Chapter Five: Ashes at Dawn II

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 18th Erastus 4711

The evidence that Giovanni was the vampire killer was slight, so we decided a trip back to the Nobleman’s Stitch was in order. We went via the Inn to stash the body in the stables and left Rustin to watch over it.

The tailor’s shop was deserted now it was night. In the main part of the building we found only clothes and tailor’s tools. In the store room we found some valuable cloth, some ghouls and some Nabasu demons. The monsters flung themselves at Dieter but were unable to harm him. We weren’t quite so ineffectual. Silver, Sigmund and I took out the ghouls and the others dispatched the demons.

Upstairs, in amongst the shoe storage we found some magic boots. But it was in the basement that we found what we were looking for. Four more of the vampire enforcers that we encountered in the park. Then we hadn’t given them any chance to show whether they were there to apprehend Giovanni or to support him, but now it was clear they were working for him. One of them attacked Dieter, causing him to turn into a troll. Lorinthor sent a fireball to the back of the room and from there it was all over.

In a storeroom we found nine wooden coffins and a sarcophagus. The coffins were empty and the sarcophagus had a lever in it, so I pulled it. The lever opened two doors in the back of the storeroom. In here was a crypt with a massive stone sarcophagus and a tapestry. The remaining vampire enforcers were in the next room and it was over in seconds. They were guarding a small room which smelt of blood and chemicals.

Three staked vampires hung from chains on the wall. In a drawer I found Giovanni’s journal, full of the details of his crimes. Lists of vampires that he targeted and the nobles that he was trying to frame, saying that he was acting on behalf of Adivion Adrissante and the Whispering Way. There were envelopes containing letters asking for bodies to be brought  to the Abbey Sante Lymirin. We discovered that one of the vampires killed was Quinley’s mother and that the witches at the Abbey were trying to make a potion of undead transformation.

We went to Luvick with the evidence and the staked body of Giovanni. He then told us everything he knew about the Whispering Way which turned out to be nothing, except that they had gone to Renchurch and were targeting a noble. He did condescend to pay us for our services. We returned to the Inn to rest before heading over to the Abbey.

Hello Caliphas, 19th Erastus 4711

COUNTESS CARMILLA PARTY PLANS REVEALED!

The ever-youthful Countess Carmilla Caliphvaso is planning a big bash next month to celebrate her birthday. For her 40th the Countess is turning her townhouse into a fabulous fairy wonderland and sparing no expense on the decoration. The cream of Caliphas society are vying for invitations from the charming and beautiful unofficial queen of Caliphas.

It is rumoured that Prince Ordranti will be making an appearance, despite Carmilla’s critical views on royal politics. No doubt the Countess will be serving wine from her estate at the Abbey Sante Lymirin and who could resist that?

This party is set to rival the one fifteen years ago, when the Countess celebrated her 40th birthday on board a vast gilded barge in the Avalon Bay complete with mermen and a performance of dancing dolphins.

Vicious rumours of dark magic and missing children from the hamlets surrounding Caliphas continue to rumble.

Ceris Athiri’s journal, 19th Erastus 4711

The Abbey of Sante Lymirin used to be dedicated to Iomedae and I don’t think she’d like to see what had happened to it since it had been bought by the Countess Carmilla Caliphvaso. We followed a dirt track up the cliffs overlooking Avalon Bay to the Abbey. It appeared deserted but we decided to enter through the carriage house rather than the front door.

In the carriage house there were five empty horse stalls but we could hear whistling. A young man came into the carriage house from the main building. He said he was a stablehand and offered us a drink. We claimed to be tourists wanting to look at the architecture. After checking that the tea wasn’t poisoned we drank it and the man said he would show us some interesting architectural features. Lorinthor, the Publican and I went with him.

Dieter had mocked us for being paranoid enough to check the tea for poison, but the man turned out to be a demon. I ran to get the others and Lorinthor raised a wall of stone to hold the thing at bay while we prepared for battle. Then we killed it.

Lorinthor used arcane eye to create a floating eye to scout the ground floor of the abbey. We found some wine and then headed to the dining hall. It is the largest room on this floor with columns, chandeliers and half a dozen guards. We attacked them and discovered that they were mortal. Dieter tried to stop the fight by intimidating one of the guards, but failed, and we killed them all.

Silver checked to see if they had any identification on them so that she might compensate their families, but there was no way to tell who they were. Sigmund bandaged Dieter’s wounds. The floating eye showed us that there was nothing else of interest on this floor so we went upstairs.

We found ourselves in a wide chamber full of tables filled with potions, glass jars and braziers, like an alchemical laboratory. A beautiful woman stood over a cauldron, brewing a foul smelling concoction. When she saw us she called out and four more guards burst into the room. Sigmund tried to be diplomatic and we learnt her name was Hetna Dublesse. She asked if we were with the Countess and when Lorinthor said no, she attacked us.

Lorinthor summoned black tentacles to rise from the floor and immobilise our enemies, which made them easier to kill. Lorinthor identified the liquid in the cauldron as bloodbrew elixir which will free a vampire from the dominance of its master. We also found some vials of Sun Orchid elixir, a rare, illegal and valuable potion that stops the aging process. It seems the countess is a lot older than she looks.

We left the upper floor of the abbey and descended into the basement. Lorinthor deployed his floating eye and based on the information it gave us, decided to teleport us into the ossuary in the furthest reaches of the basement complex. The room was full of columns carved into the form of angels and ten foot wide alcoves full of bones.

Picking through the skeletal remains was a vampire, once a paladin and now an undead monster. He drew his sword and challenged us but his heart didn’t seem in it. He told us that he was Halloran Idriss and he’d been ordered to search through the bones for the skull of Oothi, the mentor of the witch that we’d slain upstairs.

Halloran said that he’d felt his master’s influence lessen but was still in thrall to the witches. He begged us to allow him to atone or to help him end his unlife. The Whispering Way were using Giovanni to create an army of vampires by using the bloodbrew elixir to free them from the dominance of their sires. Sigmund challenged him to single combat, and despite the vampire paladin’s greater strength the true heart of our paladin prevailed. As the vampire crumbled to dust he whispered his thanks.

The eye had revealed to us the location of the second witch, Aisa Dublesse, so we made our way there. First we had to pass an undead knight standing by a statue of Iomedae, but it didn’t slow us by much. Further into the room, lighted by hundreds of candles forming pathways to the points of a pentagram, was a throne and the witch was seated upon it. Two braziers cast an eerie green glow on the darkness.

Aisa Dublesse confessed that she and her sister had been making the Sun Orchid elixir that had been keeping the Countess young in return for access to the ossuary. But now she had become a vampire she was no longer interested in raising her mentor, Oothi. She asked what it would take for us to let her live and offered us 100,000 gold pieces. None of us were minded to accept her offer. Lorinthor took up his oathbow, swore vengeance in Malvern’s name, and slew the vampire witch.

We returned to Caliphas and went to tell Luvick what we had found out about the vampires supposedly under his dominion. He gave us a letter from Ramoska Arkminos which told us where the Whispering Way had gone, and revealed their plans.

Caliphas Courier, 20th Erastus 4711

COUNT LUCINEAN GALDANA ABDUCTED

Count Lucinean Galdana of Amaans has disappeared and is believed to have been abducted. Servants at his residence in Caliphas said that cloaked men had invaded the house late at night and took the Count from his bed. They were not able to provide descriptions and neither were the two ladies, known courtesans whose names we cannot reveal, who were entertaining him.

Sheriff Hoptler asks that anyone with information regarding threats to Count Galdana’s life contact him. The county of Amaans will be in uproar once news of the loss of the popular Count reaches them.

Caliphas Courier, 21st Erastus 4711

ITHILKIR WORKERS’ TRUST ESTABLISHED

Yesterday saw the launch of Astrea Ithilkir’s new charitable endeavour, the Ithilkir Workers’ Trust. The trust will accept donations to fund work to raise the standards of education and healthcare among the poor of Caliphas.

Lady Astrea and the co-founder of the trust, Lorinthor Hathem, won’t be staying in Caliphas to oversee the running of their fund, but Ithilkir expressed complete confidence in the adminstrators who are old friends of hers.

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