scout ahead to see what’s up.” He turned to look and noticed for the first time smoke rising in the distance. “But, one thing first.” He turned to Rynn. “I wanted this to be a special present later on, but I guess you’d better use it now.” With that, he swung his haversack around and reached into the main pocked, drawing forth a large white wood bow—Lord Maramos’ personal longbow. “It was in his room and I thought, since he’s dead, perhaps at least you could put it to good use.” He also drew Lord Maramos’ quiver and arrows out and handed them over. “Happy Lady Drakh Death Day, or whatever we’re going to call this day from now on.”

With that, he took a deep breath, turned, and then vanished into the shadows. Rynn hefted the bow, admiring it once again. “Bonestrike,” he said. "That's what Lord Maramos called it."

“Fortune favors you with such a weapon,” Khaska said.

“We’ll find a way to redeem Kvanir yet,” the ranger said. “Now, if you’re serious, then let’s go see if we can help.”


It was not hard for Orensland to find Lady Drakh. He just followed the smoke, screams, and trail of corpses. She didn’t seem to be picky at all about who she killed. Shopkeepers, militiamen, guards, mercenaries, civilians, vampire worshippers, and he even saw a few sets of empty armor or robes, indicating a vampire had dissolved and left behind their belongings. He was tempted to try to snag some of those as he went, but decided against it. He had plenty of money from looting the Maramos coven. No need to endanger himself just for a few more items.

When he finally caught up to her, he was astonished. She stood in a square atop a fountain, fighting off an entire militia. Literally. It seemed one coven had thrown their entire forces at her, Orensland counted fifty men led by a captain and an armored vampire.

She carved through all of them. Even when they did land a blow (a rare occurrence given her skill and armor), she healed very quickly. In a few minutes the entire square was slick with blood and dead bodies, the vampire retreating before Lady Drakh's onslaught, turning into a bat and flying away. She, too, turned into a bat, flying to a new location. That was wise, Orensland thought. It prevented everybody from converging on her at once. He tried to follow as best he could, but eventually had to wait until there were more visible signs of fighting. He followed, jumping from rooftop to rooftop.

There were a group of people hiding in an inn. Lady Drakh cut some civilians down as they tried to retreat into the building, reaching the door of the house and being thrown backward, unable to enter for not having been invited in.

She grabbed some materials from a nearby cart, took a few seconds to light them on fire with some flint and steel, and then, when she had a pretty good blaze going, tossed them onto the roof.

If she couldn’t enter, she would at least try to burn the place down.

Magic attacks smashed into her from behind, as well as a few arrows. Two vampires atop a nearby building were attacking her. She bolted towards them, turning into a bat once again. The two of them moved back to back, a defensive posture. Lady Drakh erupted from the floor below them, tearing through the wood roof. The magic user vanished into the building with a shriek, and after a few moments Lady Drakh’s mist form emerged from the new hole. The other vampire turned into a bat and though she got a piece of him with her sword, he managed to get away. The house across the street now engulfed in the flames, Lady Drakh turned, smiled, and once again turned into a bat.

Orensland was impressed. If she wasn’t stopped … she might very well burn the entire city down! She was savvy, intelligent, used her surroudings well, and retreated and moved as necessary to keep the fight alive. She must have been quite a lady paladin before she was turned.

It was obvious to the shadowdancer that tracking her would be useless. They would have to wait for her to come to them. He had seen some coven militias setting up in defensive postures here or there. It might be best to join one of them.

It took him a few minutes to locate Rynn and Khaska, and he told them his thoughts. They agreed, and found a marketplace where a group of soldiers from two different covens, with their vampire masters, had set up a defensive position, throwing tables and carts and stands to create barriers.

Of course, when she dropped right into the middle of them, the barriers functioned more to keep them all trapped, giving her a target-rich environment. She went after the vampires first, killing one of them very quickly with a series of savage blows and then engaging the other two. The militiamen stabbed at her with pikes and spears, wounding her, but Orensland was quite confident that she would prevail even against these numbers. She was simply too powerful and too skilled.

But then he heard chanting from below and saw a human next to Rynn holding up a holy symbol.

Fire blazed forth from the human’s palms, lancing forth across the marketplace and blasting Lady Drakh, coating her in flames and scorcing her armor, which began to glow red. The human turned to run, moving around the building as Rynn fired two shots off with Bonestrike, but landing with thuds into Lady Drakh, who screamed and lashed out, killing yet another opponent, a dwarven vampire dissolving into mist.

An elf rounded the building from the other side. Where had the human gone? And where was Khaska … oh. Orensland smiled. Clever. Worried he might be easily identified, the Maha'i was using his Hat of Disguise to change appearance between attacks.

Khaska cast another Searing Light spell, and Lady Drakh’s skin burned away under the onslaught. She continued to fight with the others, but was severely wounded.

“Hit her again,” Orensland called out. “Before she flies away!”

Lady Drakh whirled with her blade, causing most of her opponents to jump back and she began to morph and turn into a bat once again … a second too late.

“The day comes for darkness!” Khaska shouted as he extended his arms to the sky and brought them down in a swift motion. He looked like himself this time, though Orensland didn’t get a good look as he glanced over to see the results of the spell.

A column of fire roared down from the heavens, completely enveloping Lady Drakh and the vampire fighting her. There were two shrieks from both of them and the vampire worshippers nearby shied away from the heat and light. Lady Drakh screamed, a high pitch scream full of anger and rage which suddenly cut off.

When the fire cleared, and Orensland could see past the purple afterimage, he noticed two vampires in mist form. One flew away, but another stayed, moving in and out of Lady Drakh’s armor, trying to resume human form. After a few seconds, however, the mist dissipated. Lady Drakh was finally dead.

Orensland blended into the shadows. He wasn’t quite sure how the vampire worshippers would react given than their vampire had also died (though was headed back to their coffin and would presumably be okay). But then Khaska stepped forward from where he stood in the alleyway, and the Maha’i had transformed.

He stood erect, regal, one of his horns broken, with a gleaming scimitar that looked like a righteous version of Kvanir, and in plate armor. On his shield was the emblem of the Knights of the Silver Dragons, and his entire body was wreathed in shimmering white holy energy.

Khaska had gone full Tawru.

And when he held aloft the faux-Kvanir, he had everybody’s attention.

“People of Darkcrest! Too long have you labored under the weight of murder, of greed, of lust, of oppression and exploitation. Behold before you the only fruits they ever bear: terror, pain, death. You cannot make alliance with such and hope for peace. Cast away your shackles of evil! Shatter your chains of darkness! Look to the sun in the west, and I say: if you so choose, even Darkcrest shall come to be known as Dusklight.”

Rynn had backed away after the final moments of the fight, content to let Khaska have his moment. Orensland clambered down the back of the building. As Khaska finished his speech he turned to leave, dismissing the Dispel Evil spell that shimmered around him with holy power. When he rounded the corner, he changed into a grubby-looking human.

“Khaska, my friend,” Orensland said, jaw hanging open in astonishment, “you are the stuff of legends!”

“Now let us leave so that the legend may grow in the fertile ground we have made here, but without our interference. Best to leave quietly. And quickly.”

“You get no argument from me,” Rynn said. “Let’s go.”

There were many people leaving the city given the circumstances, but after a few miles Rynn was able to pick up the trail of the two Bringers and they had caught up by that evening. The Bringers were surprised they had survived, and fascinated by the tale Orensland eagerly told of how Khaska had turned the tide and then used the moment to sow the seeds of doubt on the vampire’s reign and perhaps begin the process of ending it. As they went to sleep, Khaska looked to Darkcrest, still visible in the distance, as sunrise twilight hit it. He couldn’t help but think of the symbolism of seeing the sunlight hit the city. Perhaps he and his friends had done much good here. Despite the evil they had been surrounded with, and even temporarily allied with, they had struck several decisive blows for good.

As he lay on the ground, attempting to sleep on the cold earth, he thought again on his friends. The shadowdancer who could sneak past powerful vampires and who fooled the leadership of the cult before betraying them. Rynn, who grew more prodigious with combat as their adventures continued and now with Lord Maramos’ personally made bow, a tracker capable of finding the Bringers easily even among the hubbub of the exodus from Darkcrest. Sanjin, a seeker of ancient forbidden knowledge and now in possession of many spellbooks of ancient and great (and sometimes terrible!) wizards.

Orensland’s words came to him unbidden as he lay on the ground in his bedroll. “You are the stuff of legends.” He didn’t feel like the stuff of legends. Then again, he hadn’t felt like he was in an ancient tale when they had found Kvanir, on the other side of their moon fighting undead and creatures of darkness in an ancient crypt. Perhaps it was time to re-evaluate yet again his role in these stories.

But as he thought on his actions, and the skills and triumphs of he and his friends, a thought came to his mind as he fell asleep.

Perhaps they were all becoming the stuff of legends.

Eryx (DM)
That will end this chapter. FYI, Thev rolled a 33 on his Diplomacy check to convince the crowd to turn from evil and begin walking the path of righteousness. It’s probably had some effect.

I went back and changed a few things in the previous chapter to lay the seeds for Rynn's new bow, Bonestrike, because when Crosis mentioned he'd grab that, I knew immediately that it should be a slightly more special bow than just a "white longbow." In 5E, there aren't any bows that require a certain strength setting, so congratulations … Rynn now has a +3 named bow of awesomeness (in 5E rules). Rynn now has many options when he wants to shoot something dead.

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