I haven’t much time.
We headed back to Villaki, having to fight zombies and giant dire wolves on the way. At one point, T’homm gets knocked off her horse but gets her foot caught and is subsequently dragged away from the fight. But we make it back save, go to the Inn to get the keys. Man, it seems as though the town is abandoned… nobody’s looking at us. At the inn we learn the truth—Father Lucian Petrovich has been taken captive. We fear for the daughter and head back to Wacher, though Cera and Anvyre head instead to the church. The daughter is safe, but Fiona had found the sacred bones and thought they were the stolen ones instead. Cera tells us this, as Amicus curls up in my hood (I’m a little fond of the dragon. He’s cute).
We go see Father Lucian after talking with Lady Wacher. Cera heads off to research zombies and werewolves. Okay, so yeah, the holy bones were gone. Well, shit. Using a locator spell, we find the bones in the vampire house. We pull up our britches, cast a Daylight spell (which doesn’t fucking work) and get to work killing some vampires. It looked shitty, but then I felt the holy glow of Turn Undead at my back, and the vampires fled Anvyre’s presence. I had a feeling that if that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be alive.
“What do you do if I die?”
“Loot the body, steal the boots.”
We whittle the group of 6 to two—mostly T’homm and Cal, typically surrounded and trying to deal with getting bit all the time from these assholes. After Cal kills one, I reach out and sent T’homm into a frenzy of action and speed. When she turns around, splattered with vampire blood, she was grinning widely, still high off Haste.
“You know what, bard?” she declared. “You can steal anything you want.”
I feel the incredulous grin take up semi-permanent residence on my face, as always kind of awed by her outright nature. “Thanks! I was going to!” I respond cheerfully, flashing her the thumbs up.
I then happen to glance at the box next to me. “Oh,” I say. “I found the bones.”
The others start to plan how to proceed with the bodies. I politely decline because gross, and I leave to the sight of them trying to stick them in the bag of devouring. No regrets. I look around a bit. “Hey, guys, there’s like a dozen coffins down here,” I shout up as a reminder. I hear horrible sounds and repost myself by the door. Fuck this shit. When they come down, it turns out they cut off the heads, and Cal brings them with in a box. Well, that’s a joyous way to spend our time. T’homm goes to sleep, deciding this is a Not Her Problem. I’m very close to doing the same, but I was torn between helping and listening to the warning bells in my head that carrying around a box of heads wasn’t a great idea. But Cera and Cal decide to take the heads to the church and bury them on the hallowed ground, preventing them from being found. We store the bodies in the coffins and head to the church, bluffing the guards. In the end, I can’t follow them inside, deciding to wait outside. I make zero attempt to hide myself from the guards, keeping an eye on everyone. We return to the mansion once the deed was done to find sleep.
The next morning, Lady Wacher approaches us with a plan. Of course, we don’t have one, so I turn to her with a serious look. “Oh… we have a plan,” I say. “A solid, definite plan to find your daughter. It’s the best plan; we’ve all done a lot of plans, they’re experts on plans. They all say it’s the best plan. I’m excited for this plan.”
“O-okay,” Wacher said, growing convinced. Slowly but surely. “How long do you think it will take?”
“In this situation, numbers are fluid. They exist in the moment. But I can tell you it’ll be the fastest out there, people who know me, know that’s true.”
Wacher was silent, then turned to T’homm. “I knew I liked her,” she said, though days before she’d been clearly annoyed. Sometimes I enjoyed fucking with people.
We head to the tavern, getting drinks and chatting about our plans. As we share rations (how does T’homm always get hot soup from the oddest places?) and space, I recognized I was getting curious about these guys. It’s been two weeks, and I loved a good story… They were bound to be full of them. But the time never came, and the wereraven had a chat with us. We discuss possible… rebellion, which was interesting. We mentioned that Fiona is with the werewolves and Strahd (which we of course didn’t know, wink wink) he says that he supports it. We tell him about the vampires we beat up, and he asked if we had truly killed them. “Uh…”
“What do you mean?” Cera demanded.
“They need to be staked through the heart. I think. Maybe. Some of them do, I’m rusty on whether it was vampire or vampire spawn. If those were all real vampires, though, you’d all be dead.”
To be honest, my instincts told me we’d been close to death anyway, but this was much more important. It meant the vampires weren’t dead, and we had a bit of a cleanup. As a unit, we leapt to our feet and ran back to the vampire house, void of its coffinmaker for some time, but definitely with coffins that had moving bodies in them. Then they opened one with stakes in hand and made a slight clarification: headless moving bodies. I stand guard by the door, waiting for them to come close enough to open the door and blast them with real sunlight. Killing them was easy enough. At the end, Cera promised to make us stakes. Cal asked for a simple engraving with his god’s symbol on the side. I jokingly started demanding things, but Cera was so accommodating I actually ended up feeling guilty. “Kidding. …a mask.” Mask was my god, may he watch over my fingers. That might be kinda cool.
We go back to T’homm’s room in the mansion and start to brainstorm what to do next; it was only afternoon, and we were now outright planning our second rebellion in less than a week. Honestly, politics are boring nobles and assholes screwing over everybody else, and I tended to stay out of them whenever possible. I know Cera is battling her conscience, but honestly, it doesn’t matter who’s in charge. People get screwed. This is decades-old common sense and maybe seeing those kids in the stocks made me forget it.
We decide to explore the rooms around Lady Wacher’s. I pick Balthazar’s room first… these are hard locks, though, and I feel the workmanship in how they make my tools strain. His room is boring. I then take one look at Lady Wacher’s lock and know there’s no way I’m getting past it. I try my hardest, and yet still feel the tools nearly break. “Fuck, no, use Knock,” I say, backing away. [Player’s note: I ended up rolling like 4 times using up inspiration, bardic inspiration, guidance, etc, just to BARELY make the roll to not break my tools. Hell no.] Cera does so, and we’re inside.
From there, it was easy to enter the trap door to the attic. Her husband was still super dead and frozen on her bed. The attic was creepy. Some new stuff from Fiona Wacher was there, including a golden mirror that supposedly radiated conjuration magic. None of us could figure it out, though. Towards the back there was an ‘all is not well!’ sign, which (past a lightening magic ward) led to a room with two skeletal cats.
T’homm noticed I was hovering towards the back and motioned me closer. “I’m good out here,” I said.
“Gal! There could be children in here!” She said, like she had my number. I narrowed my eyes, peeved at the obvious trap. It wasn’t my fault that every child under the age of twelve was in danger in this damn country.
I mean, I’d been that kid once. I was only alive because somebody helped. At that age, life isn’t something you experience, it’s something that happened to you, and they don’t quite deserve it yet. Still rude to exploit that feeling, and I gave T’homm’s back the stink eye until she exclaimed inside, “Oh man, I was right? Rad!”
I move forward to see three small children standing with their backs to us in the corner. I could see at a second glance they were painted wooden dolls. “Somebody had made their own friends,” I hear somebody in the group mutter. But it worked, and I was there, and nothing monstrous was ready to rip me limb to limb. It was also interesting as fuck in here, a good story, so I moved inside to explore. Damn it, it worked.
I could see scrawled around the room teleportation circles and on the desk a leatherbound spell book [Lot 5] that Cera claimed with unconstrained glee. Cute. Seems, though, that whoever was in there had been making teleportation circles until they managed to finally escape and teleport out. Well… interesting. There didn’t seem to be many clues. We didn’t even know if this was Lady Wacher’s doing, or the late Burgomeister. We snoop some more upstairs, and make a plan to wait up here and drop down to kill her at night. We’d have to be careful of her little lizard serpent, but we had our own as well.
I cast silence and we drop down. The imp apparently, though, is looking right at us and raises the psychic alarm. We have no choice but to kill both of them in a fight. It’s… grossly easy, and when Cera finally stills the imp in combat, I shiver.
Now we have a new problem. Escaping the room, with a dead Wacher and pet at our feet. Also, trapped in a silence bubble with dead bodies. Gross.